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  Some people take the easy way out.  When faced with a potentially embarrassing situation they would hide it from view.  What is not known to others cannot be a source of discrimination, shame or ridicule.  If you were married to a successful spouse who worked in a very good job with a very successful company, it would be easy to retreat into the shadows and pass yourself off as a meek and mild-mannered person who would be content to hide their shameful experience from view and portray yourself as so very normal in all ways.  This might be particularly easy if you were graced with great beauty and the aura of normalcy could mask the pain in your life and allow you the opportunity to maintain the facade.

On the other hand, there is a far riskier choice.  Public acknowledgement of your difficulty that would allow the opportunity to reach out to other people in an attempt to break through the pain of your experience. 

When you hear Gayathri speak of her experience and realize the stigma associated by not only our culture here in America but also of her beloved native India, you can recognize the courage it took to fulfill her promise to herself to help others who might suffer the same fate as herself.

She had, from another's point of view, the idyllic life.  Her husband is a successful engineer with an excellent job.  She has two lovely daughters.  She lives in a lovely home in a safe and secure setting.  Why then, would a person with so many things going for them risk public ridicule?  To phrase it simply, she could not bear to think that others would suffer the same fate as her without doing something to help them as others had helped her.

Gaythri's confinement in a mental hospital ward left her humiliated and degraded.  Shamed by two societies, she no longer felt worthy of going on with life.  Severe clinical depression can do that to people in spite of their position in life.  To those who have not suffered the condition it is seemingly inexplicable.  There was no external reason for her to feel empty and lifeless.  From all manner of normal social standing she had it made, yet she found herself confined to a mental ward with all dignity and hope expelled from her.

Somehow amidst all of the despair and hopelessness of her feeling, she made a promise to help others were she ever to recover from that state.  In her long road back from despair, she has done all of that and more.

Trying all types of medications and therapies she has fought back to a fragile place of recovery which she still balances on a daily basis.  There is no "cure", only management of her disorder and mindfulness of the things she must do to balance her life and maintain her recovery.  In spite of this challenge, she has gone on to academic success and even recognition as Eli Lilly Company's Comeback Person of the Year.

True to her promise, she has dedicated herself and her energies to creating a charity ASHA International that engages in two main programs "Rally for Recovery Would Tour" and "Culture Counts" that have attracted over twenty thousand attendees.  In addition, she has been invited to an International Conference to present her program of hope and inspiration in November 2008.

The latest "Culture Counts" presentation invited John Head to come and speak to the local African American Community about depression.  Not only does her compassion extend to her homeland, but it reaches out to other very underserved populations within our own society.  It is another indication of her drive to include all those who suffer, not simply her own minority.

She could have remained silent, lived a quiet life and chosen not to be involved.  That she did not and chose to help others is why I am honored to know her.  She chooses to refer to all of her friends as her inspiration.  What she may not realize is how she inspires us.

She speaks often of a candle in the dark and uses the phrase "The light in me honors the light in you."  Gayathri, the light in you guides the light in us.  Thank you for lighting the way for all of us.

See more of her story and her consulting work at her personal web site.

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Last modified: 06/24/08