This blog is not about me selling you my depression and asking for sympathy or views in return. Instead, this is regarding the extent to which I was unaware and ignorant about the ‘Mental Health’ aspect of my life. It took a long time for me to understand and acknowledge its importance.
How did I become aware about my mental health issues?
My entire business comes from social media, mainly Twitter. The constant ‘need’ to remain relevant and in the algorithm, requires tremendous attention and effort. You need to indulge in every socio – political event, movie reviews, cricket matches, natural calamities etc. to remain in the conversation. If not, you’ll drift away into oblivion. I did the same. I jumped into this pool of social media with endless information, people and their opinions.
With each passing day, I was getting a lot more engrossed in this world. The constant interaction on the social media platform, arguing with faceless trolls and people with no scientific temperament made me lose my cool several times. It affected me in ways I cannot explain. It also started reflecting on my everyday behaviour. I had started bringing that anger home. I was feeling so ‘numb’ about my emotions that my family pointed it out several times. I was in denial and I did not admit anything to them. I was constantly struggling with feeling like myself, until I finally decided to see a doctor.
Why I decided to visit the Doctor?
If you would have asked me about seeing a doctor five years ago, I would have said, “Just take a break bro, there is no need of a doctor for your mental state.” I was wrong. I realised this when one of my fitness coaches told me about his own experience with depression; anxiety and how he had to take a long break from work for treatment. After listening to his story, I felt comfortable about visiting a doctor. I wanted a diagnosis at the earliest because at that point in my career I could not afford to take even one week’s break. So, on my coach’s recommendation, I decided to visit the doctor, to just ‘experiment’.
My initial experience with the Doctor
My therapist was a calm person, he made me feel comfortable. He effortlessly conversed with me and asked me all about my career, family, libido, etc. Initially I was hesitant to open up due to my introverted nature. Eventually with time, the flow set and I understood that, this is what I’m paying him for. So I spilled the beans. There were bouts of me crying, and me laughing in just 50 min of the session. At the end of the session, he prescribed me some medication. (Note: Do not take SSRIs without a doctors’ supervision.)
How I felt on Medication
I work in the fitness industry and I cannot afford to lose my shape due to any medication. I questioned my doctor regarding this, because many of my mentees told me that they gained weight because of anti-depressants. My doctor reassured me, that it happened in rare cases.
Having said that, my first week was horrible on those medications. I felt nauseous and drowsy the entire day. My workout was affected and my appetite went down. I was lost. During the Second week, my appetite was restored and the drowsiness reduced. My sleep got better but my libido went down extremely. I knew it would take a few tries for my body to adapt to the medications, so I visited my doctor again and he adjusted my prescription. I was finally back to my normal energy levels.
The Change and Benefits
By the Fourth week, I started seeing some changes. The major change I saw in me was that, I was now in a calm state of mind all the time. I got better at ignoring things that didn’t add value. I could handle my relationship with my family, wife and friends in a much better way. I became more empathetic and I was able to get myself into a process of work life balance. I saw myself as this completely new person. I can say that I felt more in control of my life. This made me realise that I should have visited mental health expert much sooner. The overall benefits were so good that I personally asked 6 people to visit the doctor. I spoke openly about this on my social media channels. At last, the fear of ‘not talking about mental health’ vanished completely.
Why did I choose not to speak earlier?
Just like the majority, I had the severe stigma of not addressing my issues in my own circle, leave aside social media. I had this notion that people might tag me as a weak person. I have seen established entrepreneurs making fun of mental health on social media. I thought my own team will see me differently. I didn’t even tell my wife for first two weeks. But as soon as I started seeing changes, I became very vocal about it because I wanted to see the same change in everyone who is reading this!
Oh and by the way, I got my abs as well, no weight gain issues.
I recently went back to him for a follow up. He told me that I was in clinical depression and that I am over it now. He didn’t tell me earlier to avoid any over thinking. I am now wearing off the medication slowly.
Thank you for reading this.
On another note, here is the twitter thread on other recommendations which my doctor gave me for overall mental health benefits: https://twitter.com/chiragbarjatyaa/status/1468104795567190022?s=20