My battle with depression
Hi, My name is Siddharth; I am a student (now alumnus) at IIT Bombay, hopefully doing well in life by now!
I started writing this blog at the beginning of my 3rd year (2016) when I initiated some damage control to what I had caused in the past couple of years and have improved since then. However, there were terrible phases after that too.
Update: Later, I realized that’s actual life. A mix of good and bad phases, pulling yourself up every time :)
Hello, first, I would like to change the common prescriptive of depression shown in movies around us, i.e., “being sad all day” and not talking to anyone. NO, I think that it’s much more than that. I copied this photo from our counseling cell, Icare@IITB, and it's the perfect representation.
For me, it all started when my dream of a perfect life broke. There is nothing more disheartening than a dream becoming a nightmare. In my case, it was failing in JEE-13; my world fell apart. I didn’t know what to do now as from the early teenage, I have thought of IIT and nothing else. So I thought of giving it another try and went back to my coaching for the perp to reappear. Initial days were sad and gloomy as seeing my friends going to college was fun, and I was doing the same work again. But somehow, those days passed (thanks to friends I got there). But the real pinch started after coming to IITB. IIT’s ideal image, I thought, and the accurate picture that I got here.
I made a perfect image of IIT to motivate myself. The reality was different from what I expected. When I was inside, I struggle to find the answers to question like what guides your happiness, what makes one go, get up from bed every day, and achieve what one desires. I just wanted to be free from the damn competition!
In IIT, I realized I have always been average since school at acads, at sports, or any curricular activity. Then I see and compare myself with people around me here. I often thought, “am I even eligible to be here? ” or is it just the second attempt that got me here? To add to this comes the first year's carelessness that didn’t push me out of my comfort zone.
In the first year, ~800 students are set free from 2–3 years confinement of daily studies and are now independent to do whatever they feel like. Studying is looked down upon. In my rage to impress others, I also neglected my studies then. 1st year ended with a low CPI, and things went down-wire since then.
The following year I stayed away from any hard work and was mostly in my room. This was when my behavior started changing; I registering all my effort as not enough and became more introverted. While friends delved deeper into their interests and found out their passion, I was overthinking, sulking, afraid of another failure, and shame. I think I just stopped learning anything and started living as it may come on most days. Listening to seniors and graduates saying these are the best days of their life, I thought something is wrong with me, as this feels like hell!
How I got out of it
Finally, by the end of the 2nd year, I sensed that it's not just laziness or lack of interest. It is a lack of self-confidence, and positive outlook, and an inferiority complex. I figured out I am battling with depression, and I have fought alone for a long. I wouldn’t lie by saying the thought of ending my life never came into my head, but I always knew it’s not the solution. But by the time I came to understand it, the sem ended with an SPI of 5 points something, an FR, and a straight no from my crush, so honestly, nothing to look forward to.
At the start of the next semester, I somehow muster the courage to give myself another chance. I decided to meet a counselor on campus. At that moment, it looked like a big step to visit her that office on that 2nd floor of the main building. Now I think it was such a common step one which everyone should take!
The 1st session was small and precise, and the advice was simple even a 12-year-old can give “your life is not that bad, focus on what’s good (gratitude) and stay away from negative thoughts. Don’t entertain them much.” She also gave me a few practical tricks to work on, but the most crucial thought that stuck with me since the meet was :
It’s one’s own responsibility to keep oneself occupied and happy.
But life after that was no cakewalk. I struggled with internships, placements, early career choices, and of course, being single :P. But not that much. And now, looking back, I feel that I made lifelong friends, did things I love — swimming, running, hostel enthu, a course in policymaking, and found a job with a purpose. Indeed those were the best days of my life.
Honestly, the problem and situation after college are 100X challenging, stressful, and life-changing, and I went through even worse times after that, but I guess I build my coping mechanism :)
I had always thought I would share this article when I am completely out of depression and successful. And no I don't think I am cured fully.
But I am in terms with myself, so here it was. And if this story helps you take care of yourself and your mental health, my life is better already.
If someone is struggling, has a question about when to seek help? I would say you can do whatever you feel like talking to friends about it, reading books, and trying some new habits to ease that struggle and find your hope. But a point where you should go for help are :
- When your mental state is affecting work or relationships, basically your well-being consistently.
- When people close to you are noticing a change in your behaviour.
- When your actions (repeatedly and consistently) are not in your own best interest
- You aren’t enjoying the simple pleasure of life anymore, like random Bakar with friends, time in nature, or any of your hobbies.
- When you feel unable to deal with hardship coming in your way,
Under any circumstance seeking professional help is in no way a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength, a symbol of self-love, a sign of taking action for yourself.