I am Ajinkya, 26 years old guy, born and brought up in Maharashtra. The incident that I share with you now is the one that changed my life – I couldn’t complete my MS degree in USA and came back to India without a degree or a job. It wasn’t because I was academically weak but because I was unable to acknowledge that I was in depression.
“After my B.Tech, I moved to USA for Masters. There, I got hit by depression. I had two options – fight or flight. Sadly, at that point, I chose flight.”
I can say that I am not academically weak because I had qualified for Computer Science in a premier top 30 engineering institute in the country. I also secured a job in one of the most reputed multinationals. Subsequently, I cleared GRE and decided to move to USA.
But, moving to a new country turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined. I was already experiencing a certain degree of dissatisfaction in my life due to some personal issues. In USA, I found it difficult to make new friends. To my surprise, I also found it tough to connect with my old friends and family too. The loss of support system made my situation worse.
I can talk about it rationally now but at that time, I did not acknowledge my state. I pretended to be okay when I was miserable. I felt very scared and stressed – so much that it interfered with my thought processes. I suffered from loss of sleep. In a way, I felt disconnected with everyone and everything. Nothing excited me anymore – neither friends nor studies.
This affected my performance at the university. Even after warnings of declining performance, I couldn’t study. My friends and colleagues there realised that I was in trouble but I resisted their support. I somehow dragged myself for two years but the negative thoughts took their toll. I should have been stronger but then finally amongst fight or flight, I chose flight. I decided to move back to India.
It was a big blow in itself – I returned with no degree and no job. Post my return to India, I found it hard to adjust because even though parents and closest friends didn’t judge, relatives and acquaintances did.
Overcoming this took a long time but I did recover with the help of my parents and friends. Once home, I read a lot about depression and it helped me put my life back on track. I introspected myself and with the help of able guidance, I was able to trace my thought and behaviour patterns which had caused depression. Today, I can say that even though it was the worst part of my life, it taught me lessons for a lifetime.
My lesson from my depression is that it is far better to accept that you are in pain than avoiding it. I learnt is that it is necessary to see things for what they are and not magnify their intensity. That is how we can actually solve problems. I also realised that I had some deep-running trust issues due to which I could not open up to people even when I needed to. Now, I have worked on them and improved. Depression, a dreaded word to most people, has actually made me a better person.
I am now in final year of M.Tech from a reputed university in India. I am technical lead at a start-up and also contribute to open source projects. I am also preparing to be a software development trainer. I have also made new friends and feel much better about life.
I would advise anyone going through a hard time right now to pause and reflect. Struggle is nature’s way of strengthening. And depression can truly be avoided if we trust family and friends and have honest conversations with them.
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