Day 117: Most of that is the popular impression in media

And semester 3 ended in style, with a short 2 hour paper. This meant that the three of us got up mid-way, disturbed the tranquility of the exam hall, and walked out, in royal fashion. Like I’ve ranted about numerous times in the past, I’m glad this is over and I’m one semester away from graduating.

First time on the couch

The frustration associated with the university and the 3 semesters here poured out as I sat at the therapist’s couch, my first ever. I’d like to think that I was prepared for her deductions since I’d studied Psychology and Advanced psychology in the last year. But who am I kidding? It gave me enough information about mental health to make me realize that I needed to seek professional help. But beyond that, it was an eyewash of a course.

I poured out to the therapist about that, and the hypocrisy of the entire university, and the bureaucracy of the department, and the impending doom of the sector itself being so, and the family scenes, and the relationship conflicts, and then some more about each. She scratched her notes rabidly, while trying to guide me through a sane thought process.

It’s funny how a number of discussions in this preliminary session itself rested on a few key topics – body issues, father, mother and societal independence. As much as I complained about the uni, it was not in the top 3 things that I wanted to work on. Surprising.

What was also surprising is how heavy I felt, walking in to the session, anticipating definite water works, and how relieving the session was on the contrary. That may be the power of speaking to an independent, unrelated entity. Her judgments about me are as third-party as they are about my parents, and that makes it acceptable to the logical mind.

The need for a psyche consult has put me on the backfoot though; looney meds are scary, irrespective of how reassuring her rationale was. But I liked her point, it’s my mind and my medical course to work on it. I would get to choose where I go next. And so, I choose to get a preliminary psychiatric consult for the need for medication and then go back to the psychologist for the next session.

ChemProf Arrives

The house got an extra round of cleaning and prepping today because the ChemProf arrived. Two minutes into return ride, and he was already sighing and fluffing about how Bangalore is bursting from the seams and the Government is just a sham. I have mentally prepared myself for some serious debates on minority-provisions, partitioned India, black pepper’s ill effects and decluttering.

You went to seek external help? But why? We have a comfy couch here. Lie down. Look into my eyes. Tell me all your problems, and I’ll lick them away” – Scotch 

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Day 115: And yet we never support our girls

Any trouble in married-land and we are already ready with our guns pointed at the girl. H and her married life has proved to me that marriage is invariably a union of two dysfunctional families, one that makes your own weirdeties seem like the better of the lot. It’s also a union where one party invariably makes more sacrifices than the other and they spend the rest of their lives either making up for it or being morose about it.

What is critical for them to realize is that sacrifices are expected, and are justified as long as they are balanced out. I’d like to see the man live in Bangalore for a month, working from here, while building his social circle here. He would understand exactly what H is going through after moving to KL to start her life with him.

Invariably, the woman is expected to make the grand sacrifices, of her economic, emotional and social stability, and is expected to fit in seamlessly into the newfound circles. Any inability or trouble in doing that is automatically deduced as the girl’s disability and poor upbringing. Any leniency or support from the man’s side is seen as him being a pussy or wife-whipped. He himself walks with the superiority of having done a favor, while a relationship is equal work from both ends.

What got me thinking on these lines today was the conversation with dad, when he almost seemed apologetic for his daughter’s temper and the trouble in the marriage. It’s funny how little they had made an effort to see what might be causing the ill mood, the trigger from the other end. I dared him to tell me one instance where the mother of that son would have accepted his flaws openly. To her, he is the unspoilt unpolished diamond from the lines of South Africa. And on the other side, we let our daughter take the stab for everything, even something like marriage that takes a village to run the show right.

The patriarchy was evident when he justified himself by saying, ‘How can I say that the guy is at fault when I’m sitting in his house and eating his food?’ What happened to the part of the meal that his daughter had paid for? I thought the house automatically became ‘their’ house because what is his is hers. No?

That’s why I say the girls should stay home with their mummies all their lives, S. Then you have the comfort of the same bed all along. Aaah those pleasures.” Scotch

Day 66: Breaking point

You never really know when you’ve had enough and it’s breaking point. It happens suddenly and yet slowly, it surprises you and yet you know it was inevitable all along. Things build up, one on top of another, very soon and they all rest on this narrow and flimsy foundation made up of your ideologies, principles, past experiences and relationships. The narrower and more flimsy this base is, the sooner the entire mountain of thoughts, ideas, worries and fears that you are carrying around begin to sway, gently at first. You still keep piling them on, confident that your base will hold enough, for all those thoughts, ideas, worries and fears need to find a resting place after all.

Before you know it, your pile is sky-high and sways from side to side like a sail boat caught in a storm. As more and more of your fears are realized, or dreams are squashed, little pieces of that already flimsy foundation are chipped away, and the vicious cycle continues. At what point are you ready to ask for help?

The drive back with garden_man got me thinking about my own flimsy base and if the swinging needed immediate attention. I pondered on how ready I was to get help, and more importantly, if I was ready to hear the things that I would hear at the end of such a session. The pondering continues.

But, an important realization that came from our discussion was about how society, and even our immediate family, perceives this external help that one would need to reorient oneself time and again. The very mention of a therapist typically brings references to a mental asylum, probes on the head, and looney meds. Parents still question why children can’t speak to them about their problems, instead of seeking out an external therapist. Aren’t they just glorified listeners anyway? There’s always the question about each individual’s pain tolerance, and a comment about how each subsequent generation was only becoming weaker and weaker. The society wonders if the media and knowledge abundance has made us overthink simple matters, and thus complicate our own lives. Someone that visits a therapist is met with more disbelief and scorn that the gentleman queueing up in front of a toddy shop at 10 Am.

The National Mental Health Survey conducted by NIMHANS in 2015-2016 states that 1 in 20 people in the country suffer from some form of depression. Depression was pretty high in females, those between the age of 40-49, and those residing in urban metropolitan cities. It also reported that except for God’s Own Country, all other states did not even have 1 psychiatrist for every 1 lakh of their population. The low number of trained mental health professionals along with poor awareness campaigns on the matter of mental hygiene would automatically result in the continuing stigma attached to these issues concerning the mind.

Until care and concern is more readily available, we will have more people treading that fine line between sanity and utter chaos; people dancing around the breaking point, almost tipping over.

You humans are brutal, man. I know! Us doggies have very little things wearing us down.

You know what we say, if something is troubling you, just pee on it and walk away. You should try it too.” Sri Sri Scotch Baba