‘I don’t write about my experiences with depression to defend the legitimacy of my pain. My pain is real; it does not come to me because of my lifestyle, and it is not taken away by my lifestyle,’ says Shaheen Bhatt in her multidimensional philosophical tell-all book, I’ve Never Been (Un)Happier.
A poignant illustration of her day-to-day struggles with depression, Shaheen Bhatt’s memoir is crucial in starting a conversation that has been hushed for too long.
Read on to find an excerpt to begin a dialogue around mental health in India.
Perpetual bliss does not exist and anyone who peddles the belief that it does, or tries to convince you that there is a secret path through the woods that leads to an oasis of unending peace and happiness is either deluded, or a liar.
For too long we’ve been convinced that the emotional fairy tale—the perfect state of emotional well-being— exists, and that it’s tantalizingly close but just out of reach. We’ve been convinced that it exists and we’ve been convinced that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us for not being able to attain it.
It’s high time that we realize that there’s nothing wrong with us.
There’s something wrong with the fairy tale. Perpetual bliss does not exist, and saying that does not make me a nihilist.
I sit on the same see-saw that we all do and it continuously goes up and down, shifting between darkness and light—it’s the same for us all. Some of us simply stay down a little longer in a dark that’s just a little darker.
Transience is something we’re all so afraid of, and we live in perpetual fear of a new, different reality.
But thank God for transience because even though it means that happiness doesn’t last it also means that pain eventually passes.
It means that neither heaven nor hell are permanent.
There is nothing glorious or freeing or romantic or lovely about depression. Depression is a monster, a villain and thief, but even the worst of experiences teach you something. Depression has taken a lot from me and it has also given me a lot, but only because I eventually demanded it. I demanded my lessons and I took them head on.
‘You must not allow your pain to be wasted, Shaheen,’ my father said to me. I chant that quietly to myself—‘My pain must not be wasted,’ I say—and I try to learn, I try to do. I grieve and cry and hurt but I also take my medication and go to therapy. I watch my soul being bent and twisted into painful, unnatural shapes and marvel at how I’ve never seen it from those angles before. There are still days and weeks and months when I am also consumed by depression, when I forget all my lessons, when I forget everything but the pain. And that’s also when I turn to the very idea I’m afraid of: transience.
I remind myself if happiness is fleeting, then so is sadness.
I remind myself depression is the weather, and I’m a weather-worn tree.
I remind myself even the worst storms pass.
I remind myself I’ve survived them all.
A topic of massive interest to anyone with mental health disorders, I’ve Never Been (Un)Happier stretches out a hand to gently provide solace and solidarity. Go get your copy today!