You'd be excused for thinking actress Deepika Padukone has it all. Indeed, as far as anyone can see she does - blockbuster hits, awards and a romance with co-star Ranveer Singh that she won't talk about. However, in a poignant first person interview to Hindustan Times, the Happy New Year star has revealed that she battled 'anxiety and depression' last year.
In the interview, Deepika says that she woke up one day in 2014, "feeling different." At the time, Deepika had already delivered her hat-trick of hits with Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express and Ram-Leela. She had two high profile films coming up - Kochadaiiyaan and Finding Fanny - and was filming Happy New Year.
Deepika says, "Every morning, it was a struggle to wake up, and shoot for Happy New Year's climax... Most of HNY was shot through this phase. But before starting my next with Shoojit Sircar, I took a two-month break to recover mentally and physically. I spent time with my family in Bengaluru and was soon better. But, when I returned to Mumbai, I heard about a friend committing suicide due to anxiety and depression. It was a huge blow"
For a while, Deepika blamed the 'strange emptiness' in her stomach on stress and exhaustion. She speaks about having to put up a brave front for her parents because she didn't want them to worry about her living alone.
Finally, it was her friend's death that prompted Deepika to get help from a psychiatrist friend. It wasn't easy, though. She was 'resistant' to taking medication, thinking 'talking was enough.'
She also says, "Being sad and being depressed are two different things. Also, people going through depression don't look so, while someone sad will look sad. The most common reaction is, 'How can you be depressed? You have everything going for you. You are the supposed number one heroine and have a plush home, car, movies... What else do you want?' It's not about what you have or don't have. People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn't help. One needs support and understanding."
Today, she is 'much better.'
She has also announced on Twitter that this year she will focus on creating awareness about mental illness:
I dedicate this year to supporting Mental Health Awareness.? Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) December 31, 2014
In December last year, she had tweeted:
Anxiety,Depression and Panic Attacks are not signs of weakness.They are signs of trying to remain strong for way too long.? Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) December 31, 2014
She also added:
When you look at a person,any person,everyone has a story.Everyone has gone through something that has changed their life.? Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) December 31, 2014
Last year, Deepika received almost undivided support from colleagues and fan for slamming a tweet by a national daily which featured a top shot of her, urging folks to focus on the actress' cleavage. By speaking up about her personal experience with depression, Deepika shows the same courage as she had then.
Deepika will next be seen in Piku, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, in April.