Sunday, July 22, 2012

It Happens

The life we live,
Is a queer mixture,
Of bits & pieces ,
Thrown together.

The dear are often,
Torn away,
While peripherals,
Will hold sway.

Helplessly caught,
In  throes of fate,
We seldom manage,
To hold the spate.

From far away,
A tide will come,
To wipe out all,
And leave the scum.

In this very scum,
You may find a shell,
The pearl inside,
Has a story to tell.

Harbored in there,
Isolated from all,
One tiny drop,
Knew how to evolve.

Oust the trash,
Clean the slate,
Stir yourself,
A new dawn breaks!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I first met Shruti about three decades ago when both of us were in our early thirties.My husband Ram had taken up a job in Bikaner where both Shruti & her husband Satish were his colleagues.I was a bit flustered at having had to leave my beloved Delhi.Everything was different in Bikaner & i felt totally at sea.So when i came to know that Shruti too had been born & brought up in Delhi,i latched up to her like a drowning man would to a life-boat.She too welcomed me warmly.Our kids,being of the same age group,bonded at their own level.

However there was a difference between Shruti & me--she was a career woman while i was a full time housewife.Yet if you saw us you would invariably pinpoint me as the careerist & vice-versa.I was chic,smart & more modern in my outlook;she was short,roly-poly & quite matronly to look at.But while my smartness was only skin-deep,she was worldly wise in her dealings--a quick repartee always rolled off her tongue.On the other hand i was very mild by nature.

Nevertheless we got along like a house on fire.Our husbands too enjoyed each other's company.While Satish was an extrovert & would talk a lot,Ram would mostly let him have his say uninterrupted.
Thus our families made a nice compatible group & we all became good friends.But i noticed that Satish snapped at Shruti quite often,& that too without reason.She,who was always so smart & witty with others; would cower down with a meek "OK " or "As you say "
She was his equal in every other way but her subservience at the personal level irked me to no end.By & by i made other friends & they told me that Satish was given to violence & Shruti quietly put up with it.Why she tolerated such shoddy treatment when she was earning as much as him & could easily have walked out,was beyond my comprehension.As if this was not enough,it also became known that he had a girl friend on the sly,on whom he lavished costly gifts.And to think that Shruti was a person who thought thrice before spending a penny!This sort of extravagance must have been even more torturous for her than the personal indignities she had to put up with.I felt deeply for my friend,but she never indicated,by any gesture,that there was anything amiss in her life.Years rolled by.

Then one day Satish came down with a stroke.He was very sick & became paralytic.Shruti tended to him diligently but he failed to improve.He was laid up on bed for three years & was totally dependent on the wife whom he had never appreciated.We were sorry to see a spirited man going down the hill like that.I wondered what went on in his mind.Did he feel remorse for his past behavior?When i looked at Shruti handling her job,the family's finances,Satish's treatment ,the kids' education & so many other responsibilities of running a household ; i could not but marvel at her magnanimity & fortitude.Did she ever think of neglecting Satish to take her vendetta ? I wonder !!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Life Ragged to Rags.

Misfortune sometimes approaches insidiously.It appears in the garb of a boon,& then goes on to entrap you in it's clutches.This is what happened to Arun (name changed),elder son of a middle class family of four siblings;a studious boy,a good student & a loner by nature.He passed high school & aspired to do B.Tech.In order to pass the entrance test his father took a loan of 2 lakhs & enrolled him in coaching classes.Being a bright student,he was admitted to a college.But it was quite far off from his home.As soon as he joined there, his woes began.

He was ragged mercilessly by his college seniors.He was made to strip & sexual abuse too was attempted.He could not take this & egged on by a few friends who were from his own home town;he complained to the authorities.It seems he was victimized for having done so.Slowly his friends too deserted him.He was isolated on the campus-far away from his home.He became paranoid.He could not sleep for full five days.He would spend the time in college common room watching the T.V,but nothing seeped into his mind.He thought that he was seeing himself on the T.V.His father was asked to come & take him away.This was followed by psychiatric treatment & he went back after improvement.But things were never the same for him.A once bright student,wanting nothing but to qualify & land a good job,was reduced to a wreck.So much so that he failed to get his degree within the stipulated ten years.

He returned home but the end of his troubles was nowhere in sight.Anti-psychotic medicines made him lazy & supine.The disease  played havoc with his emotions & behavior so that he was liable to have fits of anger & violence.The atmosphere in his home had already deteriorated to a dismal extent.His younger brother was a sociopath & Arun became his sole target.He would pick up a knife,a sword or iron rods to beat him up.His grouse ?That the loan taken on his account had plunged the family into a financial crisis while he himself was sitting idle.His parents too,bowed down by multifarious problems,had become callous & indifferent.Can you imagine the state of his mind?Medical treatment & counseling brought him round but the antagonistic atmosphere at home compelled his father to take a separate room for him.So he was ousted from his home & separated from his mother.He yearned for her love & attention,but she was too  beleaguered by her failing health & other problems to provide solace to him.He was chided for being a wastrel.He was intelligent,computer savvy & wanted to take up a job in teaching line but who would employ him?The stigma sticking to his condition destroyed all chances.
All this & a thousand other factors combined to make a mess of a once promising life.

It is exactly twenty years since all this started.During these years he has also gone through the trauma of a disastrous marriage & divorce.There have been numerous attempts to find a job,make it work & then see it vanishing.He suffered relapses when stress became too much.Twice he thought of committing suicide.The first time it was before he contacted me.At that time his friends on the internet saved him.The second time he came to know of my helpline & decided to fight the circumstances after some counseling.(In fact he was the first of my counselees to urge me to come online;which i did after a lot of thinking).

Anyhow the gist of the matter is that fighting against unimaginable odds;he has managed to keep himself afloat.But how can you stonewall the alterations to your personality,which this disease brings in it's wake?And how can you ignore,or not be hurt by the discrimination which this disease & the allied mannerisms evoke in family,friends,co-workers & the society at large?Perhaps the seeds of Schizophrenia were latent in his genes,because while his brother is an anti-social character;his father too had moments of eccentricity.But given congenial environment, he could have led a normal life.It was the stress brought about by ragging which did him in.That one episode changed everything for him & his family;but those who ragged him do not even know what they have done to his body,mind & soul !

Friday, July 6, 2012

SUICIDE - The Dreaded Word.

"Suicide has become the second leading cause of death of the young people in India,which has one of the highest rates in the world" according to a new report published in The Lancet .

This is a cause for worry.If every suicide directly affects ten persons, it indirectly affects fifty.Death cannot be a welcome solution for anyone,but when someone cannot find a solution to his problems,when he thinks that no one cares whether he lives or dies,when he has no support system to ask help from and when he believes that his condition will not improve;then he takes this drastic step.He does not want to end his life-he only wants to end his misery,and when he sees no other way of doing this,then he chooses death-albeit reluctantly.Those who are close to him can avert this tragedy.But in order to do that they must first be able to recognize the danger signals.Following is a list of those who could be harboring suicidal thoughts.Please read on-----

Those who are likely to think of suicide

*1- A person who has previously tried to commit suicide.

*2- Who talks of life being worthless.

*3- Who has previous history of family suicide.

*4- Who has a mental illness.

*5- Who has a serious incurable disease.

*6- Who is an alcoholic or  drug addict.

*7- Who is in bereavement.

*8- Who has gone through a break-up--romantic or marital.

*9- Who has failed in an exam'

*10- Who has suffered a setback in his career or financial affairs.

*11- Who is a victim of sexual abuse or ragging or some other trauma.

*12- Who has impending legal action against him.

*13- Who is tidying his affairs,writing his will at a rather inopportune time.

*14- Who is giving away his cherished possessions uncharacteristically.

*15 Who is mired  in a debt trap.

The warning signs

*1- There are some persons who will not give the tiniest hint that they are going to take this fatal step.But mostly a person on verge of suicide will throw hints about his impending action because he does not want to die-he only wants to be rid of his problem;& is hoping that someone will rescue him.So he will comment that life is not worth living,there is no hope etc etc.Take special care of those who say they will commit suicide outright.

*2- A person in suicidal mode may look depressed,unkempt & absent-minded.He will not follow his usual daily routine.

*3- He will lose control over his emotions & reactions-will become easily angered,violent or ready to burst into tears.

*4- He may indulge in anti-social or unlawful activities. 

*5- His eating & sleeping patterns will be disturbed.

*6- He will isolate himself,desist from joining any social function.

*7- Or there may be an artificial show of gaiety.

*8- He may take to substance abuse.

 *9- Self mutilation too can be a precursor of suicide.

What to do?

If you happen to note any of the above signs in someone ,go near him.
Do not hesitate to ask what is wrong-you are not prying,merely showing concern.
Assure him that you will keep his worries confidential,that you want to help him & you will always be there for him.
Encourage him to vocalize all his fears & worries.He may tell you something of which you do not approve,but pass no judgements.Nor show in any way that you disapprove.
Give emotional support but no advice yet.
Ask how you can help him,& also what solution he has thought of.His thoughts at this stage are likely to be very murky.Just help to clear the fog by asking leading questions so that he can visualize pros & cons of the various options.
Take him for a physical check up &  a psychiatrist if need be.
Encourage him to take proper medicines.
Involve him in group activities.
You must ask him if he is thinking of committing suicide & how;so that you can take preventive measures.

If despite these efforts you find the matter slipping from your hands do not hesitate to inform his family & take outside help,or you may have to regret this minor inaction which could lead to a major tragedy because There is hope only if there is life.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Eschew Stress In Eight Easy Steps

Yes i know,internet is bursting at the seams with various lists of stress-busters!We all have our own pet formulae for beating stress,but how about shunning it in the first place?It would be much more pragmatic to adopt a life-style which says 'Nay' to stress---to the extent that it is possible;because it's proximity (i am talking of negative stress here) is not only annoying,but also damaging.Given below is a strategy which is easy & effective in keeping stress at bay.See if it strikes a chord with you.

1* Know Thyself.What sort of an individual are you &what do you want from life?Are you hungry for all the trappings of a rich high life or would you be happier with a moderate amount of success coupled with a healthy work-life balance?Is a spiraling career your sole goal?Even at the cost of a happy home?Can you nonchalantly swipe friends & family for a pinnacle of success?Are you content with your carefree,independent bachelorhood or do you want a harmonious family life above all?If you are a woman,are you happy to be the queen of your family & home or do you want to go out & build up a spiraling career?Just because all young females are doing it;or those you know, talk ravishingly about theirs?I know there can be no cut & dried answers to these questions but looking at the demands of a fast track life & it's repercussions on our health & happiness;these issues merit serious deliberations.Choose whichever life style appeals to you but thereafter,don't look enviously at others' choices.

2* Set attainable targets for your self.Rome was not built in a day,nor can anybody or everybody be an Einstein or a Mozart.It is relaxing to know your limitations & accept them gracefully.This is a buffer against heart ache caused by unfulfilled ambitions & failed enterprises.

3*Don't be a perfectionist or undertake to do everything yourself because someone else will not be able to do it as per your specifications.Delegate responsibility to members of your team whether you are at home,office,club or any other social to-do.In case you are at the receiving end of orders or instructions do not agree to do more than what you are capable of.Find a polite way of explaining your situation.

4*Give yourself sufficient time to accomplish all that needs to be done.If you try to squeeze in a work-load of 12 hrs into 8 hrs;you may succeed in doing so,but at the end of it you will be more pooped out & irritable than if you had done it at a more leisurely pace.There will be fewer mistakes & blunders too,thereby leaving you more satisfied with your efforts.

5*Multi-tasking is supposed to be an attribute of all high achievers but it is also a shortcut to anxiety & stress.It is unproductive in the long run.

6*Take rest at the first signs of exhaustion.Don't press yourself too hard.Indulge yourself & feel the happy hormones flowing.

7*Avoid mental clutter.A very potent source of anxiety is the general feeling that a lot needs to be done & you are slipping behind in your schedules.This can be very oppressive-like a sumo wrestler sitting on your head.Just make a list of all pending jobs in decreasing order of importance,tackle the first one & set the ball rolling.Often this looming cloud of pressure is not at all commensurate with reality.

8*Lastly,some talk of physical clutter,the effect of which is not apparent,but insidious.A neat work table,a tidy home-all make for harmony & positivity.

Nobody is immune to set-backs & calamities which crash down like a bolt from the blue,but organizing your life and planning it according to your needs and inclinations can reduce stress to a large extent.