Actress Ileana D'Cruz, who suffered depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, says at one point in her life she felt suicidal. But once she accepted herself, she started feeling better.
At the 21st World Congress of Mental Health here on Sunday, Ileana had a tete-a-tete with Organising Chairman Sunil Mittal on her struggle with depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Ileana was also awarded the Woman of Substance Award for her efforts towards raising awareness about mental health, read a statement.
She said: "I was always a very self-conscious person and was picked on for my body type. I used to feel low and sad all the time but didn't know I was suffering from depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder till I got help. All I wanted to do was to be accepted by everyone.
"At one point, I even had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end things. However, all of it changed when I accepted myself and what I was going through. I think that is the first step towards fighting depression."
The "Barfi!" and "Rustom" actress said depression is "real" and people shouldn't shy away from seeking help.
"It is a chemical imbalance in your brain, and needs to be treated. Don't sit back and think it will get okay but go get help. Like you have a sprain and go get yourself checked, if you have depression, seek help," she said, urging people to be like Winnie the pooh. "He wore a crop top, ate his favourite food all day and loved himself, you can too."
Ileana, whose mother was her biggest pillar of strength throughout, also said imperfections are a part of life.
"I am not saying that I had this miraculous recovery, every day is a process, every day is a step towards healing yourself and getting better. You are a human being and are allowed to be imperfect, and you are allowed to be flawed. There is a lot of beauty in your imperfections, in your uniqueness.
"You may look at us actors and think that 'Oh my God, they are so pretty, so perfect'. But that's not how it is. It takes two hours to get ready and look like this. Love yourself for who you are and trust me if you are happy from within, you are the most beautiful person and your smile is your best asset."
She said she decided to open up about her struggle because "as someone people look up to, even if I can help a handful of people cope, it is worth talking about it".
The World Congress was organised by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), a global alliance of mental health professionals, national health associations, NGOs, policy experts and other institutions.