As an 18-year-old, I was full of energy – a rebel without a cause and a staunch non-conformist. Last year, I turned 25 and a prolonged phase of depression completely shattered my belief system.
My mental health had been in free-fall for some time, but a second break-up in two years finally made me hit rock-bottom. I never thought a second heartbreak – especially in a relationship I never felt too happy in to begin with – would send my existence into irreversible disarray. But that wasn’t the only notion my ego had to let go.
I knocked on the doors of psychiatrists with great optimism, and the first couple of sessions did mask the pain and anxiety. The meds worked and I hated myself for not seeking this route before. However, I soon realised that changing the brain’s chemistry comes with its own fair share of side effects. After four months of my love-hate relationship with the pills, I was back to square one. Crazy dreams, night sweats, acne, and suicidal thoughts had started crushing my disillusioned self.
But I’m not here to talk about the negative effects of depression.
People are already familiar with its near-fatal symptoms as it becomes an ever-growing global issue. I’m definitely tempted to share tales of my pain, but I’ll talk about how it has changed me and my perceptions of the world instead. I’m not saying my mental health is back to baseline, but I’m sure that, with time, the person who leaves this storm won’t be the same as the one who was engulfed by it.
As a skeptic and reserved introvert, I always found it really hard to fit into society or its subdivisions. My younger self always tried to point fingers at what was considered normal. Being a cog in the wheel always frightened me. I would always say: “I won’t work nine to five, I won’t get attached to my family and I won’t pay heed to anything that’s banal.” But all these appeared meaningless after a point. I was tired of being a rebel.
After every scrap of meaning was stripped away from my life, I began rewriting my story. I’m still shy and introverted, but the social anxiety has withered away. It’s easier now than ever to fit in.
How, you may ask? A U-turn of perception.
Depression taught me that there’s always pain – no matter what life path you choose – and honestly, this realisation didn’t feel that bad. It might sound clichéd that accepting your reality is the key to living a happy life, but it’s actually true.
I’ve accepted that freedom is not devoid of suffering. I’ve accepted that my way of life doesn’t make me a better person. I’ve come to terms with a mundane quotidian lifestyle. I’ve loosened the grip on my long-held beliefs. I eat the food I detested before with a smile on my face. I appreciate songs that have no aesthetic value. A ‘good morning’ text from my parents makes me happy. I don’t avoid conversations with people with whom I have nothing in common. And most importantly, I’ve accepted that pain is inevitable.
I wake up for the morning commute, log my work hours, and return home to continue shedding my cocoon. I have not let go of my dreams and hope the impending butterfly effect flies me to them.
Am I a better person? I don’t know. But I think I have surely adapted to this civilised society.
Ankul Sharma believes that he is an armchair philosopher, mystic thinker, and a human being trying to figure out the purpose of existence. He is fond of angelic and psychedelic things. His pen name is Juan Kaius.
Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty