“I Tried to Kill Myself”: Sabyasachi Opens up About Depression

Updated21 Nov 2019, 01:29 PM IST
Health News
2 min read

Celebrity designer Sabyasachi has left us mesmerised with his stunning designs on more than one occasion. But behind the shimmer and grandeur of it all, lies a man with his own share of hardships and struggles.

In a recent interview with ETPanache, Sabyasachi recounted his troubled childhood and expressed how his profession worked as an emotional getaway for him.

“I got into severe depression when I was 17. I tried committing suicide. It was a failed attempt. Mental health in today’s day and time, with this quick pace of life, is becoming more pronounced. And people need to understand that it is not something that one needs to be ashamed of or fear because it’s quite normal. And we need to just address it as normally as possible.”
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I thought a lot about whether to post this, but sometimes it is important to set the record straight and get the right message across. Having been in the fashion industry for over 20 years, I have encountered it firsthand and commented about it in many of my interviews - how, while many women use fashion and beauty for joy and self-expression, others use it as ‘retail therapy’ to fill in the gaps and voids in their lives. We, as a society, often get extremely judgemental about peoples’ clothing choices, calling them ‘overdressed’ or ‘tacky’ or ‘inappropriate’. We fail to understand that maybe some are using these as coping mechanisms to put on a brave front to make up for the lack of a support system. The true essence of the post was to ask people to be aware, empathetic, and not judgemental of peoples’ personal clothing choices, which could be a manifestation of their internal anguish. One of the bigger issues in society today, that very few people address, is mental health, and a little bit of awareness, empathy and kindness go a long way in acknowledging it. I have coped with crippling depression as a teenager for 7 years. I found my coping mechanism through radical clothing choices.I was sneered at and bullied, but it helped me find my way again. When I was creating this jewellery collection, I referred to Tagore’s ‘Monihara’ because it talks about these issues, which are sadly more relevant today. And I, for one, have never shied away from speaking about uncomfortable truths, no matter how disruptive it might be for my personal gain. Because when power is given, social responsibility should not be shunned. The mistake, however, was to use the reference as a blanket statement, as sometimes when we are passionate about an issue, we end up becoming overzealous and hence, tone deaf. My sincere apologies for that. The original post (however flawed) was put up to invite introspection and debate about how love, sensitivity and compassion, alongside expressions of art, beauty and fashion can create a net positive in the world. I invite everyone to democratically join this debate. Regards, Sabyasachi

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He holds lack of adequate support from those arround, as well as the education system of that time: both responsible for his state of mental health. "I was a creative person in the wrong education stream. I was studying medicine, then economics, wasn't very sure what I would do."

“Self-expression helped me cope with the frustrations of not being able to find a creative outlet. I started expressing myself by dyeing my hair orange and wearing ripped jeans with safety pins on them, inspired by Madonna.”

Add to it the stigma that comes along with mental health problems, leading to isolation and aggravated distress. Reaching out to a community helps, he believes.

“I think right now there is a lot of conversation happening on mental health and everybody can find their community, sometimes if not offline, then definitely online.”

With time, he has healed, and he credits his job for his emotional progress. "It (depressive episodes) doesn't happen to me anymore. I have too creative and too fulfilling a job."

This isn't the first time that he has spoken up about the issue. In a 2017 conclave, he said, "My depression gave me a lot of clarity. Had I not been depressed, India would have lost me to some company called Google, in San Francisco."

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Published: 21 Nov 2019, 01:17 PM IST
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