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!

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

Notes for the suicidal teen

There’s something about being on the road for long periods of time, that is meditative in nature. Of course, there are many fleeting thoughts that catch one’s fancy, memories hang from a tree somewhere and faces appear and disappear with the sprinkles of rain but all in all, there is mostly inner silence.

On my birthday, I saw a video on an acquaintance’s wall…something about plastic. I don’t recall the video, just the first still. A plastic bag covering a man’s face. Reminds me of the last time I tried to kill myself, something I had found on Google and watched in a film, where the killer suffocates the victim with plastic and then chops her up. Fortunately, I was discovered by someone who has made it his mission in life to get my ass out of trouble. It was a nice reminder of how low, low can feel, on the day I was born-it was a lovely birthday present. Like Javed Akhtar says-‘Khudd khushi kyaa dukho ka hal banti…maut ke khudd sau jhamele the. Hum to bachpan mein bhi akele the. Sirf dil ki gali mein khele the.’

Suicide! It’s funny when Dharmendra yells, ‘Mausiji suicide!’, in Sholay. In real life, I can’t begin to describe the mix of desperation, loneliness and courage it takes. Ya, I know people always say it is an act of cowardice, but people say a lot of things like parrots, thoughtlessly repeating something they heard, read or were fed, without feeling or thinking, much. Is it a cry for help? Sometimes, but in my case I think it has been conditioning, something I learnt was a solution when life got tough.

I was nine when my mom tried to kill herself. She has bipolar disorder, I won’t say suffers from because it makes her who she is-unlike anyone I have met! Her entire life has been one long attempt at trying to destroy herself, through drug abuse and suicide attempts, a punishment she induces on herself for not being like everyone else. I learnt the tricks of the trade, early. By my adolescent years, I was a professional masochist (my celoids are a good reminder of those days)
and before I turned 18, I had been hospitalised twice for overdosing on pills. Two stomach pumps and a loving boyfriend and his family later, I calmed down. I discovered the one thing that saved me and continues to till date-photography. Shrinks? Well, a few did make some failed attempts on me but I am my mother’s child! Besides, no outsider can teach you self worth. 

It was in my early thirties, when I felt the same kind of thing. It’s like being an alcoholic, you got to admit that you are one to deal with. I somehow managed to forget. I somehow believed that if I had not done anything after my brother’s passing, I had miraculously become so strong that life could not bring down. But bang, I was there in the same spot. 

Over the past few years, I have thought many a times about this. I recently saw a video where the orator, an actor was talking about his life and trying to reach out to people, especially children who feel so alone that they want to kill themselves. It made me think- If I was asked to tell a child not to want to kill himself/herself what would I say?

If you have thoughts of suicide, it’s probably because are in a situation that you feel you can not handle. Know that it’s okay to not know where life is taking you. It’s fine. We don’t always need to know. The adults don’t know either! If they do, it’s something that was scripted for them by their loved ones. If you’re lost, you will find your own way.

You are alone! Learn that as quickly as you possibly can. You came alone and you will die alone. In between you will find people who will walk with you for a while. Don’t wait to not feel alone. Infact, embrace it. That’s where you will derive your strength from. But don’t let yourself get lonely. Aloneness is the ability to embrace your own self, loneliness is a sadness about being on your own, a hole nothing can fill.

If you have these thoughts, it is probably because you don’t feel who you are is enough or that you are not living upto the expectations of your loved ones. Your loved ones are human beings not demi gods! They are flawed like you and I, they are selfish like you and I and they make mistakes like you and I. The world doesn’t owe you anything and you don’t owe the world anything, either. Don’t let people’s expectations weigh you down! No one owns you! When you stomach is being pumped, they will be thinking about police cases and not your life. When you are dead they will be thinking about how difficult their life is, not yours, you will be reduced to being just a body a minute after you pass away. Before, you start thinking how terrible they are, darling, you would be thinking the same thing if when you were in their position!

If you have had a tough childhood and you look at other people and wonder why? It’s because God wants to give you the courage to be your own person. Most people I know who come from loving homes find it harder to take a stand because they don’t want to hurt their loved ones. They find it harder to deal with rejection. Turn all the crap that has been hurled at you into something great. If you have been told you are not good enough your entire life, if one more person says it, it shouldn’t make a difference. When people say something terrible to me now, I just think, ‘join the que. ‘ If they say you can’t, I think ‘wait for it!’

A boxer was being asked recently on a British talk show, if he won a particular game because he was younger? In his answer lies the truth about survival, ‘ I am a fighting man and at the end of the day I think you have to have spite. That’s what makes you go for a few more rounds.’ It isn’t anything other than spite that made me get up from bed, otherwise I was gone. Despite, all of my Mom’s tangos with Death, when it really does come close, she fights like a champion.  

Find something that you love. Not like- love. Channel that excessive passion into something else, preferably not a human being. That’s just suffocating for the other party and not sex because it  does tend to get messy. Academics, sports, music, art, take all your broken pieces and turn them into something beautiful.

And finally, as I drive from one city to another, meeting all sorts of people, chasing rainbows and laughter, getting more blessing than I deserve, I find myself thanking God for this life. There are too many experiences that are waiting for you to embrace them, too many more heartbreaks to feel and too much more love to give. Don’t give up just yet! Life is waiting for you just around the corner. Faith and perseverance are all you need.