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, a group, that advocates for mental health. Blessin Varkey and Chitra Kalyani are some of the members of the group.


We kept assuming that the media frenzy would come to an end at some point but it goes on and on. On the other side, ‘ Roses are red, violets are blue, let’s crush the patriarchy me and you!’ is the status of my left leaning friends on fb. Twitter comes out in ‘joint support’ for Rhea. I should be standing with her….I tell myself. But my mother’s life, comes in the way!

Everyone man or woman should be against the media trial, that the Chakraborty family is being subjected to and this is not the way to treat a woman. What Sushant’s family is allowing to happen to this woman, the vilification of her will not bring back their son.

Having said that, I want to know, how many of you have lived with someone with Bipolar Disorder? I agree if smoking weed is that serious a crime, then half the saffron clad men in this country should be behind bars. But have you ever been on psychiatric pills? I have overdosed on my mum’s pills and I have been hospitalised for it. My mum was on them for over 32 years before she died. Do you know what a lethal combination, that is? I understand you can’t stop someone, we tried to stop my mother from downing cough syrups and failed many times. But if you are procuring weed for someone who is on those drugs, then I really don’t think you have their best interest at heart.

Forget the weed, what business does anyone who is not a person’s legal heir, related by contract or blood have of wanting to control the wealth of a man who is not well? I’m asking this question based on the leaked audio that Rehea’s team has put out, as defence. How can a woman who has been living with a man for not even two years, want to form a trust and become a trustee? He wasn’t of sound mind? I beg to differ, more than fifty person who have been diagnosed with this, choose to not be on medication and continue to live productive lives, managing their time, assets and wealth. Yes, there is the risk of being suicidal, at all times. Anyway, he came from a huge family, why were they not present during these conversations?

Forget the money, who records these private conversations and makes videos, plus leaves with a person’s prescriptions unless and until they are accumulating evidence, to prove on a latter date that the person is not off sound mind? Why were fellers being sent to the media immediately after she left his house? I might be a woman but by no stretch of the imagination can I stand by her side. Yes, depression can be a genetic disposition but it is also something that gets triggered and aggravated by events and people. I blame Sushant for not having known better. The trick to our sanity is knowing who and what impacts us positively. Exercise, the right food, the right people can have a positive impact. The highs and lows can be dealt with in other ways and even if medication is the way, there’s no way to know how much is too much. My mother’s doctors recommended electric shocks, they recommended what we only got to know later were excessive meds when her body started to reject them, towards the end. The doctors recommend what the person who takes the patient with will vouch for. If that person, claims that you are violent or too moody or too depressed, the dosage will be given accordingly. That person, the caregiver, what their view of your illness is, will skew the way the doctors will look at you.

Plus, if you personally know anyone with advanced degrees in psychology, you will realise that they are not some great readers of the mind. Their conversations and their mentality will mostly convince you that you’re fine making your decision by yourself. Everything depends on the doctor’s life experience and that is too subjective. At my brother’s death, Dr Sandeep Vohra, who was my mother’s psychiatrist during a session with me, started crying! Here I am in a complete shock, the man who is supposed to help me deal with it, is crying. Once, during a session with my mum, he called me into the office and asked me to not marry a particular man. My mother’s first psychiatrist in Jor Bagh, Dr Kothari, got into depression himself, due to which we had to change psychiatrists. This the reason why abroad, where mental health, is considered a serious issue, therapists have their own therapists to speak to. Dissing all shrinks in one go, wasn’t my intention. The psychotherapist I respect, they put in the time and effort. The psychiatrist, I find, takes the shortest way out. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some nice one’s in my life. Forever I will be grateful to Akash Dharamraj, who taught me the spiritual path, will save me, from my own demons. It’s a pity, she’s no longer with us.

We live in a society, where when you talk about your issues, people say you’re wanting sympathy, you’re weak or attention seeking. They ask you to brush your feelings and your thoughts under the carpet. ‘Don’t be so sensitive!’ ‘You think too much, feel too much!’ ‘ Look at how we dealt with it’. If you are man it’s worse. We are taught day in and day out to think less, feel less and in my case even write less. Itni bhi jagaah aap ko nahin milti he. Everyone wants you to sound and behave exactly like them. If you are a celebrity and you’re fighting to tame your mind and the system that has been designed for you to fail, I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for SSR. To see a lifetime of work and charity to be reduced to being a ‘charsi’ ‘ difficult’ and ‘crazy’ is not how anyone should be remembered. Where is the justice in all this?

m I taking this personally?