LETTING DOWN YOUR EMOTIONAL GUARD -ONE POST AT A TIME

The alarm rings. You wake up groggy and tired.  Your eyes are still closed. You search for your phone. Check your news feed. Perhaps some new likes on your latest Instagram post?  Maybe wonder why your new DP got less likes than the previous one? Is this an uncanny description of your usual morning routine?

If so, congratulations! You are now part of the bandwagon of people whose lives more or less revolve around social media.

The ”#StatusOfMind” survey, published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health, included input from 1,479 young people (ages 14 to 24) from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. From February through May of 2017, people answered questions about how different social media platforms impacted 14 different issues related to their mental or physical health. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram do have their benefits. They scored points in areas such as self-expression, spreading positive awareness, community building and emotional support.

The story of “Badra- the dog who lived” is a beautiful example of how social media helped bring the perpetrators to justice and ultimately find the abused dog a loving home.

However, they all fared badly in areas such as reduced sleep quality, bullying,depression, body shaming  and FOMO ( Fear of missing out).  Platforms like Instagram are frequented by models and actors, whose photos can set unrealistic expectations for women and men, leading to lowered self-esteem and body imaging. Australian Instagram model Essena O’Neill, 19, went viral with a video on why she quit social media calling it “fake” and saying it made her “miserable.” She brought out the fallacy and sacrifices behind every photo, and urged others to step of out this “unreal world”.

 

“Facebook depression” is a relatively new term that researchers have come up with.  According to the first HomeNet study in 1998, there was a statistically significant relationship between Internet use and depression. The study authors originally argued that Internet use actually causes depression due to replacing concrete off-line relationships with “less personal social relationships” online, something they dubbed the “Internet paradox” since social technology originally intended to make people less isolated, apparently reduced well-being.  The users start thriving on social media appreciation and directly link it to their self-worth.

 “Cyber bullying” is another common situation that often leads to depression, anxiety and insecurity in the victim.  There has been many cases where this has actually fueled suicide.

   

“Facebook envy” was another term put forth by the researchers. People going through some rough patches in their life, may further spiral into depression or get consumed with jealousy when they see their friend’s success stories. Though the triggers for Facebook envy may be different than that of Facebook depression, they can lead to users judging themselves more harshly and feeling that they have failed to accomplish anything in life.

A lot of good can be achieved using social media. Focus on that, and make sure you are wary of its ill effects. Yes. People’s opinions do matter. However, your opinion should come before theirs.  Do not thrive on compliments or comments on a post to make you feel loved. Self-appreciation should come from within. Focus on building stronger, offline relationships, and spend less time on online ones. Do not let down your emotional guard to complete strangers; instead focus on strengthening ties that matter. Love yourself, and the world will follow!

                                                                                      -M.A.Ramya

HERE’S TO TOMORROW

On 20th July this year, the world bid farewell to the lead vocalist of one of the most popular bands of this generation. Chester Bennington of Linkin Park took his own life that day and he was just 41. Linkin Park is a band that is revered by people all around the world not only for their musicality but more importantly for their relatable lyrics. Their lyrics talk about the emotional struggles that everyone goes through at different points in their lives and that it’s okay to feel that way, because they aren’t alone. Linkin Park and their music have helped so many people get through some of their darkest and loneliest days to see one more sunrise. And I belong to this generation that grew up with them, and their music has had profound impacts on me as well. Chester has left us completely shocked, confused and upset. The unique rasp of his voice and his strikingly contrast kind persona will remain unparalleled and will forever be missed. Wherever you are Chester, I hope you find your peace.

 

 We all have our demons don’t we? Voices inside our heads that don’t let us sleep at night, you might have yours too. You could now be very well going through the toughest of times where you feel like the days are never-ending and that the world is closing in on you. Life would seem to always be dealing you the wrong hand and nothing would seem to go right. Sometimes it could get hard even to think and breathe. There can be many instances, bad ones, that happen all at once leaving you swirling down the rabbit hole with nothing to hold on to. You could’ve put in a 110% of effort and hard work into that one thing you so badly wanted only for it to have gone to waste. Or people you once considered to be your world are now slowly drifting away and there’s nothing you can do about it or you could very well be in a room full of people yet feel like the loneliest person in the whole world. And most of the times, during phases like these; you’ll feel like there’s no point in doing anything, anymore. It comes and goes in waves, these emotions. And sometimes, when the waves are large and too strong, it can get very overwhelming. It is at these times when people decide that they’ve had enough, that they’ve had enough of life toying with them.

                                            

But please know that you’re not alone. And please reach out for help. Do not let one moment of weakness overpower you. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re just another person amongst a sea of 7 billion others and that your absence here won’t make a difference. But it will. It most definitely will.

                                        

“The millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret”

Thousands of people jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco every year but these very words that I’ve quoted was from a person who survived. A person who was amongst the 1% that have survived up until now.

There is always a way out of the dark tunnel you are seemingly stuck in, there is always a light. You might not see it now but it is surely there. There still is hope in this world and kindness in this world, all you have to do is just ask. Regardless of what you might think, there are people who care about you, all around you. Build yourself a strong network of support and help others build theirs. Every single person you see has or is battling his or her demons, you probably won’t be able to tell from the surface, but they are, just like you. If you need help, talk about it because it is high time we stop bottling up our feelings and thoughts. Always remember to be kind and to spread it. Sometimes, even the smallest of gestures like a gentle smile could have the biggest of impacts on a stranger who just might be having a rough day. And always remember, it takes a lot of courage to battle your demons, be proud of yourself that you do it everyday and still not let them win. Fight them, conquer them. You’re an amazing human being. A miracle. Never forget that.

I’ll leave you be with a short poem that I wrote around 4 years ago to kind of help myself whenever I was having a bad day and if you’ve had a bad day today, I hope tomorrow will be better. Because believe me when I say that most of the time, it always is.

A Ray Of Hope

A ray of hope is what I’m living on,

A silver lining to my dark clouds,

I do not seem to see it now,

But I know that my sun will rise.

Even this shall pass they said,

And a ray of hope is what I saw,

A new world just for me with a very new beginning,

Free from all that is dark.

And when my sun does rise,

It shall be so magnificent,

That it shall blind all those who see it,

And burn down all that bound me,

Till then I shall stay waiting, bracing the dark storm,

With a burning ray of hope inside of me,

So strong that no one could put it off,

That will one day set me free.

                                                                                                              –  Srivasupradha

BRUISED BUT NOT BROKEN

New friends, new places,
I was excited to move into this town!
Taking in the fresh smells and new faces,

Soon, school started,
I walked in, full of energy
I made a new friend that day,
I was pretty sure we’ll be besties

We went to parties, shopped together,
And soon, our group grew even bigger!
That evening, she introduced me to the sweetest guy,
A big jock, apparently quite the celebrity!

His smile was so perfect,
and I felt myself falling hard, the more we spoke.
I was enjoying every moment with him,
Until one day, I was nothing but a big joke.

Bruised and broken,
I felt cheated.
Was I so naïve to fall for the wrong kind?
The romantic in me had been defeated.

I soon realized that school was not a very friendly place,
Everybody just seemed kind on the outside
But inside, they were all insecure misfits,
Afraid to let anything ruin their perfect image.

                                         

But there was one guy, who stood out. Shay.
Shy, clumsy, ordinary yet honest.
He never really cared about fitting in,
One of the many amazing qualities he possessed.

Soon, we became good friends,
And things were not so grey,
Valentine’s day was around the corner.
Oh well, just another regular day.

I decided to go along with the school spirit,
Participate in the valentine’s day game,
As I sat there awaiting my match results,
I smiled, hoping for one particular name.

Well, you don’t get what you expect,
My match was a perfect pupil, class leader,
I admit, I did find him to be quite the charmer!
So I sat there, sipping my drink,
Waiting for my knight in shining armor
As time went on, my hopes slowly faded,
I was oscillating between excitement and anger.

Soon, he had the nerve show up, along with his comrades.
His apology seemed genuine, and I soon accepted it with a smile.
Just when the conservation seemed to be going fine,
His hand slowly went down my dress,
He sat there, expecting me to oblige.

I was beyond outraged! My dignity had been violated.
Is this how a gentleman would behave?
The worst part was, my “NO” fueled his anger even more.
Shocked, my face heavy with tears, I watched him leave.

I could not take this anymore.
These people, were either perverts or bullies
One by one all my so called friends began to leave,
Taking with them, the happy go lucky child in me.

                                                 

They made me feel like it was all my fault,
Was I such a terrible person?
All I was trying to do, was be a good friend
In the end, I was emotionally broken.

 Maybe, this could all be over,
With just a tiny slit to the wrist.
What was a little pain, compared to what I went through everyday
“Hey there!” I heard, just as these thoughts flooded my head
I turned around, there was the one face I did not dread.

Unable to keep it in, I confessed it all to Shay.
My problems, my feelings, they came pouring out.
His response, pushed away any traces of suicidal thoughts,
We just stood there, in a tight embrace.

That day, I realized.
All you had to do, was talk to someone you trust.
He was the best thing to have ever happened to me
Every problem just turned to dust.

20 years down the lane,
I still laugh at that phase in my life,
Had I gone ahead with my stupid thoughts,
I wouldn’t be staring at this beautiful sight.

Putting our 2 year old to sleep,
Shay looks at me.
Our eyes meet, we smile,
The romantic in me had won after all.

                                                – M.A.Ramya

                                         

 

An Open Letter to You

Dear You,

How are you? How are you holding up? I know it’s hard… I also know that it took you great courage to have come this far. I am so proud of you, I appreciate the part where you decided to not give up and fight this battle yourself.

Remember, you are so loved. We love you as an individual; for whom and what you are on the inside. We love you so much that we won’t give up on you. We will fight this together until the end, together.

Remember this,
“I am here.”
“I am not going to leave you.”
“Everything is okay.”
“I’m going to protect you with all my heart”
“I believe in you.”
“Hear my heartbeat? Just focus on it.”
“You’ll be alright; no one can hurt you now.”
“You’re not going to lose me.”
“I love you to the moon and back.”
“I will stay right here, okay?”
“Just breathe. “
“I’m okay, you are okay, and we’re okay.”
“You mean the world to me.”
“I don’t care what they think, to me, you are perfect.”
“If ever you want to talk about it, I am right here. “

Depression is not the end of the world and it won’t end your world, there are so many people around to help you out and get you back into shape. Don’t lose hope, because that’s what keeps us going forever.

 

Yours beloved.

–  By Kirthana Ravi

The Depressions of Male Valley

Imagine a picturesque scenario. The world is fun, the society is cultured and democracy is yet to fail itself. In the midst of this utopia are human beings. Generally, they are either a man or a woman, although deviances in gender traits have been known to exist, and are often accepted. While we can talk about all of them, maybe later. Today, we shall discuss what it means to be a man.

Ever since Atlas decided to bear the burden of the entire world on his strong shoulders and flirted with civilization the concept of an ideal man, have men been thrust into a social limelight with myriad responsibilities, ranging from being the provider, the protector, to being the strong Savior when need be. Common mediums have since shown men to be leaders and strong willed warriors who are the forces of nature.

Prometheus stole fire, Hercules completed 12 spectacular labours, Hannibal crossed the Alps, Jesus walked on water, Stalin made the Gulags, Che freed Cuba, Mandela ended apartheid……the list of examples which keep ever increasing to support this are never at their ends.

Of course, this often leads to a discussion about female oppression and patriarchy, and valid though those may be, they are a discussion for another day. Since a man decides to take his first breath, society thrusts upon him the very symbolism of being a contextual messiah, a sort of saviour for every trouble anyone close to being blood ever faced in life, with other men often involved in this context. Social pressure and peer pressure soon form roadblocks. Artistic men are sexually deviant, Weak men are to be shunned or shunted, Tears are for women (sexist) and being a symbolism of everything wrong, is everything acceptable and right. On a normal day to day basis, people may even take it. I do not think I want to though.

We men do not have it all good. A life of this supposed wonders often brings with it such absolute, shameless social critique to impose on our lives a plethora of baggage eventually denying us freedom and enslaving us in years of servitude. While a patriarchal society does allow men more freedom, it also comes with these side effects, leading to years of mental illness, depression, grief and an endless loop of what-ifs. Yet society tells us, being a man and being depressed cannot be in the same vein. Let me tell you a little story then. Utopia is happiness, not valour, not strength, but happiness.

Stop paying heed to society, stop shelving the mental health issues, stop breaking back trying to change who you are just to fit a figment of a misconstrued definition. Stop trying so hard to be a man, start trying to be a happier human.

By Soumyajyoti Bhattacharya

HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MIND: A LOOK AT THE 2017 MEN’S HEALTH WEEK OR RATHER, THE LACK OF IT

The first time I came across something called the Men’s health Month was when I was assigned to write an article about it and I’m pretty sure this is your first time hearing about it too. Here’s why.

Let me digress for a bit. Now I am a person who spends a lot of time on the internet googling and it acts as my source of information to get to know of the various happenings around the world, be it social movements, politics, celebrity gossip, viral dank memes or even Donald Trump’s somewhat amusing tweets. So when I googled about Men’s Health Week to get to know more about it, I expected to find a lot of information on the topic for my research– various forums discussing it, amazing websites dedicated to spreading awareness about the cause, even a few celebrities endorsing it. But all I found of much significance were four pages- A website very dedicated to the cause in Australia and other active websites based in the US, New Zealand and the UK and a few blogs articles here and there.

It was shocking how little information was on the internet about this.

Now I say shockingly little because, on an estimate, Google spits out about 10 million results under a minute for a search on any given topic. But when I googled about Men’s Health week, I did get those estimated 10 million results but only very few had actual, useful information in them.

And I haven’t even gotten to the more startling part yet. When I added a little keyword next to my search called “India”, there were ZERO results of significance. “Men’s Health Week India” had ZERO useful results and all that popped up were articles from “Men’s Health magazine”. No wonder no one knew about it.

Now after digging around some more, I found the central website dedicated to this event – (www.menshealthmonth.org) and on there are some 19 countries that have taken up supporting this cause but only 9 of them have dedicated websites amongst which Australia has 2. India is not on there.

And to confirm my findings, I referred the National Health Portal which publicises of all health-related information to the public and “Men’s Health Week” did not find a place on there. India, however, celebrates Health Week observed from April 4- April 10 to mark the World Health Day on 7th April of every year.

Now that I’ve put this information up to you, let me give you my opinion on why Men’s Health Week should gain more publicity around the world and become as important an event as International Yoga Day.

Men’s Health Week was started in the United States by the US Congress in 1994 to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. And Australia’s main theme for this year’s event was “HEALTHY BODY – HEALTHY MIND: KEEPING THE BALANCE” which explores the different ways men can manage being both physically and mentally healthy. Now, this is a crucial theme that holds great importance. Many people have started talking about health and are taking various active measures to become physically fit and lead a healthier life. But discussions are still of very few numbers when it comes to talking about the mental health of men and that is what the world needs to recognise and take measures for.

According to statistics, around 510,000 men commit suicide every year.

A study conducted in the UK in 2013 states that amongst the 6233 suicides recorded in the UK in the 15 years or older demographic, 78% were male and 22% were female. In the US on the other hand, in 2010, there were reports of 38,364 suicides out of which 79% were men. These numbers are no joke.

Men are at a higher risk of falling victim to depression and anxiety because of extreme stress. Most of the stress can be attributed to societal pressures. A lot is expected from men and although the world is progressing, a majority of the people still have an orthodox mindset with regard to familial roles. Men are still expected to be the breadwinners of the family in a lot of societies and become financially secure at an early age. They are told to be strong, courageous and to show no signs of weakness. What this does, is cause more harm than good. Men are shown to less likely get access to psychological therapies than women and only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men. And most of these estimates do not boast a lot of accuracy because of the huge possibility of under-diagnosis.

In India, mental health related issues are still a taboo in most parts of the country and there isn’t enough awareness created amongst the common people to even identify that they’re facing a mental health related issue and should seek help for it. Most men do not properly identify their issues and tend to attribute it to fatigue, stress and assume that what they’re going through is just a phase in life that every other man goes through too. And the men who do manage to narrow down the problem forgo receiving help because of fear of being ostracised and looked down upon by the society. However, India, now, is slowly realising the importance of the mental health of its citizens and with the passing of the recent Mental Health Bill, we can expect an increase in discussions related to mental health. We need to become more open-minded and raise our boys to be strong.

But strength doesn’t lie in hiding one’s weakness, it lies in seeking help to overcome their issues. Men go through an immense amount of stress and they ought to be raised in an environment where they feel comfortable to openly talk about it and get help. Creating awareness is the need of the hour.

Even if the government does pass bills and publicise events like these to create awareness, the public must be willing to realise this issue and embrace change. The only ones who can change the minds of the masses are the masses themselves. So here’s to hoping that this same June, next year, a little more of the world and India especially, get to know about Men’s Health Week and come forward to talk about it. After all, we’re all looking for support and happiness in this changing world and maybe, we might just find it in each other.

 

Important websites to refer to –

·        http://www.menshealthmonth.org

·        http://www.menshealthweek.org.au

·        https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk

 

 – Srivasupradha R