Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Reality,Denial and Positivity

Yesterday my husband and I got talking about his health.I had been pestering him to get his blood sugar tested but he had been stalling it since many months.Finally when he did get it done he tested positive for Diabetes.He is a very observant person and notices the slightest aberration in his health or the various systems controlling it. He must have noticed that his hunger pangs were increasing by the day just as I did but he brushed off the thought that he was probably Diabetic.What might have been a minor ailment had now come out in full force.

When I chided him for having been in denial for so long he replied that it was also important to negate disturbing thoughts.So the discussion veered to reality versus Positivity.Positivity is no doubt very beneficial but it is also necessary to give serious thought to the various aspects of a negative thought which disturbs your equilibrium:

  • Like why does it assail you so often?
  • Since how long has this continued?
  • Is it grounded in reality?
  • And what could transpire if it was true and you continued to ignore it?
Denying the possibility of a disturbing feeling having a genuine cause sometimes blows up into a bigger trouble just as it did in my husband's case.The next time you are disturbed by a worrisome thought consider the following:

  • Is it one of your habitual forebodings?
  • Could it be the signal of a pernicious worm turning it's head?Something going wrong?
  • Can things worsen if you continue to neglect it?
  • What are the pros and cons of checking it's veracity?
If your introspection affirms that this negative thought is only because of your tendency to envisage doleful developments and ignoring it will not harm you in any way,you can rest easy and get on with your life.But if this is not the case then you would have attained a safe margin to take prophylactic action against a looming trouble.Both ways,you win.

It is safer to be realistic instead of burying your head in sand in the name of positivity. A brief perusal of recent developments,current circumstances and upcoming events often discloses what could be the cause of your anxiety.Evaluating that element  and deciding your course of action is the best way of coping with it.

Positivity has it's own uses.It inspires hope and surges confidence.You are motivated to fight on and do the best you can.But ignoring reality and postponing a frank look at an imminent danger in the name of positivity does not work.It only worsens the prospects of early resolution. Suppressed thoughts tend to pop up again and again. Positivity gives only temporary respite.

Reality has an inherent force.It will push itself into your life whether you like it or not. Analyzing your thoughts and taking prompt action to safeguard you health and happiness is the best way to be positive. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Golden Mean

We all wish that others should admire us,hold us in high esteem.An upright, likable image is conducive to success and happiness too.But which are the attributes that can help us attain such an image?A clear cut picture in our minds of the things to be done and those to be avoided will surely make things easier.

Great thinkers and philosophers of many religions have advocated the adoption of a golden mean to lead a happy and successful life.In other words avoiding extremes of any kind is the best way to be.

At every step in life we are required to pick options.Other than the common place choices there are some issues which require well thought out decisions.These decisions determine  our personality as well as the course of our lives.

Take the question of Achievement,of chasing tall targets, surpassing everybody on the radar.Work yourself to the bone,shelve rest,obviate all kinds of  diversions and you may one day find that you are so alone at the pinnacle.All that labor has not given you the desired results.

On the other hand,take life easy,go with the flow,avoid challenging tasks and you will one day realize that you have stagnated and not made enough use of your talents and abilities.

Swimming with the tide is easy and comfortable while pushing against the current can be exhausting.But what of the euphoria you feel when you have conquered an opposing force and reached your desired destination?

Making such choices should follow a deep analysis of one's needs and abilities,plus the tendency to avoid extremes.

Take the case of Amiability.Everybody wants to be loved and accepted by others. Close,loving relationships make life livable.In order to sustain them we sometimes give in to unreasonable demands or allow others to encroach upon our territory.But if we make it a habit to give in in order to be liked and accepted,we could end up being trodden all over.  

On the other hand if we religiously nullify others'attempts to dominate us we are likely to be labeled as unfriendly and uncooperative.

Dwelling at any end of the spectrum will besmirch our personality.The golden mean is the best choice.

Forgiveness is another tendency which requires careful thought.Whenever we are deceived by any one a natural reaction is to give tit for tat or plan revenge.But as Gautam Buddha said:When you hold a burning coal in your hand to throw it on someone it is you who get hurt.

Fine,but whom,how often,and for which kind of wrong to forgive?This is a nebulous zone.Going for full throttle vengeance makes us a negative person while forgiving unthinkingly can attract further invasions.Neither extreme is desirable.

Courage is another quality which should not be taken to the extreme.Too much of it will make us foolhardy and too little shall label us as being a coward.

Related to this is the matter of  Self-confidence,neither extreme of which is desirable.

Come to think of it:an extreme of any kind is counter-productive.A sense of balance in our endeavors as well as our reactions will give best results.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Major Depression-A Case History

Deepak is 80 yrs old and clinically depressed.He has been unwell for more than a year now.It started with anxiety,excessive quietude,reticence and lethargy.Six months ago this transformed into major depression.Since the last 4 months it has been at its peak.

He spends the whole day lying down with his eyes shut.He barely gets up for his meals for an hour and then it is back to bed again.He will neither talk nor respond to anyone.He has become totally apathetic and docile.Personal hygiene is at its minimum.His appetite and weight have decreased drastically.But he is not bothered about this depreciation in his health or personality.Nothing at all interests him.

He underwent a physical examination and thankfully he was found physically fit.

He and his wife Bina have been our friends for eons.She is a bit of a psychologist.She noted the changes in his personality at the very beginning and tried through various means to extricate him from anxiety but it did not work.Then they consulted their family doctor who gave him a psychiatric medicine.It did not agree with him,he became disoriented and developed fecal incontinence.

He was referred to a psychiatrist whose medicines led him to sleeping round the clock.The psychiatrist eliminated the barbiturate from his medicines.Thankfully the antidepressant agreed with him and there were no adverse effects.After taking the medicine for six months there were small signs of improvement off and on but soon he would revert to his old condition.The doctor,upon being contacted,refused to change the medicine,saying increasing the dose or potency would make him more somnolent.He advised him to gear up and be more active.

This was easier said than done.Deepak was just not interested in taking up any physical or mental activity.Even talking was too much of an effort for him.When cajoled to get up and do something he would say that he did not have the strength to do so--this,when he was physically fit.He had no desire to awaken his old booming blustering self. 

The  worst part was that there was no external problem which could be amended to grant him relief.His family and life conditions were perfect.The cause seemed to be endogenous.Perhaps it was his personality which had rendered him vulnerable to anxiety and depression.He had never shared his emotions with anyone or laughed heartily.His approach to everything had always been negative.Likewise,his reactions.All this might have led to a festering of wounds inside.

After about seven months of medication he showed signs of improvement in small measures.He agreed to go out and sit in the balcony.By and by he was persuaded to take at least 10 minutes' walk every day.It took a long time to entrench this into his routine.Then he started walking in the evening too but this left so many hours of the day to be spent positively,otherwise he was sure to give in to the urge to go and lie down on his bed.But he was not interested in taking up any activity.He refused to participate in an indoor game,read something or watch TV. 

After the passage of another two months he began to watch religious channels on TV and tried to extend his waking hours which finally settled at fourteen.Good progress,but it was extremely slow and transient.Very frustrating for the family members to watch and maintain a hopeful facade.

Talking or meeting outsiders was still difficult for him.It is rather challenging for a mental patient to accost outsiders.After countless months of isolation he cannot suddenly turn outgoing and jovial.Others take it as a cue to stand off.Sad,but this is what mostly happens.The onus to cajole and help him to join the mainstream once again rests solely on the family members.Without their support nothing can be achieved.The patient has to be encouraged to believe that he can and he will get well.He should be helped to take constructive steps one at a time.It is just like a baby learning to walk.He needs all the help he can muster.The journey is long but essential.