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    Missteps, depression & suicide: Sabyasachi Mukherjee opens up about the demons he has faced

    Synopsis

    Sabyasachi compares depression to the common cold, calling it a natural occurrence.

    Agencies
    A private person, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, (L) rarely opens up about his personal life.
    Designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee is unapologetic about the demons he has faced, and still experiences moments of doubt and frustration.

    ‘If you see a woman ‘overdressed’ , caked with makeup, armoured with jewellery, it is most likely that she is wounded. Bleeding inside, silently…’ These words from designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, equating an ‘overdressed’ woman to an emotionally wounded one, went viral earlier this year with many users terming the Instagram post ‘misogynistic’, ‘ignorant’ and ‘sexist’.

    Mukherjee, 45, offered an unconditional apology for the ‘tone-deaf’ post, saying, “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.” He shared his own example of ‘crippling depression as a teenager’. “I found my coping mechanism through radical clothing choices. I was sneered at and bullied, but it helped me find my way again,” he wrote.


    Passion vs career
    A private person, Mukherjee rarely opens up about his personal life but when he does, he’s truthful and unapologetic about the demons he’s faced. When ETPanache caught up with the designer on the sidelines of a recent design show in Mumbai, he sat down without fuss on a stool and spoke matter-of-factly about his own mental health and how he once attempted suicide.

    “I got into severe depression when I was 17. I tried committing suicide. It was a failed attempt,” said Mukherjee, dressed in khaki fatigues and a beard like a young Fidel Castro. “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.”

    Sabyasachi Mukherjee (R) believes it was the lack of a support system that drove him to attempt suicide. (In pic: Sabyasachi Mukherjee poses with actress Rani Mukerji)

    Sabyasachi Mukherjee (R) believes it was the lack of a support system that drove him to attempt suicide.

    (In pic: Sabyasachi Mukherjee poses with actress Rani Mukerji)


    During a 2017 conclave, he compared the prevalence of depression to the common cold, calling it a natural occurence. “My depression gave me a lot of clarity. Had I not been depressed, India would’ve lost me to some company called Google, in San Francisco,” Mukherjee had said at the time.

    Inspired by the Material Girl
    Recalling his trying formative years, Mukherjee told ETPanache, “I think a lot of us creative people suffer from a lack of self-expression. [At the time] I was a creative person in the wrong education stream. I was studying medicine, then economics, wasn’t very sure what I would do.”

    That dissonance drove Mukherjee to a dark place but dressing in radical clothes helped him find his way again. “Self-expression helped me cope with the frustrations of not being able to find a creative outlet,” he said. “I started expressing myself by dyeing my hair orange and wearing ripped jeans with safety pins on them, inspired by Madonna.”

    While he still experiences moments of doubt and frustration, Sabyasachi Mukherjee says they’re no longer as severe as they once were.
    While he still experiences moments of doubt and frustration, Sabyasachi Mukherjee says they’re no longer as severe as they once were.


    Finding your tribe

    Mukherjee believes it was the lack of a support system that drove him to attempt suicide. “I think the big stigma that happens to most people comes from isolation where people think I’m probably the only one who’s going through it,” he said. “But when you reach out to a community you realise you’re not.”

    “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.”

    Over the hill

    While he still experiences moments of doubt and frustration, Mukherjee says they’re no longer as severe as they once were. “It [depressive episodes] doesn’t happen to me anymore. I have too creative and too fulfilling a job.” If anything, the designer believes he suffers from exhaustion more than depression these days. But when those inevitable moments of doubt do hit, how does Mukherjee cope? “Food,” says the designer. “ I’m Bengali, [we] love eating. And a little bit of extra sleep just picks me up.”

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    2 Comments on this Story

    Suresh Kamath309 days ago
    These Opinions on Depression and other Cases related to their Careers or otherwise be an INSPIRATION for all those who may be undergoing such mode and SHOULD bring out a IDEAL objective to overcome such Missteps and come out SUCCESSFUL in the end of of all
    All the best to Sabyasachi Mukherjee in his Career ahead and hope that the Worst is firmly behind and Rosy Future ahead
    Rohit K312 days ago
    As someone who genuinely suffers from depression - I find this article offensive and perhaps the efforts of someone who views mental health as a way to touch on something that is topical to help with brand building. Mental health should not be used as a marketing tool. Please do not make a mole hill out of a mountain.
    Stick to what you know - dressing celebrities, pretending to care about the artisans that are living hand to mouth and selling branded jewelry.
    Else one day, this darkness might genuinely find its way to you. I pray that it does not.
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