Understanding our vulnerabilities toward achieving stability

I have a question for you if that’s ok. When you mean you recovered, do you mean you understood the root of your depressions and manic states, your bipolar disorder? Was there meaning, trauma in your life that led to that? And do you not suffer from that anymore? I hope these are ok questions to ask you. (E.L.)

My present blogpost is a response to this query from someone. I think it is befitting that I should answer to an earnest question in an honest manner. I am writing this post specifically so that I can share it with others and not have to make the effort again.

In response to the first question, whether I understood the roots of my depressions/mania- Yes indeed. As well as the triggers.

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This dog knows it can get attacked by its fellow dogs, and so it chooses to sit on someone’s wall and jump inside the house, if other dogs came after him. He knew he was vulnerable and kept the distance from the rest of the mongrels. Why not learn from animals?

What our triggers are – are our vulnerabilities. If one can isolate that it is a great victory and the best way to identify that would be a therapeutic dialogue with a therapist who is kind, wise and non-leading. It is not so easy to find such a person and that is the greatest challenge really.

Dear E. suffering is a part of our human destiny- but it does not have to annihilate us completely- we can live with it peacefully, we can make sense of it on a day-to- day basis and we can find better ways to make sense of things, alternative worldviews and conceptualizations.

Let me explain with an example. I currently suffer from a lot of spinal issues- which is quite painful. But I try to not let it affect me all the time in the day. yes some part of the day it certainly pins me down and when I lie down it just comes over me like a flood. I cannot even sit on the computer for any reasonable length of time that a doctoral reseracher would be expected to. And since spine is affected- so are my arms, legs and feet! I could be a ball of pain- but then I decided I cannot let it have the better of me. I cannot NOT do anything. 

SO, I am not going to compete with another phd candidate who can possibly study eight hours a day- but I will certainly try to do my two today and possibly a little more tomorrow, if tomorrow is not the same as today. This is how we build up our mental muscle- you don’t do it in a day. You do not become another person, you just learn to live with yourself a little more peacefully, more centered, greater equipoise. 

I hope you get the picture- if not please feel free to ask further.

(For those who read my blog with any regularity, pardon me I am not able to write however much I may want to thanks to the cold and my bone issues. But hopefully with summer coming soon, the months ahead would be better. Thank you for staying connected)

 

Losing sight of your Self

A few days ago a friend left a message saying he wanted to talk, over the chat box of fb. After a little effort of a few days we got together to talk. He suffered and I could see that, but having known him for a couple of years I could not connect the dots- though I never under-estimate anyone’s ability for suffering.

I sensed there was a dejection of the spirit and a pressure which probably had built over a long time, especially seeing one’s peers well established by a certain age and him struggling with holding on to a job. I think there are many people who need to find the groove they fit into before they can be in the groove for long enough- and for some that may be a difficult road to try out several grooves before you land up in the right one.

I have been seeing him for a long time and this is the sense I always got from him- that he was in search of the right groove, which would fit into his soul and unlock potential lying within, making him happy and feel fulfilled. The reality of life is a very funny thing. It seldom offers such linear solutions- so we have to constantly find our balance and adjust with whatever we have in our hands- that is what is called ‘compromise’! ALAS!

Anyhow, while counseling I look at everyone as someone who has momentarily lost sight of who they are, or is unaware of who they are in general. But with those who are in depressions, I particularly see that they have reduced themselves to self-hurting talk, that goes on inside ceaselessly. Instead of he telling me how he was feeling, I offered this  perspective –

I think you are feeling very overwhelmed by what you are faced with in a new job and also seeing yourself viz.a. viz, your peers and classmates and thinking they are all doing so well, while you are still searching for the right job. And possibly all the past hurt is also accumulated and giving you an overall sense of failure, that seems too large to handle. Plus in the new job that you are, you feel pressured to rise upto the levels of expectations others have of you and you fear you cannot deliver.

He agreed this was indeed the case. Of course about the new job I am only quoting his insights, for he felt that the goals were too high for him to acheive and he was closeted inside himself, instead of being able to interact with others around, for that made him feel insecure, as though they would be able to judge his lack of ability- while he of course has the ability. He just forgot this for the inner talk that went on inside him, made him feel like a loser.

And this is what I shared with him then, and my words to any who has momentarily lost sight of who they are-

what you are today is a culmination of all your past. Your past is not just made up of your failures, because even failures are new knowledge. You have a lot of strength, based on which you have been hired in the first place. Do not push yourself but be gentle and remember that what is your current goal, and which unnerves you, is already within your reach- that is why this goal has been set for you by those who hired you. They know you can do it.

Life is not a summary, it is an unfolding, in which we move from the past to the present, integrate the learning from our failures and successes, act in the present and lay foundations for the future. Do not see any of these as though they are complete within themselves.

Of course what I told him, was also in particular said to him, which was that

Even if you are not the way others are, of your age and among your peers, I feel you are on the path of finding an authentic expression of your soul, that is why this confusion, this search for gurus and teachers and new jobs and new colleagues, a certain restlessness. For most people a job that pays and takes care of their bills is all that they want. For ones who want a little more the price is bit unusual- so do not compare yourself with those whose yardsticks of living and measuring success are not determined my your scale.

I asked him how he felt after that. He said, he felt a lot lighter, and his spirits had lifted already!

This is what I work like– to just bring light into the darkness, in which a suffering spirit has encased itself. This entire dialogue happened within 20 minutes, and I knew my dal, that was cooking on the stove, would then burn, so I just pushed him away- but not before I was certain that the psychiatric diagnosis had been laid to rest. There was no depression that needed a cure- just a reminder about the divine that hides within and asks for recognition– a play that I always love.

I also put this under the head of relational leading, for had it not been the trust he had in me, to call me up to seek this insight, i could not have shed this light on the situations around him. His instinct lead him to me, but my instinct about him and his suffering lead him into a ‘clearing’ – the goal of the therapeutic dialogue accomplished for the moment.

Me- the collaborator 🙂

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A new ‘madness’ of blog statistics

I remember when I started blogging, it was long ago. I was ill- quite ill. There was nobody to talk to, and I would just talk to myself via the blogs I wrote. A blog represents a notebook to me, where I put in ideas of a similar kind in one folder. In a way I used blogs like multimedia. My brother had got me a digital camera- i loved the medium of photography. It was engaging, made one focus and concentrate, it was a communication for one was trying to say something without having anyone to listen to it.

I have not yet written much about it, but in a recent article I wrote about using the arts for self help and I want everyone to understand that we can all utilize the options within the arts for self healing. Without worrying about what response a blog gets, one should just write- because the purpose is not to impress anyone, but to express yourself, clarify your thoughts and streamline ideas cogently. Blogs can be an effective medium for rehabilitation from mental illness- I talk from self experience naturally. In the earliest blogs I wrote I would observe life around me, very insignificant life – nothing spectacular about it. it gave me an inner peace and quietude to watch the lives of people around me. Day-to-day lives, not celebrity or special people, very simple, humble folks who would make my day and my life move around- even if they made it ugly. I would sometimes capture it in poetry or in writing, mix with photos and post it on my blog. Sometimes I had other recollections or dots to join. I had nearly 14 blogs on blogger alone, and now on wordpress there are at least six-seven. Most of them are shared and some are linked to one another as well. Blogging was therapeutic for me-seriously.

In the article that I recently wrote, this is what I say-

Writing on the road to recovery

To initiate the process of communication one can  directly establish it via literary expressions, like poetry, short stories, blogs, novels, or any other form of writing. At first it may be difficult to start  any of it, but that does not stop anyone from reading them. Then a point comes where the inner anguish starts finding a verbal expression via literary devices. Scores of people write poems about their mental anguish and also find publishers for it. Nowadays with the advent of social networks, and in particular blogging- a whole lot of it can  be shared easily.

Writing is an effective medium toward reclaiming one’s lost sense of identity, and initiating a flow of communication from the heart, even if nobody is paying heed. Frequently during deep depressions people just forget language and words. A small start one can be made- by reading. The idea is to find a mechanism of expression and not remain emotionally frozen or bottled up. Even if one’s own expression is frozen, someone else’s writing  can become a path to connect to your own self.

Why bother about blog statistics! (for goodness sake, just write)

In the times that we live in, I notice a new thing – or maybe only now I get to read/hear about it. it is about blog statistics- the sort of stuff this post shares with you. I am not sure about the utility of people worrying about how many are reading what they are writing- is your writing nothing more than attention seeking? Why this all time obsession for who is paying heed or who is not? Why the exhibitionism? Perhaps this is a new way to show how anxious you are or how keen to impress. Once upon a time I did not even know whether anyone read my blog or they didn’t. The reason why I am doing a blog is to share simpler things- for the more complex, i will probably choose a journal article or a book.

I see whole blogs dedicated to telling people how to get more readers for yourself or how to attract further attention. Of course these ideas have utility in the own right- however if people only start worrying about blog statistics instead of worrying about creating meaningful work, or about finding their own expressions, it would be detrimental for them in many ways.

People need to think about these issues in the context of mental health. I, for sure, am thinking in the context of how anxiety comes to us from life around, from social triggers and from things which are insignificant yet become significant. Research reports about social media say how young people (or people) derive a sense of satisfaction when people ‘engage’ with their posting of photographs and one-liners. In a curious twist they also ascribe their sense of self and confidence to these posts. Instead of engaging with people on a heart-to-heart, real life basis, people are happy to just click LIKE buttons and so forth on social media (i am particularly referring to facebook). So I am going to warn about the egoistic or social utility of blog statistics- even if they give you a momentary kick about how popular you are becoming.

The reality of life is that we do not need to be popular- we need to be true to our core, once we know what the core is. It is easy to be inane and get popular (without offence, to be like a filmstar in India). But if you search in your heart of hearts and see whether you really did the most you could have done to ameliorate human suffering, you will realize that a lot of things do not really achieve that end!. A film star’s significance to my mind is less than that of a farmer- for the farmer is creating something of real utility, while the filmstar is just acting and not even living up to the role after the acting is over. S/he is also taking a lot more money home than a farmer…anyways these are simple or complex issues depending upon how you see life. There can be a whole worldview on what is worth doing in this world. To someone like me, whatever I do, should diminish the misery of life around- for anyone- even one person in a day, even if they do not give me anything in return. In a nutshell being truthful to your core is more important than being popular…truth will last longer than popularity- in any field of life and work.

We certainly do not want the DSM’s next version to have a new category titled- blog-statistics induced anxiety/neurosis (becoming BIN!). Trash it! 🙂

Anyways, just to share with you the trigger that got me to write this post- The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 930 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Help Seeking Behaviour

Just look at the picture that is part of this post- there is a prayer on in someone’s compound, in front of their home. Many people are there- family, friends, neighbours and so forth. These things happen commonly all around the world- people come together for shared occasions, and help one another, organize a whole lot of activities in their homes. Nobody does anything alone. It is a circle of help and everyone helps everyone else- even a small help like informing everyone in the neighbourhood is help for the family that is organizing a prayer meeting of this nature.2014 002

Help Seeking Behaviour

I am trying to illustrate something about help seeking behaviour here- which I intend illustrating with examples from my personal experiences. Help seeking behaviour is considered an important attribute in psychology because it is a form of behaviour which is part of the social nature of a human. Man is not an island so whatever we do, we require other humans around us. Illness is a particularly difficult case because during illness the ability of a person is reduced by a significant amount to do what they would have been able to, had they not been ill. In that case help seeking is even more important.

But often I have noticed people do not seek help- out of shyness, out of a sense of dejection, rejection, hopelessness, helplessness, depression, immaturity or inflated ego. This is the greatest ignorance in my estimation. Or even if they ask for help, they do not want to follow what the other person is saying- they ask for help half-heartedly and even if someone offers suggestions, based on prior experience or knowledge, they are doubtful and suspicious about it.  I also find that people who have a mental illness diagnosis are the most reluctant to take or ask for help. I am going to illustrate this with a few examples.

I received the following letter from a (worried) parent-

Dear  mam,
I came to about u frm …Really hats up for the cause u r helping.Really many are ignorant about the remedies of mental illness.
My daughter, who  is B.tech. and serving in an IT co[mpan]y in …In Sept.`13 it started.Her frnds informed us as we are frm …Immediately i rushed and took her in spite of her unwillingness.She was diagnised as  suffering frm Shizophernia.Then i took her to Mumbai and now she has been under the treatment of …She is taking
one …and one …She is our only child .She was on leave for 6 months.After that i left my job and since her joining i`m staying with her.She is 26 yrs old.So we are searching for her marriage after consultation with Dr. Dr.is telling to stop above medicines after her marriage.But i`m apprehensive if after stopping medicine will she be able to be ok?If not it may affect her mrrg.
Can u guide stopping medicine after mrrg is acceptable?Is there any herbal treatment which i can start before mrrg discontinuing above med.She has become very slow.She is working out and doing yoga.
Can u help a helpless father .Is there any NGO in …on the similar line of activity ,who can guide us .I also want to consult Dr in … without going to Mumbai cause it`s too costly.But effectiveness can`t be comprosied.
I know u must be  very busy. Plz reply to help.

I wrote back the following-

Dear Mr. S
 
I am really happy that your daughter is very young- so she can be totally well and recovered and likely she does not need any medication. So if the doctor is saying so, believe it- often they give medicine as a precaution and then they see it is not required in the least…but do not want to admit that they made a mistake.
 
If you like to talk to me, please feel free to call me. The most important thing is to offer her counseling and strength to deal with day-to-day life issues, as a result she will be just fine. And in any case the single most important thing is there in your case, your commitment to your daughter’s welfare. Let me talk to both you and your daughter and if need be, I do not mind counseling her as well. Once i talk to her, i will know the truth very quickly- about what the root of the ‘illness’ is or was.
Sometimes young people, in particular, women suffer due to setbacks in matters of the heart, or an experience of being raped, molested, incest or a boss who is misbehaving but they do not have the ego strength to deal with it. I find that due to mobility and education though a lot of young women are there as part of the labour force they are quite emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually weak and vulnerable. Their milieu does not permit them any scope for mental growth, though they acquire degrees to fit professional roles.
As a result without a mind which is developed and matured commensurate with age, they just move from one stage to another and when any real challenge of life appears at any stage, they are simply not ready to handle it. This happens due to both marriage, as well as mobility into jobs and for jobs, to new places which may make them move away from the protective yolk of family support. This produces distress of various sorts, and they run to ‘professionals’ of various hues and shades. Now what can so-called professionals do? They have been through [seemingly organized and] long courses of understanding human suffering and putting medical labels on them. They identify a little cluster of symptoms and classify it as a mental illness, without telling anyone how they arrive at that classification.
Parents and families are so baffled by the medical terminology, facades and authoritativeness that they believe doctors are messiahs and they know everything. If only doctors knew the way out of mental illness, many millions of people would have recovered and got well- the way they do in Finland, where they emptied out psychiatric wards because of the sort of communications they had with the people and families.

Again the gentleman of the above communication, wrote the following-

Thanks for your quick response to my mail.I`m happy that you have agreed to counsel her as well as me.
Will u plz tell your suitable time(Indian time) for talk. Latest development , which has made the matter more
serious that yesterday my daughter`s manager  called her and told that she is under tremendous pressure
from the H.R.Deptt. to terminate her.Her manager has been kind enough to tell HR to give 3 months time 
for improvement.She has become very slow.
I had a feeling that her pathology was coming from her work environment somewhere and sure enough the evidence is there already. It may not be that this person calls up because sometimes, in India I find that people feel more comfortable talking face-to-face rather than long distance, without realizing that the best fit for you or the person who can really understand your case, is not always going to be the one next door. the whole reason that I encourage everyone to use modern technology, particularly the phone and internet to bridge distance of time and geography is to find the best matches spiritually and emotionally among professionals who can deal with your story, without affirming what another (psychiatrist) is saying.
This brings to mind the case of another young woman who called me  and said that she suffered from schizophrenia for the last 25 years! I asked her what medicines she took for it, and what the rest of the story was. In the first communication itself I told her we could draw a plan for her recovery and rehabilitation. She is an engineer, single woman, lives alone has several co-morbid conditions and whatnot. The only kin is a sister who lives faraway. She asked me if she could get well.
I always believe that people who seek solutions find one, so I see no reason she would not recover, because she wants to recover.- However, to seek solutions just within yourself is the greatest foolishness. We are social beings, we have to rely on our communications and our potentials for learning that come from our social milieu. Of course one can always run into those fair-minded professionals who do not view you from the lens of your pathology, but want to know what happened in your life, in your past, in your office, in your home, your childhood and whatnot. How people underestimate the power of communication- the only road that really relieves you of all the soul burden you carry. That is why as I put my enterprise on track, I have created a communications based one- Here is the website getting ready.
And I know that those who land up talking to me have really been the full course [of being treated by doctors and counseled by psychologists in many cases too] before they knock at my doors and they soon know the difference. I never coerce or even ask anyone to [even] pay, for often I understand that people cannot. Let them pay out of their own conscience if they feel they have benefited. The above woman (25 years case story) asked me how much I needed to be paid. I just told her, since she is not earning anything yet, we can always defer this. For me it is more important that she reclaims her life. Money that is mine will always come to me, in its own time. But let people live fully in the present- this is my offering to them.
This makes me want to share a little from a letter from another person who I collaborate with via our dialogues from England. He said, Suffice to say i though today’s session was a success. One of the parts that stuck in my mind was that I may be able to streamline my life and focus my interests on some productive areas. After I got off Skype I removed the huge piles of books that have been building around my flat and shelved them. Its not to say that I won’t look at them, I’m still fascinated by foriegn languages but I think I need to get things in their proper place. Later this evening I went out to the supermarket and instead of feeling stressed and anxious I felt calm and clear. I feel I need to discuss with you how and what I am able to pay you. Its hard to say at this stage (early days) but I think this may be just what I need. 
We all get what we want…provided we are looking for it- even the right therapist or collaborator. So why not learn to ask for the right person in the first place?
And then develop the mind to recognize them, for who knows in what form they could materialize? Na jaane kis roop mein narayan mil jaayein. (who knows in what form I may find god/what I am looking for)

A Collaborative Dialogue Directed at Someone Suffering

Hesitant as I am to buy or sell the idea of anyone being ‘mentally ill’, for the sake of those who believe that they are, I will go with that classification for the present blogpost. This post talks about the stories of two young men who worked in the medical profession and who got the labels themselves.

My mother just told me this story- and the boy was also once upon a time known to my sister. The boy was among the toppers at the stage of entrance into medical college and he went to one such which would rank among the top five institutions in India. When he became a doctor, he was immediately (perhaps, or this is our guess) assigned to some section where he had a lot of encounters with the ‘dead’ (bodies? post mortems? Forensic? or something else like that? we do not know)

It seems the boy just could not handle it and the next thing heard about him was that the family would keep him confined and possibly tied up! But the sad thing is he was finally dead by the time he reached his 30’s! We do not know the story for how it progressed, we just knew of the boy entering medical college when he had – for he was the talk of the town then. Could not imagine he would come to such an end.

That brings me to a mail, I just received from another friend, (about another medico) saying -‘Hi! There’s this guy, who had arguments with his parents about his exams and career few years back. His parents took him to a psychiatrist who labeled him with schizophrenia. The psychiatrist was telling him that he has OCD too as he was not willing to accept his diagnosis. He doesn’t get any hallucination or delusions…He says now he is being covertly drugged. I asked how and what he is feeling now and asked for the side effects and when he’s getting them. And I think he IS being drugged. Further he says his parents are demoralizing, humiliating and inciting him by showing his case paper to all the relatives. He has completed his graduation and wants to do PG now. Though his parents are ready to help him financially he feels scared to take any help. He doesn’t know what to do about the situation. Both his parents are doctors.’

Here is what I am seeing in the story (the marks in red above indicate the flaws, which are the red herrings in the picture to me), if I just deconstruct the power axis here:

The parents are in a position of power over their son and these are the ways in which they are exercising control-

  1. In response to arguments (which are a sign of any child rebelling or asserting his/her rights-autonomy or selfhood) take youth/child to psychiatrist.
  2. Youth/child is not allowed to choose career as they do not permit the choice for they know ‘better’, have seen more of life, know what is best for the child, can take better informed decisions for him.
  3. Psychiatrist hands over schizophrenia diagnosis because boy is clearly showing anger, rebellion, and even rejecting the further labelling of OCD. this is even more problematic in their collective eyes, because people want that those who are being given the label should accept them (called diagnosis) meekly and silently.
  4. Parents decide to avenge this ‘misbehaviour’– and now attempt to socially isolate him, by public display of his ‘pathology’.
  5. They further want to help him financially, for continuing his education.

The mental state of the person in question here, may be like this:

  1. Initially anger
  2. Wronged- because he has been unfairly given a ‘diagnosis’
  3. Cheated by being covertly drugged; unfortunately by parents, against whom the defense mechanism is weakest.
  4. When parents let you down, who can you further trust?
  5. Where can he turn now, and more so, what options exist for him?
  6. If parents are trying to bail him out financially, how much more control will they exercise over him? For what can he trust them?
  7. If this is the way life will go further, what is the nature of happiness in his life, or will there be any? Will he be able to determine the course of his life or will it be the parents all the time making decisions for him?

(All the above ideas are in the nature of conjectures, because I have not directly spoken to the person. I am just writing this out so that more people who may chance upon this writing may read and take some inspiration, if they can)

The real question of mental illness here is a question of developing a voice or autonomy. Autonomy is supposed to develop during teenage, as per psychological parameters. At that stage because it is also accompanied by hormonal maturation, it becomes a cluster of experiences- some of them showing assertiveness which is construed as rebellion by families. In a culture where submissiveness or unquestioning obedience is valued, any sign of rejection, questioning or self-expression becomes a threat to the ‘system’ around every individual. People who are showing these expressions are taken as rebels and they are then given appropriate ‘correction’ mechanisms to make them fall in line. Unfortunately, this is what happens in a vast majority of cases.

Somewhere along the way, such people also part ways with their friends and peers because they are too anguished to share what is happening in their personal lives, with their ‘friends’ for they think whatever is happening, is happening to them ALONE- they become prisoners of their mind, their souls and their imagination. Reality is that we are all on a continuum of human experience and suffering and a lot of people are suffering due to overt or covert family violence of this sort, where children are unequally pitted against their parents for they are weaker in position in multiple ways- financially, socially, initially physically, and more. Often parents also operate as ONE unit/voice- no difference between the parent as mother and father.

My further recommendations, in a very remote manner would be somewhat on these lines.keep the glow intact

  1. You need to develop your own inner and outer resources– which starts from financially to social mechanisms of support.
  2. Remember, the more you rebel in this scenario, the more you will be penalized and you are already outnumbered, out-powered and out-witted for the’system’ can overpower you very easily- DO NOT try to challenge the system. The ‘system’ refers to family, psychiatry, relatives, neighbours etc in this case. It may also be your educational institution tomorrow, which is another kind of system. Each of these is a system in its own sense, for it has its own principles, guidelines and methods, and together this process is a complex systems thinking.
  3. When parents are not your support systems it often becomes difficult to trust outsiders. But there are many resources out there in the world and support mechanisms– though those who have mental illnesses themselves cannot be your support systems right now, for how much can you support another one , if need be? Be wise and be safe. Do not become part of peer support groups, because that would be only more aggravating and you will see your own story played out in different variations across the spectrum and it will fluster you further.
  4. If you can make slow progress one day at a time, by even continuing your education, by slowly gaining control over one aspect of your life at a time, it will slowly fortify you and give you the ego-strength to overcome the system. Instead if you try to challenge the system by taking it head-on, it will punish you seriously. Do not do that.
  5. Come to a clearing, where you can totally wrest free of your parents and your diagnosis, by reclaiming your life as your own. This cannot happen till you are dependent on them in any way. For that you need to develop your mind, and your body adequately and you will be able to get up and walk away from everything that holds you back today.
  6. Remember a day a time and not a life in a day.
  7. Be slow, be steady and be regular– even if you make an inch of progress in a day. Even if you wake up late, even if you have no one to talk to- you will have someone soon.
  8. Believe in yourself and your strength and build it a drop at a time, a little at a time.

I believe everyone can overcome their pathology and diagnosis if they have others who believe in them and if they also believe in themselves and hold on to their dreams. So hold on to your’s, no matter if they are the most ridiculous ones also and try to see them as clearly as possible. You have to gain the power that others hold over you, into your own hands- be the HERO of your own story.

Already, even at this stage, though this person is not directly in touch with me, there is a collaboration at work FOR HIM- for there is a friend of his, who has written to me. I have sat down and invested this effort in deconstruction/writing/counseling…we are the smallest links in the chain and a proof that there is hope and scope for everyone, because when you cry for help, someone hears it- even if distantly. SO PLEASE …ask for help, for it will come to you.

Suffering as mothers

In the past week, i had encounters of different yet similar sorts- both were mothers who communicated and both about their children. The differences are, what I would count, among the superficial, for motherhood is the essential experience that I want to talk about here. They belonged to two different countries, one was a boy’s mother and another a girl, their respective children also nearly a decade apart in age from one another.

Whatever the children were going through is a different story and that is not what I am going to share via this post- but how mothers, since I communicated with mothers in this case, suffer when their children suffer – universally.

Image The child of one of them has been having depression due to drug induced psychosis and the other one is simply not connected to the mother, due to some anger of the past and her own current suffering due to a recent divorce. Both mothers were extremely anguished, and unsure how to live their own lives, with so much of turmoil in the lives of their children. Both were not sure if they could not do more than what they were currently doing and what they could do differently to lessen the suffering of their children, even if the children were not communicating with them.

I said the same thing to them and I want to share with others who read also-” Please remember that you are not responsible for their suffering. It is life, we all suffer, for this or that reason- but to feel responsible for the suffering of your children is to believe that whatever little happiness you have in your current life is undeserved and you need to suffer just because your child suffers.”

Sometimes, when people suffer they are also angry inside them, especially if they see others around them who are not suffering from the same suffering. They want to bring everyone in the ambit of that, because it is not easy to suffer alone and it is difficult to believe that the world outside of oneself is not suffering, while we are. At that time those who suffer become somewhat selfish and want everyone to suffer too. But suffering is a universal phenomenon and everyone suffers, though the nature of suffering may be different.

It may be you encounter a colleague who comes to work very cheerfully, so you would think what would she be suffering from? Possibly she leaves an ailing parent at home and wants to be away for a few hours in an atmosphere which would take her mind off the suffering of her parent, or an in-law who is rude and judgemental.

Mothers feel responsible for their children as long as they keep on feeling that they are mothers and the other a child. Okay yes, that connection can never change, but that does not mean that the child does not have a life of his/her own and does not have to bear the consequences of her/his own actions. We all have to- whether it be a mismatched marriage, or the effects of drugs and alcohol, not studying for exams, or speeding on a road and having an accident. Whatever we do, sooner or later comes back to us.

Mothers ought not to forget that motherhood is only one among the many roles they have to play. They are also humans, also daughters, wives, friends, lovers and many other roles. If we get attached to any one role, how good is that for our own wellbeing? To think that motherhood is the key role that one has to play and if a child is suffering it is a personal failure of the mother, is nothing but ignorance and inviting self-criticism/blame.

Please be kind to yourself mothers, and stop feeling responsible for what you have not done– you have not lived the lives of your children, they have. Let them face the music now- sorry, if it hurts you. But you have to stop being mothers all the time, and start being humans too. Let go of your children as your flesh and blood only- they are creatures of this universe and whatever applies to this universe, in terms of action/reaction, they would have to face it too. Be their support when they come to you, but be not their aprons that they keep rubbing their wet noses, dirty hands or sweat with at all times. They deserve your love but so do you.

The lady in the picture has nothing to do with the content here, but it was a photo lying in my photo-album symbolic of women with children. It is only a symbol, no allusion to anyone and neither is it the picture of any of the two mothers whose communication is what constitutes this post.

Both mothers, incidentally, were very relieved to hear these words from me. And I am quoting this last lines one wrote to me-

Me : I will also take your leave for now, but remember one more thing before I go for now,    that your son is only your biological child but actually is a child of the universe. So you are only to that extent responsible, and you are the ones who are seeing his story unfold the closest. 

You do not own your child, nor are responsible for him. You are a participant in that drama- see it like that, and just as we watch a drama or a movie, we get emotional, entangled so are you, because it is happening closest to you. Do not kill yourself over it

She:  We do, thank you so much Prateeksha… I cry from the wonderful Spirit coming through you to us.