Dreams to Emotions

Do you know how it feels, when you are tied on a rope, clenched tightly on your neck, pulled from both the sides and the only way you can escape is by letting one side win? Wanting both, and struggling in the middle – you’re gonna choke and suffer. The struggle is hard. You eventually end up dead, but death is not an easy or instant one. Torture blows on you. Your blood stream fastens and it just wants to rush out but it can’t. Tired of choking, you decide to go to either one of the side, which again, gets you to a dead end: to live without your soul. Death at every step, cornered, fate, fate, destiny, luck, god and hope laugh at you. You fall down. You cry. Wanting the rope to silently fall down, but it doesn’t. Both sides have hold it tight. You are stuck. You chose either of the three options put forth to you. You lose yourself. Once and forever.

Do you know how that feels? To beheld up tightly, choking, wanting for air,wanting to breathe, wanting to live.

I lost. I gave up. Stuck in the middle of the rope of life I never wanted to be in, Crushed in between emotions and dreams without which survival is impossible. To chose between who I want to be and who made me, I lost my tug of war with destiny, I lost myself.
It is okay to have dreams, it is okay if you couldn’t conquer. It is not fine, enforcing someone else to live it for you. Let your little bird fly high with its dream. It’ll learn to fly on its own. It will fall, but it will get up. If it can’t, it knows what to do.
I respect those who give up dreams for their family. I also respect those who give up family for their dreams. For those who are stuck, wanting both, we know we lost a bit of our souls, wondering what will be, our purpose of life now.

Don’t let your child lose its life or soul.

Sincerely,
A dead soul with chopped wings getting tamed to be someone’s slave.

Image credits: https://in.pinterest.com/explore/bird-sketch/

Depression

I woke up today,
with an heart almost broken,
Bleeding tears through every crack left open,
My soul feels ice cold, and there’s voices in my head,
Silently screaming all at once,I don’t know if I’m alive or if I’m dead,

Everyday feels worse, I can’t keep my eyes open,
Everytime I shut them down, nightmares awaken,
I feel pain and I feel numb, paralyzed but shaken,
Hateful eyes spitting venom, my safe places all forsaken,

Will anybody miss me? Will anybody care?
Will they even notice when I’m no longer there?
I feel invisible, I’m choking on myself,
My mind feels claustrophobic like it’s crushing on itself,

It’s hard to go to bed, and It’s hard to wake up,
Like a dog without his bone, I feel lost and all alone,
I want somebody to know, I want somebody to care,
But I’m too afraid being judged, when I leave my feelings bare,

All my tears feel like acid, My voice is always broken,
I just want to see, a Human Being being human.

Just another cut, Just another scratch,
“What’s that little mark?” “No, that was just my cat”
Just another excuse, Just another lie,
“You wear bracelets now?” “Just fashion, why?”
Just another tear, Just another scream,
“Vishal, were you crying?” “No, Just had a bad dream”
It’s not just a cut, or a tear or a lie,
It’s always just one more, till the day that I die.

– Vishal Muralidharan

For a Friend

What goes through people when they decide to take their own lives ? I would never know….. I have never been there. I would never want to either. But I know something else. Grief. Grief of losing someone you cared about. Grief of losing someone you wish you knew better. Grief of losing someone you wish you had spoken with one last time before there was no more time left. Grief of losing the joyful soul of a friend untimely to the perilous hands of death. Death by suicide.

Gourab was a jolly young man. I remember my initial impression of him as the guy on whom was attached the stigma of having an year back in school. However, I would want him to be remembered for anything but that now. He not only overturned his educational problems by working hard during the time I knew him, but also always did it with a smile. A smile which made me happy. Made probably everyone he knew happy. Little did we know the happiness was hiding something far more painful than anything we could even fathom. Gourab wasn’t the first friend I had lost in my school life. I had lost another friend named Soumyadeep to leukaemia. However, this was different. And far more painful. I do not know if any philosopher has made any analogy to link age with emotional distress and pain; however, I know it for a fact that an analogy is not too far off. Or it was just the fact that Gourab’s suicide was out of the blue. Shock has that lingering memory which claws at you, asking you how things could be different. Was I close to him ? I do not know about others, but from where I am from, you do not study in a class for two of the toughest of your adolescent years and not be close. From analysing our favorite club Manchester United together to the time spent playing football after school, from playing hand cricket all through boring Chemistry hours to meeting up and discussing movies at uninteresting tuitions, he had been a quintessential friend during those years. Moving to SRM did bring a heavy toll on my social life with my friends back in Kolkata, for in trying to settle in within a culture shock and catching upto engineering I had been guilty of ignoring the people I loved the most. And that included Gourab. Two years of studying engineering passed by in a breeze, I settled down in my new life and with new friends, till a friend called me up on that fateful day to tell me Gourab had committed suicide. I would be lying if I say I ever expected something remotely similar to happen. I didn’t really know what to do. I was not shocked, not sad…..I felt nothing. I attended class as usual. Went about my day….till it was lunch break and a friend expressed gratitude for me sharing my food with him. That is when it hit me. The abyss of having lost a friend. The feelings reverberated in me till I could hold it no more. I cried. Long and hard. I didn’t know why, or what even really brought this, I just did. Gourab’s death brought me sadness. Sadness which passed but for moments of passing grief on specific days of the year. His death brought me misery which accompanies the shocking misery associated with losing loved ones. Even that passed. What didn’t pass was regret. Suicide is not accidental or biological, it is the result of constant crippling psychological trauma. And I could have been a better friend, maybe even tried to find out if everything was okay. All those busy school fests, I could have taken an evening out to call a dear friend and ask him if he was doing fine. Catch up on our shared anger at Moyes’s mishandling of ManUtd. Tell him how engineering is sapping the life out of both of us. Tell him, “Chill, It’s a burden we both are sharing, and it’s a burden we can split between us”. Explain to him by telling that ” Don’t go friend, this world is tough, and one less friend is one less shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough.” Maybe even offer my shoulder for him to vent his grief out on. Like a brother. But why would I ? Gourab was always happy, and psychological stress is hardly a problem. Till this world’s refusal to see a problem for what it is was too late, my blindness to a friend’s misery was perpetrated to an extent where it didn’t see through a facade. And when the facade fell, so did a dear friend.

Gourab is no mere friend, brother, son lost to suicide. He is one of many martyrs, who have cleared the clout in our minds surrounding mental stress and psychological illness. I will never commit suicide, and I ensure I checkup on everyone I love, telling them that they are loved, ensuring that they know they have some place to go to in order to vent, not lose it all in inevitable death. Suicide is as real a threat as HIV or Zika, but my friend taught me it can be fought……together. I loved him like a brother, and wish his soul peace. More importantly, I wish him gratitude. He left me a life where I knew that nothing could be more important that people close to you, and they could have demons like you, but far more terrifying. I will be there for them. I am sorry I couldn’t be there once. That is my demon, and I am fighting it. This is not an eulogy, it is a letter acknowledging something I have never done. Dear friend, thank you for being there, thank you in life and in death, and thank you for leaving me with a wonderful touch of perspective. And know, I miss knowing that every night I go to sleep, you are safe in some part of the globe. Goodbye dear friend. I promise I will not let what you taught me in life and in death go to waste. I promise.

– Soumyajyoti Bhattacharya

Image Credits : Google Images

Take Aim

For the past few months, I’ve been predominantly in the concave downwards parabola of my life, wondering where exactly did I go wrong.

Luck, fortune, opportunity, everything seemed to slip away from me. I kept telling myself that things will be better, they did become so, but the dragon of despair soon destroyed any vestiges of my floaty happiness.

Reduced to a monotonous life of assignments and tests with rather unfair outcomes, my soul became troubled. The pressure mounted so much, all types mind you, parental, peer and college. And yet, I refused to become depressed. After the Great Depression of 2008 (more on that in a separate post), I refused to trouble my body with stress, forced myself to sleep well. In spite of that, this semester has made me push myself to the limits.

Letting my mind fight it all alone, because my pride wouldn’t let me confide further to anyone, I became a bit moody, bit more self-pitying, bit more sarcastic and a teensy bit defensive. I became addicted to Facebook and messaging and TV but wasn’t enjoying it at all. That was so because I would only relax when I couldn’t do work anymore and my mind would still be on it. Or worse, it wouldn’t be and I would go on a guilt trip.

Today, at the fag end of the semester, I received news that my previous semester grades have been reviewed and moved up.

The clouds just seemed to disappear all of a sudden, it seemed like a good omen. In retrospect, I looked extremely silly in my head. Yes, the pressures were immense but that was simply the struggle of the caterpillar. Now almost freed from class labs, I finally have time for myself, to delve into my Pensieve.

And that is exactly what I have done. Somehow, writing gives me a clarity like nothing else.

I suddenly saw the light at the end of my tunnel and I’ve decided to be the butterfly chasing the sunbeam and it has taken aim.

-Sowmya. S

Note: This post was initially published on the personal blog of the author (http://thegreatindianstoryteller.blogspot.in) and has been reproduced with permission

-Photo Credits: blogtraitim.info

STATE OF MIND: THE NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF

There has come a time in most of our lives when we have looked back and wondered “Did I really say those words?” or “Did I really behave in that manner?” Filled with remorse and regret of our actions, we vow never to repeat it again.

We follow this consciously for a few days but end up inadvertently reverting back to the usual by doing the said unusual things again. This results in a rinse-repeat cycle that has only become all too familiar to me.

            Over the years, as I began to search for an end to this, it has become obvious to me that this is a rather widely suffered problem. People who you seem to ‘know’ are not really who you thought they were as they were probably in a phase where they acted and behaved different from their normal selves. And so, it leads to the question, how can this rather vague thing be defined first and then how can this be overcome? I was fortunate enough to stumble across the following sloka in Bhagavad Gita, which went “Chanchalam hi manah krishna pramathi balavad dradham I Tasyaham nigraham manye vayor iva suduskaram II . This may be translated as “The restless nature of the mind means that it being collected in equanimity is not possible. The wavy ocean of the mind cannot be made free of waves”. In this sloka, Arjun concisely defines the problem that we have all faced – the restless, wavy and fickle nature of the human mind which refuses to stop alternating all the time between the good, the bad and the ugly.

            So now that we have defined the problem itself – the unpredictability of our actions and reactions to events, if we could exhibit some sort of control over this state of mind, we could truly better our lives. The world’s second best tennis player Andy Murray is often considered slightly more naturally talented than the world’s best – Novak Djokovic. It is however, the mental strength of the Serb to execute his plans and react well when his mood sours, that sets him apart. Murray often goes into fits of rage where he ‘loses it’ and does basic things, like missing an open court winner, wrong. Remember that this is one of the greatest champions of our times and it takes immense talent and dedication to get to where he is in life. Even he is not immune to his mind wavering around. The problem may seem simple initially but even the world’s top sports psychologists offer contrasting views with respect to the solution. One school of thought is that Murray should freeze the big moments. Play with precision and calmness and take a deep breath and give it 110% in those moments. The other school of thought varies highly and state that he should treat the big moments just like any other moment. Trying to freeze it will only increase anxiety and his immensely well-tuned muscle memory of hitting the tennis ball would be disrupted. Thus, there is no one fixed way to control the wavering mind. It is a highly personal choice. It happens to every one of us be it Andy Murray or the addict down the street trying not to kill himself from regret.

            From a personal stand point, while I have figured out no fixed method to end the madness, I have figured out one thing – identifying when I’m not ‘normal’. Just how does one do this? For starters, think of some of the things that you love doing most of the time – playing your guitar, talking to a particular person, watching your favourite TV series – could be anything really. If, even that thing, feels rather tedious to think about, there is one of your indicators that you aren’t in a right state of mind. Another indicator is, as cited in the Murray example, when your body can’t do things which have been trained by years and years of muscle memory, properly. That is, when your fingers don’t flow particularly well on the fret board, when you are awkwardly silent when talking o that person or when the series feels a bit too long. The first step in settling an unrest is, as obvious as it may seem, identifying that the unrest exists.

The biggest action you need to take, is ironically, inaction.

            One of the most important things to do when you are not in a good state of mind is to never take definitive and drastic actions. Don’t break up a relationship, don’t sell your guitar, don’t delete the TV Series. To quote the popular band The Fray –

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Having a good support system may help as well. Don’t be too bothered about letting all the steam out. If you don’t feel like talking about it to anyone, just drift away, ‘zone out’ and wait for it to pass. This not about optimism or pessimism. This is almost a fight for (mental) survival of your persona. So, naturally just endure it and wait for it to pass.

Unrest can be settled in two ways – the easy way is to lash out .but the tougher and in my opinion, the correct way, is to not react and accept whatever comes and endure it.

Normal order of things is never too far no matter how bleak things may seem.

Clique management for Dummies

Remember that scene from Kung Fu Panda where Po struggles to make friends with the Furious Five and receive reactions ranging from awkwardness to hostility? Like:

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Does this seem to be relatable to you? Seem to strike a chord somewhere? Remember when you are about to express yourself on some topic amongst your friends only to receive dismissive comments, change of topic or weird silence ( especially in whatsapp groups) almost every time?(Disclaimer: I mean the seemingly mundane topics). Or you feel emotionally drained out when hanging out with them, conforming to some unspoken rules which you secretly hate but don’t disclose for fear of being judged? Or find yourself pandering to the wishes of the queen bee(in simple words, the most dominating person in the group)?  Welcome to the clique phenomenon.

Due to the need to be approved, liked or to avoid being lonely, people unwittingly join such groups.

While this word seems to be lifted off from an American high school sitcom, the phenomenon exists everywhere, across all age groups. People in the age group of 12-20( in some cases, younger) are adversely affected by this, which saps their confidence and self-esteem resulting in anxiety. Due to the need to be approved, liked or to avoid being lonely, people unwittingly join such groups. Though it may be fun at first, if the person happens to have any of the qualities that intimidate the queen bee’s position, then that person becomes the target. While guy’s cliques aren’t that overt with targets, girls or mixed cliques overtly ignore them during planning, subtly criticize whatever the target does and ensure that the target isn’t really  the person they once were. And unlike Po’s case where he eventually becomes a part of the Furious Five( hey, they weren’t bad people..) you can’t expect wonders to happen.

Read a brutally honest post here on how it feels to be excluded and treated like a third wheel:   Story of my Life

Cliques, are especially detrimental during school and college life. When you need to be enjoying and building your career , you seem to be perennially stuck in abyss instead, not able to do the things you love. Isn’t that terrible? With increasing peer pressure, it isn’t really surprising that many adolescents and college goers suffer from crippling anxiety which can spiral into something worse, like losing your individuality.

Though it isn’t easy (or desirable) to leave a clique abruptly, especially if you have some good friends who are stuck like you, here are some steps to help you deal with cliques:

  • Engage yourself in some activity that you love. Join clubs and get yourself engrossed in the activities. Joining multiple clubs does involve a lot of time management. If you’re not that okay with balancing a lot of activities, especially when you have a lot of academic workload, it’s absolutely okay to restrict yourself to a couple of clubs. When you get to do something that you love, you’ll be so engrossed in it that you wouldn’t be bothered about the outing that the clique has specifically excluded you from. Also, chances are high that you’d find your best buddies in the club. When you do an activity you love with other people who also love it, isn’t that the best thing you can afford to have?
  • Also, if you find yourself being mocked by the members for some specific characteristic of yours, muster all the will-power you have, give them a grin and shrug your shoulders. Don’t ever change yourself. For example, when the queen bee taunts you for submitting your assignment early, chances are high that the person would’ve submitted the assignment much before you would’ve (no jokes). Repeat the grin and shrug every time, the clique will get tired of you( Disclaimer: This point is not applicable to well-meaning advice)
  • Learn to say ‘NO’. That’s the toughest thing to do but you should learn to refuse and disagree on some issues assertively(aggression never works). You’ll receive a lot of emotional blackmail into doing something you’ve never liked but listen to your conscience and trust you gut. They’ll never fail you.
  • If you’re still feeling the brunt , talk it out with a person you trust. It could be a parent or an older sibling or an older cousin. Only when you open up, will you realize that there are people who actually care for you.

Friendships enable you to grow, not cliques.

While these steps cannot show results in a short period of time ,with patience and persistence, you’ll surely grow out of it. So, instead of focusing on what the clique was thinking/will think of you, remember Master Ogway’s words:

 

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-Pooja C

Image credits: Google

Story of my Life

I’m tired of standing on the outside
Watching everyone smile around me
Their casual conversations and laughter
Draw me in as I stare longingly
Leaning on that impenetrable transparent barrier
Wishing I could fall in place too.

I’m sick of being a fucking third wheel
Unnecessary, uncalled for, useless
I know I shouldn’t impose but
Sometimes I can’t help myself for
Even the most solitary of us need some human interaction
And so I try to be a part of it
But I always end awkward in a corner
Listening but unheard; present but unnoticed.

I hate it when I’m pushed away
Especially by the ones I consider my friends;
I’ve been betrayed and frozen out in the past as well
And each time I overcome and trust again
I am set aside once more
Leaving me harder and wound up tighter than before.

I promise myself that I will not bow or bend
That I will be as strong as stone
But that which does not bend
Will be brittle, and who knows
Whether the next hammer blow
Will break me, leaving me in shards.

I am only human after all
But maybe I act too well.
When I say I’m fine despite being a mess
No one understands; or simply, no one cares.

I should learn how to cauterize these open slashes.
I need to know how to be satisfied alone
I have to prevent trust or love from growing in me
Because all that gives me is a vulnerability
One which I cannot afford
For more of this will leave me a shattered wreck.

I close my eyes, shut my ears.
Curled up under a blanket in the dark
My trembling unknown, my tears unseen
As I put myself together as best as I can.

Then I pick up my carefully taped together heart
And hand it to you so you can destroy me again
Because I’m just a lonely idiot who keeps hoping
That one day you won’t.

-Kaavya Karthikeyan

Photo Credits: Quotesgram