To be or not to be

Deepika Padukone at the height of her career & success gets into depression and needs professional help. One of the highest-paid actresses in India, her accolades include three Filmfare Awards. She features in listings of the nation’s most popular personalities. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018!! And, she suffers from depression!!!

Deepika is not alone. Abraham Lincoln, Halle Berry, Dwayne Johnson (the Rock), Lady Gaga, Princess Diana, Michael Phelps winner of 28 Gold Medals in Olympics, Anne Hathaway, world’s highest paid actress, are all famous people who have publicly admitted being victims of clinical depression & suicidal thoughts. Tennessee Williams, America’s most famous playwrights, could not bear a string of flops after A Streetcar Named Desire & The Glass Menagerie, and had to be institutionalized. As Kristen Bell put it succinctly,” “Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades or achievements. Anyone can be affected, despite their level of success or their place on the food chain.” Eminem, Johnny Depp, are cases in point. Ellen Degeneres, being thrown out of her most popular sitcom because she gathered the courage to declare she was gay, pushed her into depression. Consider, Catherine Delevingne, the most sought-after supermodels in the world. By age 15, Delevingne was rich & famous, but was also hit with a “massive wave of depression, anxiety, & self-hatred.” Delevingne said, “I was packing my bags, and suddenly I just wanted to end it. I had a way, and it was right there in front of me. And I was like, I need to decide whether I love myself as much as I love the idea of death.”

Jim Carrey easily makes the short list of history’s most influential comedians. The funnyman shocked a lot of people when he acknowledged he has spent much of his life dealing with depression. After the second of his two failed marriages, Carrey sought the help of a psychiatrist who prescribed him Prozac. Though Carrey admits the antidepressant helped him out of an initial jam, he also realized that he couldn’t be one of those who stay on the drug forever. “You need to get out of bed every day and say that life is good. That’s what I did, although at times it was very difficult for me.” Carrey credits a healthy diet & natural supplements for his improved mental health. The question still looms large: why does a comedian suffer depression?

All these and more examples only underline the huge challenge we face in our repressed society. If this is the state of our so called “successful people”, who seemingly have everything going for them, pomp, glamour, public acclaim, what then would be the state of the average man on the street? Mental Health issues are rampant, but at the same time there is a large scale connivance afoot to push this under the surface & not take the help required to overcome these issues. Rarely is the mold broken. Anjelina Jolie-Pitt & Harrison Ford were possibly lucky that they could control the negative spiral and use their work to climb out of severe depression. Yet the most capable Guru Dutt succumbed to his desire to commit suicide. Deepika’s personal struggles gave rise to The Live Laugh Love Foundation a non-profit NGO to bring awareness to mental health in India. In 2016, the organization launched a program called “You Are Not Alone”. Facebook is working with the organization to prevent suicides from being livestreamed.

Both society at large, as well as movies & fiction, tend to gloss over what the person goes through. खुल्या सरखो कर्ता (acts like a fool) is the shorthand mostly used to lump the inexplicable behavior of our near & dear ones…..merely because we do not understand it & do not know how to deal with it. Unable to appreciate fully the import of what our loved one is going through, we tend to give facile advice, simplistic solutions and generally tell the person to get his/her act together. As we continue to push back & not take cognizance of the gravity of what the other person is going through, we tend to drive ourselves further & further away from the person suffering & push him/her into a corner. And the isolation of the person who is suffering takes it’s toll. S/he just does not understand why & how you cannot see the seriousness of what s/he is gong through. Your lack of empathy typically serves to isolate & withdraw the person who is suffering, as somehow the message they get is….you do not appreciate their challenges and reality & so there is no meeting ground for resolution.

The reason why I have listed so many illustrious examples is just to drive home the point: depression is real. It can hit anyone at any stage and situation. And we all who are supposedly learned, educated, forward thinking must accept the fact that this major issue needs to be taken far more seriously by us, than we have taken hitherto. The challenge is to change our mindset, be more sensitive. Empathetic. Caring. Understanding

Recently the song from Marathi film Redu written by Guru Thakur is an inspired piece of advice:

फाटक्या झोळीत येऊन पडते/ रोजची नवी निराशा

सपान गाठीला धरत वेठीला/ कशी रं सुटावी आशा

अवसेची रात नशिबाला /पुनवेची राख पदराला

होईन पुनव मनाशी जागव / खचून जाऊ नको

येईल मुठीत तुझ्याही आभाळ/ माघार घेऊ नको

उगाच भयाण वादळ वाऱ्याच्या / पाऊल रोखू नको

साद घाली दिस उद्याचा नव्याने/ इसर गजाल कालची रे

देवाक काळजी रे/ माझ्या देवाक काळजी रे


In my torn bag falls/ Always new disappointment/ Dreams are held at ransom/How can one leave hope?/Moonless night is in my fate/ New moon’s ashes in the padar (पदर means पल्लू. Basically, it means you are getting purnima’s ashes, so in other words, disappointment)/Yet, the new moon will happen, awaken (your) mind/Don’t lose all hope/The sky shall embrace you/ Do not turn back/During the terrible storm for no reason/ Do not stop walking/A new tomorrow calls you/ Forget the mutterings of the past/

देवांक् काळजी रे God cares

माझ्या देवांक् काळजी रे My God care(s)

Overall, indeed, there is a lot to look forward to. Forget the past. And sally forth boldly to face the future. Knock adequate doors, some will open. And you will find a new way out of your conundrum. The trick is to not lose hope. Big Shots are little shots who kept plugging away. Life is positive and we must look on it with hope and positivity.

इसर गजाल कालची रे, देवाक काळजी रे, माझ्या देवाक काळजी रे

देव बरे करो : vikas

35 Replies to “To be or not to be”

  1. Dear Vikas, Good morning and please excuse the late response to a very topical and sensitive subject. Personally, I am so glad that people come out and seek support and help and this is now “accepted” as something human and natural for us to go through. Growing up in an environement of great challenges, there were times that one wanted to just give up but did not recognize that it was depression nor that one can seek help. We had to “somehow” manage to get out of it on our own and move ahead. Neither the awareness nor the knowledge of any possible support existed. Today, if I look back, I am sometimes amazed at how one overcame those and just assumed that you have to look forward to another day, another possibility. The journey traversed seems to long and there is bewilderment on how one has actually not only survived but seem to have grown as a result.What seemed to have helped is an absence of choice and what seems to cause it today is an abandunce of choice!! So much has changed. My children cannot understand and will not appreciate the journey. Or is it that I exagerate? Also as one goes through ones corporate journey ( 40 years plus) one has gone through so many ups and downs which on reflection seem very significant or very small. The context and the immediacy of the experience and the immediacy of the support I think is critical. Thank you.


  2. Vikas, you have touched upon a very important subject. Yes reference to celebrity experience with depression is good. But an ordinary person like me who has no hangup, or delusions like a celebrity does, is also a victim of this insufferable illness. The problem is people around you think you are this toy with a ball bearing that props you up instantly when someone punches you. And they keep doing it. Punching you all the time. The reason for me standing up again is not that I have a ball bearing that props me up, with a permanently plastered smile like the toy. It is the belief that things will change for the better and they never do! The mistake one makes is to allow people to treat you like that and make you believe that you are a bag of misery. This is called gaslighting. This act of yours granting permission to others to hurt you because you are a kind, gentle person and never provokes it, is the rootcause.
    Depression is a all pervading malady. Celebrity or not. Man or woman. Child or adult. 3 years old or 80 years. Beggar or Ambani. Failure or successful. The ability to bounce back itself is crowded with self doubt and pretension. It is not just me. It is the people around me that contribute substantially to the way i feel.

    ( I have used first person to drive home the point)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Krishna
      many thanks for your feedback
      You having written it in First Person brings the story far closer to the heart

      Firstly I hope I have not created an impression that Depression is the exclusive prerogative of the rich and famous. My only intention in using examples of Guru Dutt and Deepika; of Jim Carry and Diana is only to reassure that average people who are also affected by depression that they are not alone
      Secondly I love your example of the toy with a ball bearing. Indeed we are used as punching bag often and others do not recognize that we the sufferers are also human and hence require a much better acceptance & handling.
      Gaslighting is only possible when the other party is vulnerable, such as in unequal power relationships, or when the audience is fearful of the losses associated with challenging the false narrative. It thus becomes a conspiracy of connivance of both me and the people around me. Indeed overcoming Depression requires us to face the reality and finding ways to carry on.
      It thus becomes a very personal battle without simple solutions


  3. Times have been tough on everyone in the past couple of years. Many of us were battling the side effects of being isolated for about six months and at some point all of us went through our lows. I felt that I was on the verge of entering the void but then there you and aai were by my side watching over me. That made me realise how important the support of loved ones is. I feel so blessed to have two people who would without questions asked stand by me. As long as I have you and aai my pillars by my side alls going to be well.
    Love you hamesha 😘


    1. Rashmi
      many thanks for your heartfelt comment
      Yes last couple of years have been unprecedented in terms of challenges
      Our entire HR community was abuzz with the mental health implications of the isoaltion, loneliness and negativity we were facing
      I am glad to hear that you found your solutions and stayed away from the slippery slope as that would have left major scars for all

      Yes Aai & I will be always there for you
      and what we have to remember is to keep the channels of communication open and never feel isolated or alone as each one of us goes through our own challenges
      You are staying far away and alone so this is all the more important for you

      Take care
      stay happy
      love you always


  4. The physical and mental well-being, though existing as challenge for quite long, become very visible especially with covid pandemic.

    The health and happiness are the true pillars of life and rest all is becoming minuscule.. we learnt this hard way.

    It’s also surprising to see the diminishing ability to reasonably meet the demands of life and underlines the importance of health and well-being.

    Your blog really brings these thoughts together and are weaved in positive manner to accept the fact and deal with it openly with expert help. Thanks

    Sir, as usual, your blogs are very relevant and I enjoy your articulation.

    Wish you the best of 2022 and look forward to many more blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Devendra
      thanks for your comments which are quite different from what others have observed
      Special thanks to you for starting a new train of thought

      Health is Wealth was often repeated but unfortunately we never took it seriously in our growing up phase
      we were too busy living our life at double speed to bother about wooly concepts of health and well being
      Mental Health was always relegated to the back burner and we always thought there was nothing to specifically do about this important area

      Pandemic taught us many things
      and the chief learning has been in the area of social distance & social nearness
      All of us revaluated the need and importance of social connect
      and if we carry this learning into the future, I think we would all have gained from the Lockdown and Quarantine experience

      Like you, I too am an optimist
      and look FW to 2022 and the Great Reconnect

      Take care & all the best


  5. Lovely post Vikas mama… And apt for the times.. the last two years have been roller-coasters for many … Whenever I am feeling blue or out-of-sorts, just saying “this, too, shall pass!” helps… But it’s also important to repeat it during good times too, to become equanimous and more resilient in bad times :-).
    Loved “devak kalji re” and this will get added to my breedvakye for sure!


    1. Hey Praju thanks for your comments
      There are many stories on the genesis of This too shall Pass. The one I favour most is where a king asked Buddha to summarize in one line what were his learnings and he quoted this…..This too shall Pass. It is indeed powerful.
      Do hear Ajay Ghogawale sing Devak Kalgi … is magical. Guru Thakur’s lyrics are truly inspired. I feel we are blessed to be exposed to such nuggets of wisdom
      Take care. Face the Sun. Be Happy


  6. Very good post, and apt in current times, Vikas dada. Loved these lines especially – they are so true:

    “Unable to appreciate fully the import of what our loved one is going through, we tend to give facile advice, simplistic solutions and generally tell the person to get his/her act together. As we continue to push back & not take cognizance of the gravity of what the other person is going through, we tend to drive ourselves further & further away from the person suffering & push him/her into a corner. And the isolation of the person who is suffering takes it’s toll. S/he just does not understand why & how you cannot see the seriousness of what s/he is gong through.”

    None of the diseases are age-related anymore. Mental health issues can strike at a young age as well as for anyone from any strata of society. We need to build an ecosystem where we are able to support people suffering from them effectively and practice measures which will help us prevent the same too.

    Balance and moderation in everything is key – it helps to focus on the right things and not get obsessed by unhealthy thoughts/habits.


    1. Nilambari
      thanks for writing in, it feels great to be connected with the reader
      Indeed today mental health needs a special focus as with all the challenges all around us
      maintaining sanity is a full time job
      and the slope is slippery and so one has to be continuously on guard
      Our society unfortunately encourages only success and frowns heavily on people with special needs
      how do we turn that mindset to a more inclusive and accepting one is the battle in front of all of us


  7. Thought provoking article Vikas ji and much needed at this moment when we all are passing through a challenging phase of life, personally and professionally.


  8. Succint, deep and rich with examples as always. I have always felt how much we dwell on success stories and not equip ourselves and others to embrace and deal with failure which is one of the reasons for depression. I salute you for touching upon this very sensitive, yet important issue and for doing so in a manner that is non judgmental. Each observation leads to introspection. Thanks a lot for writing about issues which trigger this introspection. Jeete raho, likhte raho. My best wishes, as always.


    1. Minouti
      thanks for your comment
      Indeed the success stories tend to blind our eyes and we tend to forget the underbelly, the flip side of the same coin
      The write up in actually a culmination of the questions that keep troubling me
      I am glad that the questions resound and create some introspection in the reader
      The writing is to connect and draw out the reader
      so when you all write back I feel I am on the right track
      Jo doobna hai to is sukoon se doobo
      ki aas paas ki lehreon ko khabar na pade
      Tumhare bas me ho agar to bhool jao hame
      tumhe bhoolane me shayad hame zamana lage


  9. Hi Vikas

    Once again you have communicated a complex subject in a sagacious manner.

    Those who seek accolades ,based on what others seek in/of them, without knowing/understanding what they seek themselves results in burnouts/depressions/melt downs .

    For those who know what they seek for them selves, “To be or not to be” is rarely a dilemma.

    Easier said than done.



    1. Nikhil bhai
      True And well said
      we are perpetually on the horns of the dilemma
      and it is really a choice you exercise To Be or Not to Be
      Both sides of the coin have plusses and minuses
      and you must carry that constantly with you
      The Jury will always remain out and you cannot have simple answers
      I suppose it is because of the constant play between the extremes our lives remain enigmas
      and there is seething desire to see tomorrow afresh

      Thanks for your regular encouragement


      1. Nikhil bhai
        I quote जां निसार अख़्तर

        हम से मायूस न हो ऐ शब-ए-दौराँ कि अभी,
        दिल में कुछ दर्द चमकते हैं उजालों की तरह|


  10. Loved it. It takes empathy as you rightly said to understand someone else. Sympathy toh waise bhi mil jaati hai. Loved how you seamlessly wove in ‘Devak kalji re’ in this entire narrative. Have lost a few close friends and colleagues due to depression and have seen first hand how difficult it is. The sheer disillusionment that they go through is difficult to shatter and it takes a lot of time and love to bring them to understand it. They are in a phase where they think ‘yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaey to kya hai’ and it comes from a different experience. The only part i would disagree is where you say ‘forget the past’ because it can’t be. You can overcome it yes but cleaning the slate requires one to cleanse the conscience too! This is all of course my opinion 😁


    1. Hey Amey many thanks for your well thought out comments
      opened a new perspective for me too
      like the Forget Past: to me it has been a very easy transition and I feel I have retained my sanity because I am able to let go and forget
      I often feel a good strong memory is a curse as it traps you
      while an easy memory allows you to make the same mistakes again and again & enjoy the learnings again and again?

      Presently Devak Kalgi is my Anthem
      the words and the rendering both take me to new height each time I listen

      Duniya as Jagjit puts it Jaadu ka khilona hai
      Mil jaye to mitti hai
      Kho jaye to sona hai
      and one has recd so much from life that I feel good about all the mitti around me
      little left to look up to
      and that makes me happy


  11. Good one Vikas. Would agree that tough times never last…. they come with a lesson. Personally for me 3 things have worked – hobbies, people (even if one or two who really understand you) and yog, pranayam and meditation. In these challenging times one needs to seek help without hesitation and shame and yes we need to create greater awareness about mental health and remove the stigma associated with it.

    Thanks for touching upon this important issue.


    1. Thanks Preeti for your comments
      Each one of us have to find our own solutions but books & hobbies and the touch of meditation is a sure fire remedy to prepare us to face all
      though I have been in the people area and have met some true greats and learnt a lot from them, to me people is a mixed bag….kuch khatta kuch meetha
      But others around do inspire and stretch me so very often that I am able to move away from my “stheer bhav” of Hell is other people as mentioned by Satre
      Genuinely hope the stigma around mental health issues goes away and people are able to face themselvesand others better
      One lives on in hope


  12. Your blog says:

    “If this is the state of our so called “successful people”, who seemingly have everything going for them, pomp, glamour, public acclaim, what then would be the state of the average man on the street?”

    I find the above as the ‘key’ statement to be explored further.

    Basically, it proves ,if at all some proof is required, that the ‘outward success’ ,the pomp, the glory, the wealth etc are not what we REALLY want.

    They are ,by fatal mistake, considered generally as proxy to what we REALLY want ..which is Peace/Happiness/ Love .

    Unfortunately, we do not spend sufficient time in understanding our REAL needs ..and how can we satisfy them

    To me, exploring this is the path of spirituality….which is considered ‘out of fashion’ ..or something to be taken up post superannuation ..or… the pursuit of those who want to run away from life….

    Last part of ‘key’ statement of your blog is : ..”then what would be the state of the average man on the street?”

    My understanding is that majority of them are managing their mental state much better. I have heard several western visitors to India wondering ,how our common people look so happy and smiling ,as compared to the people back in their countries! As such we also see this ourselves when we move around.

    I think it has something to do with their understanding of life in a very subtle way. They may not be able to articulate this understanding ..but they have the wisdom to take life as it comes..and take things in their stride. Deep rooted religious or spiritual belief systems keep most of them on track

    I think your blog can be a wake up call for many…for which you deserve compliments!


    1. Jagdish bhai
      many thanks for your well thought out comments , as always
      In fact you tend to take the whole debate to a totally different level and bring out certain aspects which are fresh and new insights on the subject
      You truly add value to the debate and hence even as I hit the Publish button, my immediate second thought is, ” What will JLS say?” Your comments are an integral part of my argumentation and thesis
      many many thanks for remaining engaged and taking the debate to newer heights

      Indeed most of us have seen through the false pomp and glamour of the “real” world
      Indeed it is very superficial and even as you bask in that glory, you cannot but remind yourself that this is transitory and really does not mean anything
      it is ephemeral and does not create any lasting joy
      Unfortunately sometimes one gets blinded , albeit temporarily, by the “chaka-chondh”
      and miss the forest for the trees
      Jagit said it so prophetically
      Duniya jise kehte hai
      Jaadu ka khilona hai
      Mil jaaee to mitti hai
      Kho jaaee to sona hai

      I used to read often that one must have done a lot of “punya” in past lives, to be born in India
      Dev Bhoomi, Punya Bhoomi
      And when you look at the joy and comfort most average households have one has to accept that the “stotra” of happiness is far far away from materialism
      Innately Indians are philosophers and rise above the material and find joy ( and explanations) in practical spirituality
      an ex-boss of JnJ used to tell me, when ever anyone doubts the existence of God I tell them to come to India
      India to him was living proof of divine intervention
      the joy of people cannot have any other explanation
      You allude to the same in your comment and though I cannot rely on God and Godlihood, even a nastik like me has to accept that there is some larger than life power which us on track and keeps taking the whole juggernaut forward in a defined direction
      and protects the non-believers like me from facing a daily violent revolution and overthrowing of the social system

      In a way sir with all humility I must say I do not deserve any compliments
      I write the questions which trouble me
      and I hope someday the conundrum will be resolved
      in the meantime i revel in the uncertainty and the constant challenge
      and repeat with Ustad Shujaat Husain Khan the words of Krishna Bihari Noor
      Itne hisso me bat gaya hun mai
      Ke mere hisse me kuch bacha hi nahi

      Sorry for a long winded reply
      vikas the confused


      1. Hi VS:

        Thanks for being sooo generous in acknowledging my responses !! in fact, your blogs give me ,and many others, opportunities to reflect on a variety of matters that touch our lives in very real ways!

        If a confused VS can write with such clarity ..what can one expect from an ‘unconfused’ one!

        i will end with a joke my ex boss late Shri B P Mistry used to love narrating:

        some one who had just got a degree from Harvard was asked: ..”so how has been your stay at Harvard?”

        His answer: before going to Harvard ,i used to be confused.

        “I see ..and now?”

        the Harvard graduates responds ” well, i am still confused, but at a MUCH HIGHER LEVEL” !!!



      2. JLS
        Bhagubhai was a great man and always left you with a smile
        his anecdotes and memories have often made me smile
        we moved into his old house at F2/11 and so we were fortunate to be visited by him often
        always stayed back for a cuppa and regaled us with the glorious past they all had enjoyed in Atul
        I must remember this Confusion at Higher Level
        I am perpetually confused and struggling most of the time for clarity
        I quite like that state as it helps me stretch and come up for breath
        This Bhagubhai story will stand me in good stead at these times


  13. Like pole vault athlete Bubka, you are raising the bar with every blog.
    “Devak Kalji” is such unique expression that it depicts the faith in divine powers.
    Perhaps,you are saying what late G.D. Madgulkar said in Geet Ramayan ” Paradhin ahe jagti putra manvacha”.
    Thanks Vikas for such wonderful blog.


    1. Suresh bhau
      you are always more than kind
      Dosh na kunacha….Paradhin ahe jagati putra manavacha
      Geet Ramayan is an inspired piece of poetry and has always been a source of divine inspiration
      of all songs Paradhin ahe jagati has been Vinita and my fav
      thanks for reminding us of those noble words

      I am also highly impressed with Ajay Atul
      their other songs on Vithal are amongst my fav


  14. Loved it & agree with all that is said therein as I have walked down that road & come out a winner. It was tough but one has to be determined to come out of it & I did it with the help of the Almighty.


  15. Very touching and incidive analysis on something that plagues many in Society but very few dare to speak about. My qurstion is, can excessive self pity also lead to depression? Thank you for making people aware of seriousness of the subject.


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