Shaheen Bhatt knows that last week was a difficult one for many as fans processed the suicides of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. That’s why she decided to write about her own experiences with depression in a new essay for Vogue India.
“At first glance, I was sure I had misread the headline, so I instinctively pulled my phone up close to my face to reread it,” wrote Bhatt, who is the older sister of actress Alia Bhatt. “Unbidden, the first thought that flared from the hazy recesses of my mind was ‘Oh God, no. Not another one.’”
Bhatt went on to explain that not only was she a huge fan of Bourdain’s (beginning from the moment she read his book ‘Kitchen Confidential’) but that the news of his death combined with the loss of Kate Spade days earlier forced her to think more about her own struggles with mental illness.
“I love Bourdain, but that wasn’t the only reason I was crying,” she explained. “I was crying because every time I hear of someone who was unable to go on living with the darkness within them, I’m reminded of how that could have just as easily been me.”
Bhatt detailed how she first showed signs of depression at the age of 12 and that she had battled suicidal thoughts on more than one occasion. “Depression is everywhere, and still, it is nowhere,” she noted. “While there has been a definite upswing in conversation about depression and mental illness, it’s still such a taboo that we tend to talk about it in hushed tones and whispers.”
For her part, Bhatt hopes that her decision a year and a half ago to share her experiences with depression on social media will help others break the silence and stigma surrounding the disease. Since she published her must-read essay on Thursday, fans and members of the Bollywood community have sent her public messages of support. Some of the most touching of those tweets came from members of her own family.
“Shaheen, you are brilliant,” Alia Bhatt wrote in a widely shared tweet.
Shaheen you are brilliant! My sister has battled and lived with depression since she was 12. She speaks her heart out and without any hesitation addresses the giant elephant in the room - Mental health and the LACK of our understanding & acceptance! https://t.co/ih0PmzujYl
— Alia Bhatt (@aliaa08) June 14, 2021
Their father, director and screenwriter Mahesh Bhatt, also chimed in. “She is made of ‘stars.’ She shines in the dark night of the soul. This is young India,” he wrote.
— Mahesh Bhatt (@MaheshNBhatt) June 14, 2021
Sister Pooja Bhatt praised Shaheen’s courage in speaking out. “To look the Universe in the eye while holding your supposed frailties to light is an attribute of the truly courageous & brave,” she said.
My warrior queen of a sister Shaheen Bhatt wrote this stunning article. To look the Universe in the eye while holding your supposed frailties to light is an attribute of the truly courageous & brave. Well done beautiful one! You make us all so proud! https://t.co/BwN1td56Rz
— Pooja Bhatt (@PoojaB1972) June 15, 2021
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for other sources of support.