Category Archives: Mental Health Awareness
They say ‘suicide is an act of cowardice!’. I say, ‘ try it once and you’ll figure out what it takes!’ Having said that, I do think it’s not just a failing of the emotional system. A person tries to commit suicide, when their imagination fails them! When they look at all the permutation- combinations and nothing seems to work out, the future seems too bleak…when their problems seem unsolvable and they have no real support system. No one they can talk to, about what weighs on their heart. Also, it’s not an act or a thought your average Joe indulges in. Though, people always think it’s the destitute, outcasts and losers who take their own lives…I think it’s the odd balls with enormous egos, who aren’t willing to live with what life hands out to them, who aren’t willing to submit to the rules or roles, they’re asked to play. They’d rather be dead, than be someone else! But it is some sort of systematic failure, nevertheless, that requires a rebooting, either internally or externally ( death is a fab- reboot but there are other ways). Anyway, if I talk about raising awareness about it…..let’s leave that for another day….I would feel like a mighty hypocrite.
On a lighter note, like they say, ‘there are only two ways to sort out———problems. Through marriage or death!’ If you ask me, ewww, same, same! But that’s another way to go, by that logic one should give marriage a real think! (Each time one does, though, the thought of waking up to the same face, everyday, for the rest of one’s life…how much would one have to like a person for that?) If the shit hits the ceiling and it gets worse, rather than better, well, this option is always open! Sorry, don’t take me seriously, just randomness runs through my brain at the speed of light, the entire day. Ignore! Oh, you probably can’t, that’s why you feel like this! So, my humble, hypocritical solution- Work like your life depends on it (probably does), sleep, pray, create, smoke, drink , fuck, do whatever…you might feel better tomorrow…or not! Repeat after me, ‘ I ain’t going to be a freaking foregone conclusion! I ain’t going out like this!’. Works… some days. Anyhow, everybody, should do what they want but put your problem solving hat on…you need a solution, not a final exit! I leave you with this dialogue, you might want to dwell on it-‘to live in the tyranny of the current situation, be brave enough to ask , ‘ what next?’
P.S- Don’t misconstrued my sarcasm as abatement to suicide. I ain’t challenging you to jump off but rather telling you that first it ain’t easy to jump and two if you do, you ought not die, which will be a bigger problem. So breathe in, relax!
Demi Moore’s Inside Out, is one of the most interesting books one’s read, in the recent years. Deeply personal, it not only takes us through her journey as an attractive woman navigating through the entertainment industry, it not only explores the relationship between a woman and her various lovers and the play of power amongst partners but essentially to me it’s just an ode to motherhood, how things come full circle, how healing is our foremost duty to ourselves and the future generations and how self awareness and determination can change your life around, irrespective of your past!
Without giving too much away, let’s just say, it’s not for the faint hearted or the one’s who look at the world through rose tinted glasses. After all, how believable would it sound to people who believe all mothers are martyrs that a famous woman’s mother tried to sell her off for a few hundred dollars and trashed her infront of the press? How will anyone who has never had to deal with a Bipolar parent know what happens to you mentally, how you are the parent not them and how all of it skews your own view of the world? How can anyone who hasn’t been in that situation understand the bond between the siblings? How can anyone know, how it all comes back to haunt you when you least expect it and the addictions are part of the upbringing? But even if you haven’t had any of the experiences that made me weep, while reading this book, if you’re a woman whose had an unusual existence- read it, it will be your light at the end of the tunnel. If you are a woman, who has never had such experiences, read it so that you can stop being so judgmental about other women. If you are a man who knows an unusual woman, read it so you can get a glimmer of an understanding about how her head functions! But most should read it so that they can get a shred of understanding about mental health issues!
A strange phenomena has occurred since one has started addressing one’s own problems . Every time I step out in public, people peer at me and are kind of waiting for me to do something rather dramatic ( that’s what I feel). It’s like they’re trying to figure out where the horns on my head are at! Makes me think, it would have been nice to have normal genes or maybe mental issues that fit into other peoples idea of what a ‘depressive person’ should look like. SB, who is always up for pulling people’s legs, keeps nudging the other one to do some antics, to please the crowd. The other one just nods her head in utter dismay. Nothing hurts her more than insensitivity and nothing triggers the other one more than hypocrisy!
I was telling a friend of mine the other day that at my masochistic best, one once took a paper cutter (my favourite) and put a hundred and some slashes on my body in one go and then went to school the next day, while everything inside and outside me, hurt! This was when I wasn’t even an adult and my view of the world was far less skewed and I still thought that ‘someday everything will be alright’ and that ‘somehow I will find someone who will make everything seem worthwhile.’ Even then, the out of control behaviour was not so much weeping infront of others but withdrawing and running away. Now, the tears have mostly been replaced with sly comments, withdrawl or even better pure rage!
Makes me wonder how less defiant people go about getting help for their issues, considering the absolute ignorance that still surrounds mental health. This is a very interesting anecdote- My mother who made I can’t even count how many suicide attempts in her life, who was addicted to Corex for the longest time, seemed so normal to people that I have a childhood friend who claims she was absolutely alright because whenever she met her, she seemed fine! Unlike me, she wasn’t an introvert but was gregarious and gleeful on her good days, running around the house and singing songs for us. On her bad days, well, overturning cars, getting violent and waking us up in the middle of the night paranoid about everything! Thankfully, my aunt noticed her change in behaviour and took her to her first shrink- Dr Kothari. I marvel at how observant she was thirty years, ago and how ignorant people are still!
The last time I slipped before this, was in my thirties and I kept telling people that I didn’t feel like myself! I wish I’d seriously asked someone for help, surrounded myself with wiser, gentler humans but even when the plastic bag went over my head and even when I lay in bed weeping for days on end, I never dragged myself to get any real help. Withdraw, find some new people, avoid, travel and become normal. Then every decade have a meltdown! How mature! They say, you live and you learn! The biggest learning, hero up, save yourself, ask for help, there are some really nice people out there. In my case, there were a few male friends, professional help, my own ego (at its best, it’s my greatest strength) and faith. The trouble is that by the time you realize or the world realizes, it’s usually a little late, like in Demi’s case, where all the trauma caused health problems!
Now, inspite of all the judgements I no longer hide. I no longer hide my scars and no longer make a conscious effort to wear full sleeves clothes or wear a watch, so that people don’t get uncomfortable. They’re my battle wounds, I survived them, I survived my life and now it’s time to heal.
While reading Moore’s book, one felt so grateful for the wisdom that comes from reading. I read something about forgiving your parents a long time ago. In May 2016, I wrote on a paper which is pasted in my basement- Things to do-‘Forgive your parents, if you can’t do it…still do it. If it seems impossible…still do it!’ I would get up and read that, everyday. I still do, when I’m home. Thanks to that and my mum’s enormous efforts, my relationship with her changed drastically in the last few years of her life. Demi’s book reminds me- they are fallible humans and when it’s your turn, hopefully your children will forgive you too! Until then, heal, if not for yourself for them!
Happy Friendship Day
I love how memories pop up on FB. That’s why, these days, one writes lovely notes to oneself ( privacy setting to only me, of course) and posts them on FB, for a later date. Someday soon, when things look up and one feels all gung-ho, it would be nice to be reminded of how far one has come from those nights of desperation, when surviving even one more day, seemed like too much.
This popped up today. Ironically, just a couple of weeks ago, while I was driving around the North of India, with a friend, we were discussing how crazy one was at this time. I was telling him how I wish, I would have listened to my gut and not ignored, the red flags. What I mistook for just heartbreak and desperation, was so much more deep rooted. Other than, he and I, no one knows, the extent of my nuttiness. Why hasn’t he jumped off the sinking ship, like the rest of the world? ‘Murder or institutionalisation?’ I pull his leg. He just nods his head and laughs. I’m glad I amuse, someone, most people are exasperated by my sense of humour/cynicism. Too negative, too different, too aggressive, too crazy…always, too much. Both SB and SC, are bewildered by the world’s reactions to us but the answer lies in these lines by Kipling-
‘If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much!’
Or my favourites, ‘ Gam or khushi mein farq na mehsoos ho jahaan. Mein dil ko uss makaam pe lata chala gayaa.’
Even this makes loads of sense-
‘ You don’t outgrow others. Your new vibration outgrows the vibration of your old self. Your energy field configuration is different from before. You no longer resonate with those who only resonate with with your old self. You naturally move into another timeline.’
Maybe one’s vibrations have been lower than before or they might be changing, all together. One’s closest companions remain solitude, death and God- who ensures that when all the doors shut in your face, you have the one that stays. Anxious, much? Old habits die hard, if they ever do, so one’s on tender hooks, when someone is being nice, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For how long, will this niceness last? Well, who knows? ‘Till it’s convenient I guess, the day it ain’t, all relationships are like revolving doors’ thinks the self protective/ cynical SB. Her motto in life remains, ‘tu nahi to koi aur sahi…koi aur nahi to koi sahee’ Misanthropic, much? Always. The other one is nicer, doe eyed and totally setimotional…like her mum, pity she doesn’t get to come out. But to you, believers in all thing lovely, who believe friendship/love make life’s journey sweeter and who look at the world with rose tinted glasses- Happy friendship Day!
To the one who stays, from SC to you-‘ Yaroon ne mere waaste kyaa kuch nahi kiya, sau bar shukriya, sau bar shukriya! Till, you’re around, I’m glad. When you go, well, you’ll remain in my thoughts and prayers, like the rest of them.’ From SB to you, my reproach to your niceness remains the same, ‘I don’t need nobody, ok! To zyaada baap banne ki zarurat nahi he, samjh aa rahee he?’
P.S- I sent this to a friend from New York. The month that I spent there was probably the scariest for me. Though, I was living in a beautiful apartment in the heart of the city, I was hysterical. I was so depressed that I missed a day of the Jane Evelyn Atwood workshop because I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. So don’t take the red flags lightly and never let anyone convince you are fine when you don’t feel it.
The Buck Stops Here
I got my psychometric test results and thought I should send a msg to the boys, I left- ‘ Thank me, darlings. You just got saved.’ And to the one’s who left me, ‘👍👍👍. Good choice!’ Ya, ya, I know it’s self deprecating. But come on man, if I can’t get a few laughs from my idiosyncrasies, what’s the point of having them? The humour would have been lost on them, so I didn’t.
They should have tested the ‘drama quotient’ too. So freaking dramatic, one is! Read the results and started singing-‘Pyaar mujhse jo kiya tumne to kyaa paaoge? Meri halaat ki aandhi mein bikhar jaoge!’ Rofl. Bhaskarji was all confused. ‘Kyaa hogaya didi?’ ‘Kuch nahin dimaag kharaab he thoda sa, ya to theek ho jayega, ya purra kharaab!’
Do I think mental health is a joke? No, but I don’t think taking pills will cure this patient’s disorders- Depressive, Antisocial, Avoidant, Manic, Masochistic, Borderline and Major Depression Symptoms, which the MCM1-111, Hamilton Anxiety Rating, Hamilton Rating Scale for depression, Draw a person test and the Rorschach tests, SSS-8 have indicated. These are on a disorder level…the traits are another story! I really don’t know, whether I should laugh, cry or tell someone.
Patient is ‘highly suspicious’ of people due to ‘negative interactions’ , henceforth, patient is very weary of giving this information out to the extended family, which has been trying to replace her with a man, ever since her mother’s death. Plus, their emotional quotient, is highly questionable. This will just add fuel to the fire. One more thing to get the rumour mills, churning. ‘The psychological functioning of the person is more complex than most people’, should that not automatically mean most people would not understand how this patient functions? Of course, one could tell the father but his response will be, ‘you need to go to Kashmir!’ ‘buy a dog’ ‘forget what’s happened and think only about work! but here’s a man who drinks all the time, to deal with his problems. His solutions are usually in cognisance with escapism. Or one could tell the boys who are my support system but they’ll just worry, from far away.
So for now the patient will try to deal with the ‘distress’, try to avoid, ‘focus on the features of herself that are negative’, continue to ‘process very well and in a rather complex’ manner and will become less uncomfortable in interpersonal situations. Above all, the patient, will work on ‘being less influenced by emotions’ bring it down to a regular person level ( God knows how!) will not try to avoid ‘emotional confrontations at all costs’ , will be less ‘self evaluative’ (eye roll) and will not try to ‘distance herself from others’ ( probably won’t succeed).
This report reminds me of my astrological chart that my brother got made, it’s almost as confusing and as correct. Too sensitive, feels too much, thinks too much, avoids people and is prone to severe depression are all on it. Who knew I would turn out to be a text book case? I must admit, the psychoanalyst was quite good. She barely asked me any questions about my childhood or my current worries…just how do I feel after my mum’s death? To which I replied, ‘I’m doing just fine!’ Sleep? ‘I’ve never slept well!’ So, to diagnose all this from a blot test, drawings, observation and from a multiple choice questionnaire is quite commendable. Having all this, so damn predictable.
But irrespective of how this pans out and how the people around me, react to all this, healing should be my top priority. Like I said to the shrink, ‘unlike my mother, who came from a large family and had a husband and kids…I don’t have the privilege to loose my mind. I’m all I got, no one’s going to save me, I got to save myself!’ So, time to hero up, doll….look at the shadow…you’re batman! We are the people we’ve been waiting for! We got to be for the kids that we’ll adopt someday, who will come from my heart and not my belly…I ain’t passing my trauma on to them. The buck stops, here!
ACE Trauma Test
For a while one has been struggling, without even realising. As long as I kept pretending to be Jhansi ki Rani, fighting the world ( eye roll) and being discriminated against for one’s gender, I was kind of alright. My buffer, I’m told, is great at absorbing the shock of loss and grief, one goes into fight mode. Hence, everything trickles down slowly, later, when one least expects it.
Anyhow, after many telephonic conversations with mental health professionals, one went to visit a psychiatrist, to figure out whether I had what people had been claiming- Bipolar Disorder. I don’t know, how many times, you’ve got yourself evaluated but trust me, it ain’t fun, trying to recall things your mind has tried to blank out. Plus, ‘what about your mother? Dead! What about your sibling? Dead!’ though answered with a deadpan expression, inspite of how cocky one may look doing it, isn’t what you enjoy saying. One’s been told, that other than the mood disorder ( which is still being assessed- tests after tests my dear) one also has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a.k.a, PTSD. I don’t think anything has made me angrier, than that diagnosis.
One came out of the shrink’s clinic, livid. ‘ What the fuck does she mean I suffer from trauma?’ I was yelling into the phone. ‘Has she met a rape victim, acid attack victim, someone who lost their parent when they were little? Has she met the mothers in Kashmir who loose their children? I…I…I look traumatised to her!!! So what, if my mum burnt herself when I was little and now she and my brother are both dead! Everyone has to die, someday. Do you think poor people have the privilege of suffering PTSD, BPD or any form of depression?’ My friend, who is the only person who can handle my rants, kept trying to calm me down. ‘They meet lots of people, they have the experience, listen to them!’ ‘They’ve been trying to get me on those meds ever since, I was sixteen. I will fucking fix myself, you wait and watch! It’s my mind, my body, I’ve been living in it for 42 years, I will sort myself out, even if I have to slap myself out of this nonsense!’
For a person, who has been told by many professionals ( I was dragged to a family counsellor when I was younger, then a shrink…I’ve done the advanced Landmark forum course and have surrounded myself with the spiritual ones since a young age) that one is quite self aware ( according to me that makes me stupider than the average person who is unaware because they actually don’t know what they’re upto and I knowingly continue doing harmful things) one was behaving like an ignorant nincompoop! But I guess, BPD, is something that I can take like people take High BP. That it’s a genetic disposition, that one needs to work around. This made me feel weaker, less in control ( which scared the living day light out of the control freak) and bloody angry! So, of course I threw a fit and went into complete denial, bought loads of books, started sporadically walking again, avoiding people who I felt were triggers and trying with all my might to ‘slap some sense into myself!’ Of course the medicines which were prescribed were never taken.
One of the books, I’d ordered arrived today, ‘How to do the Work’ by Dr Nicole Lepera and like people pick tarot cards one opened a page. ‘Let’s see what I need to figure out on this day!’ I thought, as I casually drank my morning tea. Voila! On Page number 41, was the heading- Trauma: A misunderstood concept. The author wrote about the Adverse Childhood Experience Test and how though she had scored a 1 on it, which most people do, she later realized that she had suffered ‘spiritual trauma’. Dr Lepera, went on to describe how like me, she doesn’t have childhood memories, how she forgets faces and people make fun of her memory, all the time because she doesn’t remember shared experiences. Like me, she has ‘feeling memories’ how she felt but not concrete memories of events and all of this has been a coping mechanism, a survival tactic.
Dr Besel Kolk, has described this phenomena as- disassociation. ‘Simultaneously knowing and not knowing,’ How traumatised people try to not be present, how their fight, freeze and flight responses work differently and just because they have trained their mind to not be present to the occurrences it doesn’t mean, their bodies don’t remember.
The memory thing, made sense to me. Akash had told me the same thing, after I asked her why my IQ is normal but I don’t recollect so many things. ‘You trained your mind as a child to not remember, what was happening around you!’ Akash was one person one listened to. How one wishes one would have spent more time with her when she was alive! This resonated with me, so I took yet another test, this time on the net, thinking one will get a low score.
The Adverse Childhood Experience Test Goes Like This ( taken from the NPR.org site)
1) Before your 18th birthday did a parent or an adult in the household, often or very often swear at you, put you down or humiliate you or act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
2) Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often-push, slap or throw something at you or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
3) Before your 18th birthday, did an adult or person at least five years older than you ever touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way or attempt or actually have oral, anal or vaginal intercourse with you?
4) Before your 18th b’day did you often or very often feel that no one on your family loved you or thought you were important or special or your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other or support each other?
5) Before your 18th b’day did you often or very often feel that you didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes and had no one to protect you or your parents were too drunk or too high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
6) Before your 18th b’day, was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment or other reasons?
7) Before your 18th birthday, was your mother or stepmother often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped or had something thrown at her or sometimes kicked, bitten, hit with something or hit repeatedly, threatened with a gun or knife?
8) Before your 18th birthday, did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?
9) Before your 18th birthday, was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide?
10) Before your 18th birthday, did a household member go to prison?
I think everybody should take this test, especially people such as myself, who won’t believe the professionals, insisting that healing in such cases should be taken seriously. I don’t want to disclose my score but let’s just say, I should stop living in denial. Plus, it gave me an answer to a question that has always haunted me: when my brother and I had the same parents, why did I turn out like this and he could pass off as normal? Now I know.
For the past few months one has been very anxious. Due to which one has sought help from many professionals- spiritual healers, mental health professionals and of course from books (favourite teachers) and my own inner voice. I have major trust issues and the rumours surrounding one, have kind of aggravated those further, therefore, one was advised to not share anything, in order to not get more triggered.
Due to Covid, most of those chats have been telephonic, which wasn’t helping, as much, as my state required. One was told one could be suffering from various disorders, PTSD and BPD, based on genetics, my childhood and mood tests but a proper Bipolar assessment has been done and the results are yet to arrive. In the meanwhile, of course medicines have been prescribed but one is as adamant as one has always been; unwilling to go down the road-I’ve seem my mum & aunt, stumble upon. Having witnessed the consequences of medication, that will have to be the last resort. After SSR’s suicide, it has scared me further- I’m told I might take a drastic step if I don’t begin taking the meds, I find that highly unlikely. The pills nor the electric shocks, stopped my mother from attempting anything. The suppression of symptoms, is easy, working through your shit harder. I’ll just take my chances with therapy and alternative means of healing.
Anyway, as one moves forward in the journey towards mental health, I share with you something that might help you when you get beaten down. Though, I paid for my tests, as my case was a bit tricky and required a minuter assessment, any of these can be taken on the net and then a therapist can be consulted. Each time, I have taken one, the results have shown Bipolar 2. Whatever, it may be, in your case, a disorder, depression or existential angst, we all sometimes suffer from, journaling helps.
Someone suggested I make a list of habits that work for me and some that trigger me. This helped me to begin working on aspects, I could manage. This is what mine looks like, you can work on yours.