"Depression is very, very real. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain, and needs to be treated," said Bollywood star Ileana D'Cruz while talking about her struggle with depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
The 'Baadshaho' star was speaking on the final day of the 21st World Congress of Mental Health Sunday where she was awarded the Woman of Substance Award for her efforts towards raising awareness about mental health.
Chairing the session, Dr Sunil Mittal, Organizing Chairman World Congress of Mental Health, Director CIMBS India, and Co-founder and Past President, Indian Association of Private Psychiatry, said, "Anxiety and depression are very common. About 60 million people live with depression in India. The first challenge is knowing that you are depressed. People suffer in silence, out of guilt, and don't realize that they are suffering from depression. Ileana is a woman of substance for she did not only decide to fight against it but also encouraged others to seek help, raised awareness, and is trying to dispel myths in her own way. We are extremely fortunate to have her with us today."
In her experiential narrative, Ileana said, "I was always a very self-conscious person and was picked on for my body type. I used to feel low and sad all the time but didn't know I was suffering from depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder till I got help. All I wanted to do was to be accepted by everyone. At one point, I even had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end things."
Adding, "However, all of it changed when I accepted myself and what I was going through. I think that is the first step towards fighting depression. Depression is very, very real. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain, and needs to be treated. Don't sit back and think it'll get okay but go get help. Like you have a sprain and go get yourself checked, if you have depression, seek help. You know Winnie the pooh - he wore a crop top, ate his favorite food all day and loved himself, you can too!"
"I am not saying that I had this miraculous recovery, every day is a process, every day is a step towards healing yourself and getting better. You are a human being and are allowed to be imperfect; you are allowed to be flawed. There is a lot of beauty in your imperfections, in your uniqueness. You may look at us actors and think that oh my god they are so pretty, so perfect but that's not how it is, it takes two hours to get ready and look like this. Love yourself for who you are and trust me if you are happy from within, you are the most beautiful person and your smile is your best asset," added the 'Mubarakan' star.
When asked by Dr Sunil Mittal about why she decided to speak about her struggle, and what encouraged her to do so because it takes a lot of courage to not only accept that we have depression and seek help but also to speak about it and encourage others to seek help, the 30-year-old said, "Despite the fact that I have a loving family, friends, a successful career, I am all over the place emotionally. If I am struggling, others are too and as someone people look up to, even if I can help a handful of people cope, it is worth talking about it."
If you think it is ok to not be happy, no it is not. You need to embrace every single day, make mental health a priority like you would for your physical health. Depression and anxiety disorder are not something to be ashamed of; I didn't know I suffered from it till my partner told me to seek help. I visited a psychologist just to prove him wrong only to realize that my struggle is real. When suffering from depression you often feel that you are the only one who is struggling, but the truth is that your loved ones suffer too. My mother has been my biggest pillar of strength through this process and I couldn't be luckier to have her backing me, Ileana concluded.
This discussion has brought forward the importance of destigmatizing mental health and encouraging people to seek help.
Other key highlights of the fourth and final day of the conference include the launch of the Delhi Declaration on Partnerships for Mental Health by Special Guests Noble Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and Health Minister of Delhi NCT Satyender Jain.
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