It’s been almost two years since actor Deepika Padukone revealed having battled clinical depression. But the 30-year-old couldn’t stop her tears as she recalled her experience on World Mental Health Day on Monday. For her NGO, the Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), Deepika launched a nationwide public awareness campaign on mental health, jointly with Indian Psychiatric Society and the Indian Medical Association.
“If it wasn’t for you, mom, I wouldn’t be here” — these were the actor’s words as she stepped on the podium at ITC Maurya. Talking to us later, Deepika shared that it was her mother Ujjala who had identified her depression and urged her to get help. “My mother immediately knew what I was going through. We reached out for help and thanks to my doctors, I’m fine today… The people I was surrounded by supported me in my recovery. Even when I chose to speak about it, they were encouraging,” said the actor, who may have set a precedent for celebs to talk about their personal struggles. Filmmaker Karan Johar, too, opened up about depression whereas actor Anushka Sharma spoke about taking medication for anxiety. But Deepika refuses to take credit.
“I wouldn’t want to say that because I’m a celebrity, that’s why other celebs have come out. I view them as other human beings and if my story has empowered someone to share theirs, I’m happy,” she said.
Considering Bollywood is cut-throat and the competition immense, we asked if the constant press and high-stress levels could trigger depression. “There is no specific reason or cause as to why it creeps up on you. For some it could be environmental, for some it could be a traumatic past experience or simply just biological. It would be unfair to say that it is the result of the profession I am in. Why just the entertainment industry? Political, corporate, schools and colleges, there is stress everywhere. It just manifests in different ways,” said Deepika.
And what has the experience taught her? To make more time for friends and family and to enjoy the present? “Today, I can say that I have become more aware. It has made me wiser. It has made me understand human beings. As a child, I have always been very perceptive and emotional and this has made me a little more sensitive to people around me. I value every breath of mine,” she said.