An open discussion on mental health

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On October 7, 2018, an open discussion was held in Geetanjali Hostel in sync with the Mental Health Day that is recognized on October 10 every year. A group of residents, including the warden, gathered over tea in the hostel premises to put forward their views, perspectives, and possible ways to overcome any issues and maintain health.

The conversation started with the concept of opening up, hovered over how mental health is still a taboo, and there is a fear in the masses of making any discussion related to this matter public. The reasons of taboo were discussed which may be religious affiliations, it being considered a permanent damage, and the fear of judgment that may arise on disclosure.

There are reservations of opening oneself to others with concerns over being admonished, especially in today’s time with the prevalence of social media and the scope of virtual reality. We have come to fear the thoughts of the ones in our vicinity but are open to being free with a stranger, primarily because of the fear of judgment. There is a rise in the demand of privacy, so much that people have begun to distance themselves to avoid contacts in the real space. Due to an increase in introverted tendency or so people desire to say, face to face interactions are being lost, so is the art to do so., and our predilection about clash of personalities and opinion. In addition to this, another factor is to accomplish our need to find validation in others’ opinion, and looking for like-minded people, who we expect will understand us better. And because of this search of validation, we often forget to turn to the more truthful aspect, and possibly undesirable of a notion and fall into a trap of seeking benefits by way of a giving a favourable verdict to one’s call. It was thus considered that social media is a tool to be used extremely cautiously and wisely, as virtual reality might not be as it is portrayed.

Amidst discussion, a point that was raised was that though abundant in number now, going to a psychiatrist is dismissed because of certain reasons. Mental sickness being a talk of closed doors and hushed tones, high fees of sessions with a professional, discomfort in allowing someone to peep into minds, makes psychiatric centres a stigma and an unapproachable institution.

The discourse also delved into how more cases of depression are noted in women as compared to men. The possible reasons cited were higher expectations and greater scrutiny towards women. The era that we are in, women are fighting to bring gender parity to the world. There is more onus on their shoulders, to carry their stereotypical roles as gracefully as breaking away from them. Thus they are constantly put under the lens, their actions dissected and analysed. This brings in the fear to tread carefully, and be mindful of their undertakings.

The sentiment about feminism and patriarchy took the foreground for a while, with various points of view coming to assess the role of these two institutions in affecting the psychiatric state of a person. Though patriarchy is held accountable in part for a person’s mental state, by typecasting the roles of men and women, thus binding them in a pigeonhole of socially acceptable duties; it may actually be the patrilineal way of society that should be held accountable. The gender equality efforts of Sweden were brought up, informing about the high percentage of women in their workforce, their rules to use more gender neutral terminology, and disregard of gender bias.

Thus, bringing evenness between the two sexes is a necessity, but it doesn’t mean women have to do all jobs that men do. By virtue of differences in the physiology of male and female body, some tasks are better divided between the two, keeping in mind that the two should be able to make their decisions at par with each other, and at par with the bounds of their bodies.

Reverting to the old course, the circle got to knowing each other’s ways of recuperating with stress and solving problems. These included, probably most importantly, talking to someone you can trust and are comfortable with, expressing verbally or through art forms, writing it out, taking a series of steps to deal internally if enough strength is felt. Depression, the most common form of a mental illness, can be general or clinical. Based on how it is, there can be various ways to overcome it- by going to clinicians and doctors, or by taking a positive outlook to life. But the essence to freeing up yourself is by letting go.

Thus the discussion concluded by making a consensus on adopting positivity and becoming a harbinger of goodness.

contributed by Shruti Khanna

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Let your heart come alive

 

The way you embrace, that pretty fake curve on your face.

So well it cache, all you are, all you were.

But doesn’t that heart crave more?

To fly. To breathe.

In this insanely beautiful space??

The world has become walking dead. Everybody is running a race, a race towards death. But this race is about how well you go. And in this hassle to make the most of one’s life, we often forget to take a break and appreciate our own presence, this gift of life, and the marvel that is our mind. Often to achieve the societies’ parameters, we overlook what oodles of expectations and shallow impressions we burden ourselves with. In the hopes of future filled with all things beautiful, don’t we try to make our present a little cumbersome? We forget what life is, life is here in the present. We should make our present happy. Yesterday is dead; and tomorrow isn’t going to arrive anytime soon. We have just one day, today,  to make all the difference for the rest of our life and we have to make it better. But how???

  • Become your own best friend first. Love yourself. Challenge your negative thoughts. It’s OK if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise up like a whole damn fire.
  • It’s high time to find a hobby and develop a positive addiction. Write your heart out, read it out and burn. Let that burden off your soul. Everyone has a negative and a positive. But be careful, water the flowers, not the weeds.
  • Ups and downs are a part of life. It does not matter who hurt you or broke you down. What matters is who made you smile again. Happiness depends on what you can give, not what you get. Celebrate love, family, friendship. Appreciate beauty.
  • Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is PERFECT. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. One door closes, another opens. So my dear, keep looking with an open heart.

“Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

Make your heart come alive, and surely your days will be filled with so much light that everything will be clear, just like the sky after an abounding shower of rain.

 

live

LAUGH. LOVE. LIVE.

Contributed by Neetu Yadav

Louder Than Ever Before!

Talking about Mental Health this month, let’s dig deeper and introspect if we have ever been a reason for hurting someone’s mental or emotional well-being.

Though no one would like to align themselves with it but let’s all agree to this, that yes, we have all been a partner in crime especially when we talk of body shaming. People tend to lose their emotional peace because over and over they are being reminded of their “fat” or “skinny” bodies by the society.These people loose their confidence,and their faith in themselves, just because other people do not find them perfect!

This is the song of a girl who tries to give herself another chance to come out of the perception of others and live life her own way..

 

 

 

Continue reading “Louder Than Ever Before!”

Change your perception

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“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”

Somebody rightly said the above lines, but we, the “normal” people as we say we are, we define a boundary or a parameter of normalcy at just 2πr. If you are inside this circle you are normal…but how do you know what’s going on in someone’s else’s mind? If I am found talking with myself then I can pass off my action as being an ‘occupied scientist’…but if my maid does so, she will be simply called ‘mad’. Well, busy-ness and constant planning of the next move is common in both of us, and therefore, the situation can ideally arise in both of us. And of course, there are people who are both busy and calm at the same time…exactly! So here comes the word perception – about us and others.

Let’s talk about people suffering from Alzheimer (a disease mostly seen in older ones) in which the common symptom is dementia, which itself is characterized as a syndrome in which functional and cognitive abilities keep on declining, the reason being toxic changes in the brain especially starting from a region called Hippocampus which is supposed to be responsible for learning and memory. The neurons (cellular unit of brain) die due to abnormal deposit of certain protein, and with the progression of time neurodegeneration spreads in the whole brain. Similarly, in the case of Parkinson disease – we know this is age related problem in some people, but In our society we still say “sathiyaa gaye hain” and give lots of directions to them. How many times do we suggest somebody who has a broken wrist to shake it off?!

Nowadays depression and anxiety is common even in children. These diseases have their own biochemical basis. Instead of telling the children to just pull themselves out of it we should ensure their medication and psychotherapy on time. Even in some cases of mental illness like Schizophrenia instead of seeking a doctor’s help people go to a Baba who in the name of religion behave harshly and in some cases beats patients up brutally by proclaiming that a Devil/Shaitaan/Bhoot has captured the body.

We need to increase our medical facilities for the treatment and therapy of affected people. According to WHO Mental health workforce in India (per 100,000 population) includes psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07) which is quite less in number as compared to our population.

Most of all, we need to change our behavior towards mentally ill person, because they are behaving only as their brain wiring is allowing them to and we need to understand and help them instead of judging them on our own standard set parameters.

contributed by Shumaila Iqbal Siddiqui

Help wanted

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Ma, lock the door of your room from inside every day when you sleep. Please, ma, don’t argue. Do it. I don’t want to hurt you, ma.

A summer morning, when ma woke up, she found a crowd in her small house. Looking at her, shuffling feet – who’ll break the news to her? The fan in her room was noisy but the silence defeating and deafening.

He was gone.

The love of her life, a vagabond, the rebel, the confused one. Gone. And before he took his life, he made sure that his friends were around to take care of his ma. Those buddies of his, unsuspecting of the events -a regular day of drinks and TV. An alcoholic, is how family described him, irresponsible in how he treated his ma. Sometimes feeding her with his own hands lovingly and sometimes, screaming choicest cuss words that neighbors could hear. Ma never complained. Must be the alcohol and his cursed friends, she always said .

I went to the room next to her, with his neatly ironed office shirts and trousers arranged in the open shelf, and wondered where I went wrong. And I wasn’t alone. The chair placed on his bed told us that we had failed him. If only we knew, if only we had read him right. That the incidents of violence were as painful for him as they were for ma and his sisters. How he must have cringed at the thoughts. Clasped his head in those young hands of his time and again. Perhaps sat on the edge of that bed multiple times, telling himself to throw those negative thoughts about his mom and sisters out. Sisters who had brought him up, covering up for their deceased father and diabetic, overweight ma- laughed, played and taught him. They left one by one, dutiful wives to loving husbands now. Happy to be away from his screaming. He was left alone, with his thoughts, dilemmas and thousand contradictions. This inexplicable chaos in his head had needed help. Help that no one could provide for. For no one, including him, understood and no one thought for him.

That night was special. He smiled. He ordered food and made his friends comfortable. He knew they had a long day ahead. He was ready to kill the beast inside the 28 year old body and he planned well. Everything was in place. Just as they were on his neat shelf. 

Did I fail my science, my knowledge on mental illness, clinical depression and what-nots? What good was knowing these buzz-words and definitions if I couldn’t recognize its wrath on a loved one? Have I been so busy with my work that I forgot to interact enough with my family?

Talk. Reach out. 

Like any other lesson, whether its by reading of someone else’s experience or learning from our own, we need to introspect.

contributed by the Blogging team

(We are talking of mental health issues, experiences and perspectives this week at the Geetanjali Hostel and all the articles with the hashtag are a part of that initiative)

Mental Health Issues – Perspectives and Understanding

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Ugh!! These exams are giving me anxiety issues..
My life/job is so depressing..

These are some of the sentences one often hear in a casual conversation to express one’s frustration and anger towards some ongoing inconveniences in life. However as the lifestyle goes in the modern world, terms like depression, anxiety, etc cannot be considered just as an insouciant expression of a mere complication faced in day to day life. These are the terms which comes with a whole baggage of serious implications for a person suffering from mental illness more now than ever.

Speaking from the viewpoint of a person whose close friend suffered from the anxiety and depression issues for quite a few years, one can be assured that these can be cured with proper care and treatment. One of the first steps and need of the hour is that people should always be able to have a go to person with whom they can share their life’s happening and feelings without the fear of being judged and with a high degree of comfort level. The sudden surge in the demand for counsellors around the globe points towards the decline of personal bonding and sharing in the fast technologically advancing age. People are more engrossed in social media to maintain their connections with far away friends that they forget to interact with their immediate neighbours and acquaintances. Evident from the recent depression suicides committed live over social media, even the efforts to remain in influential touch with online friends also goes in vain.

Baya Voce, the host of ‘The Art of Connection’; web series, in a TEDx talk reveals how each one has their go to people of group in times of happiness and also the gloomy phases of life… These ‘Anchors of Connection’ are the support system and basis of a happy life. And also how the consistency of maintaining these conversations and relations are the things which make one’s life more valuable, happier and worth living.

Besides sharing, one needs to do away with the taboo of mental illness as the sign of person being mad which is incurable and needs to be sent away to a mental asylum. People need to be made aware that this is like any other physical illness which can be treated with proper assistance and consultation.

The most important factor in treatment is the support of family. It is a major, though not sole factor, which gives person the confidence that he/she will be able to survive past the illness. This is not to say that treatment is impossible without family support but it would be definitely faster and with more chances of being successful if family and friends have the backs of the patients.Awareness at the ground level will also help in identifying symptoms at an early stage and combating the problem before it takes form of a serious illness.

To avoid the mental issues from setting in the minds of children and teenagers (which is increasing at sky rocketing rates), parents need to encourage and motivate their child instead of comparing him/her with others and demeaning them. Inspiration and moral support is the key to ensure that a person emerges from a failure with a determination to work harder instead of going into a downward spiral and losing the will to live. The fact that failure is a part of life’s ups and down need to be embedded in the consciousness of children from an early age.

Along with the precautionary alertness, awareness needs to be brought into the society regarding the grave consequences of the mental ill-health. The society needs to do away with the stigma around mental health concerns, so that the victims are able to ask for help without hesitation. With the existing ignorance and superstitions surrounding the mental health, a large number of people are deprived from their right to lead a health and respectable life in society.

Therefore, the understanding that mental health is as important as physical health and it can be cured in the same way, contrary to the belief that a mental health patient can never lead a normal life, is at the core of making society a better place of living for all.

The sensitivity and gravity of the subject urgently calls for immediate action and
transformation in the mentality of people all over the world and no one is better
equipped to make a difference than the young generation.

It’s so common, it could be anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it. And that makes everything worse.  ~ Ruby Wax

                                                                                           contributed by Arushi Kapoor

The red velvet

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Aroma of cumin seeds turning golden spread in the lanes from windows of a grand mansion which stood on the rusty lanes of an Indian town. The chatter in the house proclaimed its prosperity and the royalty was evident from its giant entrance. On a fine Sunday afternoon, the dining table was set, the kith and kin embellished the chairs , the only thing being awaited was food!

From the kitchen area you could hear a hasty voice calling, “Deep-ae, Deep-ae!”. The sense of domination in those calls entitled the person being called as the house help who had to serve the family and be every ready at the beck oftheir calls. The tinkling anklets  resonating with those authoritative calls darted the acceptance that the young daughter in law had accomplished . It also created an image of Deep-ae in the mind of the spectators; a young man in his twenties who went running even to the mock calls of kids being their source of recreation, his shoulders burdened by the coarse red cloth which symbolised favours he had been getting from this family and the debts that he had to repay.

The entry of Deep-ae in the kitchen leaves spectators perplexed as he is nothing as you would imagine! A man with grey hair, in his seventies stood obediently before the young daughter in law, scared by her calls. His ears were trained robotically to listen and interpret every command he received. To the mercy of spectators stood a feeble old man with the string of his loose – fitting pyjamas hanging out bluntly , his meek frame hardly supporting the weight of chinaware he held. The kids in the family found a constant source of entertainment in Deep-ae and one of those naughty throng came running towards him and pulled the string.

The family could hear the broken chinaware, the spectators could hear the broken dignity and somewhere deep down inside Deep-ae could hear that insult.

Meet Mr.Deep Chand Jain one of the two heirs of Shri. Pratap Chand Jain and the owner of half of the grand mansion property worth crores of rupees. A rare mental disorder had caused degeneration of neurons and gifted him the life he was leading. He could understand, but couldn’t interpret. He could feel but couldn’t think. He certainly couldn’t express. He was there with all working senses but no sense of perception and nil interpretation. He was the owner of the house in which he led a life worse than servants. Impairment of brain deprives an individual of his individuality. The story of Deep Chand Ji , the wealthy owner of crores who rejoiced the one rupee coins he got while he begged was at the mercy of the entire town except his own family who saw him as a mere body and not a soul.

Many like him have impersonated Mental Retardation before I have on a stage and perhaps strained their nerves in the overwhelming situation as I have while watching them since childhood during those oft-attended plays. It has accommodated my hypothalamus, dominated my emotions and enveloped my heart ever since. Exploration in this field with substantial inputs of scientific achievements ought to be the current research boom. Stem Cell Therapy holds a faithful potential, has found success and can be a revolution from the people, for the people and has to be made by the people.

When the curtain falls, most of us will be silent spectators, unaware and distant; while elsewhere disintegrating individuality and loss of life though alive asks for a cure of the dignity of mental patients often crushed beneath the red velvet.

contributed by Aakriti Jain