L;GHTS OFF PLEASE

Lights off please began with an opening monologue by Rochan Mathur, who played the part of a person grieving the loss of a friend by suicide.
Ravi P Sharma’s monologue was about a caregiver and his frustrations-‘the caregiver burnout’ was expressed beautifully. Those of us, who have seen it up, close and personal, could identify with the dialogues and the tone of this enactment, the most.
Preeti Agarwal Mehta’s monologue, was about the psychiatrist who has lost a patient to suicide. The director, Shruti Bijnoria, sew the three monologues, effectively but unfortunately no one played the part of the person, whose died by suicide.

The panelist- Dr Alok Bajpai is a consultant at IIT, Kanpur. I’m rarely intrigued by mental health professionals. But Dr Bajpai, had something that not many professionals have- a sensitivity, which can’t be taught or feigned. Of course, the way he used mythology and literature to elucidate his point of view, was very interesting. The ‘cry for help’, ‘the window’, that a person will give you to save them, when he/she is slipping, will always be there, when they grow too emotional or withdraw too much, that’s what you need to keep an eye on, was what he mentioned. If he was in Delhi, that’s the professional whose clinic I would be camped out in front of.
Dr Sujata Minhas, spoke about how she spearheaded a movement to make changes to the law, that punished a person who attempted to commit suicide. Thanks to her and other change makers, attempting suicide is no longer a punishable offence but abetment to suicide is.
Mr Rajinder Pal, spoke about the questions that arise in an analyst’s mind about their own mortality and their own existential angst, while listening to a patient. Honestly, it made me a bit uncomfortable, hearing an analyst give voice to the same questions that pop up in my head like ‘do you actually know what to do about this or are you as confused as I am?’ But having mulled over it, one realised only a brave man, says, on a public platform- this thing I’m supposed to be an expert on, I don’t know enough about.
Shubha Menon, who is currently writing her autobiography about living with Bipolar was part of the panel. Now, the sensitivity quotient in the room, which was filled with psychology students was a little low in any case, for my liking, with audience members giggling and talking ( you know how difficult it is to get young adults to pipe it down). But this took the entire bakery, for me. A round was opened up for questions to the esteemed panel. If you know me, you know I shy away from public speaking like it’s the plague. But one was moved by the play and the panel. So, inarticulate something- gibberish, spilt out of one’s mouth. After the event, a man approached me. We were in the middle of a sensitive conversation when Ms Menon, approached us and just kept standing there, waiting for us to end this serious conversation. Anyhow, long story…longer…this is the Vishesh tipani she gave me, ‘ You know my mother was bipolar, more than anyone in the world can be bipolar!’ I didn’t know where to look. ‘ Look at me, I am just fine! You are not your mother, okay!’ I shit you not, it took, everything inside me to restrain myself but in the end I just felt terribly sad for her child, who must be dealing with this regularly.
The event was organised by Saahita. Blessin Varkey and Chitra Kalyani, are the key members of the group, that advocates for mental health.

Aware?

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?’

Inside Out

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.

Rashmi’s Contemplations on Mental Health

Rashmi Divyam

How did you remain centered during the pandemic? Did your spiritual practice anchor you through the trying times?

The pandemic has been truly challenging for the entire world and it became absolutely essential for us to keep ourselves anchored and balanced in all aspects. Spiritual practices help us in a huge way to stay grounded, centered and deeply connected to what matters the most. I feel that our spiritual practice reminds us and keeps us bringing back to what gives meaning to our life. Certainly my spiritual practice supported me immensely to stay calm, grounded, aligned, connected, focused in countless ways and through that I have been able to cope up with the challenges that kept coming my way during difficult situations. It serves as a constant reminder to me that there’s something bigger than us, and that keeps me deeply anchored and helps me greatly in coming back to my center whenever needed. 

How were you introduced to Osho’s teachings? Any particular thought of his that resonates with you more than others?

I remember watching an evening show on Doordarshan channel during my school days, that was somewhere in early 1990s. They were showing ‘Whirling Meditation’ in an Osho Commune and everybody was dressed in long flowing maroon robes. In that moment I felt a strong connection and desire to be there. Later during my college days, whenever I would come across Osho’s quotes and articles, I felt a deep resonance with his writings and my inclination towards Osho gradually became stronger in a very subtle way. It was only in 2012, when I was in an extremely difficult situation in my life, and I felt a strong disconnect from everything and everyone I knew of at that point of time, somehow I landed in Osho Commune, Pune. And I felt such a strong sense of belonging there; it totally felt like being home to me and so much more than that I would say. I felt such deep love and acceptance of my being, for who I am and that was immensely huge for me, I never felt this way before. For the first time in my life, I felt I belonged, somewhere. 

I have always been a rebel. I could never accept false conditioning, the damaging patriarchy and the old belief systems of the society that no longer serves us. As I got to experience Osho meditations in the commune and I explored further through his writings and teachings, it all served as a healing balm soothing my heart and soul. Whether we agree to it or not on the surface, but I feel Osho’s  teachings somewhere deeply resonate with each of us.  

“Never belong to a crowd; Never belong to a nation; Never belong to a religion; Never belong to a race. Belong to the whole existence. Why limit yourself to small things? When the whole is available.”  ~ Osho 

How can Reiki help with mental health issues?

Research shows that Reiki primarily helps in the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression as well as relief from chronic pain. Reiki leads to a decrease in symptoms related to hypertension, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, mood disorders and stress. Reiki is deeply healing and helps clear mental blocks, bringing clarity and focus by balancing the energy centers, known as ‘Chakras’. Reiki works on all aspects – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

The human body has electrical and magnetic energies that flow through it and around living tissues, creating a magnetic field around the body. Pulsing magnetic fields from the hands of Reiki therapists are in the same frequency ranges that are optimal for stimulating tissue repair. Reiki brings to us what we need at the time, at any given moment. 

Have you had any particular point of desperation in your past that you look back at and realize it turned out for the best? In that moment what helped you the most?

 There have been many difficult situations or points of desperation in my past, and today when I look back I feel so thankful to all of that. There was a constant knowing that was telling me all along, nothing is permanent – “this too shall pass”. All that came my way only made me stronger and more determined to be my authentic self, live my soul purpose, and it all constantly nudged me to make the rest of my life the best of my life. Having given a chance, I wouldn’t want to alter or change any of that. All the learnings that have happened over the years and how everything has been taken care of by the Universe, it all makes me feel so very grateful from the bottom of my heart and opens me up further to trust the process and live in surrender to the universe. I have learned that our Creator is so generous and kind that He knows better than us what we can endure, what we deserve and what is good for us on the whole, rather than what we want for ourselves at any given moment. Of course we do need to make necessary efforts, and we are constantly supported and guided by a higher force all the way, I have no doubts about that. When we look at the bigger picture, we understand how everything falls back into place and how much we are loved and taken care of. It all makes me feel so grateful, thankful and blessed.  

“I am so grateful for the many times God has shown me the mercy of not giving me what I want. As I look back on my life I realize – every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better.” 


Since you are a mother of young adults and are also spiritually inclined, what suggestions can you give to parents about children’s mental well being? What sort of emotional tool kit do parents have to equip their kids with to go out in the world?

Unconditional love is the biggest gift that we, as parents, can truly give to our children. I am a mother of two young adults – I have a daughter who is 20 years of age and a son who is 16 years old and from my experience of raising two beautiful beings as a single mother, I would like to convey to all parents to provide their children with a nurturing and supportive ambience through unconditional love and a deep understanding of their emotional needs, respecting their space, trusting them fully and encouraging them to follow their passions, knowing and believing that there is a genius in every child. And in so doing, we discover that in the process children not only feel empowered to trust their own self and open up to their true potential, they also truly blossom as compassionate and confident individuals who know their worth and how they deserve to be treated. I read this beautiful quote somewhere- “Our greatest contribution may not be something we do but someone we raise.”

How do you remain spiritual and fierce at the same time? You come across as a person who is happy in their skin but who also speaks her mind. How do you balance the opposing traits within your being?

Well thank you for sharing this is how you see me as, and I am glad to know that this how I am perceived, today. But let me tell you, it has been a very long journey for me from then to now and in all these years a lot has happened. Yes, it took me a lot of inner work, self enquiry, contemplation and self reflection to open up my true authentic expression, my true authentic voice that was suppressed so much because of false conditioning, old belief systems that no longer serve us and all kinds of wrong ideas about how a woman “should be” and “shouldn’t be”. Now I feel, after all these years of hard work it all gets integrated into one’s personality and it all becomes so effortless because this is who we are today after all the learning and experiences get absorbed into one’s skin and bones. Today, everything has changed, I feel like a completely different version of myself, and yet I am more me than I have ever been. They say, fearlessness is not the absence of fear, it’s the mastery of fear and I feel I am still on my way, slowly and steadily getting there.  I feel so very deeply grateful to my parents, to my children, to all my Masters, to all my Teachers and my wonderful guides who have always been holding me energetically, supporting me with all their love, light and blessings. Heartfelt gratitude to all that is.

To contact Rashmi get in touch with her on FB/ Instagram.

Mandira Srivastava talks about mental health

Mandira Srivastava is a transactional analyst and mediator at Awaken The Dance Within.

How did you remain centered during the pandemic? Did your spiritual practice anchor you through these trying times?

Saadiya, I view the Pandemic as a reset in the world.

I have been living off the grid and in my rhythm for many years now. Yes my spiritual practices, which I also teach, helped me stay centered and energised, as they always do. In fact, because I could not move out much  I ended up working with lots more people and furthering my own educational qualifications. I also learned Spanish. The idea is to make the best of everything.

I celebrated through these times. The traffic stopped. The skies cleared up. More birds sang. People caught in the automaticity of life, were forced to rest and reconsider their existence.

Stops/ Resets are good to return to Consciousness.

I think dance is your main practice-whether it’s the sufi whirl, the Gurdfieff movements or Belly dancing. How do you think it helps in releasing angst?

Movement helps to shift and release energy. Done consciously, dance, or any other movement can support catharsis, including breathing exercises. I also practice Reiki, and counsel with Transactional Analysis. I am also a trained Trauma Release Therapist. All these methods allow for release of trauma.

I remember meeting you two decades ago and then having the privilege of meeting your spiritual guide. I find a lot of people being skeptical about not just religion these days but all kinds of spiritual healers. What are your thoughts on the importance of appropriate guidance?

I think when the Teacher is ready, the Learners will appear.  We each attract the experiences we have chosen for ourselves. Accordingly, we experience who and what we do. I am blessed to have found wise guidance at a time I needed it, and privileged to offer it to others in my turn.

People often want quick fixes. To transform requires perseverance, effort and most importantly the wish to change. It means self discipline and the ability to leave the known behind. It takes courage.

Sometimes the Teacher is not ready  sometimes the Learner!

As a single woman how do you navigate through Indian society, so cheerfully? What advice would you give people who get bogged down by expectations?

That would require a book! I think being self sufficient is crucial to navigating through any society. Self sufficiency, for me includes, having the courage to live my life on my terms, and in my rhythm and not letting others opinion of me matter, as much as my own opinion of myself.

‘ What others think of me is none of my business. ‘ My life is mine to co – create and celebrate. And as long as I am not disturbing others, I think I can do as I wish!

Favourite quotes or a song, you read or listen to on a hard day?

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am not for others, then what am I?

If not now, WHEN?

Rabbi Hillel

Passing Through….. Leonard Cohen

‘We are spiritual beings, having the occasional physical experience

Not the other way around’

( Not sure who all have said that)

To connect-Check out her Page on Fb- Awaken The Dance Within

Antaheen Komal’s thoughts on mental well being

Antaheen Komal is a spiritual healer: a family constellation practitioner, based out of Mumbai.

How did you remain centred during the pandemic? Did your spiritual practice anchor you through these trying times?

Since, I am a spiritual healer, my work and spiritual practise is one. During the pandemic, the energies were really high for me. It was a deep transformation time. I was guided by energies to host several workshops to contribute towards the creation of a New Earth. Work took new dimensions as it went online. The pandemic was a really busy time for me, it was highly enriching for the soul.

How do familial relations influence the individual psyche?

I work in the area of family constellation and ancestral lineage healing. In every therapy we have seen karma or emotional and psychological patterns of the family or childhood traumas affecting the individual. A child sometimes also expresses and compensates for something which has remained unexpressed in the family lineage.

How do you propose coming to terms with past hurts via the family constellation workshops?

When you see, acknowledge and name the entanglement as it is…the soul makes a movement. This is the basis family constellation work. We make the client see what is the root cause of an issue, acknowledge that yes! it is an issue, name it and then make a choice to move from the old space into a new space.

Is group work necessary or can the work be done individually?

The workshops can be conducted as a group workshop, as a private, individual session with other people as representatives or private individual session with puppets or paper representation. These can be done in person or online.

Contact- agarwalkomal@gmail.com

Eitu Vij Chopra Reflects On Mental Health

Mental health awareness month

Eitu Vij Chopra is a spiritual entrepreneur, Life and Mental Wellness Coach, Educationist, Writer, Poet and Just Another Volunteer.

How did you remain centred during the pandemic? Did your spiritual practice anchor you through these trying times?

Fear and uncertainty can play havoc with psychological as well as physiological goodness of the body and both of these emerged as big issues during the pandemic. The one sure short way that helped me was being purpose driven, grounded and joyous in creating something bigger than myself for the world and finding Joy in Giving.

So on the one hand a lot of volunteering went on, by way of being an aid and support to front line workers as mental wellness and holistic coach coupled with starting our #miLLLss ThemoJOsh Life Leadership Learning2Learn Success Summit; an online program for youth to help them bring to the forefront their passion and purpose and become passiopreneurs to create better world for self and others. To be able to accomplish the season 1 of it, we reached out to 100 plus self-driven passiopreneurs from across the globe and curated and recorded their learnings and insights for youth who had been left high and dry during the pandemic with no internships, no jobs or no colleges. (* passopreneurs are entrepreneurs who are led by their inner passion and fire not a job, money or title).

Yes, my spiritual practice of meditation and mindful conscious awareness helped me a lot to feel and feel that this too shall pass and let’s make some meaningful memories and learning out of it. Did a lot of Writing and Journaling as holistic health practice for anchoring the mind played a big role too and both of these therapeutic modalities have been proven through research to help anchor the mind in calmness and in here and now.

We all know the benefits of yoga for the body but can you tell us a little about how it helps to calm the mind?

Yoga is a game and play of breath as it uses our own energy source that is the breath know as Prana: breath recharge and energise our body and mind. Yoga for me is a way of everyday life to centre myself and also recharge all my energy centres. Full body cardio exercise like Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is a full body cardio exercise and manages to massage each inner vital organ and stretches every muscle of the body.

Yoga as I said above draws its energy from our breath so when practised with focus and right breath work of inhalation and exhalation brings the mind to NOW and helps to relax and stay mindfully distracted in a way that is long benefit.

Sometimes just sitting in simple Lotus posture or the Padmasana and focussing on your breath is a sure shot happy calming pill as it’s again proven that deep breath while in this pose the brain is calm and aids sleep and relaxes muscles.

Can you tell us a little about chakra balancing? What should a person do if they feel unusually distressed?

 Chakras are nothing but energy grids or power grids of the body that are around major organs and also around major glands in the body. They work in unison with neurotransmitters to carry energy and signals to the brain. So when our mind is heavy, stressed and depleted like in fear or anger our chakras get depleted and awry hence we feel depressed or less energetic and find our minds and bodies heavy.

This in comparison to easy, light, charged energy helps to keep us in now as well as  happy and moving like when we are joyous or in gratitude or practising empathy and compassion.

I practice 10 non-invasive and organic ways to help charge the chakras just as nature has designed it to be, through- sound therapy( natural sounds of the universe), yoga, colour therapy, nutrition or food ( raw), reflexology, crystals, visualisation, affirmations ( thoughts its part of Neuro linguistic Programming, aromas and mudras ( hand postures and pressure points).

Simple remedy I would tell people is to eat raw many coloured food and walk bare feet on grass to get natural antioxidants to calm your mind and bring the heart rate down. It has sure shot instant health benefit.

Not much is known about the mind, let alone about mental/mood disorders. Even now I see psychologists struggling to give a particular tag in a jiffy, since observation is so hard, unless a person is institutionalised. That is quite evident even in the Amber Heard trial; where she has been ‘accused’ of suffering from a ’border line personality disorder’ and a ‘histrionics personality disorder’. Do you think this vilification will make it more difficult for people to come forth with their problems? What are your thoughts on this labelling of mental conditions?

When there is a complex, complicated and sophisticated machinery like brain why can’t it act up like any other part of our body is the question to ask?

As a Mental health coach and therapist one major shift in mind set and narrative has to be to detaboo mental health issues and/or by giving it these big fancy names and then make people dependent on chemical suppressants that are never a cure or sustainable.

Time to accept mental health issues as regular human health issues and in need of intervention and mainstreaming as heart ailments or cancer, diabetes or let’s say skin issues and finding dialogue that is not self-defeating but empowering.

Vilification or taboo as I said earlier has to be completely omitted and we have to treat them as any normal health issues not even mental health issues to help them get acceptance as part of human life and journey. More talking and accepting at every level of family and society together will usher in this change. It’s OK not to be OK.  Seek help and no brandishing at all is the way forward for all genders and age groups and people across countries.

Does it help to label in order to heal, a person? Is it easier for you as a counsellor and a spiritual practitioner, to define or is the spiritual practice more fluid about such matters?

Labelling for research and medical cataloguing is fine as sometimes genetic or family history plays a role but the truth is 99.9% of human population suffers from some or the other mind issues which could be because of circumstances, hormones and food so labelling is a NO but at the same time awareness to seek help and get perspective and find within one’s own thinking to adapt to adept to find tools to cope with, is what I believe in. I help my clients to become aware and educated with the functioning of their own body and mind and to think and find answers and help them with tools that will aid them in their hour of need, The story is always inside out and I believe in empowering not taking away the power which modern medicine does.

Spiritual or non-invasive tools that I mentioned above help get clarity and our thoughts have potency to change our personal reality and tonality. So I lay a lot of emphasis on something that I developed called Talk Therapy which is fluid yet structured conversation that helps to find triggers and once we are deft at identifying them we know them and handle them better and help ourselves. It’s an art learnt slowly but surely that has benefited each client. Secondly, whatever goes in our gut brain that is food or mind brain has to be in our control only then we can manage good, mind health. So awareness is paramount.

It’s easier to pin down disorders when people are melancholic but there are many symptoms. Is there anything in particular that you would want people to watch out for, especially in teens?

The major symptom for teens is when they stop being teens and stop doing the fun, stupid, normal things and are more brooding and pensive then that’s the time to watch out.

Secondly, everyone in the society or support system or family or parents should be laying importance on talking of taboo / bothersome things to teens as it should be fine to talk anything without being judgemental about teens. This is a collective call to all of us.

Thirdly a lot of issues in teens are due to cocktail of hormonal surges happening and coupled with wrong kind of food that could be processed or junk food that leads to mind issues and go utterly undiagnosed.

To get in touch

Email at- eitu.vijchopra@gmail.com

Facebook-

https://www.facebook.com/EituVijChopra/

Depression in teens

This month we’ll be sharing the opinions of people who help others to deal with their angst. Since, one went through a period of masochism as a teenager-when one would just leave the house in the middle of the night, cut oneself and be totally erratic, one feels parents should be aware of children who act out and get them the necessary help, before it gets out of hand. Melancholy, is not the only symptom. What may come across as puberty or rebellion, may be something far more serious, which left unresolved can create lasting issues for any individual.

This is from an article which was published in Manorma-

‘If a child is sad, it doesn’t mean he has depression. It’s when that sadness stays with him day after day, when depression may be an issue. Other than this if the child has disruptive behaviour that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork or family life. These can also be signs of a problem.’

Please pay attention to these warning signs-

1) Sadness that lasts an extended period of time.

2) Aggressive behaviour and impulsiveness.

3) Thoughts or talk of self harm.

4) Thought or talk of harming another.

5) Thoughts or talk of death or suicide.

6) Thoughts or talk of perpetual guilt or worthlessness, almost everyday.

7) Lack of sleep or excessive sleep.

8) Restlessness or a slowing down of bodily movement.

9) Overeating or a loss of appetite.

10) Aches and pains, fatigue, headaches or digestive problems.

11) No pleasure in activities that were enjoyed, otherwise.

12) Social withdrawal- limited interactions with others or turning excessively argumentative.

There are various kinds of depression and not everyone has the same symptoms. Please pay attention to unusual behaviour, that can only be figured out by someone extremely close and get the teen, the help they require.

Mental Health Awareness Month

India Art Fair- 2020-2022- Barely Surviving
Art Walk at the India Art Fair

Since, my mum’s birthday and the mental health awareness month, coincided with the Art Fair, this time one decided to show a series of work which reflects the past two years of our lives.

This is the concept note of the exhibit-

We all hide parts of ourselves that we afraid of or ashamed of due to the fear of rejection and ridicule. The first day, I couldn’t stand being at the fair but by the second day, I was more comfortable in my skin than I’ve ever been, today one is joyful, happier than I’ve been in a long time! This year and this fair will remain etched in my memory.

This month at a 100 pieces of me, we will be discussing mental health. Stay tuned.

MCM 1-111

My latest body of works, is a record of the last two years of my existence. Titled, 2020-2022- barely surviving, they are going to be up at stall no D-5 at the India Art Fair. It’s an ode to my Mum, who passed away in 2020 and to the series of events that one faced after that. If you are one of the few people, who actually likes me, don’t worry, I’m in a much better place- emotionally and psychologically.

One had apprehensions about sharing it but one’s works right from the word go, have been a record of one’s journey. Since, history is written by the rich and powerful ( by the winner) just making sure, ‘her story is written by her!’, flawed as it it may be. Motto in life- ‘You’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud!’

One hopes that one day, that shouting will be something akin to Harry Styles’ and Louis Tomlinson’s videos, hiding deep love or like Mann’s work about her children but as of now, the photographs are what seem like a ‘perpetual self indulgence’, as I call it under the garb of ‘ making it okay for masochistic little girls, everywhere!’ Self deprecating, much? Just a little. But it is what it is! This is who I am, right now, take it or leave it! Angry, depressed, anti social …right now…tomorrow I will be something else. But this will lurk from, the shadows always…like it always has. One could, do what the mind says and project something else- nicer, pleasanter, more positive like all humans beings love but SC, needs her outlets, otherwise she will come apart at the seams.

Here is a description of what the MCM1-III, test entails. Like I keep saying, this should never be shared with anyone so please be very discreet about your mental condition. In my case, I’ve been sticking it up to the world since I was very young, plus, I have nothing or no one to loose and much to gain from this. Closure for one, cleaning house for another and just for hope. One wishes to just close this and someday find someone I think I can be with, not having to worry about the sword dangling above my neck or about what anyone will tell him. I’m just going to be like, ‘read this…see this and then lets take it from there!’ Love does have a way of saving us, for now, I make do with the moon.

Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale

Each of us comes into the world with our own worldview and that worldview is actually shaped from the crib. You get from the world what you project into the world and you project into the world what you were raised with and what you were raised around. So the question to ask isn’t what is wrong with you? The question to ask someone who seems different is what happened to you?’- Dr Perry

One has been rather quiet about one’s journey towards calmness for various reasons. Well wishers, advice me, that a person in my position, with no backing other than her own, shouldn’t show her vulnerability to all and sundry, it could lead to hassles, later. But one throws caution to the wind, like one always has because well, if I don’t, then how does a regular Joe do it? I grew up around mental illness and thankfully, I am a single woman the society can’t yank around because there ain’t going to be no freaking legal guardian and there’s already a ‘incase I go totally bonkers’ plan in place! So, no, no one can lock me away or give me electric shocks! Ya, the plus sides of being a little nuts, always prepared for the worst case scenario.

Anyhow, we all wish to leave a legacy. Mine, is going to be always upsetting the apple cart. When I die, my desire, is that people should say ‘ She always did exactly what she wanted…she never listened to anyone, other than herself!’ My soul is going to pao bhangara, at that moment. If even one person, says I was nice, my dead body is going to barf on the poor unsuspecting creature! So, since I have such noble aspirations, you can figure out in what direction my moral compass points. Oh, honey, come on, chill, we all got to make fun of ourselves!

Anyhow, one digresses- one can’t live in this sort of closet. So, I’ll take my chances, roll the freaking dice, there are too many people out there who never say, what’s going on in their heads, out of fear of ridicule and judgement. Aur janeman humrae paas to kuch bhi nahi hai gavane ko, to hum kyun dare? Here we are, ready to catch the raging bull by it’s horn. One will be sharing, various aspects of one’s journey like what kind of tests were done and what were the results. I did share a post about the ink blot test, in the morning. That test was rather interesting. Books, recommendations from the spiritual kinds, quotes etc have helped. Most human beings, in my case aggravate the situation, other than my male friends, who entertain me with their antics, so one tends to stay away, but in my mum’s case, she felt calmer around other people. So, you choose your poison, one handles aloneness, better, It’s a good idea to go for psychometric testing, especially if like me you have issues conforming and you need conclusive evidence before believing anyone. The results may surprise you pleasantly or they may come as a rude shock but what’s the point of not knowing yourself , when that’s the only person whose going to be with you, all the time?

Some very important pointers. Most mood disorders/ mental illnesses stem up before a person hits 25. So, anyone with a mental/ mood disorder, would have had their first episode or episodes in the earlier phases of their life . This differs from what we call depression, which is a loosely used term these days. There are induced states of depression- drug/ alcohol induced, postpartum depression ( after a child is born), depression after loosing a job or on retirement, separation, grief induced etc. These are circumstantial and should in normal cases, last for a certain duration of time. These vary from a genetic disposition and that is why there is in depth enquiry about family history, when you go in for a regular psych interview.

Most of my test results were spot on, other than the alcohol dependency, where the score was high, purely due to genetic disposition from both sides of the family. So, since one barely drinks in any case, one has reduced it even, further. These are all screenshots of my actual reports, with the shrink’s description about the tests which were conducted. I know in a court of law, these results could be used against a person, during a divorce proceeding so I would suggest never sharing such things with anyone.

Rorschach Test

5 a.m. Neither the tree outside the office nor the walks on the factory floor nor the Larry Stylinson videos on loop, help to calm down the mind.

I read the test results again and again. This particular test and its results help. Since last year, one’s used all the findings, from my terribly detailed inspection by the shrink, like an astrological chart or tarot reading. Have the same, ‘wait I’ll show you’ defiance towards them, that one has towards everything. ‘Cope better idiot, normal people don’t get swayed by emotions!’ screams SB. I don’t know whether I should be more afraid of the one who hyperventilates in the middle of the night or the one who is capable of saying the most viscous things. One cares and the other saves her, I guess. SC, seems to be the child ego state and SB, the parent, the adult ego state I’m sure doesn’t exist, in my psyche.

Breathe in…breathe out. Think about home…about green grass and under open skies…the moon…we have nothing and no one left to loose….relax… shhh!

Myths Regarding Mental Health

youtube.com/watch

Though we have someone like Deepika Padukone, trying to create awareness about mental health, the stigma around it is terrible. I saw an interview where she admitted, ‘ I was on set, working and no one knew what was going on!’ I’ve had people, try to convince a person (me) who has innumerable cut marks on the body, whose stomach has been pumped for overdosing on pills twice before she even hit eighteen and who goes days at a time, not getting out of bed and still struggles with masochistic tendencies that ‘psychologists’ are just trying to swindle my money and that’s how the ‘spiritually inclined take advantage of weak people such as myself’ and ‘other people have bigger problems but they don’t succumb’. Oh yeah, this is a classic, ‘ if you remain busy, you won’t have the time to think negative thoughts’ and ‘this is what happens when you’re an atheist!’. Please watch this. Don’t send it to the ignorant souls surrounding you because your well being is probably not on their mind. But do seek help.

After struggling for decades with my condition, mostly denying it in order to remain ‘sane’, it’s only now that I realize, accepting is the best way to deal with it. One’s benefitted a great deal from therapy over the past six months…the only reason I don’t write about it or share anything about it anymore is due to the terrible push back, scrutiny and criticism, my seeking help has gotten me from ( most of my) friends and family, who read about it on this platform. I hope you have support and even if you don’t there are loads of strangers out there who will help you…as long as you’re willing to help yourself. Godspeed.

How does it get better?

After a long time I caught up with the girls, today. The conversation drifted from this, that, to the other and somehow landed on depression. A friend was feeling a little low, so it steered to the taboo topic and I shared with them, that I’d been taking help for a while, now. ‘ Do these sessions help?’, they asked. That is a highly debatable topic.

So I’m thinking about this, sitting on my couch in the factory- Did all of it help? Nope. Was some of it a waste of money? Yes! Was it a waste of time? Not at all and time dearies, is what one considers most precious ( now you know why stingy me, spends such little of it with other people). One’s flirtatious by nature, so one doesn’t mind the quest. But if you’re looking for sure shot, quick fixes then don’t go down the path, that I did. The quickest and most effective way, they say is medication, which I hope to God, I don’t have to take in this lifetime. But considering how things are, menopause is going be the decider. The things that helped me to pull myself out of sheer helplessness and the worst kind of suicidal thoughts, I’d had in a long time was self analysis and the most rotten things I could say to myself.

1) Affirmations-Ironic as that may sound, my overthinking, self critical brain is supposed to be my biggest problem but SB needs to give SC an ass whopping, so that worked for me. When I was younger I would actually hurt myself (don’t try it). But as a grown up- ‘I’m so peaceful…so good, lad lad di dah!’ all those affirmations don’t work on me. Criticism….works like magic. But try them, affirmations work on most people most of the times. You’ll find enough- Day Meditations and Night Meditations on YouTube, Calm or any Music App for that matter. Louis Hay is the queen of it all!

2) Meditate- Breathing in, breathing out, when you’re agitated may work on some people but my brain gets damn pissed. So I’ll be sitting with my eyes closed and ‘ what is this?’ plays on my mind on a loop. Try meditating, it helps most people. Nature has a calming effect on me, especially water bodies, tend to suck out bucket loads of my angst. I think, the most profound effect, any kind of meditation other than the Sufi whirl has had on me, was a mediation session that was conducted in Rishikesh. I released more pain sitting on a rock, weeping, than in any counselling session.

3) Know your madness- Depression is the most loosely used word these days. There are various kinds of mood and mental disorders. So, if you don’t feel like yourself, talk to an expert because trust me most human beings are not only ignorant and ill informed, they’re also judgemental as hell. The classic signs, loosing weight, sadness etc are easy to diagnose but there are many different symptoms, so the opposite like gaining weight, severe agitation, disturbed sleep and fatigue, go undetected. Plus postpartum depression, bipolar, borderline, anxiety, trauma, schizophrenia can’t be diagnosed by a lay person. In my case, thankfully, my mum was correctly diagnosed after much trial and error. So, the doctors knew the history plus it’s easier for me to catch myself slipping, it’s manageable because I saw my mum. My diagnosis, too has been a rollercoaster from Trauma to Boderline Personality to Bipolar because it takes a while to narrow it down. Meds for most of these and even Epilepsy are the same.. so it varies between shrink to shrink. Trust me your neighbourhood aunty, doesn’t know you better than you know yourself. If you don’t watch yourself, one day they’ll say you’re feigning it…after a few years they’ll give you shocks and I’m terrified of that shit. You don’t want to end up like Kanye or like my mum, in a psychiatric ward for that matter.

4) Surround yourself with life affirming individuals- This is the key. There’s a very interesting quote, by Freud, to the effect- ‘before you diagnose yourself with depression, make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes!’ I agree. Most people, most of the times are afraid to live their lives according to their own rules. So they tend to follow everything that society, religion, and their parents have dumped on them. Most people are like Mary’s little lamb. If you’re one of those, surround yourself with like minded people they’ll do wonders for your self esteem. But if you’re not, find your crazies. A handful are good enough, to get you through the madness of this existence without loosing your shit. My male friends have held on to my sanity, for me the past two years by showing up, to cheer me up or just for a quick drive, even a quick pep talk. So, find your people. The wisest thing someone said to me recently about feeling torn between two things- ‘ Think that photography is your passion and the factory is your work and security. You’ll be able to do justice to both!’

5) Be inspired- Books are more inspiring than people for me. But in reality, there are everyday heroes all around us. A few weeks ago, I went through my friend list on Fb and found more than a few hundred women, just from my own list whose stories are incredible. I sat and went through a few timeliness and was awe struck by their grit and awesomeness- artists, intellectuals, journalists, activists, models, mothers and businesswomen, just kicking ass. What struck a chord, was someone who lost both her parents, at an early age, is a director of more than ten private limited firms and successfully manages not only her father’s travel business but also her own beauty business. So, everything is doable. As the saying goes- If you want to travel, don’t take the advice of someone who hasn’t left their house.

6) Follow a religion- Coming from me, it sounds rather hypocritical but religion has some great benefits. Confession I think is good for the soul, meeting for a Sunday mass can give you a sense of community, doing wazoo five times a day can calm your mind, it’s also great for your skin. Then namaz of course is a great form of exercise akin to yoga. Seva is the easiest way to feel better about your self and your life by being useful to someone else. Sitting in a temple activates the chakras and ringing the bells can remove negative thoughts. I think one of the reasons so many of us struggle emotionally is because we don’t follow a path, that guides us in our times of trouble. I don’t follow a particular path but one tends to use many of these methods and tries to find answers from various sources. If you follow a particular religion and can dismiss anything that seems outdated from it and follow the things that are relevant, more can be found in those books than anywhere else.

7) Let Jordan Patterson give you an ass whopping- So, one of the most controversial figures on the Internet, hated by feminists or anyone who isn’t right wing, is someone who has ironically helped me, loads. I like tough love….it works on me. I don’t agree with his views on monogamy and he does come across as intolerant and conservative at times but a lot of what he writes and says, helps. My biggest takeaway, has been- ‘ always be the most useful person in the room!’ and ‘take on more responsibility’. I like anyone who doesn’t ask you to shirk you responsibilities towards others or towards yourself. It’s harder but doable.

8) Create- Make some music, create a piece of art or redo a house. I tried all, other than photography, which seems to be the most effected whenever I struggle, emotionally. The rest helped. Give it a shot. It may not turn out to be a Van Gogh but we ain’t ready to cut off anything just about yet. Find solace in the fact, that most people with mental illness, who refuse to take medication are in fact artists.

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!

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.

Central Problem

The central problem is not that you think too highly of yourself. Nor is it that you think too lowly of yourself. Instead, it is that you think constantly of yourself.’ -Wu-Hsin

One tried to run away from it, cheat it akin to how people try to cheat death. ‘When you get married, you will have to be very careful. When you make babies it will create problems!’ Here one is, neither married nor with babies and yet it stares me right in the face! Mocking me, almost! How do you run away from your inherent nature? You can’t but you surely try with all your might!

Did I Go Mad…

Did I Go Mad- Elise Cowen

A couple of days ago, a friend rang to find out if everything was alright. ‘You’ve not been ranting on your blog, when you’re quiet I worry about what is going on in your head, much more!’ she sounded concerned. Sometimes, I forget this is not one of my random notebooks lying around the house with all kinds of arbitrary information jotted in it but a blog that some, albeit a few people read.

What is going on in my head? Melancholy has come to embrace me, like it does…twice a year by the clock, a couple of weeks are harder but nothing to fret over, one bounces back like one invariably does. All kinds of inanimate objects ( that seem more real than most actual people do) surround one. The advantages of being a bibliophile with a terrible memory, I sometimes find poems and prose from a decade ago, that have vanished from my memory. My lack of recollection is no ways implies that the words aren’t par excellence, I invariably forget most of what I did and read, even a day before (The main purpose of maintaining this blog, is to help me remember).

How could I forget this brilliant, Jewish, suicidal woman who slept all day and used black slang? If you know me, you would know why I would like her.

Check her out. This is the last poem she ever wrote-

No love

No compassion

No intelligence

No beauty

No humility

Twenty seven years is enough.

Mother- too late- years of meanness- I’m sorry.

Daddy- What happened?

Allen-I’m sorry

Peter-Holy Rose Youth

Betty-Such womanly bravery

Keith- Thank you

Joyce- So girl beautiful

Howard-Baby take care

Leo- Open the windows and Shalom

Carol-Let it happen

Let me out now please-

Please let me in.

Hmmm

We are all controlled by our vices, till we don’t learn to control ourselves. Or is it just, my wrath, that takes over me? You reach a point, at least I do, where you’ve been listening to all kinds, of what seems to me as bullshit and then I explode!

But one has to ask oneself, what is the point of all of this life experience, if your Achille’s heel is so easily exposed? If having great gut instincts is just going to make one furious, isn’t it better to be oblivious to the truth? Isn’t that misdirected passion and sensitivity just as bad as all my other masochistic tendencies because it causes, if not more then almost as much harm to the body?

Don’t be like me! Anger intrinsically, causes harm to the body, is a waste of your precious time and energy and on the other hand anyone with an agenda will use it. If you’re scared of the dark and people know, they will use it to scare you, right? Same, if people know you’re going to get triggered, they will trigger you, for sure. Something, so frivolous as someone out of sheer jealousy, can indulge in all kinds of malicious gossip that started at my mother’s funeral and it just doesn’t stop, for an entire year isn’t a good enough reason for you to get so triggered as to destroy all your relationships. That is the goal of the person and you will end up damaging your health and your self esteem, eventually.

It baffles most people, how information travels at the speed of light. It’s easy, humans are driven by a need to share information once they receive it, so the person you will tell, will tell another and the grapevine will buzz with it. Everyone wants to tell you, what they’ve heard about you, they say knowledge is power and nobody who has power will not exercise it. In my case, everyone’s figured out you just have to drop the hints and she’ll piece it together, that’s my freaking double edged sword. Knowing other’s intentions ain’t rocket science, controlling your own reactions to them for me, is as tough as going to Mars. Sometimes, the misanthropic me wants to just go there but if one keeps having these fight or flight reactions, then I will end up in a brawl with a Martian. Now, the people and especially the men who’ve loved me, adore this trait and are usually amused by, all the drama, that the raging bull creates, women I’ve been told are rarely this aggressive but this level of reactivity is damaging.

The boy I spent the maximum time with loved comedy. He himself had a wicked sense of humour, like my dad and till date when I watch, read or hear anything funny it reminds me of him. That may have gone kaput but one has many things to thank him for, amongst them, introducing me to all kinds of comedians is on the list. So this came from an older black comic, can’t recall his name. He made an astute statement of how we got to pay for our privileges with our silence, how a fat person can body shame a thin person but to do that the other way round, is insensitive. A person who has less money, can pass snide comments or question another’s wealth but the reverse of it is insensitive! The crux of it is was something like this and that’s how the joke carried on. The more shit you have, the more shit you got to listen to was the gist of it. There aren’t any free lunches and a few snide comments or some gossip that ain’t going to matter to anyone who wants to deal with you in the end, is the price you got to pay for the life you lead, just roll with it!

As a child that’s all I dealt with: incessant gossip. My mother was too damn different so you can’t even begin to imagine the things that were said behind her back and to my face. People forget children remember, I spent majority of my life disliking and slightly afraid of other people and to counter it developed this response. It’s either my shell or my quills, most people encounter. But that’s a terribly unhealthy response. ‘ I don’t know!’ saying that perpetually is part of it I was told in therapy when I was younger but you know I don’t agree with it anymore. Maybe like they said, when I say I don’t know as a protective defense mechanism, I’m also telling myself that, which isn’t a good idea, to repeat something like this to oneself. But most people don’t need to know, what you know, so zip it. So now I’ve developed a new thing, someone tells me day is night, night is day, I say hmmm! Someone will tell me two plus two is five hundred I say hmm, correct. If you figure out other people’s intentions the reaction can’t be anger. It has to be hmmm! I’ve decided to argue and get angry with only the ones I love. There’s a breach in your defence mechanism if every rocket that comes at you, causes an explosion. Develop a Kippat barzel, your Iron Dome to protect from internal damage. But don’t be like Israel and react to the rockets. Be stronger, be wiser, don’t be like me or just react with hmmm to this rant, as well.

Random thoughts

Some nights, one longs to hear, ‘ don’t worry I got you. This too shall pass and I’ll be by your side as this rips you apart.’ Then one remembers, one is trying so hard to be one’s own hero! But old habits, die hard!

The Father, goes on and on about dying and mostly one lets it pass but these days, the humour is lost on me. ‘Find yourself a boy before I do!’ he says. ‘ If God wanted me to stay with one man, why has he made so many?’ I reply. The joke ( truth) doesn’t land well. ‘ I have you to fight with, what do I need a man for?’ this he gets.

The favourite topic of discussion, in our house of course has always been dying. So, a list of instructions are yelled at me, ‘ If I fall ill, hire a male attendant. You aren’t going to take me to the toilet. Don’t come to the hospital, you have to run my factory. Don’t do this pakhaand baazi when I die, no kirtan and all for me. Throw a party!’ It goes on and on, without a thought, about how I will manage. But, I’m superwoman, you see.

I saw the Meghan Markle interview and realized that, my whining must sound like that to people. Of course your feelings are valid but when you’re privileged, your issues seem rather superficial to people who are trying to make ends meet, especially at this time. Not to discount my feelings or hers but we live in a world, where materialistic comfort tops everything else and if you have it, you have to at some point learn to suck it up. ‘How’s are you?’ should be replied with ‘Great!’ and ‘how are things?’ with ‘ just peaches’. While the world sleeps, the fortress can turn into a home, the quills can be removed and masks can slowly be taken off, albeit for a little while.

Her life gets me through some nights

A prescription from 1998. The earlier ones from Dr Kothari, I think, must have got misplaced when we moved homes.

Some nights I struggle, more than others and then the life of the woman, who bore me flashes through my semi sleep state. The ego reminds me to not become a foregone conclusion and these prescriptions save me from myself.

Though her official name was Deepika Kochar, all the prescriptions before I started taking her (much later) to the doctors were made in the name of Neera (which is her nick name). My aunt, who was a like a mother to my mum, used to take her to see the all the doctors, when we were little.

The suicide attempt after I was born should have been a red flag. Postmartem depression is a real thing. Each time I would ask my mum what brought it on, she would reply, ‘your grandfather went on a holiday and came back with gifts for his other grandchildren but nothing for you! I could bear how badly he treated me but I couldn’t take it when he treated you the same way!’ Needless to say, our relationship with our grandfather remained the same out entire lives, he never brought us anything or spoke much to us and though I will always regret not knowing my grandmother better, I have no such feelings for the one, who threw my mum out of the house. My parents moved into a rented apartment and that’s where my brother was born. A few years after my brother’s birth, there was another one. About the self immolation, all she would say, ‘ Your father and I were fighting and I was getting too agitated. I spilt perfume on myself and set myself on fire.’ I remember returning from a relative’s house and the help showing the nine year old me, my mother’s burnt clothes. ‘ Yeh dekh tumhari mummy ne kyaa kara!’

I grew up disliking my mother. The father, I adored till the first time, I saw him beating her and then went on to take out his frustrations on me. The only one who I considered home and family, growing up was my brother, much like the protagonist from Dear Zindagi. The mother was too different from everybody else for me to have any understanding of where she was coming from. People, didn’t make it easy either. Everybody those days, would talk about her- my father, his family, even her own family, up until her stroke. Though, I was always asked to take care of my brother and her, nobody told me that her behaviour was driven by her disease and that she required love. My own loneliness, my own struggles with my dark side, with my sexuality made me empathise with her, too late in life. But I think she lived as long as she did, inspite of all her attempts and illnesses because I was supposed to mend my relationship with her. That went on to help in saving me, from my own self.
Mum’s addiction to Corex went on for a long time. Every year, she would be hospitalised.
I hate when people blame my brother’s death for her depression and my father’s alcoholism. Though, it’s very convenient, it’s an absolute lie. It also mitigates, and disrespects all of my mother’s struggles with her own demons. My Ma, was born a fighter, if you ever saw her throwing a fit or in a hospital, scratching, biting and abusing two, three people at the same time (who were trying to hold her down) you would know, where I get my fighting spirit from. She was a terribly sensitive, sensuous, flawed woman who could only be controlled with love and was way ahead of her times. Though, being her child was never easy, it required for me to mother her, it was an absolute privilege knowing her. She is one of the rare people I know, who actually got better with age, less temperamental, more loving and truly apologetic for what she made us go through as kids. The only reason, I managed to forgive her is because she reciprocated my efforts with so much love, that the last few years of her life became her swan song, to me.

Versions

It’s one of those days, when the fear of living, just grips my gut and makes me absolutely useless. So, I lie under the covers, staring at the shiny disco ball that hangs from my ceiling. Hours pass by, it’s mid afternoon and even the morning Zumba session, hasn’t helped. ‘Ma’am energy kahaan he?’ screamed the instructor. ‘ Not well, let’s just do something slow, today,’ I replied.

The pre menstrual days are the worst. From hysteria to hopelessness, the moods fluctuate like a pendulum. ‘Pregnancy will turn you into your mum,’ they had warned. I think, her not being around will make me forget, just how scary this place is. ‘ Don’t think about your conversations. I know you, you talk to people and then think for hours- why? what? how? Just concentrate on your work, that keeps you fine,’ the Wall, tried to calm me down, last night. He tries so hard, to stop me from falling down this rabbit hole.

I know you! Isn’t it a strange sentence? I wonder which version of one, do people actually know. The one that smiles and says, yes, I’m fine? The one that lies in bed crying for hours, staring at nothing, paralysed by the fear of tomorrow? The one that falls repeatedly and picks herself each time or the one that wonders if it’s better to just remain on the ground?

Then there are the Phd holders, who claim to be an authority on the subject of moi. Their claim to fame, having known me the longest. Having no man around, means that no one can question, ask, manipulate, anyone else to get to know or pass on messages to me. If it’s about forewarning me, convincing me about calming down, not writing about my feelings, definitely not talking about them, (anything that shows anyone in a bad light) basically, these are the ones who are contacted. Then, randomly in an oh so subtle way, things are said.

Normally, you would say, time is of consequence. But how much can you know about someone who is like a chameleon? Between SB and SC, even I get confused. What you know, about anybody, at anytime, is just their past-their past actions, reactions etc. In fact, that’s all we know about ourselves and yes, there are things about a person, that remain the same, there’s no denying that. But which one do you claim to know and have become an authority on? I sometimes want to ask, the gossipmongers.

Do they refer to the one year old, who loved her dad so much, that she would clap when he would see him, coming on his scooter? The two year old, who apparently loved to eat so much, that she would end up eating breakfast, multiple times, with all her relatives? ‘Khaa’, she would say and stick her tiny hand out, asking for food, I’m told. The six year old who did kathak, even performed on stage, but was so painfully shy, that she had one friend in school and one friend in the colony? The seven year old who got burnt and till date is afraid anything hot? The nine year old who came home to her mother’s burnt clothes? The ten year old who stabbed a servant in his hand, when he tried to touch her or the twelve year old whose tutor, actually managed to get his hand into her shirt?

No, these are not the versions, anyone, will talk about. These make them very uncomfortable. So, let me tell you about the ones, they like to talk about. Lets remove the sword that people, think they hold over my neck. The salacious, Bollywood type scandal of my life, from the age of fourteen to thirty five is what, they all love. This is of course full of men and drama. I wish my love life, was anyone’s concern but considering I am unmarried, nothing in the world, including my father, can stop me from being with however many men I want to. Though my Dad, thinks all this is just society’s hypocrisy. I come from a slightly different family- he very honestly did put up on FB, even when my mum was alive, that he was in an open relationship. Though, somethings one will never talk about, none of those have anything to do with my own life.

As far as my men and then later boys are concerned, other than the one, I would probably never get over, who too is about to, everybody is married, happily or not, the jury is out on that. So, just for the sake of that, one refrains from discussing the exes, in detail which gives people the impression, that it’s something that they hold over me. I digress but let me tell you, a secret about men. A woman’s apparent ‘loose character’ never, ever, makes her less appealing to a man. It is only when he wants to get married, that he wants the angel and even then, a lot of them don’t remain faithful to these women. So, my reputation, that people keep talking about, actually helps me. Anyone who gets involved with me, already know, what he’s getting into.

You must be wondering, why this whining? There’s just so much drama, around me right now. Back and forth phone calls, discussions, that now have started affecting my work and psyche. I never, ever want to go through loosing a parent and having my love life, being discussed with her dead body in the room, again. It’s a really tough year and I can’t keep this sword on my neck and this baggage on my back. So, just bear with me.

Of course, there’s other stuff too- running away in the middle of the night, just walking in the dark for hours and returning after blowing off steam, the cut addiction, suicide attempts, shifting from one school to the other at sixteen because I was so depressed, I locked myself up, didn’t clear my exams and had to move to another school. No one will tell you, how many things I aced at after that, there’s no fun in telling those stories. Honestly, these days, I forget too. But thankfully, I have people who remind me, repeatedly. They tell me, this is also something, I will look back at and say, I dealt with but I keep feeling, SB won’t be able to handle it, with just her anger. The other one, will send the system spiralling out of control.

P.S- I should send this post out to prospective suitors and employers. 🤭 Thankfully, the art world is a good place for broken people. Like the Japanese, they put gold on the cracks and admire them.