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My Father Lost His Battle With Depression. I'm Still Fighting Mine

12/06/2016 8:21 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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Rain drops in puddle

Sometimes, the past takes control of your future...

I love the monsoons. The smell of wet mud, trees shuffling in torrential bursts of rain, the crackling of thunder and the glimpse of lightning sparkling by like a gazelle... I'm mesmerized by it, all of it.

The joy you experience when the wind announces the coming of the rain on a hot, sultry afternoon is incomparable.

But these are not the only reasons why I love the monsoons.

The monsoons also bring you the promise of washing away your memories, all that you had dealt with and all that left you broken. The rain gives you the assurance of a fresh start, just like the trees coming alive with all their luscious greenery.

For me, the first drop of water that falls on the face of the earth rekindles the memories of my late father. It has been over a decade since I heard his voice last.

***

My father, a hearty, strong, benevolent man had a bright future. Tall, handsome, well-spoken, he got married to my mother at the young age of 28, his infatuation developing into the desire to have a family. A year later, I was born. Together, the three of us resembled a happy, picture perfect family with every reason to believe that we could reach for the stars.

Little did we know how delusional we were, in our small bubble of contentment.

Weeks after my father passed away, one day my grandfather broke down in front of me, and confessed a deadly secret.

All of us have our own demons to deal with. My father had his too. To such an extent that by the end of it, he had to take the most extreme step there is to escape from it.

Weeks after my father passed away, one day my grandfather broke down in front of me, and confessed a deadly secret. My father was suffering from depression for nearly two decades, before he ended his own life.

***

Long regarded as someone with all the potential in the world, my father faced only difficulties and failures in his career as a businessman. At heart, he wanted to be a writer, a weaver of stories. Yet, he was forced to choose a profession where he could see his creativity being drained, little by little, day by day.

This broke him.

And he took solace in alcohol and other means of escapism.

Escape he did, for he never again came back to his family.

He left home when I was 4 or 5 years old. Looking back now, I doubt that I saw my father for a total of even 24 hours, in any year after that.

He would call me over the phone though. He would call every day and I would beg him to come back. He said it was not possible but he wanted me to know that he loved me. At that time, it didn't make any strong impact on me, but now I crave for a phone call from him, his voice saying, "I love you, Nandu Ma!"

I crave for a phone call from him, his voice saying, "I love you, Nandu Ma!"

This continued for a few years. And I kept thinking he'll come back and we'll be a happy family again. It was only a matter of time.

It indeed was.

He tried to take his own life regularly. Every single time he was saved by frantic ambulance rides, and hard-working doctors. Well, every single time, except for the last one.

Once he knew he had reached the end, he called me from the hospital and asked me to come and visit him one last time. I said yes.

Except that the morning my mother was going to take me to the hospital, we found out he passed away the night before, succumbing to the injuries he had inflicted on himself.

And this is how depression won. It claimed a life full of hope and dreams, leaving behind painful memories with those who still remained.

***

I was barely into my teens and at the time, coping with the death of my father was unfathomable for me. The easiest way to deal with it was to repress and forget, as much as I could. And that is exactly what I did.

It was the first big mistake of my life.

Little did I know that apart from his love for languages and literature, my father had also left me the most significant part of his legacy.

He left me with hopelessness, self-loathing, insecurity and an immense amount of sadness which follows me around, wherever I go, till this day.

[Depression] is with me right now... sucking the light inside me, whispering in my ear, "One tight rope and a stool is all it takes."

I've changed cities, I've moved away from my family, in the hopes of finding salvation.

Yet, I still wake up from my sleep with the image of my father's dead body lying in front of the crematorium, and the priest telling me to light his face with fire so that he could pass on to the next world, finally being ridden of all guilt, and at peace.

Did he though? I don't know. I don't want to know.

What I do know is that I'm now suffering from anxiety and depression. And I'm at the stage where I badly want to escape from them.

Running away hasn't helped so far. Medicines and visits to the doctor have increased my numbness. And with each passing day, I feel the circle of hopelessness engulfing me with its tentacles.

It is with me right now, even as I write this. Sitting on my head, sucking the light inside me, whispering in my ear, "The choice is not difficult. One tight rope and a stool is all it takes."

***

But I fight it. I fight it every day, when I wake up, when I get ready for office, when I sip coffee at my desk, when I wait in the traffic and when I lie down on my bed in the middle of the night, remembering my father, a gentle soul who just never got a chance.

I wait for the rain to wash my pains away, to cleanse all my sorrows and to leave me with a little bit of hope.

And I wait for the monsoons.

I wait for the rain to wash my pains away, to cleanse all my sorrows and to leave me with a little bit of hope.

Because I'm not ready for the end of the tunnel yet.

This article is part of a series, called A Not So Fine Balance. Currently, I am working on a project called "A Year Full of Hope" which focuses on spreading awareness about mental illness and the importance of getting help. If you've any feedback or suggestions, please feel free to send in a mail at chandra.nandini22@gmail.com.

If you struggle with suicidal thoughts or attempts, call any of these helplines: Aasra 91-22-27546669, Sneha 04424640050, Jeevan 0091 6576453841, Pratheeksha 0484 2448830.

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