Depression, the dreaded word makes its appearance at the strangest of times. It comes without knocking and saps out hope without warning. Those who know a thing or two about dealing with it, give solemn sermons. They have been through it and they know its staggering power to hollow your life and drag you down. Lately, I have across many who are struggling with the situation and fighting to stay afloat. It breaks my heart to say that I have also come across those who have found it easier to give in, to surrender and to lose the fight altogether. My condolences to the grieving families and my sincere plea to all of you- please look around for signs of depression in people you love. Do seek help or offer help if you can. The number of people losing the battle with hope is staggering. Please stay alert for the sake of those who need you to.
I do not wish to name those who have lost their battle in real life, but the famous names continue to taunt us through tabloids and televisions. They continue to remind us that the problem is big and getting bigger. From Virginia Woolf to Jiah Khan, names after names keep popping up. There are a million people committing suicide each year and suicide has now become the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35. That is the saddest statistics of all! ‘The young’ are our future, they are the ones who will lead us forward, who have years on their side, who have not seen wrinkles yet and not had to worry about old homes. They are the ones who should be having twinkle in their eyes and spring in their steps. They should be reaching for the stars. Instead, they are reaching for the knife, the rope or the gun. And that brings us to the attempted suicide by Paris Jackson. All of 15 with no desire to wait for a future. How unfair!
A character from my book, ‘Sia’, had committed suicide and her death had become the reason for my book. Her name was Munni and she was 16. She had felt the same hopelessness that millions of teenagers across the globe feel. Munni’s character in the book was not incidental. Nor was it accidental. There’s a reason I had introduced her; there’s a reason I was compelled to show how simple things can blow out of proportion in the minds of some. There’s a reason……and the reason is truth. There are other young people like Paris, Munni and Jiah Khan. I have met them, I have known them and I have seen how they are determined to sink without anyone finding out. I have seen how they yearn for the float and yet resist it. I say, determined because that’s what they usually are. Their pain acts as pleasure and death somehow becomes a release.
People suffering from depression are usually adept at hiding their state. Call it embarrassment, or perceived guilt at not being able to control their emotions or perhaps a false sense of bravado; whatever the reason, they try to hide their problems. They laugh and they act casual. They don’t want you to know but they are hoping that you do.
People around them, do step up. It becomes your responsibility to notice if something is amiss. You have to be sensitive to subtle changes. These observations perhaps will save lives.
Here are some of the warning signs and symptoms of depression:
- lack of interest, even in things you usually used to enjoy
- Feeling down most of the time
- appetite change
- feeling tired all the time
- difficulties concentrating & falling asleep
- waking up exhausted
- low self-esteem/ lack of confidence
- feeling guilty about all sorts of things
- thinking about death
Simple tips for handling stress/ depression–
* listening to music
* running/ walking/ dancing/ walking up and down the stairs. Finding a way to burn negative energy
* Doing something creative. Painting, writing, cooking and creating
* Finding someone to help or assist. Helping someone generates a feeling of wellbeing.
* Talking to someone. Seeking help.
Vandrevala Foundation: 25706000
Mind Temple helpline – 26289792/26288928 – Anjali Chabbria
Aasthachrysalis – Malini Shah (senior counselor) – 9870496238
SOS- 1800 221 4444
Tinkle Friends- 1800-2744 788
eCounselling Centre- http://www.ec2.sg/ 67871125
Wings Counselling- 63835745
Yuan Yuan helpline (Mandarin)- 67410078
For more helplines in Singapore- check http://www.ncss.gov.sg/documents/LIST%20OF%20HELPLINES%20250411.pdf
Kids Helpline- 1800 55 1800
Hopeline- 1800 442 4673
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline- 1800 273 8255
And finally, for those of you who think that it’s weak to seek help….think again. It takes strength to say, “I need help”. Those who are dealing with difficulties, be strong! Give life a chance!