Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone mainstreamed the mental illness discourse by opening up about her battle with depression in 2015. It was unheard of for a successful movie star to admit she wasn’t feeling well mentally. Six years later, Deepika shares that the decision to speak publicly about her mental health was not an immediate one.
During a Clubhouse session, the actor said she and those around her were aware of not letting her health problems go public and were therefore “afraid” about which therapist to trust.
“At that point, as I went through the whole experience, I felt like we were extremely quiet about everything. We didn’t want my name to go out. We were worried about which therapist to contact and who would have this information confidential.” At that point, I went with the flow because I wanted help,” Deepika said.
The actor added that it wasn’t until months later that she felt her handling of the issue was inconclusive.
Deepika Padukone said: “When I thought about how this whole thing had happened, I thought why did we do it this way? And why did we try to keep quiet about it? Why can’t people know that? Why can’t people know that this is what I’ve been through. It was also because I wanted to be as honest and authentic as possible.”
What also prompted the Chhapaak star to be open about her struggle with depression was the shame associated with mental health, which makes people “suffer in silence”.
“It was also about letting people know that mental illness exists and it’s okay to get help because most of us suffer in silence because it’s not something you look for from the outside, so there’s a guilt associated with it because you feel like you are the only one going through it. it. You also feel like you are bothering your caregivers and those around you. My coming out was really just to let people know you’re not alone and we’re in it together,” she said.
Deepika Padukone was diagnosed with depression in 2014. Although she found it difficult to articulate the feeling of “emptiness and directionlessness” she had experienced for months, her mother understood that Deepika needed professional help.
She said: “It actually started in February 2014. I remember waking up one morning with a strange feeling in my stomach and it’s a feeling I can’t remember ever feeling before. For days afterwards I felt empty, directionless and it just felt that life had no meaning or purpose. I couldn’t feel anything physically or emotionally. I just felt this emptiness and it’s hard to pronounce to someone who hasn’t experienced it.”
The actor continued: “I felt this for days, weeks and months until one day my family was here and they went back home and when they were packing their bags I was sitting in their room and suddenly I collapsed. Then I realized my mom for the first time that something was different My cry was different It wasn’t the usual boyfriend problem or stress at work She kept asking if it was this or that I couldn’t pinpoint a specific reason It was her experience and presence of mind that she encouraged me to seek help”
Deepika Padukone went on to say that although she has come a long way since being diagnosed, there hasn’t been a single day that she hasn’t been reminded of her mental health. The actor said she has to consciously work on her mental well-being so as not to fall back into depression.
“Life after mental illness is a ‘before and after’. I had a certain life before the depression and after that I have a very different life. I keep saying that not a day goes by that I don’t think about my mental health. To make sure 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 I process stress and my thoughts and mindfulness. These are the things I have to do every day, not because they’re nice words or because it’s cool to do this, but I won’t be able to survive if I don’t do all these things,” the actor concluded.