It's been a few years since Deepika Padukone came out about battling depression, writing about it in a leading daily first and then speaking to NDTV in an in-depth interview. Mental health has been, still is, a subject we are reluctant to acknowledge, leave alone address. Deepika's brutally honest admission changed the narrative somewhat. Mental illnesses. Depression. Anxiety. Psychological disorders. All of a sudden there were conversations on topics that had been taboo. When Deepika Padukone spoke, it became a war cry in a battle against mental illnesses.
Now, the actress says that speaking out was the best thing she could have done and her advice to those struggling to do so is simple - share with people you can trust and won't judge you; and if they do judge you, so what?
Today, Deepika's foundation to raise awareness about mental health - The Live Love Laugh Foundation - released a report on the public perception on mental health in the country. Not just insightful, the report is also going to help in formulating public to help raise awareness about mental health and fight taboos.
Sitting there talking to journalists, a very radiant Deepika Padukone was a testimony to a fact many forget - it gets better.
"I am definitely in a much happier place in life. Working in the field of mental health, and my own experiences all of it has made me more aware about my thoughts, feelings, emotions - not just mine but also people around me," Deepika Padukone said to Swirlster.
For Deepika, it wasn't just about fighting depression, it was also about taking up the flag against it.
"The Live Love Laugh Foundation is a dream become reality. What I had envisioned for the future of mental health in India and what we do as a foundation, to see that as a reality, the impact on many lives it is extremely gratifying," said Deepika when we asked how it felt to see the foundation doing so well.
It has been a long journey for her - as it is for anyone who faces a mental illness. What with the stigma, the fear of what society will say, our own anxieties, it is hard to talk about it all. But for Deepika Padukone, realising what she was going through and then understanding it was half the battle won.
"Coming out and speaking about it wasn't hard. Understanding what I was going through was hard. When I understood that, I felt like half the journey was done. The rest was just focusing on recovering. Talking about it is the best thing I could have done. I feel so light," she smiles.
The advice she would give people who want break the silence on their mental illnesses?
"Understand what you are going through - understand your feelings and emotions. And you may not want to share it with people but share it with people whom you trust," said Deepika. "It is important to share it with people who are close to you and won't judge you. And honestly, even if they judge you, so what? It is completely normal. You have to think of it as any other health condition. It is important for you, yourself, to realise that it is OKAY to go through what you are going through. And that you will be okay. That there is hope."
Nearing the end of our rendezvous, the actress just won our hearts all over again when she had a message for everyone who was battling depression.
"I have experienced it, I have seen it and I know it (battling depression and coming out of it) is possible. So don't give up. Like Stephen Fry says, 'It will be sunny one day'".
Well said, Deepika, well said indeed.
Here's hoping for a sounder, more aware about mental health India.