I Have Never Been (Un) Happier: All about This Book by Shaheen Bhatt on Depression

From left to right; Shaheen Bhatt, Pooja Bhatt, and Alia Bhatt holding Shaheen's book, “I Have Never Been (Un) Happier"

“Depression is the monster that’s hiding under your bed, & here’s the thing, monsters can only live in the dark. It’s when you turn on the light that you see that what you thought is a monster, isn’t a monster at all, but something you can tame if you know how."

"Monsters like depression live in the dark, and the way you turn on the light is by talking about it." That is precisely what Shaheen Bhat, daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt & sister, actor Alia Bhat, has talked about in her book.

Depression: The White Elephant

In many parts of the world and many kinds of people still do not talk enough about mental health and the various issues people face. What many do not realize is that depression and other forms of mental health issues are rarely a “dust it off” or a “walk it off” situation.

Any form of emotional disturbance is treated as a taboo topic to discuss or more like a fatal flaw or an offense, most often by the closest of relations that the situation only worsens behind the scenes.

Depression is one of the most common mental issues that many of us might have faced and might have or are trying to get over. In this book, Shaheen tried to tell her version of trials and triumphs as she battled her depression, unfiltered and unapologetically.

The Journey of Shaheen’s Mind

The book has an extremely easy flow in language that smoothly explains the feelings she wanted to convey without being too complex or unrelatable.

It unravels in a slow journey layer by layer and courses through various stages of her life like childhood, teenage & adulthood, while explaining various mental conditions and poorly interpreted concepts.

She explains the various anxieties she faced in each of these phases,  and this slowly explains why depression is never a specific symptom or a face. Her book explains well in detail about nuances in this topic without being restrained or fearful of any societal taboos.

She was diagnosed with depression at the age of eighteen, after living with it for five long years. She tries to explain how it is a complex mental situation that has been previously heavily unspoken and misunderstood about.

She was also clear to bust the of a commonly thought myth, that depression comes only when the situation is dire through traumatic life experiences. Shaheen candidly admitted her privileged situation which made the reading experience even more endearing.

She says how, given her financial security and lifestyle, she has never been put through any horrific instances and had a very privileged life which she is grateful for. 

She says it had only played in advantage as she could avail the help she needed without difficulty which many could not. Having the luxury to take it easy without stuck in the typical rat race that those undergo for survival, Shaheen still went through major depression.

She even says her story is the best-case scenario on depression. But her focus lies on the fact that it is not something to be ashamed of.

Each of the chapters in the book is life a step-by-step lesson of what it entails and a slow-building of imagery of what went inside her head for the readers to know.

This feat is not an easy one as no one can talk about their lows easily especially when it is about what is going on in your head. Shaheen bravely treads that subject with aim of saying how one is not alone and that it is okay to ask for help.

A Read That Sums it All

The simplicity of the narration while being deeply philosophical and multi-dimensional has truly shaped her story into a very inspirational moving memoir that provides great solidarity and comfort to one who reads.

She talks about it all, the pressures of fame, the conflicts, the privilege, and the guilt trips, the insecurities on appearances, family controversies, and all other aspects that have hit her life.

She talks about the struggles and the fight she went through making this a survivor-centered storytelling about her journey making it even more real and impactful than no romanticized self-help books can. The addition of snippets of her handwritten journals created a deep sense of intimacy as well.

The book reaches a peak when it calls the reader to realize that depression is not an identity as happiness is not ever-elusive. This realization with efforts on redefining helped her get off her guilt-trips and labels that took attention away from her depression.

She consoles the reader on how it is okay to not be okay and to not be ashamed of this situation while asking for help. 

The constant chase and labeling of happiness and sadness can only create toxicity within ourselves blinding us from seeing the pure one-note notion of these emotions and misunderstanding it as a state of existence.

Written by – Sreya Sara Binoy

Edited by – Akanksha Sharma

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