Most discussions about depression and mental illness still remain taboo and shrouded in secrecy. Recently, celebrities such as Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar and Honey Singh have tried to break this silence by speaking publicly about their personal struggle with mental illness.
Bengaluru-based chef and food photographer Madhu Menon recently spoke to the White Swan Foundation about accepting and coping with depression, as well as the challenges of talking about it in public.
In the video, Menon talks about his own internal stigma in coming to terms with the fact that he was suffering from depression. "Societal conditioning had led me to think that if I admit to myself that I might be depressed," Menon says in the video, " that I am somehow weak, that there is something wrong with me. This is something that I would actively discourage people from believing. There is nothing wrong with you. It is just a condition that has to be treated."
Menon adds that this could be because it is more difficult to talk about depression if you're a man and are expected to be strong. "Crying, emotion and sadness are all weirdly associated with women, but both genders are just as susceptible to it," Menon says. "It's not like we don't have feelings and we don't feel happy or said."
Menon also speaks of the difficulty of explaining his condition to his friends and acquaintances, and the need for people to respond with understanding rather than pity or suggestions. Menon went on to start a conversation about depression on Twitter, by starting a hashtag and posting about the numerous well-intentioned but ignorant things that people say to you when you are depressed.
Listen to the interview here.