The road to Self-Love

The road to accepting your own self is a long and tedious one for everyone. But for those who wake up every morning to continue their battle against mental health issues, the road can look endless. But that is the essence of it, there is no end to this journey. We learn how to become better versions of ourselves with every passing day and every day we learn a bit more of ourselves in this process. There will be times when you could feel the worst in your own body and mind but you can be so much stronger as you slowly overcome that. There will be days when nothing seems right and you would want to give up working towards self-growth and in those days, find strength in others and their words. Do not let one day hinder you. If you feel tired and weak, rest but do not quit. Self-love is easier to preach but so much more difficult to embrace. Social media portrays everything as flowery sunshine and rainbows wrapped under a neat bow-tie whereas reality is far true from that. Do not compare your own progress to others and also remember that your self-love can be much different from someone else’s’. To you, accepting your own brain and its twists and turns and learning to embrace it can be your self-love and to someone else waking up a bit earlier to develop a new habit can be self-love. There is absolutely no limit to what self-love is and the various forms it can take. I refer to it as an abstract entity because it is one, it isn’t a tangible goal that you achieve but rather a process, a habit you develop. In the meantime, while you think about what self-love means to you and develop them, try a few different things to see what works for you. Speaking a few words of encouragement to your own self every morning can be a good place to start. Only if you believe in yourself can you truly begin the process of growth and self-care and love. The first step is the scariest but once done, you will start to run in no time. Remember there is no true definition of self-love, it can be whatever you want it to be and is ever-changing. Here’s all the luck in the world to your path to discovering what self-love looks like to you!. 

Peace and PTSD

Trigger warning: Mentions of death and trauma.

Peace.

Such a deceptive word. Such an abstract concept. Such an elusive feeling.

But the guardians of peace, they’re as real and tangible as you and I. The Armed Forces lead lives that most of us cannot and they do so willingly, without an ounce of doubt or hesitation. And their mental health issues are as real and tangible as ours. 

Those of us who lead relatively safe and peaceful lives do not appreciate the Army enough. Most troopers go unacknowledged and unnoticed despite their valiant attempts to safeguard our lives, and needless to say, once they retire, they do not get the right emotional support as they rightfully should.

‘Service Before Self’ is the motto of the Indian Army, and while it is very honourable, one has to wonder if it is a healthy idea. The ugly truth is that 11% to 20% of veterans suffer from mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression, stemming from their experiences in war.  

Not many of us are familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and so don’t recognize the symptoms that are right in front of our eyes. As the name suggests, a person develops PTSD due to trauma suffered in the past.  In veterans, the trauma may be caused by killing someone, watching someone die, or even due to the sheer number of threats they face every day. It can be anything that is shocking and/or impactful enough for the person to feel disturbed by it. In fact, some veterans even see the intense training they go through as traumatic.

PTSD manifests itself in several ways.  Some common symptoms are insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety and panic attacks, which will eventually lead to the person falling into a depression.

Army veterans are more commonly susceptible to PTSD in the form of insomnia and depression. Ever heard of soldiers unable to sleep due to recurring violent dreams? Chances are high that they are suffering from insomnia.  Ever felt seen a veteran insisting on always being armed, scouting out all the exits in a place, and jumping at even the tiniest sounds? That could very well be anxiety and restlessness. All of which are indicators of PTSD.

So the question is, how do we deal with PTSD? Well, this is a very harmful mental health issue and needs to be treated immediately by qualified medical professionals. However, here are some quick tips that might help in the meantime:

 

  • Go Outdoors: It is an old saying that there is no medicine quite like fresh air, and let me tell you, our elders knew what they were talking about. People suffering from PTSD quite commonly feel suffocated or claustrophobic, and pursuing outdoor activities like swimming and jogging can help in clearing your head, and will also help in improving your physical health. 

 

  • Develop Trust:  Lack of trust and hopelessness accompany any and all forms of depression, and people suffering from PTSD, in particular, experience restlessness and anxiety because of loss of trust in people around them. So the solution is to trust that you are safe. Trust in the future. And most importantly, trust in yourself.
  • Get Support: There is nothing wrong in asking for help. Confiding your worries in at least one person and getting support from them will prove to be extremely helpful. There are so many loved ones waiting to support and encourage you. The only thing you need to do is ask.
  • Ground Yourself: When you feel a panic attack coming on, or when you feel depression weighing down on you, try to calm yourself down through small distractions. You can try humming your favourite song, or counting to 1000, or even reciting the alphabets backwards. If you are in a quiet place, you can also practice meditation or pranayama. They not only help in regulating your body functions but also prove effective in stopping your attacks. 

We often think of army men and women as being these infallible heroes. And while they deserve to be celebrated as such, one has to remember that they are as much flesh-and-blood as any living being, and hence frequently fall prey to illnesses.

Because denial is the first barrier to treating PTSD; it’s not only the people around who are in denial but oftentimes the people themselves deny that there is anything wrong with them. This is especially true of veterans, who easily dismiss the symptoms of PTSD and other disorders because they feel that they do not have the liberty to show weaknesses. 

What they don’t realise is that our weaknesses are what make us human.

Team LonePack salutes all soldiers and veterans, and wishes them a very happy National Army Day!

Thank you for your service.

 

New Year Resolutions for the New You!

A New Year signifies everything good and positive about this world, and about us, because it not only brings with it the chance to eat desserts and enjoy being around people you love, it also gives you the chance to start afresh. You’re given a clean slate to sketch your own Mona Lisa, or to write your own sonnet.

And while we’re on the topic of writing, what about the most important (and probably the most fun) part of New Years? Yes! Resolutions!

Resolutions remain an integral part of starting over. Not only are they fun to think about and formulate, but they are also the rules we set for ourselves that keep us grounded for the rest of the year. But there are those who look past the fun and stress over following them to the dot. My advice to those folks? Don’t!

It is like a rite of passage that you end up forgetting at least one of the resolutions you make for the new year, and that’s fine. Yes, we do solemnly swear to uphold them, but it’s completely okay to change those goals, or even deciding that you don’t gel well with them. In the end, what matters is that you do the best for yourself, your health and your future. 

Are you having trouble coming up with resolutions? Wondering what could be both easy to uphold and, at the same time, is good for you? Here are some of LonePack’s suggestions of resolutions that will help you improve your mental and physical health:

  •   Get enough sleep

 ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise’ is something each of us has heard at least a million times in our childhood, and while I don’t know about the other two, a good amount of sleep is essential to maintaining your health. Doctors say that 8 is the optimum number of hours to sleep at night, but what is crucial is that it’s 8 hours of continuous, deep sleep.  So this New Year, pledge to get 8 hours of proper sleep, and it is guaranteed that you can start each day fresh and on a positive note.

 

  • Commit to learning/doing something new

 

Painting, palmistry, kung fu or kayaking; developing a hobby can be helpful in many ways. It not only a productive use of your time but is also known to calm your nerves and prove a relaxing activity. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive like calligraphy or sculpting; it can be as simple as learning one new word a day. So what’s your fancy?

 

  • Maintain a diary/journal

 

Maintaining a diary or a journal gives you a sense of purpose; a clear direction, and the routine activity helps maintain your peace, too. Writing, in itself, is a cathartic activity and can help you destress and process your feelings more thoroughly. Putting your thoughts down on paper is tantamount to speaking to a therapist or confiding in someone; it is, in fact, easier than that. You won’t need to worry about confidentiality or judgement; what you write is your own. So go ahead and pen your thoughts down!

 

  • Start practising yoga or other physical activities

 

Exercise of any kind goes a long way in keeping both mentally and physically healthy. Be it Zumba, yoga, table tennis or skipping; keeping your body fit is of the utmost importance. Research shows that half an hour of any physical pursuit acts as an antidepressant and helps improve your mood significantly. Now, I understand that exercise can be hard for a lot of people, and you may find yourself lacking motivation, but constantly reminding yourself of the reason why you started in the first place, should do the trick! Also, whenever you feel like you want to quit, ask yourself this: ‘Will I regret this decision tomorrow?’ These are just two different ideas, but the truth is, if you persevere, anything is possible!

 

  • Restrict your tech-time

 

This one is infinitely more important, especially in this era dominated by smartphones and laptops. People don’t have the time or interest to go out and socialize, because hey, what are Facebook and Insta for, right? Immersing yourself in smart devices or other technology for prolonged amounts of time is extremely harmful, as it not only impacts your body physically but also affects your mental wellness. Meeting other people is immensely beneficial in improving your mood and health because humans are social animals. You don’t even have to worry about starting a conversation; every single person in the world speaks the language of smiles. So go out, smile at a stranger, watch the magic unfold!

And finally, as we stand at the precipice of something new, filled with the joy gained from our highs and the wisdom from our lows, it is important that we look back and be grateful for all that has happened to us this past 12 months.

Be it that job promotion, or the loss of a loved one; be it the exhilarating trekking adventure that you went on, or the friend who betrayed you; be it the smiles you radiated, or the tears you shed, everything that you have gone through, willingly or not, has shaped you into the person you are today. Yes, there may have been painful times, maybe even more than the happier ones, but you’ve survived it all, and you’re here right this moment, at the dawn of a new chapter of your life, and that is something to be thankful for.

So this New Year, let’s all pledge to embrace the past and enjoy the present.

Team LonePack wishes you a very happy and healthy New Year!

 

Of Courage and Cowardice

Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide and self harm

 “I’m sorry that I’m such a coward.”  

It was a WhatsApp text from a very close friend that I’m not sure was really meant to be sent, because it got deleted in a few seconds.  I was just about to question the meaning behind it, when the bell ringing distracted me. Quickly throwing my phone inside my bag, I rushed to the front bench, as a proper student would do, and forgot all about the message. 

That was two years back.

Fast forward to two days back, and I was sitting there, tears streaming down my cheeks, stuffing my face with popcorn, watching ‘A Star Is Born’.  

*Spoiler Alert*

To those of you who haven’t watched it, A Star Is Born is a musical romantic drama movie about a famous singer battling alcohol addiction (Bradley Cooper) and a young woman who also aspires to be a musician (Lady Gaga). Long story short, they fall in love, marry, and she achieves her dreams at the cost of his life. 

That’s right. Jack (Cooper) commits suicide at the end of the film, which gives Ally (Lady Gaga) the tearful motivation to pursue her ambition. 

At the end of the movie, Ally is (understandably) guilt-stricken, and feels that she is to blame for his death. 

*End of Spoiler*

I felt that it was like Beauty and the Beast with an alternate ending, what with the gradual falling in love, learning about each other, secrets kept, and all that, but the movie did get in a few points in it’s favour. Like the songs, for example. 

Though I felt that Lady Gaga’s voice didn’t really go with some of the lyrics; that she could not convey the depth of the lyrics, the soundtrack was very good, so kudos to Cooper and her. 

If asked for a review, I would give the movie a 3.0/5.0 and declare it as worth a one-time watch, just for Bradley Cooper’s charm. But we’re here to discuss more than that. 

Let’s go back to when I was 19 and naive.

Two months after that deleted WhatsApp message, I almost lost my friend to a bicycle accident, as we had everyone believe. 

My friend was rubbish at lying when it came to me, so I  managed to coax out the truth. My friend had decided to die that day, getting on a bicycle and riding down a busy road with closed eyes. 

“I’m so sorry.” Were the first words my friend said to me. 

Next came the words I had read two months prior; ‘I’m sorry that I’m such a coward.”

I found that I disagreed at that point, once I had gotten over my initial anger and shock.

I’ve always felt that suicide requires a certain amount of courage. The courage to leave your loved ones behind, the courage to give up all your hopes and dreams, and the courage to look past the potential consequences of your actions.  It is quite obvious then, that the people left behind, your near and dear ones, should require an even greater amount of courage. It is they who have to deal with the consequences of your actions, who have to choose to go on without you in their lives, and most importantly, they who should absolve themselves of blame and guilt.

One way in which you can alleviate your guilt is by identifying someone else who is going through a rough phase and helping them get over it.

Here is what you can do if you know someone who might need help:

  1. Notice the signs: Another thing that ‘A Star is Born’ got right was the signs of depression that Jack pulled off quite well. The addiction, the mood swings, the fits of anger, and the deep sorrow are all things that people suffering from depression often exhibit. Severe depression also reflects itself on the physical attributes of a person, like fatigue and insomnia. If you also notice one of these signs and see someone giving away their possessions or speaking with a sense of finality, chances are that they are about to take a bad decision.
     
  2. Speak out:  Most of those suffering from guilt, like Ally, think that maybe if they had shown enough love, it wouldn’t have happened. I used to think that, too, in the days following that incident. That’s a wrong notion, I realized, because depression is a sickness, and suicide is a decision that very sick people take. We are not all doctors, and we cannot all have cured them. Love or affection couldn’t have just changed Jack’s mind, as Bobby (Sam Elliot) tells Ally at the end of the movie.
    But if you identify someone else with depression, you can take that first step; you can talk to that person. Tell them that everything will be okay; provide constant encouragement. 
  3. Never give up:  You can convince yourself into thinking that if only you had given that smile, if only you had said those words, your loved one would have been there with you. The list of ‘If-only’ is endless, and every one of them will seem true to you at the moment of guilt. But they’re all impossible because unfortunately, every known piece of Time-Turners was smashed during the fight at the Ministry of Magic.
    On a more serious note, you can help the next person. You can help by never giving upon them. no matter how difficult that person is being, no matter how hopeless they seem. Keep talking to them; make them realize that you’re there for them. In most instances, the person would need professional help, so support them while they take that step.

The answer to the most commonly asked question, ‘What could I have done differently?’ is this: nothing. But the question, ‘What can I do now?’ has a more positive answer.

What is it that C. S. Lewis said? “You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

So reach out to those who need help; especially those who do not ask for it. 

Teach them to dance in the rain and count stars in the dark.  

Show them that self-love is the first step towards living a happy life. 

After all, as a wise man once said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

-Pooja Krishna H A

A Look into Copycat Suicides

Trigger Warning: Mentions of Suicide and Self-harm

We might have probably heard of the word ‘copycat’ for the first time in the playground. This childish word being associated with a deathly term ‘suicide’ calls for a serious understanding. To briefly explain, A person is said to attempt copycat suicide if he is influenced by the same method of suicide as a famous star/celebrity. 

Many cases of suicides could’ve been prevented with the right kind of support offered at the right time. But several psychological factors like stress or peer pressure lead people to take decisions that lead to self-harm. In addition, when a person reads about suicidal news glorified by the media, it is likely to trigger suicidal thoughts in his mind at their lowest moments. Studies suggest that the rate of suicides has increased whenever a celebrity has committed suicide.

An example of this phenomenon is that of Marilyn Monroe, who died by suicide in 1962 and the suicide attempt rate increased by 12 per cent. But in the case of the Nirvana lead singer, Kurt Cobain in 1994, the media made an effort for a restricting report and it saw a decrease in the rate and increase in the helpline calls. Another case was in 2014 when the Oscar-winning star of “Good Morning, Vietnam”, Robert Williams, died of asphyxia (suffocation) after hanging himself at his home. Following this, it was found that there was a 32 per cent increase in the number of deaths from suffocation and a doubling in the number of calls received by the suicide prevention lifeline. The research also suggested that this was mainly because media amplified the news by providing even the smallest of details. A very recent example is of the controversial Netflix series ’13 reasons why’. An analysis of internet search said that in the 19 days after the series got aired in 2017, the search for the term ‘suicide’ rose by 20 per cent. 

It is very important to understand how a person’s attitude can change after a famous star’s death. they may start considering it to be a way out of all his problems and It is unfortunate that media doesn’t take enough care to report the news with delicacy and explicit warnings. Media is one of the most powerful weapons of democracy and it also has the power to influence imitation suicides, if it doesn’t follow the laid guidelines to report suicidal news. It shouldn’t be exaggerating their deaths. It is also on our part to not get moved by such news and call the suicide prevention lifeline even if we have the slightest idea to do so. There is surely a way out of every problem. Depression is a fight that can be won with the right support and self-belief. with determination and will power. Life is full of obstacles, but no such obstacle has the power to end life. Even if we don’t get what we deserve, we must learn to stand alone and fight it out, instead of harming ourselves. Do reach out for help, there is nothing more important than your mental well-being. 

 

Exploring Media and Mental Health

The world can seem to be really cruel sometimes. Nothing might go your way and the things and circumstances that we experience might make us believe that nothing good will ever cross our paths again. Discussing openly about the demons that we fight takes a lot of courage and vulnerability and it is a hard thing to do. However, sharing the pain would ultimately sought to only do more good to us. Awareness about various mental health issues is also a need of the hour and a key aspect of exploring mental health issues and its reach is through media. There is absolutely no doubt that media has the biggest influence and reach today. Everything from entertainment to information is at the click of a button and with it comes the problem of regulation. With regards to mental health issues, there is a slow rise in shows and movies that explore them yet there is always the question of if they are being portrayed the right way. A lot of thought and delicacy has to be put into making these shows and movies that will ultimately be shown to a large audience. Responsibility must be taken by those who write the script so that the issues sought to break the taboo of talking about mental health and breaking the stigma surrounding it rather than just using them as a commercial marketing gimmick. So this week leading up to the Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, we hope to explore some of the aspects of modern pop culture that have portrayed mental health issues. Some of the content might contain Trigger Warnings so please be aware of them. Do take the time to read through them and let us know of your own thoughts on how and if modern pop culture does its job of dealing with mental health issues well. 

 

One,Two and Three – A 3 step process to reboot your mind

If you want to change your actions, you have to change your thoughts. If you want to change your thoughts, then you have to change the way you perceive yourself. If you want to change your perception about yourself, you must change the experience.

Yes, an experience with your true self.

 

Often, we approach fixing problems like developing an algorithm. An algorithm has a few major components – the inputs, the processing logic/storage and the output. Quite frankly, that is analogous to how our mind works. It observes the actions, words and emotions of others in our environment, stores it in the database called the subconscious and we somehow adapt to these actions, thoughts, emotions without even realizing we are doing it.

But, often what we consider self-awareness is more of what we are NOT than what we really are. We tell ourselves things based on comparison with other people. After every task you complete, your mind automatically compares the same kind of task done by someone else in a different manner, hence implying you didn’t do your best.

This never ending fight with your self-image, leaves no room for growth.

The reality is the polar opposite of what we tell ourselves. No matter how disgusting our delusions are, how negative we think of ourselves, how we judge ourselves, we are human. We have infinite potential, to pause, refresh, and resume. The three step process.

It’s a 3 step process!

Every single time a notification pings in your mind that reads ‘ YOU CAN’T DO THIS ‘ , PAUSE.

Instead of berating yourself that you cannot do it, switch to ” I DEFINITELY CAN DO THIS GREAT” condition yourself to the opposite of what your irrational thoughts are telling you. Thus, you are refreshing your negative self-talk.

Finally, resume doing whatever you were doing with a bit more self-compassion, and a lot of love.

 

Constantly feeling the need to do something, to be occupied with work is the fear driven trap, sometimes based on experiences of previous trauma.  Our mind uses it as an escape mechanism to avoid dealing with inconvenient emotions.

 

Let’s do this affirmation, pause for a moment. And think of this beautiful word that the internet came up with, called “Sonder”. It’s not an actual word in the English dictionary, though “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows”, the website that created it, defines it as the realization that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

We share our world with 7.7 billion others like that. People lose their loved ones, their dream, their homes,  sometimes themselves and yet wake up the next morning and hustle. Some grieve about it for days and heal in isolation, Some grieve by destroying things, while some heal by creating new.

Each of us are finding ways to be happier, to seize the moment as it is, to love, to be loved.

We’re all so strong, even on the days when we feel like choking on sadness,

On the days we feel heavy, on the days we feel the void inside us, on the days we don’t feel like moving.

Why? Because we find a way – we keep going. No matter how many times we’ve told ourselves to give up. In reality we don’t really lose, we don’t really fail, we don’t actually give up.

We’re always told we will be where we want to be with whom we’re meant to be. But we are there right now, where we belong.

It warms my heart to know, to be around each and every one of you. You are so strong and you don’t even know that yet. Also, did I tell you that you did your best this week?

 

And it’s okay even if you do 0.001% more the upcoming week.

 

 

– Haniya Ahmed

 

 

 

 

 

Build the wall – Why emotional boundaries matter

I read this quote the other day by Paul Ferrini. It goes

“Those who have the greatest need to tell others what to do have the least faith in themselves”

Emotional distance is important even if it may seem difficult

 

Okay, story time. My grandmother is a 74 year old woman. A very fascinating story about a human who does not hold any triumphs or trophies to her name but managed to achieve a lot. Her father died the same year she was born in a fire accident. Losing her husband to this tragedy had made her mother reckless, helpless and left with no purpose to live but for her daughter, and for the child inside of her. She then gave birth to another beautiful child, my grandmother’s younger sister.

She had gone through the loss of her husband and was widowed with two daughters. One night she left the child unattended in the cradle. The next morning she woke up to see her infant dead. Drowned in self blame and guilt she decided to end her life as an act of balancing the death of her child. Left alone was my one year old grandmother.

She was married to my grandfather when she was 14. Sixty years, 5 children and 8 grandchildren later she still longs for the love of her mother. She says it crushes her heart to not be able to remember how her father looked like, how soulful her mother sounded like. She grew up listening to stories about them from her grandparents.But one thing that astonishes me the most is her devotion towards family. Yes, I said devotion.

Solitude in childhood can shape our thoughts later in life. Picture Courtesy: “Then they rise” – Spirit Fire Art

Growing up with nothing, the idea of having someone to call family means the world to her. Her mind is wired in such a way that she thinks she owes the people who do the smallest gesture such as helping her cross the road. She remembers the most microscopic details of her encounters with every person she ever met. Somehow, she has lived 74 years of her life constantly thinking about whom to fix it for next. The ‘fixer’ in her forced her to believe that the sole purpose of her life was to make the lives of her loved ones, strangers who impacted in the slightest way too, easier. And somehow she forgot to live for herself. Overcoming a loss or post trauma, your subconscious builds a pattern that convinces you to interfere and repair it for others.

When you try to fix someone, even with the noblest of intentions it is very significant for you to realise that you serve as a block in their growth and learning process. Hurdles in life are nothing but lessons in disguise.

Stop projecting your fears onto the people you try ‘helping’. This calls for a reality check on your behavioural patterns. Your inability to face your fears,acknowledging your coping mechanisms, channelising them into productivity forces you to find an alternative way of dealing with things, by doing it for others.

The aftermath of mental illness, creates an undeniable pressure to try and save anyone else who is going through the same.

IT IS NOT YOUR JOB. 

Initially, the guilt takes a toll on you but isn’t that the beginning of self love? Being able to say NO. Being able to establish emotional boundaries is the first step of healing.

Protect your mental well being.

Respect their individuality,because we are all grown ups who can make choices that benefit us the most. As strange as it may seem, it is necessary for us to accept their decision.

The outcome of healing is not “ I don’t feel negative anymore” is not the end result of healing. It is “This negativity does not determine my self worth”

 

Haniya Ahmed

Dreaming Lives Away: A look into Maladaptive daydreaming

Everybody daydreams. Whether it be out of boredom or excess creativity, we all have times where we space out and makeup scenarios and situations inside of our heads, controlling details and plots in vivid detail. But what if the daydreaming starts taking over and controlling us?

Maladaptive daydreaming is a relatively recently discovered mental health condition that fits the bill. Yes, you read it right. As the name suggests, MD, as it is generally abbreviated, is a condition wherein daydreaming becomes an obsessive and compulsive action that spans for hours together and interferes with daily life activities instead of acting as a creative outlet to boredom. The condition has yet to officially be recognized as a disorder but there are multiple studies that take a look at MD from different perspectives, some pointing it to be a form of behavioural addiction.

The concept of Maladaptive daydreaming was brought to light to the research community by Prof. Eli Somer. He defined MD as an ‘‘extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning”. A quick google search will show a lot of forums and medical journals discussing this relatively newly discovered condition. To quickly sum up, the most commonly experienced symptoms of MD include but are not limited to

  • highly vivid and immersive daydreams
  • abnormally long daydreams that are hard to escape
  • an inability to carry out daily tasks
  • daydreams triggered by external events or stimuli, such as watching a film or listening to music
  • sleep disruption and insomnia
  • repetitive and unconscious movements when daydreaming, such as rocking back and forth or twitching

[Source: Medicalnewstoday]

These are only common and apparent symptoms, and they can vary widely from person to person. Since this is a relatively new addition to the world of mental health and a lot of research is still ongoing, not a lot of credible and solid data is currently available to us.

Now, taking a bit of a deeper look into the research available to us, with some of the work done by Prof. Somer, there appears to be some common MD elements between the participants in the research.

  • One would be that there seemed to be an underlying current of childhood trauma that served as the biggest trigger for the onset of MD.
  • Second, the dynamics of MD heavily involved repeated movements, whether it be pacing around while daydreaming or throwing and catching objects — participants stated that there was some form of movement involved while daydreaming.
  • Third, MD served as an outlet for participants to realize their fantasies and idealized selves that do not reflect in their realities and everyday lives — Power, Control and Perfection were some common themes that governed the daydreams of the participants. Being someone in positions of high power, being someone everyone loved, being someone who rescues other people seemed to be common versions of participants’ daydream-selves.

However, just these observations cannot serve as a complete look into MD since the symptoms of MD also heavily overlap with those of other mental health disorders as well. Many who experience MD may also experience ADHD, Depression, Disassociative disorder, OCD, Anxiety disorders and other disorders. Again, there is no concrete link between MD and other disorders but these are observations to be kept in mind as well.

So, with gaps in solid research, the best possible resources to look to at the moment would be forums run by people who are experiencing MD. Taking a look at these forums, it becomes clear that a lot of people all over the world have taken solace in knowing that they are not alone in experiencing things that they thought were exclusive to them. Many people in forums on the internet share their experiences wherein they state that they never truly realized that constantly daydreaming up to half of your day away wasn’t something that everyone did or experienced. When we look into what could trigger these daydreams on the daily, a lot of people mentioned music and films to be big triggers. They also shared that experiencing these highly vivid and compulsive daydreams also affected their social, academic and professional lives.

This could very well be the first time that you are coming across MD. This short article is only to serve as a note of information on this particular mental health condition so that you, as a reader, can take a deeper look into it, understand and gain awareness. To those who might feel like they relate to this particular article, it can be confusing to distinguish what the limit to a normal amount of daydreaming is and if this is a problem worth addressing at all. However, if you feel that your daydreaming is taking over your life and you aren’t able to fully control it, looking for professional help to properly diagnose the condition is the best option. 

It is up to us to create awareness about lesser-known mental health issues so that we as a community can help people who feel like they might be the only ones suffering and battling their condition.

References and resources:

[1] Maladaptive daydreaming: Evidence for an under-researched mental health disorder by Jayne Bigelsen, Jonathan M. Lehrfeld, Daniela S. Jopp, Eli Somer, Consciousness and Cognition 42 (2016) 254–266.

[2] Somer, E. Maladaptive Daydreaming: A Qualitative Inquiry. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy 32, 197–212 (2002). 

[3] https://wildminds.ning.com/ is a place that has a very active forum dedicated to Maladaptive daydreaming.  

[4] Image source: Psych2Go

Sunday-ing and taking ME Times

Warning: Use of derogatory terms in writing. 

Fast moving world, this is how I picture it in my head. The busy streets of New York, hundreds of people walking past the Times Square with caffeine in one hand and their mobiles on other. Nobody knows where the person right next to them is headed to, they walk together in total sync for minutes and then turn to their own directions and part ways. Nobody has the time to pause, to reflect. Sometimes it is scary to realise that every passing second of your life is the first and the last time of its occurrence in this version of reality, in this lifetime. Waking up every day, there is always a routine of activities ahead of us that we do throughout the entire day. School, college, work, home anywhere we go the schedule holds us hostage. 

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At the end of the day there is very little time left for ourselves. So, every dawn a voice deep down inside of you encourages you to do better today than yesterday. This voice is unique for everyone. One day it says be kind to others, the next day it says be kind to yourself.

It’s bitter sweet that we don’t live alone in this world. There are people, many people around you. Some make it easier for your voice, while some seem very hard to understand. And it’s natural for us to judge them. If you’re lucky, you’re right a couple of times but you know-Maybe the girl with the “social butterfly” status, who is currently with her 6th boyfriend whom you call a ‘slut’ misses the one true love that happened to her, her first love. Maybe the boy who doesn’t know how to talk to girls and is always with his books needs an 85% to continue his studies with a scholarship to support his widowed sick mother. Maybe the girl who starves in the name of dieting for the so-called ‘boy attention’  has an eating disorder that doesn’t help her gain weight but saves herself pizza every weekend. Maybe the guy who doesn’t hang out with the “Stud-gang” is suffering from stage 3 lung cancer, so he rather stays home writing the novel he always wanted to finish.  Maybe the boy who broke up with every girl he was ever with had a mother who left him for another man when he was just 4.  You know, just maybe.

 

Our job isn’t to fix anyone around us. Every person you meet has a different perception of you, you are bad in someone’s stories and good in others. Somehow we equate our self worth to others perception of yourself and thrive to make it perfect without accepting the fact that it is going to change anyway. 

Self-worth is not your list of achievements, in many dysfunctional families there are comparisons of the siblings involved, one might be smart while the other might be smart in a completely different sense. Pointing people out for their flaws isn’t going to help “change” them and we ought to realise this.

We often think we need to take ‘breaks’ or ‘pause’ or ‘unplug’ only if a very tight and serious schedule was a prerequisite. I mean it is not entirely our fault, we assume our self worth to be equivalent our productivity level and our list of achievements. So, I’m here to tell you. It might sound hideous to a regular person about why anyone would deserve a break if they didn’t work hard enough but a depressed person, takes their entire energy to wake up from his bed and is left with nothing for the whole day.

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Mental breaks are essential. Necessary to reboot yourself, cleanse your system, do relearning of your patterns. A few ways to do this creating something from the learning. People resort to painting, drawing, craft making, writing and journaling, creating music, cooking, exercise and more.  Always find something that makes you forget the world for a minute and do it with love every time you feel the need to do it.

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Happy ME TIMEs to you!