'Dangal' star and national award-winning actor Zaira Wasim has opened up about her battle with depression, saying she needs a 'complete break' from work and school to figure things out.
In a lengthy post on Instagram, the 17-year-old actor said she has been suffering from the illness for the past four years, during which she even had "suicidal thoughts", but did not share it with anyone due to the stigma around the issue.
"I'm writing this to admit and confess that I, for a very long time have been suffering from severe anxiety and depression. It's almost been four years and I've always been embarrassed and scared to admit it not only because of the stigma that goes around with the word depression with it but most importantly because of always being told that 'You're too young to be depressed' or 'It's just a phase'," Zaira wrote in her post.
Zaira said the "awful phase" has put her in situations the actor never wished or chose to be in.
"Perhaps it could've been 'just a phase' but this awful phase has put me in situations I never wished or chose to be in. Popping five antidepressants every day, anxiety attacks, being rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night, feeling empty, restless, anxious, hallucinations, having sore limbs from sleeping too much to not being able to sleep for weeks, from overeating to starving myself, unexplained fatigue, body ache, self-loathing, nervous breakdowns, suicidal thoughts were all parts of this phase," she said.
Zaira said she got her first panic attack at the age of 12 and since then she has suffered countless such episodes.
"I've had and I'm still having, losing count of the number of times I have been told- 'It's nothing, you're too young to be depressed," she said.
The "Secret Superstar" actor said she was always made to believe that there is nothing wrong with her and that she is too young to suffer depression.
"But I knew- I always did and I still do. I remember being told that there's no such thing as depression, it only happens to people to were above 25. But I could never actually accept the fact that I suffer from a disorder called depression- that affects almost 350 million people worldwide; without asking for their permission to ruin their mental and emotional state or asking them their age, she said.
Zaira said she always pushed herself into the bubble of denial, despite knowing the reality.
"And I would always lie to myself and others and just shake my head in yes when they would say - It's nothing, you're too young to be depressed, I would just lie to myself and call the doctors crazy. Depression and anxiety is not a feeling, it's an illness. Its not somebody's choice or fault. It can affect anyone-anytime.
"Today I'm finally ready to understand my illness and embrace the version of myself which I've always wanted to accept, without being ashamed, embarrassed and having the fear of being judged for it," Zaira said.
The actor said she needed a complete break from everything, including school and social media, and thanked her family for their support.
"I just need a complete break from everything, my social life, my work, school and especially social media. I'm really looking forward to the holy month of Ramadhan as it may be the perfect opportunity to figure things out. Please remember me in your prayers.
"A big hug to all the people who stood by me through all my emotional ups and downs, especially my family, I can never thank you enough for being so patient," Zaira said.