SUSHANT SINGH'S IG POST MUST CHANGE HOW WE ADDRESS MENTAL HEALTH
By Maarya Sheikh.
It’s time we spoke candidly about mental health. Depression is on the rise everywhere, yet in South Asian communities there is a lot of ignorance around the subject. Even openly admitting to suffering from mental illness is considered taboo. But silence comes at a hefty price.
On June 14th, Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput succumbed to his battle against depression. Best known for his roles in films like Kai Po Che and Chhichore, the Bihari actor had spoken about his struggles with mental health, as well as the superficialness and insularity of the Bollywood industry. As his loss reignites the conversation around mental health in desi communities, another facet of the issue must also be addressed.
On May 5th, Sushant posted a photo on Instagram with the following caption:
“Of all the various approaches I’ve tried in the last few months, these meta-skills have worked wonders with the best ROI of time :) 1. 7 hours of optimized sleep 2. Regular meditation 3. Writing a journal. 🖊 4. Frequent Exercise 5. Optimizing digital time and 6. Intermittent fasting.”
This post stuck out to me. Often when people with depression talk to loved ones and doctors, these tips and tricks are offered to as remedies or hacks for maintaining mental health. This is not to say that they don’t work at all; they can certainly help once we manage to implement them in the first place. But they are not enough.
We at the Sedit write frequently about wellness DIYs and self-care tips. It’s important to acknowledge, though, that self-care has its limitations when it comes to mental and emotional health. Because the fact is, no amount of meditation, exercise, and clean eating can overcome one of the most painful and debilitating experiences known to humans: isolation.
We are wired to crave connection for survival, almost as much as basic needs like food and water. Lacking meaningful connections and a sense of belonging can have devastating consequences for the body and mind: scientists have measured the impact of loneliness and found that chronic isolation is linked to higher stress levels, lowered immunity, heart disease, and cognitive decline. Researchers have labeled loneliness an “epidemic” in the modern world, and it may be the culprit for higher suicide and addiction rates in otherwise prosperous countries.
Sushant’s fans and co-stars have criticized the film industry as being rife with nepotism, shutting out people not belonging to a superstar pedigree. Whether it was the dearth of opportunities that contributed to his suffering is still a matter of speculation; however, it is clear that being made to feel like an outcast couldn't have helped his situation.
People battling depression every day of their lives are exhausted. Fighting the part of themselves that wants to give up, while also working hard to make a living takes constant effort and energy. The last thing they need is another to-do list, even by well-meaning loved ones.
That’s why the Sedit will be posting a list of things friends and families of people struggling with mental illness can do to support them. We believe that knowledge is power and that educating ourselves about mental illness, as well as the social factors that trigger them, is the first step towards mental and emotional wellness in our communities.
If we want to make a difference and stop losing valuable lives to depression and consequently to suicide then we need to shift some of the responsibility of healing off their shoulders. Care must be a conscious, collective effort. We aim to become part of that shift.