There was a time when being depressed was an embarrassment. Especially teen depression, in Indian society, was not even acknowledged most of the times because it was a reflection on the family, a possible hint of “madness” which might forever taint the child’s future. It was misunderstood and misinterpreted, and parents rightly feared social stigma. But it wasn’t demonized. Today, for some reason, saying you are unhappy or grieving has become a weakness, or a sign of poor character. One should not “allow” oneself to “wallow” in sorrow. One should “choose” to be happy, “decide” to be positive. As though the ability to put on a mask and smile in spite of deep personal pain was some admirable mark of bravery.
Teen life today is unbearably pressured, the children I see around me unable to spend even ten minutes without some diversion. It is popular to blame the smart phones, but I see that as part of a general lifestyle. The academic expectations, the grotesque twist on extra curriculars and hobbies for college applications, the almost completely public growing pains, constant barrage of information and doctored media, mental hive communication powered by high sugar high caffeine diets- I am blown away that more of them aren’t climbing the nearest radio tower. And this is when we have made a conscious decision to stay away from the hyper competitive communities. Seventh graders are already serials cutters and bulemics, and this is common knowledge in middle school. In the face of this stress, I would expect higher incidences of affective disorders.
But curiously we seem to have none. And no one seems surprised by that. Instead there seems to be a consensus to pretend this is normal, and each household is dealing with their problems individually. Or the kids are self medicating. And we know it. Let us, at least somewhere inside us, allow the admission that chances are most of the children around us do need help. Let us acknowledge that as a society, by characterizing depression and stress anxiety as weaknesses, we are preventing solutions from reaching the victims. And when we hear of the tenth grader who committed suicide over a C grade, or the bleeding seventh grader who had to be taken to the emergency at nine am, let us admit to our deepest darkest selves that positivity and public attitudes have a real cost. The ones most in need of help amongst us are paying the price.

When did Depression become the Devil?
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