Imagine, someone with a bad headache approaches you. What would you tell that person? Sshhh! “Try to ignore it. You are brave. And sshhh! don’t tell this to anyone”. Or, imagine someone who is just diagnosed with cancer breaks the NEWS to you in a moment of despair. What would you tell that person? “Oh, you can deal with it. You are brave. Believe in yourself.” Awareness about mental illness is so less in our society that people who should seek professional help for their mental conditions are made to believe that there is no real problem to begin with — it’s all a figment of their imagination. “Be brave”, “Don’t act sissy”, “You are lost”, “Look at the positive side of things” is what they get instead of help.
There are also another kind of people who use the word ‘depression’ and ‘panic attack’ so casually that they make these sound like a seasonal flu. Haven’t you heard statements like, “Oh, I am so depressed that I didn’t get a decent pair of shoes to match with my dress” or “I almost had a panic attack when Brad & Angelina broke up“. I wish it was casual as they made it sound. Alas! It’s not.
Very interestingly, patients with mental illness are also conveniently labelled as ‘attention seekers’, ‘weak’, and ‘someone unable to deal with pressure’. Unfortunately, the labeling and the stereotype prevents people from seeking help. It’s the result of this stereotyping that parents of kids with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autism Spectrum Disorders, or similar other issues, which can be managed with some patience and professional help, hesitate to first acknowledge the problem and then seek professional help. Some adults with mental illnesses (and aware of their condition) also hesitate to seek help because, you know, from there on the term ‘the mentally ill’ will overshadow all other aspects of their personalities & lives. The terms ‘people with mental illnesses’ and ‘the mentally ill’ are used so interchangeably that I, sometimes, wonder how difficult it is for people to see the difference in both the terms and the baggage that the latter one carries. It’s hard for one to deal with the illness in the first place and people around don’t always make things easier.
As a kid, I was introverted and struggled a great deal with ‘social anxiety’. I would never understand why I did not enjoy weddings, gatherings, celebrations as much as others from my age would. Somehow, my parents understood my issues (while they might not have been aware of the term ‘social anxiety’ at that time) and gave me my space when needed. I am so glad they didn’t coerce me into attending every damn celebration within the family and their social circle. But I know how much slack my mom had to take because of this. Very often, people would express concerns about my marriage, because I was a loner and wouldn’t enthusiastically perform in front of uncles and aunties to garner praises. They were worried how I will take on the responsibilities in a new family if I don’t learn to socialize (and this was when I was barely 13). Dear over-concerned uncles & aunties, fortunately, I am doing pretty well in my married life as an adult because I acknowledged and addressed my problems 🙂
My friend’s dad struggled with anxiety at one time and my dad struggled with it too. When my friend and I discussed about the intensity of their issues, we knew the problem was bigger than what we assume to be normal day-to-day stress. I am glad that we could talk about their issues freely because it was only then we realized our parents needed professional help. I am glad they agreed to seek help. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety finally overshadowed my friend’s dad’s will to live. By God’s grace, my dad could overcome the ordeal. But you know, during all this, I saw how the very acknowledgment of a mental problem makes many near and dear ones distance themselves from the entire family, as if, suddenly, the whole family has some sort of contagious disease.
I am glad that now many celebrities are now coming forward and acknowledging the fact that they have struggled with similar issues. Success, failure, temperament, money has nothing to do with it. Like any other kind of ‘illness’, it can happen to anyone. On a lighter note, I feel illness is less biased in its approach than the people around us 🙂
Anthony Bourdain’s suicide starts a dialogue on the acknowledgment of mental illness once again. People wonder, why Anthony Bourdain felt like his life of adventure was not worth living and suicide was his only possible option. The simple answer is, this is how advance stages of depression and anxiety make one feel. I am glad closer to home, Deepika Padukone and Shaheen Bhatt have spoken about their struggle with the problem. I am glad that we are, at least, at a juncture where there is a possibility of starting a dialogue. It’s only when we share, talk, acknowledge that we will be able to receive and provide help in time.
I wish more & more people come out and talk about this.
PS: If you are someone who is feeling extremely low and considering on giving up your life, please call Sneha India Foundation at 044-24640050 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a 24×7 free helpline. And please, please, please seek professional help.
I am a sucker of emotional dramas. Nah! Not the Ekta Kapoor kinds, but the real heart touching kinds! For example, I am hooked to the Netflix series, The Crown right now. And when I hear Elizabeth and Philip argue about the priorities in life, my heart bleeds for the Queen. I drop an invisible tear or so when she tells Philip that “Like other couples, we don’t have an easy way out…we are in a unique situation that needs to be worked out”. The character, Elizabeth, represents a woman who puts self-respect and love at the same pedestal — the toughest ever choice a woman makes in her life. Because, how easy it is to love and dream, and not let ‘self’ come in between! Ah, but women like Elizabeth have inspired a generation of women to fly high in love, but still remain grounded enough to deal with the realities of life.
I know I will be jumping to a completely different zone if I tell you about my recurring nightmares in the same blog where I am talking of profound love and wise women. But you know, such is life. Here I am, past late twenties still getting recurring nightmares about my chemistry examination at the higher secondary level (ISC, as some of you call it!) and also empathizing with the longest living monarch in the world. However random it may sound, I feel the real wisdom comes from the deepest fears one buries inside their heart. I guess for me, the fear is ‘failure’ — the possibility of failing at anything in life helps me make wiser choices.
But the question is, and I ask this to myself very often, ‘Am I wise?’. The answer is yes, sometimes I am wise, but I, mostly, am otherwise. For example, how much I wish to keep a poker face in situations when I am enraged, how much I wish to forgive people who have let me down, how much I wish to see people beyond their limitations, but the wisdom of sages — the art of non-reaction — doesn’t come to me even when I force it on myself. My mother says, the art of not reacting to things/situations comes with age, when one has seen it all and one has understood that no one in the world gives a damn to anyone else’s emotions (however genuine, truthful, and heartfelt those might be!) and then one learns to channelize the reactions into real actions. For example, I may never learn to forgive, but over a period of time, I might learn to act cordial in spite of differences. I might never learn to keep a poker face, but may be, I will learn to politely walk out a conversation that challenges my principles.
Sometimes, I even wonder, why disruption is mostly considered negative? Why do I not work towards being vocal? Why do I think being wise is more an inward thing? Would I be wiser the day I become immune to pessimism, negativity, criticism, and pain? Ah, this brings me to another question, ‘why do I need to be wise’? I am happy when I am naive. I am happy when I know what’s wise, but deliberately act otherwise.
When I was 10-years old, I didn’t think of how my life should be/could be after I am 25-years old. My 10-year old self concluded the planning of my life as a happily ever after at 25 with an assumption that at 25, I am financially independent and can shop for all candies, books, clothes I like. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was financially independent at a tender age of 21. So, with 4-bonus years at my hands, I explored life to the craziest extent possible (oh my crazy is far more subtle than your crazy). So, yes, I shopped – Shopped for things I needed, things I wanted, things I thought I wanted, and things I thought I might need in future. I was a 21-year old who had no financial responsibilities back home but, as the much-awaited first child of two working Indian parents, certainly had the luxury of receiving pocket money from home even at the age of 21.
My bonus years
So, yes, from the age of 21-25, all I was doing was working during weekdays, roaming around with friends over the weekend, and again, going out to the random-est places to wine and dine with friends and friends of friends. My job involved travelling all over the country to coordinate for press conferences and corporate events – so work took me almost everywhere from tier-2 towns like Benaras and Bhopal to tier-1 cities such as Hyderabad and Kolkata. For places such as Kasauni, Mussorie, Jammu, and Goa that work didn’t cover – I had the craziest bunch of friends who made plans to travel whenever work permitted. Friends who came from far more liberal families than mine also told me alcohol was not a bad thing if taken occasionally, exposure to people of different sexual orientation made me feel passionately for LGBT rights, and the proximity with the JNU campus made me ‘tolerant’ to conflicting opinions and political views. I learned to read, to listen, to debate. I learned that as long as someone had an opinion, which was based on not hearsay, it was worth being heard once.
These were the years that shaped my personality. These were the years that brought me closer to my own views about my life. By 24, when I decided to leave Delhi and move to Bangalore for a job that involved almost no travel, I was sure of what I wanted in my life. I had taken to writing seriously (the glitz and glam of PR, I had realized was not my thing). I was a hard worker – not necessarily a smart worker, always. Most people were not my cup of tea. Though I learned the art of being indifferent to people who didn’t matter much later! I loved my own space. Home, for me, was a sacred place. I preferred fine dining over discotheques for a date. I learned, I being nice to someone will not necessarily result in a fair reciprocation. I learned that I, even after acting as the flag bearer of morality, will act selfish when it came to love. In short, the bonus years of my life, 21-25, taught me a lot about myself.
30 and stubborn
Now, inching closer to 30, I have become a little rigid about how I look at my life. So, if I don’t like you I am not going to hangout with you whether you express disappointment, anger, or hatred. My mobile phone is not my best friend, neither are random calls. So, if there is no business talking to you over phone, most likely I am not calling you or taking your calls. WhatsApp/SMSes give me the time to react to ‘how are you?’ messages so I prefer these over over-enthusiastic, random greetings on calls. If you have added me on a WhatsApp group without my approval, be rest assured that the group is on mute for the longest possible duration. Flattery is not my best trait. In fact, I really lack this skill. My praises would either be genuine or there would be no praises from me. I am not complimenting you on your attire so that you compliment me back. Sorry, my grey t-shirt and black track pants are more about my comfort that your approval. Husband-talk is not my thing. Bitching, unless you are my soul sister, is not my thing. Shop-talk is reserved for my mom. Career-talk, family-talk is reserved for my brother. For everything else, I have a husband, a best friend, and my two, awesome dogs. I nurture a few handful relationships because I genuinely believe in quality over quantity.
Being socially nice
Now, adult-ing taught me one more good thing – to camouflage the fact that I judge you top to bottom the moment you utter an ultra-sexist comment. The fact that being socially nice comes to me with great difficulty makes it far more easier for me to drop my hesitance, the moment you hint inching towards meanness from sarcasm. Confrontation is not my favorite pass time, but if you really want a showdown, come loaded with logic. Unless you infringe in my personal space or try to disturb my sanity, I genuinely try hard to be socially nice irrespective of the opinion I have of you.
I genuinely don’t understand why people care so much about fair-weather friendships? For me, reciprocation of socially accepted behavior is just about existing in harmony. At 30, I am not self-sustained, but of course, I refrain from relationships that serve no other purpose that ganging up against a common enemy or forming a mutual admiration club. May be because my necessity for external approval is less, I am more at peace with adult-ing than many others.
At 40, I will revisit this blog to see whether I am successfully on my way to become a khadoos middle aged woman or not. Like I said, I am living my life after 25 without a plan and it has been pretty gratifying so far.
Before you begin, let me tell you: The word ‘non-sense’ in the article may have been used to refer a person, place, situation or thing. Use your intelligence to decode the underlying meaning.
I am not exactly a people-friendly person. If I can, I avoid any formal/informal setting that involves more than 3 people at a time. I hate being in the spotlight as well. For example, ask me to hold a microphone and talk to twenty people and you will clearly see me losing my wits. I have to do a mini pranayama to activate my brain cells before I engage myself in a useless small talk laced with non-sense. But, over a period of time, out of my own experience, I have come up with four tips that help me deal with non-sense. They might help you too!
Tip 1: To avoid a boring kind of non-sense, find a funny kind of nonsense. For lesser mortals like us, completely avoiding non-sense is not possible.
Yes, non-sense is omnipresent. It may change shapes and forms, but it is not going to go. So, learn to counter boring non-sense with entertaining non-sense.
I will give you an example. My husband often teases me for looking like a lost puppy in gatherings that I am forced to attend. Sometimes, the texts that he sends me during these gatherings from the other side of the room are hilarious enough for me to mentally roll on the floor laughing (ROFL, I said guys, ROFL!) and tolerate the gibberish that, otherwise, is intolerable.
Tip 2: Ignore or kill. Turn completely indifferent or respond back with a similar level of intimidation or insult. Don’t you EVER brood over non-sense!
Now, MY problem goes beyond simply getting bored. Non-sense takes a toll on me. When stuck in a non-sense that prolongs, I go through varying degree of emotions. I start from getting bored and reach a degree of indifference before I go completely berserk and turn violent. This generally happens when someone who I classify as ‘non-sense’ intimidates me, belittles me or tries to act over-smart with me, underestimating my anger due to my ‘lost puppy looks’.
So that non-sense doesn’t repeat itself (himself or herself), I use two tricks: I either turn completely indifferent or I respond back with a similar level of intimidation or insult. My husband is a constant level of support if I decide to take route 2.
Tip 3: Find a support system. Channelize anger when you can’t handle all on your own.
Support systems are people who don’t judge you for what you do and say. They also help you draw a line when your emotions overpower your sense of judgment. In my case, I am lucky to have two support systems. I turn to my best friend for expert advice when my husband fails to give me a satisfactory solution to avoid the non-sense I am battling.
Tip 4: Confide in your dog.
If all the above tips fail, just sit with a bucket of ice-cream and speak your heart out to your dog. I do that more often that I should.
I feel pretty old writing this article because this makes me realize that I was born in a generation where landline phones were fashionable. I remember my boyfriend, now my husband, chasing me for 2 days after school hours to get my ‘phone number’ so that he can discuss the ‘seating arrangements’ for the exams with me (and we discussed everything else instead!). Anyways! I am that old! I belong to a generation that lived without SMSes and WhatsApp messages and still managed to make friends in school. And, yes, before I hit 30, I can happily claim to have lived more than half of my life without a mobile phone.
Going by the standards of my generation, I was privileged to get an old and discarded Motorola mobile phone of my dad very early in life. But mind you, I was given a mobile phone with a strict warning that it has to be used only in the case of emergency. All that mobile phone allowed me to do was make calls & send, if I remember correctly, 142 characters messages. Sending multi-media messages were unaffordable for a kid like me whose monthly allowances were less than the cost of popcorn in PVRs today.
Anyways, coming back to the point, yes, a mobile phone, about a decade back, was a commodity all of us could live without. But today, mobile phones are more than mobiles phones and that confuses an old-school-er like me. The society has defined a whole new way of measuring people’s amicability quotient by simply calculating the number of calls a person makes to his/her friends, family and acquaintances in a stipulated time frame.
Here is how the new social charter works:
For someone like me who has to be online on Instant Messengers for business day in and day out, putting away my mobile phone is a luxury. It’s actually relaxing to be not talking to people who can’t understand your pauses and tiredness (and I say that in the personal as well as professional context). And, oh yes! This reminds me of another point that should go up the list:
The relationships, the camaraderie, the love – everything now is simply calculated by the talk time spent your mobile phone or the success with which you emote (or pretend) over this virtual medium of communication.
I, sometimes, wonder if there is a quantifiable metric to categorize people based on their monthly mobile expenses or availability to attend mobile calls. For example, someone who spends Rs.2500 and/or 1000 minutes talking over the mobile phone in 30 days is an Amicable Person (Level 2)!
I won’t be surprised if you tell me a metric like this is already in place! I am ‘socially’ less connected, you see!
PS: Please feel free to feel offended.
For someone like me who hates meeting new people and making new friends, networking for a job is not an easy thing. So, all the new (read few) job opportunities that come to me are either purely based on my talent (I heard your ouch!) or impressive profile (I spent an entire weekend working on it!) posted on various employment websites. Also, the fact that I am sitting here in the Himalayan foothills gives me the much needed motivation to let go of the new job opportunities for which I am asked to take an assignment, do a sample write-up or talk to more than 3 people in a week before being offered the job. After all this drama, if I am able to get a few interesting (few!) opportunities, I prefer not taking the interviews on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (The Delhi in me believes in Odd-Even strongly!).
But recently, a prospective employer suggested that there was no hurry at their end and I can speak to them whenever I was ready. I liked the ‘no hurry’ attitude and made a mental note to wait for a couple of weeks before I called them back. Three days later, someone from the prospective employer’s team called me again and asked me if I can be ready for a Skype interview in the next 30 minutes (I wish I knew the new ‘corporate forever’ promise came with a 3-days expiry period!). Reluctantly, I agreed to wash my face, change into a formal shirt and sit in front of my laptop to talk to someone whose name sounded strangely unfamiliar. But this time, I had made up my mind to put no facade and just speak my mind irrespective of whether or not I get the job (By the way, results still awaited.).
Given below is the transcript of the interview:
Interviewer: Hello! Good evening!
Me (Frantically looking for a wall clock around!): Oh evening! (I had left the bed only after the lady on the phone said ’30-minutes to catch the train’.)
Interviewer: How are you today?
Me (Trying to control the ADD problem): Usual! Like everyday! Did not realize what time it was when I got up. Still a little confused about the time zone you are calling from, but I guess I am supposed to say I am fine. Thank you!
Interviewer: So, you are in Sikkim?
Me (Looking for my glasses now, bloody, which Firang knows about Sikkim!): Uh huh! How do you know? (Bloody myopia!)
Interviewer: Your resume says Ravangla, Sikkim.
Me: Oh! Yes! I am there. Do you know where in India is Sikkim?
Interviewer: I googled it just before the interview.
Me: Well! I am not in Gangtok.
Interviewer: Did you say you can’t talk?
Me: No! I guess it’s the internet connection! I am in Ravangla, Sikkim and you have googled the place already! Nice! Wish I googled the company before I got on the call as well.
Interviewer: So, Richa, tell me something about yourself.
Me: No! Please! Don’t do this. Spare me this part of the interview. Everything that you need to know is on the CV that you already have and you have googled the city where I live. I don’t know what to talk about myself. An interesting piece of trivia that not many know is that I was born before the due time (profusely sweating by now!) Can we now move on to the next question, please ?
Interviewer: So, you are a medical student who chose to pursue Mass Communications later…
Me: You know what I had enough of this convincing shit with my parents for switching streams. If you are waiting for me to justify what I did – well! we are done then! No, wait, you are the kind of people who stop people from pursuing their dreams. You – the Engineer maker type – I hate you already!
Interviewer: Okay, then, tell me about your job experience.
Me: Dude, I spent an entire weekend trying to document the 6-odd years of work experience. Can you stop behaving like me and read what you are supposed to read before coming for the interview instead of wasting your time looking for exotic locations on Google!
Interviewer: Okay, I see you got some wonderful reference notes from your colleagues!
Me: What do you mean? Just because you can see a gun on the table doesn’t mean I force people to recommend me! That’s my husband’s! Licensed. Okay.
Interviewer: Tell me something about your family.
Me: I have two dogs. They are lovely. They love me unconditionally. I read this website called DogSpots everyday so that I can make life better for my dogs. The black one is naughty; the brown one is obedient. Do you like watching funny dog videos? I have quite a nice collection, you know!
Interviewer: So, you are a dog person.
Me: Here you go judgmental! See – I don’t hate cats. I don’t hate horses either. I just don’t like rats and ants. But I guess no one likes rats!
Interviewer: So, let me tell you about the role we are hiring for. It basically involves blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and communicating with people.
Me: First 5 points are okay. Communicating with people – how many times in a day? You mean meaningful, business-like conversations?
Interviewer: I guess!
Me: Uh, huh! Can I get back to you on this? (Unplug the LAN cable – my brain is whispering now!)
Interviewer: What’s your salary expectation?
Me: You know what – I am not good at this. My best friend does it for me even in the flea markets. As I am incapable of the negotiation bit, you know, just tell me how much salary you are planning to offer me without making me feel sorry about spending the whole weekend writing that CV on blah.com.
Interviewer: Great! My HR team will schedule the technical round of interview for tomorrow.
Me: Excuse me! I have to talk to a new person and beg for this job again!
Interviewer: Bye! See you!
Me: Did you not say “Good evening Mrs. Bhaskar”! How disrespectful! Anyways, Good evening, gentleman!
The news about Hrithik and Kangana’s relationship is being followed by the Indian media very closely. There are allegations, counter-allegations, supporters and shamers appearing from all possible directions.
Though we don’t know which side is the victim, the way the media is reacting to this NEWS poses one very serious question on our society – why slut shaming a girl an easy way to pump TRPs? Doesn’t this clearly mean that some of us are busy enjoying this circus on TV?
Read the full article on: http://www.smartindianwomen.com/why-is-so-easy-to-slut-shame-a-girl/