#dontcallmecrazy, My name is Gursimar

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It was 2012 and I was in grade 12. I went through a breakup and my friends abandoned me. Add to it, the stress of entrance exams to get into a medical college. I was stressed, I was lonely, and I had no escape.

I stopped studying and my grades fell. I used to play guitar and cry the whole night. My family started losing hopes. We had frequent fights. One day, I got tired and swallowed a cocktail of pills I had in my room. Well, I didn't die that night.

The next day, I told my father about the problems I was having. He, being a doctor, understood and took me to a psychologist. My teachers, knowing I was a brilliant student, supported me and encouraged me. A childhood friend came back into my life. And with this strong support system, I healed. I started studying again and got admission in a medical college.

Years passed without the demons coming back. I got busy with studies and music, my passion. Then, in 2016, the third year of college, I had a fallout with my best buddy, I was rejected from a choir I desperately wanted to participate in, and my results were approaching, increasing my anxiety. The world fell apart! I went back home, didn't get out of bed for one whole week, and kept crying and crying and crying. Then, I had a conference to attend and my parents forced me to go. That helped the acute phase and I felt better when I returned.

My father took me back to the psychologist. Now, she diagnosed me with major depressive disorder and referred me to a psychiatrist, who prescribed me pills. I went back to college, but was always sedated.

I remember, when the results finally came out, I did well but I cried my heart out that night because I was so lonely.

That year, I involved myself in literary activities. I gave music up. I stopped singing. I never participated in a choir again. I was miserable, and sedated, 24/7.

Finally, I switched the psychiatrist by the end of 2016. My exams approached and I did well. The medicines that this new psychiatrist prescribed were working and I was doing well.

Enter 2017, still on pills but, my attendance started dropping again. I just couldn't get out of my bed. Attendance dropped and my dose of antidepressants were raised and it continued in this loop. Finally, I shifted back home from a hostel. I started going to and fro to college every day. I travelled for 3 hours everyday. This was the hardest year of medical school, the final year.

In 2017, I released my college magazine as the editor-in-chief. Prepared for the finals and attended extra classes for bringing my attendance back up. I succeeded and I was allowed to appear in exams.

When exams approached in November, I went into panic mode again. I ceased to study, I was sure I'd fail. I somehow gave the exams and they weren't too bad. Then the holidays began.

December 2017 was the best month in quite a long time. I made my first solo trip. I started singing. I started writing. I was happy. And when the results came, a miracle happened and I passed! I was finally a medical graduate!

The next bout of depression came in February 2018. I couldn't get out of bed. I locked myself in my room for 3 days, not eating, not drinking, not talking to anyone, not even going to toilet. This is when I learned that I had become resistant to antidepressants. I was started on MAO inhibitors, which caused hypertension and gave me severe migraine attacks. I stopped the medication and changed my psychiatrist again.

This time I went to my Alma Mater. I tried to avoid it for 2 years because of the stigma associated with it but I had no choice this time. I was an intern in my parent institute and I couldn't attend my postings. I desperately needed help so I took a break from my internship in March. I haven't joined back yet but I plan to on May 1. My psychiatrist told me to exercise, write, sing and started me on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).

The extra measures helped. I feel better now and I am definitely happier. CBT is working like a wonder! It is very, very helpful.

I attempted suicide 15 days back. Why did I, when I was feeling so much better? Well, I read that patients who are healing are more likely to attempt suicide. I took it as a sign of healing. This was the first time after 2012.

Before I was ill, I was a super confident girl. I participated and excelled in everything. I was the life of a party. I was a performer, the stage never scared me. Now, I have turned into a very nervous woman who even thinks twice before crossing the road. I think I have lost who I am. And it's been so long that I don't remember what happy feels like.

I am lucky to have a supportive family but I lost most of my friends after the disease hit me. But, at least I know the ones who stuck by me are friends for life!

I feel I am healing now. The rest I will know when I rejoin as an intern. I don't know if I will heal or not, but I do know that I will do everything in my power to! One thing that depression couldn't take away from me is hope.

#dontcallmecrazy. My name is Gursimar and I have #depression and #anxiety, but it does not have me!

- Gursimar Kaur, 2018