“By designation I am a neuropsychologist but by profession I am a depression and anxiety therapist. After my masters, I was practicing neuro rehabilitation for 2 years. But, I wasn't happy doing it. Unfortunately, at the same time, a friend committed suicide. It was at that time that I realized that people around me had very little knowledge about mental health. I figured I had to do something about it. I approached, my now business partner, Jay, and we decided to do a large scale event to spread awareness and bring people to the cause. The response and the collaboration offers that we received made me feel that I wanted to carry this forward. This is how “Invisible Illness” started. We started with small scale seminars and workshops and have grown since then. Throughout our journey we have kept one thing common- connecting mental health to a from of art or entertainment like music, painting, poetry and dance, for example. This makes mental health something that people connect with and thus it becomes more approachable.
I have a condition termed as organic depression because that's something that I was born with. It got triggered when I was 4. According to my psychoanalytic therapist, I have been having bouts of depression on and off. It was only in 2015 that I had a full blown episode with breakdowns, panic attacks and generalized anxiety. My family told me that all of this was not real and that I had no real reason in my life to feel depressed. I continued with my therapy and medication, but nobody in my family knew that I was doing it for the longest time. I still don't think they have fully embraced it. But my friends have been really supportive. I have been stable since since 8 months, which is a major progress.
Initially, everyone told me that my profession was affecting my mental health, since I am on both sides- receiving and doing therapy with others. But it's actually the opposite. I did feel like I was not doing any good with my skills when I was practicing neuro rehabilitation. But that was because it has poor prognosis and the dropout rate is high. It did worsen my condition. But since I started doing therapy with people in depression and anxiety, I felt like I was adding value to people's life. ‘Invisible Illness’ made it possible to provide therapy at cheaper rates for the people who cannot afford it. I personally do sessions at our medical centre in Juhu. Meeting the people who have gone through the same illness that I do gave me courage to go on everyday. I saw my mental health becoming better. Ofcourse, there are days, even weeks, when I take a mental break, because, at the end of the day, I can not pour from an empty cup. I have to strike a balance between taking care of others and of myself. I believe that mental health is a community effort. We have to take the initiative to take care of the people around us. Maybe start with asking them how they are, even if we don't know them. We never know, but they just might need it.”