'Feels like fog around my brain': Comedian Danish Sait on his mental health struggles

Danish says that eight years ago, he experienced intense, full-body pain but never realised that it had to do with mental health.
Danish Sait
Danish Sait
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Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, reportedly by suicide, has sparked a wave of conversation on social media about mental health. Among the people who opened up about their personal battle with mental health recently is Bengaluru-based actor-comedian Danish Sait.

The 32-year-old, whose latest claim to fame are the rib-tickling videos on the lockdown, other COVID-19 related developments and characters he plays in them, wrote, “Depression doesn’t look like anything; it makes you feel like nothing from within. Hard to describe, harder to understand. Doctors/professionals have been my only hope.” He added that this was his third year of taking therapy and antidepressants. “I don’t sleep at night without taking my cipralex tablet,” he said.

In the subsequent tweets, Danish talked about how everyone’s triggers are different, and spending time in therapy made him realise that there was a “science to living life.” He added that much like physical ailments, “a broken mind” too needs professional help, and it could also mean inducing the chemicals that the brain does not produce enough through medication to keep oneself well. “The truth of life is we are on our own journey, it gets lonely, it gets bright, it gets gloomy, and sometimes it’s a fight. I pray for Sushant’s departed soul, must have gone through a lot. Give life a chance, we can’t fix it all ourselves, we’re human, seek help from professionals,” he concluded.

Speaking to TNM, Danish begins by recounting his mental health journey which began around eight years ago. At the time, he says, he was experiencing intense, full-body pain. "Imagine feeling that the soles of your feet, your fingertips are burning constantly," he says. “I went to all sorts of professionals. Someone even diagnosed me with fibromyalgia (a disease where the patient experiences musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, memory, and mood issues). Finally, a friend recommended that I seek help from a psychiatrist,” Danish says.

After five years of experiencing this pain, Danish sought help from a mental health professional and was diagnosed with severe anxiety. He was prescribed medication as well. “Within 3-4 months, the pain I had experienced for half a decade subsided – that’s how much the anxiety had affected me. The relief was immense. Until then, I didn’t even think it was a mental health issue,” Danish admits.

It has now been around three years since that diagnosis. However, Danish still has bad days and phases. He describes the feeling as “a chamber of gas around his brain.” “Like the fog you’d see in Delhi at 5.45 am on a winter morning,” he adds. “But now I know what it is. So, I tell my psychiatrist that the cloud in my head is back. We laugh about it now. But she tells me that we’ll deal with it; we’ll make it go away.”

Danish says that he was hesitant about writing on his experience on Twitter. “But Sushant’s death just really hit home. He was just a year younger than me. A lot of people now are blaming the system, the industry and so on. But we don’t know what his trigger was. He must have been in so much pain…” Danish pauses, “But what I have understood from my experience, and also from working in the entertainment industry for about a decade is that the system is never conducive [to your mental health]. If you’re able to access therapy, it helps you build your own system to work around the external, difficult systems. It doesn’t make the troubles of the system go away but gives you tools so you can deal with what’s troubling you.”

However, this was not always the case. Back when Danish was struggling with crippling anxiety, he says he couldn’t listen to a three-minute song in full, watch a film, or even sit alone. “I was too anxious to move on to the next thing. But I can do those things now."

He adds that he has received a lot of ‘advice’ that is all too familiar to those who share their mental health issues, where people say that the person should exercise, read, do yoga etc., to deal with it. “But we have to understand that everyone is different. Everyone’s triggers, problems and baggage are different. There is no one size fits all in mental health. For me, the best way turned out to be therapy and medication.”

There have also been a lot of people in the past few days who have been urging those with mental health issues to reach out and talk if they are going through something. “But the truth is that everyone is busy… I have my own stuff to deal with as does anyone else. We live in a world where you’ve got to be faster than the person next to you. So perhaps, instead of just saying “talk to me”, people should direct those in need and who have access to professionals. Because that really helps,” Danish says.

While everyone seems to be talking about mental health on social media now, this isn’t the first time a celebrity’s experience has sparked such a conversation. The same happened when actor Deepika Padukone opened up about her battle with depression, and after the suicides of Hollywood actor Robin Williams as well as Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. However, Danish says that it feels different this time around.

“I wish I had had a chance to interact with Sushant. I think he has started a revolution when it comes to talking about mental health. I just wish that he was around to see it,” Danish says. 

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