How teens cope

I teach grade 9 Science and Maths. Today after my class one of my co teachers asked me to take one kid out of the class and talk to her as she has done something to her arm. When I went out I realised that the kid had cut herself using a pencil-sharpeners blade. As soon as I saw her arm my mind went blank and then it rebooted as I looked for my small first aid kit in my bag.

It was so scary to imagine that a child of 14-15 years was ready to self harm. I talked to the child before taking her to the Principal’s office because she was so panic stricken that someone will tell her parents that she was threatening to cut herself more if I inform anyone, especially her mother. Somehow we calmed the child by reassuring her that things will be fine and no one will scold her and went to the Principal.

After the mother left with the class teacher I went back to my class and talked about mental health, a general discussion about how seeking help is not weakness and how we should do it if we feel that we are unable to cope with things. I talked for some 15 minutes sharing my experience and the kids listened, wide eyed, attentive, grabbing onto every word. After 5 minutes I opened up the class for discussion. And that’s when chaos broke.

I expected some kids to have anxiety and have issues, but I did not expect more than half my class breaking down. 5-6 kids started crying as I was speaking, others shared their anxiety issues and my heart broke seeing them so lost. They were so lost and unaware about so many things. There were many who have cut their hands earlier as an outlet for the pain, many who feel very lonely and frustration, many who feel alone.

The pandemic has been hard for everyone but the upcoming teens, especially teens coming from underprivileged households have more layers to their misery. They have no privacy and restrictions have increased especially for girls as their parents refused to let them out of sight. Parents are a big issue as they have become more rigid with their thoughts which affect these teens who just want freedom and more choices, which sadly they have to fight for, even in their homes.

I have come across many stories of struggle today, ranging from having no friends, bullying, heartbreaks, discrimination, loneliness. The world is changing, the world is advancing, and so are the troubles. Because these evils of loneliness, anxiety are so deep, sneaky at times that we don’t even know of their existence till the time they have become big issues. I hope we live to see a day where there is enough awareness about these issues that we don’t have to wait for an incidence or our peak breaking point to start talking about our mental health.

Fly like a Pigeon

Today after my therapy session I was standing at my terrace, trying to ground myself. One of the first things that I see everyday when I am on the terrace is Pigeons. SO MANY OF THEM. They are always flying around, making their peculiar sounds, trying to fly away from the cats.

As I was looking around at the view, I saw a whole flock of pigeons wildly flapping their wings. I was happy to see the sight as I let go of all my thoughts, simply existing. All of them in sync, irregular with their wings but flying together in union, some going their own way, others sticking together but all of them flew.

But the thing which stuck with me was, after flapping their wings continuously, they stopped. They just opened them wide and glided in the air. And they flew a greater distance peacefully than when they were wildly beating their wings.

I have been wildly trying to do everything all at once, job, studies, self care, extra studies, research, workouts and god knows what else. As I stared at the pigeons I realised I need to take a pause for a moment and just glide through life.

Breaks are important, they are way too underrated and they are very essential. I have felt very guilty while taking them, and I know I am not alone. But I think we all need a reminder to take a pause and just fly in life. It does not mean that we are not moving, or growing. It just means that we are trying things a different way, something simpler, more relaxing readying ourselves for the day or event. It just means we are flying free and not burdened with wildly flapping our wings continuously.

It just means, that we are flying like Pigeons!

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Recently during I came across a song. It was called ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ by Christina Perri. The song was originally sung by Judy Garland in the movie Wizard of Oz in 1938.

There is something about this song, something simple, something sweet which just fills me with hope and light and the sense of possibilities.

So last Saturday when I had back to back panic attacks and possibilities seemed to vanish, filling me with dread, this song came up and I calmed down. Those little bluebirds flying over the horizon filled me with some tiny drops of hope that ‘the dreams that I have dared to dream will really do come true’.

So during this week whenever I have felt hopeless and lost, I play this song, I close my eyes and sing along and the world becomes a little lighter and my ‘troubles melt like lemon drops’.

It sounds like a fairy tale that one hears in their childhood, where everything is possible. Where Peter Pan and tinker bell exist, where Panchatantra stories seem real or where Tom and Jerry shows were the entire morning routine.

I am attaching the link of the song, I hope it brings you hope as it did for me. I hope it reminds you that all is not lost, that you too can fly. So dearest friend remember to dare to dream big and to work hard towards it as ‘Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true!’ ❤

I heard a Voice

Today is a difficult day, especially this moment when the anxiety is so high that I feel suffocated by it. So this is day three of me writing and I feel as if I am writing to talk to people now. I feel so alone in the shell of my head that the loneliness makes me want to talk to someone, anyone who is there, who would listen to my words. Even though this is a one way conversation but it helps. I think this is why so many of us writes, its a way out for those thoughts who love to dance around our heads making us cry out at times.

I have been someone who mostly had a large friend circle. This circle has shrunk over the years to the point that right now even though I have friends I hardly feel connected to anyone. And so the loneliness creeps in. Its a sticky feeling, and so powerful. Its like a slow quicksand, it starts enveloping you and you only realise that it is there when your feet are stuck and you are sinking. But the sand is warm, its everywhere and you feel hopelessness especially when you are alone.

I have wanted to give up four times this week to this loneliness and stop making efforts (not suicidal, but just wanted to shut myself from the world), but I have a voice in my head reminding me that ‘Hey, you are strong and powerful, you are the most amazing person’. And I listen to this voice, I choose to listen to this voice. Because this voice I trust. I want to move towards this voice, I want to make sure that I am worth this voice. I want to embrace it because I love this voice.

Sometimes this voice is mine, and sometimes its the voice of a dear friend of mine.

When you have a person who is there for you no matter what. Hold on to that person, embrace them, take risks for them. Be vulnerable with them. Sometimes this person can be a best friend, parents, siblings, partners, friends. But sometimes this person can be you.

I have been scared to be vulnerable and I have messed up because of it and the guilt eats me everyday. But I can’t change the past. And I want to make amends. But for that I have to be me, to have an active choice and thoughts free of anxiety. And I also want to do it for me who is trying so hard everyday.

So, I constantly try to choose me everyday, sometimes I fail (most days I fail), but I choose to try everyday. I hope you are too. I know its difficult, but I hope you remember that you have a choice.

DID I JUST END THE WORLD BY PICKING THE RED TOP!!!

How simple are choices? Its a simple yes or no answer.

Yes, I want to eat sweets. No, I don’t like to drive, can you drive this time? Yes, I am uncomfortable having this conversation.

Simple words, yes and no. But sprinkle a little anxiety, dust a little under-confidence and add a cherry on top full of self doubt and voila! You have the perfect recipe of: DID I JUST END THE WORLD BY PICKING THE RED TOP INSTEAD OF THE BLACK ONE AT THE MARKET!

It’s difficult to choose sometimes, even when the choice is for your own happiness. This has been the story of my life. If I choose keeping only me in mind, then I have felt selfish, if I choose keeping others in mind then I am unhappy, as I have been for a long time. Its a fine line whose important has dawned after a long time.

So now after years of worrying about these yes and no questions, I am relearning how to choose, how to walk this line. How to not feel guilty and express freely. How to tell that I love someone without worrying about what they will think, saying yes Maa I don’t like spinach or just writing this short post without wondering what the reader is thinking and whether they will like it!

So dearest people, put on a smile today (if you feel like it) and say YES to that hug or laugh (again no pressure!) and NO to that worry (yes pressure is here!) because maybe, just maybe the world will not end if you choose to have dessert after dinner tonight!

Raw

I posted after a long time today. And it feels as if a dam broke and I just had to let all my thoughts out. Post all the poems and paras that I have been hoarding in my phones and notepads. Let go of all the feelings which I have been holding back for the past few months. So here is a small version of what my head is screaming right now.

I have had anxiety since a long time, the first time I remember is when I was in 3rd grade and my class teacher asked me that I should run more to lose some weight. I felt ashamed. But the funny thing is that this was not the first time that something like this was said to me as I vaguely remember earlier instances. Since the time I can remember I have hated weighing machines and going to the market for fear of how people will look at me or what if I can’t find the right size of clothes and people will laugh at me?

Now at 23, words which were uttered as jokes or in passing have wreaked havoc in my little life. The past year has been particularly difficult, especially the past 4-5 months. I have never felt more vulnerable and alone in my life, helpless would be a better term. I hate that I have to pretend to be okay everyday in front of everyone, I want to be okay.

I started therapy and I have changed my therapist thrice, worried will I get the right therapist who will click with me? I think I have found them right now, I hope I have because I don’t have the energy to go through the process again. Since the past three sessions I have realised how messed up small thoughts can get and how words spoken to you when you were 4 still hold power over you.

I have had at least 2 panic attacks everyday in the past week. Yesterday my body was done, it said no more please don’t have the energy to even lay down with eyes open anymore. And so I cried myself to sleep again, the rational side of me saying ‘hey it will be fine eventually, be strong’.

I guess I am at a point where my anxiety seems to be the only blanket or thing clinging to me as I feel alone and tired and desperate and helpless. I have generalized anxiety disorder and it seems to be getting worse and I fear what if it doesn’t get better? What if I have to pretend to be okay everyday? What if I do something or say something wrong to another loved one and have them leave me? What if I don’t want to leave this worry which feels to be the only constant? (I can see my anxiety creeping in again).

I don’t know what to expect from life right now or how to take a very life altering decision right now which I have to in the next week, but I know I have to move ahead and keep working and hopefully I will reach a point where I will walk out of my house with an original smile and no pretentiousness.

And so this is a Raw version of the mess that is my brain right now, I hope that I will be writing more from now on. Sending a little hope and energy for everyone who is struggling, I hope it gets better.

Jealous of a Cat?!

I saw a cat lazing around on the terrace today, happy. I see her everyday, smile and say hello and she royally ignores me. Suddenly she stretched as if she had all the time in the world, yawned, and opened her eyes a slit to look at me as if to say, “What is wrong with you human why are you so anxious, relax! Look how amazing the sun is and the wind is perfect, so chill!”. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep.

But all this time her ears were open, on alert, aware of my every movement and obviously keeping a watch for any pigeons that will come her way.

And so this encounter left a person trying to calm herself through an anxiety attack to wonder, AM I JEALOUS OF A CAT?! Or should I become philosophical and write down an analogy about how the animal kingdom has everything figured out.

Conclusion: I hate cats.

PS. They are bossy!

A Beautiful Place

The world as I looked at it was a beautiful place.
How people came and left their trace.

The tree trunks, the barks,
pretty flowers in upset parks.
The fluffy clouds floating around,
the mighty sun, always proud.
The dirty man, lying in fear,
wondering how to get rid of the dirt stained tears.

The street lights, the road marks,
the piling futility of everyday tasks.
The fights breaking knees and bones.
The peppy music, the hostile tones.
The good, the bad, wonderful, unique
everyday represented values, everyday represented peaks.

Childhood giggles, adult scars
old age wrinkles, resting amongst the stars.
Tests, worries, tears, frowns
laughing happily, I did drown.
Ecstatic plans, memories of joy
Nightmares of struggling courage, creations did destroy.

Tiny little steps as young and old
Be patient my friend, smile be bold.
Remember to hope, remember to dream,
notice the struggling, hear the silent screams.
Voices, words, expressions, sound.
Wind, breeze, hale, storm everything eventually makes a round.

The world after all was a beautiful place.
For people continue to come and leave their trace.

I wrote this poem a long time ago. Similarly I drew the doodle a long time ago. Both of them were created at separate time, with a separate mood and motive. While drafting this new post after almost 3 years, using this combination felt right.
As the world is struggling with the effects of the pandemic, I hope we all have the courage to dream again, to smile, to laugh, to be brave. For this place might have its scars or flaws, but despite all the troubles that it throws at us, it is still a beautiful place.

– Another Mask

Sting or the Stab?

They said trust was smooth as skin,
no creases, flawless in the beginning.
Then we start trusting that trust,
it’s shine, it’s beauty and it’s ability to not burst.

Then comes enemies, sturdy as swords,
breaking, tearing the skin which we’ve come to adore.
Held by the people who came for moments,
only to uproot, to scar, to fight like Greeks and Romans

Yes, they were strong and immensely deadly,
but still less fatal than the people who were friendly.
For the friends attacked with the mighty needle,
which was small and sneaky, leaving everything in upheaval.

It didn’t tear, it didn’t scar,
it worked underneath to make things bizarre.
It unraveled the skin, it destroyed the faith,
it made us bring our own doom, turning us into wraiths.

It filled everything with nothing,
bringing the punishment for trusting.
Trusting the friend who stabbed in your back,
the friend who should have walked with you in the night-black.

So the sting overruled the stab.
As the friendly hand led to a trap.
Where I was stuck broken and distraught,
with no hope, no power, no motive to get out of that wretched spot.

-Another Mask

Papa

‘Papa !’ I screamed taking my first steps

And you ran clapping towards me,
I babbled on holding you finger,
Dreaming to be free.

Papa,
come play with me please!
You lifted me up
and introduced me to the wind, the breeze.

Papa,
Let’s go out!
You smiled holding the keys,
without a moment’s hesitation or doubt.

Papa,
Why are your hair turning grey ?
‘It’s the age my child
Signs of my days.’

Papa,
Why don’t you listen !
‘One minute beta’ you said,
as your hard work glistened.

Papa,
Stop restricting me now !
Always disapproving,
discouraging me somehow!

Papa
I don’t want to talk to you,
Do this ! do that !
Never permitting me to try something new !

Papa,
Why aren’t you talking now !
Fine! I too am your daughter,
so even I won’t bow !

Papa,
I thought glum and sad.
I am sorry for every word I said
as I was mad.

Papa,
I am sorry for being rude.
I am sorry for the words that hurt,
for the wretchedness of my mood.

Papa,
but please listen to me.
I am not a kid or naive anymore,
as I was at three.

Papa,
with your blessings this gudiya of yours grew.
Standing on her feet,
just like you wanted her to.

But Papa,
I miss the finger you held out for me,
The warmth of your hug,
whenever I sat on you knee.

Papa,
Your gudiya never says it just like you never do,
but she truly means it as her heart sings
in resonance with yours ‘i Love you’.

‘Father’ a word so strong that you feel secure whenever it is spoken.

We fight the most with our fathers as they always with the purpose of protecting us, try their best to protect and we with our goals of freedom misunderstand it as restrictions. And so the rift develops, you fight, you shout, you accuse.

But despite the fights, our father’s never ever leave us, their strengths, their silent unsaid love stays with us. Their guidance and their understanding always stays even when they are gone.

My father calls me gudiya (hindi for doll), he always has numerous names for different occasions but gudiya was his favourite. ‘Gudiya I said no’, ‘Gudiya stop arguing’, I always thought during such arguments that why is he so over protective ! I am not a kid anymore but during such fights I guess I always forgot, that for him, I will always be that little toddler running towards him with big innoncet eyes, depending on him for everything.

While I was writing this poem the words just flowed out. Because behind those words and those stupid fights one truth prevails, that both of us love each other a lot and there is nothing which can change this fact not even ‘the no talking phase’ or those terrible fights. Because this gudiya loves her papa, just like her papa loves her ❤️

So this one is for you Papa !

-Another Mask