At a time when the world is increasingly talking about the mental health issues faced by athletes – the impact it has on them when they perform under extreme pressure, in the public eye – actors Deepika PadukoneThe Live Love Laugh Lecture Series 2021, an initiative by the actor’s Naam Foundation working towards creating mental health awareness, takes the conversation forward with Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra.
On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, the two talk about the important topic of mental health, and learning and healing through their experiences. They discuss their regular lives as school children, in which they both draw from their experiences in sports. When Padukone was playing badminton professionally, for Bindra, it was a reluctant debut in the world of sports.
However, the demanding nature of the job made him exhausted and lost. Especially after winning the medal and achieving the goal he had achieved.
“I had this gold medal that I chased for 16 years in my pocket, and I wasn’t ready to go anywhere. I was lost. This victory created a huge void, because my life was that one. Was oriented only for the moment. For so long I went to bed with a dream… Every morning I would wake up trying to achieve that goal… and suddenly [I got that]So now what?” he tells Padukone.
Bindra says he worked on himself and it took him a long time to understand himself, adding that he took a Vipassana meditation course.
Padukone says even though she is an actress by profession, she thinks like an athlete. “When you play a game, it changes your life forever… It taught me how to handle success and failure. I don’t think I would be able to do what I do today, if I would not have had all these experiences. Today, success for me means being able to be present,” she says.
On seeking professional help, Bindra says that it is not a sign of weakness, but in fact empowering. Padukone, who opened up about living with depression, says it’s important to pay the same attention to emotional well-being as we do to physical health. “There’s absolutely no shame or stigma… it’s okay not to be okay,” she says.
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