Pandora’s Box

I found it!

Yes, really

Tucked away

Within a distant memory

That floating sense

Of being in love

And more wonderful still

Of it being returned

Alas

Now reminded

I think I am

Perpetually hounded

By ghosts of what we were

And the shambles

Of what we are

How do I get

The lid back on

So a mantle of obliviousness

I can once again don.

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Abyss

The void grew,

Darker and stronger;

Sucking in every ounce of her happiness,

Like her own, personal black hole.

The nightmares grew,

Scarier and vivider,

Till she forgot to tell the real from the imagined

And continued to merely exist in this hellhole.

Existing, not living.

Surviving, but barely so.

She desired one last drink From the fountain of Life,

But for her there remained only the last of dregs.

That light at the end of the tunnel?

It was ever elusive, like a shimmery mirage.

No silver lining existed in her dull, cloudless sky.

No sliver of hope shone through from the dense foliage closing in on her.

A hollow shell of her former self,

She still endured.

Why though? One might ask.

She’d manage a barely there smile

And reply,

Sometimes, it takes a while

For a carnage to get cleared.

Sometimes, one needs to take some time

To examine their own wreckage.

Sometimes, you need to stay broken,

Before you start to heal.

So instead of a patchwork of wounds, cuts and bruises,

You can feel whole again.

Sometimes you need to drown in a chasm,

For your lungs to open up.

You gasp, you flail, you think you’re about to die;

But you see, darling, the order of life,

You need to sink, before you can swim.

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More than Breath and Bones

They will remember for a year,

They will talk for a month,

They will mourn for a week,

And they will weep for a day.

You’ll become a name

To be taken with a sigh

Till their minds are shattered

By another tragedy.

They might hold a wake,

They might create a memorial,

They might build a sepulchre,

They might even sing an ode to your sorrow.

Yet, in the end,

It does matter.

The life you’ve lived, the memories you’ve created, the love you’ve given and the love you’ve received.

You’re more than the sum of your parts. You’re someone’s hope, someone’s inspiration, someone’s support, someone’s desire, someone’s family, someone’s entire life.

So when you feel you’re falling,

When the future seems too bleak,

When you feel like giving up,

Take a long hard peek,

At the pages of your life,

At the imprints left by people,

At the threads interconnected,

At the lives interwoven.

Then pull upon the spirit of human resilience,

And show your demons

That they can’t get you down

Because you’re not alone in this battle,

You’ve got an army by your side.

Then rise,

Rise again,

From dust and dirt

Because you’ve undergone a trial by fire

And proven to be more than just

A whisp of breath and a skeleton of bones.

The world is still reeling in the aftermath of Chester Bennington’s suicide. I, for one, am yet to come to terms with the fact that Robin Williams, the quintessential joker, suffered a a similar end after battling depression. There are thousands of other souls who have given up or are in the process of losing their hold on life. Every day is a struggle, each moment, an insurmountable challenge. I wish I could do more to help them. I wish there was an instant cure, a remedy that could take away all their ailments. There isn’t. But what we, each one of us, can do is spread the word on the importance of mental health. Break the taboo surrounding mental illnesses. Uplift these tribulations to the same level of concern that our physical well-being is regarded with. Because, for lack of a better comparison, mental illness is akin to cancer, a tumour that gnaws at us from within. A parasite that lives within us and thrives on us. And in the end, it eats us whole. An early diagnosis and apt treatment, however, is still our best and safest bet. So reach out, recognise mental ailments, get their victims/patients the help they deserve. Do not undermine their pain, alleviate it. Do not make them pariahs, their own minds do that enough. Every step, be it counselling, therapy, or medication, helps. So let’s vow to open our eyes and gently, but surely, in the words of another troubled soul, heal the world. I am urging everyone because more often than not the victims of mental illnesses will be unable to identify their symptoms, but the people around them can very easily notice red flags. So let’s all do our bit and help our fellowmen.

To read more on the importance of mental health awareness and a poetic description of some illnesses and how they affect victims, click here.

I would also like to thank Christine Ray, who has a wonderfully inspiring blog – http://www.braveandrecklessblog.com – for the title and last line of this poem. “Breath and Bone” was a writing prompt challenge hosted on her blog and although I’m too late to submit an entry for it, I do wish to thank her for coming up with words than can be interpreted in a myriad ways and depict the struggles faced by us.

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If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?
Even if reality is full of hurt,

Where dreams turn dull and ambitions turn to dust.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you desperately need an escape

Because in this world there is no place for hope.
If you’re​ happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you’ve lost track of the last time you smiled or had a hearty laugh

When the tears in your eye were only of pure joy.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if the world around you pulls you into abject misery

Where men become beasts and lose all humanity.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you’ve lived through terrors untold

That no person should ever have to see.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you never want to wake up.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Illusion

The downside of Walter Mitty (Mental Health Awareness #4)

We have all come to know and love the harrowed, milequetoast of a man by the name of Walter Mitty. Be it through Ben Stiller’s portrayal of him in the movie or through the written word of James Thurber, we have all taken an unusual amount of delight in his escapades from the real world, especially from the browbeating of his overbearing wife.
For the uninitiated, Walter Mitty was an avid daydreamer to the extent that he hallucinationed about his daydreams. From a war-time pilot, to a world renowned surgeon, to a roguishly carefree murderer, Walter Mitty became all, albeit in his own mind. He  took no time in creating an Imaginary, idealized, heroic persona of his meek self at the slightest of emotional triggers.

We have all laughed at his antics. We have also sympathised with the poor chap when he invariably got pulled out of his reveries just seconds before his moment of glory. Yet, behind this obsessive facet of the character lurks a deeper, important issue.

It is imperative to not overlook the fact that his daydreams were vivid with great detailing, idealized, to the extent that in them he became the exact opposite of himself, and, lastly, lengthy. Furthermore, on reading between the lines, it becomes quite easy to see that he was a depressed, lonely soul, isolated from most wordly and social interactions.

This isolation and substitution of social interactions with daydreams portraying a glorified sense of self is what I want to bring to your attention today. Coined as Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD), this mental illness has highly debilitating effects on sufferers. Spending hours at a stretch inside a dream, while real life continues, people ailing from MD lose their grasp on reality. While inside a dream, they are oblivious to the passage of time in the real world. They might also not be able to identify their emotional triggers and not be prepared to face them, thereby spiralling into dreams at the most unexpected of times. There have been instances of patients who’ve kept on walking till their feet bled because they’d started daydreaming and did not realise how long it had been. Thus, in effect, it is quite easy to lose oneself if you’re suffering from MD.

This is precisely why it is necessary to spread awareness about this Mental Health issue so that affected persons or their well-wishers can get the required help. I believe every person is beautiful in his or her own right and no one should have to feel so down in the dumps that they have to end up imagining a better version of themselves, a better life for themselves, better friends, better job, better everything rather than actually working towards it. Let us make sure no one gets subjected to such abject misery.

(This is post is a part of my regular feature on Mental Health Awareness. I have previously written on the importance of disseminating awareness on mental health issues here, on depression here, on anxiety here and on self doubt here. If you like and support my efforts in this venture, please share and spread the word. I shall be eternally grateful for this act of kindness on your part. Thank you 🙂 )

Look! Do you see? (Mental Health Awareness #3)

“Look! Do you see?”
He asked as he turned her to face the mirror and removed his hand from over her eyes.

Perplexed, she gazed up and down. It was just her, as she usually was.

“Do you see how beautiful you are?”

He asked her while holding her from behind.
That’s when she realised what he was trying to do.

Every time he called her beautiful, she’d smile a condescending smile. Of course, she knew better. He was blinded with love, but she, she could see. All her imperfections, all of her flaws.

Every time he admired her confidence, she could only manage a smirk. Pfft, it’s all a facade. She’s always a nervous wreck inside.

Every time he complimented her intelligence, she’d just absently nod along. Second guessing her every decision, thought and action was second nature to her by now.

Every time he’d be left flummoxed. Wondering how an amazing person could be so crippled with self doubt.
He’d call her resplendent, radiant, ethereal and hoped that she’d believe. She’d only hug him back and hoped he’d stop speaking.

Every word of praise just made her feel like an imposter. She knew of all her failings. She was never worthy enough, she could never deserve enough, she was not bold enough, she was not smart enough, what she did wasn’t enough, she was just never enough. She was never enough.
“Look!” She cried, as she turned away from the mirror. “Don’t you see?”
(This post is a part of my regular feature on Mental Health Awareness. Self doubt, coupled with anxiety, eats away at the very core of a person. They may look confident and poised and, yet, be riddled with the worst of fears, with the least of confidence and the most of undeservedness. I am trying to do my best in spreading the word about mental health issues to break the taboo surrounding them. The aim is to help people recognise warning bells and seek proper help for themselves or their loved ones. If my efforts strike a chord with you, please spread awareness around you as well.

I’m also providing links to my previous posts hereinbelow:

  1. The importance of spreading Mental Health Awareness 
  2. My personal experience with depression – In all things beautiful
  3. My perspective on anxiety – Where do you go to, my lovely?

Thank you)

 

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Mental Health Awareness Post (Regular Feature #1)

Hello, everyone!
We can change the world, one word at a time. On this note, today, I’m going to do my bit by spreading awareness about mental health issues. I may not be qualified enough to decipher the intricacies of functionings of the human mind. However, I’m acutely aware that mental illnesses are still considered taboo in our society.

No one recognises, addresses, discusses or resdresses these problems. Yet, you’d be  surprised to know that mental illness is not a dirty secret to be always kept under wraps.

I have previously written about my experience and learning from my struggles with depression. There are many more such ailments like anxiety, insomnia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit disorder, disassociative identity disorder, even kleptomania, to name a few.

Surprisingly enough, these conditions can be plaguing even the most, to be politically correct, “normal” of people around us. Outwardly, they might appear to have a handle on everything while inwardly they may be falling apart.

The irony of the situation is that these, unlike severe forms of cancer, AIDS, etc, are either curable or controllable for the most part. It is only the lack of awareness about them or the fear of facing social stigma that prevents us from seeking help.

So, I urge you to not take your mental health lightly. You are not crazy. It does not matter what the world says as long as you have a healthy mind and body, am I right? Your problem might be small, manageable by way of counselling; big, requiring therapy; or severe, requiring intensive therapy and medications. Yet, no problem, big or small, should be left unattended. Get it checked, get it treated. It is way more important than fretting over a pimple on your face, for sure!

I also urge each and every one of you to look around your for signs of mental problems in the people around you. Read up on mental health. Learn to read and recognise the signs. See if a person is only an introvert or is cutting himself off from society. Then, wherever possible, reach out and provide assistance. Let the person feel like they matter. Give them the encouragement to get the help they so badly need.

Mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body…let this be your motto.

Also, if this post strikes a chord with you, then please keep an eye out for this space. I shall endeavour my very best to provide as much information as I can on this issue on a regular basis. Next up will be my take on Maladaptive Daydreaming and its implications. Meanwhile, this post will shed some light on this malady.

To read my previous post on a personal struggle with depression, please read In all things beautiful.

Thank you for your time!

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In all things beautiful

07-depressionI have been battling depression since, at the cost of sounding over-dramatic, as long as I can remember. Considering how in my mere 24 years of existence, depression has plagued the better part of the past ten, I can be reasonably excused for stretching the truth a tad. This post begins as a venting of repressed feelings on a sleepless night, however, I hope to be able to provide a sliver of hope to my equally suffering brethren by the end of this.

It saddens me to see how everyone today, regardless of living in the first world or the third, claims to be riddled with depression merely because something upset them momentarily. On a similar note, mood swings are hastily covered up under the pretext of bipolar syndrome these days. Not to belittle these pangs of pain felt by so many, presumably well meaning, people, I hope to reach out to those who are actually, genuinely depressed. Because, you see, depression isn’t just a feeling, it is a state of being. A hopeless state at that. If you see the word hope recurring at a more than alarming frequency in this post, fret not, as it is indeed hope that this narrative stems from.

There is hope, indeed, in all things beautiful. There is hope in the voice of a father asking how you’re doing while it takes all you have to not breakdown and cry on hearing this query over the phone. There is hope in a lover’s inquiry of how your day went while he himself is undertaking a long, arduous drive back home after a tiring day at work. There is, yet, hope in your closest friend casually asking if you slept alright over an innocent cup of coffee.

If you find waking up each day a herculean task after having snatched a few moments of dear sleep when your body wore out of exhaustion in the wee hours of morning, I implore you to hope. Yes, I agree we’ve been brought up fearing hope to be a dangerous thing but what is life without a few risks, eh? Even if every day finds you sinking deeper into the quagmire of your Kafkaesque despair, even if hoping seems an exercise in futility almost akin to chasing the will-o-the-wisp and life does not seem worth the pain you undergo, you should persist. Because life persists in all things beautiful.