I will try to keep this post in the rawest form possible, so that it does not remain merely a collection of beautifully stitched words!
Please allow me to make this article a little lengthy!
It had been barely a few months since we came in touch. She had earlier narrated about how she fell into depression after UPSC results were declared and she could not clear it. I did not realize the seriousness of the problem she was talking about. Few days down the line she pinged saying her hands are trembling. She was trying to type messages on her phone but was not able to. I could see how almost every word had a typo. She said she will ping back after her trembling calms down – I lauded her for typing these words because she could have simply put her phone aside till the trembling subsided. I am not sure we were even friends at that time. She said she had pinged few of her friends because she wanted to engage in some sort of conversation so that her mind is occupied. Some of her friends blocked her after her repeated messages, others ignored her calls.
I thought of first listening to whatever she had to say, and listened patiently. After a while I changed the topic of conversation and that turned out to be a good experiment. Her shivering died down, and some element of positivity crept into her discussion. We talked about some of the most random things, that I might never do otherwise. This went on till 4 a.m. in the morning. That trembling happened on a couple of more occasions before finally disappearing.
Depression is accompanied with a whole bunch of negativity and pessimism. I used to be flooded with such questions. She used to ask why all this is happening to her? What sin is she paying for? Why is almost everything in her life not falling out of place? It is easy for me to type these questions here, however, it was way too difficult to answer them back then. I tried sending her positive quotes that related to her context, motivational short videos etc. Plans about how to procure this book occupied a significant part of our talks. However, I did not know whether they were making any impact. One fine day, she asked me to keep sending her such quotes and videos, as they made her feel better. It was relieving! 
She used to ping almost every morning, and was irritated in case of any delay in my reply. On one occasion I had some important work for office, and could reply only in afternoon. I could not count the number of those red faced smileys when I opened the chat. For the next few minutes, it felt as if I am being interrogated for some serious dereliction of professional duty. I sailed through the ‘interrogation’ with an almost composed mind, though it was a little irritating to be frank! Her depression levels kept fluctuating – all credits to her for never giving up the fight. Discussions about her ambitions, small small dreams, aspirations, hobbies made the most positive impact. Among the few things I always requested her was to be her ORIGINAL SELF. Due to peer pressure, external compulsions etc. we tend to deviate from the raw and natural version of ourselves. That, I believe, is one of the reasons of internal upheavals. Few days later when she all of a sudden apologized for being rude with me in early days, I realized she was trying to restore her ORIGINAL SELF.
Depression apparently leads to serious ups and downs in the level of emotional security perceived by the victim. Another day, I was sitting with my friend – I had met him after a brief gap. That’s when she rang me up; I told her I will call her back in few minutes and hang up the call. There were several SMSes within the next couple of minutes; I bade an early good bye to the friend, and called her back. She was composed after a few minutes of talk, and hang up the call only after extracting from me the promise of pinging her back the moment I reached home. At times I felt why I am doing all this! But then even a slight realization of the pain and internal turbulence she was going through, made me forget they WHYs and WHY NOTs of my actions. Back in 2016, I was conducting rural immersion for a group of Australian students. The work required very close interactions with rural folks to understand the root of their issues; and such close interactions led to attachment. Our boss had detailed us on how to handle such sensitive situations. Three years later, that experience helped me empathize with her depression and anxiety attacks!
After days of convincing, she agreed to meet a psychiatrist. She had consulted one during the first attack of depression also, after the UPSC results were declared. However, she discontinued the medication, which is never suggested. Sleeplessness was another associated issue. There were many sleepless nights for her, and a couple of them for me as well. The medication started, however, they were not giving the desired outcome (probably because she had abruptly stopped the earlier medication). She consulted the doctor again, who increased the dose. Skipping lunch and dinner, eating random things etc. almost became a daily affair for her. Few days later, she said even the increased dose was not proving effective. I did not know how to react!
I asked her if going back home or spending few days with her siblings would help. She tried, however, due to some compulsions she could not. She also had her exams. I had a strong hunch that once she takes up a job that keeps her occupied, things might start improving. However, this could be done only after her exams were over. There were still few weeks left for the exams. So that she does not slip into that thinking mode, she wanted me to chat with her even during my office hours – I tried to the maximum extent possible. During non-office hours, even a one-second delay in my response led to a deluge of those red-faced smileys. It was a little irritating at times, however, I never expressed it to her.
The exams started. Before sitting down for revision for the next day’s paper, she wanted me to tell her to study in a very polite and loving manner. Though I found it awkward to do for the first couple of days, I got used to it [i]. Before the last paper, I had to postpone a personal engagement because I would not be able to access internet; and I had to do that routine task of telling her to study. The exams kept her super occupied and there was a remarkable improvement in her situation. Few days after the exams, I found myself being taught a LIFE LESSON (mentioned below) by her. It was relieving, again! 
She wanted to meet me a couple of days after her exams were over. I was reluctant as I had my own exam at hand. She insisted. Meanwhile, she had been postponing her scheduled meeting with the doctor. I made our meeting conditional upon her meeting the doctor which she agreed to. The dull and gloom on her face hidden under layers of cosmetics narrated her ordeal. And, this was when she had started recovering. Few days later, she said she felt still better after our meeting.
She had a speedy recovery, thereafter! By this time, I had been drawn into this habit of chatting. I realized why there are so many motivational quotes on HABITS. Few days passed by…She had now started dancing to the tune of Bollywood songs while preparing her breakfast. It was relieving, yet again!  She wanted to take up some job now that her exams were over; I, too, wanted her to take up some engagement as I have mentioned above. I sent her few advertisements; she has successfully secured a job. Now, there are no pings during her office hours. Again it was difficult for me to adjust to this abrupt change, for few days. I have got used to the new normal now [ii]. Not just OLD habits, even NEW habits die hard.
It is rightly said, suffering from bouts of depression and anxiety is difficult; caring for the victim is not easy either. First, you have to patiently listen, with unwavering attention, to everything that the victim narrates. Initially, you might not be able to relate to the story, and all that may sound alien to you, and you might ask yourself WHY? You would need to step into the shoes of the victim to understand the root cause of the problem. You might feel irritated, drained out, exhausted at times, but you got to harness your emotional intelligence in these situations. When else would you harness these latent talents? All these questions (the WHYs) and elements of negativity within you will evaporate the moment you realize the intense pain, upheavals, that sense of betrayal, rejection, defeat and loneliness the victim is living with every single second of his/her life. One of the many things I have learnt from this experience: NEVER EVER JUDGE ANYONE! – you do not know their journey in its entirety.
THE LIFE LESSON (as mentioned above)
At times it is okay to just wade with the flow of life, instead of deliberately trying to control its trajectory. Just go with the flow as if you are drifting with currents of a river without actually trying to manoeuvre your path. Wait for the right time, and once you regain your strength, swing back into action!
My two cents to the readers:
If you are reading this line, there is a reason behind! You are a highly sensible, caring and affectionate individual. An individual who genuinely feels for and empathizes with fellow beings. In case you are faced with depression or anxiety like situations, please do not think you are alone, and that there is no way out. They are like that cumulonimbus cloud cover that would engulf you for a while and then clear out. The least benefit you would draw from this difficult phase is, you would emerge stronger than you were before, and be a source of inspiration for others!
Let’s contribute our bit towards making this world a beautiful place to live!
Most people can HEAR,
Very few people can LISTEN…