HIGH FUNCTIONING YET DYSFUNCTIONAL

With 2017 coming to an end, this year saw a lot of debates and discussions about Mental Health issues than ever before. The Mental Health Act was passed this year on April 7th, which decriminalized suicide attempts. However, the world endured a lot of negativity as well. On the other end of the spectrum, this year also saw the rise of the Blue Whale challenge that shook the children of the world and we had to join hands to fight against it. The newspapers also carried headlines of an unprecedentedly large number of suicides, with most of the victims being teenagers and college-goers. And a mammoth of a question remains unanswered – What really pushed them to do this?

Charlie Brown from Peanuts

You see, the students that made it to the headlines this year all seemed to fit a certain profile. All of them were academically well off and had a normal relationship with their friends and family. No visible symptoms of depression or anxiety could be found out, they weren’t looking any different, their daily activities weren’t affected in any way, and all of them seemed normal and as they would every other day. Their suicides came as a big, unpredictable blow to their friends and family since literally nothing pointed to them suffering from any kind of mental health issues or, so they thought.

This observation or the lack of it reveals a darker truth. Most of us aren’t aware of a class of disorders that has now become to be known as “high-functioning” disorders. It is a recent development in the field of psychology and one that has come in a much-needed time.

Anxiety Girl Comic – Courtesy: Chat for Adults with HFA and Aspergers

For those who don’t know what they are, High-functioning disorders are the same as any other mental health disorder that one may suffer from but possess a darker trait, they do not affect your daily life. Psychologists are more worried of the people who suffer from these class of disorders since they are extremely difficult to diagnose. People with high-functioning versions of disorders such as anxiety and depression will not seem any different from a person without the disorders, superficially. They will continue with their normal lives as if nothing affects them at all, their body and brain cope very well with their conditions and as a result, their work and academic lives remain undisturbed. They’re social and active, all smiles and whatnot but on the inside, they’re still suffering and unable reach out to anyone.

For someone who is suffering and looks to the internet first to arrive at some kind of a self-diagnosis, it really doesn’t help when none of the mental health disorders’ so called “symptoms” fit them. Not many articles relating to these high functioning forms of disorders are present even on the internet, which is one of, if not the largest communicative space globally. And hence understandably, not much awareness is present with regard to these issues.

Anxious Overachievers – Courtesy: realbusiness.co.uk

 

However, people, one by one, are now coming forward to share their experiences with high-functioning disorders. This is an article written by a woman who suffers from High-Functioning Anxiety and Depressionhttps://themighty.com/2017/11/high-functioning-anxiety-depression-looks-like/

If you are suffering from not being the best version of yourself and doubt that it could be anxiety or depression or any other issues but experience none of the visible giveaways, do consult a psychologist.

It is never easy to battle these on your own and you shouldn’t either. The world is here to listen and to help. And if you doubt that one of your loved ones is suffering but do not know what to do since they do seem normal to everyone else, sit them down and talk to them. Ask them if they’re doing okay and if not, tell them that you’re there to help them get through this.

Everyone needs a hand sometimes. You could end up saving a life from further suffering because of the lack of awareness. Do your bit and spread the word.

 

-Srivasupradha Ramesh

Depression is real

Depression…..

A word which is thrown about in today’s age of left leaning liberal millennialism as if it means nothing…..
Does it ?

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I was sitting one fine evening looking at the rain pouring down, the drops smudging the dust on the windowsill, looking like tears cascading down the glass pane…..Johny Cash was crooning out Hurt in my ears and I was reading the Color Purple by Alice Walker. I looked up to see the beautiful sight in front of me, and cried. Spontaneous, sudden…..unexpected. I wiped my tears away to prevent someone from knowing what had happened. Seems like a routine situation save doesn’t it ? I thought so too. Till I couldn’t go back to the book. Because my mind kept racing back like the prodigal son it was to what had just happened. Trying to decipher why it had happened. And why I decided to hide it. Looking towards the rain splattered outside….I tried to figure out….Why ?

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real 

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I was depressed. If I told people I was….They would ask me to ‘suck it up’, ‘grow a pair’ and other such phrases which people throw around without a hint of knowing what the consequences are. I was told to know my life was good and hence I should not feel entitled to depression. I was told I am loved and I had no reason to be hurt…..that I was just a spoilt little brat. I wasn’t. You see, Depression like most things do not go away with entitlement. It is hurt. No, not like a pin prick or a car crash or even like cancer. It is the indescribable feeling of an asphyxiating child being pushed inside an empty grave while all he tries to do is figure out the one last soliloquy he needs to sing to give his life meaning. That didn’t make sense ? Neither does depression. It is the feeling where you feel crushed and helpless, but you do not know why…..

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

agony_by_hatakeyondaime-d6bgg0a

Next time someone tells you they are depressed, do not ask them to stop whining, do not presume you can help them…do not patronize them. Hug them. Let them know that the day they feel like ripping their face off in agony…..they can run and come to you. Hug you. Cry on your shoulders…..let them know that in a planet of over a billion people, they can turn to one. Trust me, the pain, the agony, the smoldering fire of madness which cannot be rhymed or reasoned with…all they need is the solace of a comforting fellow human. For the warmth of a human heart is the medicine to anything, while the jeers of human wrath is the ever present conservative hand shutting a person down. Let the depression sink in. Let it stay. So do you. I didn’t figure out the reasons for the tears yet….I never needed to. Loving friends and family ensured I finished my book in peace and enjoyed subsequent nights of torrential downpour in all it’s natural beauty. Depression is real. Not a social media whack, not a rich person’s perpetual whines…..It is a issue affecting the human psyche. In today’s fast paced world….We all have been depressed sometime or the other. And a depressed person needs support. Not antagonism. Support. Because depression is real. It is a red flag, an incessant drone at the back of the human mind…..Depression is real.

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

– Soumyajyoti Bhattacharya

Image Credits : Google Images

STATE OF MIND: THE NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF

There has come a time in most of our lives when we have looked back and wondered “Did I really say those words?” or “Did I really behave in that manner?” Filled with remorse and regret of our actions, we vow never to repeat it again.

We follow this consciously for a few days but end up inadvertently reverting back to the usual by doing the said unusual things again. This results in a rinse-repeat cycle that has only become all too familiar to me.

            Over the years, as I began to search for an end to this, it has become obvious to me that this is a rather widely suffered problem. People who you seem to ‘know’ are not really who you thought they were as they were probably in a phase where they acted and behaved different from their normal selves. And so, it leads to the question, how can this rather vague thing be defined first and then how can this be overcome? I was fortunate enough to stumble across the following sloka in Bhagavad Gita, which went “Chanchalam hi manah krishna pramathi balavad dradham I Tasyaham nigraham manye vayor iva suduskaram II . This may be translated as “The restless nature of the mind means that it being collected in equanimity is not possible. The wavy ocean of the mind cannot be made free of waves”. In this sloka, Arjun concisely defines the problem that we have all faced – the restless, wavy and fickle nature of the human mind which refuses to stop alternating all the time between the good, the bad and the ugly.

            So now that we have defined the problem itself – the unpredictability of our actions and reactions to events, if we could exhibit some sort of control over this state of mind, we could truly better our lives. The world’s second best tennis player Andy Murray is often considered slightly more naturally talented than the world’s best – Novak Djokovic. It is however, the mental strength of the Serb to execute his plans and react well when his mood sours, that sets him apart. Murray often goes into fits of rage where he ‘loses it’ and does basic things, like missing an open court winner, wrong. Remember that this is one of the greatest champions of our times and it takes immense talent and dedication to get to where he is in life. Even he is not immune to his mind wavering around. The problem may seem simple initially but even the world’s top sports psychologists offer contrasting views with respect to the solution. One school of thought is that Murray should freeze the big moments. Play with precision and calmness and take a deep breath and give it 110% in those moments. The other school of thought varies highly and state that he should treat the big moments just like any other moment. Trying to freeze it will only increase anxiety and his immensely well-tuned muscle memory of hitting the tennis ball would be disrupted. Thus, there is no one fixed way to control the wavering mind. It is a highly personal choice. It happens to every one of us be it Andy Murray or the addict down the street trying not to kill himself from regret.

            From a personal stand point, while I have figured out no fixed method to end the madness, I have figured out one thing – identifying when I’m not ‘normal’. Just how does one do this? For starters, think of some of the things that you love doing most of the time – playing your guitar, talking to a particular person, watching your favourite TV series – could be anything really. If, even that thing, feels rather tedious to think about, there is one of your indicators that you aren’t in a right state of mind. Another indicator is, as cited in the Murray example, when your body can’t do things which have been trained by years and years of muscle memory, properly. That is, when your fingers don’t flow particularly well on the fret board, when you are awkwardly silent when talking o that person or when the series feels a bit too long. The first step in settling an unrest is, as obvious as it may seem, identifying that the unrest exists.

The biggest action you need to take, is ironically, inaction.

            One of the most important things to do when you are not in a good state of mind is to never take definitive and drastic actions. Don’t break up a relationship, don’t sell your guitar, don’t delete the TV Series. To quote the popular band The Fray –

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Having a good support system may help as well. Don’t be too bothered about letting all the steam out. If you don’t feel like talking about it to anyone, just drift away, ‘zone out’ and wait for it to pass. This not about optimism or pessimism. This is almost a fight for (mental) survival of your persona. So, naturally just endure it and wait for it to pass.

Unrest can be settled in two ways – the easy way is to lash out .but the tougher and in my opinion, the correct way, is to not react and accept whatever comes and endure it.

Normal order of things is never too far no matter how bleak things may seem.