The event filled span between the wondrous opening and the final closing of our eyes, our windows to the world, pretty much defines the journey of life which is at best an enigma to most. Beginning with questions on the purpose of life and striving to lead a life of purpose despite finding no answers, many seekers out to unravel life through prose, poetry and philosophical predilections have drawn a blank because of the twists and turns and the unpredictable hurdles along the way. “Do you know what the scariest thing is? To …not know your place in this world, to not know, why you’re here. That’s just an awful feeling” American film maker and actor Manoj Night Shyamalan’s quote from his ‘Unbreakable’ film series reflects the angst of those who seek more from life. These reflections on life are not just random thoughts that lodge themselves in the brain but a sincere rumination on human life that is precious, vulnerable and fleeting. A truth poignantly brought home to the citizens of the world post COVID-19. Whether you are an earnest seeker or a nonchalant wayfarer cruising past life without deeper thought, living life to the fullest potential is a common   goal. While millions are battling the pandemic in an effort to stay alive and soldiers are losing lives defending borders, news about people riding the wave of success ending their lives in a sudden moment of despair is a numbing reality check on mental health and its ramifications.

There have been any number of debates on mental health, but until people appreciate the fact that depression is an illness that afflicts the mind just like any other physical disease and erase the stigma associated with it, no remedy can be found.  The humongous emotion that clogs the mind and sends those under its spell into extreme despair has in its vicious grip successful musicians, comedians, actors and celebrities from different fields. Why are these people whom the world sees as winners prone to depression and subsequent insecurities? Why are they ready to forsake everything in pursuit of elusive goals?  Questions about depression are numerous and logical too but what the world sees as things of value have little or no importance in the eyes of victims who experience an emotional low which makes everything pale in comparison to their perceived miserable and wretched state. In fact most victims who have mental health issues say they are vexed with the question ‘Why?’.  Asking patients to diagnose their condition is ridiculous but that’s what happens to most people asked the reason for their depression. Diagnosis, treatment and support from family and friends are crucial to address mental health which needs to be openly discussed and understood as in the case of diseases that affect the body. Unfortunately, internal scars are hidden behind the façade of success and artificial social behaviour that makes even close friends, relatives and associates oblivious to the trauma, depression and loneliness experienced by someone in their midst until it is too late.

 A recent instagram post by a successful, RJ, actor and comedian who confessed that he was prone to depression and spent many sleepless nights got me thinking. This super talented youngster has made me laugh out in abandon numerous times and to think that he suffers from acute depression is difficult to comprehend. Happy smiling faces are then just masks that hide great suffering and grief. Anxiety and panic attacks, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, personality disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic and stress disorder (PTSD) and psychosis are all manifestations of mental health issues that can be treated. Denial that there is a problem prevents many from seeking timely help and the lack of a positive support system may hamper normalcy even when patients are under treatment. A healthy diet of positive thoughts for the mind, the knowledge that nothing lasts forever, a role model or wise counsel who can set fears to rest and honest friends who will give you the right perspective are helpful but only alongside right clinical therapy and counseling. We must chase success but not let it ruin our mental peace or disturb our equanimity. The key to happiness is simple. Accept situations as they are, instead of wasting energy on what they should be. The best space is the mind space and you should use it to make you rather than break you.