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Archive for April, 2017

Memories

Memories are funny things… they spring up… uninvited. Some fleeting…. Others haunting…

Some turn up in my dreams and dissolve as I gradually wake. Yet others follow my every waking moment…

Happy memories, sad memories… Memories of moments of ecstasy, of disbelief, of humiliation, of contentment, of abandonment, of belonging, of failure, of success… Memories of tender moments, memories of being shut out. Memories of moments of togetherness, of loneliness, of pride, of guilt, of shame, of shared fears, of relief and respite …

Memories of moments filled with laughter and discoveries stolen from a seemingly endless void… Memories of moments of solace and comfort stolen from a different uphill climb…

And all these memories blending in…

…all leading to what makes me… me.

 

The memories aren’t in places visited or people met… not even in illuminating interactions lasting through days and nights…

The memories rest in the tranquil calm of companionable silence, in glances that speak volumes, a touch here and there as life flows on. The memories are in the dreams of a future, and in the truth of what is past.

The memories endure in the music that plays in my heart. That’s where the memories come from… and that is where they remain.

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All of us, at some point in time of our lives have experienced sadness. Sometimes the sorrow is so deep and pervasive that we can’t shake it off. Folks around us may tell us to ‘snap out of it’, and yet we seem unable to do that.

Sometimes, there is a ‘valid’ reason for our sadness. At other times, the trigger seems incredibly trivial. Only too often,people think we are indulging in self-pity. And in professional settings, causes and potential interventions continue to be discussed.

Unfortunately, we are still a long way from destigmatizing  mental illness. While psychiatric intervention may be needed even on a life-long basis in some situations, medication does not address the totality of depression. One because it focuses only on the chemical changes in an individual’s brain because of the medication and two, it fails to address the myriad alternatives that can help maintain positive mental health, even attain it.

Preventing depression would be possible in many situations if we considered what we, as societies, as families, as friends do that pushes people over the edge. We could help a person climb back out of an abyss if we could reach out, unobtrusively with appropriate support. If we could inform ourselves about the realities of what a ‘depressed’ person ‘looks like’… if we can move away from the stereotypes often foisted on us by media that loves drama and sensational news.

Anyway, the reason for this rather long-winded introduction is that 7th April 2017 was World Health Day; and this year’s theme was Depression.

I participated in the various activities organized by CMHCC [Chaitanya Mental Health Care Centre] to create awareness about this issue. And the opinions I have held as a professional, as well as a lay person returned full force. A key component of this awareness programme was the screening of the film KAASAV [Directed by Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukthankar & Produced by Dr. Mohan Agashe]. That it gained recognition with the winning of the ‘Suvarna Kamal’ for the best feature film just the previous day was heartening that it might not get widely distributed seems a shame. http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/OldNewsPage/?Id=10366&Kaasav,/A/Marathi/Film/That/Has/Won/Laurels/But/Where/Are/the/Distributors

But what’s so special about it?

That it is an exquisitely nuanced film is only one of its many charms. Even without deliberately setting out to educate oneself about the theme of depression one could enjoy the film for its story line, its direction, its acting, its music, cinematography, even the beautiful locales [all indigenous!] it  is filmed in.

I’ve always been keen on using media for therapy. Seems a pity to drown in mostly inane, gaudy and stereotyped song and dance routines that Bollywood abounds with when we could have such sensitive empathetic fare!

Watching the film is only the start. It stays with you, as a good film should. But that also means that the emotional arousal, the subtle connect it creates could be gently channelled into conversation with those who need reaching out; or at least open the door to that possibility.

At a point in time when instances of depression seem to be on the rise even among children [including better quicker diagnoses] we need to pause and question what can be done. Is there ‘someone’ around us that we could help by just being there? Am I the ‘one’ that needs to make that little effort to seek help? Are we ‘those’ who are pushing ourselves and our children toward unmitigated and never-ending frustration that turns to helplessness and despair? It is distressing to hear every single day about a suicide, a retreat into a shell, a closing down of all contact…

Could a film like KAASAV be shown far and wide so someone out there will see IT isn’t the end…? That there are other possibilities…?

I think it could… and should. Because films and other media [as also other alternative therapies – dance drama, music and art] are powerful means and we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t use it. And even with just a film; we can just ‘be there’…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/marathi/kaasav-wins-big-at-national-awards/articleshow/58063876.cms

A Reel Look At Mental Health: Through Kaasav, Mohan Agashe puts spotlight on depression

 

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A moment… one moment. That’s all it took.

early morning sun filtering through the palms at Rankala

6th April 2014 – Rankala

The day started pleasantly enough. A beautiful sunrise filtering through the palm trees across the small road between Avi’s flat and the Rankala Talao.

A couple of hours later, I was lying by the side of the road enroute to Sindhudurg; simultaneously marvelling at being alive, yet pitifully aware of my vulnerability and not just because of the immobility caused by my injuries but by a gathering mob. A mob that attempted to push through their ideas of what should be done.

What had that young man been thinking as he sped on his motorbike on the empty highway and crashed into us?!!!

That split second changed everything. And it’s ripples spread to every corner of my being…. Personal, professional, social.

Every so often one comes to a fork and has to take a decision. I’ve had many such moments too, and taken decisions that have altered the course of my life. And I have not regretted them, not even when some of them turned out to be the cause of much pain and distress later on.

But this was not that kind of moment. This was not one of those times when I could consider my options and then decide. Here, the reflection came later…

As I lay immobile and flat on my back slowly recovering in the months that followed; as I gradually learned to walk again, I saw things happen that I could no longer influence even a little bit. And I paused to contemplate…. Plenty of scope for that between each excruciating step as I regained most of my earlier mobility!

on the walker

First Success – standing up

So much was happening that I didn’t like, so much going on in ways that I disagreed with. And despite the many joys and successes, the awareness of being ‘not in control’ grew. The reflection of those first few months and the first year of recovery inched me even further toward detachment, toward ‘vanaprasthashram’. It gave me the power to act on my convictions and retreat. It gave me the strength to reorient my priorities. It enabled me to renew my focus on ‘the children’ and draw both joy and meaning in life.

It gave me the strength to reclaim my body and soul.

And I still look out a window or two and find beauty in a sunrise… and a sunset.

through Anand's window early morning 6Apr2016

Through Anand’s window, this morning 6th April 2017

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