Friday, December 26, 2014

On The Edge--then back :-)

We often hear of someone committing suicide over a break up.Sometimes it is not a single issue which instigates a person to take his life.If we could peep into that person's mind we would find a host of frustrations heaped therein.
Diwakar was one such boy--age 23 yrs,thin frail structure and a nervous demeanor.He was in the second year of his MA and holding a small job simultaneously.He lived in a joint family of eight members.He was the youngest of three sons.His elder brothers were also holding small jobs.His father ran a failing business and the family was under millions of debt.
Being under great pressure,he came to the point immediately.He had been in a relationship with a girl for the last two years.She got married to someone else because he had told her that he could not approach his parents for their alliance.He admitted that he was a coward.This girl got married six days ago.He had gone to attend her wedding in a neighboring town.
Now he was overcome with remorse.His friends were taunting him about his gf's marriage.Since the girl was his colleague,he did not know how he should relate to her when she took up her job.He also wondered what he should do if the girl made advances towards him--he did not wish to spoil her married life.His family's poverty and his own small-time job also frustrated him.What pained him most was his inability to stand up to his parents.
All in all,he was sorely disappointed with the whole scene and wanted to commit suicide; only here again he felt he was too much of a coward to be able to do so.Therefore he came to me for advice.
I counseled him suitably--telling him to come again if he felt depressed.
However,he did not come again.After six months i rang his home for a follow up.He was not at home but he returned my call soon after.He told me he had recovered from his break-up and was preparing for a competitive exam.I was very happy that he had taken positive steps to improve his life.This shows that it helps to talk when one is under a lot of stress.A sympathetic listener alone can ward off disaster.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

#Emotional Baggage

Emotional trauma is worse than physical trauma because while the latter heals in due course,the former is sometimes very difficult to shake off.The pain lingers on.Some manage to bury unpleasant memories,but there are also those who find it difficult to forget their hurts.Eventually those memories may be relegated to the subconscious mind but they do impact their thinking and behavior, so that it is difficult for them to thrive and be happy.

Emotional baggage has many constituents.There is extreme anger,hostility,resentment,fear,hatred,disgust,suspicion,shame,self pity and apprehension.These emotions--if allowed to reign supreme,will lead to a melancholic personality,making it even more difficult to find peace and be happy.

A desire,or should I say an obsession,to hurt the other person similarly, could over-ride all other emotions.This could become a consuming passion to the exclusion of all else.It is quite natural to want to take revenge from a person who has wronged us considerably, but it keeps other aspects of our life on hold--so that we end up damaging our own interests and prolonging our misery.

Another kind of baggage is lessons learnt about normative forms of behavior in an unhealthy environment.A child might be forced to adopt unhealthy coping strategies in a dysfunctional family but these could prove to be counter-productive when conditions change and he enters the mainstream.It is best to discard them at the opportune time.

Fearful apprehensions stemming from past experiences or prejudices generated by disastrous encounters are like fetters around feet.Times change but these negative emotions prevent us from making the most of available opportunities.

Emotional baggage can sometimes be so vague that the person may not even be aware of the cause of his melancholic nature.In order to free yourself from this state,it is incumbent to first realize that it is the past which is hampering your growth.Try to pinpoint the events which are unknowingly influencing your thinking and behavior.Evaluate the damage which this emotional baggage has inflicted upon you.

Let your intellect take charge and you will realize that you survived those unpleasant experiences and came out stronger and wiser ;because you shan't allow it to happen again.Yes,unpleasant events cannot be totally avoided but they do provide valuable lessons.They should leave you wiser,not weaker.

While you are in the rational mode,go ahead and decipher your own role in that incident.I don't mean to say you were at fault but for your own sake,determine what you could have done differently in order to ward off what happened.Were you by any chance,partly responsible for the turn of events?A session of honest introspection may point to the changes you need to make in order to avoid emotional setbacks  in future. 

There are many selfish,insensitive persons in this world.Ulterior motives lead them to trample over others' feelings.The stronger tend to oppress the weaker,the cunning deceive the innocent.Sometimes it is sheer chance which positions one at the wrong place at the wrong time.You happened to be the target.It does not in any way diminish your worth.Rather it reflects badly upon the villain.All you can do is,put it out of your mind and be more vigilant in future.

Looking at things from the perpetrator's point of view is another way of getting over what happened.Human frailty is a reality.Give your aggressor some margin for that and forgive.Forgive,not for his sake,but your own.Unless and until you put a closure on the whole thing your mind will not be at peace.Just take care that it should not happen again.

However much your brain may tell you to forgive and forget;it is not easy to forget unpleasant memories.But you can get relief by sharing your anguish with a friend,family,colleague or counselor.This is a form of catharsis.Once your feelings come tumbling out you will feel much lighter.At last you will be relieved of the burden of a long kept secret.

There is no way you can stop disturbing events from happening.What you can do is,build your resilience.

Cutting off all connections with those who harmed you is important.Shun abusive persons.

Do not isolate yourself out of a fear of being hurt again--nurture new relationships.

A common response to emotional trauma is to avoid new challenges and just play safe.This curtails all growth and evolution.Take baby steps towards new horizons.Your confidence will appreciate with each success.

Meditation and yoga can assist you to overcome your negativity and give you peace of mind.

The best way to get out of the rut of past abuse or injury is to remind yourself that this was in the past and things are no longer the same.There must be many redeeming factors in your life; think about them and be grateful for them.Do not allow ghosts from the past to assail your present.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

De-Stress in eleven easy steps :)

Stress is a silent killer.As we plod through our to-do lists,schedules,deadlines and responsibilities,it quietly ensnares us in it's tentacles.It can lead to hyper-tension,heart attacks and depression.No matter how organised we are,unexpected developments and traumas often leave us shaken.Our mind goes into a cycle of depressive thoughts and we require a diversion to break that cycle.It is as simple as that.
Next time when you find yourself overwhelmed by worry, try one of these diversions and hopefully,your stress will disappear:--
  1. Connect with people--being alone propels rumination.
  2. Nourish yourself--tension and excessive work-load make you forget hunger and thirst.A cup of tea and a nutritious snack will energize you.Even a glass of water can soothe frazzled nerves.
  3. Play a game--outdoors or indoor.Even a simple board game will take your mind off your worries,give you something else to think about.
  4. Do Crossword or Sudoku--brain games initiate a new thought process and you forget your anxieties.
  5. Listen to music--if possible,play an instrument or hum your favorite tune.
  6. Watch a humorous program--borrow some joy de vivre from others.
  7. Dabble in art--even if you are not gifted, drawing,doodling or painting will lighten your mood considerably.Painting in children's coloring books is a good starter.You may even surprise yourself and begin to believe in art's efficacy to beat stress.Just keep the stuff ready.
  8. Do some craft work--pick up things you have no use for and think of new ways of using or recycling them.Let the creative juices flow.It is very satisfying to make something out of nothing.
  9. Indulge in a vigorous physical activity--the extra calories you burn consume overbearing,surplus stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol.As a result your tensions subside and you feel fit enough to face your challenges.
  10. Take a walk in the lap of nature--focusing on the outside world helps you to forget your fears and anxieties.   
  11. Sleep or just lie down --preferably in shavasan.
We all have our chosen stress-busters but trying out new ones can be very satisfying--it breaks the monotony and  augments your arsenal to fight depression.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Catalyst and the Chrysalis

She was waiting for him,
To say a word.
All she said,
Had gone unheard.

A sapling transplanted,
In new environs,
Hoped for an anchor,
To just hold on.

The hostile soil,
Did not oblige.
Harsh winds sucked,
At the succulence inside.

But the seed below,
Was rearing with life.
Tender roots clung
To deep earth inside.

Thus began a saga,
Of  patient evolution,
She was her own support,
Her own destination.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

To Togetherness

My last post on the same topic i.e a successful marriage was rather futuristic in nature.This one is about building up a harmonious relationship and more contemporary.

No matter how much we thrash the major issues before marriage,some differences of opinion and unpalatable traits are bound to emerge when two individuals proceed into deeper waters.It is then that their forbearance,wisdom and adaptability are put to test.

These days we have become very individualistic and the desire to adjust is not very strong.As a result marriages are failing in greater numbers.If two persons think that their relationship has turned sour or they are not getting what they wanted from it, they are quick to divorce;believing that the next tie will give them the fulfillment which is lacking in this one.

This could be a good option where grave problems exist,but often a couple seeks divorce on frivolous grounds,just because they do not want to compromise;not realizing that no matter how many partners they change,tolerance and adjustment shall always be required.

There are certain basic principles which can help a couple to cement their relationship.A brief article written by me on this subject was published in Kota Plus supplement of TOI on 14th Nov.I reproduce a copy of that text below:--

To togetherness

The initial euphoria of marriage simmers down with time and reality pushes into the fore.Two individuals who had hitherto only seen each other at their best are now exposed to the harsh glare of close proximity.Disappointments and disillusions are inevitable.

In order to build a harmonious life together,it is essential to accept your partner in totality;trying at the same time, to avoid clashes by adjusting according to his/her predilections.The changes should come from the person's own volition.Do not attempt a  make-over of your partner---it is bound to create resentment and hostility.Remember your significant other is a human and if s/he has certain foibles then you too are not perfect.Both need to ignore minor irritations.

However if you have a serious complaint then tell it to your spouse in specific words and even tones.Stick to the particular behavior which hurts you.Don't pass sweeping comments like-you don't love me.Then listen patiently to his/her answer.Try to look at things from your partner's point of view.Also,take care to not rake up old issues--that will only exacerbate the situation.

Things go wrong despite best intentions.At such moments you need to find out a mutually acceptable solution.Desist from fixing the blame on your spouse.This can have disastrous consequences.The need is to improve the situation,and not destroy your partnership.

Affairs which concern the family should be frankly discussed by the couple.Any attempt to force a decision upon the other person or keep secrets is bound to create rift.

Ego problems can create a wide chasm between a couple.Keep the communication lines open and say sorry if you are at fault.

If your better half is upset, ask what happened and do what you can,to improve his/her mood.

If your spouse is very angry or a confrontation becomes explosive,then it is best to remove yourself from the scene. 

The worst enemy of a couple is adultery,it's definition is rather fluid after the onset of internet--value your partner's sentiments.

The newness of marriage wears off after a few years and monotony creeps in.New pastures might look greener,but remember no matter how many partners you change,tolerance,patience and adaptation will always be required.A perfect marriage has to be worked at,it does not come ready-made.Build up a relationship on mutual trust,loyalty,devotion and honesty,and you can be sure of living together happily ever after :) . 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Living happily ever after...

The marriage season is in full swing but a lot of caution should be exercised before one ties the knot.Premarital counseling  can help the prospective couple to avoid a mis-matched marriage and the heart-ache of a divorce.Considering this i sent an article to Kota Plus supplement of TOI which was published on 7th Nov 2014.I reproduce a copy of it below:---

A Happy Marriage
Marriage season is fast approaching.Every couple gets into matrimony envisioning a happy, life-long partnership, but it is a sad commentary on our times that incidents of divorce are rising.Problems arise because two individuals coming from different backgrounds,having their own dreams,expectations and value systems, are thrown together and often fail to reconcile themselves to those differences. If only they could know in advance what the other person expects from them and whether or not they can fulfill those expectations,it could save them a lot of heart-ache.One way of avoiding a failed marriage is to go for pre-marital counseling.It will enable the couple to be aware of the pitfalls which could possibly crop up and enable them to plan their future accordingly.The prospective bride and groom should both attend it together.

Here are some pointers for such a session:---
  • Are you happy with this match?
  • What do you expect from your partner?Do you know what s/he expects from you?Can you/do you want to,fulfill those expectations?
  • Do your value systems match?Which is that one quality with which you will not compromise?
  • If you follow different religions, will both of you have the liberty to follow your own religion?
  • Will you live in a joint family or a nuclear one?
  • Does the girl have the choice to build up her career or be a home maker if she likes?
  • If she takes up a job,will she have the freedom to keep her money,or help her parents;or will she be expected to put her money in the joint kitty?If the boy is transferred to another city will the wife be forced to leave her job and follow him? Will they share the details of their earnings and investments with each other?
  • Will the boy discuss major issues with his wife before taking a decision?
  • Do they have similar views on when and how many children they should have?Suppose one of them is infertile,what shall their course of action be in that case?If they belong to different religions,then whose religion will the child follow?
  • Are they both medically clean and compatible--in terms of HIV or Rh factor?
Pre-marital counseling enables the couple to judge if they are on the same wave-length so that if the chasm is impassable the marriage can be shelved.It is best to make a wise decision rather than sticking to a wrong one when the prospects of a harmonious union look bleak.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I have written a lot about suicides but it never seems enough because suicide is sheer waste of a precious life which not only kills one person but also leaves many others devastated.Every human has some value,some contribution to give to mankind--however insignificant one's own role may seem to that person.And even those who feel lonesome or neglected--even those--do have folks who care for them,need them,or at least who would be sorry to know that they took a leap into the unknown.
Most important--nothing lasts for ever.We often come to a difficult patch which leaves us mentally,emotionally and physically exhausted.Life seems hopeless and we conclude that we do not have the ability to solve our problems.Not only this,we also come to believe that fading into oblivion is the best course and nobody cares whether we live or die.Hence,the suicide.
It is only a combination of circumstances which sows these thoughts in our mind.If we relegate our emotions to the background and try to think rationally we will certainly be able to find ways to ease our tensions .
I wrote an article on this topic for TOI's supplement 'Kota Plus' which appeared on 31st Oct 2014.I reproduce a copy of it below,please give your views.

Suicide Is NOT The Answer.
These are stressful times.We all have our own share of challenges,obstacles and frustrations.Tensions are on the rise and support systems are on the wane.Sometimes it all becomes more than one can handle by oneself.A need is felt to confide in someone or ask someone's advice.Lucky are those who have a loving family or caring friends to fall back upon.But for those who are not thus blessed,life sometimes becomes a burden too heavy to bear.Or maybe, the problem is such that we just cannot share it with friends or family.So the problem is not resolved and the tension keeps mounting till one day,the situation becomes explosive.

It is then that we come to know that so and so has committed suicide.What a sad end to a promising life!Actually no one wants to die.They only want their pain to end and their problem to be solved.When they cannot achieve this on their own,they choose to end it all.

But if they cannot share their troubles with their friends or family then there are Mental Health Professionals who can help them to solve their problems so that they can live life once again.Mental Health Professionals like Psychiatrists,Psychiatric Social Workers,Counselors and Psychologists are honor-bound to keep your confidence.They are familiar with all the aberrations of the human mind and you can divulge your innermost secrets to them without any fear of ridicule or embarrassment.Every problem has a solution,it is only because a stressed out person cannot think lucidly that s/he feels that s/he has reached a dead end and death is the only answer.

Therefore if you have been under a lot of stress for many weeks and it has disrupted your life totally--spoiling your sleep,appetite and daily routine,then it is time to take the bull by the horns and take some positive steps to overcome your problems !!!!!

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Image from google search

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tensions Which Can Easily be Avoided

Unpleasant incidents are a part of life and the tension accruing from them has to be tolerated,but some tensions emanate from subjective factors and it is best to eliminate them.We often unconsciously adopt certain thinking patterns which destroy our peace of mind.By restructuring our conceptions we can ease the burden of woe and better equip ourselves to tackle the challenges which arise from external factors.

Thinking and Behaving Patterns Which Generate Stress:--
  1. Not saying what you feel,bottling up your emotions.
  2. Magnifying small irritants.
  3. Comparing yourself with those who are more affluent or successful.
  4. Trying to please everyone.
  5. Worrying about what others think of you.
  6. Distrusting everyone,suspecting their motives.
  7. Holding grudges,not forgiving.
  8. Multitasking.
  9. Taking too much on yourself.
  10. Over ambition,aiming at unrealistic targets.
  11. Perfectionism.
  12. Not taking help from anyone.
  13. Obsessing about past or worrying about future.
  14. Clutter,mismanagement.
  15. Expecting too much from life,everybody has ups & downs.
These are small intangibles,yet they are capable of destroying our health and happiness.Would you like to add  any of your own perceptions?Feel free.....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Child Abuse-Mental and Emotional

Child abuse can be defined as acts of commission or omission which endanger or impair a child's physical or mental health.The abuse could be physical,sexual,emotional or mental.The first two are gross violations of the child's body,mind and soul;while the last two are less  obvious, and intangible in nature.

A thin line demarcates emotional abuse (EA) from mental abuse (MA) but both disrupt the child's psycho-social and physical development and distort his assessment of his own self,his capabilities and his place in the social milieu--thus denying him a fair chance to lead a happy,fulfilling life.
EA disastrously impacts the child's emotional life,he feels unloved,insecure and is unable to relate to people or form close ties even as an adult.
MA is more subtle, it  damages the child's self esteem and self confidence.It kills whatever spark,initiative or exploratory tendencies the child had.

The perpetrator of MA could be a well-meaning parent or caregiver who is a control freak,strict disciplinarian or merely very ambitious of the child's future.
But those who lash out EA on a child are likely to be unhappy,harried, overburdened or disgruntled individuals;or unwilling parents/caregivers.It is also possible that they themselves were the targets of child abuse and know no better.

Both MA and EA cut deep,leaving life-long scars because they come from persons on whom the child relies for his very existence and sustenance.No matter how horrendous the abuse;the child cannot pull back,protect himself,or even express his fury.

Mental Abuse
MA unfolds in the form of undue pressure to perform well,excessive or harsh criticism,negative comparisons,strict discipline,derogatory punishments,total control,not paying attention to the child or cutting off communication to make him tread the stipulated path.The worst kind of MA takes place when the adult does not recognize the child's limitations and pushes him to perform beyond his capacity.

Emotional Abuse
EA is much harsher and negative in nature,as well as in terms of it's effect upon the victim.The child is persistently rejected,called derogatory names,ridiculed,belittled,bullied,threatened,given degrading punishments and never hugged or shown affection.

Physical Ill Effects of Mental or Emotional Abuse
Emotional or mental abuse can damage the child's physical growth and well-being.It can also impair the brain's development and adversely affect his milestones and intelligence.An abused child is more likely to suffer from ill health,a shortened life span and  diminished immunity.
Adult survivors of child abuse are more likely to suffer from diseases like allergies,arthritis,asthma,ulcers and high blood pressure,than others.It has been suggested that they could be more susceptible to cancer too.
Psychological Ill Effects of Mental or Emotional Abuse
It is in the realm of psychology that victims of MA or EA suffer the greatest harm.There is a lack of trust.The child feels insecure and doubts if his parents or caregivers really care for him and will come to his aid when he needs them.This shows up in poor relationships in adult life.

There is loss of self esteem and self-confidence which disrupts the child's evolution as a normal, productive human being and lands him in an unsatisfactory,suboptimal way of life.

An abused child is likely to harbor a lot of suppressed anger and hatred for authority which may instigate him to indulge in anti-social acts or risky behavior.

A victim of MA or EA is vulnerable to many psychiatric disorders.He has lots of suppressed emotions which he dare not voice.As a result he may be overcome by myriad fears and anxieties which could degenerate into mental disorders at the end of the day.The piling up of so many frustrations coupled with a lack-lustre support system  can even push a child or an adult survivor of child abuse to take his own life.

At the end a caveat :--
Parents too are humans.Sundry instances of losing their cool or punishing a child do not count as child abuse;persistent ill-treatment of a child does.If a parent realizes that s/he is too full of anger/hatred towards a child s/he should see a counselor to sort out his/her own emotions.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Learning From #Water

Water is a life-giver,we all know,but it can also be a life-changer,a guru,to inspire us when we,or those connected to us come to a rough patch. 

The most obvious and universally appreciated function of water is that it not only quenches our thirst or soothes tired aching bodies through a bath but also propagates countless kinds of vegetation to satiate our hunger.Yes,we all know that, but how many of us can similarly extend succor and relief to tired beings near us who may be facing a tough situation in life?

An admirable quality of water is that it adapts beautifully to any given situation.Pour sea water in a cup and it is now a cup of water--quietly taking the shape of it's container.Does anybody hear it remonstrate that it had such a grand origin and it shall not stay put in a measly cup;or whine and rant about it's degradation?By contrast we humans always have something to crib about.

Now look at it's perspicacity.Put it in a tight container,if there is a tiny hole in it, water will find it's way out--much faster than a human does when he is thrown into a tight spot.

When water comes across a boulder it cannot cross over,it gently goes around it--a valuable lesson for us again.Certain obstacles cannot be surmounted;it is best to circumvent them and learn to LIVE with them.

What happens when water is thrown into a ditch?This is a situation where it cannot find a way out--but it does.It simply elevates itself,goes up in the form of vapor and comes down again in the shape of blessed,beneficial rain.Given sufficient time,even dirty,disease-ridden water will transform itself into pure unadulterated rain water.How many of us can evolve and refine ourselves,post a serious lapse or misconduct?

Another commendable quality of water is it's tendency to move on,go forward.It does not go back but always on and on,till it reaches the sea,it's final resting place.Emulating water in this aspect is difficult for many of us because sometimes we waste a lot of time and energy ruminating about the past or obsessing about an unpalatable event which we cannot get out of our mind.Go with the flow.Do not fight incontrovertible changes.Forgive,accept and move on,is what water teaches us.

Water maintains it's level.We too can do this by being equanimous in all weathers-avoiding peaks of emotions-- whether good or bad.

Tiny trickles of water come together to form a stream and then a mighty river.They combine,join together and make a powerful,unified whole.If we could put aside our egos to connect and collaborate we too could find a never before strength.

Water is something we touch and utilize every day.If only we paid attention to it's unique qualities and took inspiration from it to reorganize our life we would find greater fulfillment and satisfaction.Do you agree?Tell me if I have missed something.

Image courtesy google.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Apply The Brakes ; Take a Break.

It is a paradox indeed that despite the many time-saving devices which we use,our lives today are busier than ever ; and despite the umpteen labor-saving gadgets at our disposal,we are pooped out by the end of the day.Our physical and mental health is tottering under heavy demands and as a result we often find ourselves in the clutches of stress,anxiety and depression.There is a dire need to adopt some relaxation techniques in order to replenish our energy--tiny diversions which break the monotony,uplift our spirits and energize us to finish the day's toil comfortably.

* A brief nap or a shut-eye is what we all crave in the midst of a grueling day but if you do this in the middle of an important meeting you could become talk of the town ;) .

* Deep breathing is something you can do on the sly,even if there  are people around you.Stress increases the heart rate and blood pressure while deep breathing helps them to come down to normal.A nervous system which was on the edge,stabilizes and helps you to relax.

*Try Visualization if you are desk-bound and need some change. Close your eyes and transport yourself to a place which  captivated you with it's beauty.If it was a garden then visualize yourself sitting on a lush green lawn amid beautiful bright flowers emitting heady scents.Try to recall all the details of that scene.In no time at all you will forget your worries and feel much better.

*If you are not good at imagining scenes then make use of Mindfulness-the latest buzzword  in relaxation techniques.Just gaze at the various objects around you minutely,as if you are seeing them for the first time--go into the details.For example,take that glass of water you are drinking.Savor it fully.Appreciate it's taste,enjoy it's cooling effect,take your mind back to the place it must have come from.These idle thoughts will divert your mind from your work-load for some moments and then you will return to it refreshed and energized.You can play this game with anything around you.

* You must have heard that sitting is the new smoking.Whenever you feel that you need a break get up,walk over to a colleague's table,exchange small talk with him and come back refreshed :) .

*Feeling tired?Drink a glass of water.It has an amazing rejuvenating effect. 

* Or maybe you need some nourishment.Have a cup of tea or any other drink you fancy.It is a good idea to keep a pack of almonds,walnuts or biscuits in your drawer ;nibble at them as you resume your grind :( .

*Another way of taking a break is to organize your work station.Believe me it is not another spell of drudgery.As you sort out the essentials from the disposables,you will feel less overburdened and more in control.A dishevelled work place is not only counter-productive but also tiring and irritating.

At the end of the day it is for the person to decide which relaxation technique is feasible and which one works best for him;but it is essential to give some sort of respite to your tired body and mind in order to avoid a burnout.

Video and image courtesy google 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Adolescent Turmoil and Suicide--a True Story---Part Three.

This is the concluding part.If you want to start at the beginning please go here.

As I had guessed,Jagan came next time and confessed that he had been unable to get his gf out of his system.They communicated through common friends and she urged him to wait for her.He requested me to give him some practical suggestions to help him forget her.The poor boy was trying but his hormones were getting the better of him.He also wanted a medicine to calm his mind.I sent him to a homeopath who claimed that he could ease this sort of nervous tension.

Regarding the scene at home,he disclosed that his father did not scold him directly but he took out his anger on his mother and sister.This too perturbed Jagan.

We had two sessions in the same vein and then his board exams arrived. Jagan did not contact me after that.I tried to follow up a number of times but his father had sold off his mobile,so I was completely in dark as to what was happening in his life.

Then one fine day after eleven months,Jagan arrived with a (male) friend in tow.He had failed the last board exams in Maths and Chemistry.Now again his exams were only a month away.He had broken off with his gf.He told me that he had prepared hard enough to get 60--70 % but his mother nagged him relentlessly.It culminated in long fights wherein he would pull his hair,bang his head and so on.When the news reached his father he would explode 'I will burn this house,all of us will die.'Jagan was at his wits' end.Then he said something which alarmed me--that he felt like jumping into Chambal river.

As his parents had been incommunicado since long, I made a home visit the same day.I told his mother that Jagan was trying but her persecution was in fact spoiling his chances and giving him a lot of stress.I requested her to just let him study undisturbed.She acquiesced.

Soon after this Jagan's board exams followed and he stopped coming to Sahyog.I rang up his father after about five months,when the results had been announced.He was very happy with Jagan's result.About other issues,he said that there had been a small problem but he had resolved it.Obviously this was the end of our association.

Today that young immature boy must be 28 yrs old.I wonder if he has found his feet,what he is doing and if they form a harmonious family today.I certainly hope that he has got over his suicidal tendencies.

Often when a youngster is brought to me for behavior problems I find that the parents too,need extensive counseling.It is not lack of education alone which leads to faulty parenting.The parents might be facing other stressful situations or they could be too abrasive and aggressive by nature.But it is the child who bears the brunt.Whatever his mistakes,he should never be made to feel that he is not loved.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Adolescent Turmoil and Suicide--A True Story--Part two.

This is the second part of a true case history.If you want to read the first part please go here.

Jagan's parents and sister arrived at the due time next day.They told me that Jagan had left home the first time because his father had refused to lend him his bike--he enacts such dramas so that they do not refuse him anything.If he commits a blunder he will either run away from home or sham suicide to escape bashing or severe rebuke.He has neglected his studies for full one year because he was obsessed with his girl friend (gf).Now during exams he will demand undue favors,spoil the atmosphere of the house and then blame his poor performance on that.

His sister was two years older than Jagan and doing an I.T.I course.She told me that she maintained a distance from Jagan because he  tended to involve her in his plans to meet his gf and fought with her if she told her parents.She was a sensible girl and I guessed that the contrast between the two siblings must have added fuel to the fire.

It was clear that they were united against Jagan and had little sympathy for him, but he too had committed many mistakes.I told them I would talk to him,but they too should be more forbearing and understanding so as not to spark off another crisis.They ought to discuss the various aspects of this imbroglio with him in measured tones.They agreed to this and I asked them to send him over the next day.

The next interview was with Jagan alone.I asked him what the main bone of contention between him and his family was.He admitted it was his gf.A number of leading questions later he admitted that his poor performance in school,fights with his parents,consequent abscondings or suicidal attempts--all those factors which were making him and his family miserable-- stemmed from his pursuit of his love life to the exclusion of all else.I made him realize that he had to choose between building a career under the tutelage of his father,or carrying on like this,or forking out with his gf and living on his own steam.He replied that he could do nothing without his family's support.

I pointed out that his family's love, support and all other allied privileges entailed certain responsibilities on his part too.At the end of the day;what stood out loud and clear was the fact that continuing like this was not only spreading poison all around,but also ruining his life.The sooner he finished his education and built a career,the sooner he could live life on his own terms.Till then it was in his own interest to adjust, without going into who was right and who was wrong.I said this because firstly I had seen that his father was quite an adamant soul and secondly,Jagan lacked the sagacity to maintain a balance between his romance and studies.

Jagan listened to all this with a solemn countenance.I could see that he did not like the thought of breaking off with his gf although he did realize the harm it was doing him.He took leave,promising to come again.

To be continued :--

Image courtesy google search.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Adolescent Turmoil and Suicide--a true story--part one.

What propels a youngster to run away from home or attempt suicide ?Whenever we come across such news in the media we feel sorry for the boy (or girl),and wonder what led to it.One such boy was brought to 'Sahyog' some years ago.

Jagan,an eighteen year old student of twelfth standard was literally dragged into my office by a furious looking father.'Look at this boy',he said.'He has run away from home twice and twice he has cut his wrists.He has fallen in love with a girl,does not listen to anybody,is doing poorly in school and his life is all but ruined.'So saying,he plonked him before me and stormed out of the room.

This dramatic start to an interview was quite earth-shaking.Though Jagan had been dragged forcibly into my office and derided in the strongest possible language,he was not at all reluctant to talk to me.Perhaps he too wanted to put a closure to this sad chapter in his life.

He told me that he had taken Rs 500 from home and taken off for Mumbai after a tiff with his parents.But half way down,he realized the futility of this step and returned. Instead of coming back to his home he went to his paternal grandmother's house.There he met a girl with whom he fell in love.His uncle-of whom he is very fond-talked him out of this and persuaded him to return home.

He intended to catch up with his studies.But according to him,the atmosphere in his home was very tense and hostile towards him.Every 8-10 days something or the other happened to distress him and his parents,instead of trying to understand him,got angry; and then he would feel like ending it all.He craved their sympathy and trust.

All this took a lot of time because I allowed him to pour his heart out.This session was mainly aimed at giving him catharsis and winning his trust.There was very little counseling involved.I told him I would help him to put his life back on track provided he cooperated and did not attempt suicide again.

Then I called his father in and asked him to return the next day with his wife and daughter.

To be continued

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Competition--Merits And Demerits.

Whenever I see images of sportsmen,or women in sports pages--their muscles taut,facial expression grim,stance defying the law of gravity and adrenalin oozing from every pore--I am overawed by the spirit which drives them.Fierce competition enables them to beat existing records and establish their supremacy.Undoubtedly,a competitive spirit has many benefits.It paves the way for self improvement,motivates us to do hard work,master new skills,give out good performances and win accolades.Competitions also spur innovative thinking,keep our enthusiasm alive and raise our self esteem; thereby contributing to our success and happiness.So far,so good.

Unfortunately a competitive spirit can also have negative effects.If carried to the extreme it will deprive us of rest and recreation.That's not all-it can also generate undesirable traits like jealousy and violent thoughts.Downturns or failures will be hard to digest possibly resulting in inertia and melancholy.Unbridled rivalry goads us to outshine everyone on our radar but there will always be someone who is smarter stronger,or more successful than us;this becomes a relentless chase allowing us little peace or satisfaction.

Today most of us struggle to compete on many fronts--be it education,career,society,friends or family.In order to present a specific image we strive to be seen living in plush houses,wearing branded apparels,patronizing elite clubs and knowing the most influential gentry in town.All this makes a huge dent in our resources and energy levels and still leaves a lot which we hanker for.When we chase so many targets all at the same time stress is inevitable.No wonder so many of us are not satisfied with our lot.But in order to be happy or successful,we need to satisfy our own urges ,do what we think is suitable and important for us,rather than trying to prove to the world at large that we excel in all that is considered the done thing. 
This craving to always eclipse everybody else is at it's worst when it is implanted in growing children's psyche.It is true that children have to be motivated from the very beginning to study hard and do well in life.But it is a crime to rob a child of the natural pleasures of childhood and instead make him into a robot whose only aim in life is to win every time.

When we implant a fierce competitive spirit in a child from the very beginning and expect him to be at the top in every activity we expose him to dispensable stress.Overenthusiastic parents who express their disappointment or displeasure when the child cannot touch the goals laid down by them may  in fact hinder it's progress by burdening it with additional stress and anxiety.Children have certain innate tendencies and predilections which could conflict with their parents' designs.

I am reminded here of a child who often came home dejected due to his friends' bullying.His mother asked him to give it back in kind,to which the child replied ' But I don't like violence and fighting.'His mother's disapproval of his behavior must have deepened his anguish at being bullied.

Actually children should be allowed to develop the spirit of competition at their own pace from their own volition.Too much pushing can distress them.Overburdening them with targets to be achieved,skills to be learned can leave them breathless.This is precisely what is happening today.As soon as schools close for vacations they line up a horde of activities to snare the students back inside their precincts.Dance,drama,debate, art,music,judo-karate-and God knows what else!The parents too vie with one another to have their child recognized as the brightest all-rounder.

But how many toppers can there be in any field?When we lay inordinate stress upon winning are we not relinquishing the rest to grapple with their feelings of disappointment and inferiority best as they can?If only we lay less stress on winning and more upon just doing our best and bettering our performance a lot of heart-ache can be avoided.After all there is a lot of fun in participating and being part of a group---or just BEING !!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When Strangers Leave Pleasant Memories :) :)

Memories are an important component of mental health and mental sickness.Pleasant memories are therapeutic in nature.They lift our spirits and drive out boredom.While most of our memories relate to our friends and relatives, some also stem from total strangers whom we accosted once and are not likely to come across ever again.Yet these memories linger on and bring a smile to our lips.

One such memory goes back to my college days.I had to get some certificates attested and not wanting to bother my father,I went to Tis Hazari courts and requested a magistrate to attest them.He did the needful but asked me if I had come alone .I said yes,to which he replied that I ought not to have done this because the courts are teeming with all sorts of unsavory characters.His concern for an unknown girl touched my heart --I mean how many persons go beyond the call of their duty to think about the welfare of a stranger?

Then there is this amusing incident which stands out because it is so innocuous.We had just passed a by-lane in our car when a boy came rushing on from that lane on his bike and dashed against our bumper.He stopped to say sorry and my husband cautioned him that had we been driving fast then he would have had it. And do you know what the boy says to this? 'Just think ,today is my birthday'.Now what are we supposed to reply to this revelation-we both burst out laughing.

This happened very recently.We had stopped at a red light when i noticed that my window was open while the AC was on.I asked my husband 'you have the AC on?',when suddenly,from my left,I hear a voice say 'it is so hot,see I have prickly heat all over'.I looked to my left-a very flustered youngster was sitting on his bike.I had not even noticed that anyone was so near and listening to what I had said.I was surprised at his innocent  spontaneity.

What is it about these one-time encounters that makes them memorable?You tell me.I am sure you too must have some such anecdotes which gladden your hearts.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Perfectionism--The Bane of my Life :(

We all love efficient workers,jobs well done--no flaws peeping,no loose ends dangling--perfect execution of any given task.But perfectionism ?Ahem,that needs more thinking.

I remember when I was in school we used to get three hours to solve a question paper of five questions.I used to take one and a half hour to solve the first question because I had to write a perfect beginning,mention all the salient points,recheck and finish with a flourish.Then I would look at my watch,gasp and start the second question which took another full hour,and that too,would be a pretty good answer.Half an hour left and three questions to be answered :( I could barely scratch a few lines for each one.The result? I could never (almost) go beyond the second division.This continued in my college life too.

Now,after having been a slave of perfectionism for umpteen years,I can pontificate upon it's drawbacks till I have bored you to tears but it is not as if I have gotten over it.If I am dusting, every object has to be picked up,the surface cleaned,the object wiped and then placed at it's designated spot.Doing this all over the house becomes so tiring that I am forced to overlook the dirt for a few days at least. Wouldn't it have been more pragmatic to just swish through the rooms on most days and save precious time and energy?Well,I am trying.

Rather late in the day,I have realized that perfectionism can be counter productive.Firstly it eats up a good part of my day as I run after inconsequential details following self imposed procedures.Then I feel dog-tired and have little stamina for other activities which too,are important.It makes me anxious,stressful and drained of energy because it is impossible to relax when a host of pending tasks are hovering over my head.The worst part is that I cannot lessen my burden by deputing jobs to others since nobody can do it the way I would want something done;so that I am always over-burdened with work.This gives me tremendous stress.I try to hurry up and tackle other issues but a lot is left untouched because of paucity of time.

The most essential me-time,when I could pursue my various hobbies or relax with a cup of tea and a good read is the worst sufferer.Even when I have made my tea just the way I relish it,I tarry in the kitchen to ensure nothing is left uncovered;the fan,cooler or AC has to be at the exact setting I want,there should be some music in the background and a good book at hand if I have to enjoy my tea perfectly.And by the time all this has been arranged my tea has gone ice cold.

Really this perfectionism can be self defeating at times.It often leads to procrastination because I will not take up something  till my stamina is at it's optimum and other conditions are conducive for perfect execution of a task.So there!

The worst fall-out of perfectionism is the effect it has on my family--they are often at the receiving end for being sloppy or disorganized.Going beyond the inner circle--socializing too--is not easy for the likes of me because we have fixed ideas about the kind of company and ambiance we desire.Moreover,to be honest,others too,must find us rigid and unbending.

Sometimes I fear that this habit of mine could transmute into OCD .Perfectionists are also vulnerable to quite a few diseases caused by the enormous burden they carry on their mind,body and souls.Therefore I am trying my best these days to be more lackadaisical and easygoing.There is a world of difference between being efficient,putting in your best,striving to raise the bar ; and being obsessed with unrealistic goals or sticking on to unproductive behavior.There are many spheres where good enough is good enough.

Image courtesy google.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

How To Be Liked

Do you want --to be liked?Silly question actually--who does not?Here I am not talking of the 'likes' which we all dole out in profusion on facebook. No,I am talking of that (almost) universal desire to be liked,cherished and valued for who we are.Is it asking for too much?Sometimes it is.In fact it is difficult to say how many like us,how many don't,how many are indifferent and how many positively abhor us.

There was a time when I used to believe that my behavior did not rankle anyone, but to my dismay I was proved wrong.The fallout has been so gross that I can no longer close my eyes and live in a fool's paradise.One benefit of entering the golden years is that you awaken to many harsh realities.Let me share some with you:--

I remember the day my son landed a plum job.As soon as I met my friends I told them about it and they were very happy for me.After a couple of days I again met them at a kitty party and naturally this topic was uppermost in my mind.I told them how my brilliant had surpassed his whole class to get this job.They responded with watery smiles.Just as I was about to tell them the perks he would be enjoying I saw them getting restless and stifling yawns.Oh well!

Lesson no. one:--It is not good manners to boast about personal glories.

Cut to another day.We were at a party and the talk veered to depression.Here was my chance to showcase my grip on the subject.So I began to rattle off on the causes and cures of depression.When an ill informed person interjected with his own views I smiled benevolently and carried on.Naturally this ate up a good chunk of the evening, but it pained me to see that the audience was hardly paying any attention to my valuable insights.Now,by virtue of hindsight,I realize that my dissertation on depression had in fact been depressing them.

Lesson no.two:--Never monopolize the conversation or try to show off your 'gyan'.

This episode demoralized me to such an extent that I stopped taking part in conversations.But how could  I keep quiet when a friend was facing a solid problem?She obviously needed guidance.I told what she should do in order to get rid of the pest in her life.Since she did not look convinced I had to be more persuasive.Do you think she was grateful?Nah--she positively looked peeved,as did the rest of them.Some even nudged one another as if to say 'see,she has started off again'.

Lesson no. three:--Never give unasked advice.

Now I was losing friends at jet speed.Something had to be done.I had read somewhere that the best way to make friends was to take interest in them.This was one tactic which was guaranteed to succeed.I began to put this dictum into practice.So I asked this lady whom I met at a party what she did for a living.The next logical question was how much she was paid but she hesitated to give me an answer.I changed the track by asking her where she lived and whether it was her own house or rented accommodation.I wanted to ask her how much rent she was paying for her house but to my surprise she buzzed off with an ugly grimace.Now where did I go wrong this time?I was only trying to take interest in her.

Lesson no.four:--Never probe into others' affairs.A thick line demarcates taking interest from prying.

I was really desperate now to hold on to the few friends I had.I had observed that friends rally round a person who is upset.At our next get-together I told my friends how miserable I was because of my tooth ache.I had hit the jackpot this time.There was mild tut-tutting all round.This behavior of my friends needed to be strengthened till they were overflowing with the milk of human kindness.Therefore I began to tell them about my arthritis and thyroid.Surprisingly nobody seemed to be interested in my litany of
woes,my luck had run out.They began to get ready to leave.I was left all alone at a deserted pitch :( 

Lesson no. five:--Sob stories can't win friends.

As a last ditch attempt I put in gigantic efforts to refine my behavior.This time when I walked into my kitty party I floored all of them with a bright smile (practiced beforehand ),and a cheery hello!Got many smiles in return and I too gave them reasons to smile, like---Oh,darling,how nice to see you.You are looking gorgeous.Dear so and so,I was missing you terribly.Hey,what a lovely dress you are wearing.Your story in the magazine was excellent,it brought tears to my eyes,etc etc.But what was this?The atmosphere around me had again returned to freezing point.

Lesson no. 6:--Artificial bonhomie is not appreciated.

Is there no end to human endurance?Shh,mine,not theirs.I think some people are impossible.ME?No no,my bunch of so called friends.But now that this thought has crossed my mind let me think.Could the fault lie in me?Is it I who am impossible?Disturbing question-this.

But it is also true that they are all happy being together while it is I who feel shunned.So what should I do?Another attempt at self improvement?But see what I have just done--I had recently concluded that nobody likes sob stories,and here I have saddled you all with mine.Will I never improve?????

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Can Positivity Overcome Adversity ?

 A lot has been said about positive thinking but when everything happens all at once,when you can barely keep your head above water-does it help you to cope even at such moments?Is it in-built or can it be learned?
We all have our answers to these questions but we don't have to be dogmatic about our views-maybe they ask for some changes?

To read more on this please go to the following link