MNA Life Style Desk: Despite India being in the throes of a mental health crisis – according to a 2015 World Health Organisation report, over 5 crore Indians suffered from depression and more than 3 crore suffered from anxiety disorders – our attitude towards mental health concerns largely remains apathetic. In such an environment, when celebrities with great reach and strong voices take a stand to help those that suffer silently, it is bound to change the narrative, even if slowly and only by a little.
In an interview with Vogue in 2015, Anushka Sharma opened up about her struggles with anxiety and her commitment to taking away the stigma around it. “I have anxiety. And I’m treating my anxiety. I’m on medication for my anxiety. Why am I saying this? Because it’s a completely normal thing. It’s a biological problem. In my family there have been cases of depression. More and more people should talk openly about it. There is nothing shameful about it or something to hide. If you had a constant stomach pain, wouldn’t you go to the doctor? It’s that simple. I want to make this my mission, to take any shame out of this, to educate people about this.”
Soon after Anushka spoke up about anxiety, In March 2015, Deepika Padukone, in a tell-all interview with NDTV spoke about one of the darkest phases of her life – a time when even though her star was rising and adulation was pouring from every corner of the country, she was constantly depressed and crying. “A lot of times it’s not just the person who is suffering… there are a lot of people who are ready and willing to take that help, but it’s the immediate family and friends around who sort of suppress them and say, “No, no, you can’t go to the doctor because nobody does this, what are other people going to say?””
In August 2016, Ileana D’Cruz spoke to Miss Malini about fighting through body dysmorphic disorder, anxiety and depression. So often, we tend to dismiss the problems of people who seemingly have, what we think to be, ‘perfect lives’. “I have really emotional moments and it’s something I only realized recently. I’d wake up sometimes and I’d just cry, and I’m thinking of the most hopeless scenarios, and then I’m like ‘why am I thinking about that?’ There’s one voice in my head saying ‘you’re being stupid, you don’t have to be so upset about it, you have a great life’ and then the other part is like ‘no, you’ve got this not working for you, you’ve got that not working for you.’ So it’s just two little voices in my head fighting each other constantly, and it can be really bad.”
In December 2016, Lady Gaga revealed to NBC that she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during a visit to a homeless shelter for LGBT kids. The reason Lady Gaga finally spoke up about the mental health issue she had been battling with quietly after her rape as a 19-year-old girl was because she believed that it was the kindness shown to her that saved her life and she wanted everyone to just be a little bit kinder to people’s misery.
“I suffer from a mental illness; I suffer from PTSD. I’ve never told anyone that before, so here we are. But the kindness that’s been shown to me, by doctors as well as my family and my friends, it’s really saved my life. I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself and I found that kindness is the best way. One way to help people that have trauma is to inject them with as many positive thoughts as possible. It’s priceless.”
The end of a relationship can be a trying, traumatic time, no matter how famous or successful you are. In 2007, in a candid interview with Parade magazine, Halle Berry spoke about feeling so depressed after the end of her marriage to baseball star David Justice that she even attempted suicide.
“I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming when I had an image of my mother finding me. She sacrificed so much for her children, and to end my life would be an incredibly selfish thing to do. My sense of worth was so low. I had to reprogram myself to see the good in me. Because someone didn’t love me didn’t mean I was unlovable. That’s what the break-up of my marriage reduced me to. It took away my self-esteem. It beat me down to the lowest of lows.”