(The Hindu, 6th April 2015: ‘India Inc’s major portion of staff suffer from depression’)
Assocham, the industry lobby group, has reportedly found that 42.5% of private sector employees in the country suffer from depression.
Is that surprising? All you need to do is look around you and you will soon be wondering why everyone isn’t depressed. Consider the newspaper headlines. On a normal day, there are the usual stories of old folks being murdered or children being raped or women being abused, people being swindled and farmers killing themselves. All very depressing. Then there are the stories of people being butchered in senseless wars and terror attacks. They add to the gloom. Best to forget vile humanity and turn to Mother Nature? Witness nature in all its fury — earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, landslides, all of which take their terrible toll. Consider disease or the workings of blind fate, which can strike anyone, anytime. Think of the thousand pinpricks of your daily existence — the barbs of your colleagues,the moron who’s your boss and the tensions at your job. And if all this isn’t enough to dishearten you, there is, of course, the loss of loved ones. Shakespeare summed it up best when he described life as ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’. It’s enough to make any sane person terminally depressed.
What makes it infinitely worse is the constant advice to be positive. We are supposed to ignore the warts, look away from anything that makes us uneasy and wallow in bovine contentment. Or else we’re told to grin and bear it. Incessantly trying to put a positive spin on things can be very tiring, a weary effort to keep up appearances. Things are bad enough without this added pressure. If some of us prefer seeing reality as it is and not some rose-tinted version of it, they are told something is wrong with them and they need counselling or medication.
But what if the depressed ones are sane people? There’s nothing wrong with feeling blue. It’s a perfectly natural and healthy reaction to brute reality. There’s no shame in it. It’s those psychopaths who don’t give a damn, the neurotics who look the other way and the determinedly cheerful ones who need psychiatric help. As for those who forward whatsapp messages about being positive and happy, they need to be institutionalised urgently. So carry your depression as a badge of honour. ‘Proud to be depressed’ should be your motto.
Once you realise being depressed is normal, everything will change. Being miserable will no longer be a big deal, because that’s how you’re supposed to feel. You no longer have to keep pretending things are fine and the fault lies with you. Nope, it’s the world that’s out of joint. You could then perhaps work to make it a less gloomy place. Or if that’s too much effort, you can just look at it and laugh. As the Monty Python song ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ so admirably put it: ‘Life’s a piece of shit/when you look at it/Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke/ it’s true/You’ll see it’s all a show, keep ‘em laughin as you go/Just remember that the last laugh is on you.’
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed by the author are personal