You deserve to be happy because you are alive. You were built to use happiness as a tool to assess the world that surrounds you. It’s in your genes, in your nature, in the way that you have functioned. Happiness is at the core of our experiences – it is as incomprehensible to deny ourselves the feeling as it is to deny ourselves the experience of eating or sleeping or breathing. We are human beings and happiness is a vital part of our survival/living.
This time last year, I wasn’t sure who I was or what I was capable of being. I was unsure of how things were going to turn out, was lost and thoughtless. I kept looking for ways to outlive negativity, to hold myself tight, to keep fighting, to never give up and to rise. I was desperate; but patient.
Last year, I let go of a lot of things. I let go of the person who I thought was the one for me. I let go of the things that never really belonged with me, held me down and pushed me into the dark. I let go of the pessimism that was brewing in me day in and out and the anxiety and paranoia that devoured me wholly.
I realized how busy I was fixing my invisible crown which was always at the hands of those I needed approval from.
But, here I am now, stable and no longer hanging off the edge. I can’t assure that this is permanent, but I am going to work on making it one because I believe everything can change and it’s only a matter of time. I believe in the universe and Law of Attraction; what you give is what you receive. I am now fixated on staying positive throughout, negating pessimism, staying low-key, working on myself, not letting my thoughts overcrowd my mind at difficult situations and above all, staying sane with sanctitude.
Now I try to explore different arenas, learn from my past experiences and grow into a new individual. It is also quite exhilarating to wonder what challenges you can run into each day.
I remind myself of this everyday:
Strive to be the best version of yourself, even if you have to lose certain qualities. Strive to make the people you love happy, even if you disappoint them from time to time. Strive to achieve what challenges you for the purpose of growing.
The American Psychiatric Association describes Bipolar Disorder as “… brain disorders that cause changes in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. People with bipolar disorders have extreme and intense emotional states that occur at distinct times, called mood episodes. These mood episodes are categorized as manic, hypomanic or depressive.”
A friend of mine suffering from Bipolar Disorder describes it like this, “If Depression is a dark tunnel, Bipolar Disorder is a rollercoaster which takes you deep inside this tunnel and out of it, over and over again.” As a bystander, it was always an enigma as to what she might be going through. Each Day was a different experience in itself.
Her diagnosis came as a surprise. It was during a low phase in her life when her father, who was a Psychiatrist by profession, broke the news to her. It was almost like it broke her. Her father was as helpless looking at his daughter’s condition as she was in her depression.
• Formerly known as manic depression, it is a condition that affects moods, which can swing from depression to mania
• Symptoms range from overwhelming feelings of worthlessness to feeling very happy and having lots of ambitious plans and ideas
• Each extreme episode can last several weeks
• Treatment includes mood stabilisers which are to be taken every day on a long-term basis, combined with talking therapy and lifestyle changes
The medicines prescribed for a condition like this are called mood stabilizers. When you’re ecstatic, they lower your mood and when you’re deep in depression, they lift you up. The latter sounds like a good idea, making you feel better when you’re in a state of depression, but when you’re ecstatic why would you want to suppress ?
Well, it’s because if you don’t take your medicines when you’re happy, they don’t work when you’re sad. Sounds complicated right? Imagine dealing with this every single day and convincing yourself that that medication is important for you. And that’s not even the main problem. You wake up every morning not knowing how you’re going to feel. You only wish for the mania to last but all good things come to an end and so do your happy days. One day you’re on cloud nine – all smiles, extremely productive and enthusiastic and the very next day, the light seems to fade away, you lose your will to get out of bed and who once seemed like an extremely positive person turns into negative and introverted shunning everything.
I saw my friend during her highs and I saw her during her lows. It was almost like she was a different person in a matter of weeks. As well-wishers, we always encouraged her to take her medicines but a certain question of hers always intrigued me – “If I need medicines to be normal then is it truly my normal?”
Bipolar Disorder is not when your mood changes each day, it occurs in phases i.e. a gradual process where each stage seems to be stable for a while before shifting. The two extreme phases i.e. mania and depression could last several weeks or a few months before the shift happens and when it does, you get absorbed in it. Doctors do say that between the two extremes, comes a time which can be stated to be emotionally balanced but one cannot seem to decide when that happens. By the end of the day, you are left in an emotional turmoil, indeterminate and confused.
Problems like these made me appreciate what it feels like to be mentally healthy and appreciate my mental health more. When we feel low, we might ignore it for a really long time but there comes a point where it is okay to accept that there may be something wrong and seek help. Trust me, running away from something like this is not the better option.
It is difficult to comprehend what people having Bipolar disorder go through. That is why it is important to listen to their experiences. Let us look at one such young woman diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and how she is spreading awareness about her condition through art.
Missy Douglas and Bipolar Disorder Missy Douglas was first diagnosed as bipolar aged 19 when she was studying art history at the University of Cambridge. She said it finally joined the dots as to why she often felt withdrawn and melancholic, or precocious and arrogant. Fed up with keeping her mental health a secret,she spent a year creating a painting each day to express her feelings. Controversially, she decided not to take her medication during this time, in the hope that paintings demonstrating her highs and lows would raise awareness of her condition. The following are some of the paintings from her collection.
Day 236. “I was burying feelings and my emotions were all over the place. Very turbulent.”
Day 242. “I was at the height of mania here, but there was a massive wave of white depression heading towards me.”
Day 314 – Mania. “I was buzzing and everything was technicolor and beautiful. I was flying and felt invincible.”
Day 359 – Christmas Day 2013. “I was feeling very depressed yet I completely compartmentalised and concealed it. The twinkly forced jollity hid the sadness.”
Day 5. “I was really anxious, angry and feeling trapped.”
In 2009 Doughlas left the UK and established her own fine art studio and art school in Brussels. Two years later she headed to New York and now spends her time immersed in the creative scenes of Long Island, Queens and further afield in Seattle.
When I tell people for the first time that I’m depressed, people ask me the one question that, to this day, stumps me, makes me feel like I just pulled my tongue out of the freezer: ‘why’.
Now, this question is not entirely strange; depression is a product of many things-from death of a family member, to divorce, to a messy breakup in romantic relationships, perpetual negative reinforcement from parents and society to a bajillion other things- can cause it. But there’s often an expectation that you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move the fuck on.
The real horror starts when, you don’t.
So I’m currently awaiting to determine how severe it is by a professional psychiatrist but I’ve come to understand that I’ve had depression for about eight months now. I can still function fairly normally and do most things expected of me. I can go to college and hold conversations, engage in a classroom and ask the teacher doubts, hold a decent CGPA and, if asked, have a ready answer about what I really want to do with my life.
Under most circumstances, there is no problem but, if you’d indulge me in a little bit of a cheesy sales pitch,
‘Would you want to wake up every day to want nothing more than to just go back to sleep for good? Would you like to feel tired for doing nothing and want nothing more to just have a sharp object so you can kill yourself?’
‘Then, boy oh boy I have the product for you its: depression!’
Depression is not just sadness. It is waking up every day with a heart full of pain for no discernible reason. It’s in the way happiness dies on our face because we are smiling to hide it from those who probably wouldn’t help anyway. It’s constantly, despite your best efforts, feeling completely and utterly useless and that, if you could die tomorrow, no one will give a shit. It’s being unable to feel anything if you can’t feel pain. No joy, no anger, no sadness just, the numb, emotional equivalent of TV static.
Touching back on the pain, it’s the kind that feels like you are being eaten from the inside. That makes you a husk that simply cannot be filled. If it goes on long enough, it feels like you could go mad from it. Yet, all of this is discredited when unable to answer the simple question ‘why?’
When I quip and say I didn’t do it, throwing out how it’s possible that the death of three of my grandparents when I was in 12th affected me deeper than I ever let it, most retorts I get include ‘But they were old no?’ or ‘But that was years ago right? Why are you letting that affect you now?’ To this day, I have no idea why I have depression. It’s not something one chooses to have. As I said before, several things could trigger depression and it could manifest itself in many different ways.
To this day, I thought about killing myself several times. I looked at methods from hanging myself, to running a razor across my wrists, to starving myself; the only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to make my family unhappy I never attempted suicide yet. But I know I could if things go on like this.
To say that depression isn’t real is like saying one’s emotions aren’t real. Sure, many can’t see them or feel them but they are there. I’m sorry if this post makes you uncomfortable. Or reminds you of feelings that you’d rather forget about but I am telling you how I feel because I think no one deserves to suffer in silence.
The wails of suffering emanating from mental health concerns have lasted for ages, yet society has failed to recognize the importance of recognizing mental health issues as a primary health concern and to establish a fantastic infrastructure for treating it. With time, the prevalence of such concerns have only exacerbated.
Thus, in 2016, a group of passionate youngsters formed LonePack, a non-profit aimed at combating this very phenomenon. Since then, LonePack has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about mental health issues using a community driven approach, surrounding their motto, “ Shatter the Stigma”. They have been able to do this by working on a set of driven, passionate campaigns, the magnum opus of which was Lonepack Letters in 2017. This year, it is returning to positively affect a larger scale of lives, and hopefully carry on the good fight.
Lonepack Letters is a campaign based on a couple of principles. The first is the effect of positive dominoes. The positive domino multiplication standard in modern psychology tends to examine the fact that a general positive reaction to anything during any given time of the day only spreads it, with the effects often multiplying in magnitude down the chain. Lonepack Letters involve handing out anonymous positive letters to strangers when they least expect it, reading which brings a smile to your face. That starts a chain of positivity, the success of which has a very high probability. One of the finest ways for everyone to combat mental health is to face positivity. Merry, at its finest, is the unstoppable force denying to accept denial from the rule of any riddle but that of law. And to initialize happiness which only grows in magnitude in a domino effect serves the very purpose of Lonepack Letters. Ease the human mind, combat mental health issues and bring a smile in the process.
The second principle serves as a bigger backbone for Lonepack Letters. Awareness. Every Lonepack Letters envelope comes with the actual letter, along with a formal single page documentation about Lonepack and Lonepack letters, what purpose the campaign serves and how Lonepack wishes the person reading to be more aware about mental health concerns and keep spreading positivity. Not only does this allow people to know about Lonepack and potentially be a part of campaigns further down the line, but also know more about mental health concerns, understanding that they are legitimate issues and needs to be treated the same way. All of this aids in removing the ignorance of larger society about the aforementioned issues, and are steps in the direction of shattering the stigma existing around mental health in modern society.
In 2017, Lonepack Letters was conducted in Chennai. We collaborated with various institutions, events and establishments in the city, including DAV Group of schools, Sathyam Cinemas, Ciclo Cafe, SRM MUN, SSN College’s Instincts as part of this campaign which allowed us to reach over 6000 people. The feedback that we received was overwhelming and our campaign was covered by various news outlets, including The New Indian Express and The Times of India..
In 2018, we intend to increase the effect of Lonepack Letters by increasing the scope of the campaign, collaborating with major companies, more educational enterprises and conducting the campaign in multiple major cities along with Chennai. Lonepack letters is our humble attempt to kick-start a pursuit of happiness while also removing the ignorance surrounding mental health issues. We hope to realize our vision, and succeed at the same.
With 2017 coming to an end, this year saw a lot of debates and discussions about Mental Health issues than ever before. The Mental Health Act was passed this year on April 7th, which decriminalized suicide attempts. However, the world endured a lot of negativity as well. On the other end of the spectrum, this year also saw the rise of the Blue Whale challenge that shook the children of the world and we had to join hands to fight against it. The newspapers also carried headlines of an unprecedentedly large number of suicides, with most of the victims being teenagers and college-goers. And a mammoth of a question remains unanswered – What really pushed them to do this?
You see, the students that made it to the headlines this year all seemed to fit a certain profile. All of them were academically well off and had a normal relationship with their friends and family. No visible symptoms of depression or anxiety could be found out, they weren’t looking any different, their daily activities weren’t affected in any way, and all of them seemed normal and as they would every other day. Their suicides came as a big, unpredictable blow to their friends and family since literally nothing pointed to them suffering from any kind of mental health issues or, so they thought.
This observation or the lack of it reveals a darker truth. Most of us aren’t aware of a class of disorders that has now become to be known as “high-functioning” disorders. It is a recent development in the field of psychology and one that has come in a much-needed time.
For those who don’t know what they are, High-functioning disorders are the same as any other mental health disorder that one may suffer from but possess a darker trait, they do not affect your daily life. Psychologists are more worried of the people who suffer from these class of disorders since they are extremely difficult to diagnose. People with high-functioning versions of disorders such as anxiety and depression will not seem any different from a person without the disorders, superficially. They will continue with their normal lives as if nothing affects them at all, their body and brain cope very well with their conditions and as a result, their work and academic lives remain undisturbed. They’re social and active, all smiles and whatnot but on the inside, they’re still suffering and unable reach out to anyone.
For someone who is suffering and looks to the internet first to arrive at some kind of a self-diagnosis, it really doesn’t help when none of the mental health disorders’ so called “symptoms” fit them. Not many articles relating to these high functioning forms of disorders are present even on the internet, which is one of, if not the largest communicative space globally. And hence understandably, not much awareness is present with regard to these issues.
If you are suffering from not being the best version of yourself and doubt that it could be anxiety or depression or any other issues but experience none of the visible giveaways, do consult a psychologist.
It is never easy to battle these on your own and you shouldn’t either. The world is here to listen and to help. And if you doubt that one of your loved ones is suffering but do not know what to do since they do seem normal to everyone else, sit them down and talk to them. Ask them if they’re doing okay and if not, tell them that you’re there to help them get through this.
Everyone needs a hand sometimes. You could end up saving a life from further suffering because of the lack of awareness. Do your bit and spread the word.
Cigarette buds. Substance abuse. Sleeved shirts to shut out speculations about the cause of the scars on your wrists.
Some posts have to be written from the heart. Some posts need not be perfect in terms of grammar or structure. Some posts need not suffuse the eerie charm that it ought to have held. Some posts are essential nevertheless.
I spoke to a friend yesterday. Given the peculiar drop in the level of my conversations over the past six months, I must say that we had a fairly long conversation. We spoke about the bad cripples caused by depression and about the worse cripples caused by a lack of understanding about mental health.
For those who lack awareness, depression is a feigned escape from personal responsibilities. It is a self induced state of mind where a creature is seen to be desperately craving for attention and support for problems that are apparently illusory.
Those who are sensible enough to understand that depression, like asthma or cancer is yet another disease plaguing human survival again seem to place themselves at the ends of multiples bifurcations within the common head titled ‘The aware lot’.Majority of the people fall under the sub-head where they visualize depression to be a mental state of mind which holds an ambience equivalent to hell. The insides are layered lavishly in a combination of darkness, sadness, helplessness, tiredness, substance abuse and suicide attempts.
The sufferer has been portrayed in a constant state of abuse and is seen to be self harming himself or herself endlessly. There is an abject lack of interest in waking up, doing your daily chores and survival in general.
This notion about depression reminds me of a post I read yesterday. The post spoke about feminism and equality. It said that most men when asked to imagine female liberation often visualized a reversal of roles where the woman holds the baton of a chauvinist in place of the male. The post went on to make an interesting observation that a man seems to have either a constraint in terms of imagination or he must be too apprehensive about the repercussions that he would be facing upon the reversal of roles.
An ample majority of people have the same limitation when it comes to understanding depression.Unlike the above example where it is completely erroneous to imagine equality along the lines of an inverted power structure, it isn’t completely preposterous to imagine depression as an equivalent to what we could call as the pinnacle of agony. Neither is it completely logical to compare the illness to such an extremity always. To put it simply, like fever, depression too can be measured in degrees. A severed wrist isn’t a mandate when it comes to diagnosing depression. There are less life-threatening yet painful symptoms that could be possible signs of depression.
The friend seated next to you with bleary eyes which you assume to be a result of a late night football match. Did you stop for a moment to ask him if he actually enjoys watching soccer? What if he went to bed at 9 pm in the night and fell asleep only at 4? What if it is a routine in his survival?
The colleague seated opposite your cubicle is unable to control his urge to masturbate. While your gang teases him for being a lecherous asshole, did any of you pause for a moment to contemplate the possibility of it being a serotonin imbalance?
Your girlfriend wakes up at 12 am in the night to binge on a packet of chips. She goes on to visit the restroom with two bottles full of water. A few moments later she falls back on bed content that the taste of the chips would linger just in her mouth and not as an additional layer of fat between her thighs. Master plan ain’t it? Or is it one? Have you ever read up on Bulimia ? Have you let those consequences scare you?
Your next door neighbor sleeps ten hours a day. Yet at the mid-morning get together on a warm Sunday, you see him tired. This week. The week before. Two weeks back. Endless loop. Is he just a sleepy head?A manifestation of Kumbhakarna as his father casually jokes around? Have you ever lost sleep about him? At least towards the fag end of the night when the burden of your suffering has exhausted its share of rants completely? What if maybe, it is hypersomnia? What if he actually wants to be active but isn’t able to?
Your own sister sleeping over your shoulder. Perfect job. Dream car. Childhood sweetheart. About to be married. You glance at her every night. A long jealous glance at her thick stock of hair. Her back facing you as she has curled up to sleep on the other side. What if despite this all, there is still a void. A void wrenching the depths of her existence. Dysthymia in medical terms. High functioning depression in layman terms. Wait. You are shocked ain’t you. You can’t believe that depression and high-functioning can be used together except with a punctuation mark separating them.
Have you ever tried to roll her over to your side? Maybe the tears are flowing down her eyes. Have you even contemplated giving it a single try?
I am not trying to say that every person we see might be suffering from mental illnesses irrespective of the magnitude. I am only trying to open your eyes to the possibility that there is more to a mental illness than the portrait of a bearded man scoring weed endlessly with several deep cuts across his wrists. In terms of awareness, you are far ahead in the ladder when compared to truckloads of your counterparts who don’t even possess an iota of awareness about the distress. Yet, I believe that it isn’t enough and there is still a long way to go in order to shatter the stigma effectively.
“As I sit in my room on a particularly dark afternoon, life seems all but a melancholic drone of has been’s and would be’s, mechanically wheezing into a nightmarish scenario where shadows are friends and humans seem unfriendly. The clock ticks like it is the harbinger of my doomsday, my mind screams, wanting everything to stop! Gears slip into motion, my monsters crawl out of my own mind and sing me the most painful soliloquy. My life squishes like a squandered set of useless paraphernalia while my mind keeps telling me to just not do it anymore.”
This is not an excerpt from a Stephen King novel, albeit it may be very scary. It is the rant of a mind suffering from anxiety, one of the many mental health illnesses plaguing the human population. Sadly, most people do not care.
A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
Yet, major sovereign states have failed to provide justifiable legislation for the same, or have refused to put enough stress on it. To provide a particular example, let’s take India, the country of my birth and the subject of my patriotism. India is a nation of 1.34 billion people, constituting the world’s largest youth population and second largest population overall.
Statistical reports from the WHO show us that almost 7.5% of the population of India suffers from mental health disorders, with the number growing by the passing day.
These disorders constitute depression, anxiety, hypertension, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to name a few.
People suffering from such disorders require expert intervention and regular treatment for improvement, so as to ensure that a large part of the global population is not only physically fit, but mentally as well. However, a particular case study will show that might not be the case.
Mental health treatment institutions in India are mostly three-fold: private high-end facilities, government facilities and religious facilities. While the first case scenario is only for an elite segment of the population, it is mostly the other two which most people can avail.
However, India is facing a mental health crisis. With only 43 government-run mental hospitals serving a population of 1.3 billion, resources are spread thin. Moreover, mental illness is highly stigmatised in India, especially among women, who are typically committed to mental health facilities with no legal rights, and receive involuntary treatment sometimes without a proper diagnosis.
The worst-case scenario are religious institutions and independent cult leaders who proceed to treat mental health illness on their own with confounding, unscientific practices including the likes of black magic and sacrificial rituals.
Yet, however unsatisfactory the medical practices surrounding mental health or the interest shown in it from a professional aid perspective may be, the worst problem for mental health illness is social stigma.
Stigma is officially defined as a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. Mental health issues have often been deemed weak and disgraceful, a mark of wasteful elitism and a rotten excuse by people in human civilisation since time immemorial.
Because of this, a huge number of people still go on to ask a depressed person to just “forget it and move on”, call someone with ADHD or similar issues to be making excuses or being ‘elitist’ and ‘wasteful’, and not to forget, pin any behaviour deviating from the norm upon one strategic word, ‘madness’. Like a disease, not one which needs to be treated, but one which is disgraceful and needs to be exterminated.
When such levels of stigma exist as norms in the human society for centuries, people suffering from mental health illnesses hesitate to acknowledge their issues and seek public help for fear of having no personal comfort, and for being ostracised with mean, dispirited comments, along the lines of ‘weak’, ‘disgraceful’ and ‘loser’, to name just a few.
Corporate policies surrounding mental health illnesses are far too few, recognition of the same as a legitimate health concern is astoundingly low, even for educated individuals, and social acceptance for mental health illnesses are catastrophic. All of this does not cut a pretty picture for something we should definitely not be ignoring or castigating.
Of course, not everything is bleak. Many developed nations have constitutional laws and legislative precedence for acceptance of mental health issues and protection of those suffering from related causes. Developing countries are following suit, with India having recently passed a law to decriminalize suicide attempts and provide better healthcare for patients of mental health disorders.
Yet, until a higher number of facilities are provided at a sovereign level, and the social stigma surrounding the same is not shattered, progress, however promising, will seem unconvincing.
Sovereign improvements require better political philosophy, a discussion beyond the mandate of this article. However, no amount of legal or political support will matter till social acceptance for these issues do not improve, a conundrum which requires more education about the same, grassroots movements and an altogether improved level of awareness, thus leading to amicable acceptances.
Although this does seem a long way off, many local non-profits and popular public personalities have taken up this cause and have launched a crusade to improve circumstances surrounding it.
One particular initiative I absolutely love and am involved with is ‘Lonepack’. As a small, up and coming non-profit organisation based in India, we have been fighting the stigma surrounding mental health for over a year now through multiple campaigns.
Our latest campaign, ‘Save The Whale‘ challenge, is an attempt to increase positivity over the internet and provide a challenge to the despicable ‘Blue Whale‘ game. Many other organisations exist who engage in similar work.
However, it cannot just be institutions fighting the good fight, it has to be everyone. Only then will this crusade actually mean something and be successful in making a difference.
Maybe there is a future better than the situation we are in today, but that will never be possible without enough awareness. Next time you meet someone suffering from a mental health disorder, do not attempt to jeer or advice. Reach out a hand and be there for them with nothing but silent support.
Let us make this world a better and more acceptable place, one person at a time. Till then, all we have is hope. Surely, we can do better than that?
I wake up on a cold rainy morning. The remains of the rain drops are still kissing the frosty windows. They dance together. His fingers slowly move down to fill the gap between her thighs. I turn around to find myself in the company of my pillow. Apart from the companionship of the early morning darkness and my depressing solitude of course. I have grown to a point where I have begun to take both of them for granted. As the tips of my fingers touch the icy floor gently, the questions of existence swarm back to haunt me like the pack of obstreperous fireflies that pounce at the first hint of light. I swim through the questions in silence. A silence that is probably owing to acclimatization to the frequency of being bludgeoned by the questions forever. Like the woman who is a regular feature on a crowded bus. Numb to the ogles and the touches. A few accidental. A lot, lecherous and intentional. Sigh. My lips quiver under the warmth of the morning shower in my bathroom. My blood vessels rejoice the temporary retreat from the handcuffs of the cold. Five minutes later though, they seem to feel heavier. Maybe the idea of having to go back to the cold has hit them hard. Just like the way anxiety hit me midway through my yearly vacation last month. A psychotic state of wanting to make the day count and yet deciding to while away the moments one at a time. A common fear that the day would end soon if I made it count and would leave me at the mouth of the den of another Monday that I cannot run away from. The weight of my breath is evident from every heave of my chest. No, it is not physical exertion that is causing my loss of breath. It is far from it. My body works rarely. My job doesn’t demand it. After a point, it hasn’t even demanded an exertion from my mind. Masturbation doesn’t count of course. I get into my clothes pretty quick. Trousers first. Ironed shirts follow. Shoes that are bound to dampen during the commute. A bag that protects my laptop from the rains. Finally, a brain left behind safely in the bosom of my bedroom. The blows the questions deliver are currently intolerable. The strikes are made from fists of iron. Heavy. Hard hitting. The cab driver pulls over in front of my door. 8 25 a.m. Sharp. I move into the front seat. From the corner of my eye, I glance at Maya seated behind. For the past six months, we have only shared a weak smile. The crevices of my throat create hollow noises like an ill-kept vacuum cleaner every time I clear it to talk to her. I text her. Sometimes. It needs no eye contact. Thank God. Thank Satan. Thank no one. They don’t exist.
The texts end with an abrupt goodbye. I can’t keep it going. I don’t know to. I wonder how people find love on parks, beaches, cafeterias, social media and even in public restrooms. I rarely go beyond the timid hello. Let alone love. I smile at the cab driver. He has been with our office for 4 years now. We both share a connect. Not mentally. No, not physically. We both have similar job nature. The descriptions and the pay differ. Start. First gear on. Accelerate. Break when needed. Rev up the gears and throttle faster when needed. Stop. Same here. Not a car though. Microsoft excel. The questions are now choking me. Sniggering at me. Taunting me to give up. I walk into my office. Six minutes late. Smile at the receptionist. Take the elevator. Press second floor. Get out of the elevator. 10 steps forward. 3 steps to the right. Red seat. 4 feet by 3 cubicle. Lay laptop on the desk. Turn right. Stare at Maya. She turns your side. Look away. Avoid eye contact. Sit. The clock strikes 5 pm. Half an hour to go. 7 and half hours done on the immobile seat. Two deviations. One for coffee -11 15 am. The time of the day Maya has her coffee. Repeat procedure as above. Stare at her. If she turns your side, look away. Another again for coffee- 3 30 pm. Procedure. Repeat. Lunch demands no movement from my seat. Same rice cooked with dal everyday. Pop two lithium pills post food. Occasional lunch treats lead to deviation number three. Half an hour. Cafeteria or the restaurant opposite my office. Not exactly opposite. Clock strikes 5 30 pm. Stand up. Regulation goodbye. Look at Maya. Muster up courage to bid goodbye. Decide against it. Walk away. Down the elevator. Into the cab. Go home. Change clothing. Coffee. Hot. Three spoons of sugar. Too much. It doesn’t matter. Nothing does. TV. Two hours. Twitter. Facebook. Stalk Maya. Dinner. Roti. Today. Everyday. Two more pills.
The questions have now battered my bones. They have marinated me in my own blood. So, what are these questions that have been haunting me? Did I tell you? Did you ask? The blows. Left hand hook unto my jawbone. Who are you? A human. An organism. A face in the crowd. A whole world to my dog. A nobody to Maya. Maybe somebody? Maybe not? Not until I decipher what her smile three days ago meant. A face lost in a crowd of a billion organisms that are evolving everyday to different versions as an effect to the changes in the survival needs around. An unknown in a planet that is one among 8 ( or 9 ) others in a solar system which is within a galaxy housing million other solar systems which in turn is imprisoned within a universe which is constantly expanding. Wait. Who decided the boundaries of the solar systems though? Who said a galaxy ends here? They said Pluto revolves around our sun. Now they say it doesn’t. Will earth meet with the same fate? Will it be disowned by our solar system? Wait again. Who decides that our solar system owns our earth? Who called it earth? Our earth? Seriously? Right legged side kick to my thighs. What is your identity? Should there be one? Why is everyone miffed with having one? Some call it a passion. Some call it a purpose. Some find it in wives. Some find it in peace. Some in children. Some in work. Are identities subjective? Is it mandatory to have one? What else would push you forward? Why should I be pushed forward? Can’t I stagnate? Or does it exist? Maybe I am lazy to look for it? Maybe I am wise enough to know it doesn’t exist? But wait. Does wisdom exist? If yes how to categorically group things into wise and unwise. Right hand uppercut to my chin. Why should you live? Good question. I don’t have an answer. Not for this one. Nor for any other question? Why shouldn’t I live? What is the point when everyday is the same routine? Should I succumb to the warmth of hope that it would change one day? Does hope exist? Does future exist? Why not die? Suicide? Is it cowardice? Hell No! Why not then? Should suicide have a reason too? Again, why is the world bent to find a reason for everything? But what if things change? Become better? What if they don’t? What it it becomes miserable? What is better? What is miserable? Are they subjective as well? Right hand jab. Knock out. What is the right decision now? Knocked out. Too tired to answer. To confused to answer even if I was doing good. Let me try. Is there a right decision? What is right? Don’t say what isn’t wrong? Then, what is wrong? Is this a vicious cycle? What is right for me isn’t right for you? Maybe even wrong? Who said our morals should coincide? Should we have morals? Who gave the court the power to call something wrong? Is it wrong? Is wrong objective? Isn’t murder a murder always? If yes, why is a soldier glorified and a rapist condemned? Again, not justifying rape. Not speaking against as well. Is something objective? Something with an independent existence? Should something be objective? Three messages to Maya as against two so far in six months. Good signs. Maybe not. Final question. What next? Time is 12 midnight. Office tomorrow. Good night. Bye. Wake up. Repeat.
One of the most talked about topics that is being discussed everywhere right now is the Blue Whale Challenge. As many of you may have come to known, this supposed “challenge” of sorts is one of the most manipulating and dangerous things that this world governed by social media has discovered. But the problem lies in the fact that many people do not understand the seriousness of this repulsive game and take it upon themselves to voluntarily sign up for it out of mere curiosity. The whole “Nothing will happen to me, I just want to know what it is about” mentality of people today is something that has to change immediately.
“I felt my mind floating after the 15th step. I was obeying the commands of the game master voluntarily. It was a kind of hypnotism. My mind was being overpowered. I was scared of quitting since the game master collected all sorts of information about me and my family. But I took a chance. Fortunately, nothing has happened to me,” said Nithin Jose (name changed on request), a third semester degree student at a prominent college in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala who took up the challenge out of curiosity, reports Firstpost.
This challenge is structured to mentally manipulate you, even the supposedly strongest of us are at a risk of succumbing to the game. DO NOT take this lightly. Do caution everyone you know about the game and monitor the activities of your friends and family. The main targets of the game are the children, even ones that are as young as four are somehow gaining access to the game and it is about time we take action. Many schools have issued warnings to parents to keep a check on the activity of their children’s social media activities and to sit them down and talk to them.
Many young teenagers have lost their lives to this sickening, psychological menace and so many more are at a high risk of caving in to the same fate. It is your utmost duty to spread awareness about this and caution your friends and family members not to indulge in the challenge, even if it tempts them to. Do know that the game is also being spread through other names such as A Silent House, A Sea Of Whales and Wake Me Up.
Please be on alert for any odd behaviour of anyone you know and if they do show signs of being manipulated by this game, sit them down and talk to them. We are stronger than some moronic game and more importantly, we are stronger Together. No one is alone in the world, we are all here for everyone. Talk to people if you are feeling down and express your feelings, do not bottle them up. We all have to fight against this challenge and spread nothing but positivity and happiness. That is the ultimate goal.