Importance of mental health

#78/100

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

John Green

It’s “World Mental Health Day” today and I couldn’t find a better day to talk about this topic. My parents belonged to a generation where talking about mental health or any of the illnesses and disorders related to it was considered a huge stigma. It is considered an untouchable topic by many even today. But am glad the present generation has made continued efforts in breaking the barriers surrounding the most important aspect of human life. People of our generation are open about their feelings, do not shy away from discussing their mental health issues and seek out help when they realize that something is wrong.

I woke up today to the news of a young boy who chose to commit suicide due to depression. He was just 13-14 years old. I’m unable to comprehend the pain that the boy had to go through before he chose to end the misery altogether. He couldn’t talk about it with his parents and they are left with innumerable unanswerable questions in their mind.

For the longest time, I did not talk about my feelings with my parents as well. My relationship with my mother changed after I had a heart to heart discussion with her about everything I had in mind. This step is a lost cause as far as my father is concerned. But I’m glad my mother understands the importance of mental health and lends a patient ear whenever I vent out my frustrations to her.

Many of us might feel that this topic is overrated and we can overcome anything if we wish to. When we experience mental health disorders like panic attacks, anxiety, OCD or depression, our brain undergoes changes that are definitely not under our control. Many a times, we just don’t feel in the mood to do anything in life. We lose all hope for the future and are unable to experience happiness. These feelings are real. The first step to deal with a mental health disorder is “acceptance“. We need to accept that something is wrong with our thought patterns. The next step is to “seek help“. I’ve tried talking to various counsellors with the sole reason to get me out of the negative pattern my brain has gone into. I always wanted a quick and permanent solution to the problem. But it doesn’t work that way. Mental health disorders can be caused due to genes and family history, environmental stress, a traumatic experience, childhood trauma, life experiences or a combination of these factors. These causes accumulate over a period of time and take a long time to show red flags. By the time we realize it, we might not be in a condition to come out of it on our own.

There are few effective ways in which we can maintain a stable mental health if we are willing to work on it every single day. These are techniques that each one of us is aware of yet we are unwilling to take time out to work on ourselves till the situation gets out of hand. I’m trying my level best to create a routine and habit out of these techniques so that I follow them every single day on an “auto-pilot mode“.

  • Workouts : Exercise in any form is a proven way to release endorphins in our brain which makes us happy and healthy. This one has dual effects in maintaining our physical as well as mental health.
  • Meditation : I can’t stress enough about the benefits of meditation in our life. It is incredibly difficult to make this one a habit. We need to push ourselves very hard in the beginning. Yet, the benefits are incredible and almost instantaneous. I have started a practice of meditating right after I wake up. This has proven very effective in maintaining a good routine so far. Meditation has powerful benefits in the long term if practiced daily. It helps us become aware of our thoughts and teaches us not not dwell on every thought in our mind.
  • Journaling : It’s the best way to let out our emotions and understand the pattern of our thoughts. Journaling and writing has helped me find answers to the questions I never had. It helps me in self introspection and understanding myself better. Sometimes, when we are unable to find people to talk to, our journals help us deal with our loneliness. It also helps us to focus on the present moment and live each day as it comes.
  • Gratitude : I wrote an article about this a few days ago. The most powerful practice suggested by my counsellor was to write 3 things I am grateful for every morning and 3 great things that happened during the day in the evening. This is an incredible practice to count our blessings in life and more reasons to be happy.

I wish and pray for your mental health and happiness.

What’s your purpose?

#20/100

I felt like a motivational guru while asking this question. Isn’t this the hot topic of discussion amongst every motivational speaker? It’ll always revolve around these grey topics which might end up confusing people more rather than helping them. People like me feel motivated at first however when things don’t fall in place even after following all the vague rules listed out by the gurus, we feel more empty and lost than ever.

I’ve read a lot of self help books on various topics meant to improve the quality of our life. I’ve tried listening to my absolutely chaotic inner voice with no respite. I’ve watched videos of many successful people who have noticeably made it big in this world. I’ve tried to list down the common traits that exists in all of them. They keep saying, love what you do and everything else would be taken care of.

People talk about following your passion, finding your true self, doing what lights up their soul, but what about the ones who can’t seem to figure out the source that lets them experience these emotions?

Are you as confused as me in this matter? Should I let you on a little secret that I’ve discovered recently? I really like being happy. Happiness drives me to do better, it lights up my soul and I’m completely passionate about it. But my happiness is not restricted to a single source. These days, I’m learning a new language and that makes me immensely happy and fulfilled. A cup of hot steaming green tea, a sweaty workout session, my 20 minute meditation routine, reading a good book, watching a great rom-com, figuring out new things about myself, learning a little more about people and the world, the list is endless. I experience true happiness when I indulge in these activities.

I guess I might have finally figured out my purpose after almost losing all hope to never discover it in my entire lifetime. Can you see how dramatic I can be about these things? I have absolutely no clue how the future will turn out yet somehow I managed to beat myself up everyday for not finding out answers to these “unnecessary philosophical questions”. Yes, I called them unnecessary. Racking my brains behind these questions stressed me out, made me lose my confidence, forced me to look down upon myself and made me lose a lot of my precious time on this planet.

My purpose on this earth is simple, be happy and do everything possible to keep myself truly happy. I don’t want to bind my happiness with a rule book, I just want to be truly happy as much as I can during my time on this planet.

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Down the memory lane

Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.

– Haruki Murakami

#10/100

I really don’t know if the human ability of keeping memories is a good thing. We’d most definitely love to recall the happy events but what about the sad ones? The pain of losing someone, that time when someone broke your heart, failing at that one thing which meant the most to you, betrayed by someone close to your heart or just being let down by your close ones, time and again. What do we do with such memories that just end up causing pain and sadness when we begrudgingly recollect them? Why doesn’t our brain have a functionality to selectively ignore the bad experiences and store only the good ones?

I know our life is a culmination of all types of experiences, the good, bad and ugly. But sometimes these bad remembrances have adverse effects on our present and cloud our vision for the future. A person’s likes, dislikes and entire personality is defined from the kind of encounters that they go through as a child. If a person had a bad childhood, they grow up having deep resentments and regrets in life. It is very difficult to let go of these bad emotions and carry on with their lives. They keep relapsing back to those horrific childhood memories and fear their present as well as future. Therapists and counselors tend to apply Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) while dealing with people with mental health issues. They try and understand the person’s childhood and all the events they have gone through to help them understand their emotions better.

Life would have been simpler with the existence of a reset button in our brain. We would be able to discard all the harmful memories and keep the ones that help us be happy and at peace with ourselves. A baby is born with a clean slate and an optimistic future. Before a human being develops the sense and ability to take their own decisions, their subconscious mind stores all the memories deep inside the brain from the word go. The good ones make you positive, gives you confidence, strength and happiness. The bad ones instills fear, anxiety, sadness, disappointment over events that your conscious mind has no control over.

In hindsight, the human ability of preserving memories is marvelous. They just have to work very hard on reacting to the emotions that are a consequence of these memories in a conducive manner.