It’s about how hard you can get hit

Amma,

As one struggles with one’s sanity, one tries to deconstruct your life and find inspiration from it. I go through prescriptions and photographs to try to figure out the best way to save myself. I ain’t going down without a fight, for sure! These pictures were taken at your worst, I wonder who shot them and why? The first one was of course after the self immolation, the breasts and arm were burnt! I think it was Ashwini bhaiya, who operated upon you, in Kolmet. I remember for a long time ( was it for a year or two?) that you couldn’t wear a top because you were so itchy! The rest of course look like your Corex and medicine induced states. With Dustu’s cards asking you to stop downing that God forsaken cough syrup, I also found Dr Kothari’s prescriptions. I wish I could say, it’s very different from my shrink’s prescription! My mother…my self, haan!

They try to convince me and other people of course, that you were absolutely fine as long as everybody else was taking care of you and somehow murderous me, went and killed you! The shrink tells me, a pill will make the antisocial me, better, meaning nicer, I’m assuming. I’ll probably stop slam dunking people, if I just take some tablet. Miraculously, I will forget being accused of murdering you, ah even better murdering your son ( I keep thanking God I was with GD that night) of eloping, of everybody I know being called, of my love life being discussed as if it was something that was ongoing and even imaginary extra marital affairs being made up ( strategically, just so that I wouldn’t work in a particular area), of my work and my intelligence being mocked…of even my previous landlady in Kashmir being called up to discuss how I wasn’t making your relative a Director and probably it will be some Kashmiri boy….of being alienated…all of this as I was grappling with loosing you and trying to make sense of my existence. ‘ Let it be. Don’t think about it. How does it make a difference to your life?’ well wishers ask me.’ I would have, if it didn’t seem all too familiar and above all misogynistic to the freaking core of it!

So, instead of talking to people I keep to myself mostly, make sure no one knows who I meet ( otherwise they too will be called…of course the Wall and S are exceptions because the won’t flip sides) and if people do ungli, which they can’t help themselves from doing….I just return the favour. You know I’m too lazy to go on the offensive but people sometimes mistake me for you…they assume I have your tolerance level…But sau sanahar ki aur ek lauhar ki!I give it back and they get another round of ammunition. The mature thing to do would be to not react I know…ideally be like you…but If I’m going to go into to the Chakarvyuh and the exit has been blocked, I ain’t going down quietly, that’s for sure. Especially because someday this is going to be a lesson for my daughter- from your life she will learn perseverance and kindness but from mine, it will be this- In the worst of circumstances, even at your frailest moment…even if you have do it by yourself…we try to peg the patriarchy…win or loose…we fight irrespective of how powerful the opponent! We face our internal demons and hero up.

P. S- In case there’s any confusion, the term ‘peg the patriarchy’ isn’t being used here as a sexual term, it isn’t the same as a particular sexual act known as pegging. ‘ Matatas, who coined and trademarked this term, calls it a ‘ metaphor for ‘ subverting a system that requires subservience, within a gender binary !’

Living with Bipolar- Dilemma

Got dragged into the principle’s office today. I felt like a naughty kid, who was going to be punished! Kidding. The analyst asked me to meet the psychiatrist, who one had been to initially.

Shrink: After discussing your case we have come to the conclusion that you need medication.

Me : Really? What about my behaviour makes you think so? ( Eyebrows raised, voice deeper, SB’s went into fight mode)

Shrink: Your reports suggest that there is a borderline personality issue, you’re impulsive, antisocial and suffer major depression.

Me: I thought you said that I had PTSD?

Shrink: That is there but these are the main problems. If you don’t want to take the medication then you can take the RTMS ( where a machine mucks around with your brainwaves) . It will help accelerate the treatment.

Me: I’ll think about it!

Shrink: You have to trust the doctor. In such cases we don’t ask the patient, we tell the patient what to do!

Wrong thing to tell a rebellious person. Now, I was really pissed. Cold stare, teeth clenched, voice becomes softer and deeper.

Me- It seems to me that between you and the analyst and inspite of so many sessions no one’s been able to figure out what exactly do I have! You say PTSD and Borderline Personality issues, she says I’m Bipolar ( manic). So what am I going to be treated for? [‘The meds prescribed to me are for Bipolar Disorder’ I want to add but I keep mum]

She tries to deflate my anger, now.

Shrink: In this case we can’t give a definitive answer. Therapy will help but it’s a very slow and time consuming process. Medicines will make you feel better, you’ll see the changes in days.

Me: I am in no rush!

Now, you may wonder why I’m so aversive to them? Let me play the Devil’s Advocate. My mother was on those pills and I know what they do. She had to take them because she was violent and suicidal. Having said that, the dosage that was given to her, rendered her almost useless. From a woman who kept a lovely house and took really good care of her kids, she became someone who slept most of the times, continued to be suicidal inspite of the medication and was mostly unhappy. No one looked into the root cause of her problem, they just kept giving her things to suppress her symptoms and her body kept getting addicted to those. What she needed was self love, she needed to get rid of the angst of being rejected by her mother as a child, she needed a loving husband who was there- physically and emotionally and she needed to be surrounded by people who encouraged her to shine rather than be threatened by her awesomeness, not people who would call up friends and family to mock her and make her feel more alienated! She needed to confront her shadow and somehow, come out stronger after suffering terrible losses- a brother she loved ( and related to the most ) and a child ( she adored more than anyone else). She needed someone to convince she was fabulous and when you did, I saw her change. I saw her becoming such a loving mother, in her latter years, that she managed to change the heart and attitude of a child who had resented her, for her tumultuous childhood. In the end those extra pills caused her the most damage and her will and resolve to change, were the only things that made her life better!

So, if that’s not enough, to convince you that these pills are bad, go through the Sushant Singh Rajput Case. Here’s someone who consulted multiple shrinks and was on medication. Inspite of that he committed suicide! So, what is the efficacy of medication? Who the hell knows? I don’t think there’s a sort cut, for solving your problems. A pill isn’t going to stop me from looking at most people and thinking ‘I’d rather be alone, than play these petty games’. Need is going to. If and when I will need to get along with people, due to work, loneliness or procreation, I will have to figure out a way.

The need for a better version of me, Saadiya 4.0, if you will, is there, that’s why I am in therapy because my circumstances are demanding for me to learn how to tackle people without loosing my mind or slam dunking them. I will have to figure out how to work around my inherent trust issues with other humans, especially since my gut instinct is nine times out of ten right. Getting angry about people’s intentions is harmful for my heart and soul. I have to learn to love myself and my body more than giving into my wrath! I have to know, in my heart, have total and complete confidence in myself that I will be able to manage whatever, anyone else or life throws at me because I have repeatedly proven that to myself. I have to be totally and completely obsessed and committed to my own growth and let the naysayers, continue gossiping. They wrote me off at 16, when I had my first episode, since then I have reinvented myself twice, I can do that every freaking decade. But I got to believe that, my validation has to come from Saadiya Kochar, only. Not from a man and most certainly not from the family.

I wish Akash was alive, her sessions helped. This is going to be tougher. I’m reminded of Greg, my photography teacher, who was very insightful maybe because his mother was an analyst. I remember him telling me, ‘you have excessive mental energy that you need to use. Keep yourself very busy, otherwise you’ll drive yourself insane.’ I need a teacher, I know and I know the only thing that can save me from me is photography, not a 10 mg pill, that’s just too easy, for my egoistic self!

A year and a half later

Dear Amma,

Yesterday, you popped up on my FB wall, Amma, as it’s been a year and a half since you passed. Each time I write Amma, I can see you face squirming…how you hated being addressed as such! It was mom, high tea, diamonds, Kaaashmir and what not for you! You were always too fancy dudette and I was too desi.

Time passes, like it does. Your nighties smell less of you and more of me, now. I haven’t been able to get a tattoo due to Covid, so you know how clingy SC gets. Those Marks and Spenser, nightgowns are bakwaas, by the way, they’ve completely lost their shape. I always told you, a local tailor constructs better garments than these chains but you thought I was a miser ( which I am but still). No wonder, people would look at us and go, ‘hai yeh aapki beti he?’

That reminds me, turns out that becoming a particular version of you, is my deepest fear. I find myself fighting with people and more often than not, yelling-‘I’m not my mother! Don’t try, the crap you tried on her!’ Also, surprise, surprise, the less in control of one’s life one feels, the more aggressive one gets. Oh I’m so lovely, these days! You were so gentle, my tongue would have embarrassed you . Though, my fit throwing would have seemed familiar. Remember how I was between fourteen to sixteen? Well, I’m not as bad…I don’t run out of the house at 2 a.m and keep walking around to calm down but uff, the wrath! They say, it’s been accumulated over a long period and especially after loosing you and going through the lovely experience of feeling cornered and alone…when I was already vulnerable, has tipped off my mental balance. Maybe it has or maybe I’m just plain nuts and of course totally misanthropic.

Good choice on the boy…I should have listened to you. You always knew better than I, who was good for me. Ever since, you’ve gone he frets over me like a mother hen. You shouldn’t have asked him to promise you, that he’ll take care of me. He actually came down to ensure, that I wasn’t going completely bonkers. Sat around ( watching a silly series with me) gave me pep talks ( you need to channel the anger constructively) and pampered me silly ( we went out ever single night). Poor guy, seemed a bit scandalised by your man. But you know how that plays out better than anyone else.

Nevertheless, life is the way, it is, circular. As I grow older, I understand you more. Honestly, I never understood why you were so paranoid? Why you would tell the domestic help ‘ if anyone calls just tell them I’m sleeping’. Why did you become addicted to Corex ( oh, I found the sweetest cards your son made for you. ‘Mummy please stop drinking Corex!. They’re heartbreaking!) Why did you prefer the company of kids and animals? As I delve deeper into my own psyche and try to confront my shadows, I’ve had to re-examine you and your life as well.

I forgave you a long time ago but now I truly empathise with you and two of my brothers. Respect! I’ve been in your shoes for a year and a half and I’m like ‘ Oh sweet mother of God!’ But you all are too nice and I’m a loose freaking canon with nada to loose…no boyfriend or husband who can be manipulated, no extended family and whatever can be said to my friends and acquaintances has already been said and done. Advantages of being bad, baby you already have a particular reputation and once it all goes to hell, you don’t fear no one! You should have tried it, it might have saved you from the electric shocks. Actually, that is something that can be pulled on me, as well ( maybe I should reconsider marriage, just to ensure they don’t get me institutionalised). You were someone who blinded everyone with her goodness and her light, so you needed to be controlled but in my case there’s more to be gained materialistically. After all, since you were a woman as soon as your Father passed away, you were forced to sign away all your rights to his property and when your mum passed away, since you and and one of sisters weren’t ’ mentally stable’ , you were not given even a piece of her clothing, forget anything else. For now I have God in my corner, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived the past eighteen months. Let’s see, how long he protects me.