WHEN CURIOSITY CROSSES THE LINE TO DANGER

One of the most talked about topics that is being discussed everywhere right now is the Blue Whale Challenge. As many of you may have come to known, this supposed “challenge” of sorts is one of the most manipulating and dangerous things that this world governed by social media has discovered.  But the problem lies in the fact that many people do not understand the seriousness of this repulsive game and take it upon themselves to voluntarily sign up for it out of mere curiosity. The whole “Nothing will happen to me, I just want to know what it is about” mentality of people today is something that has to change immediately.

“I felt my mind floating after the 15th step. I was obeying the commands of the game master voluntarily. It was a kind of hypnotism. My mind was being overpowered. I was scared of quitting since the game master collected all sorts of information about me and my family. But I took a chance. Fortunately, nothing has happened to me,” said Nithin Jose (name changed on request), a third semester degree student at a prominent college in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala who took up the challenge out of curiosity, reports Firstpost.

 

This challenge is structured to mentally manipulate you, even the supposedly strongest of us are at a risk of succumbing to the game. DO NOT take this lightly. Do caution everyone you know about the game and monitor the activities of your friends and family. The main targets of the game are the children, even ones that are as young as four are somehow gaining access to the game and it is about time we take action. Many schools have issued warnings to parents to keep a check on the activity of their children’s social media activities and to sit them down and talk to them.

 

 

Many young teenagers have lost their lives to this sickening, psychological menace and so many more are at a high risk of caving in to the same fate. It is your utmost duty to spread awareness about this and caution your friends and family members not to indulge in the challenge, even if it tempts them to. Do know that the game is also being spread through other names such as A Silent House, A Sea Of Whales and Wake Me Up.

Please be on alert for any odd behaviour of anyone you know and if they do show signs of being manipulated by this game, sit them down and talk to them. We are stronger than some moronic game and more importantly, we are stronger Together. No one is alone in the world, we are all here for everyone. Talk to people if you are feeling down and express your feelings, do not bottle them up. We all have to fight against this challenge and spread nothing but positivity and happiness. That is the ultimate goal.

– Srivasupradha Ramesh

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

LETTING DOWN YOUR EMOTIONAL GUARD -ONE POST AT A TIME

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

   

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

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

                                                                                      -M.A.Ramya

HERE’S TO TOMORROW

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

 

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

                                            

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

                                        

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

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

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

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

A Ray Of Hope

A ray of hope is what I’m living on,

A silver lining to my dark clouds,

I do not seem to see it now,

But I know that my sun will rise.

Even this shall pass they said,

And a ray of hope is what I saw,

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

Free from all that is dark.

And when my sun does rise,

It shall be so magnificent,

That it shall blind all those who see it,

And burn down all that bound me,

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

With a burning ray of hope inside of me,

So strong that no one could put it off,

That will one day set me free.

                                                                                                              –  Srivasupradha