LLC Lecture Series '21: Deepika Padukone, Abhinav Bindra Talk Mental Health
"Today, for me, success is to be able to be present," Deepika Padukone told Abhinav Bindra.
Actor Deepika Padukone was one of the few actors to openly speak up about mental illness and depression. During an interview, she had talked extensively about her struggle with mental health and founded the ‘Live, Love, Laugh’ foundation in 2015 to create awareness about mental health.
As part of that mission, Deepika envisioned the LLC Lecture Series which features world thinkers and influencers. This year, the guest for the series is Olympic gold-winner Abhinav Bindra.
He is also the youngest recipient of the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award. During his lecture, and in conversation with Deepika Padukone, Bindra talked about his mental health struggles as an athlete and the need for increased awareness in the field of sports.
He went on to speak about the anxiety and pressure that comes with competitive sports, adding that people consider athletes opening up a ‘cardinal sin’ even as they deal with stresses like injury, dealing with success and failure, over training, and the impending end of a career.
Deepika Padukone, a National-level badminton player herself, sat down with Bindra to talk about their life’s work and experience with mental health.
Deepika talked about her routine as an athlete and said, “4:30 or 5 in the morning you go for your round of physical conditioning, come back…I didn’t get permission from school to go late…so I would come back home, quickly have a shower, have breakfast and run to school.”
Abhinav Bindra revealed that he didn’t like sports as a kid and was actually ‘uncoordinated and unathletic’ but had perseverance and hard work.
“Right from a 13-year-old boy, I had to make several sacrifices. You know, I had no social life. I hardly had friends because I would go to school and right after that it was training.”
Talking about the hurdles he faced before going to the Olympics, Bindra said, “There were limiting factors, I was reminded of the fact that no Indian had ever won. And we are not capable of winning gold medals at the Olympic medals. I used that negativity to push me and I wanted to be the first one.”
Deepika asked, “There’s a point where you enjoy what you do and then there’s a point when it starts becoming pressure and you don’t even realise sometimes. So, it’s probably the Athens experience that made you realise...?”
Abhinav Bindra had described his performance at Athens as, "It just happened, I shot the ten worst shots of my life, I just crumbled; something was not right."
Abhinav Bindra replied that his best years as an athlete were when he was a student athlete. “When that journey ended, I suddenly had more time. I started to put all my eggs in one basket and that was perhaps my biggest mistake in my sports career."
Expanding on the need for balance and self-care, Bindra said, “I disrespected my talent because I gave it too much. The secret to optimum performance is finding that (balance).”
“I wish my husband (Ranveer Singh) was here to listen to this,” Deepika Padukone joked.
Deepika Padukone added, “I’m an actor by profession but I think like an athlete. I feel like when you play sport, it changes your life forever… And exactly like he said, it’s (sport) has taught me how to handle success and failure.”
“At that age, you want to be famous, you want to be interviewed. You want money, you want to be financially independent. And then as you go on that journey, you realise success means different things to different people. Today, for me, success is to be able to be present.”Deepika Padukone, Actor
Talking about seeking professional health, Abhinav Bindra urged everyone who needs it to seek help, “It’s a real sign of courage and it’s a real sign of strength.”
“I had to work my way through a few therapists and find that harmony and strike that relationship with somebody I started to trust. Initially I thought it was limiting but when I started doing it, it was actually very empowering,” Bindra said.
Adding that “it’s okay to not be okay”, Deepika Padukone said, “I think for me, my journey to recovery really was to accept that there is such a thing as mental illness. I think accepting it for myself, number 1. 2, to be able to share my journey with my family, friends, and the world, and to seek help.”
The inaugural lecture of Deepika Padukone’s Live, Love, Laugh Lecture Series was delivered by Pulitzer-winning author Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee. Abhinav Bindra founded the Abhinav Bindra Foundation with to make ‘Global Best Practices’ more accessible to athletes.
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