‘Depression is Not a Luxury’: Shaheen Bhatt on Mental Health

Little was known about Alia Bhatt’s elder sister, Shaheen Bhatt, until she openly spoke about her battle with depression and anxiety in an Instagram post in 2016 and later in 2018.

In her book titled, ‘I've Never Been (Un) Happier’, she recorded her fight against depression and anxiety and exposed readers to the pages of her diary which she maintained since the age of 11.

In a recent interview with Rajeev Masand, Shaheen Bhatt spoke at length about her struggles, how it was difficult for her to talk about her vulnerabilities on public platforms and how a lack of self-worth propelled her into a dark phase of life.

You can watch the entire interview here:

Talking about the common misconception that depression and sadness is the same thing, she said:

"The biggest misconception is that depression & sadness are the same thing, they are not. Sadness is a natural human emotion, it’s healthy. It’s a reaction to the circumstances in your life... Depression is grief completely disproportionate to circumstances. It has nothing to do with where you are in your life, what you have, what you don’t have. It’s not a choice. I think that’s one thing people are starting to get a little bit now."

Rajeev asked her about an incident in her life when she was 12 and out for a photoshoot with her elder sister, Pooja Bhatt, and younger sibling , Alia and how while getting their pictures clicked, the photographer asked her to move away as he only wanted to photograph Pooja and Alia as they were ‘cute and fair’ while Shaheen herself was a little ‘chuby and tanned’.

She replied how the incident left a mark on her self-worth and how she became closed and ashamed of her body.

"Women in general suffer from a lot of body image issues due to the media, due to ourselves. Shame is the core of any kind of depression, I feel. It can be for any reason. With women, body image tends to be one of the causes for shame. I hope people could understand that. It stops you from being vulnerable. It stops you from being yourself because you are constantly worried that if you show yourself as you are, you will be rejected by the society, by everyone around you. "

She also spoke about how suicide was glorified by the media as something ‘romantic’ and how she realised that suicide was permanent damage:

" Media presents suicide as salvation. They present it in a way that shows something romantic about the pain and I have realized over time that there’s nothing romantic about depression. "

It is a huge misconception that to create art you need to be unhappy or tortured in some way. This is very damaging, she said.

Also Read: ‘You’re Not Alone’: Deepika’s Note for Fans Living With Depression

She also spoke about how she would isolate herself as a teenager and lock herself in the room which damaged all her relationships with family, friends.

"Being depressed is hard but loving someone who is depressed is just as hard. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of understanding. It takes a lot of willingness to accept and nurture. "

She said that her struggles have made her value the relationships in her life now, especially with her parents and younger sister Alia.

Journaling daily helped her deal with her depression, she said but there’s no one cure for everyone.

Also Read: ‘I Feel Like Crying for No Reason’: Alia Bhatt on Anxiety Bouts

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