Actress Deepika Padukone was diagnosed with depression back in 2014. Though initially she wasn't commenting on it, after sometime, she became very vocal about her diagnosis. She broke the stigma that a successful public figure can’t admit to having suffered from any mental trauma and illness.
In a recent Clubhouse (a social chat room) session, Deepika Padukone opened up about the decision to bring out the reality of the mental illness she went through and what made her kept quiet initially. She shared that it wasn't easy for her to come out and the decision wasn't immediate. All the people around her advised her to keep the things confidential and not bring them into public. She said, “At that point when I went through the entire experience, I felt like we were being extremely hush-hush about everything. We didn’t want my name to go out. We were scared about which therapist to reach out to and who’s going to keep this information confidential. At that point, I went with the flow because I wanted help.”
The actor confessed that she realized that the way they were dealing with things wasn't convincing to her but she kept quiet due to the stigma and shame attached with mental illness. She revealed that, “When I was reflecting on how this whole thing went by, I thought why we handled it like this? And why were we trying to be quiet about it? Why can’t people know? Why shouldn’t people know that this is what I have been through? It also came from me wanting to try to be as honest and authentic as possible.”
She added she wanted to make people aware that we are all in this together. She said, “It was also about letting people know that mental illness exists and it’s okay to seek help because most of us suffer in silence because it’s not something you seek externally so there is a guilt attached to it because you feel you are the only one going through it. You also feel like you are inconveniencing your caregivers and the people around you. Me coming out was really just letting people know you are not alone and we are together.”
Deepika also recalled the story when she first felt a strange feeling and found it difficult to articulate the feeling of “emptiness and directionless” that she was going through for months and told that, “It basically started in February 2014. I remember waking up one morning with this strange feeling in my stomach and it’s a feeling I don’t remember having ever felt before. For days after that, I felt empty, directionless and it just felt life had no meaning or purpose. I couldn’t feel anything physically or emotionally. I just felt this void and it’s difficult to articulate to someone who hasn’t experienced it.”
She further said it was her mother whose presence of mind helped her get a professional diagnosis, “I felt this for days, weeks and months until one day my family was here and they were going back home and when they were packing their bags, I was sitting in their room and suddenly broke down. That’s when my mother realised for the first time that something was different. My cry was different. It wasn’t the usual boyfriend issue or stress at work. She kept asking me if it was this or that. I couldn’t pinpoint one specific reason. It was her experience and presence of mind that she encouraged me to seek help.”
She concluded by telling how she has been keeping herself away to go to that phase again and keeping herself mentally stable. The Om Shanti Om actress said, “Life post mental illness is a before and after. I had a particular life before depression and I have a very different life after that. I keep saying that there’s not a day that goes by without me thinking about my mental health. To ensure I don’t go back into that space, it’s very important for me to focus on the quality of my sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise, how do I process stress and my thoughts and mindfulness. These are the things I have to do on a daily basis not because they are fancy words or it’s cool to do this but I won’t be able to survive if I don’t do all these things.”
On the work front, Deepika Padukone will be next seen in 83 opposite husband Ranveer Singh. She will also star in the espionage drama Pathan alongside Shah Rukh Khan. She has Fighter with Hrithik Roshan, Nag Ashwin and Shakun Batra’s next, The Intern remake.
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