So what?

So what?

Have you been asked this question when you complained to someone about certain stressful events from your life?

Let me share this conversation, as an example:

“My dad used to thrash me when I was a kid.”, a person shares with his friend, who replies, “So, what? My dad disowned me!” 

What’s the thought that comes to mind, instantly? Doesn’t it make you shudder, looking at the other person’s situation in his Life?

It’s something I saw in a film, the other day. An exchange between two people, one of whom has carried the trauma of being raped during her childhood, for years. An exchange that makes this woman realise that despite having had such a terrible thing happening with her, she might still be in a better place than the other person, who has gone through something worse.

She also realises, how futile it has been, carrying this burden with her all her life, ruining the relationship she has with her very loving and caring husband and living with the ghosts of her past.

I know, it’s really not easy letting go of certain memories–events that took place in our lives that shook us to the core, traumatised us and transformed the person we were until then.

We keep holding on to those memories, keeping them alive in our heart for years together, and in the process, hardly finding any peace in our present Life–the one which we have, today.

We hold on to grudges against someone who wronged us, hurt us, tortured us with their behaviour; we hold on to stressful incidents that were, at some point, a part of our lives; we keep those wounds afresh, for ages. And, what do we get in return? Nothing, but heartache, and endless pain that makes us blind to the good that is happening today!

And these wounds, they ruin not only our mental health, but also our physical and emotional health, our relationship with others, and, most importantly, our relationship with ourselves.

The severe aches and pains we experience are very much a result of the stressful memories we hold on to, as they are a result of the physical wear and tear our body goes through as we age.

Why don’t we understand one thing that Life is never, ever, going to be smooth-sailing? That, Life is always, always, going to be a bumpy ride, which might, sometimes, offer us a beautiful view, and just as we begin to enjoy that beauty, will shove us in a pothole, the size of a crater, and shake us out of our reverie, turning our world upside down?

That’s LIFE, isn’t it? Ever-changing, never easy, always tough.

But, the one thing that can give us some solace is the game I shared in the beginning of this post. The game of, “So what?”

it’s a game you can play with yourself, too, you know, when you find yourself cursing your misfortune and grumbling about everything going wrong with your Life.

Just think about the situation you are in, that’s unpleasant and stressful, and ask yourself, “So, what?” .

Then, compare it to the time when things were wonderful, or, to how someone else is in a worse situation than you, and how they are tackling it, better than you are.

You will realise how fruitless it is, complaining about your situation, for the simple reason that….

Some day, Life will change, and it will be better, all over again.

The cycle of good times and bad times will go on and on, until we leave this world.

It is so necessary that we let go of what happened; let bygones be bygones.

And, learn to live in this moment–this moment that is LIFE!

 

 

Try it and let me know how you felt. I know, I am going to play this game, for sure!

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

How holding on to stressful events is harmful for our health and our Life.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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!😜 (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…

time is running out!

The need for Organ Donation.

The need for Organ Donation.

I learned about Organ Donation way back in August 2013. It was while reading the newspaper one morning, that I came across this article on Organ Donation Day that is held on every 13th of August. It’s an initiative by The Times of India and I believe a noble one, considering countless people die each year for want of organs that could save them and help them live fuller, happier lives.

People lose their lives because of organ failure. At times, an illness ravages their bodies so, they have no choice but to let go of an organ to survive. And, at times, a handicap mars their life. Just imagine having to give up life because an organ in your body gave up, or has to struggle to keep functioning. Imagine having to live life in the hope that some day you will be blessed enough to feel “whole”.

We take our healthy, “normal” bodies for granted, don’t we? Our eyes that see the world, or the heart that beats in perfect rhythm all day long…in fact, every part of our body that functions to its optimum gets taken for granted. Imagine having to live without any one of our body parts for a day. Could you go through the day without even one of your organs not supporting you?

Why donate

Organ Donation is a blessing to such people, some of who spend their entire lives waiting for a miracle; for a call that informs them that finally they have a donor. Finally, they have a chance at Life. Sadly, though, there are myths surrounding the issue as well as lack of awareness or even fear or family pressure that holds people back from going ahead and doing their bit for the society.

Our body is like a cloak that we shed when we leave this world. It’s only our soul that continues to exist! So, why not donate our organs, or even our body, so that someone could benefit from it? Someone, who has a lot to live, yet. Someone, who has dreams and aspirations, but gives up trying to fulfil those for want of an organ?

Organs that you can donate:

There are 12 organs that you can donate:

Eyes

Cornea

Heart

Kidneys

Lungs

Liver

Pancreas

Small Intestines

Skin tissues

Bone tissues

Heart valves

Veins

I was so not aware of veins as well as heart valves being on this list!

How do you donate?

Donating organs is really not very difficult. There are NGOs that hold Organ Donation campaigns, and there’s also an Online Organ Registry, where you can donate organs at your own will. This Online Registry ensures proper organ donation as well as a fair use of the donated organs for people as per needs of the recipients.

Once you fill out the online form donating your organs, you receive a donor card that helps your family make the donation after your death. I received my donor card and have informed hubby and SIL about it, just so they remember.

Organ donation

Erm…I don’t mean to sound all high and mighty sharing my organ donation story with you all. I just wish to encourage you, dear reader, to do this noble deed of donating your organs. You help a human being even in death. You help a human being live through you. You continue living even after your death! Doesn’t that feel good to read?

Do think about it.

Love,

SHILPA…

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Why you ought to donate your organs.

 

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)

The emotions a caregiver experiences.