Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone. These are names most of us are aware of. We know them as epitomes of success and millions of people aspire to become like one. Besides the name, fame they hold, there’s one commonality that makes them who they are today. Which is – they all suffered clinical depression (smiling depression) at some point in life. They opened up about it, and spread the words to normalize the conversation about depression.
WHO (World Health Organization) has shared “mental disorder affects one in four people” as an official statement. And in 2017, it said, more than 300 million people were living with depression. Each year the number is swelling.
Depression, one of the most common mental illnesses, is a bodily condition just like any other disease, which has nothing to do with a person’s fame, fortune, and success.
Today I want to talk about ‘Smiling Depression’, the term stands as a no-go area, at least in many countries like Nepal.
Smiling Depression is a fabricated face of depression. People who look totally fine outside but inside, they’re dealing with a state of dejection and depression symptoms.
The term Smiling Depression manifests “not all depressed people display sadness on their face” loud and clear.
A few months back, one of my good friends from India shared with me how terribly he was dealing with mental health. I could sense turmoil in his words. That was the first time we were having ‘depression conversation’ and I ended up thanking him for opening his heart out.
Those 15 minutes of listening to him, I was shell-shocked. Everything coming out from him was unimagined and unexpected. I mean, he is doing pretty good in his media profession, he earns well, he has a nice partner. He has a decent number of fans around him, he is attending weekend parties all smiles. His Instagram is full of happy pictures. What else a social celebrity needs!?
Basically, he is the face of smiling depression. Nobody could even imagine behind closed doors, he is living in despair. Every single day.
There are jillions of people who carry smiling depression with them 24/7 but are not aware of it. Nurturing depression symptoms inside the mind and body and not being aware of it is even more dreadful. Many people do not even want to accept that they have depression or they need help. People who are doing ‘well’ in their life do not want themselves to be considered as ‘weak’ or ‘sad’ so they often leave their ‘depressed part’ undetected.
In societies like ours, mental health or depression is still a social stigma. We don’t take mental health as normal as physical health. So we don’t want to show our ‘sad’ part to the world to avoid possible embarrassment we’re likely to face.
Mental health issues in Nepal:
One of the reports said, around 9 lakh people in Nepal are suffering from depression and less than 15 percent receive treatment. Our topography, habitation, social structure, etc. have a huge contribution to people’s degraded mental health. Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, domestic violation, alcohol/drug consumption, adverse physical condition, etc. are some common instances that could drag a person into depression.
In Nepal, a whopping number of cases go undiscovered because we as a country are still struggling to normalize the concept of mental health.
Nepal formulated the mental health policy in 1996 but the vast majority of citizens are completely out of it. How the policy is being executed is one big reason our country is lagging by a huge margin.
Being a responsible citizen, the most consequential initiative we are supposed to take is to accept the need of staying aware of what we go through internally. To accept the fact that having depression is as normal as colds and flu. The need of the hour is, to discover whether we have layered depression with smiles because we fear ‘what others would think of us’.
There are some common symptoms of smiling depression that one could look for. If you experience symptoms like change in appetite, change in sleep pattern, back pain, headaches, lack of enthusiasm, lack of concentration, not having close friends, you should opt for help. There’s no surprise that you or someone around you might be living with Smiling Depression.
There’s nothing wrong with being depressed or living with smiling depression. But trying to avoid reality and not doing anything about it, definitely is.
Are we ready to evolve?