Featuring a powerful Survivor Story in collaboration with The Suicide Prevention India Foundation.
Anurag Khanna is a 26-year-old from Kolkata who works as a business analyst in Bangalore. This is a part of his story.
When I was five, I lost my father to a heart attack but my mother made sure we (my elder sister and I) were (not) devoid of anything.
My childhood was pretty much normal in most aspects, I had everything that a kid my age does. I was loved and had good social connects till I was in 10th standard. But being of introverted nature, I did not quite fit amongst people my age, I just did not understand the idea behind sleazy innuendos and snide comments. At the age of 11, my peaceful existence was punctured by a ghastly incident that left me with a permanent scar. I was molested by a family friend which I understood only later in life when I learnt about sex and harassment. That guy knew he was wrong and luckily never showed up in my life again. Being bullied was also a persistent issue all my school and college life.
Barring the few incidents mentioned above, growing up was more or less normal. Only I did not quite see the point of social bonding under the shroud of (for the lack of better word) bitching. I had no role models as such but found a solace in movies from the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Sai Paranjape, Basu Chatterjee etc. Movies have ever since been an integral part of my relaxation regimen.
Added to this, was the lifelong social pressure of ‘do something big for your mother’ for which engineering was shoved down my throat. Both by society and myself. Towards the final days when my exam (2nd attempt) was approaching and I felt under-prepared, I just thought that was the easy way out rather than putting myself through the same ordeal of the 6 hours of trauma writing the exam.
At the age of 19, I tried to hang myself but was saved in the nick of time by one of my cousins. No thoughts really came to my mind back then, it was all just a blank. I think on some level. I just wanted to be heard and wanted to convey my agony. Maybe this was part of the reason why I left my door unlocked while attempting it. My cousin took me outside and offered me to join his business, which just helped me realise there are other ways I can make my living out of. I am not saying competitive exams are bad but if that’s not your calling, please don’t harass yourself because of it. There are zillions of other things to make a career out of.
I was depressed during my competitive exams’ preparation days but no one in my family or even I really recognised it as something that needs medical attention. Only much later in life, did I read about it and came to know that this is a serious problem that a lot of people deal with but don’t get any help.
ALSO WATCH: WHAT’S STRESSING OUT INDIA’S KIDS
I had my second bout with depression in late 2016, but by this time I did my research and had read extensively on it. I approached four psychologists and psychiatrists before I went on medication. I was depressed with my job and had no idea of where I was heading to. In June 2017 (three months into therapy and counselling), I started feeling positive vibes, I had planned to quit my job (which I did in July), focused on my diet and health and I have never felt better.
Nick Vujiucic was an early inspiration when I first started looking up the motivational stuff on internet. Listening to life experiences of Steve Jobs, Anurag Kashyap — especially that of Deepika Padukone — were really helpful. Deepika Padukone’s interview on her depression was the key catalyst which gave me strength to seek medical attention.
My mom, my cousin and a friend were an immensely strong support system. Some days were fine but on some days, I would not feel like leaving my bed and would call in sick in office. There were days when I would have only one meal a day, would try to avoid people, and isolate myself. Support from my loved ones kept me going. It still is (something that keeps me going).
ALSO READ: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT SUICIDE PREVENTION
In terms of the future, I want to get a job where I am able to enjoy my work more often, and set aside time for myself to pursue my hobbies just to keep myself going. I am looking for companies which fulfil my criteria. One other thing I am looking in my new job is my alignment with CEO’s ideologies because I believe that’s what permeates in any company.
On a different note, I want to help people talk about issues related to mental health, and listen and help them out whenever I can. I have started asking people to strictly not skip their meals and prioritise health above everything, and have reached out to a people when I thought they needed help.
I don’t feel suicidal anymore and I believe I am much more equipped to handle it now. And if I’m unable to, I know where to reach out for help. I have encountered pretty positive side of things to relapse.
ALSO SEE: WHERE TO GET HELP
Suicide is not the answer. Firstly, eradicate the concept of failure from your mind. You are better than you think, you just need to improve some things. Also, don’t make someone else’s priority as your goals. Don’t overburden yourself with wanting to be “successful”, define your criteria and work towards that. Chill out, vent out every once in awhile. It’s always about creating a happy life which we all are capable of.
Here is a quote that I love “It’s a bad day, not a bad life”.
This is an edited excerpt of a story first published on the SPIF site here
Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know feels distressed, or has been contemplating or discussing thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help and know that you are not alone. You will find a list of helplines here on the Suicide Prevention of India Foundation site as well as on our site.
Material on The Health Collective is not intended to and cannot substitute for expert advice from a trained professional.