New Delhi: Actor Deepika Padukone breaks the silence and stigma around depression sharing, for the first time on TV, her battle against the ailment. In this exclusive chat with NDTV's Barkha Dutt, Deepika Padukone, along with her mother, counsellor and doctor, speaks up to help others struggling with depression. Her aim - "if I can impact one life in this entire process of speaking up and letting people know that it's something I have been through and something that I could deal with because I had a fantastic support system."
Here's the full transcript of the interview:
NDTV: Hello and welcome. India is the most depressed country in the world according to the world health organisation. At 36% this is highest rate of depression anywhere on the globe. We also have the highest suicide rate of any country in the world. Over 1 lakh people on an average kill themselves in India every year and these are the only reported figures of depression and suicide. Yet, despite these statistics there continues to be absolutely an unneeded stigma a sense of embarrassment when it comes to talking about depression or mental health. There is also a sense of denial, people look at the mental health in a way that they do not look at the physical health, almost as if it is to suggest that it in the control of the person impacted about the person to do something about it. Today, on this programme we want breakthrough the shroud of the silence that has enveloped the conversation around depression and mental health. And somebody who has helped us to do that very very bravely was Deepika Padukone when she went public with her own struggles with depression, her own battle of depression and today on this programme talking on television about this battle for the very first time in the hope that others may also draw some help from it. We are joined by Deepika herself , we are also joined by her mother Ujjala Padukone and the two doctors who talked Deepika through, helped her through this and also here to talk about how the other people who are battling this may actually derive help. We have Dr. Shyam Bhatt and Dr. Anna Chandy. And Deepika, thank you and I say thank you because this is not about movie, not about entertainment, this is not a promotional program, this is intensely personal to you that in the best of your times, even those who are fuss less in the public eye are scared to go public with something this personal. So, before we talk about what you actually went through, why is it important to you to talk to a larger audience, why are we on television talking about the depression?
Deepika: I think Barkha for the same reasons that you just pointed out right now less than two minutes ago, I think the rates at which people are committing suicide or the number correct me if I am wrong. I think one in every four or one in every three, one in every four people are depressed. It's not like any other medical symptom where you actually see the physical symptom, you know if you are feeling stomachache, if you have diabetes or anything, if you have headache you know these are things for some reasons people easily accept but strangely when it comes to the mind people sort of feel like you know, it's in your control, no no everything will be fine, you know someone will come to you and nudge you and say come on cheer up and it's all okay. The reason why it is like this way is I think there are various reasons and a lot of it are because lack of knowledge and even if people are aware of the mental illness, I think there is sort of stigma attached to it which you know, let's not talk about it, you can't take medication for your mind and for your brain because nobody does that, what are other people going to think, you are going to lose your job. So all these things and I think the reason why I chose to speak up I think is because if in doing so If I can impact even one life, because I lost a friend a couple of months ago and so for me if I can impact one life in this entire process of speaking up and letting people know that you know what, it's something I have been through and something that I could deal with because I had a fantastic support system. A lot of times it's not just the person who is suffering, there are a lot of people who are ready and willing to take that help but it's the immediate family and friends around who sort of suppress them and say, 'No, no, you can't go to the doctor because nobody does this, what are other people gonna say,' and I think which it's important that mother is there for me here today, because she is the one who sort of encouraged me. I realised that something was wrong, I realised i was being different, i couldn't pin point what the issue was.
NDTV: What did you feel exactly?
Deepika: Ah! So it all started on the 15th of Feb last year, when I suddenly woke up one morning and I don't know if you read my interview.
NDTV: I did, I did
Deepika: Where you know, I had won all my awards and you know all the appreciation for 2013, everything had happened and it was a great time and obviously at once one gonna think like why is she depressed, she has everything going for her. But, I woke up one morning just feeling empty you know like this pittish feeling in my stomach that I was telling them that I get this pittish feeling in my stomach. I woke up like feeling directionless, I didn't know where to go, I didn't know what to do and I had these bouts of feeling so low that I would just start crying at the drop of the hat and luckily at that time you know they'd come and they come every few months spend some time with me and actually that was the day, I think a day or two after which they were leaving or something like that and they were getting ready to go to the airport at that time and usually I go and sit with them in the room before they leave. I started crying, so she said, 'Are you okay?' Because it's always tough to leave family, you know I have been working from the time I was 18 and it's difficult, every time I go to Bangalore or I have to leave or they come to Bombay so it's tough. So, she thought may be it is one of those like don't worry we will be back soon sort of things and I kept crying and kept crying. I think she could sort of sense that something was wrong, she asked me if it had something to do with my personal life or is it your work or has someone said something to you and it was none of these reasons and she sort of sensed that something was wrong and I think she changed her ticket and then she told my dad, she said that you carry on because we have a younger sister also, who they have to take care of. So, they were like my dad will go back with her, she said I am gonna stay back for few days till she is okay and that went on for almost a month you know she never leave my side, she was just with me all the time. But, time before that, before this she realised, so I would keep crying you know, I couldn't understand what was happening to me, there were times when I feel okay and there were times when I was really low, including airports. You know, I would board a flight and land somewhere I remember attending a conclave exactly this year, last time when that was the first initial days and I cried in my room and then I had to go and talk in front of so many people with a smile on my face like everything is okay and that entire session was about being number one. I was sitting in my room crying and then here I have to talk about achieving everything and then I have to fly back and then I would land and then again I had to lock myself up in the bathroom and cry because there are so many people that are just looking at you all the time.
NDTV: Did you ever end up just losing control in front of people as well on the set during the shoot?
Deepika: No, even on set I would go to my vanity van and cry or you know. Sometimes being out around people helped but sometimes it didn't help. Again, I don't think it is in my control and don't think if it is in control of the people who are surrounding me either you know sometimes you feel okay and sometimes you don't feel okay. I went abroad for an award show you know I thought going all the way to America may be i'll just feel better, just getting away again when I was out about with people may I'd feel okay. When I was back to my room I won't feel okay. So, it was all of this up and down, up and down. I think for me it was a lot of you know there were days when I wake up and feel like, like it was just too exhausting. You know, it was just too exhausting. I didn't want to wake up, there were days when I just wanted to be in the bed just sleep, not wake up.
NDTV: It's difficult to talk about. Isn't it? Then I am sorry, we don't want to upset you. But is it that intense that even today it will bring these tears.
Deepika : It is definitely scary, I mean and I think that's why I am doing this because it's been so hard for me that I don't want anyone else to go through it.
NDTV: Thank you for talking to us and I know none of us can actually know what you went through, but I have some sense of how difficult this is for you and as her mum to watch her go through this has to be the toughest thing for a parent. Right?
Ujjala Padukone: As a parent, you don't want your any of family members to be ill in any way, that is first thing. The second pressure was you don't want someone like her, you don't want the outside world to know what's happening because then there are all kinds of stories that will go around and all kinds of things being written about. So, it was that added pressure as well. But, I mean I could sense that because normally she is a very happy person and she is a very strong person, she can take on practically anything in life. So her constant breaking down itself alerted me and I knew immediately that this is an ailment.
NDTV: You know what you say is important, that for Deepika to talk about is actually different from me talking about it or Shyam talking about it or Anna talking about it. And even now Deepika, as you talk about this that you are crying on national television, is there a part of you that scares a) I have bared myself to the world, I have bared my soul to the world and here I am in this vanity industry, this creative industry that has to sell fantasy, that has to sell dreams but what I have actually done is that I have opened the door and allowed people into my private hell and you know I just think that it is so extraordinarily courageous of you A) to talk about it and B) not put up a wall to your emotion, that you are able to cry honestly is brave and openly I think is brave. But is there a part of you that is scared. Oh! People are watching me cry, people right now are going to at me differently because I have cried about being depressed.
Deepika: No, not really because I think I am looking at the larger picture and this is really not about me right now I think this is really about the lives that hopefully we will impact. You know, for everyone who is watching this interview and for people who have been through or are going through right now or for families whose somebody dear is going through it. I hope that they take it as an example and listen to what we are saying and hopefully help the people around them and for me that is even more important. You know, like I said in the beginning of the interview I think to be like even if you impact one life or save that one person from taking their life because they are so down and out, I think we achieved what we wanted to.
NDTV: Did you worry on her behalf, did you ever think that the world not find this out this would affect her image. You know, those of us in the public eye and Deepika is so much than any of us. There is that relationship you had with the anonymous person and you need to think about how that stranger is looking at you.
Ujjala Padukone: It has never bothered me about the world getting to know or about her image as a star, what bothers me is that when the right information doesn't come out, when it gets distorted, when it is gets grown out of proportion, when people start saying things that are not true that is perhaps what would bother me. Though over the years now, I have learnt to distance myself from situations like that. So, I didn't want that to happen.
Deepika: Sorry, like I think this is the right time for me to say you know, after my article came out. Couple of weeks ago, there was a publication that carried a gossip item and so carelessly spoke about how I was depressed, I was depressed because a friend of mine Ranveer was depressed and he was depressed and that's why. I mean we need to be little bit more careful, we need to be little more sensitive, you know, calling someone clinically depressed without even having picked up the phone and cross checking or just writing in the manner that they did, I think we need to become little more sensitive about how we write about these things.
NDTV: I even read in some columns or gossip pieces that this is all one promotional stunt, I mean have you heard that for me it's low as it gets. For me, it is as gross frankly as it gets.
Deepika: Of course. There will be people who are going to think, Oh! It's time for some film release or there are people who are gonna say that she is getting paid for supporting a cause like this. Really, Barkha you know, I think for mean for me I have been to hell and back and like I said for me I have a larger issue at hand, if we are a nation that is most depressed in the world. There is must much much larger issue that we all need to sort of focus on and work towards.
NDTV: Now, how did you meet Anna and Shyam? Before I get them in, Ujjala how did you actually say to Deepika that you need to confront this, we need to go and see a doctor and I ask this because when it comes to the mind there is an immense resistance in all of us, you know that little cliche 'Iska toh dimaag kharab hai' this is the kind of silly attitude that we have brought up on and we don't want to believe that 'humara dimaag kharab hai' so we resist going to the doctor, we resist acknowledging that we are not just sad but there is something wrong with us, we need medical help. How did you convince her, how did we end up going to doctors?
Ujjala Padukone: First and foremost, I want to say that being alert helps a lot. Whether it's a family, whether it's close friends, whether it's your colleagues at work don't assume when a person is crying , breaking down or crying all the time don't assume that they are doing it forattention, don't assume that they are going through mood swings. You know be alert about it. if it is happening repeatedly have a chat with them find out what's bothering them, then try to get in a counselor. Then convince the person that you need to see a counselor because counselors are able to discuss in a very subtle way with them and bring out what could be the cause or what is actually going on in their mind or physically. And then if required, it's the counselor who would put you on to a doctor and the person concerned needs a lot of convincing. You need to convince them, look it's just as any other ailment. Just as you could be having any other physical ailment, this is a mind ailment so you need to see a doctor, you need to take medication.
NDTV: But Deepika did you see it like that? Before I get Shyam and Anna in. Did you see it like that? You know one of the things that happens, I remember there was this point in my life when I used to get panic attacks and I would get these anxiety attacks before I had to come out to television. The producers would be actually handing me an alprax to calm me down. But it took me many months before I realized it was a panic attack and when I was told maybe your depressed and you need anti-depressing I said, 'No, no, no, I don't want to put chemicals in my brain,' and I mean there was such resistance and then I had other people,even my friends when they were being affectionate they would say, 'Oh! come on Barkha now don't do this drama.' I don't know if you felt that isolation of people around you not understanding how bad it was?
Deepika: Ya and I think that's why I just really helped talking to Anna and doing a couple of sessions with her because sometimes for people who don't really understand what anxiety and depression is all about. Sometimes exactly what you said "hey come on you will be okay" like acting happy in front of the person and playing loud music actually had at least on me completely opposite effect and I started questioning a lot of strange questions in my head like why is that person so happy and why am I so sad then I start feeling even worse. And I quickly want to say, that there is a huge difference in being sad and being depressed. I am sure they will take you through that a lot more in detail but I know sadness comes from a different place in my body and in my stomach and having anxiety and going through depression comes from a completely different and it does something completely different to my body.
NDTV: Anna, so you have known the family for a long time, when you first had Deepika talking to you about this were you able to immediately identify it as depression?
Anna (Deepika's Counsellor): So, I received a phone call from Ujjala saying that we need your help, Deepika is having some difficulties and Ujjala shared her understanding of what the difficulties were. So I asked Ujjala if I could speak to Deepika. As soon as I started to paying attention to Deepika there was a certain quality in the tone of her voice that signaled to me that I need to come to Bombay because there is something more, it is not a temporary sadness and that was from the quality of the tone of when she speaks and she was weeping on the phone.So I said I will come to Bombay. I came the next morning and I just spent the whole day with her and at the end of the day I recognized that I am a counselor and Deepika would need to consult a doctor for this, a psychiatrist for this and...
NDTV: On counselling and Deepika jump in here. You know some of us who think of ourselves as reasonably right, often think we are smarter than the counselors, one of the resistance I am sure you must have felt this.
NDTV: If somebody says why don't you go and see a therapist, so what is she going to tell me? I know all of this, I know the trigger points , I have read enough, I have enough exposure. Did you ever feel, I know Anna was a family friend. Did you ever feel, why should I go to the doctor? I am smarter than the doctor or did you feel the helplessness that I need somebody to explain to me what the hell is going on with me?
Deepika: I definitely needed because I have no knowledge and no understanding of what I was going through,why I was going through. I think for me it happened in 2 stages. The first step was to agree to what she was telling me to do and a month later pick up the phone on her and speak to her again while I was talking to her I broke down and I think she could sense in my voice that it was very very different like she said she needed to come down and see.
NDTV: So you didn't feel the resistance to go to a doctor?
Deepika: No so this to this also.
NDTV: Ya. So, this journey from counselor to a psychiatrist after all you are a family friend, you are not a stranger that makes it a little easier.
Anna: It made it easier for her, but difficult for me because I recognized that I have 2 roles. One is that I am a family friend and therefore there is trust there is dependability and from a professional role I knew that I cannot do mere counseling I need to see condition of support. So it took me a bit of time to convince Deepika. I would suggest she would resist. 2 days later again I would suggest. So we went like this slowly and finally she said okay. You identify a doctor and we will go together.
NDTV: And so she goes to Shyam. Now the question is this resistance and I want you to talk about how you encountered with Deepika and how you encountered it with other people because as I said in my own case where I didn't go through something intense like Deepika. The moment there is a suggestion that you should be put on medication, I immediately said that I don't want to do this, I will handle it. Did you find it was difficult to convince Deepika to go on to medication?
Shyam (Deepika's Psychiatrist): Broadly every person like you said, who goes through sadness first and foremost starts wrestling with themselves. We all have experienced sadness but we assume that the sadness is going to pass and we also start feeling bad about our own sadness. There is a certain amount of guilt and shame associated with this condition which is no other condition has it. If you have high blood sugar you are not alone in your room feeling bad about your low blood sugar. If you have a broken bone people come and say listen you are hurt can we help you. With depression it is a lonely, isolating, private condition that a person cannot even share in our country.
NDTV: But why are we all of us here educated, liberal people. Why are we not able to shake off this sense of embarrassment , guilt, shame?
Shyam: I think it's the concept of idea, the idea is you are mad if there is something wrong with you...
NDTV: Dimag kharab hai...
Shyam: So, I always tell people are you in control of your brain and people say yes and I ask them what is controlling your heart rate right now, they say my brain. I say can you lower your heart rate. No , we are not in full possession of control of our brain just as we are not in control of our pancreas, we don't ask the diabetic to make more insulin to get more optimistic. So one is the idea that there is something intrinsically wrong with me that is one reason people don't seek help. The second is this is something which is abnormal most people don't go through this, this is the second misconception. Someone, a person in the public eye like Deepika for her to have the courage to come and talk about it to me as a psychiatrist is extra-ordinary. First time people know that this is nothing shameful. Secondly, anyone can get it. It is not a question of what your life is like that's a huge misconception. Why are you depressed you have nothing to be depressed about? So you add guilt and you add shame at the end of it we are perpetuating a problem that is everyone is going to face it.Either you are depressed or you know someone in your family who is depressed, it is that normal.
NDTV: And 36% of India is depressed.
Shyam: But the question is that is it a disorder with 36-40%. In my opinion, this is a result of fast changing society and if we don't start learning how to prevent this to treat this, we are in a huge problem in the coming 10-12 years. We only have a population which is 70% under the age of 35. Now we have the highest suicides rates in the world in the 15-29 age group , in one study 10 times more than America. So this group is going to get older,we are not learning how to deal with our emotions in school. If we continue to face stigma, we will have an epidemic you know.
NDTV: Talking about suicides, you mentioned you lost a friend. What happened and how much of a catalyst was that in making you confront your demons so to speak?
Deepika: Okay. So, it was a friend of a friend but the point is that I knew this person and he always came across as someone who is very happy, very happy with his life you know. If you just met him you would never think that he was depressed. And for whatever he did, 'I don''t know. I don't want to get into what happened and I think it just made me realize that if someone so close to me can do this to themselves and you read everyday and there are so many, not everyone ends up taking their life.There are a lot of people who are like he said,fighting with themselves every morning, a lot of people on medication.
NDTV: Were you scared that you would start feeling life is not worth living. Were you scared that somebody you knew had been suicidal and had taken his life?
Deepika: That was later, my friend's incident happened much after I had recovered and I was completely okay.That made me feel even more for him and made me understand what he must have gone through . You know if he had, if we had seen the symptoms earlier we could have forced him to take his medication.There are a lot of cases immediately around me that I see. So I think there is this constant thing of , 'Oh, I don't want to see a psychiatrist, I don't want to see a psychologist. I don't want to take medication, but I think we need to start treating it as we do as any part of our body.
NDTV: You said that you never worried as a parent, what would this do to Deepika's image as a star. But could you see the kind of irony of that whole moment.There were going to be people a) Think that she has everything she needs b)Depression is still regarded as some sort of a luxury disease. That always you have to be rich and privileged to suffer it .These are the misconceptions, this is the ignorance round it.So did you just panic a little bit that it will be double jeopardy for Deepika, she has spoken about it,people will look at it differently maybe that will cause more anxiety and even more stress in her life. Was there ever an impulse that Deepika lets not talk about it?
Ujjala Padukone: No, no.Both Prakash and me are extremely happy that she has chosen to express what she has gone through and wanting to impact other people.For Prakash and me we feel it' s very important for common people to know this is an ailment like ant other ailment. People around them detect the symptoms get medical help, get professional help . So we are vey happy what she is doing and we fully support her.It has not even once crossed our minds that it is going to affect her status of who she is.
NDTV: Did it cross yours?
Ujjala Padukone: Not at all, but there are people who come up to me and say but she has got everything in life, what was the reason and I have had to tell them that it doesn't have to be a particular reason and so what if she has got everything in life. It is an ailment and an ailment can strike any person irrespective of whether, you know it doesn't matter which society you are placed or what you have achieved or not.
NDTV: But there is this assumption that somehow you can afford to be depressed. You know people have that kind of scorn.People do, people say look at that poor person, he is so busy earning a living. Like I said it's treated as a luxury. Did you sought of have to, I guess nobody would say it to your face. But did you feel that people are going to look at me with a sense of scorn or contempt or atleast a lack of empathy. Did you find people empathetic or did you find that people understood?
Deepika: I think most people understood and I think the kind of messages that I got, the kind of support I got after my first article that came out .Of course there will always be that 5% like we said who will say that she is doing it for for publicity or she is doing because her film is coming up or she is endorsing the cause and she is getting paid for it .Of course there will always be that 5%, but it's really that 5%. I think for me with this cause,I am really like a horse with blinkers and we have so much more to achieve. We are setting up the foundation now. I think for me impacting lives and saving people is really way way more important and the need of the hour.
NDTV: What is the foundation going to do?
Deepika: I think the foundation, we are still in the process of setting it up but it is called the 'Live, love, laugh' foundation. And other than creating awareness and trying to remove the stigma that is attached to mental illness is also going to be prevention, cure and you know hopefully we will be able to provide psychologists and so on and so forth . You know as the foundation grows in scale , hopefully we will be able to do a lot more but I think this is what we are focusing on right now that is prevention,creating awareness and sort to remove this stigma,most importantly.
NDTV: How common place, Shyam is this stigma?
Shyam: Stigma is widespread, one misconception is that people think it is a weakness to have depression.So a lot of times people come to my clinic saying that I am a strong person and I tell them yes you are strong because you sort help, because you recognized. I mean this is strength to be able to talk about your feelings, to own up to it and to know yourself. I think people who seek help are extremely strong and they are the brave, I think they can let other people know that you can seek help and it is not a sign of weakness.
NDTV: I read somewhere and I don't know if it is correct that women are more prone to depression than men.
Shyam: Women are, wives are most likely to suffer from depression but half is likely to kill themselves. So,I think there is a debate now one is that there are hormonal factors women have. If you look at the menstrual cycle,their fluctuation and progesterone can be to depression. There is a role issue women women have to juggle into multiple roles if you have to be a working mother you know there is a lot more pressure.Women tend to be more emphatic, so they tend sometimes put the need of others above themselves. So partly cultural and partly biological. But there is another side of the story,that men when they are depressed don't seek help .When they are depressed they don't cry they get angry and alienate people around them. So the depressed man is often the most lonely ,isolated and maybe alcoholic who is bereft of any company and therefore might end up committing suicide.
NDTV: Now, it is important Shyam, I will come to you Anna as well. Talk about gradiance of mental health of mental illness and there is this depression .But there are many other syndromes as well and I imagine your foundation will be looking at all of them Deepika or only depression?
Deepika: I think right now we are really focusing on anxiety depression for the moment. Don't t think we want to take on more than we can really.It's so new and we have just sort of setting up. But who knows, you know in the long run.
NDTV: One of the things that comes up is even if I go to a doctor, I am depressed what can the doctor do, is it curable, is this containable? Sometimes something which is not curable is containable. You have to find a way to live with it...
Shyam: I think it is more than treatable it is transformative. I think the process of taking care of your depression is a voice of self-awareness and self-discovery and optimizing your lifestyle and your mind.So I tell people listen, you can continue to live, many people can continue to live and do live with depression throughout their life. It is like carrying a heavy load in your head everyday, bleeding slightly everyday. You may not know it ,you are depleted, you have never achieved your potential. So I tell people the fact that it reached a point where you had to seek help is the beginning of a positive transformation. Because the truth is yes it is like any other condition but as little different.First of all it is not a mind condition, it is a mind ,body thing and I think if we can know that we can destigmatize it. We shouldn't even call it depression. You know depression it sounds like sadness, this is not sadness. It affects your brain, it affects your heart it affects your gut, affects your hormones.
NDTV: There are real physiological feelings,like you said that pit in your stomach.
Shyam: When you do brain scans there are changes in the brain, there are changes in the hormones.This is your body changing its function because of stress.So when you take care of it, you transform into sort of your highest potential.
NDTV: Anna, what do you find, whether in Deepika's case or any other occasions. What is toughest for people when they are battling this. Is it what will the world think or your being alone with yourself.What is it?
Anna: I think in my experience one of the toughest is when lot of them seek help without the family knowing because they don't get family support.So they come in completely alone and they also say that we don't want family to know because they think we are indulging in attention seeking and the other thing that really happens is that they are afraid at work.Suppose this comes up at the work place,then what happens to their livelihood you know there is a stigma at their work place.People don't accept it.
Shyam: One of the hardest things is that, we live in a society which is still collectivist, we have people around us. But one thing people who suffer from depression will tell you that it is frighteningly alone even if you are admist people. Like Sylvia Plath,' the author said "If I am in a cafe in Bangkok or Paris, I am always in my own glass jar stewing in my sour air of depression.
NDTV: And she killed herself...
Shyam: It's like that, ya you carry that with you and we live in a society where we are together yet apart and so you know I think it is important for people to draw closer and not alienate the depressed person but to stand with them.
NDTV: What was the most frightening experience you have had in the year that you battled this? Like, Shyam is saying there is an acute sense of isolation, sometimes being with people actually enhances the sense of you know feeling like a misfit in that situation.
Deepika: I think for me the scariest was not understanding why it was happening or where it was coming from, because there was not one reason or cause. So when you are sad, you know why you are sad. You have probably lost your job or fought with someone, all kinds of things..you have fought with your mom. So sadness comes with different, I think when you are sad you can sort of tell why you are sad. But for me, this I couldn't understand why it was happening and where it was coming from, but it was something like he just said. It was this heaviness and this burden I was feeling.Like I said,there were days when I didn't want to wake up.I just wanted to sleep because that was my escape.
NDTV: And when you say that you didn't want to wake up, have you lost interest in living?
Deepika: I would't say lost interest in living and I think maybe fortunately I had people around me people who picked me up at probably at the right point. But it was exhausting, just every minute was exhausting. I didn't know what to do.
NDTV: Other than not wanting to wake up and breaking down easily.What were the manifestations of it beyond that?Were you irritable, were you not social? What were the some other manifestations?
Deepika: Loss of appetite, I would feel hungry but when I would actually settle down to eat I would hardly eat.Fortunately, for me I think I slept well. So that's one thing that they both keep checking on me as well that I sleep okay. Ya but I wouldn't feel like eating and it would really depend and there were days when I feel okay and I want to go out, be normal and meet everyone and there were days when I just wanted to be at home.
NDTV: Anna spoke about the stigma in the workplace, was there stigma in the workplace for you?
Deepika: At that point,I don't think I shared it with anyone because it was not about I didn't want anyone to know honestly because if that was the case, I wouldn't have been here today. It was more...
NDTV: Were you figuring it out yourself?
Deepika: I was just trying to figure it out,what is this and what is happening to me? Is it a phase, is it going to pass? It was just confusion. So yeah,not discussing with people at work was not because I did not want to share it them, at a point I was working with people who really care about me, who go out of their way to make sure I am okay. But, I think my reason for not sharing was because as I couldn't understand it myself of what was happening.
NDTV: How did you first think that it might be depression?
Ujjala Padukone: I have had similar experiences with a couple of other family members in the past. So I wouldn't say I was clueless, I did know what the symptoms are and what a person goes through and what should be done. So that helped a lot.
NDTV: But you know how Anna is speaking of how some people come in without family backing them so that process becomes that much more lonely for them.
Ujjala Padukone: Deepika is normally a very happy person and like I said she is strong enough to take on any problems that she faces.So, but this constant breaking down and crying was I mean, as a mother I knew instantly that it is...
NDTV: But you know, some of us do cry easily. So how did you distinguish between you know,I'll cry while watching a movie, while reading a good book, while feeling sad, while feeling angry...
Ujjala Padukone: Ya so I waited for a couple of days, I stayed back with her, I didn't rush back to Bangalore, I stayed back with her, waited for a couple of days. I saw that there was a pattern - at times she was feeling completely alright, completely normal and at times she would just want to sit and cry. And like I told you, I have had experienced with other people in the family, it made it that much easier for me. So I knew instantly what needed to be done, I knew instantly that I had to... Okay, now my biggest concern was which counselor or doctor do I get in, because at that point of time I didn't want, other than my immediate family - that is my husband and my other daughter - I didn't want anybody else to know. Because for the simple reason, as an ailment I wouldn't have minded. I mean there is nothing to hide about it. But the simple reason,that things don't get written correctly about it. It was only for that reason that I didn't want anyone else to know.
NDTV: I think even people who are not in the public eye would feel the same.
Ujjala Padukone: Ya.
NDTV: I mean you don't know what it is. You are trying to find your own grip over it so to speak.
Ujjala Padukone: Ya. So, ideally, I first thought of bringing in someone from Bombay because she lives in Bombay and then my other daughter recommended ,she said why don't you get Anna. Because we know her on a personal level, she is a good friend, she will keep it confidential. And then when she spoke to Deepika, she immediately flew down and and started the counselling session.
NDTV: So what I think a lot of people will want to understand and then I'll bring in Shyam and Anna into this. Is the dualism of your emotions, like you said you were locking yourself in your make-up van or in a hotel room, having a weep and then going out and wearing a face for the world, so to speak. In the middle of it, you are also battling Times of India for photographs of your cleavage, saying I have a right to define, that just because I'm on the screen doesn't mean you can project me in any way that you want to. You have a bizarre AIB roast controversy chasing you. You have people wanting you to talk about your latest movie. You have to sparkle on screen. How do you battle some police case on one end, some Times of India on the other, you know, crazy fans on third. And then inside you there is something else going on. I think it's important to understand how you juggle that dualism?
Deepika: I don't know. I really don't know.
Anna: We used to have text conversations in the night about that.
NDTV: Because some of these things are adding to the anxiety. The last time I was interviewing Deepika, for example, was when she had taken a position on how dare you photograph me in this way, my body is my own, you can't use it to sell your pictures. Then, more recently, you've got this police FIR and this bizarre roast controversy, which should never have been one. But my question is not about those issues my question is about this added anxiety. You are on screen, you have to act, you have to earn a living, you have to do public functions and there are these accompanying controversies, and inside you are feeling like shit. So how do you, do you have any answers?
Shyam: I want to say that this is her task. Being in the public life is immensely difficult. No doubt about it. Because it's called emotional self-management. The hardest thing for any human being, and they did studies even in the old days, when air-hostesses were pleasant, they were supposed to have good emotional self-management. And what they found is that the burnout rates are very high. That's why I said, this is a sign of strength that you are able to do this. Treatment and recovery ensures that it is not a struggle anymore. But to really answer the question that why is there a conflict is that a human being is created like that. God or nature created our brain to have one layer which creates emotions like fear and anger, and another layer which kind of sits on top, that's our logical brain, so that's the brain we are using to talk to each other. Now these two are not linear circuits they are parallel. So you can have emotions coming to your brain, you know those emotions are not logical, you shouldn't be feeling it, but you can't help yourself, because your neurology is like that.
NDTV: Your mind is constantly at war with itself. Right?
Shyam: Your brain is in conflict with each other, different parts are in conflict with each other. So part of the recovery is to align those, to balance the body, the brain, the mind, lifestyle and relationship.
NDTV: But, you know Elliot had that famous line, "Wearing the faces for the faces that I will meet". And to Deepika, my question was really about, I mean, if you are going to an office space which is still not public, every camera is not chasing you, every cellphone isn't asking you for your selfie, every newspaper isn't writing about you. I mean,I imagine the claustrophobia just doubles up.
Shyam: I always admire every person who do that and you know Deepika sort of represents what's happening in a smaller way in companies,organisations all over India.When we go and given talks in companies, we will have people coming to us and talking to us about depression that they have been carrying for years. You know, I just bow down to them and ask how could you do this and second thing, I would want to tell them that you don't have to do this, and you don't have to suffer there are lot of people suffering like this, putting on that mask smiling and struggling like this. Its incredibly difficult.
NDTV: Did you feel suffocated by the mask you had to wear?
Deepika: No,I feel like I was in auto pilot in a sense. Of course,there is one side of me that's saying you have to professional, you have to reach shoot on time, you have do this interview because you are committed to it, there is all these professional commitment and there is that part of me which is saying you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this.
NDTV: But, there is a part in you which is saying I don't want to wake up today.
NDTV: So where is the meeting point of this two, where is the dialogue between the two to reach a midpoint?
Deepika: I really don't know.
Ujjala Padukone: I really think family support matters a lot, because we would keep telling her , look if your are not enjoying your work, you feel over stressed you need not do that. Yeah, you need not keep pushing and this what i tell both my daughters or even my husband for that matter. It is brilliant to have goals, targets, wanting to achieve something in life, but don't push your self to an extent that it takes a toll on your health. So we kept telling her that do what you enjoy doing, don't, like she said there were days when she was okay and there were moments or times where she would want to.
NDTV: So, where is the meeting point between these two, this dialogue, how does it reach a midpoint?
Deepika: I really don't know.
Ujjala Padukone: I really think family support matters a lot, because we would keep telling her , look if you are not enjoying your work, if you feel over stressed, you need not do that. You don't have to push yourself. This what I keep telling both my daughters or even my husband for that matter. It is brilliant to have goals, targets, wanting to achieve something in life, but don't push yourself to an extent that it takes a toll on your health. So we kept telling her that do what you enjoy doing. Like she said there were days when she was okay and there were moments or times when she would want too....
NDTV: Did you ever consult?
Deepika: But I think the strength again to pick yourself up and do what you have to do also comes from within. I was very fortunate that I did not dip to a level where I could not do any of that. Fortunately, I had a mum and then the doctor stepped in at a point where I could do what I had to do and take care of myself as well. I think from then on my life really changed.
NDTV: Before I ask you how you came out of it. I want to ask you, did you ever feel picking up on your mum's point, I don't want to go on the set, I don't want to do this movie, I don't want to give this interview. I don't want one more stupid journalist asking me one more stupid question?
Deepika: I really don't think I had questioned my work. I think it really depended on where I was swinging and where I was going at that point.
NDTV: You dint think of giving it all up ever? You did not have those days?
Anna: She has immense grit. Because when I came in to Bombay she had been shooting in the nights. She is shooting the whole night and she is doing dance sequences and then I come in on an early morning flight, she was waiting for me, she was awake the whole day. So, there was this immense grit in her and while she is at work, we would these text messaging going on between her and me. She created a space simultaneously where she could express herself, what was happening in her private world and then go out and face the cameras again. To me it was the way she used her vulnerability as her strength because day after day she was continuing her responsibilities in her job and she would text me saying " I have this feeling of emptiness" there is this emptiness in me and yet the next thing is that she is back to work.
NDTV: What do mean by emptiness? I know what you mean but I want you to try and tell people who are listening to this what does it mean?
Deepika: I think physically what is happening is this weird pittish feeling, emptiness.
NDTV: Is it anxious or is it blank?
Deepika: it's a bit of both. My breathing was different, it was not a deep breath, it was very shallow, uneven breath, sometimes gasping for breath. I would say feeling empty in my stomach and they had explained it as the pittish feeling, that is the first thing I said to them because that was the feeling that wouldn't just go. It felt like knot in my stomach. if I have had malaria or if I hurt my ankle I always had my mind to help me recover. What do I do in a case like this when my mind is not talking to me.
NDTV: You can't do mind over matter in this one..
Deepika: So my mind is not talking to me, now where do I go, what do I do, that was constant and I kept taking to myself and got no answers.
NDTV: You are in industry, just to bring this slightly global pattern that you would have seen like whether you have the Robin William or Parveen Babi closer home, you read this every day. Shyam help me here, has science found any linkages between very creative ,very public, very intense sort of larger than life existences.
Shyam: That's an interesting question.
NDTV: The names are coming to me, Meena Kumari, Parveen Babi here Robin Williams, Batman there.
Shyam: There have been studies actually. There is a psychiatrist who studied extensively the biographies of a lot of creative people all over the world, she actually found people like Chakovski, Motzan, Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln, creative types, people who have done lot in life have gone through their turbulent emotions. There seems to be a gene in some cases when it pre disposes you to creativity it also tends to give you these ups and downs.
NDTV: Because creative people are much more intensive....
Shyam: The mood actually helps you to be creative because when you feeling down you tend to introspect about life. I want to make one thing clear that sadness is good, sadness is a part of human experience. We all need to feel sad, what we talking here is depression and depression is not sadness.
NDTV: I am talking about depression. The name which I have taken are the people who are depressed.
Shyam: The flip side is some people say that why treat something which may be fuel to creative pursue and this is been one big debate for years but today what we are saying is you can actually optimize someone's mood and retain in fact enhance creativity. So, the suffering artist doesn't have to suffer any more.
NDTV: Did you feel that. Somewhere it's an offshoot of the creative industry?
Deepika: No! I didn't think then and I don't think now.
NDTV: But they do say that those who live under the arch lights tend to be lonelier?
Deepika: I think....
NDTV: Just because there such a dis functionality in that kind of attention on somebody all the time that somewhere to live the normal life becomes tougher.
Deepika: It has to do something with the kind of upbringing which I have. The kind of normalcy I have had in my life. Whether its family whether its friends, for me...
Ujjala Padukone: For her this is her carrier and life after this is going be as normal as anyone else.
Deepika: And it has been. Yes my life has changed in terms of the fame and the success, the number of eye balls on you all the time, I like to believe that it has not changed my ideology, the person that I'm. I have people like Anna and my Mom, my friends who tell me that.
NDTV: I just want to get last thoughts from you all. What is the one think you want to tell someone who is battling with depression. Shyam I will start with you..
Shyam: I want to say that this is nothing to be ashamed of, this is not a weakness and this is not madness, seek help and you don't have to suffer, seeking helping will enhance your life in a very positive way and I think socially if we take care of this we will get back to certain values that are important like connection, empathy and love . Love for ourself and others which is so important and this is sort of a warning call. 36% percent are suffering more will suffer if we can do this we can transform.
Anna: I just want to say that this is not an illness that only happens to a particular group of people. It happens to anyone and here is the living example that Deepika the star is actually Deepika the human being and it can happen to anyone of us and not to be ashamed of it.
NDTV: As a parent to other parents..
Ujjala Padukone: First of all the person going through this should be able to talk what they are going through to people close to them whether its friends, whether its family, like in her case had she not been told me about it we would be happily living in Bangaluru. Not even knowing thatshe is going through all this and maybe we would have got to know at a later stage. So, talk about what you are going through to people close to you and for the people to whom you have spoken to I would say don't just dismiss it, don't try to shove it under the carpet or dismiss it as attention seeking or mood swings, try to find out and if it is an ailment that is bothering a person don't hesitate to get professional help and don't hesitate to talk about it to people around you. There is nothing to hide about it, it's like any other ailment. Today, if people question me I am happy to talk about her experiences and I am happy to others.
NDTV: How did you come out of this? You feel you went into hell and back as you said. Do you sometimes worry it will come back? If it comes back will you be less scared this time?
Deepika: Definitely! After having been through what I have, I have started reading a lot, I have started understanding, I have started realizing that it not just me and because of who I am or the profession that I'm in. Really I think the ratio is 1:4 so that really means that all of us sitting here right now know some body who has or is going through, it's that common.
NDTV: How did you come out of it. Could you have done it without medicines because sometimes people feel that they can do it without medicine, they resist that.
Deepika: First of all, I would not have been able to do if I didn't have this support system, if I didn't have my mom , if I didn't have my friends, if I didn't have my father who spoke to me and said its OK to go to a doctor, its ok to go to a psychologist, it's ok to go to a psychiatrist and itsok to take medication.
Ujjala Padukone: The medication part really need a lot of convincing.
NDTV: That is what I'm saying because I know the biggest resistance is the medication.
Deepika: It happened in different stages but I think my most resistance was towards medication and it was my parents who said when you have a headache or when you have a fever you take a medicine so don't think twice.
Ujjala Padukone: And during that phase one of us was constantly there with her. Either me, my husband or my other daughter to make sure that she had the medicine.
NDTV: Because people will say I'll take the medicine and then not take it..
Ujjala Padukone: It's not something that I can monitor from back home
NDTV: So last thought today if something feeling like you today, whose feeling that emptiness, who is feeling that pit in their stomach, who is crying easily.
Deepika: That is not the only one, don't feel like this is only happening to you and that is one of the most common feeling that the people will go through and they gonna feel like ' Ye mere saath kyu ho raha hai' and why this is happening to me? Realise that we all are together and we all are in this together and most importantly that there is hope. I can be prevented there is cure and we need to treat this like anything else.
NDTV: I think this is extraordinarily brave of you, I really do...I don't say that to too many guests on this programme. It's usually a very different dynamic. I want to give you a big hug and thank you so much. And from Deepika, we hope today that so many other people...just to remind you about the statistics that 36% of India is depressed and that is only the reported numbers and we also have higher suicidal rates in the world and its the time lift the stigma and its the time to break the silence. We hope Deepika story helps you to that in some way. Thank You for watching. GOOD BYE.