Recovery Oriented Blog for Mental Illness

I have recently started a new blog, because I felt that I needed to strictly focus on recovery in serious mental illness, as a theme by itself and calling it any other name would not do justice to my commitment, engagement and research. I have, in the past, tried writing on this blog about mental illness related encounters I have had. However the purpose of the new blog is slightly different.

The new blog is committed to one single theme. All my mental ‘illness’ oriented work would go on that blog as it is also my desire to share with the lay intelligent reader whatever knowledge I interact with, in the course of my phd research. Since a researcher by definition tends to be looking into a vaster expanse of information, data, analysis and study than someone who is not a researcher, for reasons of social good and making research accessible, people could routinely offer small chunks of that knowledge to the wider audience. This is my attempt in that direction.cropped-website-hope-image

However research is not an easy journey to make, for it is largely solitary and a tough act of balancing one’s financial needs, professional goals, study commitments, family responsibilities, domestic routines and you name it. I cannot say I am in any enviable position except that to reduce the monotony of my work, I have started teaching classical music to a few youngsters- it is a breath of air for me. Of course I continue learning with my own guru also- another breather!

This blog post is basically to re-direct anyone who is connected to me for the above reason, to redirect their gaze in a more appropriate corner. You can well imagine that I am likely to post little on this blog, while my focus lies in recovery. However peace is close to my heart and at the heart of all my efforts. If one can help even a single person come into their own center, attain a little peace- they will gradually create their own peace and spread it further as well. I call the new blog- recovering self, because only in re-covering ground that people lose due to setbacks which are called mental illness, do we become our WHOLE SELF again- the self that we were intended by Mother Nature to be. The recovery blog is only meant to be a little offering in wholeness, a testimony to the work I am doing as well as a knowledge sharing blog- diminishing stereotypes about mental illness, challenging convention and offering alternatives.

Hope it accomplishes the intention of its birth.

Shift in West Asia Policy- not mine

Perhaps governments do not expect ordinary citizen like me to even have a thought about Palestine- Israel crisis, for have we not been fooled and befuddled by the extremes that we experience in our daily struggles to remain alive? Not to talk of remaining ‘sane’. We of course have the Vyapam scam raging live midst us right now and idiotic filmstar weddings to dazzle our senses and more nonsensical news of filmstars (not to forget the FTII furore over Gajendra Chauhan!!) to hoodwink us and believe they are more significant than the rest of the country, including little children. (I must add as an aside that left to their own means, and without scripts, these film actors are really the MOST IDIOTIC characters going around ).

Just to bring the context in, recently the Indian government (GoI) has shown a shift away from Palestine, towards Israel, in a historically unprecedented move. All these years, we as a newly independent nation were supportive of the claims of the people of Palestine to their home in the West Bank and Gaza. Yassar Arafat, when he was alive and active, would have always known India to be a fraternal nation, supportive of its struggle against Israeli control and in asserting its independent status.

In my personal capacity, not that it amounts to anything, I am absolutely unhappy about this shift towards Israel- not because of any innate anti-Semitic streak running in me, but because I see it as a weakness of spirit and solidarity towards the Palestinians who have always been dear to Indians.  I see this as a larger ploy to keep West Asia in continued conflict, (not that India can actually have a decidedly significant role in this),  to inflict unthinkable amount of violence on thousands of people without a remorse and to openly flex its military and financial might, by trying to rope in all parties who are willing to believe its story. Sadly, now we in India also also supposed to believe that Israel is correct in its senseless pounding in Gaza.

This is a thought in the spirit of peace and non-violence that I have in me and possibly my desire to work/aspire towards personal and universal peace at every level. I am vehemently against militarization of anything- whether it be a country, a region of a country, a piece of land/ocean or mountain or you name it. I do not think the world, if we dream of world peace, should ever indulge in the manufacture of arms and their sales. It is one thing to talk about peace (which all politicians do, as part of their job) and another to act in its creation. You cannot create peace if you manufacture, buy, create or sell arms – to anyone. And if one buys arms, then another will most certainly as well.

All sensible people, are dismayed at this shift of a non-aligned country, (of course the non aligned movement is long dead, no thanks to the end of the Soviet Union) towards Israel, a rogue nation in West Asia- which impudently crushes the rights of millions of people for decades.

As someone who struggles in this small world of mine, which is laced with musical notations, writing in mental health, counseling and supporting others and myself, I find it shameful that a government in my name (a govt always represents its people, not its own self only) is going back on the promise of fraternity that we once showed towards a greatly oppressed people. Is it because the government is really not tuned to the views of the people or is it because after all it is a government that enjoys the mandate of only a small percentage of its own population (33%). I am ashamed of this move and I stand by Palestine. If India is bending towards Israel, I am not a part of it.

Rebels without a cause

There is so much written about rebels, in particular eulogizing them, that they may seem like heroes, which often is the case, at least in the short run. But to be a rebel without a cause, which is increasingly the case among the youth is reflective of a world in which ethics and morality are all confused now. This lack of reasons to rebel or rebelling only in defense of one’s own private interests or to constantly feel threatened by the world around and therefore offending others, are all signs of modern rebels. These are there in all categories of people, and artists more so seem to be rebelling against everything, or lending their voices to most rebellions again without seeing whether it is a philosophical issue or just a thing of gaining more popularity.Image This young man in the picture is a symbol of a generation finding meaning in rebellion, without knowing what the rebellion is against. Lacking of a philosophical basis often makes rebels into vacuous people, for they just rebel for the sake of rebellion, without having the goal of any rebellion in mind- personal or social.

If we look at the architecture of a rebel’s psyche likely the foundation of it would somewhere lie in patriarchy, I mean in opposing patriarchy– even among men. It is not as if men are the ones who are symbolic of patriarchal values in society, they are equally the sufferers too. In trying to subvert patriarchy in their own lives they become rebels, often without a cause. In the end it boils down that such rebels only reinforce a structure they set out to challenge, because they could not look beyond the surface of their own self interest. So a person who is lording over the rest in his/her family is only doing what s/he has experienced in their life- dominance, which is typically a patriarchal attribute, as opposed to collaboration, which is a feminine one.

We all rebel against something, usually in our youth or childhood- and it often begins from the family. Within the family there is a person or group that becomes symbolic of the larger environment of patriarchy that is prevalent in society and who wants to uphold the family structure/social order the way it has always been- the one/s who push tradition and structures down the throats of the younger lot, creating rebels. So the rebels ought to slowly understand that they have to find a real cause, and not just waste their lives in fighting their families or whatever oppression they have faced in their lives or its outcomes from within the family milieu.

Patriarchy was not created in a day but in centuries and it passed from one generation to the next so subtly and invisibly that nobody knew it was there. Women as much as men are carriers of patriarchy and its values of dominance, control, ownership of resources, moral coercion and authority. Rebels who truly want to be rebels need to understand that their rebellion ought not to be against patriarchal values and structures within the families alone. Most mental illnesses comes from this source, especially anger based issues or where anger has been repressed. In rebelling against one set of people at a time, and not a whole lot of them as a class- one becomes mentally distressed and offensive, which invites others to subdue them by word, logic, medicine or incarceration. The only viable alternative is to understand the roots of mental distress, connect it to patriarchy, see its role in your personal life and instead of changing things within your family, try to contribute to a larger systemic change. When we create peace for the world or justice for others, we automatically do so for ourselves also. But if we set out to create something just for ourselves, we will only either fail and be isolated or create and spend all our time defending it.

If all the people in the world have a house to live in and food to eat, we would not have to worry about leaving our kitchens locked. It is only when there is hunger in the world, we fear that we could get robbed. Kitchen is a metaphor for all that we cherish and value. Suppose everyone has a brick of gold, so who would want another’s now, unless he is really greedy? That is the gist, in the salvation of everyone lies the salvation of the rebel, not merely one’s singular salvation. The Buddha understood that long back, and decided to ignite the Buddha-hood in scores of others. But we have to do it in every age. Again and again- for we have to be rebels for the world at large, not just for ourselves. Therein lies salvation.

my first public blog!

There is a time for everything and this is mine- for creating a blog that i would publish publicly finally. Long overdue or long in hiding I would think, especially for someone who writes in at least over a dozen of them already, which are mostly not shared, as they are like my private notebooks in cyberspace.

The exclamation in the title is a sign of irony because a blog is meant to be public, unlike a private notebook. So why was I not sharing mine all this while? Good question that i ought to ask myself. However instead of answering that for now, i will just focus on the reasons behind this blog, which are as follows-

Peace is an important concern for me- has been for a long time. I believe that a peaceful world, where peace exists for everyone is worth aspiring for and is a worthwhile pursuit for an entire human civilization. In the world however it is strife and suffering that abounds and not peace, not any thought on what could be the direction for it unless we look at religions and spiritual people to guide us on that subject, first among them the Buddhists.

Peace ought to be the central hub of human civilization, for only in peace can everyone prosper. So how can we inculcate peace, how will we find those little islands of accord mid a world of cacophony, discord and unrest? This blog is my little contribution in that direction- one act at a time, one dialogue at a time, one person/group/family at a time, in a public way, and not just confined to conversations that happen in the private domain.

I wish that when I die or when the time comes to leave this world, this is the one thing that I would have directed most of my energies and efforts toward- creating peace in the world. This blog will hold most of my writing on peace together, in one place, no matter where it gets published or what I say on whichever subject.