Depression is a term casually thrown around and yet, is massively stigmatised. An invisible illness, depression often goes undiagnosed and because it’s seen as such a taboo, very few people speak up about it, isolating those who suffer from it. Further, the struggle to seek help is much more difficult for women, as their health is seldom taken seriously by their families and society. There’s a line in author Nilanjana Bhowmick’s book Lies Our Mothers Told Us that deeply resonates, “In a country like India, if something is a taboo for men, then one need not imagine how bad things must be for women.”
It’s, not just about being able to seek help, the World Health Organization states that close to 280 million people around the world have depression and women are more likely to be affected by it than men. There could be many reasons for it- abuse, trauma, gender bias in the workspace and discrimination in general. As a young woman who has been battling severe depression for about a decade, I can vouch for the fact that depression pushes one into a dark abyss, making it impossible to climb out. Getting no support or empathy from friends and family alike further pushes one to the edge.
Suicide is a corollary of mental illnesses, especially depression. Nilanjana Bhowmick writes in Lies Our Mothers Told Us, “no one wakes up one morning deciding to kill themselves. They wake up one-morning feeling such darkness that it clouds all judgement. One can then only think of putting a stop to that pain.” According to a 2021 study, Indian women make up 36 percent of all global suicides in the 15 to 39 years age group – the highest share of any nation in the world.
Depression in young women
Society in general is insensitive to women’s issues, taking them for granted and trivialising everyday struggles. It’s so unfair that we suffer silently and alone at the hands of depression and anxiety.
Suggested Reading: A Bad Mood Or Depression? Destigmatising Mental Illness
The burden on young women is humongous, from taking care of themselves and family to the pressure of marriage and conceiving, and the bias they face everyday at work. There still is a wide discrepancy in the pay men and women receive for similar quantity and quality of work. Women are expected to balance household chores as well as duties at workplace.
Young women are inherently lonely, despite having a daily schedule that leaves them with little time to ponder over life. The fear of being labelled crazy or mad or even a cry baby often stops women from talking about their feelings and struggles. As women we are trained from birth to gulp down our miseries whilst putting everyone else’s needs before ours. How is this fair in any context?
Mental health issues on their own are treaded on with a ton of baggage, with rarely a place to unload. We’re constantly running about like ants trying to fend for ourselves, emotionally, physically and at both work and home. The expectations burden us, so does lack of empathy and it’s about time we as a society grew to accommodate women’s issues and help them deal with with debilitating mental health issues like depression.
Views expressed are the author’s own.