September– The Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

September– The Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

I opened today’s newspaper to find a headline that almost leapt out at me, as if trying to urge me to write something I had been putting off for a couple days now.

September happens to be the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

I had mulled over the idea of writing a post on suicides since the beginning of this month, but kept putting it off. I just couldn’t find the right tone to express my thoughts on the matter. But, today’s news changed it all.

Syed Nasser Hussain, a resident of Deonar, Mumbai, was returning home from work from Vashi. When on the Vashi bridge, he spotted a girl trying to jump off the bridge into the creek below. Syed Hussain got off his scooter, hurried to the girl and pulled her back in the nick of time.

He then spent an hour counselling the girl, asking her what the matter was, why she had decided to take such a drastic step.

Hearing her story about a heartbreak, he then counselled her and took her to her home. On reaching her home, they found the house locked as her parents had gone to a hospital. Taking the keys from her neighbours, Syed left the girl inside, and asking the neighbours to keep an eye on her, left the place.

While driving back, though, he had this strong feeling that he should not have left the girl alone at home in this condition, and so, he turned around and drove back to her house. On reaching, when he tried to open the door, he found it locked from within. With the help of her neighbours, he broke open the door only to find his intuition right.

The girl had hung herself from the ceiling fan.

They untied her off the fan and rushed her to a hospital. Yesterday the doctors informed the newspaper reporter that the girl was out of danger.

The girl’s father thanked Syed Hussain profusely.

Syed Hussain was a stranger to the girl. Yet, when he felt something amiss, he decided to help her. And, in doing so, twice in a night, he had saved a life. A precious life which would have gotten wiped out had Syed not stopped his scooter that night; a death that would have left behind heartbroken parents with nothing but memories of their only child.

In our hectic lives, how often do we stop and pause to think about what someone said or did that felt abnormal; something that seemed to be a silent cry for help, but in not as many words?

Do we even give a moment’s thought about what the person might have implied?

Each of us faces hardships in life. And, let’s not even get started on the kind of hardships that we are subjected to. We fight right till the end, with every ounce of our strength we can muster. Sadly, there are some who are left with no willpower to continue fighting; no support from the world and no desire to even keep running towards the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Some just prefer to end it all rather than keep fighting and keep living a miserable life.

And, with the loneliness and the depression tormenting them night and day, and with no one to offer them the necessary support, they give it all up.

And, end up being just a statistic.

The Suicide Awareness Campaign might not find a better mascot than Syed Hussain, who went out of his way to save the life of a stranger. Not only did he save her once, but heeding his intuition, he reached out to her twice. He counselled her about not giving up because some idiot broke her heart.

To quote Syed Hussain, “I have had long conversations with her dad. She needs to be taken care of. I have told her he must support her to complete her education. She must grow into a confident woman who does not see unfaithfulness of a man as the end of the world.”

How many of us would leave aside our work, our busy schedules, if we were to spot someone trying to end their life? How many of us would even pay attention to what someone says in a moment of despair?

All the person needs is a patient ear; someone who holds their hand and asks what the matter really is. All they need is to talk their heart out to someone who will just hear them out, not judge them, or give unsolicited advice without knowing the entire story. Someone who will read the real meaning behind their sad smiles and their artificial laughter and their overeagerness to appear “normal”, when in reality, they are crumbling from within.

Do we have it in us to be that someone who listens, really listens, and doesn’t let go just because the person in front of us won’t open up about the pain they suffer?

it really takes very little time to help out people in distress. It takes just a few words to heal a sad, broken heart. And, it takes just a few moments to save a life from becoming a statistic.

All you need to do, is reach out.

Love,

SHILPA..

 

Look after those who hide their tears

 

 

Why you need to learn to spend time alone.

Why you need to learn to spend time alone.

I read this quote somewhere that made a lot of sense to me:

“Everyone leaves. So, you need to learn to survive alone!”

“Of course, our friends will be there with us”, some of you might argue. But, will they, really? They have lives to live, battles to fight, issues to solve. They will have time constraints; some will move to another city; and some others will drift away. Life comes in the way, you see! And, even if your friends do stay, will they be there for you, always? As in, every time you need them? As much as they would want to, they won’t be able to.

So, what will you do in such a scenario?

“Well, our partner will be there for us, and so will our kids!” I can almost hear some of you assert, vociferously. But, do they really stay for you, precisely when you are desperate for someone to just sit by your side and offer their quiet company? They don’t! After a point, they lose patience. What do you do then?

Shall I tell you?

You learn to get used to your own company. It is really not that easy, believe me. But, it isn’t impossible, either. Ahem, all this gyaan comes from experience, by the way. So, I know what I am saying.

Learn to enjoy your own company.

If you feel suffocated indoors, step outdoors. Go for a walk.

Better still, take yourself out on a date! I have done it, and trust me, it was the best date of my life!

I dressed up, went to a mall, lazed around in a bookstore, indulged in some window-shopping, had lunch and desserts and simply sat on a bench in the mall, watching life around me.

Observing people, wondering about their lives, trying to guess their stories from what I saw. And, after a few hours, when I returned home, I felt refreshed!

My next on the to-do list is to go watch a movie, alone.

And, the next is, to travel alone.

Apart from these activities, you could develop a hobby or, maybe, find a job–full-time, part-time, work-from-home–to make sure you stay occupied, so much so, that you find not a single moment to wallow in self-pity or pamper your, “I feel so lonely!” mindset.

Just do not encourage these negative feelings, for they ruin your mental space, leaving you completely broken and dejected. And, that is not a very good feeling.

I am just glad I have my pets, my blog, my art and books to keep me occupied in between my busy schedule. I also found myself a job, where I can work from home. And, it feels fantastic! Touchwood.

But, I will be honest. This horrid I-am-lonely-and-miserable feeling does spring upon me, sometimes, catching me unawares. But, I push it out of my mind. It is akin to moving mountains, but, you gotta do what you gotta do, lest you lose your mind! Then, I replace those depressing thoughts with some good thoughts, like, what post to write, what do I do about my artwork, or read a good book, or watch a movie.

It won’t be an easy journey, this dealing with loneliness. But, all it needs is to get pally with yourself. Love yourself, relentlessly, trust in yourself and your judgements and believe that you are no longer scared of being alone. If people do join you, good, and if they don’t, fine, as well!

Work on becoming independent–EMOTIONALLY INDEPENDENT–and you won’t need a person by your side, ever. Okay, sometimes you will, but you will also manage pretty well if you don’t find anyone there.

Wish you the best!

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

If you have had the worst experience being alone, if you dread those moments of solitude, talk things out, seek help, but don’t keep to yourself.

Take care,

Love,

SHILPA..

 

 

If you learn to love your own company, you won't lack anything in life!

 

 

Things to do after turning 40.

Things to do after turning 40.

Last week, I celebrated my 45th birthday. It feels strange–this realisation that I completed 45 years, considering I don’t feel 45. In a few years’ time (if I happen to stick around that long) I will be 50! Find that hard to believe, too.

However, it does feel wonderful being 45, thanks to the maturity and the wisdom that come along with it! Going through the highs and lows of Life, learning from every pain, every wound through the years transforms us. It adds to our personality. A dear friend stated that she “Enjoys adding years!”

Well, so do I!

I thought of doing a post titled, ’45 things I learned at 45′, or something of the sort, but listing 45 things felt tedious. And, it would have made too long a list for anyone to read! So, I am just jotting down stuff that has started making sense to me; stuff that made me aware about Life and Her weird ways; stuff I need to learn about and inculcate in myself in order to stay sane through it all. No apologies for overusing the word, ‘stuff’.

1. That’s number one on my to-do list– BEING UNAPOLOGETIC. I realised that living the past so many years wondering if I was hurting sentiments, or living as per others’ expectations had gotten me nowhere, so it’s high time I changed! I need to speak what comes to my mind, irrespective of what others think. Not that I intend to hurt others’ feelings, but then, things staying bottled up hurts me more!

2. Shit happens. When you least expect it. And, the shitty phase can last for quite a while.

But, it all ends some day, for nothing is permanent. So, all you can–and should–do, is go with the flow, and never, ever, ask “WHY ME?” We never ask, “Why am I so happy?”, do we? Cliche, I know, but true!

3. Treasure people. Your tribe–the ones who rally around in your time of crisis, the ones who know something’s wrong just by looking into your eyes or from the tone of your voice and pull you out of the abyss you find yourself in–treasure them. They are your guardian angels. And, they are who make your Life beautiful.

And, please, please, share your troubles, your anxieties, your fears with them. Or, listen to what they have to say when they are in need. You never know what a patient ear and a shoulder to lean on can do. Well, it sure can save a Life!

4. Stop taking yourself for granted. YOU MATTER. Period. And, have faith in yourself. Remember that line from Tumhari Sulu– “Main kar sakti hai.”? You, too, can do it. Yes, you can!

5. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin. Everyone’s ageing, honey. That’s Life! The fine lines that increase by the day, the silver in the hair, the aches in the joints, the mood swings. All of it. This is the stuff that makes you human!

6..Remember one thing, and remember it always: You are beautiful inside out. For it’s what’s within that matters more and reflects on your face. Be proud of the fact that the face that peeps at you from the mirror is 100% genuine, not one that’s been “worked upon”, you get me? And, smile. It adds to your face value. Another cliche, eh?

7. It takes around 21 days to form a habit. Kick a bad one and find a new one to develop that will enrich your Life in some way.

8. Get off your butt, walk around. DO NOT sit for long. Take a short ‘walking’ break every 45 minutes.

9. Put the darn phone away. Spend lesser time on social media (read, virtual world), and more time in the real world to find true peace of mind. Unless you are a blogger, of course! 

10. Learn to enjoy your own company. As stifling as that may seem, at times, it’s better than depending upon others for your happiness.

That’s all for now. These are just some of the things I keep reminding myself to practice every day, to the best of my ability. I do forget stuff, but then, it comes with the ‘territory’ – I am perimenopausal!

If you’d you like to add to this list, go right ahead!

Love,

SHILPA…

 

Every phase in our Life teaches us lessons and makes us mature, wise and a whole lot chilled out!

 

 

How do you deal with loneliness?

How do you deal with loneliness?

Loneliness.

A feeling that has been a companion since so long now, I could very well put it up on a pedestal and bestow on it the title of ‘Best friend for life’!

Why? Why not? Don’t we all know that not a single soul in our life is ours forever? None, except us, can make ourselves a priority – a fact we often discover quite late in life.

We keep pursuing people, hoping they put us before themselves, are considerate towards our feelings, and make us their centre of attention, for life. How often we return disappointed!

The problem with us is we fail to remember that life changes, so do people and their priorities. Be they our friends, our partners, our children. Each of them have a life they would want to explore, try new garbs, shed the old ones.

Okay, our partners may not forsake us for greener pastures, but once the novelty in the relationship fades away, the equation begins to undergo changes that often leave us feeling ignored, lonely, and frustrated.

Work, friends, hobbies become the focal point of either of the partners, making the other feel left out. The realisation, that you come after the others, their friends, especially, can leave one feeling miserable. It may not be a conscious move, but that’s how life functions. And, the resultant heartbreak can be quite difficult to bear.

Looking after MIL and our pet Chikoo, and the absence of any friends to talk to had left me with no adult human interaction on a daily basis. Believe me, that can cause havoc on your psyche. I mean, how much could I converse with my MIL – a patient of a mental illness, who was fighting her own demons? Or with Chikoo – a canine?

The loneliness that arose, drove me over the edge. I couldn’t be drawing, or writing, or reading or watching TV all day long, could I?

I needed someone to talk to, spend time with.

It was with time that I realised, that expecting anything from anybody, even from my partner, would only lead to disappointment and heartache. No person would be there for me, or with me, always.

Except myself.

That’s when I decided to befriend myself. Become my favourite companion. So much so, that people become redundant…for me! Sounds weird? Trust me, there is nothing as liberating and as joyful as spending time with yourself, with nary a need for another soul.

I also found the joys in going out on dates – with myself!

Believe me, these are the best dates you will ever go on! Refreshing, exciting and so calming.

Have you tried it? I urge you to do it, if you haven’t.

Leave the kids with hubby for a day, or a few hours, and just go. Go wherever you wish to go, do whatever you wish to do, and then see for yourself how thrilling the experience can be!

There are some exciting things you could indulge in to deal with your loneliness once you are done brooding, because, honey, accept it – your guy/girl will have better things to do than be by your side when you want them to. Why burden them with your expectations and why torture yourself with all the resulting bitterness? Learn to take care of yourself now, and you will never need another person during your low moments, aka ‘loneliness’.

So, here goes..

THINGS TO DO TO DRIVE AWAY YOUR LONELINESS:

1. If you feel like crying your heart out, just go ahead and CRY. Throw yourself a pity party.. But, a word of caution here – DO NOT extend the party after an hour. You don’t need to empty your lachrymal glands! Save some for the future.

2. Call up your closest friends, or call them over for a heart-to-heart. Friends, who know you inside out, know the magic words that will drive away your blues!

3. If you are into it, or would like to give it a try, pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and let it work its wonders on you. Put on some music (peppy numbers) at full volume and sing along at the top of your lungs! (I have been doing it for so long now..believe me this is the best one on the list!). Do not go overboard with the Wine. Stay within limits. And, if there’s no wine at home, reach for a fizzy drink!

4. Workout/go for a brisk walk, or a power walk for 45 minutes. The activity will not only help you sweat it out, but leave you feeling rejuvenated, and on top of the world! (This is the second best).

5. Read a good book, or watch a good film. But, I would advice you to stay away from romantic films, precisely for the reason that these will make you feel melancholic.

6. Get into your cleaning gear – gloves, aprons etc – and clean the house! Nothing like scrubbing the bathroom, or the kitchen. The sparkling room at the end of it all will leave you with a sense of achievement like nothing else!

7. De-clutter: Another activity that is simply so satisfying. Get rid of the clutter from your wardrobe, your kitchen cabinets, delete old email…and in doing so, you unconsciously de-clutter your mental room, too, do you know that? Try it. 

8. Cook your favourite recipe/bake a cake or cookies – only for yourself! Enjoy a good, hearty meal, with music, candles, what-have-you! Or, go eat out. All by yourself. Just do it and see for yourself! Let hubby/wifey babysit for a change!

9. Paint/draw/write…indulge in your favourite hobby. If the kids are at home, then play some kiddie music and join them for a dance. Dance like no one’s watching – the kids will love it and so will you! Plus, dancing is one of the best exercises…it raises your happiness hormones–endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. 

10. Visit a park and relive your childhood days. An hour on the swings, the slide or the see-saw, or even the jungle-gym will bring back fond memories of your childhood and put an instant joy in your heart. How many years since you sat on a swing and swung to your heart’s content? 

Actually, the possibilities are endless. All you need to do, is spot them yourself and go berserk! Or, get as imaginative as you can. Your partner isn’t home anyways, so you might as well make hay while the sun shines! What say? It will only help you become emotionally independent, my dear!

How do you drive away your loneliness? Do share with me…I could do with some more tips on my list! I am a work in progress, you see!

Love,

SHILPA…

 

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Dealing with loneliness can make you emotionally independent.

 

 

Hug more often.

Hug more often.

In the city of Vienna, Austria, lives a young man by the name, Thyago Ohana.  Let’s call him an angel in disguise. You will soon learn why.

Every two or three months, he goes out on the busy streets with a big smile and a sign that says, “Free hugs”.  He opens his arms for an embrace to whoever may be in need of a squeeze. Reader’s Digest did an article on the power of touch, where it narrated Thyago’s heartwarming tale.

A few years ago, when he was stressed out during a visit to a new city, Thyago was hugged by a stranger that  left him feeling calm and joyous. It was this feeling that encouraged him to give back what he had received!

Thyago recalled an incident about an elderly woman who watched him as he offered hugs to passersby and asked him for a hug, herself. After a few moments, when they broke their embrace, she held on to his shoulders,  looked into his eyes and thanked him saying she couldn’t remember the last time someone had hugged her that way!

Wow! Isn’t that so very touching!?  Now do you agree that angel would be the perfect epithet for this young man?

I love hugs. I am quite a tactile person, who can be quite touchy, feel-y when with people I love dearly. Be they my close friends, my parents – I need to hug them to feel their presence; hold them by their arms, pinch their cheeks if they say something really cute, or even silly, in short, I need to feel them.

It suffuses me with warmth and an assurance that I have some really fantastic people in my life who not only love me, but look out for me, tolerate my craziness and will never let go of me.

When Chikoo was around, I would cuddle up to him every now and then. I loved hugging him, burying my face in his satiny fur and run my hands all over his warm body. I would pinch his cheeks, play with his soft, floppy ears, in general, drive him nuts by my tactility!

He enjoyed it when he was younger and reciprocated with much enthusiasm,  but in the past couple of years, he had become very possessive about his space. So, whenever I would snuggle up to him, he would indulge me for a minute or two, after which he would shift uncomfortably in his place and give me a give-me-my-space-woman look.

I would leave him alone after threatening to overdo it all the next time. Tee-hee!

Sigh. Those were wonderful times, when I had Chikoo’s instant hugs whenever I needed them. Now, I have to wait for the time when I can go, meet my parents, or my friends to get my quota of the comforting hugs.

Half of my friends, whom I communicate with online, send me virtual hugs. They are comforting, too, but I am waiting for the day I meet them in the real world and give them real hugs. Those will be beautiful moments!

A hug is the therapy we all need to indulge in much more frequently than we do.

We like our space, and unconsciously build invisible walls around ourselves– a boundary others aren’t allowed to cross. It does leave us bereft of the kind of comfort we, ironically,  seek everyday!

A hug expresses a million emotions. It conveys empathy, love, reassurance, appreciation, care and extends a kind of calm and happiness that no other therapy can.

Scientists have studied the effects of hugs and I am sure you must have read/heard all about the magic of hugs. So, I won’t go into it in detail, lest my post come across as a scientific piece on touch therapy!

All I would like to urge you to do, is go hug! Just do it, or get into a huddle, if you have a large group of friends, and feel your pain, your sadness physically leave your body!

I am aware of some people being allergic to physical contact. Ahem…this is actually a sarcastic remark for my best friend of 30 years who is so allergic to hugs, she has never allowed me to hug her in all these years! Can you believe it?

So, for people like my dear, idiot  friend, do give it a try!

Hug someone and feel for yourself the warmth that will wash over you, leaving you feeling relaxed and happy.

Go on…just do it, and let me know how you felt!

Until later,

Love,

SHILPA…

A hug is the best therapy we can get from our loved ones!





*Linking this post to #writingwednesdays at Write Tribe