On account of studying in a different state than my parents I have come to travel alone a lot. Which is great for me because travel stories make for good content (if you’ve read our posts you’ll know). By virtue of this, I’ve had the fortune only few have, of meeting new people and listening to some of their stories without having to put in effort to stay in touch later. (don’t judge me, I’m only human).
Each time the ice breaker seems to be “Oh you’re doing medicine? Third year? Oh okay. You know funny story actually a relative of mine…”And they proceed to tell me some medical problem their friend or relative has had in the past.
In this instance I speak about, the same sequence of events unfolded. However this time I had a problem which was twofold. 1) This lady by my side didn’t stop with narrating an incident. She went on to ask my opinion about it. Now I am but a third year med student, how can I be the second opinion to a cardiologist? So as she looked expectantly at me I struggled to put the scraps of my pharmac, path and medicine knowledge together and give her a satisfactory answer.
And 2) I was really sleepy. Anyway somewhere through the next hour she gave me a story that I am now writing about so I am not complaining.
Apparently, the lady in question, had a neighbour who recently passed. Her family is suspecting it to be a case of suicide because they now think she was under depression. I was sincerely nodding my head and sympathizing with her when she asked me “But dear tell me, do you think it could have been depression? I mean she seemed so normal.”
Yes aunty, she could have been depressed. Here is why.
Depression isn’t a disease where you can list out its signs and symptoms. It doesn’t have a face. It doesn’t come knocking on your door in the quiet of the night, it comes like the drop of a pin on a sunny beach morning. It doesn’t do shit to you in terms of altering your cholesterol levels or urine sugar levels. What it does instead is make you FEEL like shit. I have never been depressed medically. But I’ve been sad at some point or the other. Haven’t we all?
Now imagine having that feeling intensified plus your brain convincing you that you deserve the worthlessness you are feeling. Imagine there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t know how long this tunnel is going to be or if the light will ever shine through. Imagine feeling you have no purpose here. That is what depression does to you.
The worst thing about depression though? Left untreated it can actually kill, if not your body, then your mind and soul. It is like a faceless dementor sucking the soul out of a living person who is still expected to live, smile and act normal only because people don’t believe or understand what is going on with them.
But how can we understand? It’s like explaining colour to a blind person.
To those of you who are reading this from a third person’s point of view, remember : Be kind. If a friend comes and tells you that they are feeling purposeless or sad, take them seriously. Talk to them. Be patient. Tell them how important they are to you. Lead them to the end of that tunnel. Your actions today can have an effect on somebody’s tomorrow.
To those of you who are reading this and relating to it, remember : Talk. Talk to a friend or family. Get help. Therapy isn’t taboo. It is brave. If you don’t think you can confide into someone, come talk to us. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself time to heal even though it may seem hard at present. Be patient and kind with yourself when you are healing, just like you would with anyone else. You are loved. You are wanted. You have a purpose here. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
The beautiful picture above was captured by our dear friend Burj-Al-Arun. He captioned it “32 medical students, one journey” and aptly so. But when we saw this picture (Forgive us, we’re two old souls sometimes) we saw something more than just the colorful umbrellas. Each umbrella has a story to tell. Each one of us carries a burden, some of our’s larger than the rest and others’ so large that it’s almost debilitating.
And yet we wouldn’t know a thing because that’s the nature of this disease.
So be observant. Ask how someone’s doing if they seem down. Hell ask how someone is doing even if they seem fine, smile at everyone and be kind. It could make all the difference in the world.