Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Feeling of Insignificance

We all love to be recognized,loved and appreciated.Life loses all it's charm if we think that we are of no significance to anyone.This may not be true,but it does cause a lot of anguish.A mere feeling of insignificance can cause anxiety and depression.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Teens' Tribulations--All Facts,No Fiction

I simply cannot wind up this series without sharing with you the plight of a few more students who caved in under the pressure of hard work,tough competition,high expectations and loneliness.Those who lack the stamina or caliber to hit the target they want to achieve,sometimes come out a lot poorer in terms of mental health and morale when they fail at it.

Take the instance of fifteen year old Manoj who was referred to me by his teacher.He was a student of class tenth.A few months back,wanting to run for the IIT-Jee exam,he had begun to cram all his waking hours with study,study,and more study.The strain was too much,he became depressed,could not recall what he had read,and finally consulted a psychiatrist.The medicines given by the doctor made him very sleepy,so he left them.

Despite warning signs he continued to prepare for the big exam and the cracks began to widen.He would surf the net for hours and dabble in paranormal and other arcane subjects.He began to have delusions too.I was scared for his mental health and tried to dissuade him from attempting such a tough test but he replied that his 'coaching sir' had told him that he was intelligent and will be successful.

There was a long gap after this and then I was told that he had failed class eleventh exam and had given up his dream of joining IIT--but at what cost!Fortunately his father himself was a teacher and he did not lambaste him for having wasted such a lot of time and money for a capricious whim. 

Eighteen year old Anand had come to Kota to take a second shot at IIT-Jee because his uncle and cousins were IIT-tians.When he found himself lagging behind he attempted suicide.His friend Vikrant brought him over to me.

The boy was pained by the thought that if others had passed this test why couldn't he?His parents had spent a lot of money on him and he said that if he failed he would not be able to show his face to them.Moreover he was convinced that his father would refuse to support him in case of failure.

Even after a lot of counseling, he maintained that suicide was the only way out for him.He had given wrong contact details so I could not connect with him after that.

Vikrant also believed that his father would not support him if he failed,but he ruled out suicide.This thought that their parents would ditch them in the event of failure might have been a misconception on their part,but it was deeply ingrained in them.Parents often put up a stern facade to motivate their children but it is important at the same time to assure them of their love and support,no matter what.

There have been many instances of students who developed a mental disorder due to severe stress but I came across only one boy-merely fifteen years old,who was wise enough to know what he could,or could not do.On the very first day of his coaching session,when the instructor told them they would have to study for xyz number of hours and leave off movies TV etc,he told his father he did not wish to take those classes.His father was a businessman and the boy knew that he would eventually join his business;therefore he saw no point in going through such a grueling regime.

You will be surprised that his father and local guardians all wanted me to convince him otherwise,but I supported his decision and he went away a happy boy.I wish all wrong choices had a similar ending !

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Teenager's Dilemma--All Facts No Fiction

A sixteen year old boy living in a hostel comes to his room and finds it locked from the inside.When repeated calls elicit no response he breaks open the door and sees his friend hanging from the fan.He goes into shock,crying incessantly and losing all sense of his surroundings.The next ten days are spent in stupor.He boards a train to go home but returns after a week.Back in his hostel,he again loss touch with reality.He cannot recall later on,what he did in the next two weeks.

Then,one month after the tragedy,he again attends his coaching class but he has lost the link due to his long absence, and finds himself in a limbo.Three more months pass but his depression shows no sign of abating.Two nearby shopkeepers refer him to my counseling center.

This is how I meet Sunil,a student of class eleventh,now taking coaching for IIT-Jee in Kota.The sorrow engulfing him gets to me.

It all started when his uncle suggested he go to Kota to attend coaching classes to prepare him for the above exam. Sunil had thought of giving the state Govt. Service exam after graduation but he decided to fall in with his uncle's request.He did well in the first test,then came down and then this tragedy happened.

Now he could not decide what he should do.If he went home without completing his course his uncle would be disappointed,his friends would jeer at him and his mother,who was a teacher in his school;would lose face.

But he was feeling very lonely here.His mother asked him to carry on for five more months and then she would come and stay with him.Sunil was not happy at this prospect.He did not care much for her,since she had gone to live in a hostel for further studies when he was very young.

When Sunil met me his parents too were present in Kota.They came to meet me the next day and asked me what they should do.I advised them to let him rest for one year as he was very jittery.He was still in eleventh class.He could return after completing his twelfth board.His mother was not amenable to this suggestion.

I requested them to let me know what they decided and also asked Sunil to meet me if he stayed back.However there was no response from their side and there the matter rested.I do not know what transpired after this,but I was astonished at the mother's apathy for her son's  happiness and well-being.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How Many More Suicides ?

How many more suicides till we finally awaken?In the last four days three students who had come to Kota  to build up their careers, succumbed to pressure and met an untimely end.Two committed suicide while one girl who had been brought here by her father to join coaching classes was allegedly strangulated by him because of financial constraints,before he too committed suicide.Today's Rajasthan Patrika informs that Sarthak,in the news item above, had come to Kota of his own volition but he was under so much of stress that he hung himself even before giving the very first test.

These days there is a mad rush of girls and boys who have passed Secondary or Sr.Secondary Board examination to attend coaching institutes which  prep them for entrance examinations to prestigious institutions, like IIT-Jee,AIPMT,AIEEE,PMT etc.Some come even before passing tenth.Young children,barely sixteen years of age leave the warmth of their family and known surroundings and jump into a seething cauldron of cut-throat competition.

Some have a burning ambition to join an IIT or a medical college and they are well prepared to slog for all they are worth.Some others come to Kota egged on by The Bandwagon Effect.The third category is of students whose parents have this obsession that their child must study at a top-notch college and have an outstanding career.

The regime at the coaching Institutes is very tough.There are long study hours and no means of relaxation or entertainment.Students are placed in batches according to their performance.There will be at least 8-10 batches in any reputed institute and 150-250 students in every batch.Periodical Sunday tests determine their ranking.A slip in rank can push a student down into a lower batch.

This grading system is a cause of severe stress to students because everybody knows that all selections are from the top two batches only.Students are under unimaginable pressure to improve their grades.A tiny slip and they begin to  fret that they will not be able to join any reputed college,their parents will be disappointed and they would be responsible for a sizable drain in the  family's funds.Yet they chug on,hoping and toiling harder still.When the pressure becomes too much and they see no signs of the tide turning,they quietly leave this hostile world.

The crux of the whole matter is,why should those who have no aptitude for this sort of grueling regime opt for it in the first place?Sixteen year olds can barely judge what is good for them,what they are best suited for.They need guidance.But the current craze for elite universities followed by high-paying jobs has a different focus altogether.

The students as well as their parents dream of blue-ribbon careers and will not relent even if a void looms ahead.Only recently two students killed themselves after coming back from a trip home.You can guess what must have firmed their resolve to commit suicide.

Is it money,glamour,competition,rivalry or one-up-man-ship which drives such people?Can parents not feel proud of children who have the right values,earn an honest salary,and lead a wholesome life with work,relaxation and relationships-all in place?Why this craze to be more,do more and have more?

Ambition is fine,we all strive to upgrade ourselves but money alone should not be the benchmark.Even lots of it,cannot buy happiness.Nor can it revive health once lost.
The stress that youngsters undergo for the sake of bettering their image and status is damaging their mental and physical health.

I have met and counseled many medical ,engineering aspirants but more about them in my next post.

Do you agree with what I have put forth?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How I Buffer My Moods.

Life can be very tough--even for an old woman like me.There are many responsibilities to fulfill,relationships to conserve,physical and mental health to maintain and the house to look after.Doing all this keeps me very busy and I often feel overburdened with work.In order to accomplish all this and yet remain sane,I think a nice mood is the first requisite.It is a magical tool as well as a staunch support.

As I look back down the years I realize that unconsciously I have developed certain habits and characteristics which help me to keep my cool.Let me share them with you.

First of all I want to admit that I am hyper by nature.I react strongly to anything which I think is not proper or fair--even if it has nothing to do with me.But at the same time I abhor unpleasantness and friction.Maybe this dichotomy enables me to maintain a balance.

I think the most important factor which helps me to remain in a good mood is, avoiding altercations.If the issue at hand is not significant --only a difference of opinion--I do not contradict the other person or push my own views down his/her throat.
If something important is at stake I will do what I can to mend the situation but I see scant sense in launching into a hot debate.
There are times when people don't behave nicely.If this happens once or twice it can be ignored but repeated offences are hard to tolerate.When this happens,I avoid rather than confront that person. 

Criticism can be very annoying.I take pride in being efficient and am generally averse to criticism.But even then,if I have erred I have no qualms about admitting my mistake.
In case of baseless criticism I give vague replies like O.K,maybe,if you say so, or perhaps.I see no point in reiterating that I was right and the other person was merely nit-picking.

It is not possible to get along with everybody we come across.Associating with rude,insensitive,intrusive,selfish and scheming persons disturbs me no end,therefore I steer clear of them.I am happier this way.
But yes,when it comes to close relationships it is not possible to do so.What I do is,refrain from accusations or retaliations and try my best to focus on that person's positive aspects.'Even a dead clock shows the right time twice a day.'

We all feel flustered when required to tackle a challenging task outside our comfort zones.This happens very often with me --living in this tech-crazy world that I do.I have seen that if I procrastinate then my mind is filled with a vague uneasiness hovering over me like an eagle above a prey.Therefore I don't spend hours wondering how I will tackle that job,how taxing it is going to be and whether I will be able to pull it off or not.I get started immediately so that the eagle flies away,I know where I stand and I am at peace again.Sometimes this practice enriches my self confidence and sometimes it is like--vroom,bang,down to earth :(

Very often--more often than I relish--the to-do list stretches from here to eternity,dampening my spirits.I undertake the essential items and shelve the rest for the next day.Of course the task which is essential and difficult,takes the first priority.I have yet to learn to ask for help.

One thing which really gets my goat is clutter.My surroundings have to be neat and well organised.Here again an oxymoronish tendency spoils the scene.I am a maniac for recycling,upcycling and hoarding odds and ends,so that there is very little which can be thrown out.This keeps my store room full up to the gills and me,busy like a bee.This is ingrained in me and cannot be ousted so I just make sure that the living space is neat and tidy--a place for everything and everything in it's place.

Unforeseen events,tragedies and traumas strike us out of the blue--life happens.But even at such junctures I try to push my emotions to the background and energize the grey matter.It enables me to keep the larger picture in view and get on with life.

When it comes to day-to-day hassles,glitches and disappointments-I consciously zero in upon the lighter side of the situation.There always is one.I am drawn to humor like iron to magnet.It has often protected me from sadness and depression.

Much though I like to be with family and friends,I must have solitude too.My precious me-time helps me to relax and rejuvenate.Reading,writing,music,sudoku and sewing give me pleasure.

When I am really tense I pick up a duster and zoom around my house dusting,cleaning and arranging.My worries fly out the window along with the dust.It is very therapeutic,believe me.

Well,I do all this to keep myself in good temper.I am sure there must be many more ways of safeguarding nice moods.Let me know yours.