Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

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..

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter.

 

Reach out, before they take the drastic step

 

If I were to leave this world tomorrow…

If I were to leave this world tomorrow…

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

My friend, Vinodini Iyer shared a post today about what she would do if she were to discover that today was the last day of her life. It got me thinking along the same lines. Of course, I know that some day will be my last day on this planet, and knowing how uncertain Life can be, it might just be tomorrow! Well, you never know, do you?

So, even though I have thought about what I would do if I were to discover that Life would be ending on a particular day, I haven’t put it down in as many words, yet. The thoughts have been saved and the plan’s all ready, up there, in my mind, but reading Vinodini’s post inspired me to put those thoughts down on my blog, not for any other reason than to remind myself every day that Life is nearing its end , so, lady, you need to change a few things about yourself and learn to chill…a bit!

So, here goes, my to-do list for the day I bid adieu:

  1. The very first thing I would do is call up my parents. God, just thinking about how they would react on reading this post gives me a fair idea of how they would react if…So, let me reword it: I would call up my family–every person of the entire family– and have a heart to heart chat with them all. Joke with my gang of cousins and share a few dirty jokes one last time so that I leave with a big smile on my face, and theirs, too.
  2. Next, I would call the few friends who matter to me, a lot. It will be one of those emotionally draining experiences, but it’s what I would want to do. We hardly get the time to talk to each other everyday as much as we would like to. And, they are well aware of it, but I still need to tell them how much I love them, how much they mean to me.
  3. There are a few things that I cherish–my jewellery, sarees, books,art supplies–and I have already decided what goes to whom. So, during those heart to heart chats I have with them, I will let them know about their little inheritance!ūüėú (My girls are going to kick me if they read this post, really!).
  4. My winged babies–Cookie, Bholu, Chikki–will be moved to their aunt’s home or my mom’s home. These are the two places where they will receive the most love and the best care.
  5. I wonder who will take care of hubby! (Oh, God! I really don’t want to go tomorrow! How will that guy survive alone?).
  6. I will remind hubby and sis-in-law about donating my organs so someone can live a better life. I have told them about it on multiple occasions, but this time they will have to take me seriously!
  7. My blog baby, Metanoia, will have one last post, to thank all those who visit here regularly and leave behind a piece of their heart.
  8. And, yes, for the last time, I would like to spend some happy moments with my stray furry friends–I so look forward to meeting them every day! They remind me of my Chikoo–the guy I will be meeting soon!

These are just some of the things I would want to do before I cross over. Although, I do wonder if the time I have left would be enough to fulfil these last wishes!

That’s the reason behind penning this post, you see? To be grateful for all that I have been blessed with and to remind myself, again, that Life is so very uncertain. And, the few, uncertain moments we have left, are best spent doing something worthwhile. That nothing here lasts forever and that love is all that really matters.

Have you ever thought what you would want to do if it was your last day today?

Love,

SHILPA…

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter.

Dealing with mental illness — A caregiver’s journey.

Dealing with mental illness — A caregiver’s journey.

It isn’t a pleasant discovery–learning that your loved one suffers from an illness, as is finding out that your loved one is wrecked by a mental illness. It is a harsh reality of Life that takes ages to come to terms with.

This bitter truth makes for a traumatic experience, really. A jolt out of the blue that sends your life spiralling out of control. It takes a long time for the fact to sink in that now you will have to live with this demon amidst you. A demon who could rear its ugly, ferocious head, unannounced, and trample over all that he finds in his way, leaving your life in a state of turmoil.

Often, the initial response is denial. It gets difficult coming to terms with this sudden change in the personality of your loved one. Difficult to fathom the reasons behind this transformation and the inability to accept that someone as young/vibrant/cheerful/successful could fall victim to such an illness.

It’s only after making the discovery that it’s an illness of the mind that makes the person someone he is not, that Life takes a whole new meaning. Acceptance is key, but it is also something that’s the toughest to practice. Accepting that, now, the person with you is a victim of something so frightening and that Life will no longer be how it used to be up until now, gets difficult to digest.

Having experienced two illnesses–schizophrenia and bi polar disorder–and learning to live with these, changed me completely. Changed my Life in ways more than I could have imagined. And, after almost 21 years of living with these illnesses, there are a few things I have learned. A few things that could be helpful to someone out there.

That does not mean I know it all! No. I am still learning. I still get scared and panicky thinking about those moments from so many years when mom-in-law was with us, suffering from the horrid schizophrenia. I still worry about Life in the future with a partner who suffers from Bi polar disorder.

But, to you, who find themselves sailing in the same boat as me, know, that you are not alone. There are a million people around like us, dear reader, ¬†battling a Life that can be at once frightening, puzzling, frustrating, demanding and depressing. You aren’t alone, my dear. We are all in it together. And, at any time you wish to reach out for support, you can. I am here. And, so are all of those like us, who are ever ready to help each other out in our time of need.

So, here are the things I experienced in these past years. Things that might resonate with you if you find yourself sharing a similar story.

Fear is the first emotion that comes rushing at you, hitting you right where your heart beats. The startling knowledge that it’s a mental illness, here to stay, is the first blow. It often happens that when you try imagining the future, all you see is a dark tunnel, with no end in sight. No light at the end. No sign of hope.

This fear can eat you up from within, day by day. It gnaws at your mind, your soul and has the capability to leave you completely broken…if you don’t try to do something about it first. I lived in fear for the 17 years MIL was with us. Day in day out the fear taunted me, having fun at my expense. And, to be truthful, nothing helped. Nothing except living every day as it came. For nothing was really in my control, except making sure she took her meds on time and slept well.

But then, with mental illness, no two days are alike. All I could do was keep her happy, which I did, to the best of my ability. And, so will you, for your loved ones.

Frustration at the weird ways of Life sets in, or, should I say, settles comfortably in your mind as you go about caring for your loved ones. Frustration at the meds not working their magic all the time; frustration at why Life had to throw such a curveball at you without a fair warning; frustration at every damn thing going wrong.

But, truth be told, it’s pointless being frustrated. Life’s like that. You just go with the flow. Oh, and quitting is a big NO.

I remember a friend asking me after I first discovered about hubby’s illness, if I didn’t consider divorce. I was stunned as she belonged to the medical profession. Moreover, don’t we all vow to be by our partner’s side in sickness and in health? Furthermore, what if I was the one to suffer from an illness and what if my partner walked out on me? My father-in-law was a huge example for me–he took care of my mom-in-law till his last breath. How could I even imagine leaving my partner?

Then, there’s loneliness–that darn feeling can be killing, I tell you. It feels stifling, at times, facing the wretched loneliness. But, you make friends with it. That’s all. And, you gather your people close to you for support. It’s really not as easy, though. I am still learning to deal with it. And, thankfully, times change. There are days of respite when you can spend some beautiful moments with each other.

Anger at the patients, but more so at ourselves for losing patience is another common emotion. Well, we are all humans at the end of the day, so, of course, we will get impatient; we will lose our cool! Sometimes I wish I could run away to some place and live a Life of solitude. I get angry at hubby for not taking care of himself; at my Life for not fulfilling so many of my dreams. I get angry for the littlest of things on some days.

But, at the end of the day, I also come to my senses and realise what a waste of energy such thinking proves to be. So, in your moments of extreme anger, cry, scream, curse all you want, let it all out. Keeping your emotions bottled up is only going to trouble you. And, you really don’t need any more troubles than you already have, do you? Venting out your frustration, your anger and your sorrow is of utmost importance to you as a caregiver. DO IT.

Gratitude is what you learn to express at the end of the day, every day. Gratitude for all that you have; for a doctor you can trust, for the ability to get the best medical help, for the people who surround you, support you and care for you in your time of need. Gratitude for every little thing that could, in its absence, make Life a lot more difficult.

Mental illness extracts a hell of a lot from its victims–the patients and their caregivers. It’s an exhausting, dreadfully lonely battle. And, all you can do, is reach out and seek support before you cave in!

P.S.

In my post, ‘When Life gives you a jolt’, I wrote about bi polar disorder and ended the post with a request to respect people’s feelings, for not all are comfortable speaking about their illness. I end this post with a similar request.

Thank you!

This is a two part post. In the next part I write about the support you need as a caregiver and where you can find it.

Love,

SHILPA…

 

(You can read the second part of this post here)

Like it, Pin it!

 

The life of a caregiver

 

Loo and behold!

Loo and behold!

Travel makes for memorable moments. Moments we reminisce about on days when we ¬†wish we could just leave for some place, but can’t. ¬† Having been more on road trips, it has been a delight watching Life from closeup, meeting people with an attitude towards Life that can teach us so much, and collecting memories that make for wonderful companions on lonely days.

One incident, though, that always leaves me amused each time I pass by a public washroom is one I experienced on my honeymoon, when we were travelling to a coastal region of Maharashtra – Shrivardhan¬†– from a hill station –¬†Mahabaleshwar.

Our bus had stopped by a village and the driver had given us a 15 minute break to attend nature’s call, or have any refreshments.

We had been travelling for quite a long time and I needed to use the washroom. But, it being a village, hubby warned me about the dearth of clean washrooms. Either I had to use what I could find, or control myself for the next couple hours till we reached our destination.

I wondered aloud how a village could be deemed ¬†under-developed if it had a school built for its children! Moreover, the place really did not resemble a typical village. The smirk on hubby’s face notwithstanding, I disembarked the bus, and ¬†headed towards the school our bus had stopped by, to investigate for myself.

After looking around for a few minutes, I spotted a board that said, “Girls’ toilet“. Heaving a sigh of relief, I moved towards it, but was hit by the stench of urine and almost retched.

Sending up a quick prayer, I reached the doorway of the washroom only to find two little girls squatting on the floor, doing, what else? answering to nature’s call! Stunned and embarrassed, I didn’t know where to look. Turning around and looking anywhere but, I asked them where the toilet was.

The girls giggled and replied, “This is the toilet! Come, join us!” and burst out guffawing!

I fled the spot, ran out of the school building and got back into the bus, much to hubby’s amusement and my embarrassment.

I fail to remember how I controlled my bladder for the next couple hours, but, I do remember that incident each time we decide to travel by road. It taught me a big lesson, though: Drink less water when on a road trip!

And, it also taught me to look at the funnier side of life rather than despairing over the misery life can be at times.

Do you have any such travel tales to share? Memories that make you chuckle and refresh your mood? Do share with me in the comments below!

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

Tales from a road trip.

 

From my bookshelf, June’18 – Inspirational & Slice of Life books.

From my bookshelf, June’18 – Inspirational & Slice of Life books.

I hadn’t been reading for quite some time the way I was last year. Stuff got in the way and my books got sidelined. So, to get things in motion, I thought of starting this¬†monthly feature at Metanoia–From my bookshelf’–wherein I share a short review of the books I read. This way, I will have to be on my toes and keep up with my reading. I hope you enjoy reading about the books as much as I enjoy writing about them, and take away words or thoughts that stay on with you, as much as they do with me.

This month, I read two brilliantly written books:

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

Let’s begin with ‘Big Magic‘.

But, first of all, I would like to thank my dear dear friend, Shailaja Vishwanath, for gifting me this precious gem. It’s now my Bible, for Life; for everything that I decide to do in my Life, be it writing, art, or just¬†living.¬†Thank you, my darling!

A quote on the back cover perfectly describes the author as someone to be considered as ¬†“One’s personal life coach.”¬†For, that’s just how I felt as I pored over every word in the book–as if it had been written just for¬†me.¬†As if Ms. Gilbert knew the story of my Life and wanted to reach out to me and share with me pearls of wisdom full of empathy, warmth and humour that came from her own experience, and from people she looked up to.

This book is for each one of us “creative people”, as in, not just writers, artists, singers, et al, but every person who lives on this planet. According to Ms. Gilbert, each one of us is a creative person, for living life is being creative, isn’t it?

But, often times, it’s the fear of living life to its fullest that holds us back. Our self-doubt, self-disgust, self-judgement and our crushing sense of self-protection keeps us from creative living. Unless and until we don’t¬†believe that we are entitled to at least¬†try,¬†we will not be able to create anything interesting out of our Life. ¬†And, these are her words.

I could as well quote the entire book in this review. Such is the power of, and truth in, her words. I am aware, as are you,  of the fear, the failure, the rejection, our ego, all of which stand in our way, hindering our progress.

Will we succeed? Will our work be appreciated by others? Will we find satisfaction from what we do? A hundred doubts crowd our mind, getting into our way even before we begin on the journey. And, this is where Big Magic helps us in learning to focus on enjoying the journey more than meditating upon the rewards. It’s just this message that Ms. Gilbert has attempted to send across through this book.

I would recommend this book to each one of you. And, to read it well. It not only inspires you to create, it inspires you to live, the way we are supposed to.

I have marked quite a many quote and passage in every chapter in the book, with the intention of returning to it each time I falter. How I wish I could share all of those, here. But, then one post wouldn’t be enough for it! So, I will share just some of those before I end this ‘book-talk’.

Learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person. Handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process.

“If you dare to create something and put it out there, after all, it may accidentally stir up a response. That’s the natural order of Life: the eternal inhale and exhale of action and reaction. But, you are definitely not in charge of the reaction–even when that reaction is flat-out bizarre.”

Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon.”

Keep moving, keep going. Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters. You don’t need to know what anything means.”

I hope these quotes spoke to you, the way they did to me; motivated you to keep going on the path you have chosen for yourself, rekindling in you the fire that threatens to die down each time the ghost of fear rears its ugly head.

Do pick up the book. I know you won’t part ways with it, ever.

 

The Help.

This is a story about the African Americans working in white households during the early 1960s. It’s set in Jackson, Mississippi, but has a Universal appeal. It could very well belong to India, where every other household employs a domestic help, who comes from the lower strata of our society.

Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson and Skeeter (Eugenia Phelan) are the narrators, each with her own unique Life story.

Aibileen Clark is the maid who cares for a little one belonging to the Leefolt family. Minny is another maid, and a friend of Aibileen, who speaks her mind, fearlessly, which results in her losing her jobs. And, Skeeter is the daughter of a white family who owns a cotton farm outside Jackson, and someone who had been very close to her maid, Constantine.

It’s the story of Skeeter befriending the coloured maids in an attempt to investigate the disappearance of her own maid, Constantine. And, it’s during their conversations, that she comes up with an idea. She gets them to share their stories with the world and let the world have a glimpse of the life they live, serving the white households.

The maids care for the children, cook, clean and almost give their entire lives to their white employers, but fail to gain their trust and respect. Going through the pages of this book is like being shown the mirror. Do we trust and respect our domestic help? Do we treat them like family for all they do for us?

Many of us may, but most of us would think twice before trusting them with our house keys, or even allowing them to use our washrooms, isn’t it? Of course, there’s the trust issue when it comes to handing them our house keys, but feeding them, or helping them in their personal crisis is, I believe, something we can do…but rarely do so!

It’s the story of how we all could use a little more kindness when dealing with people who give up their all to serve the privileged ones. A little more understanding of their situation and dealing humanely with those who have been dealt a rough hand in Life, and yet strive to live with dignity and honesty.

Every character comes to life from the very first page. Aibileen, Minny, their employers and the little children in their care. The narration is crisp and the characters so true to life, you feel like a part of the cast, as if the story unfolds right in front of your eyes and you wish you could speak up on behalf of the coloured community!

Do pick up this book, as well. It’s one of those unputdownable books you wish could go on, forever!

Affiliate disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you click on the image below and use it to make a purchase. 

 

Like it, Pin it?

Books to be read