‘Not Impossible:’ Actor Vishnu Vishal on Battling Depression

Tamil actor Vishnu Vishal opens up about fighting depression with therapy, training, a diet and yoga.

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Mind It
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“I wanted to get to the best from my worst. That’s the challenge. And in doing that, how I recovered mentally was amazing.”
Actor Vishnu Vishal to The Quint

It is not very often that South Indian film actors open up about their personal lives. Recently, Tamil actor Vishnu Vishal began a discourse on mental health by speaking up about how he battled depression with therapy and training.

“Only I know what I went through in the last two years and that was actually pushing me down. I wanted to speak up because everybody goes through difficulties and it's not impossible to come out of it,” he told FIT.

The ‘Vaaranam Aayiram’ Way

Earlier in January, the actor shared a moving letter on Twitter. He wrote about dealing with severe injuries, mood swings, stress eating and even an alcohol addiction two years ago.

“I took the Vaaranam Aayiram way,” he began his letter, referring to director Gautham Menon’s 2008 film. The lead character, played by actor Surya, overcomes depression and other personal struggles with the help of physical exercise.

The actor also opened up about a divorce after 11 years of marriage and how the separation from his young son resulted in stress and insomnia.

All this took a significant toll on his health.

A Lot of Failures and a Lot of Perseverance

Vishnu, after completing his MBA in marketing from SRM Institute of Science and Technology, went on to become a cricketer, playing in Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) league games. However, a leg injury ended his cricket career.

“Then I tried to get into movies for six years, it didn't happen. Then I joined a job. It was something, somewhere that I never wanted to do in my life. Then, cinema happened and I had failures. I bounced back strong and then again personal life happened. So I realised that I've always faced a lot of challenges and somewhere, probably if I didn't come into cinema I would've also thought I am a failure. It is this perspective that everyone has in their minds,” he told FIT.

A Healthy Body, A Happy Mind

Vishnu then decided to take charge of his life to turn it around. He started therapy, working out under a professional trainer, maintaining a balanced diet, restricted alcohol and practised yoga. He set goals for himself - a six-pack, a health lifestyle and a happy mind and body. He emphasised how regaining physical strength really helped improve his mental health.

Everyone has an aim and when we don’t achieve that aim we start cursing ourselves looking at ourselves as failures. I wanted to break that. I wanted to say that everybody goes through that.
Vishnu Vishal

The actor stressed that, “It was not about the body I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the mental attitude because it's not like I came to this body from 0 but came from -30. I wanted to get to the best from my worst. That's the challenge. What I wanted to tell people was that somewhere I realised the body and mind is connected. So once I started training, looking after myself taking care of my food, my thoughts started changing. Once the thoughts started changing, my approach started changing. Once my approach started changing, you start receiving things differently.”He also pointed out that it was essential to cut out judgemental people from one’s life and surround oneself with positivity.

“Usually, when you tell someone an issue they panic and ask, ‘Oh my god! What happened!’ and so we get bogged down. But at the same time, if our friends react saying, ‘Hey no problem. We’ll handle it,’ then you’ll also get that confidence.”
Actor Vishnu Vishal

The actor will be seen in the Tamil and Telugu version of the movie ‘Kaadan,’ slated for an April release. He says he is in a happy place right now and wants to share this strength with everyone out there who is fighting trauma. “Every day we see youngsters committing suicide because they failed in an exam. Lot of people in the IT industry committing suicide many over relationship issues and because of that a lot of crime is happening,” he added.

“I wanted to just send out a message saying ‘Listen, this not the end of the world. We can do a lot (more).’”
Actor Vishnu Vishal

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