HOW DO YOU PRACTICE SELF CARE ON A BAD MENTAL HEALTH DAY?

When your mental illness is so bad, you can’t get out of bed, when even the idea of facing the world is terrifying, I want you to remember that you are allowed to practice self care. You are allowed to stay home from school or work (you will not be able to work during a personal emergency, it’ll just make everything you are already dealing with feel worse.) and look after yourself. Here are a few suggestions on how to do so:

If the day is so heavy that even showering and brushing your teeth feels pointless, baby wipes and mouthwash are good options. Just rub baby wipes over your skin to feel at least a little bit fresher, and at least give you a little less anxiety about not showering. Mouthwash will help make you feel fresher for a few minutes.

If you find your hair too greasy, dry shampoo it and pull it back and away from your face. At least it won’t be in your way constantly, upsetting you further about your condition.

If you cannot make plans with anyone, or even go to work or school, tell someone you trust what is going on. Saying you are struggling with your mental health is not something to be ashamed of. Letting people know what is happening in your life will bring them to empathize more with your condition.

If you find yourself so low that the idea of eating makes you feel ill, drink water and keep hydrated. And when your body forces you to recognize it’s hungry, and you can’t even make yourself a sandwich, there is no harm in keeping protein bars, fruit or easy to eat food around the house or your room. Anything is better not eating at all, as not eating at all will contribute to your mental illness.

Collect a tool box of sorts for days like this: A playlist that is full of your favorite songs that can lift your spirits even slightly. A TV show/movie that has got you through a bad day before simply by distracting you. A book that is so imaginative that you get lost in it, even for a few minutes. Anything that can distract your mind or help, even if it is for a few minutes during a day like this should be part of this toolbox.

If you find yourself unable to sleep because your heart is thumping, your brain won’t shut off, all you can think of is the negative, your whole body feels like it’s one giant ball of unhappiness, find an audio book or instrumental music to listen to.

Keep a set of quotes that have personally affected you positively, just for days like this. Refer to them and remember how you have persisted over all your bad days so far. Remember that your mental illness does not control you and this is you at war. A war you will always manage to win, no matter how much it convinces you that you will not. It is your battles, your body against your mind, break those chains free.

– Kirthana Ravi

DO GOOD, FEEL GOOD – VOLUNTEERING AND MENTAL HEALTH

If I had to choose two words that best defined happiness for me, I would say kids and animals. I interact with school children once a week, where I teach them English and math, and that by far has been the most valuable experience I have  had in my college life.

What are the benefits of volunteering? The most common ones are usually “you make a difference in a person’s life”, or “it will look good on your resume”. However, studies have brought to light another advantage, and perhaps the most important one.  Volunteering is a proven mental health booster. According to “Doing Good is Good for You, 2013 Health and Volunteering Study”, volunteering helps people manage and lower their stress levels. 94 per cent of those surveyed reported that volunteering also improves their mood. Volunteers also scored higher than non-volunteers on emotional well-being measures including overall satisfaction with life.

I recently happened to watch the critically acclaimed Malayalam movie “Ustaad Hotel”. It follows the story of the protagonist who loves cooking, and aims to work as an executive Chef in a top restaurant abroad. Owing to disapproval from his father, he is forced to spend some time with his grandfather, working at his small yet popular hotel. What follows is a beautiful journey of self growth, where he comes to realize that serving the needy and the socially ostracized segment such as the mentally challenged, gave him much more satisfaction and joy than he would have ever received at any commercial, high end establishment.

Volunteering is also an excellent antidepressant. Social isolation is a risk factor for depression. Volunteering helps you develop relationships and support systems, both of which can help you overcome obstacles and fight depression.  Scientifically such interactions release a hormone called oxytocin, which helps us to bond and care for others and also helps us to handle stress better. Interacting with others and listening to their stories will not only take your mind off your troubles but also leave you feeling good about yourself.

On a personal note, interacting with kids, and volunteering at animal shelters has increased my self-confidence, and most importantly gives me immense satisfaction, joy and a sense of purpose.

So if you also wish you had fewer days where you just felt like curling up in a corner and feeling bad for yourself, put on those Good Samaritan shoes and volunteer for a cause that’s close to your heart!

-Ramya

A TRIBUTE TO HOLLYWOOD’S BELOVED MAGICIAN

 “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it”.

                                                                             -Robin Williams

On August 11th, 3 years ago, the world lost its undisputed king of comedy and one of the greatest actors we had ever known, Robin Williams. Williams took his own life after a decade-long battle with depression and the onset of Lewy body dementia along with Parkinson’s disease. However, he left us with a legacy of inspiring, one of kind movies such as Mrs. DoubtfireDead Poets SocietyGood Will Hunting, and Good Morning, Vietnam, to name a few.

Every single movie of his has inspired us to try harder, given us hope when we felt like we were stuck in a bottomless pit, cheered us up when our self-confidence had hit an all new low and made us laugh till our stomachs hurt. Williams pours out his heart and soul into each and every character he has ever portrayed, leaving us with a medley of emotions.

Dead Poets Society”, was one such movie that hits you deep within your soul, leaving an everlasting impact in your life. Robin Williams delivered one of his most memorable performances in the film, playing the role of John Keating, an English teacher in the elite conservative boarding school Welton Academy.  He inspires his students to embrace their passion, and allow themselves to be consumed by poetry, love, music and art. Whenever you feel chocked by the mundane everyday grind of life, make it a point to watch this movie. Being one of my personal favorites, this movie continues to be a huge source of inspiration to all, edging us on to dream big and follow our heart.

Patch Adams”, is another noteworthy role that was received with mixed emotions. Patch Adams tells the inspirational true story of this once clinically depressed, newly invigorated caregiver on his journey through medical school and beyond. Breaking all the molds, Patch’s excessive cheer and optimism challenge conventional medical practices. Practicality or compassion? Indifference or concern? He chooses to love and respect those in pain, improving life instead of just delaying death. And the payoffs are tremendous. He believes that hospitals should personally interact with their patients and that laughter and kindness were easily the most effective medicines. Patch Adams has the potential to inspire medical professionals help prevent the alienation of patients from their caregivers. Though critics dismissed this film as a mawkish tear-jerker, it captures the human spirit at its finest.

Good Will Hunting” gave Williams the coveted Oscar for his role as Matt Damon’s therapist. This is a powerful film about Will, a working class janitor, who leaves MIT professors dumfounded with his IQ. However, his aggression and complacency leaves no room for personal growth. This is where, Williams enters, guiding Will into the path of self-discovery. This film boasts of two of Robin William’s best speeches, so juicy they look set to become actors’ audition pieces: one about the virtue of imperfection, the other a hostile lecture to Will on the difference between knowledge and experience.

 Be it a hilarious RJ who tries to bring some much needed humor into the lives of Vietnam war soldiers, the rib tickling yet honest portrayal of a father, trying to spend more time with his children under the guise of their new nanny in “Mrs. Doubtfire” or the cheerful “Teddy Roosevelt” in the “Night at the museum” series, Robin Williams was a gem of an individual, who was taken away from us too soon.

I was completely taken aback on hearing of his suicide, and that was when the magnitude of depression really hit me. Depression distorts your thoughts. It makes the world black and white. It sucks all the optimism and will out of you. Maybe there’s something that triggered it, something that was ongoing, but worsened to a point where you could not take it anymore. Sometimes there’s no reason, and that’s even worse somehow. In an interview, Robin William’s wife had said “Depression was one of let’s call it 50 symptoms, and it was a small one.”  He had been suffering with debilitating brain disease called “ Lewy body dementia” accompanied as it usually is, with paranoia and depression. Frequently misdiagnosed, it is the second most common neurodegenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s and causes fluctuations in mental status, hallucinations and impairment of motor function.

We cannot completely criticize his choice to give up his life instead of fighting his problems without personally understanding what he might have gone through. However, remember, there is always another path that leads to a happier ending. The dark tunnel will ultimately lead to light. The process of finding that might seem emotionally draining, but with the help of loved ones, you will surely get there.

Robin Williams himself had once said, “If you are that depressed, reach out to someone. And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”.   If you feel like you are slowly falling into the waiting hands of depression, stop, think of all the happy moments in your life, the people who love you, mainly your parents, to whom you are the single most important source of happiness.

I would like to end this tribute with a quote from the “Dead Poets Society”.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world”.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for changing ours.

-Ramya MA

 

MEET RISHI

A 19 year old boy who hates talking to people because he’s so agitated all the time, crying himself to sleep every night. Even Gayatri and Kunal kind of avoid meeting him, his best friends from school. Now, obviously not being much of a people’s person, he’s a loner in college too, pursuing a course which he chose for himself but now loathes. So boring, right? His parents Mr. & Mrs. Agarwal running in the corporate race,making both ends meet, after coming back from their work, fight. Frustrated with their life, they shout and argue and taunt till one of them is too tired to even comprehend the present situation. But this does not make Rishi sad because this is normal in his family. On weekends when they finally have a little time, they go out for movies, with pin drop silence in their car, on the way to theater and on the way back home.

These days Mr. & Mrs. Agarwal are a little concerned about Rishi because he’s completely wasting his life. He’s sleeping all the time, doesn’t go out, has no hobby and the only type of conversation they have with him is when they end up saying “Shut up and learn to talk respectfully”, making them even more frustrated.

So, one fine day Mr. Agarwal decides to give Rishi a pep talk, he goes up to him and asks, “Now what’s wrong? This behavior of yours is completely unjustified, we provide you with everything, you have chosen the course of your interest, then what’s so upsetting? Neither you are focusing on your college nor are you trying to do anything else. Stop acting like a loser and start making something of yourself. You act as if we have been torturing you. Is someone hurting you?”, Rishi thinking to himself, “should I again try to explain or should I not”?, feeling really vulnerable Rishi decided to explain, “Dad, no one’s hurting me and I don’t know how to make you understand, but I feel sad all the time. Even I don’t understand what’s wrong with me, but I think I might have depression…”, interrupting him, Mr. Agarwal says,” Oh my god! I’ve told you before also this depression and all does not exist. All these stupid illnesses have been created by these so called counselors to steal our money, don’t believe everything you read on internet. This is all just a way of these doctors making money by stealing ours. You are not some crazy person, I’m sure of that.” Rishi getting furious, says, “ Having depression does not make a person crazy, don’t you understand!” Mr. Agarwal again interrupting, says “ Your irrelevant and obnoxious excuses to just laze all day is just making me sick. Enough is enough. From tomorrow I want all of this to stop and you’ll attend your college daily and I want to see results. You are getting all these stupid ideas because you have nothing to do. You were not like this before, Rishi. We love you but you need to get back on track. You need to be a little strong or you’ll regret this attitude in future”, his father exits the room leaving Rishi alone, making him think that he’s some kind of a loser.

Now Rishi had to take this matter in his own hands. As he was mentally too weak to do anything he was also determined to get out of it as soon as possible. So he took away some money from his parents, without them knowing, and with some of his pocket money, he consulted a renowned and a certified psychiatrist. Later, he was diagnosed with clinical depression. His psychiatrist stated that due to constant bullying in school, even though it was in a playful manner made him lose all his confidence and gradually affected his social life and his studies. This was the trigger point for his depression. He also could not confine his problems into his friends because he was too ashamed to do so.

He completed his treatment in 6 months and became a healthy adult and back to being himself again. Now, he was prepared to face any challenge coming his way with full strength and optimism because this illness called depression left him as strong as ever.

This is to let all the readers know who think the same as Mr. Agarwal, that mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and so many other illnesses do exist and people suffering from such illnesses need medical treatment just like any other illness. Having depression is as normal as having food poisoning. It’s high time we break the stigma.

– SAUMYA SINGH

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 discouraged 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!

Here are a few tips to new creators:

  1. Do not post content just to garner attention
  2. Do not reply unless a comment is constructive feedback. Refrain from engaging with ‘haters’
  3. Do not take absurd risks just to get clickbait worthy content
  4. Support other creators and build an online community that is welcoming to new users
  5. Choose a hobby that you are truly passionate about
  6. Be patient. If you post content that you truly enjoy creating, then your followers will also love it.

                                                                                      -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

                                         

 

Dreams to Emotions

Do you know how it feels, when you are tied on a rope, clenched tightly on your neck, pulled from both the sides and the only way you can escape is by letting one side win? Wanting both, and struggling in the middle – you’re gonna choke and suffer. The struggle is hard. You eventually end up dead, but death is not an easy or instant one. Torture blows on you. Your blood stream fastens and it just wants to rush out but it can’t. Tired of choking, you decide to go to either one of the side, which again, gets you to a dead end: to live without your soul. Death at every step, cornered, fate, fate, destiny, luck, god and hope laugh at you. You fall down. You cry. Wanting the rope to silently fall down, but it doesn’t. Both sides have hold it tight. You are stuck. You chose either of the three options put forth to you. You lose yourself. Once and forever.

Do you know how that feels? To beheld up tightly, choking, wanting for air,wanting to breathe, wanting to live.

I lost. I gave up. Stuck in the middle of the rope of life I never wanted to be in, Crushed in between emotions and dreams without which survival is impossible. To chose between who I want to be and who made me, I lost my tug of war with destiny, I lost myself.
It is okay to have dreams, it is okay if you couldn’t conquer. It is not fine, enforcing someone else to live it for you. Let your little bird fly high with its dream. It’ll learn to fly on its own. It will fall, but it will get up. If it can’t, it knows what to do.
I respect those who give up dreams for their family. I also respect those who give up family for their dreams. For those who are stuck, wanting both, we know we lost a bit of our souls, wondering what will be, our purpose of life now.

Don’t let your child lose its life or soul.

Sincerely,
A dead soul with chopped wings getting tamed to be someone’s slave.

Image credits: https://in.pinterest.com/explore/bird-sketch/

Depression

I woke up today,
with an heart almost broken,
Bleeding tears through every crack left open,
My soul feels ice cold, and there’s voices in my head,
Silently screaming all at once,I don’t know if I’m alive or if I’m dead,

Everyday feels worse, I can’t keep my eyes open,
Everytime I shut them down, nightmares awaken,
I feel pain and I feel numb, paralyzed but shaken,
Hateful eyes spitting venom, my safe places all forsaken,

Will anybody miss me? Will anybody care?
Will they even notice when I’m no longer there?
I feel invisible, I’m choking on myself,
My mind feels claustrophobic like it’s crushing on itself,

It’s hard to go to bed, and It’s hard to wake up,
Like a dog without his bone, I feel lost and all alone,
I want somebody to know, I want somebody to care,
But I’m too afraid being judged, when I leave my feelings bare,

All my tears feel like acid, My voice is always broken,
I just want to see, a Human Being being human.

Just another cut, Just another scratch,
“What’s that little mark?” “No, that was just my cat”
Just another excuse, Just another lie,
“You wear bracelets now?” “Just fashion, why?”
Just another tear, Just another scream,
“Vishal, were you crying?” “No, Just had a bad dream”
It’s not just a cut, or a tear or a lie,
It’s always just one more, till the day that I die.

– Vishal Muralidharan

For a Friend

What goes through people when they decide to take their own lives ? I would never know….. I have never been there. I would never want to either. But I know something else. Grief. Grief of losing someone you cared about. Grief of losing someone you wish you knew better. Grief of losing someone you wish you had spoken with one last time before there was no more time left. Grief of losing the joyful soul of a friend untimely to the perilous hands of death. Death by suicide.

Gourab was a jolly young man. I remember my initial impression of him as the guy on whom was attached the stigma of having an year back in school. However, I would want him to be remembered for anything but that now. He not only overturned his educational problems by working hard during the time I knew him, but also always did it with a smile. A smile which made me happy. Made probably everyone he knew happy. Little did we know the happiness was hiding something far more painful than anything we could even fathom. Gourab wasn’t the first friend I had lost in my school life. I had lost another friend named Soumyadeep to leukaemia. However, this was different. And far more painful. I do not know if any philosopher has made any analogy to link age with emotional distress and pain; however, I know it for a fact that an analogy is not too far off. Or it was just the fact that Gourab’s suicide was out of the blue. Shock has that lingering memory which claws at you, asking you how things could be different. Was I close to him ? I do not know about others, but from where I am from, you do not study in a class for two of the toughest of your adolescent years and not be close. From analysing our favorite club Manchester United together to the time spent playing football after school, from playing hand cricket all through boring Chemistry hours to meeting up and discussing movies at uninteresting tuitions, he had been a quintessential friend during those years. Moving to SRM did bring a heavy toll on my social life with my friends back in Kolkata, for in trying to settle in within a culture shock and catching upto engineering I had been guilty of ignoring the people I loved the most. And that included Gourab. Two years of studying engineering passed by in a breeze, I settled down in my new life and with new friends, till a friend called me up on that fateful day to tell me Gourab had committed suicide. I would be lying if I say I ever expected something remotely similar to happen. I didn’t really know what to do. I was not shocked, not sad…..I felt nothing. I attended class as usual. Went about my day….till it was lunch break and a friend expressed gratitude for me sharing my food with him. That is when it hit me. The abyss of having lost a friend. The feelings reverberated in me till I could hold it no more. I cried. Long and hard. I didn’t know why, or what even really brought this, I just did. Gourab’s death brought me sadness. Sadness which passed but for moments of passing grief on specific days of the year. His death brought me misery which accompanies the shocking misery associated with losing loved ones. Even that passed. What didn’t pass was regret. Suicide is not accidental or biological, it is the result of constant crippling psychological trauma. And I could have been a better friend, maybe even tried to find out if everything was okay. All those busy school fests, I could have taken an evening out to call a dear friend and ask him if he was doing fine. Catch up on our shared anger at Moyes’s mishandling of ManUtd. Tell him how engineering is sapping the life out of both of us. Tell him, “Chill, It’s a burden we both are sharing, and it’s a burden we can split between us”. Explain to him by telling that ” Don’t go friend, this world is tough, and one less friend is one less shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough.” Maybe even offer my shoulder for him to vent his grief out on. Like a brother. But why would I ? Gourab was always happy, and psychological stress is hardly a problem. Till this world’s refusal to see a problem for what it is was too late, my blindness to a friend’s misery was perpetrated to an extent where it didn’t see through a facade. And when the facade fell, so did a dear friend.

Gourab is no mere friend, brother, son lost to suicide. He is one of many martyrs, who have cleared the clout in our minds surrounding mental stress and psychological illness. I will never commit suicide, and I ensure I checkup on everyone I love, telling them that they are loved, ensuring that they know they have some place to go to in order to vent, not lose it all in inevitable death. Suicide is as real a threat as HIV or Zika, but my friend taught me it can be fought……together. I loved him like a brother, and wish his soul peace. More importantly, I wish him gratitude. He left me a life where I knew that nothing could be more important that people close to you, and they could have demons like you, but far more terrifying. I will be there for them. I am sorry I couldn’t be there once. That is my demon, and I am fighting it. This is not an eulogy, it is a letter acknowledging something I have never done. Dear friend, thank you for being there, thank you in life and in death, and thank you for leaving me with a wonderful touch of perspective. And know, I miss knowing that every night I go to sleep, you are safe in some part of the globe. Goodbye dear friend. I promise I will not let what you taught me in life and in death go to waste. I promise.

– Soumyajyoti Bhattacharya

Image Credits : Google Images