At a time when the world is increasingly talking about mental health issues faced by athletes — the impact it has on them when they perform in the public eye, under immense pressure — actor Deepika Padukone’s LiveLoveLaugh Lecture Series 2021, an initiative by the actor’s namesake foundation that works towards creating mental health awareness, takes the conversation ahead with Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra.
On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, the two chat about the important topic of mental health, and learning and healing through their experiences. They discuss their regimented life as school kids, wherein they both drew from their experiences in sports. While Padukone was playing badminton professionally, for Bindra, it was a reluctant initiation into the world of sports.
Nonetheless, the demanding nature of the job had him feeling depleted and lost. Especially after winning the medal and achieving the very goal he had targeted.
“I had this gold medal that I had chased for 16 years in my pocket, and I was all dressed with nowhere to go. I was lost. There was a great void that this victory created, because my life was only oriented till that one moment. For so long, I had gone to bed with a dream… Every morning I would wake up to try and achieve that goal… And suddenly [I got that], so now what?” he tells Padukone.
Bindra says he worked on himself and it took a long time for him to understand himself, adding that he did a vipassana meditation course.
Padukone says that even though she is an actor by profession, she thinks like an athlete. “When you play a sport, it changes your life forever… It has taught me how to handle success and failure. I don’t think I would be able to do what I do today, if I hadn’t had all of those experiences. Today, for me, success is to be able to be present,” she says.
On seeking professional help, Bindra says it is not a sign of weakness, but is in fact empowering. Padukone, who opened up about living with depression, adds that it is important to give the same kind of attention to emotional well-being, as we do to physical health. “There’s absolutely no shame or stigma… It’s okay to not be okay,” she says.
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