What Depression Feels Like

Depression is a serious mental illness that can interfere with a person’s life. It can cause long-lasting and severe feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities.

It can also cause physical symptoms of pain, appetite changes, and sleep problems.

“I was in so much pain that I really didn’t want to face the world.. I really just felt like the easy way out would be to just go away, disappear”
– Halle Berry
(The Ophrah Winfrey Show)

I think the toughest part about dealing with depression is that it has a way of making me feel really really alone. Like I’m drowning in a sea of thoughts and memories while everyone else is swimming. And because I think I’m alone, and because I think no one can see me when somebody asks me how I’m doing, you say: I’m Okay!

I might not look okay, I might not sound okay. But I still think that all I can say to them is that I’m okay. Because otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense. depression-750x3454

There are a lot of things that I don’t understand about depression, or that I wish were different. For starters, I feel drained of all vitality. Like I’m watching the color in my life evaporate. And that’s a really REALLY scary and helpless feeling. I can feel the blood drain from my cheeks and my chest tighten when demented thoughts of pain and helplessness visit me again and again. And in my mind, it’s only something I can see. So again I say, I’m okay! Thanks for asking!

I feel like fake every time I do that. It’s like I’m lying. But then again, do I really want to burden another person with my sob story? Not again.

I realized that my I’ve-got-it-together act was a facade a couple of years ago when I was in college. I realized that I felt the need to keep it together so that nobody knows how scared and empty I feel inside. This was such a contradicting thought, cause I remember for many many years all I really wanted was to have people in my life who see me for with all shortcomings and care about me anyway.

I thought they thought I was a lost cause. I thought they thought I was exhausting, and that my troubles were overbearing. Which is why I thought it best to keep my depressive thoughts to myself. And that was probably not a good idea.

After a long-standing struggle with my self, I decided to seek help.
I was a nerd in school. I loved studying my way out of everything.
And for some reason, I was convinced that I could study my way out of depression.

Many people mistakenly believe that being depressed is a choice, or that they need to have a positive attitude. Friends and loved ones often get frustrated or don’t understand why a person can’t “snap out of it.” They may even say that the person has nothing to be depressed about.

Depression is a real mental illness. Those who have depression cannot simply decide to stop feeling depressed. Unlike typical sadness or worry, depression feels all-consuming and hopeless.

Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness that last most of the day, stretch into weeks, and interfere with daily life. Depression, which typically begins to manifest around age 18, is a serious illness that requires swift diagnosis and treatment; depression is a leading cause of suicide among adults.

Common symptoms of major depressive disorder (the most common type of depression) in adults include the following when sustained for two weeks or more:

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  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Change in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Agitation or irritability with co-workers and family
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt or inadequacy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions at work
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Major depression is not a normal part of aging. It is a serious condition that, unfortunately, some adults are reluctant to discuss with their physicians. If you notice any of the following daily manifestations of depression, make an appointment with your primary care doctor right away.

[Self-Test: Depression in Adults]

Symptoms at Home

  • You notice your pants are getting very tight (or very loose), indicating a sustained change in appetite
  • Cleaning the kitchen used to take an hour; now it takes all day, indicating a serious lack of energy
  • No matter how early you go to bed, you never feel rested or eager to get up in the mornings
  • You wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t get back to sleep
  • Everything seems dull, and without vitality
  • It takes a Herculean effort to get off the couch and take care of errand

Symptoms at Work

  • You get a promotion, but still, feel unsatisfied
  • The smallest decision — like what to order for lunch — paralyzes you for hours
  • Your co-workers didn’t invite you out after work, and now you feel like an outcast
  • Even when you’re working hard, you feel like you could get in trouble at any moment
  • You feel so antsy and agitated, it’s hard to be at your desk for eight hours
  • You have broken down crying more than once this week at work

How to Treat Depression

According to studies, 80 to 90 percent of people with depression experienced significant improvement when undergoing treatment. For people with severe depression, this treatment may comprise a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Therapy is an essential component of any treatment plan. Depression can alter the way people think, and therapy can help correct that, allow people to recognize distorted thinking patterns, and help them return to a more normal way of being.

Treating Depression with Medication

Antidepressants work slowly. Most patients see no benefit for the first 10 to 14 days. During that period, the onset of side effects like nausea, weight gain, insomnia, and other unpleasant symptoms tempt many people to stop taking the medication. But it’s important for patients to stick it out, and take a long-term view. After two weeks, irritability and daily crying spells typically fade. However, it may take another 8 to 10 weeks for a patient to realize the full benefit of an antidepressant. Therefore, medication should only be stopped under a physician’s supervision.

Treating Depression with Therapy

Two main types of therapy have proven effective in treating major depression: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). CBT aims to restructure negative patterns of thinking. During CBT, a psychotherapist or therapist helps patients learn to recognize and change unhealthy or faulty cognition patterns, especially in times of stress. IPT for depression emphasizes the connections between symptoms and a patient’s interpersonal relationships. It is commonly recommended for children and adolescents with depression, but many adults use it to improve social functioning and personality issues.

Treating Depression with Lifestyle Changes

Patients with mild depression may experience improved symptoms with lifestyle adjustments that include the following:

  • At least seven hours a night
  • At least 30 minutes spent outdoors daily
  • Relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation
  • Regular testing of hormone levels
  • Mindfulness, yoga, and meditation designed to focus on the moment and alleviate stress
  • Daily exercise
  • Music therapy
  • Reduced carbohydrate intake
  • A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats
  • Reduced caffeine, which can suppress serotonin levels in the brain
  • Dietary supplement like saffron, B-vitamins, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) or St. John’s wort, taken with a physician’s approval
  • Acupuncture treatments

Journaling, or keeping a mood diary, helps some patients to highlight patterns of negative thinking, notice when good things happen, and stay motivated to make progress. Journal entries help remind some people that things do get better after a negative event. Writing once a week is a good initial goal, increasing frequency to once a day if the diary helps.

Experts in depression agree: No patient should struggle on his own with dark moods. People who surround themselves with a positive support network, who educate themselves about depression, and who seek out advice tend to respond best to treatment over the long haul.

So, I don’t think I need to reiterate it- but depression is a serious condition that a person could be suffering from a couple of months to a couple of years.

Therapy combined with exercise and medication can provide life-changing relief in a matter of weeks, months or years. But the most important thing you remember is to test yourself and seek help.

The Puppy Mill Phenomenon

Choosing to bring a new canine companion into your life is an exciting but involved decision-making process, especially when deciding where to get one. You might have concerns about “puppy mills” or “backyard breeders,” and want to know how to steer clear of them. Perhaps you don’t even know what these are and need more information.

A few months ago when I started my research on dog adoption, I was overwhelmed with this whole new world of shelters and rescues. Pet stores weren’t so much of an option then financially. I chased down a dozen pups that I really liked, online, in shelters and in rescue groups. But after a dozen rejections, I decided to walk into a pet store.

I remember feeling really, really wary about going there, cause I’d heard so much about mistreated pups in backyard shelters, preying on them for purely monetary greed. I didn’t want to support an industry like that, and I don’t think any conscientious person would if they were truly aware of it. I was fairly unaware of the gravity of the situation then. And had I not fallen head over heels in love with this little chap, I probably wouldn’t have gone ahead with it. PAWS and PETA have been trying very hard to raise awareness about puppy mills and the ugly face of this predatory industry.
As you begin your research, here are some things to consider:

Puppy mills

Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce dogs (and cats in cat mills) for sale through pet stores, or directly to consumers through classified ads or the Internet. Roughly 90 percent of puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills. Many retailers who buy animals from such facilities take the wholesaler’s word that the puppy-636119096-16x9-320x180animals are happy and healthy without seeing for themselves.

In most states, these commercial breeding kennels can legally keep hundreds of dogs in cages their entire lives, for the sole purpose of continuously churning out puppies. The animals produced range from purebreds to any number of the latest “designer” mixed breeds. Cat breeding occurs under similar conditions to supply pet stores with kittens.

Animals in puppy mills are treated like cash crops

  • They are confined to squalid, overcrowded cages with minimal shelter from extreme weather and no choice but to sit and sleep in their own excrement.
  • Animals suffer from malnutrition or starvation due to inadequate or unsanitary food and water.
  • Sick or dying animals receive little or no veterinary care.
  • Adult animals are continuously bred until they can no longer produce, then destroyed or discarded.
  • Kittens and puppies are taken from their mothers at such an early age; many suffer from serious behavior problems.

Backyard breeders

Backyard breeders are also motivated by profit. Ads from these unscrupulous breeders fill the classifieds. Backyard breeders may appear to be the nice neighbor next door-in fact, even seemingly good-intentioned breeders may treat their breeding pairs as family puppy-mill-358529pets. However, continuously breeding animals for years to produce litters for a profit still jeopardize the animals’ welfare.

Some backyard breeders may only breed their family dog once in a while, but they often are not knowledgeable on how to breed responsibly, such as screening for genetic defects. Responsible, proper breeding entails much more than simply putting two dogs together.

Taking homes away

When puppy mills and backyard breeders flood the market with animals, they reduce homes available for animals from reputable establishments, shelters and rescue groups. Every year, more than 150,000 cats and dogs enter shelters in Washington State-6 to 8 million animals enter shelters nationwide. Sadly, only about 15 percent of people with pets in the U.S. adopted them from a shelter or rescue group, leaving so many deserving pets left behind.

Help stop the suffering by taking these steps:

  1. Be a responsible, informed consumer-if you do buy from a breeder, go to a reputable one who:
    • Will show you where the dogs spend their time and introduce you to the puppy’s parents.
    • Explains the puppy’s medical history, including vaccines, and gives you their veterinarian’s contact info.
    • Doesn’t have puppies available year-round, yet may keep a waiting list for interested people.
    • Asks about your family’s lifestyle, why you want a dog, and your care and training plans for the puppy.
    • Doesn’t use pressure sales tactics.
  2. Adopt from a shelter or breed-specific rescue group near you-typically 25% of the animals in shelters are purebred.
  3. Support laws that protect animals from puppy mill cruelty-tell your elected officials you support laws which cap the number of animals a person can own and breed, and establish care standards for exercise, housing, access to food and water and regular veterinary care.
  4. Urge your local pet store to support shelters-animals are often used to draw consumers into stores. Encourage pet stores to promote shelter animals for adoption instead of replenishing their supply through questionable sources.
  5. Donate pet supplies to local shelters to help those rescued from the puppy mills and many other homeless animals in need. Many of them put their wishlists on amazon. This would help provide support for their rescues with essential supplies like beds, towels, food, toys, and vaccinations.
  6. Volunteer. Many rescues are largely volunteer-based communities that run on fosters and donations from people. If you can’t donate money, then donate your time to care for these animals over the weekend or foster them, clean and train them, preparing them for their final homes.
  7. Lastly, you could sponsor a pet in a shelter or rescue by donating each month for their food, supplies, and medical bills until they find their forever home.

I would still highly encourage to explore all avenues and exhaust your options BEFORE you consider breeders. This is because even if the breeders are responsible and not over crowding the kennels, the mother dog goes through immense trauma having to give up her kids and reproduce consistently. There is also still the problem of over population that remains. Every year thousands of dogs are euthanised because they don’t have a home to stay in. I think it would be much wiser to save an animal from being euthanised and provide them a forever home.

I think that it’s really really important to spread the word because I truly believe that if they knew better, most people would choose differently.

If you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe. – Greta Thunberg (16, Climate Activist)

I really hope you find your loving canine companion soon.
And I know you’ll make the right choice… for that, you’ll get back way more love than you’d be able to give!

 

What Is Your American Dream? (The Immigrant Perspective)

In 1931, historian James Adams first publicly defined the American Dream. Adams’ often-repeated quote is, “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

I think that’s a truly wonderful philosophy, honestly.

But I think we, the immigrant kids, really need to sit down and think about what that means to us. Today is a day and age of opportunity and mass immigration. I understand that these ideas of happiness may not be seen as holistically as they were initially intended to be. Every individual defines their own idea of happiness. I can imagine that for some people happiness may equate to a better home environment. It may mean better mental and physical health. It may mean loving and fulfilling relationships. And an opportunity to grow as an individual, both professionally and personally. I know that I look at happiness that way. For many others, it may include expanding their economic equity. Being at the forefront of business management in the financial district. Being involved in policymaking and the ability to drive socio-economic change, yada-yada.
The list continues.

It is hard to imagine a place that offers you the opportunity to practice these things. It’s hard to find your place in the country today. With real-life restrictions such as visa status, overpopulation, mass immigration, and racial discrimination. I think some of the retaliation is justified. It’s a little eerie to watch the flawed expectations people keep while moving to a country with said opportunities. For many, they don’t feel heard in their home countries. Their living situations are direr. There is a lack of social freedom and self-care. And they taste opportunity and compassion when they move here. I don’t deny any of that. But in the process, people build a distorted lens with which they view this country and their own home town.

But is money and opportunity all we’re looking for? What about the freedom to love anybody we want? The freedom to choose to spend our lives with people who come from different walks of life? Freedom to be Queer and still be here. To find support in battles towards mental health, and destigmatization of it. Freedom to choose a better education system? Or to find passion in work and work in your passions? I know it’s all big talk, but is it though? These concerns are real right? And I refuse to apologize for demanding open-mindedness and acceptance. Because that’s what it’s all about. And that doesn’t have to be the Indian dream or the American dream, or even the Brazilian Dream for all I care. All of us need a voice, and everyone deserves acceptance. As long as that’s out in the open, it doesn’t matter how many extra dollars you make. You’ll be happy for a little bit, but at the end of the day life is about the little things isn’t it?

I have family in Satkhol, a town near Nainital which is pretty low key. Their cheese is locally produced and bread freshly baked. They also harvest rainwater their own. None of that knorr cheese and bisleri bottle nonsense. And they’re urban city upper management folks who decided to ditch the city life and move away. Does that scare you? Well, maybe you need to rethink your lifestyle a little bit. Every day I spend with them, I’m the happiest. Even without the materialistic. We manage to grill fantastic chicken, drink fine wine. We read books, cuddle up, watch movies or listen to songs and laugh like there’s no tomorrow. The ice-cold clean Himalayan air rushing down my lungs is one of the most rejuvenating feelings I’ve had in life. It feels like someone’s turned a bucket of cold water over my head and I can think again. Reprioritize.

So, I’d like to ask you, Dear Reader:

Do you REALLY need all that money and stature to do well? Is it worth pushing your selves for 60 hours a week till you burn out so that you can invest in a house a couple of years down the line and put photos on Instagram? How long do you think your neighbors would stay jealous? A week?  A month? A year at max I bet!

Is it worth it though to sell yourself like a slave so that you can buy a life that other people think is worth living?

What I’m trying to say is, DON’T GET DISTRACTED BY ALL THE SHINY THINGS.

All that glitters is not gold. 

Sure. Clearly.

As we move into this phase of young adulthood, we’re not in that space anymore where we constantly need external validation. We don’t need to woo the hottest girl in the batch to make our peers jealous. Similarly, we don’t need to buy the richest house or the most expensive car to prove anything to mom and dad or uncles and aunties. Our lives are our own, and we should be the leads in our own stories. Don’t let somebody else’s priorities define your ideals. You’d only lose yourself in the process.

So dear immigrant kids, before you make your next big career move and run over to the US or anywhere else, I’d strongly urge you to think about what you’re running towards and what you’re running away from. That’ll help you clear your mind and make a choice you’d genuinely enjoy living with. There’s always light at the end of any tunnel. Trust me, I know that.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Dream big!
Demand creativity and understanding.
Demand love.
Taste freedom.
But most important of all:
Take Control, And run after what was yours, to begin with.

The Dark Side Of Being Nice

Harry eases into his couch with a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans after a long day of Quidditch practice. He opens his diary and starts to scribble to himself.

What does it mean to be nice and likable? Have you really thought about where these concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ came from? “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on” Sirius Black, told Harry once. But what does that mean really… Umbridge never thought he was any good. The Dursleys never thought he was any good. Cho probably didn’t think too much about him either. He was always too skinny, too peaky, too demanding. It can be very limiting to belong to these labels and be expected to live up to them every now time. It can make people feel very caged inside. Dykstra_20160228_5514-2

Has anybody ever thought about the dark side of being nice though? Cause nice people also lie. They tell you things about you that aren’t true because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.  They don’t say things to you that they should because they don’t want to rock the boat. Many of their actions are guided by their self-interest.  By that, I mean that their niceness has more to do with what others think about them – primarily their concern that other people like them. Not very nice though, is it? I myself have been guilty on many occasions of being nice to avoid conflict.

Let’s think long and hard here for a little while… Would you really want to be nice and miss out on the chance to have a more fulfilling experience of life? Would you really want the course of your life to be defined by other people because you were too sweet to say no to them? Would you really want to experience resentment in your relationships because you’re exhausted people-pleasing and now you have no energy left for yourself? Would you really want to forfeit your own uniqueness because you want to conform to set images, and in the process feel like you’re losing yourself?

If that’s the case then hell yes, I’m not nice! No way.

Very recently, I’ve felt my good girl mask slowly chip away. I’ve found myself saying no to people more often, setting boundaries for myself, and being a lot more respectful of my own time and energy. I was nice, but I want to be good. I want to be strong. I want to be kind and empathetic. I want to work towards my relationships and see myself grow. I want to handle fights, pain, and uncertainty instead of avoiding them. 2465f7bbde456ed134e1e5dc244aa0abI want to feel like an equal in the relationship and have my emotional needs met. And I’m starting too. It’s like tasting a flavor of ice cream you never knew existed. Like standing in your balcony, during the drizzling rain. There’s so much relief in being seen, heard, understood and loved. “It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to not want to listen to other people talking about themselves. It’s okay to not be there for someone if you can’t”. The first time I heard my therapist say things like that to me, I was quite spellbound. “But… nobody told me it was okay to cry or look sad… Mom and Dad would get sadder if I was sad. And then I felt like I shouldn’t be sad… So I’d just hop around and play instead” I whispered. She inhaled sharply and we both looked at each other with this fondness we’ve had.

“Good is hard,” Clark Kent said. That’s because being good means facing the harsh reality of things. It means standing up for yourself. It means sitting through difficult conversations and working towards forging stronger relationships. Being good takes strength and courage. Good people don’t say nice things for the sake of it- they mean it. They appreciate the positives in people but do not hesitate to point out the negatives. They work towards building a successful like for themselves. They assert boundaries for themselves and choose to be in healthier and more equal relationships. This involves being honest with their peers and dealing with problems head-on.

Loving yourself. Caring for yourself. Understanding yourself. These are the most underrated teachings that we’ve all had in life. People with deeper relationships have known what they need from their loved ones and have not shied away from asking for it. But the rest of us who are learning as we grow, do need to consistently invest in ourselves. It can be immensely fulfilling to be in strong, healthy relationships. People love to make others feel deeply loved. They love to make others feel cared for. They love to understand each other and support each other. As a community, that’s how we exist. And promoting healthier relationships is our moral prerogative.

Which is why, it’s OKAY to not be nice, and choose to be good instead.
It’s okay to be strong.
It’s okay to let yourself feel those uncomfortable feelings.
It’s okay to be vulnerable.
It’s okay to desire love and care.
You’re feelings don’t make you weaker.
They make you stronger instead.

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Mum’s The Problem.

All of us know the impact our parents have on us. More often than not, their needs become our needs, their insecurities become our insecurities and their baggage becomes our baggage. In this whirlwind of emotions, it is easy to forget that parents themselves have learned these behaviors and are empathic human beings who may be willing to unlearn it for the sake of their children.

kidsaregifts

Recently I have met a Professor of Psychotherapy, a Consultant Psychiatrist and a GP – all parents of children lost to mental illnesses. Here’s what one mum says:

“Whenever I have seen a therapist, they have gone straight to my childhood, my up-bringing, my parents and their parents. All my behaviours and feelings seem to be explained and understood based on their behaviours, however ‘normal’, for their times. I am encouraged to think of all the ways in which they could have directly or indirectly damaged me.

By that principle, all of my child’s behaviours and feelings should be explained and understood based on the behaviours of his parents. Half of them is me. I agree. I must be part of the problem. My profession is perceived as a bigger problem. ‘High achieving Asian’ parents are assumed to put a lot of pressure on their children. So much so, the…

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What Does It Mean To Be A Wannabe?

I don’t know how many of you really remember what it was like to be in high school, but I’m sure most of you can relate to this: Remember the times in school when kids used to want to be a part of the popular group? I bet the popular kids themselves had their own insecurities to deal with. Now that I sit back and think of it, I’m realizing how influenced we were by our self-image and the labels that were attributed to us. I remember being different labels at different points in time. I believe I transitioned between the loner, the nerd, the sweet kid, the popular one, the distant one, the friendly/charming, all at different times. And I’m comfortable with all of them; Because, of course, I felt like that at different points in time. There were kids that were popular- kids that I liked very much because, irrespective of the status quo, they were nice people! I remember not caring as much about wanting to be a part of the label- I had issues of my own. Depression and anxiety are exhausting to deal with! But I remember struggles around the same issues of self-esteem while I yearned for a sense of acceptance and belonging as well.

Adolescence is the time children need the most amount of validation in their life. They are most vulnerable, everything’s changing, that their need for acceptance is the highest at this point. I remember destructive labels such as ‘desperate’, ‘wannabe’, ‘lame’, ‘easy’, ‘slutty’, ‘bitchy’, ‘creepy’, ‘needy’ being used to describe people. tenor.0I kinda feel bad for being a part of it 😬 Anyhow! Those days are long gone behind us! We are all mature adults now. Right? Or, are we? 😅  As I and my roommate got into a spirited discussion about what being a wannabe means, we uncovered a very amusing trail of thoughts! Her point of view was: “But everybody is a wanna be right?”
“Wut?!” I blinked confused. This woman clearly had no concept of what a wannabe was or what it meant to be called one.
“Dude! A WANNABE is Someone who wants to be something they are not. Like they try to act famous when they’re not or they try to be cool when they’re not.”
Then she says:
“But nobody’s famous until they are. And how do you know they are not cool? In their minds they are! So how can you be the judge of that?!”
I blinked some more. This was getting ridiculous.
“Dude… You’re not getting it!! A wannabe is someone who does something because it is trendy. They are only into it because it is popular. They don’t know anything or know very little, about what the trend is. At the same time, they will talk a big game and make it sound like they know what they are talking about. That’s lame right?”

She casts me an annoyed look as if wondering why I’m this shallow while I frantically rammed my brains to understand what I was getting wrong. Then she slowly says “Dude. Everybody’s a wannabe, right? You may think that that person has no fashion sense, but in their mind, they’re doing their best to learn about makeup and explore their own style, and there’s no rule against that. Is there? And that kid who’s trying to be a social media influencer- maybe at this point he doesn’t seem to be gaining publicity, but he has his own ideas and innovation. How can you propagate individualism and creativity when you cannot accept that fact that there are going to be people better than you or worse than you at the task that you are trying to achieve. And till the time that you don’t achieve it – that title, position, career break, whatever – you will be a wannabe, right? A wannabe athlete, a wannabe model, a wannabe film star, a wannabe artist. You’re also a wannabe writer, aren’t you?”

I stared at her open-mouthed as words refused to escape my wannabe face.

So I slowly clapped at her instead!

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I Think I Want To Be A Therapist

I think I want to be a therapist. Because:

  1. I want to work with people, but in a way that I feel involved with their lives.giphy
  2. I want to have a personal relationship with my clients.
  3. I want to work with them in a way that touches their lives.

I remember when I was a really small kid, one of my aunts(Bebo Mausi) got diagnosed with schizophrenia. I had gone to Delhi for my internship and was staying with my aunt and uncle for the summer. They dropped me off at my relatives as they were going out of town for the weekend. Bebo Mausi was visiting these relatives at the time. I had seen a lot of her when I was younger, and schizophrenia-CARTOON-301863I remember what she was like before she got diagnosed. I was excited to see her and the others but I didn’t really know how to be around her. As we approached the house and kept ringing at the doorbell, we felt annoyed that no one was opening the door. After a couple of knocks, I see Bebo Mausi opening the wooden door on the inside but she wouldn’t open the front door. She kept peeking at us horrified. “Hi Mausi!” I said. “Kaise Ho?” (How are you? In Hindi). “Kaun hai?!” (Who is it?) she says. I look at her amused. She knows me. She’s met me. MULTIPLE times! I say “Shruti!”, she says “Chale jao! Mujhe nahi pata!” (“I don’t know you! Just leave.”)

Now, this was getting ridiculous. After a decade of playing Uno and chit chat, that is NOT the way to treat someone :/ “Are Kya hua! Darwaza Kholo Na!” (What happened? Open the door!). “Nahi! woh log mujhe chor ke chale jaye. Tum jao. Mujhe nahi kholna.” (I don’t want to open the door! They left me alone. Please leave!) Again, I looked a her annoyed at the absurdness. I hung around some more but my uncle had to leave. “Usko bolo jane ko!”(Ask him to leave) she kept yelling at him- which I found really rude and annoying because she’s known him practically all her life! “I think I should go,” sweet uncle says. “It’s okay, I’ll be fine” I reassured him.

Apparently, my relatives had to head out for a family event and had left my aunt behind because she gets angsty around a lot of people. group-therapy_o_4093561As I hung around, kicked at my suitcase and hummed songs, waiting for my relatives to come back and let me in, dear aunt and I got to chatting. It was funny to talk through the netted outer door to her, but I thought it was kinda fun. I started asking her what she was up to and she told me she had been watching her favorite series and making some coffee when the lights tripped temporarily. Now, given her condition, worry for us is full-blown paranoia for her. She was alone and scared and panicked really bad. She tried calling them multiple times but as they were in a function, they did not hear her frantic cries. She was thus really scared and annoyed and couldn’t bear to let anyone in. In that moment of manic, it was hard for her to recognize people and think. I melted slowly inside.

“What other series do you like?” I asked. She named a string of Hindi series that I had no idea about but I smiled and laughed at her descriptions and kept egging her on to talk about things she likes anyway. After a couple of minutes, she says, “you must be hungry right??”. “I kind of am…” I say. “Do you want to come in? I can make you a sandwich.” “Only if you’re okay with that! I would love to eat some sandwich”. She opens the door to let me in as I strut towards the living room with my luggage. She makes a dash to the kitchen, prepares a really nice cheese and vegetable sandwich and makes some of her famous coffee as well! We sit down at the dining table and chat like we used to while I eat. I smile at her fondly as she animatedly tells me about her life, wishing that she wouldn’t have to live with moments of terror and pain like she did. Even though so much has changed, I still love her I guess. She’s my aunt! You know? ❤ And she’s a wonderful person!

Two days later, when my uncle came to pick me up, he asked me how I’d managed to get in that day. Impressed, he says “you’re really good at this. you should do this for a living”. “Be a therapist?” I smirk, amused. “Think of all the people you’d help,” he says. I breathe slowly, wondering how I seem to be talented at everything apart from my engineering degree :/  ALthough, xdownload-3.jpg.pagespeed.ic.7hLXEWUJXbI have been in therapy for almost three years now, in the past few months I’ve experienced some shifts that have felt truly powerful. And for that, I’m grateful. It’s like a change in my lense, and now I can see better! 🙂 Having had some immensely vulnerable sessions with my therapist, I have been grateful to experience the growth I did. People think you need to be ill to go to therapy. Cliche as it sounds, do you need to fall ill to go to the gym? No, right? They why wait for your emotional muscles to wither and strain before you decide that its time to take care of yourself? The mind and body are connected, more than we’d like to admit. In fact, emotional pain often hurts much more than physical pain. It’s a fact! Your psychological health alters your brain chemistry, which in turn is bound to impact your energy levels, sleep cycle, temperament, and much more.

It’s so sad to see that something so basic as emotional hygiene is not taught to us in school. We can learn integral and differential calculus, but nobody wants to help us to understand our emotions better.  They’re there for a reason so that they can guide you towards being true to yourself. Dismissing them or suppressing them does not help. It only makes matters worse. In today’s day and age, there are so many engineers, doctors, writers, artists. But not enough mental health professionals. It makes me sad sometimes. The power of therapy is phenomenal. anigif_enhanced-11293-1449608655-9The healing power of our minds is commendable. Trust me, I know. I’m one of those people who was blessed with guidance and help at the right time. I love working on myself. I’m obsessed with it. My therapist calls me a ‘good student’, cause I study and make notes and hang on to every word of professional advice she shares. It has changed my life entirely. I feel a sense of health and vitality that I haven’t in years. And often in the light of day, when I’m writing or working on a mental health workbook or trying to convince a friend to go to therapy, I quietly wonder to my self: Could this really be my ‘calling’?

Who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We’ll find out I guess. All ‘I’ know is…

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