Talented actress Ridhi Dogra thinks deep, pens down her valuable thoughts on the killer syndrome called ‘Depression’…

When the director wants that tear rolling down your left eye at the precise moment, you deliver. There is a great satisfaction in being able to cry on cue. To feel on cue!! To open up your heart and soul for that moment on camera. To be honest about your feelings and sensitive to every emotion your character is feeling, but actually you as a person is experiencing.

Being an artist is being on a crazy ride. You are constantly scrutinized and judged for every move and action. You are even reduced from being a human to being an ‘actor’, like that is a different breed altogether. Whereas I feel being an artist is being in touch with the human side all the time. Artists or actors are constantly observing and absorbing. Making mental notes and creating nuances. And bringing it out when they feel the character needs it. They are some of the most sensitive people. And then there is a perception of how the world sees you and eventually you lose yourself there. Or find yourself.

Depression today is as common as the flu. After all we are in the day and age where the world is fighting battles with themselves. The world and how it’s evolved has moved to an era of internal conflict. The monsters are within

Somewhere between being who you truly are and what you look like to the outside world, is an actor. It’s a trippy space. Exciting yes, but can be extremely daunting, as the sensitive side is always out there. Breathing in and out with the person the world looks at.

Depression today is as common as the flu. After all we are in the day and age where the world is fighting battles with themselves. The world and how it’s evolved has moved to an era of internal conflict. The monsters are within. With the coming in of technology, humans have become more recluse, self sufficient and closed in.

You must’ve heard many times that depression and creativity go hand in hand. Yes you’ve heard right. That’s because creative people tend to be more inclined to spend their time thinking over their failures, fears, insecurities and disappointments than most people. They comprise of the idealists of the world, the thinkers. The ones that have the power to move society and challenge norms and shake things up because we beat our own drums and walk our own paths. They have expansive imaginations, easily imagining lives lived differently, with far higher levels of achievement and satisfaction, also some of the loneliest defeats and struggles. Many artists at some point or the other deal with depression.

I know I have.

A couple of years ago I was voluntarily saying no to every role or television show because I had set higher goals for myself and was looking for work that would challenge me as an artist. When I got exhausted from the lack of such work coming my way, instead of accepting the mediocrity all around I ended up feeling pretty low on self worth. Some of the symptoms of depression are a constant feeling of self pity, self doubt, losing interest in everything around, being numb to feelings of happiness or sadness, unexplainable mood swings.

You must’ve heard many times that depression and creativity go hand in hand. Yes you’ve heard right. That’s because creative people tend to be more inclined to spend their time thinking over their failures, fears, insecurities and disappointments than most people. They comprise of the idealists of the world, the thinkers

Depression works differently on us artists. We use it to our advantage, learn from it, deepen our emotional response to the world and bring it out as a release.

It is the depth of our feeling, the detail of our gaze, the ability to see and measure the contrast of the 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows that feed and inform our creativity. We feel too much, too deeply, and it is at times painful. At others, glorious! That’s why many of the greatest artists around the world who are brilliant at what they do, either suffer and succumb to depression or admit they have gone through it.

Creative people possess within them the poison of depression. They also possess its antidote.

Hence, the outcome of depression in artists, actors in particular, is an honest, authentic and elevated performance i.e. if the artist identifies and accepts the causes of depression in him or herself.

An actor is invincible between action and cut, on stage, in front of an audience or simply part of a creative process. They are in touch with the universe and its infinite possibilities. Not because they gain any power or riches, but because in that moment, they can speak volumes with their eyes and be naked with their soul. And no one judges them. Not even their own demons.

It is also very important to talk about the contribution of Arts Therapy, an alternative therapy that found its space in the west since after WW2. Depression was widespread and deep. Medication and simply sitting and talking to a shrink were failing miserably to rescue those sufferings. There was a desperate need of a release of a deeper kind. And that’s when Arts Therapy grew massively.

To all the artists reading this, I salute your courage to live your dreams. Just don’t let that fire die down. Don’t fall prey to dogma. Keep your head held high and turn your cannots into can’s

In my absence from acting, because of my background in Psychology (I majored in the subject in college) I enrolled myself to learn and became a certified art therapist.

When used to treat depression for a normal person with no creative or artistic background, art therapy becomes an outlet to express feelings that aren’t easy to put into words, or that are so repressed or hidden that they can only be revealed through the free and open channels of the creative process.

To all the artists reading this, I salute your courage to live your dreams. Just don’t let that fire die down. Don’t fall prey to dogma. Keep your head held high and turn your cannots into can’s.  Turn your rejections into strengths, your anger into passion, your hurt into that performance of a lifetime. And those fighting with depression, know that you are loved and not alone. You are important to this universe because there is no one else like you. And that is your power. Like Albert Camus said, “In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”

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