Unwillingness to adapt to changing situations results in mental depression

India has been jolted by the suicide of a young, talented and hard working actor in Bollywood, the country’s biggest movie industry. As rumor mills swirl around nepotism as the apparent reason and repeated rejections from movies in spite of delivering hits and becoming a bankable star, the focus is firmly fixed on depression, the reason that finally led to his untimely demise.

Is depression a disease or a weakness of the mind is the debate that is hot on everyone’s plate now. I believe it’s neither. We need to see this from two perspectives.

1) Human mind is like God or the Almighty. The more we try to understand both the further they keep going away from us.

2) Our lives are fully controlled by situations created mostly by others.

Is depression a disease?

Is common cold a disease? We still do not know. But because we have been taught and indoctrinated into believing that cold is a disease, we take medication for it. And what do those medicines do? Suppress the symptoms of cold. What we need to know here is that suppression does not eliminate the disease. We think the cold is gone but only for now. Whatever is causing the cold remains inside the body. Moreover all medicines that suppress symptoms of diseases have side effects. Antidepressants never cures depression. They just numbs the brain so that we do not feel the pain of what is hurting our minds. If anyone believes antidepressants will help us stay alive, no. We will eventually get tired of living on them. We are not used to taking medicines to live our daily lives normally.

Is depression a weakness of the mind?

Sushant was academically brilliant, from being the national level Physics Olympiad champion to becoming a mechanical engineer by cracking an entrance exam with a top 10 rank, his mind was probably bordering on being a genius. We will never know what he would have become if he hadn’t chosen to become an actor. People of such academic pedigree are hardly seen in the movie industry but what we can understand now is that he was extremely passionate about whatever he pursued. That he was extremely hard working and motivated to become an established actor was evident from his movies. Such a person can never have a weak mind.

Then why did he take the extreme step?

Well, he did make some mistakes.

1) Looks like he never asked himself if it was his fault. As someone who has contemplated harming myself more than once, I managed to pull my mind back each time with the simple question “is it my fault?” Our lives are a 3-dimensional affair. While on one side we have the free will to make our choices, on the other two sides are situations and destiny. We suffer mostly by becoming part of situations created by others knowingly or inadvertently. Destiny essentially says life is full of ups and downs. So all we can do is to be hard working, sincere, dedicated and focused. What happens from that point is not in our hands. That’s where we need three more qualities: 1) Patience 2) Perseverance and 3) Resilience. We will not develop these three qualities unless we ask ourselves if it’s our fault. He had already become a well known face in Bollywood. All he had to do was to be calm and wait. Everyone has their own life clocks that run differently and that is the beauty of life.

2) He made his passion his profession. Asking to make one’s passion his/her profession is a completely wrong advice to give. A profession is to make a living and work can be done only at the whims and fancies of others. Especially in the creative world, art in any form has to flow from the depths of our mind. Art and wealth never go hand in hand. If he had an alternate profession to make a living and he was acting only to fulfill his passion, no uncertainties in the movie industry would have had affected him. He would not have had to ask for work in the movie industry and be at the mercy of movie producers and directors. Supply only when demand comes to us.

3) He listened to others. We all have an inner voice and we also have instincts and gut feeling. Always go with them. That’s our natural reaction to facing a situation and our first thought about the situation usually turns out to be the correct one. Surrendering the control of our mind to counselors & antidepressants is the completely wrong way to combat depression. Gaining control over our mind, senses & needs & distracting & diverting our mind away from what is hurting us is what will truly help in overcoming depression.

The pressure to find work & perform well exists across all professions which is why work should neither become an obsession nor stressful for long periods of time. The only way out is to involve the mind in many activities & develop varied interests. Fulfillment of any form comes only when we develop mindfulness. Only when we are content with who we have become can we look ahead and see who we can become.

My understanding of depression is very simple. We are perpetual victims of situations and our lives are like sinusoidal waves. When life starts going the wrong way for us, we try to control the situations. When we are not able to we try harder. When we get stuck in the loop and we fail repeatedly, our mind starts slipping. When the world starts looking down on us, we start losing our self esteem and we start believing we are not worthy of what we are aspiring for. Knowing the Kübler-Ross model is very helpful here. The first step to facing a difficult situation is to move from denial to acceptance quickly. Only when we accept a situation do we start getting greater clarity on how to face it. We will come across many situations where the only solution is to accept it and wait for it to pass. We do not usually walk when it’s raining heavily, we wait for it to stop. Snippets of survival.

There is no depression in nature. Animals have a simple 3 pronged agenda – 1) Survive 2) Eat & 3) Reproduce and they are absolutely clear about this. Having complex emotions doesn’t mean we cannot simplify them. Having greater needs doesn’t mean we cannot reduce them according to circumstances. Simply put, we need to be adaptable. To surmise, reluctance to adapt to changing situations is what leads the mind into depression.

Sushant, I hope you will learn these lessons in your afterlife and you will get another chance to redeem yourself. Be at peace for now.

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Ranjeet Menon

Business Consultant, Startup mentor, writer, nature conservationist, wildlife photographer