I am a 25-year-old well educated independent married woman. I was the apple of my parents' eyes and was loved by my friends. I moved from Delhi to Bangalore after I got married because my husband worked there. We lived with our mother-in-law. I started hunting for a job as soon as I moved to Bangalore. Luckily I found one within a week. Life was ‘a dream come true.’ It was all rosy and new for me.
My mother-in-law was very supportive and loving. My husband was my Prince Charming and my best friend.
We travelled a lot and happily enjoyed our married life. I did have a few issues with my husband but I knew that most women faced such issues in the initial days of their married lives.
I had always stayed with my parents so far. So I would miss them sometimes but my husband was always around to make me smile. I was doing well in my career too. I had no reason to worry. I had been married for almost 4 months now.
The bubbly, cute and charming girl has transformed into a responsible woman who was doing anything and everything to keep her husband and mother-in-law happy.
I had to work hard in my office so often I had to spend a few extra hours to finish the work. I would constantly feel guilty about not being able to help my mother-in-law with the household work.
I was scared that I would fail to be a good daughter-in-law.
I considered these things normal. But I was having trouble with my sleep. Even though I spent 10 hours in my office, I was unable to sleep properly at night.
I would cry the whole night and miss my parents. I would look at my husband who was sleeping soundly next to me. I knew he was very busy with his work. So I would never feel like waking him up and telling him about how upset I was feeling.
The next day, I would go to my office, meet and talk to everyone and look like I was the happiest person alive. But often it would be exactly the opposite.
Things continued in the same manner for about a month. Slowly, I became irritated and lost interest in everything. I lost my appetite. I stopped talking to people. I would plug my earphones into my ears without turning on any kind of music just to avoid a conversation with my colleagues.
I was clueless about what exactly was wrong with me. It was easier for me to avoid a conversation than to explain what was wrong with me.
So I lost all contact with my friends and family. My husband and my mother-in-law noticed the change in my behaviour but thought that I was feeling homesick. But things were becoming harder for me with every passing day. I was not getting proper sleep. Life looked dull. I had lost interest in all my hobbies. I was not able to focus on my work.
I worried constantly about things. I was thinking too much about everything.
Things were better for me in the office because I was always overloaded with work. I had no time to think about my symptoms. I would hear my heartbeat daily and feel as if my heart would burst any minute.
I started stammering and fumbling for words while talking. I became forgetful and could not focus on anything. I would cry uncontrollably. I still remember going to the washroom every time and crying my heart out there. I would then wipe my tears, wash my face and come out with a smile.
After a month or so, my frustration was at its peak. I fought a lot with my husband over the silliest of things. I stopped talking with my parents and friends over the phone. I was losing all my charm and confidence. Even then, nobody including my husband realized that something was wrong with me.
One day, I suddenly started breathing rapidly in the office. I started sweating while I was working. I could not catch my breath and suddenly I was scared of everything and everyone around me. My pulse was racing. I was shivering like hell. I ran away from the office without informing anyone. Slowly this became a routine. I would keep awake the whole night, wake up in the early morning and drag myself to the office.
I would cry whenever I was alone and stay in the office until things became unbearable. One day, my mother-in-law said something to me out of frustration. My behaviour had changed but I could not bear what she told me and in no time at all, I was on the floor trying to catch my breath. I was crying uncontrollably and my whole body felt numb.
That was the day I finally realized that I was not suffering from ‘homesickness.’ I realized that it was SOMETHING ELSE.
I had heard my brother talking about anxiety attacks when I was a child. He used to get these attacks when he was in college. But they were minor and he eventually recovered with age. So I did a Google search for this term and my nightmare turned into a reality. I had 100% of the symptoms.
I cried the whole night and gathered the courage to share what I had found out with my husband. I was scared to share this with my mother-in-law and parents because I was scared of being judged and misunderstood.
I did not want my in-laws to think of me as an ‘attention seeker’ who was using her ‘illness’ to avoid doing the household work.
But things changed for the worse with time. My performance deteriorated in the office. After seeing my condition, my husband took an appointment with a psychiatrist and forced me to visit him once. My initial meeting with the doctor was just for 10 minutes. But in no time, I was diagnosed with GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER and DEPRESSION. Only my brother knew about my visits to the doctor and my problem. I did not want to worry my parents in any way.
But after a few months, my parents visited Bangalore to see me. I was feeling weak and terrified at that time. I still remember that I had not even looked at them when they had come home. Instead, I had just gone to my room and cried. My parents were shocked to see my condition. I remember how my mom had cried on the day she first saw me. My father was stressed and depressed.
He thought I was not happy with my marriage and that is why I was suffering from depression.
He started feeling guilty and depressed for no fault of his. My father accompanied me to the doctor and talked to him about my problem. He even motivated me to start taking my medication. I had been so scared to take it. Soon they left.
But after getting their love and support, I was finally able to start my medication and treatment properly. Today, after undergoing treatment for 1 year and 4 months, I know that the frequency of my anxiety attacks has reduced. I have gained a few kg of weight and people say I look healthy and good again. But I am still battling depression. My antidepressant doses have been doubled. But I am still taking it positively because I am sure I will get over it soon.
I have accepted the fact that I am ill.
My husband still supports me and loves me a lot. Due to my mood swings and frustration, we do have our share of ups and downs in our lives.
But he is always around to love me and take care of me – no matter what.
My mother and his mother still judge me. My mother thinks that I am responsible for my illness because I am a strong headed person who was never ready to compromise on her marriage. It hurts a lot to hear remarks like these. My mother-in-law still thinks that I am an attention seeker and I am doing all this intentionally just to gain attention from her son. She has even told me that I was responsible for all the tension that her son is experiencing.
Sometimes, they take me to some baba and make me do certain things because they think all this is happening to me due to black magic and ‘buri nazar’. They still don’t understand what exactly mental illness is. My husband and I are tired of explaining that ‘depression’ is a disease and that it can occur to anyone.
But we fail to make anyone understand this. They don’t see me as a patient because they are no physical injury marks on my body. So they expect me to do all the work that a normal woman does. They see me as a girl who failed to be a good daughter-in-law. I have even tried to kill myself twice.
Even after going for counselling sessions, there is still no improvement in my condition but I have made peace with my illness.
Sometimes, I look back on my college days and wonder about how life has changed so much for me. I was a beautiful young bubbly girl but have changed into a weak, terrified and introvert girl now.
I finally gathered the courage to speak up and have even informed my colleagues and managers about my illness. They understand me completely and support me.
My husband is doing everything and anything to keep me happy. Now, we start our day with yoga and exercises.
He has been my oxygen ever since we got married. I feel so proud to be his wife. I am fighting and I will keep fighting for him and our bright future.
It is so funny how I have everything in my life – parents and friends who love me unconditionally, a cute and loving husband, a lucrative job and supportive colleagues but I still feel so hollow from inside. I just want to end my life. It is hard.
Being DEPRESSED and ANXIOUS in India is not something easy to deal with because people here have zero awareness about mental illness.
But, I will keep fighting. I have also joined some ‘depression awareness campaigns’ because I want to help others deal with it. I always hope for a better tomorrow. I may be depressed but I am a FIGHTER.
Even today, whenever I cry or feel low, I tell myself, “Lift your head up princess. Your tiara is falling!”