SITAYANA

I have always enjoyed reading mythological re-tellings. Sita- from Ramayana is one of the most revered women in Indian mythology- the epitome of feminine and spousal virtue. Sita has been popularly portrayed to be a simple, submissive and innocent character. But there are varied portrayals of Sita in literature, and reading some of these re-tellings made me feel there is more to Sita than what we read commonly, see or hear.

I read these 3 books in 3 consecutive years- Liberation of Sita by Volga in 2017, Sita- The Warrior of Mithila by Amish Tripathi in 2018, and Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Diwakaruni in 2019. While Amish has shown Sita as a Warrior and Leader, Chitra B Diwakaruni has shown her as a Healer. Volga, on the other hand, has portrayed her anguish and as a voice of other wronged women.

In Volga’s interpretation, we see Sita’s anger and her suffering. We see her transforming from a young, gullible girl to a wise, experienced woman. In her journey of self-realization, she not only learns from her own life experiences but also begins to understand other wronged women. She becomes the voice of anguish for Urmila, Ahalya and even Surpanaka. I remember reading this back in 2017, and thinking that this is an important book that should be read by everyone.

In 2018, I read Sita by Amish Tripathi after reading Ram. I was earlier, highly impressed by his Shiva Triology. While the Ramchandra series has received lukewarm responses from many readers, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed reading Sita’s story as told me Amish. I really liked her portrayal as a warrior and the Chosen Vishnu. Amish’s Sita is a strong woman, adept at warrior skills. She is an equal partner in her marriage with Ram. She is also a Princess and a Minister who understands state matters and knows how to lead. As Amish’s story is still to be completed, I feel there is more of Sita to be discovered in the coming books. The relationship between Ram and Sita has been portrayed beautifully. I have always thought that to support Sita, you cannot be supporting Ram, but this book managed to change that thought. Also, the story borrows from the current social milieu and is therefore, relatable.

In the Forest of Enchantments, which is Sitayana in the truest sense- depicting her from Birth to Death, one gets to see many sides of Sita. Sita as a child, feisty teenager, love struck young lady, wife, companion, captive, queen and a mother. But most importantly she is a healer throughout.

This Sita was the most believable one for me, because she is flawed. She has her strengths and weaknesses and her moments of regret. But she rose above it all and endured. Endured- as women have always done- her captives, her people as well as her husband’s decisions. This Sita also explores and understands various forms of love. She understands the depths of relationships and how they can become your strength as well as your weakness. She loves her husband, despite never understanding the wrongs he subjected her to. she hates her tormentors, despite  understanding the feelings behind their actions. Above all, this Sita understands forgiveness. She willingly bestows this forgiveness not only upon her Husband but also Kaikeyi, Surpanaka and even Ravan.

She silently endures her hardships and banishment, but is also dignified enough to emerge strong and make the most of her forest life- a forest she loves dearly. She raises her sons with the humility of hermits, but with the skill fit for the Princes that they are. She doesn’t let Love weaken her, but respects her love’s decision towards her. But when the time came, she spoke against the injustice. For she knows, that if she doesn’t, no one will and her women will forever be subjected to judgment for their every action.

What I love the most of mythological re-tellings is that they show each character in a different light and force you to see the same story in someone else’s perspective. Something we must all strive to do in our daily life. Surprisingly I read each of the three versions of Sita when I was in three different emotional states. I read Liberation of Sita when I was perpetually angry at things happening, may be that compelled me to see the anguish within Her. I read Sita-the Warrior of Mithila, when I had a rebellious attitude within me, so I was drawn to the Warrior and Leader within Her. I read Forest of Enchantments, when I had developed an attitude that I will face all that life throws at me calmly and patiently, thus drawing me to the Sita that endures. Although I did not pick up the books with any preconceived notions in mind, I would like to believe that, I too, have grown up a little bit more by reading each of these versions.

Does it often happen to you, that you’re drawn to books that echo with your state of mind? Which other re-tellings would you recommend? Which is your favourite?

Let there be Light!

That time of the year is here. Diwali – The festival of lights. I have always loved Diwali, not for the crackers and the noise and the pollution (which by the way is there all round the year, but becomes more prominent at the time of Diwali), but for the dazzling lights that are on every window. Each showing, its uniqueness and yet showing a common thread that binds.  As a kid, I used to love wearing new clothes, lighting those lamps, and playing with firecrackers. Growing up, the fascination with crackers gradually ebbed off but the love for lights and colourful diyas still holds on. There is a child in me that refuses to grow up 🙂

The story of Diwali has been told to us since childhood. How Ram saved Sita from Ravan and returned to his land after 14 yrs of exile and the joyous moment was celebrated with a grand welcome with lights. How good always triumphs over evil.

The greater significance of diwali, though is about Illuminating the “Inner Self” and “cleaning” our souls like we clean our houses. In “modern” times, the disparity between good and evil has lessened; we have slowly discovered that the world is not just black and white but has many shades of grey too. This makes Illumination of the Inner Self a much more difficult task, doesn’t it?

As kids, we loved asking questions and never ran out of the Whys and How’s. As adults, we often continue the questioning but rather than curiosity , the questions become whiny- Why did that happen? What did I do wrong? When will this end?

If we actually do check our thoughts, we may realize that often we are too hard on ourselves and by doing so we are in turn hard on others, and thus the vicious cycle continues. Nothing in this world goes to the undeserving. You always get what you deserve. You always attract what you radiate. And unless you truely believe you deserve, you will never be truely enlightened. Yet, sometimes, we may want and believe and work yet things will not turn out the way we expect it too because such is life.

For me Illumination and Enlightenment is about knowing and accepting this. It is about changing the whiny how’s and what’s to its original curious form. It is about knowing your own worth. It is about remembering that you create the world you live in as you grow. Because Diwali is not just about the victory of good over evil but also  of Knowledge over Ignorance.

This Diwali, while we clean our houses and adorn our finest clothes and light up our homes with beautiful diyas, let us all stop for a moment to think about why we are doing this. Let us also clean our planet and our mind, our one True Home.

Think about what you are doing to this planet. In each thing that you buy and use, do not just picture it in your house in all its glory but also think about where it came from and where it will go when you are done using it. Every time you buy a diya, ditch that super mall and buy it from the local roadside seller who waits all year for this time of the year. You might just illuminate another home by doing so!Most of all, spend some time in self-reflection. Cleanse you mind and rid it off all the negative thoughts. Fill the darkness of ignorance with the light of knowledge. And be accepting of the knowledge of others as well.

This Diwali, let there be Light in the truest sense 🙂

 

Psychic Connections

A very strange thing happened yesterday.
As part of the PG curriculum of community medicine, I’m required to be posted in other departments for a while to get some hands on experience in them.
There was this one patient whom I distinctly remembered from my medicine posting which was in December. She had suffered hypoxic brain damage, had a tracheostomy tube and depended on nasogatric feeds. She was in this chronic debilitated state since almost a year. Her daughter-in-law was her dedicated care giver and I had helped her in finding a home nurse for her mother-in-law’s care. I had developed a special affiliation to the old lady during my posting as she reminded me of my Achama(Dadi). Despite this state, she was always smiling. My medicine posting ended after a month and with that ended my interaction with her.
Yesterday, out of the blue, for no rhyme and reason, I remembered her and for quite some time I was occupied with the thoughts of the lady and wondered if she is still alive or not.
I’m now posted in Paediatrics and I had night duty yesterday in the same. I had gone to the emergency to attend to a Paediatric call, and in comes this lady wheeled in by her daughter-in-law, to insert an NG tube as she had pulled it off. The daughter in law spoke to me and asked me about my well being and all. She told me her mother in law is still the same, chronically sick but smiling and happy.
It struck me as a strange co-incidence that this woman had come to the emergency at the exact time that I happened to be there, on the very same day that I just happened to think of her nearly 10 months after I last saw her, as if to assure me and put a rest to my wonderment about her condition.
This may just be a remarkable coincidence, but as I sat wondering about it, I realised I have often experienced this in the past. People that I don’t talk on a daily basis to, happen to call minutes or hours after I suddenly think of them. Does this happen to you? Have you experienced such seemingly psychic connections? Do share your stories.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

It is not often that one reads a book that ends up having a profound personal impact. A book that speaks volumes in a few pages and a book that leaves you so overwhelmed that you carry it with(in) you for days.
The story of Eleanor Oliphant is one such story. I had read a lot of reviews about the book and knew that it was about Clinical Depression, but nothing prepared me for the story. Having suffered from the same myself, and also being an introvert and bookworm like Miss Oliphant, I already felt a sense of connection with the character but the book exposed me to such depth of emotions, that I ended up empathizing with the character in a way I haven’t done in many years with a character.
Eleanor is just another girl, who you may be passing by everyday without giving a second glance- Plain, Introvert, Socially Awkward and Quirky. But even if you do manage to glance- you wouldn’t know who she is. Because she is much more than what she appears to be. Within her composed and disinterested demeanor, there lies an array of emotions and a loneliness that is insufferable. She is funny, logical and kind-hearted. A strong, smart, independent girl with a troubled childhood; so troubled that she finds it difficult to make and maintain normal human relations. But nevertheless a girl who craves for the same, a girl who longs for a caring human touch and wants love; but also a girl who knows her worth.
I could write an essay on her, but that’s not the point of this article. The point of the article is how we perceive Depression and Human Emotions.

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days.
Why is it that when someone asks how we are doing, we always answer without blinking an eye, almost reflexively, that we are fine? Even when every cell of the body seems to signal otherwise? Why is it not okay to accept that somebody is not fine? Why is asking for help or admitting one’s inability to cope considered embarrassing or even shameful at times?
These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted.”
And that is exactly where the problem lies. Depression and Loneliness are considered problems that need to be hushed for Personal or Professional reasons and for reasons of fear of being judged. What if you are labeled abnormal? And yet the seemingly normal of a large part of society may be the abnormal trait.
There are many instances in the book that made me want to reach out to Eleanor and hug her and tell her its okay. She doesn’t have to fit into the social norms set by the so-called “Civil society”. She is much more worth than she gives herself credit for. When her rigid schedule breaks because of a chance friendship with a colleague, she is left surprised. Her amazement and joy at the gradual realization that she has a friend (A real friend!) is so well described that I could relate to her on many levels. As a kid, I was an awkward, bookish introvert who was only close to my small family. My naive surprise when I made friends and had a group was similar to what Eleanor felt. But over-time, when I saw so many friendships around me fall apart, I realized that it is better to have no or few friends than fake friends who you can’t relate to. People who live alone aren’t weak. They are stronger, as they know how to survive alone and can do so fearlessly. And that is exactly what Eleanor feels too. That doesn’t mean they don’t crave for human contact like Eleanor’s longings are so beautifully described.

Despite the heavy theme, the book is hilarious. Despite its light-heartedness, it has its dark moments. And that is exactly why I recommend this book wholeheartedly. Like its three parts, life too, will have Good Days, Bad Days and Better Days. You don’t get rid of your past, but you survive. You can always rise above your depression, because you are much more than your illness. And till the time you don’t, you learn to live with it, taking each days as it comes.
My favourite moments in the book are: One, I have already mentioned as the time when she realizes to her amazement that she has a friend she really cares for and who really cares for her(You deserve it E). Second, when she is overwhelmed with emotions at the counselors office, begins to cry her heart out; only to be send out abruptly with a goodbye as it’s the end of her session. Her annoyance is understandable at having been left open with the extracted emotions she had long since buried within (Hugs). And finally when she, very bravely confronts her “Mummy” the source of her troubled childhood, and puts an end to her relation with her (Proud of you, E).
Gail Honeyman you need to take bow, for having made such a brilliant debut and creating such an excellent character in your debut novel. I am completely blown over by Eleanor and it is going to be hard to get over her. I recommend this book to everyone out there, in the hope that it will help each one of us become stronger, compassionate individuals and help create a society that is accepting and kind.

 

Small Talk

Hello and welcome
Warm greetings to you.
Are you having a good day today?
Do you wish to catch up over a glass of wine?
Or would you rather sit  home and read?
What mask are you wearing today?
Is it the one you normally wear,
Or the one that you rarely reveal.
Surely, its not the one that no one has seen?

Do you sleep well at night,
Having happy dreams of the days to come?
Or do you cry silently into your pillow,
For all that you have loved and lost?

Tell me about your fears-
The ones that make you quiver
But also tell me what sets off that sparkle of your eyes.
Tell me what keeps you up all night,
What gives you an adrenaline rush,
And what makes your dopamine levels shoot up.

I don’t wish to know about your day,
For a day is something that never stays,
And it does not belong to you or me.
Tell me instead of what you think,
When the moon lights up and the stars appear.
Talk to me about everything under the sun,
But do not ask me about the Weather.

I do not wish to be a part of the crowd,
Tell me instead of what sets you apart in a crowd.
Do not clutter my mind with hollow conversations,
About the neighbours wife and the celebs in town,
Or the latest gossips doing the rounds.

Call me in the middle of the night to talk about an epiphany you had.
Or show up at my doorstep and lets go on an adventure- unplanned and unprepared.
Tell me anything-
Anything that resonates
And dulls the white noise that infests the world.

Climate Change- Save Our Earth

Recently Climate change was in the news because of US President Donald Trump’s decision to walk out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  The Paris Climate Agreement was adopted on the 12th of December, 2015 and as of 2017 June, 195 countries have signed it. With The US pulling out of it, it has joined Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries that haven’t signed the agreement. Much was talked of the implications of this decision and its impact on the developed and developing nations and the world as a whole.  A lot was also talked about the Political motivations regarding the same.

The Paris Agreement aims at preventing the global average temperatures rise to less than 2 degrees till the end of the century. It also states the need to curb the greenhouse emissions to a large extent in order to achieve climate change resilience and reduce the impact of climate change, to lower fossil fuel production and divert finances towards harnessing Renewable sources of Energy. This was stated as one of the main reasons for Trump to back out of the Agreement. One cannot stress enough on the Danger the world faces because of the bad decisions of an ignorant leader of a “Developed” Nation who refuses to accept the pleas of the Scientific Community and chooses to remain ignorant.   The Agreement also urges the Developed Nations to help out the poorer countries in this bid to slow/prevent climate change. The Paris Agreement is an entirely Voluntary agreement that relies on the Good sense of the administrators and legislators of the countries that have signed it, and talks of no penalties to countries which fail to stick to the agreement. Whether this makes the Agreement a weak one or a cause driven one is something that only time will tell. But what can surely be said is that Climate Change is real and it is happening now and it is happening fast. Ignoring it will not prevent it or stop it, so it is time for the people of this world to come out of their bubbles and face reality.

Unlike 20 years or even a decade back, when Climate Change/Global Warming was spoken of as a change that would be faced in the coming decades, by the future generations; today it is spoken of as a change that is happening at a rapid rate and is being faced by the present generations. If you want evidence for climate change you only need to look around you. Soaring Temperatures each year, unexpected rainfalls and lack of it where it is expected, climate related sickness are all telling us that the world is burning and we need to quench the fire. I’m writing this post from Delhi which only last week had a heat wave that caused the temperature to rise to a dangerous 48 degrees. It has become a common sight in summer to see people vomiting and suffering from faint attacks because of the unbearable heat. It has also become second nature for many people to wear masks while travelling in order to protect from the unhealthy air that we breathe every day. Let me tell you if you don’t already know it, this is NOT a normal way to live and breathe every day. But people are being driven to such extreme measures as respiratory ailments are on the rise like never before.  NASA has stated that the carbon-dioxide levels are at a peak of 406 parts per million, global temperatures have been 1.7F higher since 1880 and there has been a 13.3% decline in the Arctic Ice in the past decade.

Many of the “Critics” of climate change and the Paris Agreement have stated that the Agreement is unfair for the developing nations. The developed nations have long since enjoyed the liberties of Fossil Fuel Consumption and have contributed the most in the greenhouse emissions. The Developing Countries like India, who have only now begun to enter into the comfortable world of fossil fuels (and yet we have become the third biggest carbon emitter after US and China) and still have about 300 million homes without access to electricity, are now being told to curb their consumption and make their economy grow in a carbon-restricted environment.  This may seem a tad bit unfair, but these nations must realize that renewable energy is the new way forward and a Healthy Planet is in the interest of all Nations in the long run and it is better to make this transition at a nascent stage than realize the need to do so later like USA and China do now. Also, if not realized soon, the planet may not survive long enough to sustain it. Also, when Climate Change strikes at its worst, it is the developing countries that will suffer more and their economies will be hit the most.

A lot many political comments have followed the Paris Agreement and the subsequent pulling out of Trump from the agreement but if we are to Act upon the Climate Change, one must rise above the Vested Political Agendas and go beyond  mere Climate Activism to make changes. I feel all hope is not lost yet as despite Trump walking out of the agreement, most US states have resolved to strive to move towards renewable energy and reducing their carbon footprint. Many NGOs in India are already working on lighting the unlit villages using Solar energy and are doing so successfully.

However, I believe Tackling Climate Change is like Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. Government Policies and Backing is important but collective will of the people is equally important if we are to see some positive results. So what can we as individuals do to reduce our Carbon Footprint and slow down Climate Change? Here are a few small but effective steps:

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Wherever possible re-use your plastic bags and articles and recycle whenever possible.
  • Reduce the plastic usage and replace it with bio-degradable and nature-friendly materials.
  • Reduce your air travel and opt for greener modes of transport like buses and trains as air travel increases your carbon footprint massively.
  • Use fuel efficient vehicles and wherever possible Walk, cycle or use a public mode of transport.
  • Choose Locally Available food rather than Processed and Packaged Food Products. The processing and packaging increases the Carbon Footprint of the food that you consume.
  • Go Vegetarian. I know this statement will anger many, but the fact remains that it is scientifically proven that Vegetarian food is not only green symbolically but also Greener for the Planet. Non-Vegetarian food, especially beef contributes to more than 15% of the methane emission.
  • Say no to processed food made from Palm Oil. Palm Oil plantations have been a major contributor for the release of greenhouse gases and loss of some precious rain forest areas that are greenhouse protectors of the world.
  • It is not only about what you eat, but how much you eat. Be mindful of the quantity you serve and consume and reduce your food waste. Every Food Waste that goes in the bin overtime as it degrades adds to the carbon released.
  • Switch from your regular light bulbs to LED bulbs. It may be a small change but every effort counts.
  • Wherever possible switch to Renewable sources of energy such as solar energy, wind energy.
  • Be mindful of the electricity that you consume as each wasted energy is adding more harm to the environment. A simple step as switching of the electricity when not needed helps and doesn’t require a great deal of effort or sacrifice.
  • Try to be in tune with the natural climate of the place you live in. One may not be able to do away with the comfort of our air-conditioners or heaters completely but that doesn’t mean there is a need to be always in the made up environment of these devices. Also it is healthier for your body if you’re acclimatized to the natural weather of the place you are in.
  • Try to wash your laundry and dishes at an average room temperature rather than opting for a warmer temperature of water. Also try to rely on traditional hand washing instead of washing machines and dishwashers.
  • Save Trees, Plant Trees. Trees are our biggest assets and our greatest protectors from climate change. Save the planet by planting more trees.
  • Be informed and educate others. Needless to say one must not only make efforts but also encourage others to do so.

 

These steps may seem like small and insignificant steps but it is necessary that it becomes a part of the collective consciousness of our society so that we can rise above petty political motives and armchair activism and help save our Planet from burning any further. After all, we only have one Planet that is capable so far of sustaining life optimally. Let us keep it a happy,healthy and liveable planet for a longer time. Let us give back our Earth what is her  own right- Her Life.

 

References:

 

 

 

 

My Classics List

My journey as a reader started when I was a kid, I guess at the age of 8 or so- when I started reading independently by picking and choosing books I want to read. All the books I chose to read were only because my sis had read them first and this was the case for most of my books. Even today, when I read a good book, I know I have to share it with my sister immediately. I cannot thank her enough for inculcating in me a love for reading and writing.

This year I really made some major changes in my Literary Journey as a reader. I committed myself to reading more books than I usually do, motivated by the Brunch Book Challenge (The challenge is to read at least 36 books in the whole year, the genre of your choice, with at least 6 titles that are by Indian Writers. You can find the details here: http://www.hindustantimes.com/brunch/brunch-book-challenge-is-back/story-1Vxcpgxtzd44p0BJH3mEoK.html). Apart from this, I also set some personal reading goals such as- Reading books by a diverse range of authors that I have never read before, Reading at-least one Hindi novel(I managed to read one already, yay!), Re-Reading The Harry Potter series entirely( also done!) and also to read more Classics.

I came across this blog-group called The Classics Club on WordPress and the idea of making a personal list of the classics I have been wanting to read for a long time but haven’t been able really thrilled me. This way, I will be motivated more to actually read them. I have been working on this list since the beginning of this month but didn’t take it up seriously. I’m currently reading the book “Love Among the Bookshelves” by one of my favourite writers- Ruskin Bond, about the books that influenced him, and I thought it is high time I make progress with the list.

So Here is the List of 50 Classics that I hope to read in the next Five Years. I have already read quite a few classics this year that I have always wanted to read, but I’m not adding that in this list, because obviously there is no dearth of these).

  1. Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte
  2. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
  3. The tenant of Wildfell hall- Anne Bronte                                                                                (I’m fascinated by  the Bronte sisters, specially the youngest sister- Anne. Already finished Wuthering Heights a couple of days back but I wanted to keep the set together so included it.)
  4. Bleak House- Charles Dickens
  5. David Copperfield- Charles Dickens
  6. Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens                                                                                                     (Have read abridged versions of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist as a kid but would like to read the complete novels as well.)
  7. Mrs Dalloway- Virginia Woolf
  8. The Book Thief: Markus Zusak
  9. Jamaica Inn- Daphne du Maurier
  10. Animal Farm- George Orwell
  11. Of Human Bondage- W.S Maugham
  12. The Razor’s Edge- W.S Maugham
  13. Catalina- W.S Maugham
  14. Cakes and Ale- W.S Maugham
  15. The Painted Veil- W.S. Maugham                                                                                               (W.S. Maugham is one of the writers I started reading this year, have read two of his novels and a couple of short stories. I absolutely admire his writing. The fact that he was a physician is what got my interest in his works and his books have been my this years most loved discoveries.)
  16. Rebecca- Daphne de Maurier
  17. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain
  18. To Kill a mocking bird- Harper Lee
  19. Go Set A Watchman- Harper Lee
  20. Persuasion- Jane Austen
  21. My cousin Rachel-  Daphne de Maurier
  22. A game of hide and seek- Elizabeth Taylor
  23. Love among the chickens- P.G. Wodehouse                                                                            (I read a part of this book in Love among the Bookshelves by Ruskin bond, and it was one of the many books that influenced him, and I immediately knew I had to read this one.)
  24. One flew over the Cuckoos nest- Ken Kesey
  25. Charlotte’s Web- E.B White
  26. For Whom the Bell tolls- Ernest Hemingway
  27. Cranford- Elizabeth Glaskell
  28. The Scarlet Pimpernel- Emmuska Orczy
  29. A study in Scarlet- Arthur Conan Doyle
  30. Heidi- Johanna Spyri
  31. The Murders in the Rue Morgue- Edgar Allan Poe
  32. Animal Farm- George Orwell

I also wish to read more Indian classics. I am ashamed to say I haven’t read a lot of Indian classics, except Malgudi Days although I read a lot of contemporary Indian Writers. I hope to make change that by including these books in my 50 Classic Reads for the next 5 yrs :

  1. Guide-R.K. Narayan
  2. Bachelor of Arts- R.K.Narayan
  3. Shantaram  –  Gregory David Roberts
  4. Gitanjali- Rabindranath Tagore
  5. Choker Bali- Rabindranath Tagore
  6. Parva- S.L. Bhayrappa
  7. Coolie- Mulk Raj Anand
  8. The Private Life of an Indian Prince- Mulk Raj Anand
  9. The Serpent and the Rope- Raja Rao
  10. The Room on the Roof- Ruskin Bond  (The first novel written by a 17 yr old Ruskin Bond)
  11. A flight of Pigeons- Ruskin bond
  12. Rag Darbari- Shrilal Shukla
  13. Godaan- Munshi Premchand
  14. Shadow Lines- Amitav Ghosh
  15. The Hungry Tide- Amitav Ghosh
  16. The Collector’s wife- Mitra Phukaan (first english novel by a writer from north-east India)
  17. Baumgartner’s Bombay- Anita Desai
  18. Chemeen- T.S. Pillai

So there goes my complete list. I’m not sure if I will be able to manage all this, but hey! it’s good to have a vision and a list. I will also try and give reviews for as many as I can! Took me many days to make this complete list, as there were so many to choose from. What do you think about the list? Any recommendations? Let’s keep the classics- the older and the modern evergreen and let’s keep the love for reading alive

Depression- When to seek Professional Help

After I wrote my previous post earlier today, (https://quaintmurmurssite.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/lets-talk-depression/) I was asked by a couple of people to put up another post about How to differentiate between clinical depression and transient distress and When to know that they or a loved one needs Professional Help. So here it goes:

Depression is a clinical illness- a serious and quite common disorder that is often undiagnosed and dismissed as reactions of an emotionally weak person. The truth is far from this. Having Depression does not make you a weak person. 1 in 10 people suffer from depression. It usually hits in late teens or mid-twenties but this need not be the case always. It is perceived to be more common in women than men, but women are also more likely to seek professional help and have better prognosis. The suicide rates in people suffering from depression is higher in Males.

The cause for Depression is wide and ranges from physical, emotional, mental and environmental factors. It may be due to other physical disorders- like thyroid disorders in which case prompt treatment of the illness is required. It can be due to unhealthy environment at home or work place, childhood experiences, any stressful life-experiences: such as physical trauma/accidents, loss of a loved one, relationship issues, professional setbacks. These factors could trigger an already dysfunctioning coping system and may lead to full blown depression. However a triggering factor need not always be present. Genetic and Hereditary factors as well as Lifestyle also play a role.

Depression is a result of deranged or faulty coping mechanisms of the brain. It is due to disrupted levels of neurotransmitters- Dopamine and Serotonin. In Depression these neurotransmitters are extremely low. It can also be due to hormonal imbalances, which explains why it is more common in women, and also shows cyclical changes in accordance with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. Post-Partum Depression is a very common and often under-estimated disorder. Depression may also be as a part of Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder or Substance Abuse.

When should you or a loved one seek Professional Help:

  1. The DSM criteria to diagnose Depression says one should seek Professional Help when the symptoms persist for 2 weeks. However, this is too arbitrary in my opinion. Depending on the triggering factor of the sadness/distress, it may or may not get relieved in 2 weeks. Recovering from a grief is a gradual process and one should give it the time it requires.
  2. When the person shows undue grief out of proportion with the problem that fails to reduce over weeks, months and years, he or she requires Professional Help.
  3. Excessive crying without knowing why/ without a triggering factor.
  4. A general feeling of Numbness, apathy and lack of any feeling is also a sign of depression. A depressed person need not always feel sad.
  5. Inability to function normally at workplace or home, and a general difficulty in dealing  with daily routine activities.
  6. Inability to enjoy previously enjoyable activities- Everyone of us sometimes feels stressed out and feels the need to step back and take a break from regular routine. For most of us these feelings go away when we take time out to unwind in other enjoyable activities and hobbies. When even these activities seem unenjoyable, it is a sign that Professional Help is needed.
  7. Change in sleep patterns. Insomnia and Excessive Sleeping both are signs of Clinical Depression.
  8. Unexplained Aches and Pains,excessive fatigue, also known as Somatisation is a sign that you may need Professional Help.
  9. Excessive weight gain as a result of binge eating or excessive weight loss as a result of anorexia is a sign of Clinical Depression. You may need help if there is a change in body weight of more than 5% in a month.
  10. Obsessive and recurrent thoughts about a situation or scenario.
  11. Excessive and Unexplained anger that is not triggered by any event or targeted at any person in particular.
  12. An unexplained urge to hurt people.
  13. Isolation and feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing.
  14. Suicidal Ideas- When you get thoughts that of attempting suicide, it means that urgent help is required. When a person you know says things like- I’m done with this life, i’m better off away from people, it calls for Immediate Attention. It is a very wrong notion that a person who talks about committing suicide will probably not do it. Keep a look out for suicidal tendencies in those coping with Depression.
  15.  Dependence/Addiction to alcohol and substances in order to cope with grief, indicates the person needs Professional Help.
  16. Change in relationship patterns, difficulty in maintaining friendships, means the person needs Professional Intervention.

 

When the people around you seem concerned about your behaviour and urge you to take professional help do not dismiss the advice, promptly seek it.

At the same time, when you see someone finding it difficult to cope with Depression, do not hesitate to advice them to seek Professional Help. It is better to seek it when you can than waiting for the symptoms to worsen.

There are also people with hidden Depression- people who you know, but will never recognise as suffering from depression. These are people who seem outwardly normal and will walk, talk, laugh and party with ease.; thus keeping a false front of being alright while inwardly suffering a major battle. Such people are more likely to commit suicide as they never seeked Help.

When Prompt Help is received, Depression is a disease that can be coped with and cured. The treatment options involve Cognitive Therapy, Supportive Psycotherapy, Anti-Depressants and Lifestyle modifications. Lifestyle modifications includes- dietary changes, exercise etc. Exercise improves the physical health while also releasing Endorphins or “Happy Hormones”.  The treatment takes place in multiple sessions and is altered from time to time depending on the patients Need, Severity of disease, Biological Profile, Side-effect profile. The treatment provided is Designed specifically for a person and will not be the same for all.

Who should you approach for help? One can approach a trusted loved one, Family Physician, A Psychologist or a Psychiatrist. The Professional may direct you to an expert depending on the condition. Suicide Helplines are very effective to avert immediate Misshapenings in-case of suicidal tendencies. Awareness of these helplines must be created to make them more effective.

Depression is an Illness that is difficult to cope with for the loved ones as much as it is for the patient. Group Therapies and Counselling sessions with a dedicated Treatment Facilitator are very effective and must be encouraged. If a dedicated Treatment Facilitator in the form of a loved one is involved in the treatment, there are better chances of coping with the illness.

Last but not the least, As I mentioned in the Previous Post, One must be willing to Listen to the ones who reach out to us. One must listen with an open mind, without judging. This alone can make a really huge difference that is unparalleled by any other intervention. The more you Listen, the more they Talk,and the more they Talk, the easier it is to cope.

I hope this helps in understanding the illness. Keep Talking, Keep Listening.

 

 

 

 

 

Depression- Let’s Talk

There is this girl I know, I have known her for a long time. She is one of the most talented people I know. An infectious laughter, a charming personality and she talks in a manner that exudes confidence and a dazzling smile. Growing up, I looked up to her and wanted to be more like her.
She had the perfect life- a great job, an amazing family and a bunch of friends that doted on her. But she was fighting an inner battle everyday that no one had a clue of. She struggled to wake up every day, spent sleepless nights. Even made up reasons in her own head for her own worthlessness. She suffered from recurrent muscle aches, headaches and back problems. She also felt she was being targeted by all. Sometimes she thought of giving up on her life altogether. No one had a clue why this was happening to her. Few people she reached out to dismissed it off as another extreme reaction to heartbreak. Her loved ones tried to get her better but didn’t know how. Her frustration knew no bounds, and she gradually shunned them away and built a wall higher up that cut out these few people away as well. Her loved ones were clueless and couldn’t find any more ways to reach out to her. How do you reach out to someone who is blocking you out? But the struggle she faced was very much real.
This is the story of countless apparently “Normal” people. This is the story of the struggle with Depression. Depression is classified under Mood Disorders and is a serious mental illness. It is more than just “low mood” or “feeling sad or low”. It can happen to anyone and it is not always apparent. But just because it isn’t visible doesn’t mean it is not real. IT IS. Saying that “you will get over it”, “move on” is under-valuing the gravity of the situation. And calling your transient sadness as Depression is trivialising the Mental illness.

We often hear stories of people saying how they coped with their “Depression” and came out shining and rising like a phoenix within no time. Depression is not that easy to cope with and the glorification of Mental Illnesses needs to be stopped. It is a serious medical condition that requires Professional Help. Just like one visits the Orthopedic to fix Fractures, The Ophthalmologist to fix the eye, one must be as quick in visiting a Psychiatrist/ Mental Health Expert/Psychologist when dealing with a mental illness.
Does that mean that the friends and families can’t do anything to help these patients? Yes, they can help. By Providing a healthy mental environment. By listening and not judging. Next time someone comes to talk to you about their struggles- Listen with an open heart. Listen only to Understand and not necessarily to provide help. Do what you can to help, watch out for the signs of an illness and direct them towards Professional Help. Depressed people do not need your advice, they only need your empathy. Do it as patiently as you can. There may come a time when they shut you out and resist your empathy, and say harsh and bitter things. Do not take it as a personal attack on you but have an open mind and be out there to listen and help, whenever they do choose to open the doors for you. Understand that it is your job to help but not your area of expertise to treat them.
So this World Health Day, let us all take the pledge to LISTEN more. Listen to that person who is reaching out to you. They may have chosen you for a reason. There might have been others who may have turned a deaf ear to them, and they might just give up if you do the same.
Listen, because somebody wants to talk and they have never really been heard before.
Listen, because just that simple act may be a huge help to turn things around for them.
Listen, because the world today needs more listeners.
Listen, because it opens door for more talks.
Talk about it, because that is the only way to create more Awareness about the Illness. The more aware we are, the more open we become.
So Lets Talk, Because THAT WILL make a difference.
For all the Strugglers out there, We Are Listening!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑