Breaking the Cycle – Better Together

Hello, my lovelies!

Some of you may well remember my posts from way back in 2017 on physical and mental wellness (for a refresher, click here). I was in the best of shapes – fit in body and in mind.

Well, that was then and this is now. The past year I’ve really let myself go. It has been quite a slump, in more ways than one. And like some of my spirit animals (think sloths and, well, Po) I eat when I’m upset. Trust me, stress eating + comfort eating = deadliest duo. The more I was depressed, the more I ate. The more I ate, the more depressed I became at the declining state of affairs. And the vicious cycle continued.

Recently though, I lost my cousin to a heart attack. He was 18 years elder to me, but still young. He had always been in the prime of health, a martial arts and fitness enthusiast and could almost rival a monk in holistic, mindful eating. Yet, he’s gone. Leaving a wife he literally grew up with and a 3 year old toddler behind. When I was done crying, I decided to wake up. I cannot put my parents through the pain, grief and loss being suffered by my Uncle and Aunt right now. I need to look after myself.

Following up on the wake-up call, I’ve been walking-jogging for the past two days. But like they say, it takes a village. So this is me, reaching out to this beautiful community to help my along my journey to wellness and health. My lack of stamina and endurance is appalling, but what I don’t want to be found lacking in is motivation. So I’ll be posting an update everyday. Be my watchers? Pull me up for slacking off? Commend me for pushing the limits? Two minutes of your time a day might move this gal two further miles!

Also, if any of you are having trouble or need support in reaching your goals (most of us must already be off the new year’s resolution high), I am here. Let’s get fit together. Let’s get better together. Let’s grow well (-er…I know that’s not a word) together! It can be done. Believe me, I speak from experience. I’ve done it once before and I’ll be darned if I don’t do it again.

Drop me a line if you’re interested. Remember, a little love is all it takes. As a starter, I’m posting screenshots of my efforts for the past two days. I’d love to hear about yours.

Thank you for reading!

As always,

Love,

Varnika

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We’re All Mad Here

Holding on to the last dregs of my sanity

Hanging on precariously by a rapidly thinning thread

I was ready to give up

To let go

To enter into freefall

To make it or break it

Didn’t matter any which way

But you,

You, with all your care and tenderness

You made me give up the fight

With quite the opposite result

I found acceptance in your tender gaze

I revelled inside my mind

There was nothing wrong with how I saw the world

Even if there was judgment in how the world saw me

Sanity is relative

Normality, an illusion

And like the Cheshire cat said

We’re all mad here.

For more poetry, please click here. Please leave your thoughts and comments down below, I’d be delighted to get a feedback. Thank you for reading!

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Fault Lines

I wonder when I started to see

Myself as the faults that resided in me.

When did I start feeling I

Lived to be of use to you.

My thoughts, desires, habits and views

Were obilerated with every complaining venom you spewed.

Seconds, minutes, hours and days

I spent devising ways and means

To make you happy and to make you smile

While I kept coming apart at the seams.

I saw not what I wanted to see

I thought not what I wanted to think

I did not what I wanted to do.

And yet, it was to no avail

Since you were always ready to bail

One foot outside the door you’d kept

Just in case I faltered and proved to be inept.

I looked in the mirror and took me in

You couldn’t tell me apart from a storefront mannequin.

Yet, by the time you left I was a raggedy doll

Discarded, battered and torn

As the years of abuse had taken its toll.

Today, I decided to not be forlorn

And shed off the facade I had worn.

I was amazed at the wonderous transformation

I was resplendent, divine, devoid of trepidation.

So now begins my journey, dear

To start living without your fear.

Stitching up every bleeding wound

Looking till my old self is found

The me that knew how to live

Before you held me captive.

I’ll fly and soar without bounds

And, finally, even your shadow wouldn’t be around.

For more poetry, please click here. Please leave your thoughts and comments down below, I’d be delighted to get a feedback. Thank you for reading!

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Breaking the Mould of Peer Pressure

A question that sometimes drive me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?

Since as long as I can remember, I’ve been aware of the realisation that most of the time my likes and dislikes are quite different and distinct from the people around me. It would appear as if the whole world is obsessing over a certain fad at the moment while I’m unable to see any charm in that particular thing. More often than not, I absolutely abhor or despise it.

Time and time again, I’ve tried to ascertain the reason behind this discrepancy, because, like everyone else, I wanted to fit in or felt pressured to do so by peers. I failed to understand if I did not want to follow the beaten path merely because so many others were doing the same or was there some other factor involved? Would I have given the object/substance/matter in question a fair chance in vacuum without knowledge of the fact that people were going bonkers over it? It was baffling and somewhat disconcerting.

As of yet, I have no answer. Over the years it had become more and more difficult to define my own choices, to choose my own desires. It was easy to get swayed by popular opinion because of the tendency to be one of the flock. Any deviation from the ordinary is usually looked upon with scepticism and I really did not want to draw attention to myself. Was I being true to myself, however, was an entirely different question. All the lines had gotten blurry.

What I do know, today, is that it’s alright to be different. It’s alright to think differently, to choose differently and to decide differently. Peers are just that. Peers. They are not you. You’re your own person. It does not matter why your wavelengths don’t match those surrounding you. What matters is being unperturbed by their existence and concentrating on your own. So many children buckle under peer pressure. So many college kids get goaded into doing things they don’t like to the extent that it they end up ruining their lives. It is important to learn to say no. To put your foot down and draw the line between what is acceptable to you and what isn’t. No one can take the right away from us. All that’s needed is a simple assertion from our end. Within no time at all the notion of fitting in would look like the smokescreen it actually is. Sooner or later, invariably, everyone ends up finding like minded people. Thus, it is imperative to thrive in your individuality rather than to suppress it, to let yourself grow into what you’re meant to be and not what others would like to see you as.

At the end of the day, and also to answer the questions I posed earlier, remember the words of the good ol’ Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland – “We’re all mad here”.

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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Dreamcatcher

She woke up with flailing limbs and clothes covered in sweat, even as new beads of perspiration took form on her brow. Gasping for air, she looked around wildly, surveying her surroundings for any sign of the monsters that might have followed her back to reality.

Leaping off the bed, she ran to the window and looked out, searching for the moon to bathe her in its calming, embalming light. She sighed once and shook her head, shaking off the worst of her fears.

But the window pane glimmered as if the glass was fluid and she let out a piercing scream. This was unreal, she realised, staring hard at that surreal glitch. She closed her eyes and accepted that she was trapped within a dream.

Continue reading “Dreamcatcher”

Pop! Goes the Weasel (Mental Health Awareness #5)

All round the mulberry bush

The monkey chased the weasel 

The monkey thought ’twas all in fun

Pop! goes the weasel.

If you’re a reader, a fan of books, passionate about words, you know all too well that a nursery rhyme is never just that. Right from Dame Agatha Christie who very creatively incorporated lines from rhymes as book titles to set the stage for her mystery sagas (A few notable examples of Christie’s titles being One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, A Pocket Full of Rye, Three Blind Mice, Hickory Dickory Dock – Please feel free to treat these as book recommendations), to Sidney Sheldon whose use of the nursery rhyme quoted above still sent chills down my spine.

In continuation of my regular series aimed at spreading Mental Health Awareness, today I shall be basing my post on a novel titled “Tell Me Your Dreams” by the aforementioned Sidney Sheldon. If you’ve already read the book, then I do not need to fret over revealing spoilers. If you haven’t yet, then, really? why haven’t you?! And do I really need bother about revealing details to such people? Eh, No!

Jokes apart, I wouldn’t dream of spoiling any book for anyone, yet, the topic that I intend to cover today is more important than any of this. So, here it goes. (Please read on, I assure you, you will still enjoy the book even after this.)

Continue reading “Pop! Goes the Weasel (Mental Health Awareness #5)”

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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