VIVA LA VIDA (LONG LIVE LIFE)

“Kya mein andar aa sakta hun?” (May I come in?)

Mihir, a 25-year-old boy with freckles over his face and standing at 5 feet 6 inches had come to the doctor for the third time in the last 2 months. The first two times, weakness and cough helped him escape but this time he wanted to win.

The doctor smiled behind his mask and nodded in affirmation.

He sat on the stool facing the doctor.

“Kya hua beta?” (What happened son?) asked the doctor.

*How do I say it? I don’t think I should tell. What if he tells mummy or papa? They’ll think I’m weak. I can’t do this.*

With trembling lips and gaze fixed stone dead towards the point on the floor where two tiles met, Mihir said, “Do din se pet dukh raha hai.” (My stomach has been paining for the past two days.)

All the while making the fingers of one hand battle with the other.

The doctor was noticing everything.

“Aur kuch?” (Anything else?)

“Nahi” (No)

“Aap mujhe bol sakte ho.” (You can tell me)

“Aur kuch nahi hua hai, give me medicines and let me go.” (Nothing else)

The doctor nodded again and typed in the complaints, relevant investigations and prescription into his computer.

Just before clicking save, in the box of advice he typed *Refer to Psychiatry OPD* and clicked save.

“You have to visit OPD number 19 and then collect your medicines from counter number 1 before you leave, take care.”

“Thankyou doctor, sorry for being rude.”

“It’s OK beta.” said the doctor with another smile.

As Mihir came out of the medicine OPD he realized he had lost yet again. He headed towards OPD 19.

The sign outside read “PSYCHIATRY OPD NO.19

“How did he come to know?” he said to himself, both cursing and thanking the doctor at the same time.

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He had got 62% in his board exams and somehow got admission into a college. After completing two years of junior college, he was stuck yet again for 2 years in the loop of getting admission into a graduate course, when in reality he wanted to become a singer or an artist. His first guitar was second hand which he purchased from working part time for a year at his friend’s shop, oblivious to his parents, and saving money he received from elders on festivals. They weren’t financially weak, but his parents did not like spending money on “distractions”.

There’s no future in music and art, get a degree and a job, his dad always told him. His mother would protect him when things turned ugly but in the end say the same thing to him albeit with the motherly warmth. Twice he failed to clear the entrance test and when he finally got in, he wasn’t able to cope up mainly because of the fact that he didn’t want to be there in the first place. In his leisure time he would lock his door, paint his heart away or strum tunes together but as soon as it struck 8 pm he would pack everything up, climb on to his plastic chair, dump it above his cupboard and pretend to study lest his dad got home early.

For the past couple of months he had not felt happiness in even its faintest form. He had lost 6 kgs and could not sleep for more than 5 hours a day. A month back he failed in his final year. His father, enraged, broke all his paint brushes and threw the colours into the bin. The strings of his already dilapidated guitar were cut and the instrument thrown into the corner. He did not eat for 3 days straight, despite his mother caressing and pampering him. When he finally went to the kitchen, he saw the knife lying in the stand and felt the urge of doing something he had only heard of, but he just took a packet of biscuits and went back into his room.

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Ever since that thought struck him, he knew something was very wrong. He told his friend about it but all he got in return was “Chal movie chalte hain, aisa kuch nahi hota, jitna sochega utna hota hai.” (Lets go for a movie, there is nothing like this, the more you think, the more it will happen.) The early morning chirping of birds in his balcony which according to him was the sweetest voice of mother nature felt like cacophony.

He came to the hospital twice but couldn’t find the courage to open his heart out.  Everytime he returned home, it only got worse. He had to study, but he couldn’t. The same way how he had to live, even though he couldn’t.

He finally broke down when the doctor in the psychiatry OPD held his wrist and asked him to let go. He agreed to get admitted and fight it away. He made good friends with an intern doctor and used to show him his paintings which his mother had brought from home, explaining vividly how every stroke in itself was an art. How every colour was a mirror of your feelings. They would listen to his tunes as he played it by beating his palms on his bed like it was a tabla.

In those 15-20 minutes of everyday he would have a wide smile on his face, something he had thought he wasn’t capable of anymore. He stayed there for 10 days and that was the happiest he had been in years. So much so he did not want to go back home and into the ruthless world. He was eventually discharged.

3 months later the interning doctor received the news that the boy had given in to the urge of the blade kissing his wrist and committed suicide.

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Depression is not a myth. It is not an excuse. It is not a sign of weakness. Depression is real, crippling and fatal. It sits in a dark corner inside you and unravels itself all at once, chaining your body and mind in its entirety. The worst part is that there are no physical signs, no falling hair or regular trips to the hospital which would indicate that the person is fighting his or her way through it, which would indicate that the person needs a hand of support and not condescendence.

Statistically speaking it is the most common psychiatric illness in the country and the most common cause of suicides. Yes, it is a disease, and no, It does not mean the person is mentally challenged because he goes to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sadly that very thought process of majority of people is in itself the biggest avoidable hurdle in the fight against depression.

For those who are aware about someone close going through a tough time, you have the power to not just save a life but bring it back on track or even make it more beautiful. All you have to do is ask. If they deny at first, ask again. If they still deny, ask yet again. They might get angry with the pestering but don’t stop. Hug them or hold their hand. There is nothing in this world more soothing and comforting than human touch. If they push you away, hug them even tighter. They will eventually open up.

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Once you get past that hurdle, half the war is won. Keep reminding them about the things they are good at nonchalantly. It’s imperative to know that during this time 1 discouraging word is more powerful than 10 encouraging ones so get all the help that you can. If they are your partners, talk about the days well spent or the days you plan to make special. Thought is the most powerful human strength, so why not use it for the betterment. Talk as much as you can, listen as much as they want you to. Be there, for as long as it is needed.

To those upset for not performing well in an exam, its fine, it is just one of the countless exams life takes. Chin up, take a couple of days for yourself and start again. Agreed, our education system is not the most ideal. It tests memory more than intelligence. Every individual is put into the same habitat irrespective of their strengths and then weeded out. An eagle is considered stupid because it cannot swim and a fish considered mentally weak because it cannot walk on land.

If you wish to pursue something our system does not appreciate, talk to your parents. If they don’t agree with you once, talk again. Make them know how much it means to you and they will come around. Even if they won’t agree they will support you till the end and that is all you will need. Talk. It is never too late.

Remember, this world does not need you to become the best in whatever you do to make it a better place. All it needs is the best version of you. Its ok to fail, its not ok to give up. Forget the famous people, I’ll compare you with yourself. You have fallen countless times before you could run. What if you had given up thinking you can’t do this or weren’t meant to. You fell a hundred times before you could put two synchronized pedals to ride the bicycle. You would argue that it is not the same as real life when in reality it is. No jump is too high and no fall is impossible to get up from.

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Together we can fight depression, alone we don’t stand a chance. So come forward and make yourself heard. Don’t lock the deafening scream inside you. It is your life, you are the only person in charge of making it worth living. Don’t revolve your life around what other people would think or deduce, for

“THOSE WHO MIND DON’T MATTER AND THOSE WHO MATTER DON’T MIND”

~Dr. Seuss

PS: you too can help someone edging towards clinical depression. If the person you suspect has either or both of

  1. Depressed mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in all activities

Along with any four of the following:

  1. Abnormal increase or decrease in appetite
  2. Abnormally increased or decreased sleep
  3. Psychomotor retardation or agitation
  4. Abnormal fatigue, weakness or lethargy
  5. Feeling of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  6. Diminished concentration
  7. Recurrent thoughts of death or recurrent suicidal ideation or suicidal attempts

Reach out to a doctor as soon as possible, we are always there to help.

If you wish to educate yourself further you can visit

https://yourdost.com/depression/major-depression

http://www.webmd.com/depression/helping-depressed-person

http://www.asianage.com/life/more-features/110417/dont-let-depression-slow-you-down-seek-help.html

http://indianexpress.com/article/blogs/with-36-of-india-depressed-we-must-end-taboo-around-mental-health/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertszczerba/2016/03/08/what-if-physical-illness-were-treated-like-mental-illness/#28ce68c27f43

Contact for Professional Help:

iCALL: 022 25521111

VANDRAVELA FOUNDATION: 1860 2662345

SNEHA: 044 24640050

PARIVARTHAN: +917676602602

SAHAI: 080 25497777

SUMAITRI: 011 23389090

LIFELINE: 033 24637401

If you don’t feel like calling, you can chat with a professional on:

www.yourdost.com

Or just drop a mail to me at anmolrsmittal@gmail.com or pm me on fb. I’ll be there. 🙂

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Link credits: AIB

 

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