Shaheen Bhatt opened up about her depression a couple of years back in a heart-wrenching post on Instagram. Later on, she also released a book titled, ‘Never Been (Un)Happier’, where she spoke in detail about the difficult phase of her life. Shaheen has been suffering through depression since she was 13.
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I've lived with depression on and off since I was about 13 years old. This is not a revelation or a confession. Those who know me know this about me. It's not something I take any pains to hide, I'm not ashamed of it or particularly troubled by it. It's just a part of who I am. I have days where I feel good and then I have days where I don't. One minute everything's fine and the next it's like someone turned the light off inside my head. I go quiet and it's difficult to get out of bed. Like it always does the world around me loses focus and I struggle to make sense of it. Sometimes these bouts last an hour – sometimes they last days. Today, I'm on day 4. I say I live with depression rather than I struggle with it because for me (and I speak only for myself here) I don't see why it has to be a struggle. I once read an idea by an American essayist called Richard Mitchell which stayed with me; it's now become how I try to approach the dips in my week or month. The idea is this: To be sick, or to suffer, is inevitable. But to become bitter and vindictive in sickness and suffering and to surrender to irrationality, supposing yourself the innocent and virtuous victim of the evils intentions of the world, is not inevitable. The appropriate answer to the question – Why me? is the other question – Why not me? *** Why am I writing about this? Well, I spend a fair amount of time on social media during the course of my day and today I found myself looking for something to post because it's been a few days since I've posted anything. I couldn't find anything so I figured I'd just talk about this – how I'm doing, instead of what I'm doing. It's as simple as that, and we could all stand to do a little more of it. P.S. That picture just seemed to work in this context.
During a recent interview with Rajeev Masand, Shaheen recalled a few incidents from her childhood which were responsible for sowing seeds of depression in her life.
Referring to an excerpt in Shaheen’s book, Rajeev Masand said, “In the book, you talk about this incident and it’s just heartbreaking where you talk that once you and Alia, your younger sister went to a photoshoot with your elder sister, Pooja Bhatt and at some point the photographer asked you to leave the picture because the two of them (Alia and Pooja) looked similar, they were fair, cute and you were dark having spent too much time in the sun and you were a little overweight. And you said that till date, looking at those pictures cripples you emotionally.”
Shaheen admitted that this incident makes her feel uncomfortable even now and said, “It’s making me unconformable right now as you are talking about it. You know, women, in general, suffer a lot….Shame I think is the core of depression and it could be any form of shame, and with women, I think body image also tends to be one of the causes for shame. Shame is central and I wish I could make people understand that shame is central to any kind of negative feelings, depression, and sadness. It stops you from being vulnerable and you constantly fear that if you will show yourself as you are, you will be rejected by society. And my self-worth was definitely affected because I was at an age where the seeds of that were sown in me.”
Alia Bhatt has always been supportive of her elder sister Shaheen. After reading her book, she also released a video apologizing to Shaheen for not understanding her phase of depression despite staying under the same roof for years. “I know you hate the fact that we all are saying sorry to you, but take the apology because even though we love you, I don’t think we understood what you were going through, to this extent,” she said.
It must have been a really tough fight for Shaheen. We hope that she is blessed with the strength to work on her mental health and overcomes the difficult phase of her life soon.