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Sabyasachi Mukherjee Says His Mental Health Struggles Fuelled His Creativity. It Might Be Little Simplistic But The Conversation Is Important

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This International Men’s Day (November 19), we witnessed men around the world open up about their mental health struggles. A topic that has been taboo in the men’s community hasn’t nearly been discussed enough. Phrases like “Be a man!” and “mard ko dard nahi hota” are often bandied around reducing men’s problems with mental health as not masculine enough to need attention. The day aims to address the high rates of men’s suicides (which are three times the number for women, according to a study), and influential people around the world told their stories.

The dreamiest of boys and pop sensation Shawn Mendes also opened up, “I still struggle with it but just remember every day that everyone deals with some level of anxiety or pressure; we’re all in it together. All pain is temporary, and the thing is with anxiety, and why it’s such a hard thing for people who don’t have it to understand”. It is a hard pill to swallow to see people, especially this young (Shawn is 21), having to keep their struggles to themselves.

Back home, we had another influential man who we’ve been looking up to for years, also opened up. In his interview with ETPanche, Sabyasachi Mukherjee revealed, “I got into severe depression when I was 17. I tried committing suicide. It was a failed attempt. Mental health in today’s day and time, with this quick pace of life, is becoming more pronounced. And people need to understand that it is not something that one needs to be ashamed of or fear because it’s quite normal. And we need to just address it as normally as possible”, he elaborated.

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The September Issue of Vogue India @vogueindia Guest Edited by Sabyasachi Starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas @priyankachopra Styled by Sabyasachi and Mimi Cuttrell @mimi Photographed by Marcin Kempski @marcinkempski Blouse, trousers and visor Courtesy: Sabyasachi Earrings, rings and bracelets Courtesy: Sabyasachi Jewellery @sabyasachijewelry Belt Courtesy: Rosantica @rosantica_official Hair by Peter Grey @petergrayhair using Shu Uemura/ Art of Hair/ Home Agency Makeup by Morgane Martini @morgane_martini using Marc Jacobs Beauty/ The Wall Group Manicure by Pattie Yankee @pattieyankee / Celestine Agency Production: Ryan Fahey, Alexey Galetskiy/AGPNYC @agpnyc ,Divya Jagwani @divyajagwani Production Assistant: Miles Montierth Lighting Assistant: Michael Morales Photographer’s Agency: I Like Photo Mimi Cuttrell’s Agency: SWA Agency. Location: On the streets of New York @newyork #Sabyasachi #VogueIndia #PriyankaChopraJonas #PriyankaChopra #TheWorldOfSabyasachi #NewYork @newyork

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Sabyasachi has been the premier name in India when it comes to bridal fashion. His lehengas are aspirational and the stuff that that a big weddings are made of. He is also the go-to person for Bollywood brides who have maintained close relationships with him for a long time, keeping their high profile weddings personal. It is fascinating to learn that his creativity in designing stems from his mental health struggle over the years. He revealed, “I think a lot of us creative people suffer from a lack of self-expression. [At the time] I was a creative person in the wrong education stream. I was studying medicine, then economics, wasn’t very sure what I would do.”

Mukherjee also confessed using fashion and flare as an artistic release. “Self-expression helped me cope with the frustrations of not being able to find a creative outlet. I started expressing myself by dyeing my hair orange and wearing ripped jeans with safety pins on them, inspired by Madonna”. Well, now that is something we have in common because we LOVE Madonna!

ALSO READ: Sabyasachi Mukherjee Is The Keeper Of All Bollywood Bridal Secrets And We Know Exactly Why

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I thought a lot about whether to post this, but sometimes it is important to set the record straight and get the right message across. Having been in the fashion industry for over 20 years, I have encountered it firsthand and commented about it in many of my interviews – how, while many women use fashion and beauty for joy and self-expression, others use it as ‘retail therapy’ to fill in the gaps and voids in their lives. We, as a society, often get extremely judgemental about peoples’ clothing choices, calling them ‘overdressed’ or ‘tacky’ or ‘inappropriate’. We fail to understand that maybe some are using these as coping mechanisms to put on a brave front to make up for the lack of a support system. The true essence of the post was to ask people to be aware, empathetic, and not judgemental of peoples’ personal clothing choices, which could be a manifestation of their internal anguish. One of the bigger issues in society today, that very few people address, is mental health, and a little bit of awareness, empathy and kindness go a long way in acknowledging it. I have coped with crippling depression as a teenager for 7 years. I found my coping mechanism through radical clothing choices.I was sneered at and bullied, but it helped me find my way again. When I was creating this jewellery collection, I referred to Tagore’s ‘Monihara’ because it talks about these issues, which are sadly more relevant today. And I, for one, have never shied away from speaking about uncomfortable truths, no matter how disruptive it might be for my personal gain. Because when power is given, social responsibility should not be shunned. The mistake, however, was to use the reference as a blanket statement, as sometimes when we are passionate about an issue, we end up becoming overzealous and hence, tone deaf. My sincere apologies for that. The original post (however flawed) was put up to invite introspection and debate about how love, sensitivity and compassion, alongside expressions of art, beauty and fashion can create a net positive in the world. I invite everyone to democratically join this debate. Regards, Sabyasachi

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Being as popular as he is, Sabya has also been on the receiving end of criticism for his views on women. He faced a lot of hate online for his comment of an ‘overdressed’ woman being tortured inside. His blend of storytelling did not go down well with women, who found him pretentious and preachy. He replied to the controversy with a detailed explanation, aimed at inciting a debate.

ALSO READ: Sabyasachi’s Post Got Called Out By Netizens For Being Misogynistic And He Deserves The Flak!

Elaborating more of his story, Mukherjee confessed that a lack of understanding from people contributed to his alienation when he was younger. “I think the big stigma that happens to most people comes from isolation where people think I’m probably the only one who’s going through it. But when you reach out to a community you realize you’re not. I think right now there is a lot of conversation happening on mental health and everybody can find their community, sometimes if not offline, then definitely online”. We totally agree!

 

Even though Sabya has been on the receiving end of criticism from the Indian community on a number of times, his contribution to how we perceive bridal style has been influential. His use of plus-size models in collection shoots and showing the Indian bride to be bold and owning her sexuality is entirely his niche. We will always be a cheerleader to changemakers who try to do something different in a traditional space, making Sabya a force to be reckoned with.

ALSO READ: Sabyasachi Gets Hate For Featuring Models With Cleavage. How Are Breasts Against Indian Culture?

It was bittersweet to know that Mukherjee had to go through all that but yet, he has come out of it a stronger man. Apart from a few low moments, Sabya credits diving into his work and creativity to help him stay positive. “It [depressive episodes] doesn’t happen to me anymore. I have too creative and too fulfilling a job”. As for how Mukherjee copes with moments that try to break his spirit, he replied “Food. “ I’m Bengali, [we] love eating. And a little bit of extra sleep just picks me up”. Same Sabya, same!

Hauterfly’s Take: The entire explanation may be a little to simplistic and unfair to people dealing with debilitating mental health issues but we are glad he’s opened up about this. When you are a celebrity and talk about mental health, people listen and for that reason, this was important. However, we do think it might be a little rudimentary in that people suffering from mental health issues can’t just get up and get going because their job is fulfilling or because they are busy.

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