When Fame Comes Early and Anxiety Follows

mental health in India

I did not want to be “that child star” for the rest of my life.

One thing that scares me the most is talking about myself. How much is too much? And how less is not enough? Will they judge? Will they be shocked? Do they even want to know?

Some important background: As a child, I was an actor on a popular TV series in India. I grew up on the TV. The camera and books were my best friends. Born to extremely humble and “normal — middle class” parents, me being on TV was a big thing. Some people in my family appreciated and acknowledged what I was doing, but most didn’t, so it was just the three of us through it all. I went to a decent school, got good grades but school was just something I did apart from my work.

  As a child, I was an actor on a popular TV series in India.

As a child, I was an actor on a popular TV series in India.

  I did not want to be “that child star” for the rest of my life.

I did not want to be “that child star” for the rest of my life.

Growing up with the world watching you on TV is not easy. They watch your every movie and they follow you everywhere. They want to know what you ate and how much. They want to know where you slept and with whom. While other kids were making friends, pulling pranks on teachers and playing hopscotch during the summer holidays, I was in front of the camera pretending to be a new person everyday and understanding the value of money. No, money was never something my family needed, but an added income always helps right? I bought our first car at 14 and our first own house at 21.

But I did not want to be “that child star” for the rest of my life. I wanted people to know me not just as the characters I played, but for who I am. My relationship with Bollywood was like a mutual break up. I didn’t want to do certain roles, and the industry was more than happy to work with new faces. I went completely awol, not to be seen on social media except for a few pictures from the last photo-shoot, always on the “look how they grew up to be” or “where are these child stars now” lists. I went to college, got an education, started working and doing different things. “Hey, aren’t you that girl from that TV show?” never left me.

Some of the best times I’ve had were on the film sets; some of the most amazing people I’ve met are from the industry. My life was a fairytale, just like my show and it was indeed a dream come true. I still get recognized and it is flattering, but it is also very uncomfortable. Mostly because the image that people have of me is not what I really am. I am in my pajamas all day, messy hair and feeling crappy about myself at all times. I suffer from chronic anxiety and depression and I don’t like to be around people. I suck at society. But that’s not what they want to hear.

What It Feels Like Inside

I am a torrent of anxiety, in the pit of disrepair and illustriously bound to the banks of a raging river of ripped up stories, poems, and legends never told. The Vial I hold is filled with vile putrid secrets unbecoming of my own scornful mind. They are not my secrets, not mine alone they are the hidden fears, phobias, and shames of many lucid souls. I pour into the maelstrom of an eternal mystery, the gods of woe, writing, willpower they are laughing and sobbing in a cacophony of screams never ripped from shattered minds.

The Poetry Within

As I bleed synthetic hollow echoes of hallucination from wounds I have not yet received, scars not yet born nor, are these lacerations to live ever, I learn that my carelessness has cornered me into a vale of memory. A ferocious beast, a lion of decrepit despair, and depression roars at me in with rage and pure vengeful power beyond imagination and comprehension.
I am an injured insignificant rat bound to a fetid corner of this malignant prison. It is with this I nearly succumb to fear and boundless possibilities of hells that could await my shell and soul.
The Valkyrie from Voracious Valhalla she comes, with spear of spiritual courage, and shield of healing hope, and the soul of the wolf and its determination to press onward. I was reborn in that moment, the revelations of Renaissances from past, present, and future and far beyond ripped into my body, mind, and soul. Just as a rat will fight when cornered and a wolf when injured even if beyond all hope, it will fight if it still has “teeth”, and I was ready as battle for creation, curiosity, and tempered true love was begun

The war against the lion still rages on this day, though one wolf cannot do it alone, for they hunt and fight in packs, as friends, family, of all sorts rip at the hateful lion of lovers lost, void, and grief. It is a battle fought by many against demons, lions, and despair, and men, women and, even children fight these battles everyday in their own soul and mind. Let the lovers of life win and the hells of malady of mind be subdued and defeated, for we cannot truly kill our “lions” or “demons” but we can subjugate them. To do much though is an uphill battle for many and we all could use a little help….join in the fight.

 

I am not going to take all the credit for the acting I did, it was a lifetime ago. All these kids that grew up to be actors, they all came after me. They came in the age of YouTube and Netflix, they know what to say and how to dress. Back in the day my mother packed my clothes for the shoot next day. Times have changed and how! I don’t know if I will act again, I might if something interesting comes my way. As a kid, during interviews, when they asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always said director or writer or camerawoman. It was anything but acting. Well, only time will tell.

I'm a High School Junior Racing to Get Into College

sat anxiety

I call it the Great Indian Race.

Over the past few weeks ever since school began, I have been under deep thought and a slight form of depression. The stress of college applications, and how my peers view me in school, began to crack my soul and it did not find a place to go. I think that even my parents will be unable to help me at this point.

So as I was in deep thought, I thought to myself why I even exist. ‘Why does a failure like me have to be born into a family of loving and successful parents? Why do I have no friends? Why do I choke when it matters?’ All these thoughts came pouring down on me like a waterfall, and I did not know what to do. I started to cry on the inside, and I am not the crying type.

Just to reiterate, I am currently a Junior in High School, so this is the year that really matters in the college applications. I see myself as an above average candidate, who doesn't really stand out but has something going for him. You might be thinking ‘Eh, he maybe going places’, but I don’t think that is the case. You see I am also an Indian. And this matters, a lot. To understand this, we have to go back all the way to 2013.

 This is not a photo of me, but we can pretend that it is.

This is not a photo of me, but we can pretend that it is.

Ah, sixth grade. The year when I moved from India, the land known for its great food and movies. But it is also known for another thing, known as the Great Indian Race. I know, sounds weird, but keep reading. The Great Indian Race is the race amongst the adolescents of India to get to the top of society, otherwise known as ‘Ivy League Schools’. At the time, I was part of the race, as a 12 year old with no idea what he was doing. My parents saw this, and decided that it would be best if we can move to the U.S, far away from the race, a place where dreams and happiness can be realized. In the U.S, I attended a pretty diverse middle school, with not too many Indians. It was a time where I was not under any pressure, and got to meet many interesting people. But, I hated it. The cultural differences that I experienced were very harsh on my young mind, and had thus begun my path towards depression. I did not have any friends that I could relate to, I did not know what I was doing. School work was easy, but I still experienced emptiness inside me. It was a sad time, especially in the winter. The cold definitely did not help with any of this. All I had was my family. As I was going through middle school, life did get better. I joined the track and soccer teams, and did great in both. But somehow, somewhere, there was a little voice screaming inside of me “You suck, kill your self now”.

Next began High School, oh High School. It was a pretty strange feeling when I entered Nashua High School South. There were people who I knew from my middle school, but there were hundreds of kids in my own batch that I had never seen before in my life. Not to mention the people from the three classes ahead of me. Even though this may make it seem like life would get more depressing for me, It didn't. Infact, it got pretty fun. People from the Academy of Science and Design, or ASD Middle, were 99% Indian. Well, they weren’t from India, but close enough. I finally found a group of people that I could empathize with in my struggles as an Indian. It was fun.

 The peer pressure to achieve ivy has me doubting myself.

The peer pressure to achieve ivy has me doubting myself.

Fast forward two years, and here I am in my Junior year. I am back to where I was before, a kid going through some form of depression that resembles a feeling of emptiness. Someone who now uses comedy as a self defense mechanism to block his hatred for himself. I have pride in myself for experiencing the pros and cons of both the United States and my homeland of India, but I regret somethings at the same time. I feel like I have been entered in the race again; the Great Indian Race. The Indians around me have somehow peer pressured me into believing that college is everything. If something helps with college, do it. If it doesn’t, don't. It makes me sad, as this was the thing I wanted to escape in the first place. This pressure makes me doubt my goals and ideas. For example, I am an avid coder, and have taken a liking towards Computer Science. But now that I have fallen under this pressure, I have begun to doubt whether I wanted to do Computer Science for myself or because of the Indians. Being a part of this race is exhausting and is like a living hell. Especially when you don’t have any genuine friends who are willing to help you through this process right next to you (Except for a few). I have begun to view myself as a failure, because I want to push myself more and more consistently. I want to stop , but the peer pressure is stopping me from doing that. It’s physically and mentally exhausting. But what is worse is that I have to see a lot of the Indians that have lived here since they were born enter into this race without even realizing it.

I feel sad for those people who I have known since my freshman year get into this race. A lot of these guys deep down think that doing so will guarentee success and happiness, but the truth is it doesn’t. How do I know? Remember, I was part of this race before. I have seen real people finish this race and end up hating themselves for the rest of their lives.

Yes, this race may lead to a high paying engineer, doctor, or scientists’ job, and sure some people might end up doing well in it and find happiness. But the problem is not this, but the idea of a race. Some people may genuinely want to go into these fields, but I know a lot of people who say that but deep down want to do something else. Either they believe that money is everything, or they are under peer pressure. An example of this is when I was telling a friend of mine that I find philosophy interesting, but he said that it is useless because there ‘is no pay in philosophy’. Well, that might be true, but why should it matter. Money might allow you to solve problems that give you happiness in the short run, but it doesn’t give you the happiness that you want for the rest of your life.

Of course, I am not someone with the solution to this race, for I am someone who has been trapped in it again, what makes it worse is knowing that you are in trouble and you cannot do anything about it.

 For more insight in this topic, watch the movie 3 idiots.

For more insight in this topic, watch the movie 3 idiots.

I am hoping other people will recognize themselves in my story. Feel free to share this article or comment on it down below.

Video Interview with Little Panic Author Amanda Stern

Video Interview with Little Panic Author Amanda Stern

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