Always on guard so that I don’t slip back into depression: Deepika

In a freewheeling chat on her bout with depression to a Clubhouse audience, Deepika Padukone admitted she and her family were “extremely hush-hush” about her mental illness at first. They were scared her name would come out in public

Me coming out about my depression was really just letting people know you are not alone and we are in it together, said Bollywod actor and celebrity Deepika Padukone to a Clubhouse audience

Leading Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone, who has often spoken publicly about her battle with depression in 2014, told a Clubhouse audience on Tuesday (July 20) that despite coming a long way since the diagnosis, she has to keep consciously working on her mental well-being so that she does not slip back into depression.

Indian Express reported that Padukone said that post her mental illness, life could be divided into the ‘before and after’. The leggy lass, who had a dream debut in Bollywood opposite Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Om Shanti Om’, and has done a Hollywood film with Van Diesel as well, admitted that she had a particular life before depression and “a very different life after that”.

“I keep saying that there’s not a day that goes by without me thinking about my mental health,” she stressed, added the IE report.

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There is not a day that goes by without Deepika Padukone thinking about her mental health. Pic: Deepika Padukone/Instagram

To ensure that she does not go back into that dark space, she has to constantly be on guard about the quality of her sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise, and how she processes stress, her thoughts and mindfulness. “These are the things I have to do on a daily basis not because they are fancy words or it’s cool to do this but I won’t be able to survive, if I don’t do all these things,” said the actor, who has started a foundation to create awareness on mental health.

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Padukone was speaking freely and candidly at the Clubouse event, where she launched an audio Care Package, which is a curation of conversations and performances from thought leaders around the world that prioritise “care”. In her freewheeling chat, the actor also talked about how her life changed when she decided to address her mental health issues.

Padukone admitted her decision to go public with her bout with depression came much later. At first, people around her and she were scared about going public and were worried about choosing the right therapist they could trust. Looking back, Padukone now felt that they had been “extremely hush-hush” about it.

Her family and she were scared that her name would come out. “We were scared about which therapist to reach out to and who’s going to keep this information confidential. At that point, I went with the flow because I wanted help,” Padukone pointed out.

But months later, she had realised that this was not a “convincing” road to follow. Reflecting about it, Padukone questioned herself why they were being so secretive and why shouldn’t people know about what she had gone through. “It also came from me wanting to try be as honest and authentic as possible,”  she recounted.

Also, Padukone wanted to fight against the “shame” attached to mental health, which made people “suffer in silence”. She wanted to drive home the fact that it’s okay to seek help and not to feel guilty and believe that you are the only person going through it.

“Me coming out was really just letting people know you are not alone and we are in it together,” she said.

Padukone also shared that it was her mother, Ujjala Padukone, who realised that something was wrong with her. She narrated that it had all started in February 2014…when she had started feeling empty, directionless. Life had no meaning or purpose for her. She couldn’t feel anything physically or emotionally, she had just felt this void… for many weeks and months, she said.

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Until one day, her family who was visiting her in Mumbai, was returning home and when they were packing their bags, Padukone was sitting in their room and suddenly broke down. That’s when her mother realised for the first time that something was different.

“My cry was different. It wasn’t the usual boyfriend issue or stress at work. She kept asking me is it this or that. I couldn’t pin point one specific reason,” she recalled. But it was her mother’s presence of mind and experience that led her to encourage Padukone to see professional help.

Padukone, who is waiting for her sports drama ”83′ with husband Ranveer Singh to release, has shared many posts on her social media profile, trying to normalise conversations around mental health. The actor was last seen in ‘Chhapaak’, the film on an acid-attack survivor and has upcoming movies lined up with Shah Rukh Khan (‘Pathan’) and Hrithik Roshan (‘Fighter’).

NDTV reported that the invite-only social media app Clubhouse crashed on Tuesday evening, when Padukone hosted her ‘Care Package’ on the platform. One Clubhouse user tweeted, you know a superstar has arrived “when servers fail.”

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