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Bollywood is not all just glitz and glam, with few actors sharing their struggles with mental health issues. On the occasion of World Mental Health Awareness Day, let’s take a look at stars who have spoken up about mental health issues, despite the stigma associated with it.
Image Credit: Insta/ deepikapadukone
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Deepika Padukone, bankable Bollywood A-lister, is fast becoming the de-facto face of mental health awareness. The actress has never shied away from sharing how she was diagnosed with depression, her remedial course of action, and how she basically dealt with it. She is one of the very few actors in the industry who went public with her battle with depression and has spoken about it on various occasions. On Thursday, Deepika once again shed light on how she battled months-long depression and overcame many bumps that came her way, including suicidal thoughts. Speaking at an event in Mumbai, Deepika shared anecdotes from the time she was dealing with depression and how her mother came to her rescue. Deepika said, "I give all the credit to my mother for recognizing the signs and symptoms...because it just happened out of the blue..." "I was on a career-high, and everything was going well, so there was no reason or no apparent reason why I should've felt the way I was feeling, but I would break down for no reason. There were days when I just didn't want to wake up, I would sleep because sleep for me was an escape, I was suicidal at times," she added.
Image Credit: insta/ deepikapadukone
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Explaining further about how loved ones came to her rescue during her tough times, she said: "My parents live in Bengaluru and every time they visited me, even now when they visit me, I always put on a brave front, like everything's okay, you know you always want to show your parents that you're fine...so I was doing one of those things like I'm fine...until they were leaving one day, they were going back to Bengaluru and I broke down and my mother asked me the usual hygiene questions like...is it a boyfriend? Is it someone at work? Has something happened? And I just didn't have answers...it was none of these things. And it just came from a really empty, hollow place. And she knew instantly, and I think that for me was God sent."
Image Credit: insta/deepikapadukone
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Amala Paul is a popular Malayali actress who shared her struggles through social media. Taking to Instagram, she revealed that after her father’s demise she almost ‘lost’ herself and her mother. The star said she was in danger of succumbing to depression. Paul emphasised the need to share and accept one’s mental struggles, adding that in the "rat race to the top," many forget self-love.
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Indian actress and singer Shruti Haasan said mental health awareness shouldn’t be restricted to a day on the calendar. Kamal Haasan’s daughter, who reportedly struggles with anxiety, added that just doing this for one day is a disservice to people who go through the daily strife of having a mental health issue. “It can’t be a trump card that you use once a year. You have to keep talking about mental health. Recovery of any kind is about constantly addressing it and being aware of it. I don’t agree with people who do it for a season or on Mental Health Awareness Day alone,” said Haasan in an exclusive interview with Gulf News over Zoom in 2021. Haasan joined Sarika Thakur to lead by example, and has constantly reminded fans that dealing with anxiety takes relentless work.“I want to remind people that I am still a work in progress. There’s no quick fix out there. It’s a constant and that’s why nobody calls someone an ex-addict but calls them a ‘recovering addict’. I am constantly findings tools and ways to deal with it [anxiety],” said Haasan.
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Well-known rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh took a much needed career hiatus after he was reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The rapper called the experience ‘terrifying’, adding that he was worried that the ‘gloom’ would be forever. He shared on social media, “After a year, my medications were no longer working, and I was finally treated by the fourth doctor. I once believed that I would remain in this gloom forever. I had severed all ties with everyone. I didn't leave my room, much alone go outside the house. I neglected to get a haircut for months while I had a beard.”
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Resilience can be a hard-won lesson, one that Tiger Shroff learned when his movie 'A Flying Jatt' tanked at the box office. He's called the period one of 'hard-core depression'. But getting back to work and focusing on what he loves doing helped him bounce back.
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Even mega stars feel low sometimes. Shah Rukh Khan has spoken up about his shoulder injury and how it affected his mental health. The fear of not being able to perform to the same level had him reeling, until he got back on stage.
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Top Bollywood producer, director, and chat show host Karan Johar opened up about his battle with depression and anxiety for more than a year. In a televised interview, he said he took anti-anxiety medications to get it all under control. The ‘Koffee with Karan’ host is also a big believer in taking therapy along with medications. He believes that therapy played a big role in feeling better.
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It may be tough to think of someone who looks so in control of themselves as distressed. But it is possible. 'Chakda Xpress' actor Anushka Sharma explained her battle with anxiety a few years ago, tweeting: “I have anxiety. And I’m treating my anxiety. I’m on medication for my anxiety. Why am I saying this? Because it’s a completely normal thing. It’s a biological problem. In my family, there have been cases of depression. More and more people should talk openly about it. There is nothing shameful about it or something to hide. If you had a constant stomach pain, wouldn’t you go to the doctor? It’s that simple. I want to make this my mission, to take any shame out of this, to educate people about this”.
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It’s difficult to go dark for a movie. Varun Dhawan, when he played a man obsessed in ‘Badlapur’, got so into his character’s skin that he was left exhausted mentally. In an interview later, he admitted, "I was depressed. I was not clinically declared depressed but I was heading there. I was very sad to a certain degree. I don't want to use the term 'depression' loosely because it's a serious illness. It definitely affected my mental health. I was prescribed and did see a doctor for it as well."
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In August 2021, actress and TV host Shibani Dandekar opened up about her battle with depression in a bid to de-stigmatise mental health. Dandekar, who is married to Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar, spoke about how therapy has helped her tremendously. “I’ve suffered from depression in the past. I work with a therapist twice a month. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. Even though I love my life and I’m happy there are things that I need to work through a therapist with and I think that that’s you know totally acceptable and it’s okay,” Dandekar told entertainment portal Bollywood Bubble. “And after you work with a therapist a lot of your sentences start with what my therapist says…I think that’s the way you should just move on in life it’s important to really make this something that people do not have to hide,” she continued.
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'Kedarnath' star Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his home in 2020. He reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. His death was yet another reminder that we need to talk about mental health issues without judgement and stigma.
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Ankita Lokhande has frequently spoken about her battle with depression after her break-up with late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. In a fan interaction, she spoke about how her family helped her get through those dark phases in her life. She spoke about how the end of a romantic partnership had made her question her reason for living. "I have been through depression myself. Mein bhi bahot buri haalat mein thi, mujhe bhi takleef hui thi, mujhe bhi bahot rona aaya tha [I was in a bad shape, I was in a lot of pain and used to cry a lot]. But I had only my family, friends and a few fans who have been with me right from the start. I really respect that."
Image Credit: Insta/ lokhandeankita
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Shaheen Bhatt, sister of Alia Bhatt and author of ‘I’ve Never Been (Un)Happier’ has dealt with a crippling sort of depression for most of her life. Shaheen explained an episode in an Instagram post: “One minute everything's fine and the next it's like someone turned the light off inside my head. I go quiet and it's difficult to get out of bed. Like it always does the world around me loses focus and I struggle to make sense of it. Sometimes these bouts last an hour - sometimes they last days....” Above: Shaheen Bhatt (left) and Alia Bhatt (right)
Image Credit: Insta/ shaheenb