Of Songs and Anxiety

Sometimes, words fail me.

Allow me to digress for a bit. I love words and I love writing, that is the best way I communicate how I’m feeling and it makes the most comfortable medium for me to get my thoughts out. I dabble a lot in poetry and particularly love expressing spectrums of emotions and articulating them the right way to convey exactly what I want to, to people. However, when the same words sometimes don’t really fit together, don’t really weave themselves into what I want them to, what I want people to understand from them, all I’m left with is this frustrating pit of annoyance and helplessness with myself that I’ve somehow failed. And, for me, most of the time, these conversations happen to be on mental health. People don’t understand unless you communicate well, that much I’ve learnt. But what use is it if you can’t get what has been bothering you in your head, out? How do you make people take a look at all the swirling thoughts in your head and somehow hope that they’d understand what you’re feeling?

So, I suppose sometimes, words seem to fail me.

Or maybe I’ve yet to learn how to place them correctly.

Most of the frustrating moments for anyone battling mental health issues come with trying to make the person they’re talking to understand what they’re feeling. And what people have to realise is that it’d hard, incredibly hard to talk about it, to start a conversation. There will never be a right way to start, a right way to manoeuvre through the feelings and all that comes out is stuttered words spit out after being tongue-tied for so long. And hope. Hope that they understand, that the other person makes sense of the words, to relate, to empathise. And if the other person has dealt with the same or any other of the same sorts, then they will get it and it takes a big weight off of your shoulders. But when they don’t, all you are left with is this feeling of inadequacy and embarrassment and crushed hope.

We’ve all been there.

So then the question becomes, how do we communicate better? Better yet, how do we make people understand?

I’ve dealt with anxiety for quite a while. And I’ve dealt with trying to make people understand why I’m not all that comfortable being around too many new people, with starting conversations, with making small talk with barely known acquaintances, with why I cancel out on plans quite often. But they don’t understand most of the time. I hope they did try to but I don’t blame them for not “getting it”. Humans are creatures of habit, anything we don’t relate to, we don’t really try too much to understand. But it becomes overwhelming when everyone around me seems to be fine and normal while I’m always freefalling with my stomach in knots and my heart in my mouth even at the mere mention of social interaction or any other thing that might trigger my anxiety. And after every unsuccessful attempt at making others understand, I’m always left with the parting thought of “Why can’t anyone just tell me it’s okay and just let me be” And then I just shut up, giving up to ever try making the oblivious listen.

However, there are people who get it, on the internet. So many support groups and forums are on the rise and I see so many other struggling with the same issues relating to each other’s experiences and finding relief in each other. It’s a big leap and one that is much needed yet while it’s comforting to find people who finally know what you feel like and are going through, the bigger picture still remains blurry.

Coming to the main point of discussion, during one of my late night YouTube surfing fun-time, I came across this new song that Julia Michaels had put out. I like her and decided why not take a listen. [Again, the way that music has helped me get through some of my worst days can form another piece on its own]. The song was titled “Anxiety” and I thought, alright then, I’m intrigued, let’s see where this goes. But to be very honest, after the song ended, for the first time ever, I felt like words in my head finally found their place.

It was a very honest, open and vulnerable song on what having anxiety feels like. Suddenly, there I was, sending the song to some who I tried to explain my anxiety to, getting excited that they would finally understand. And they did or at least I think they know better now. Anxiety can take many shapes and forms and is different to all people. This song might not relate to your anxiety but it is a start. And suddenly there I was wondering how much of a gap music can bridge if more songs were to come out openly talking about people’s experiences with mental health issues and emotions. Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful artists and bands that are already trying to do the same, I’m a fan of a lot of them yet there is this invisible glass barrier that has to be overcome still to start a dialogue about mental health. Music is a great way to start conversations and nothing would make me happier than to see music and words come together to help people understand the said swirling thoughts that people can’t bring to explain properly by themselves. There is so much potential to help people and I really hope that more artists come out to create incredible music like this and more importantly, that more people are accepting of them.

Every dialogue starts only when the silence breaks. So why not have fun while we’re at it?

Let me know what songs helped you during your hardest days and take a look at the song by the wonderful Julie Andrews as well.

Anxiety- Julia Michaels ft. Selena Gomez.

New Year Resolution: I chose to be happy.

You deserve to be happy because you are alive. You were built to use happiness as a tool to assess the world that surrounds you. It’s in your genes, in your nature, in the way that you have functioned. Happiness is at the core of our experiences – it is as incomprehensible to deny ourselves the feeling as it is to deny ourselves the experience of eating or sleeping or breathing. We are human beings and happiness is a vital part of our survival/living.

 

This time last year, I wasn’t sure who I was or what I was capable of being. I was unsure of how things were going to turn out, was lost and thoughtless. I kept looking for ways to outlive negativity, to hold myself tight, to keep fighting, to never give up and to rise. I was desperate; but patient.

 

Last year, I let go of a lot of things. I let go of the person who I thought was the one for me. I let go of the things that never really belonged with me, held me down and pushed me into the dark. I let go of the pessimism that was brewing in me day in and out and the anxiety and paranoia that devoured me wholly.

 

I realized how busy I was fixing my invisible crown which was always at the hands of those I needed approval from.

 

But, here I am now, stable and no longer hanging off the edge. I can’t assure that this is permanent, but I am going to work on making it one because I believe everything can change and it’s only a matter of time. I believe in the universe and Law of Attraction; what you give is what you receive. I am now fixated on staying positive throughout, negating pessimism, staying low-key, working on myself, not letting my thoughts overcrowd my mind at difficult situations and above all, staying sane with sanctitude.

 

Now I try to explore different arenas, learn from my past experiences and grow into a new individual. It is also quite exhilarating to wonder what challenges you can run into each day.

 

I remind myself of this everyday:

Strive to be the best version of yourself, even if you have to lose certain qualities. 
Strive to make the people you love happy, even if you disappoint them from time to time. 
Strive to achieve what challenges you for the purpose of growing.

 

Love yourself first.

 

-Kirthana Ravi

LonePack Letters 2018 – We are back !

The wails of suffering emanating from mental health concerns have lasted for ages, yet society has failed to recognize the importance of recognizing mental health issues as a primary health concern and to establish a fantastic infrastructure for treating it. With time, the prevalence of such concerns have only exacerbated.

 

Thus, in 2016, a group of passionate youngsters formed LonePack, a non-profit aimed at combating this very phenomenon. Since then, LonePack has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about mental health issues using a community driven approach, surrounding their motto, “ Shatter the Stigma”. They have been able to do this by working on a set of driven, passionate campaigns, the magnum opus of which was Lonepack Letters in 2017. This year, it is returning to positively affect a larger scale of lives, and hopefully carry on the good fight.

Letters collected for the campaign
Letters collected for the campaign

Lonepack Letters is a campaign based on a couple of principles. The first is the effect of positive dominoes. The positive domino multiplication standard in modern psychology tends to examine the fact that a general positive reaction to anything during any given time of the day only spreads it, with the effects often multiplying in magnitude down the chain. Lonepack Letters involve handing out anonymous positive letters to strangers when they least expect it, reading which brings a smile to your face. That starts a chain of positivity, the success of which has a very high probability. One of the finest ways for everyone to combat mental health is to face positivity. Merry, at its finest, is the unstoppable force denying to accept denial from the rule of any riddle but that of law. And to initialize happiness which only grows in magnitude in a domino effect serves the very purpose of Lonepack Letters. Ease the human mind, combat mental health issues and bring a smile in the process.

LonePack Letters featured in article in the Times of India
LonePack Letters featured in article in the Times of India

The second principle serves as a bigger backbone for Lonepack Letters. Awareness. Every Lonepack Letters envelope comes with the actual letter, along with a formal single page documentation about Lonepack and Lonepack letters, what purpose the campaign serves and how Lonepack wishes the person reading to be more aware about mental health concerns and keep spreading positivity. Not only does this allow people to know about Lonepack and potentially be a part of campaigns further down the line, but also know more about mental health concerns, understanding that they are legitimate issues and needs to be treated the same way. All of this aids in removing the ignorance of larger society about the aforementioned issues, and are steps in the direction of shattering the stigma existing around mental health in modern society.

 

In 2017, Lonepack Letters was conducted in Chennai. We collaborated with various institutions, events and establishments in the city, including DAV  Group  of  schools,  Sathyam  Cinemas,  Ciclo  Cafe,  SRM  MUN,  SSN  College’s  Instincts  as  part  of  this  campaign  which  allowed us  to  reach  over  6000  people. The  feedback  that  we  received  was overwhelming and our campaign was covered by various news outlets, including The New Indian Express and The Times of India..

LonePack Letters Distribution at VIT Chennai
LonePack Letters Distribution at VIT Chennai

In 2018, we intend to increase the effect of Lonepack Letters by increasing the scope of the campaign, collaborating with major companies, more educational enterprises and conducting the campaign in multiple major cities along with Chennai. Lonepack letters is our humble attempt to kick-start a pursuit of happiness while also removing the ignorance surrounding mental health issues. We hope to realize our vision, and succeed at the same.

  • Soumyajyoti Bhattacharya

The Cry of a Shadow

 

Water painting by Agnes Cecile

The wind whipped her hair against her face as she walked towards the edge.

The edge of existence.

Her feet slipped on the wet ground as she walked barefoot.

The storm seemed never ending. Memories flashing before her eyes.

Life is such a fragile thing. She was done with the pretence.

She wanted stability which she was never able to achieve. She fell for it every time jesting herself.

She had prolonged the moment too far. She shivered knowing it was time.

Time to end it all. The hallucinations. The voices in her head. The voices around her.

The perfect life she wished for was a lost dream. She was lost.

The sun was enveloped by the clouds. Oh where was her sunshine? Her ray of hope?

Shattered inside, unable to hold it together anymore. She took her final steps and slipped into oblivion.

As years passed, it was said that

Her spirit still prowls among the hills, searching for lost travelers (of life).

– Yoheswari Devaraj

 

READING THROUGH YOUR DEPRESSION

I have seen multiple allegories being used to describe what it is like to be depressed. “An endless, dark pit of horrors, a ceaseless tunnel, and a mysterious hell where time freezes over” are some of them that have personally resonated with me in the past. Yes, depression could be a Lernean Hydra at times. One that has particularly stood out for me is a clichéd example which still holds true. An image of a deer caught in headlights could be a good description of my mental state. Just like the antlered stag in the midst of a highway, I was frightened and scared. More than that, I was confused. You weren’t sure which side to move towards. You have questions and you search for answers. “Why me? Is this the new normal? Are there others like me? Will this end at all? Does this have a purpose?”, I sought to know. I didn’t know where to go to, so I went to the place I usually go to – books. The written word holds a specific charm. It lets you not only form your philosophies, but also test them out as you move along with your depression, hoping to survive. In a rather telling fashion, I started finding everything from quick hacks and fixes to worldview changing philosophies in there. I wish to talk about five books in specific that had a remarkable impact upon me ever since I started looking out for answers.

1. Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig

It was rather a strange coincidence as to how I met this book. My former company’s CEO had suggested it multiple times. I picked this book up assuming it was a business strategy book or at the best an inspirational book. I had no clue back then on what it had to offer I terms of worldviews.

The book is a travelogue that traces the journey of a father and a son as they go on a motorcycle trip, hike through the Appalachians and cross country ride through various states. Pirsig contrasts the journey with the journey that the narrator has with his conscience/ personal self/ daemon. Phaedrus, as he called him, was quite probing. It was kind of strange to notice certain worldviews like “Objective reality is just unanimous subjective reality, therefore reasoning has a church”. This book kind of helped me confront my Phaedrus and answer him as I moved through time.

2. Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E Frankl
Perhaps the most poignant of the books described here, the entire book can be summed up to this Nietzsche quote that it kind of uses as a leitmotif – He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. The author, a Holocaust survivor, talks about life at Auschwitz. Finding purpose amidst these circumstances can be cruel. To some, it could be family, to some others, it could be a better life and opportunities. But what do you do when every purpose that you have defined for yourself is brutally taken away from you despite no fault of your own? Dr. Frankl describes how to arrive at the why of your life even when you think it has just been destroyed. I loved this book for its emphasis on the quest for meaning and portraying how meaning could change from individual to individual spatially and temporally.

  1. Prozac Nation – Elizabeth Wurtzel
    This book was a suggestion from a good friend (the person who asked me to write this article). Wurtzel deals with depression in a very pragmatic manner. She seeks answers, writhes in pain and finally concludes that pain is inevitable and learns to work with it in an efficient manner. This book to me stood out because of one thing. It was a reminder that I was not the only person in the world who was in this state. And the world will reach out to you and try to help you out if you will let it to.
  2. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch
    The other books might seem gloomy, but if you’re looking for something light to begin with initially, this is a great place to start. Funny, concise and witty, Dr. Raundy Pausch writes about achieving his childhood dreams. From playing in the NFL to floating in space, Dr. Pausch takes you through his childhood dreams in a jovial manner. His enthusiasm about life is infectious. What’s the catch, you ask? He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he had one last lecture to deliver to his students. This book was written based on that lecture. Your spirit, Dr. Pausch, that poise with which you say, “Make me earn it” when you enter the room, makes me immensely jealous of the students who learnt from you.5.When Breath Becomes Air – Dr. Paul Kalanithi
    I saved the best, my holy grail, for the last. Maybe you’ve heard about this book before. This is a book that I’ve gushed about to every friend of mine who was patient enough to listen to me. A memoir of a neurosurgeon who was affected by cancer, I won’t call this book gloomy or indolent. It is a celebration of Dr. Paul Kalanithi’s life, his resilience, his philosophies, his striving – oh, I could go on and on. In life, rarely, do you meet people you could relate with. This book worked for me because I could see myself in Paul Kalanithi’s shoes. No, I was Paul throughout the time I read it. This book might or might not work for you like it did for me, but by all means, go for it. You would be basking in the presence of perhaps this decade’s finest writer.


The books that chronicle the experiences of depression could be moody, gloomy or even arcane. Yet, they’re worth the trouble you put yourself through for every word. Because, words help you heal. Words help you survive. Words help you resist. And most importantly, words help you answer your questions.

-NANDHA KISHORE

WHERE HAS THE INNOCENCE GONE?

” Poo pookum osai, adhu kekathaan aasai”. I wake up to a sweet voice resonating across the hall. When I proceed to identify the source, I was shocked to see a girl, maybe 4-5, singing in front of a huge audience!  This was part of a Tamil reality show, one of the many that have cropped up in recent times.

Childhood, for many of us is associated with happiness and excitement.  We were allowed to explore new places, meet new people, invent new games, and most importantly, we were carefree. The key element in a child is their innocence. This is why interacting with a kid brings me immense joy. They look at the world with a totally transparent lens , free from “grownup bias and emotions” like jealousy, hatred  or deceit.  As a kid, happiness usually meant those football matches during recess, or family visits to the beach for some “panju mittai”. Sadly, times have changed.  There has been a surge of reality television shows where kids from the tender age of 3 are being made to showcase talents such as dancing, singing or theatre.  In my opinion, these competitions are acceptable if they allow the kid to perform completely on his/her own will, without coercing them onto the stage. The judges should encourage them to perform for the joy of participating, and not winning.  These shows claim to be a platform for new talent to be discovered, but are often questioned over the age-appropriateness of the content.

The children talk too much and broach subjects that are not age-appropriate. At every age, there is a certain level of physical, emotional and social growth expected from a child. This cannot be violated constantly.”-    Dr Jayanthini, Psychiatrist

A still from the show “Junior Super Star 2”

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has put forth guidelines for such reality shows involving minors, and lays emphasis on age appropriate content. It clearly states that ‘No child should be made to perform or enact scenes or mouth dialogues that are inappropriate for his/her age, or those that may cause him/her distress.’

Often, many producers get away with this easily. These children are made to say things that they don’t really understand. They are exposed to a lot of negativity that will definitely have a huge emotional impact on them. How do adults have the right to alter the natural emotional growth of a child, merely for greed and entertainment? Another aspect to be considered is the early onset of a highly competitive spirit. Children are judged brutally and in many cases put down with a lot of negative comments. This can be a blow on their self-confidence, making them feel worthless and insecure.   These reality shows require hours of rigorous practice, which can be mentally and physically exhausting. How will they feel, if all they get in return is a slew of negative feedbacks and rejection?  School education and a happy fun filled childhood ultimately take a back seat.

Image result for kids reality shows

Some shows are known for its tearjerker moments. Be it an ill mother brought to stage, a family reunion under flashing lights, or even discussions on personal problems the contestants face, it has it all.

“Why should personal matters be discussed for the world to see? Children may not understand the consequences immediately and it is not right to put them through that distress on stage,” says Dr Jayanthini. “This is an invasion of their privacy and I would say it amounts to abuse,” asserts the psychiatrist.

Some states have identified the ill effects of reality shows and have taken action. The most recent example is the ban of popular television programme “Kuttipattalam” aired by Surya TV. According to the Kerala State Commission for Child Rights, the show was manipulating children to say age-inappropriate.

This topic has been highly debated across many public forums.  Some of the supporting arguments include helping kids cope with fear and depression at a young age, and preparing them for the future.  Some argue that it builds their social and communication skills. Personally although I am not a supporter, I feel that there should be a fine line between entertainment and emotional exploitation. All these shows should take care that they understand the emotional and physical limits of the children, and take care not to affect their self-worth in any way. These shows should also have a counselor who helps the children cope with rejection and failure.  Parents should also be ready to take their children out of the show at any point they feel depressed or uncomfortable.

After all, childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.

-RAMYA MA

 

 

THE JOKE’S ON YOU!

Picture this. On prime-time reality TV, contestants are asked to “pretend” that they are physically challenged, while one among them would pretend to be a doctor. Laughter and merriment ensue as the contestants outdo each other in portraying the stereotypes associated with those with physical disabilities. A laughter riot ensues as contestants compete to come across as one with the most insensitive behavior, and derogatory words are freely thrown around to describe the physical disabilities.

Does this come across as insensitive and demeaning? Well, it should.

Unfortunately, the above incident took place recently except that instead of lampooning the physically challenged, the target of mockery were people with mental illnesses. Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have heard of the Tamil reality TV show “Bigg Boss” telecast on Vijay TV. I have watched a few of the episodes and my social media feed has kept me up to date on the happenings in the show. However, I have been appalled over the proceedings in the last two episodes, wherein the house was turned into a “research Centre” and contestants were made to portray terribly insensitive caricatures of people with mental illnesses.

The contestants are assigned mental illnesses that are terribly inaccurate, including in one case – transgender-ism. One could write entire pages on the number of things that are wrong in this episode, and it still would not do justice to the pathetically ill-informed portrayal of mental health on the show.

But indeed, should we be shocked? For decades, mental illness has been used as a plot device to invoke humor in Indian cinema.  There is prejudice against the mentally ill, with them being stereotyped as ‘mad’ and expected to be violent. The symptoms are usually exaggerated or falsely portrayed just to increase the entertainment quotient, feeding out of the viewer’s lack of awareness. Even when portrayed in a non-comic context, mental illnesses were used as a convenient way to move the story forward.

At a time when Indians are finally learning to open up about mental health issues, is it too much to expect a TV channel that prides itself on being progressive, to not make a mockery of mental health and the millions of Indians who deal with them daily?

– SIDDHAARTH SUDHAKARAN

 

 

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

Life with Neuroticism

I scored in the 92nd percentile on neuroticism on the Big 5 personality test. Normally, I wouldn’t care, but this score was a bit too extreme.

92nd percentile. I was among the top neurotics who ever attempted the test.

Intrigued, I took similar tests on other websites.

80th percentile. 88th percentile.

I was scoring pretty high on these tests. So, I did a bit of reading.

The Big 5 test, or the OCEAN test, or the Five Factor Model (FFM) test is a metric that rates various aspects of your personality into 5 broad factors – Openness to Experiences, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

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Image Source: YouBeauty.com

I’ll go over it quickly

 

    1. Openness to Experiences is your willingness to explore and having it in yourself to enjoy things outside of your comfort zone

 

  • Conscientiousness is a measure of how well you listen to yourself, and your accountability to yourself
  • Extraversion determines your gregariousness, if you consider others important to your happiness, and what you derive from company
  • Agreeableness determines your ability to be compassionate, if you put others’ needs before yours
  • Neuroticism is a measure of the effect of unfavourable conditions on your mood and your stress-levels.

 

I’ll elaborate. In the style of cheap personality tests and BuzzFeed-like clickbait, I’ll write a bunch of sentences, what you feel about them, you must retain in your head.

Rainy cloud over unwell businessman in office

Image Source: CNN

If I text my friend and she doesn’t reply immediately, it’s probably because I did something.

Overthinking is second nature to me.

I get tense really quickly.

I am easy to stress out.

I always have something to be worried about.

If I don’t constantly worry about something, it is bound to screw up in some way.

I frequently feel blue.

My boyfriend/girlfriend will be the first to break up with me.

It’s not as simple as saying, “If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these sentences, you’re probably neurotic.” Most people face bouts or prolonged periods of negativity, but what classifies as neuroticism is if the mindset specified above has somehow found itself in your daily life. If you automatically decide to blame yourself even before you know the full side of the story, you might probably have some degree of neuroticism.

As far as I know, neurotics aren’t portrayed glamorously in the media. I don’t have many instances in Indian media, but think Chicken Little, or Woody Allen in Manhattan, or Woody Allen in Bananas, or Woody Allen in Annie Hall, or Woody Allen. Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother, Ross Geller from F.R.I.E.N.D.S, basically any great nerd on TV can be diagnosed with neuroticism to some extent.

As far as neurotic women go, I don’t have many ready examples, but think Annie from Bridesmaids, Holly Golightly (in a few scenes), from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the titular Annie Hall from Annie Hall, and Iris Simpkins from The Holiday.

Agreed, pop culture has decreed neuroticism as a pretty uncool mental state of mind. All the hot guys have either amnesia or are psychopathic, and all the ladies are well-adjusted people from Planet Babe.

Neuroticism is characterized by low self-esteem, some self-pity, and some variants also come with victimization and aggression in unfavourable situations. Potential factors can be constant pressure to do well, letting society’s expectations of you get to you, or if your expectations of people don’t match with what they can offer you. Some severe neurotics tend to act out when they are denied things, and their self-deprecation only gets worse when people say no to them.

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All this being said, there is a slight silver lining to the cloud. All this over thinking has led to this Zen place of hyper awareness, where you are easily aware of everyone else. Being generally mistrustful of people makes you less susceptible to being taken for a ride, and helps you out in relationships too, where your partner earns your trust, as opposed to blindly being led by their good graces, only to be let down later on.

Decision-making will be a rewarding experience, because each choice will have been analyzed a minimum of 971 times, worst-case scenarios will have been evaluated before the decision is made, owing to a greater sense of owning up to mistakes, and more happiness, if it turns out to be good. (Notice how I put the bad scenario first. This is what I meant by neuroticism being a palpable element in the brain)

This constant self-analysis is a tool for perfection and betterment. Most neurotics think before they talk, which, in my opinion is better than going in, guns blazing. (Looking at you, Donald. Staring hard, and cold at you.)  Neurotics can learn to channel this worry in a positive way, by caring for themselves more. By worrying about one’s health, social standing, intelligence, and interpersonal relationships, your neuroses can help in fine-tuning the kinks in life.

I am yet to personally improve myself, but I am definitely working towards channeling my neuroses into increased conscientiousness. I worry I will fail at life, so I worry myself into doing a good job at work. I worry my friends will abandon me, so I put myself out there and connect with them, I initiate conversations, I make plans to go out to lunch and dinner.

I am yet to reap the benefits of what I sow, but if shit hits the fan, I have a Plan B for my Plan B.

The optimist invented the airplane, and the pessimist, the parachute.

 

-Sanjana Mahesh

 

A Helpless Spectator

I have been a helpless spectator when my close friends suffered. Despaired at their pain. Grieved at their inability to function. These are feeling you would know if anyone you know suffers from or had suffered from depression. Depression is a demon that casts a gloomy shadow on the person’s life. There is no easy way out of it. Once somebody is in its grip, it will take tremendous amounts of support, help and effort to get back to normal again. These are some things I have seen first hand from their experience.

 

It is hard to know what to do when your loved one is going through this. So, I would like to share my thoughts.

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In the time I spent with my friends I have made quite a few mistakes. The most important thing we should avoid doing is making them feel worse than they are. Even if we feel that might spur them on to do better, it must not be done. They might respond temporarily, but in the long run this is something that needs care and attention, not a guilt trip. This is a mistake I am guilty of.

 

It hurt to see my buddies in that state of limbo, not really doing the things they should. It is hard I know. But we need to realize that addressing and tackling the issues they face should take priority rather than academics, work or anything else. Another mistake I made was trying too hard sometimes. There are times when we try to talk to them but they don’t feel like talking. People going through depression and other issues would have phases where they are withdrawn and avoid conversation with people in general. We need to give them their space .

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They will get back in touch when they feel ready to handle contact with others. We need to understand that their not wanting to talk to us isn’t really because of either of our “faults” but rather a need imposed on them due to their issues. Trying to force them to talk to you when they are not ready to will be counter productive and do neither of you any good.

 

There are quite a few things we should NOT say to someone who is going through depression. A few of them would be “Just get better”, “Stop making it more than it is”, ” “Why are you depressed?” . This not only destroys their confidence, but also makes them feel like it is their fault they are going through this. But the fact is , it is definitely NOT THEIR FAULT that this happened to them. Nothing we ever say should imply that. The best thing I found I could do for my friends was JUST BEING THERE FOR THEM. Although it took me time to realize it, all they wanted was to have someone by their side that they could count on. Somebody who made them felt wanted and give them the feeling that they were worth it. Different people would have different needs.

 

Some just need someone to be with them. Some need a person to talk to. Some would need a voice of reason. Irrespective of whether we could be what they want, your mere presence and care can go a long way in helping them overcome their issues.

 

Each and every one of us can help the people around us overcome their mental illnesses. If we realize that someone around us is having a tough time, just be there for them. Help them in every way you can. Learn what makes them better and show them you care. This way we can do our bit to help them in their battle. Let’s do our bit to shatter the stigma around mental health issues and make it easier for affected people to seek and get the help they need and deserve.

 

-Anonymous