Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Three ways of defeating # General Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety,that terrible feeling of dread,can be extremely debilitating.It creeps up slowly upon your mind and by the time you realize it is playing havoc with your life,it is already well entrenched.When you spend a major portion of your waking hours worrying about the umpteen dangers that could befall you,negative thinking becomes a habit and you find it difficult to free yourself from those ominous thoughts.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament it is best to take action at the first suspicion that anxiety has got it's hold on you.Consistent efforts will enable you to regain your peace of mind.It is not difficult at all--tenacity is all that is needed.Different people employ different techniques to kill anxiety.These techniques can broadly be categorized under three heads :---
If you were energetic,practical and a doer before anxiety enslaved you,then that is where your salvation lies.Anxiety generates a surplus of adrenalin and cortisol,both of which are stress hormones that make you jittery.Vigorous activity subsumes this extra nervous energy,making you peaceful once again.

Take up a vigorous physical routine first thing in the morning.Make it a daily habit.

Line up a row of activities to choose from when anxiety becomes especially enervating.You can take your pick from running,swimming,cycling,dancing,cleaning,gardening,decluttering,organizing or a hard game of tennis ---anything which works for you.The more strenuous,the better.
If you are basically a thinker and do not care much for physical activities,chances are that you will not be able to sustain physical exertion even if you do take it up on someone's advice.You certainly need to junk those baleful thoughts but the mind cannot remain in a vacuum.Therefore it has to be filled with other,equally absorbing thoughts.The best choice would be brain games like puzzles,crossword or sudoku.

Start with the moderately difficult ones--you don't want to be frustrated at the very beginning ;).As you grapple with these games a new train of thought will take over your brain and you will,for the time being,forget your troubles.If you manage to do this repeatedly the cycle of negative thinking will come apart and you will experience peace,as well as the satisfaction of knowing that your mental faculties are alive and kicking.

The artistic kind can find solace in music,sketching,painting or craft work.All these activities require undivided concentration,so that you will now be occupied with something other than your worries and apprehensions.

Meditation is another technique which you can try.It is a soothing balm for troubled minds.It takes time to show results but it is very effective.
Despite all the suffering caused by anxiety many people become so apathetic that they fail to take any concrete steps to get out of this morass.Medication offers a workable solution.Let the doctor--preferably a psychiatrist--prescribe one for you.There is a vast variety available.If one medicine does not agree with you,you can always shift to another one.

Anxiety is annoying,enervating,exhausting and decapacitating-all at the same time.A chronic sufferer may sometimes be so overcome with lassitude as to resign himself to the fact that this is his fate and he has to live with it.Nothing could be farther from truth.It is true that today's hectic life is tailor-made for anxiety,but you don't have to live a sub-standard life all your life.Make a choice which technique suits you best of all and then stick to it.You can pull yourself out of it and regain control over your life.
All the best !

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The agony of a # transexual--All Facts,no Fiction

Nature's cruelty is indecipherable.Why does it install a girl's psyche in a boy's body?The tormented soul is torn between two opposing forces.It is not the individual's fault that he was born with certain atypical characteristics but he has to face the disadvantages nevertheless.

This is what happened to Rohan,a 27 year old boy who was the youngest of four siblings--two boys and two girls.His father,an employee of Indian Railways was seldom at home and the mother,according to Rohan,had the mental age of a twelve year old.His father was given to alcohol and violence.He believed that his children were wasting money on education while Rohan,a graduate,had been a topper throughout and wanted to do Phd. in his subject.

Coming back to Rohan's appearance at Sahyog,there was nothing in his personality to reveal that he was a transexual.He himself told me about it,adding that he had changed himself to escape ridicule.He had never felt any attraction for girls.About seven years ago he began to idolize a senior in his college and after that his problems multiplied.This boy used to extract a lot of work from him and after that he would make fun of him.Rohan was so aggrieved by this that he still harbored thoughts of taking revenge from him,but at the same time he could not get him out of his mind too.

He consulted two psychiatrists when he felt stress overtaking him and his thoughts veering towards suicide.One of them hypnotized him and then stated that he was a homosexual.This enraged him a lot--it was the first time his fears had been brought out into the open.His problems too,aggravated manifold after that.

Upon further questioning he revealed that when he was young his mother used to dress him in frocks and his father once bought a complete make-up kit for him.There was a murderous glint in his eyes when he said this.I suspect his father must have done this to scorn him.He also made a passing mention of having been molested as a child.

Then he gave me another reason for staying away from girls.Both his sisters had married for love,outside their caste.This resulted in a lot of acrimony in their home as well as in their caste group.He admitted that his sisters would have remained unmarried if they had not taken this step.He did not wish to inflict a similar fate upon some other family;although he was well aware that he too would have to select his own life partner when the time came.

It was as if he was rationalizing this anomaly in his sexual leanings.How far the above factors influenced his sexual orientation is anybody's guess.

In search of his identity,Rohan went to the Naaz Foundation in Delhi.He met many persons and read their literature too, but he did not like all that he saw. Reasearchers affirm that homosexuality is the result of certain biological factors but Rohan was still undecided which way to go.

It was obvious that he was ambivalent about this whole situation.While his hormones pulled him in one direction,fear of social censure held him back.He shied from being labelled a homosexual.Was it possible that a cluster of small influences had steered his life in one direction?Obviously he did not have the answer.But he did want to believe this.

I suggested he could try befriending girls and see how it panned out.After that he would be able to make an informed decision.The last choice would be his.

Rohan did not return after this.I tried to follow up twice but the number had been changed.Much water has flown down the Chambal since then.I wonder what he decided and how his life has shaped up.Happily,I hope.

What do you all think?Which path should/could he have taken? 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Caring for a # Mental Patient

Mental illness causes a lot of suffering to the patient but it is not the patient alone who is affected by it.There are chances of the atmosphere of his home deteriorating and ripple effects being felt by the whole family.Quite a lot of juggling and readjustments have to be made.If the disease has crossed the initial/mild stage then caring for the patient becomes an important necessity.

The do's and don'ts
  • The first step of course is to take him for a physical check up.Diseases like Thyroid,Cancer,stroke and many others can also cause depression.Some medicines too can spark mental disorders like anxiety,depression,hallucinations or suicidal thoughts.When all this has been ruled out the physician may refer you to a Mental Health Worker,Psychologist or a Psychiatrist as per need.
  • If the patient has been prescribed medicines then make sure he takes them at the right time.Psychiatric medicines can have many negative side effects.If he is unhappy with one medicine you can request the doctor to change it.If by chance the patient decides that he cannot continue the medicines then these should not be stopped voluntarily, all of a sudden.Take your doctor's help in easing them off slowly.
  • If you are apprehensive of him committing suicide,do not keep quiet by suppressing your fears-ask him outright.It is best to know and discuss.To be safe,remove all such items which he could use for that purpose from within his reach.
  • If the patient has given evidence of self harm then diagnosis ,followed by treatment of the cause of such behavior is essential.Make sure the patient does not shut himself in a room for too long and does not have access to sharp objects.
  • Caring for a mental patient is not easy--it is a full time job.You cannot take a day off.You will have to synchronize your siesta with that of the patient.
  • Patience is the key tool because you cannot respond in your usual fashion to any stimulus coming from him since he is not his usual self.
  • You cannot check,judge or criticize him even if he is being irrational,inconsiderate,ungrateful or downright rude;because doing so could worsen his condition or even spark off a crisis.
  • At the same time it is important to wean him off unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving.All your talent in diplomacy will be needed to cajole and motivate him to bring about those changes in his lifestyle.For instance if you want to take him out for a walk it will be better to say 'I have a terrible headache,can you accompany me for a breath of fresh air?';rather than saying 'You should go out for exercise,it is good for you.'
  • If he takes umbrage at the slightest or zero provocation,just say 'I am sorry,I did not mean to hurt you.'
  • A mental patient may suffer bouts of self pity but telling him to snap out of it or reminding him that numerous people are much worse off than him;is not done.This truth does not help him because he has to live in his own body,with his own devils.
  • Mental illness is accompanied by a constellation of physical symptoms which might seem minor,bizarre or even non-existent to an onlooker;but check that impulse to ascribe it to his imagination,because there is definitely something in his body which is producing those symptoms.
  • At the domestic level,take care of his diet,personal hygiene and exercise.See that he does not take alcohol or any other harmful drugs.Even smoking and an excess of coffee intake should be avoided.
  • Assure the patient that you love him and will always be there for him.Encourage him to share his worries and emotions with you.Do not be judgmental-it will shut him off.Advice too,may not be welcome;wait till he asks for it.Just empathize and be his sounding-board.
  • Give him hope,tell him that his disease will not last for ever.Motivate him to be proactive.
  • Keep the atmosphere of your home peaceful and affectionate.Enliven it by cracking jokes,highlighting humorous aspects of situations,recalling fond memories and playing peppy music.
  • Encourage him to participate in family routines like having his meals with others,watching TV and doing chores around house.
  • Take him out for socializing,entertainment and recreation.Help him to pursue a hobby of his choice.
  • You may have to act as a liaison between the patient and other agencies like his doctor,banker,teacher and employer etc.
Self care for a caregiver
Looking after a mental patient is a very taxing responsibility.Constant vigil and long hours make it very tiring.Mentally too, you are likely to feel exhausted because you may have to put up with a lot of annoying behavior,simultaneously curbing your own instinct to vent your anger.There is real danger of you falling ill if you do not take proper rest and respite.  

Therefore it is of extreme importance to look after your own needs--whether it be your diet,sleep or your precious me-time.Try to keep your life intact as far  as possible and don't feel guilty about it.Assign part of your duties to other members of your family.In case there is no one else but you and the patient at home,hire someone on a regular basis.But you definitely need time to rejuvenate.Only then will you be able to give your best to someone who desperately needs it.