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Black Sun -- An Evening with Melancholia

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Balaji Ravichandran.

The one-off event, as the subject title indicates, deals with depression and melancholia, and is open to all students, fellows and staff of the University.

The event will begin with a small talk, delivered by a student, i.e., yours truly, about my personal experience with depression: its origins, course, recurrence, therapies and strategies, and most importantly of all, how I have attempted (and am attempting) to cope with what is a debilitating disease in Cambridge. Then, it will be a full, open, and informal discussion on all matters relating to depression, with an emphasis on its nature and strategies to cope with it whilst at Cambridge.

This is not merely an event for those suffering from depression in its manifold and idiosyncratic forms. Rather, the aim is to bring together students and fellows, as a way of bridging what seems an insurmountable gulf between those suffering from this affliction and those who don’t. Inasmuch as I want to reach out to those affected and tell them they’re not alone, I know, from personal experience, that friends, admirers and sometimes fellows, find it hard to understand what those suffering go through. It is a chance to address this gulf, and I expect that people fortunate enough not to undergo this ailment will far exceed the people who are indeed melancholic. Let me also say that no one is under any obligation to say anything in this meeting—so if you are depressed, or one of your close ones is, and you do not wish to talk about it, there is absolutely no pressure on you whatsoever. You are still welcome to attend, and hear others discuss about the many aspects of depression…

Finally, to say that I want to raise awareness about depression is easy. But, harder to counter is the taboo surrounding it, the stigma attached to declaring yourself as a depressive. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if my openness cost me many a potential friend—but, it is only by talking out aloud that we can counter the false belief that depression is a sign of weakness, and that depressed people have, in any way, failed. Those who attend the meeting will hear largely subjective information, and some objective facts about depression and coping with it. But, I hope it will be a starting point for everyone to understand and sympathise, and to fight ignorance and stigma against one of the most excruciating illnesses mankind knows…

Feel free to invite your friends and colleagues from other colleges… If you have any questions, please let me know.

Balaji. Finalist, Neuroscience (King’s)

This talk is part of the Beyond Academics series.

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