Friday, March 23

The Nepali Depression Taboo: You’re Not Really Alone

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Don’t read further if you don’t believe in mental illness.

Today, I wanted to share you a little about a topic that is rarely spoken about in our country. Or a topic frowned upon as Ross would say.


The truth is – it is a topic of shame, often coined crazy or devdas if you fancy a famous Bollywood term. However, the fact that thousands of teenagers commit suicides in this very country points out to the very obvious irony.

To make it only fair, I will begin by sharing my side of the story.

An upbeat cricket fanatic, I had nothing bad going on in my life. I was born under adequate circumstances, admitted in a Boarding School and provided with all the resources I possibly needed. However, there was one particular glitch in my system. I was born very sensitive and overthinking stuff seemed to be engrailed in my genes.

I was a late-born child in my family. All my siblings are a decade older than me, something I’m thankful  of right now for the several rewards that come with it. However, when I was young, it was nothing like it. My *friends* constantly tormented a young me with several imaginative instances about how my parents were old and they would die soon.

I don’t really blame them – and I never took it seriously but somehow, deep into my subconscious, I was always aware of that. Gradually, I became afraid for the unimaginative death, and eventually, I feared I would die soon myself. To be honest, I can not really figure out how that works but I was just born into this lovely world in an endearing family yet I was already afraid of the inevitable. It crushed me.

Like every depression episode, there comes a breaking point. My breaking point was that one night when I saw the bad pictures made up in my mind convert into a video reel in my dreams. I can’t really remember if I had ever woken up at the middle of the night before, but I still remember how panicked I was that night and how I cried non-stop for hours before I fell asleep.

Map by Nepali Times

It didn’t stop. I usually found corners in my home so no one could see how emotionally shattered I was. But, secrets aren’t really meant to be kept away from your parents when you are a seven year old. An hour before we were supposed to be headed for a marriage party in a sunny afternoon in Butwal, my mother found her seven year old son crying helplessly whilst only wearing a towel wrapped around him. It’s not an important detail – but I just wanted to brag about me taking a shower because I rarely did it as a child!

You would only imagine how a mother would feel at that very moment. She was helpless. Nothing she said really comforted me. I was deep into the region I had no idea how to take a leap from. The only cure I really had was – stick to the sport I loved.  I often felt distracted by it but the episode always returned when I was alone in a playground with my own mind. It played me like a buffoon.

Luckily for me, my father was not completely new to this situation. He knew about it from his friends. In mid 2000s, mental illness was far even sparsely discussed than today. He brought me to the city of a million Nepalese dreams (Kathmandu, if you’re wondering) for my treatment. Three months later, after the therapy sessions and a lot of care from my family, I returned to Butwal feeling normal again. However, my mother still deals with me differently when it comes to my feelings because the glitches in my system haven’t really faded away.

But I learned that you just play your mind better in reciprocation. You feed it with the things you want it to be fed with. Even today, I have come to terms with the fact that everyone feels sad once in a while. But the consistent  sadness and downbeat mood crumbles your soul. That eventually leads to clinical depression.

There is nothing worse than when your mind is your own enemy.

It is not rocket science but it is also easier said than done. Teenagers in Nepal do face mental illness like me. It’s no different than from being ill physically. But even then, it’s a taboo in our society. You are afraid of exposing your mental fragility with anyone else because almost everyone takes a stance of judgement towards you. I don’t really blame anyone because that’s the surrounding we were born around.

The biggest disappointment though is when the very Nepalese experts in ‘psychology  treatment’ can’t really deal with the situation to their merits. It amazes me how often people derail the mental situation of teenagers to a facade as if it is age-locked.

It is not. Depression doesn’t see age – in fact, a teenager is more liable to it than anyone else. In the country where our supremacy is often judged on the account of our academic performances, we are on constant pressure to perform. Our education system screeches our mind to do something not everyone of us are trained for.

Meanwhile, there is hope. You might not see the light at the end of the tunnel but there often is. Depression isn’t something you can just scratch away through medication and wait for a mandate to cure it. It takes time and you have to be patient with it. But the happy news is – you have everything in you to win over it. Just don’t give up. Hang in there and do seek help. The most important thing to do right now – is talk to your dearest ones and share.

Let it not be your little secret before it’s too late.

Please contact these numbers if you need help:

UTH Suicide Hotline: 9840021600

Transcultural Psychosocial Organization-Nepal Crisis Hotline: 1660 0102005

Mental Health Helpline Nepal: 1660 0133666

or please email me at . I may not be a professional but I do know that taking the burden off your heart does you a world of good.


About Author

Pouring my heart into words somewhere in a corner.

1 Comment

Leave A Reply