Fighting depression

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Excerpts from Jiya’s diary:

Friday night

I don’t exactly remember how long I have felt depressed. It has been one long and painfully uneventful week. The monotony of the same days and the same nights. I cannot even distinguish the Tuesday from the Thursday. They were all the same. I was unhappy each day, each moment.

The high mortgage, the assignment that I pitched for and lost, the poor appraisal, the ruined relationship, the unwell parent. Everything is overwhelming me. I cannot go home directly from work. That would be too regular and sad. That is what I did all week!

Two hours of ecstasy could help me get through another week. There is nothing wrong with it. I must enjoy. I deserve it. I owe it to myself.

And so, I pick that sexy backless outfit and detour to the ATM before I hit the most posh pub in town. One stamp on my wrist and the doors of the urban paradise opens itself, and consumes me into its solace. There is euphoria around.

Yet my depression still seems to be following me. Three drinks down, I still don’t look as happy as that girl in the tiny shorts who is dancing like there is no tomorrow. Completely unaware and uninhibited. Whereas, my problems don’t seem to have escaped yet. One last drink, I tell myself.

Saturday morning

It does not get any better. I feel lethargic and meaningless. I am frustrated that even yesterday’s extended and expensive binging session did not help me. I order my favourite pizza and chocolate brownies.

2 pm

I feel the tears running down my cheeks. There are 7 missed calls. I do not want to talk to anybody. Will I feel like this forever? Will I ever be happy? The not knowing is scary…

9 pm

Day after tomorrow would be a working day. I just have today to make an attempt to feel joy or something close to it. This feeling should go away, atleast momentarily. The week would anyway be miserable.

I pick the red dress. It looks like the one Shakira wore in ‘Hips don’t lie’. I look at my image in the mirror and smile at my reflection. There is a lot of makeup on the girl staring back at me. Yet, her eyes look dead.

I hit the pub. Again. As I pay the guy at the counter, he smiles at the visible ruins of the stamp from yesterday, and places one on top of it. I stare at it blankly. Should I refund or enter? I stand there confused, feeling broke and empty.

I need it. I need to distract myself. It’s better to have stamps on my wrist than to have slitted wrists. I justify myself.

Four months later

Enough of alcohol. I will do the right thing. I will visit a therapist.

Two weeks later

I arrive at the therapist’s clinic — a small, but friendly office inside her home. She is middle aged, and empathetic. I like her instantly. I tell her my story. Stories. I cry. She listens. I cry some more. I tell her I want to die. Or maybe not. I just want to be saved. She finally speaks:

“The evils of the modern day life have reduced most of us to slaves. Slaves of corporate lives. Slaves of addictions. Slaves of the haunting memories of failed relationships. Slaves of our own regrets, mistakes, unrealistic ambitions, and loss of direction. We are lonely alone. We are lonely in a crowd.

Grief and stress is overpowering. Many of us may not connect to spirituality and religion. We are away from our families, physically or emotionally. No support groups. No true intimacy.”

She pauses. “Would you like to have some coffee?” She asks abrupty, and takes me to her kitchen, much to my surprise.

She fills three pots with water and places each on a high flame. Once the three pots begin to boil, she places potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

“Oh, I did not want anything to eat!” She ignores me and continues.

After twenty minutes she turns off the burners. She takes the potatoes and eggs out and places them in a bowl. She then pours the coffee out in a cup.

“What do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” I reply, annoyed.

“Look closer,” “and touch the potatoes.” I notice that they are soft. She then asks me to take an egg and break it. I comply. Finally, she asks me to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to my face.

“What is your point?”

She then explains that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity – the boiling water.

However, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which one are you, Jiya?” she asked me. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?

In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.”

Jiya – Present day

I don’t want to be the potato. I don’t want to be lost anymore. I am strong and I have faith.

You know sometimes, you have no choice but to walk along the cliff’s edge. Everything feels intense. But I have wings. And if I feel like I am toppling over, maybe it is a nudge in the right direction to experience how amazing my wings really are.

It’s often when we think we are falling that we learn to fly. I trust my wings. They won’t and can’t let me down.

Dear God, if today I lose my hope, please remind me that your plans are better than my dreams. After all, just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.

Originally published at on November 26, 2015.

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