‘My sisters are more excited about the book than I am’: Shaheen Bhatt on penning down her battle with depression – In November 2016, Shaheen Bhatt posted a message on her Instagram handle narrating her experience of living with depression since the age of 13. Since then, not a day has gone by when she hasn’t had people writing to her about their trials and tribulations or thanking her for talking about it. The 29-year-old now gives a deeper insight into the life that she had led while battling this condition through her book titled, I’ve Never Been (Un)Happier. Her sisters, Alia and Pooja, as well as parents, Soni Razdan and Mahesh Bhatt, have taken to their social media handles to show support and admiration for the soul-baring account that Shaheen has penned.
Excerpts from a chat with the author…
Battling depression is such a personal experience. What prompted you to share it with others?
Honestly, I hid the fact that I lived with depression for a long time. I never spoke about it because I thought there was something wrong with me. It took me a while to understand that what I was going through was an illness, which could be controlled and it’s not something that I need to be ashamed about. Since then, I have encouraged others to come out in the open about it as well. I wanted to lead by example, so I decided to write this book.
You wrote a social media post two years ago about suffering from this illness…
Yes, and that is one of the main reasons why I decided to pen the book. Every single day after that post, I have received messages from people sharing their own experiences or just reaching out to thank me for talking about it on such a platform. That made me realise how many of them are suffering in silence. When I was approached to write the book, I said yes almost immediately. I didn’t consult anybody. It was a personal decision for me.
How would you describe living with depression from the young age of 13?
While I was going through it, I was too young to understand. At that time, there was complete confusion and lack of awareness about what was happening. As I grew older, I learnt how to and deal with it. I realised that I don’t have to live with it all the time. Today, I feel grateful for what it has given me in my life — a lot of empathy and understanding. I wouldn’t change anything about my journey so far even though it has been quite difficult.
Have your family members read the book?
Yes. They read it months ago when it was in the drafting stage. I am lucky to have the most supportive and encouraging family in the world… my parents, my sisters and brother. Honestly, my sisters are more excited about it than me. Alia is treating it like it’s her own work (smiles). This book is my heart laid bare on a page. It’s about the last 16-17 years of my life — about how it began, how I learnt about it and everything that has happened since then. It’s a short format book and it’s designed in such a way that you can read it in one sitting. Books on mental health can be intense and difficult to get through, so we wanted people to understand as much as they could within a short span of time.
The conversation about mental health began in Bollywood only recently…
I think everyone is afraid of things that they can’t see or understand. There’s not enough awareness about mental illness for people to comprehend it. And when you don’t understand something, you talk about it in whispers and that makes it even worse. Deepika (Padukone) set the ball rolling by sharing her own experience. When somebody in that position talks about something that has not been spoken about before, it helps to change the perception.
After the book, will we see you writing a script?
I’m taking a step back from screenwriting for the moment. I want to focus on penning something personally for myself.