What You See Is Not What It Is

 

In a recent parents-teacher meeting I was told by my daughter’s class teacher that she has a ‘severe attitude problem’. My daughter, two weeks short of turning 11, as the teacher continued to tell, refuses to mix up with the girls in the class. She chooses to ignore them. I was not surprised by what I was told as my daughter shares just about everything that happens in the school. Only that I would not have used the word ‘attitude’ and that too bolstered by the adjective ‘severe’.

Some people just can’t make friends easily and my daughter happens to be one of them. I will not use the word ‘different’ for her. She just hasn’t come across like-minded people of her age. She does make an effort to understand their jokes, gossips, trivia and she just doesn’t get them. Last she told me that when she sat with another girl in the class, the girl asked her to not to sit next to her and the reason being : “I don’t like your face!” And another time when my daughter wanted to borrow some paints for the art activity, a girl snubbed her by saying that she didn’t have any to offer her and even if she did , she would not lend it to her.

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How do you expect my daughter to react? How would you react if you are told your face is dis-likeable? My daughter chose to ignore. I don’t see what argument she could have put up on this and she is grown up enough to know when exactly to complain to the teacher and when not! It must be painful for having been told things like this but she does not express her feelings to me – just plain facts.

Fortunately being in a co-ed school, she has the other gender to try making friends with and voila! she has 2-3 boys as her friends now. At least she is lucky to have this option. I have been to only all-girls’ schools which has its own set of pros and cons. But that saga is for another day. 

Coming back to the parents-teacher meet, given the academic and administrative pressure on the teachers I don’t blame them from forming opinions just on the basis of what they see. As a parent I am happy that I chose to refute what the teacher had to say rather than nodding my head in agreement and getting over with the once-in-a-quarter meeting on a Saturday morning as usually I prefer. I am happy that I am aware of the emotional roller coaster ride most children including my daughter, especially pre-teens and teens, go through in life, particularly in school. There are some scars from my school time that will remain unhealed forever and I am glad that I have them as I feel I can understand my child’s psyche better.

I daily look forward to her tales from school and usually it is these little episodes that gives me a better insight to her mental growth. Studies and sports can take a backseat. It is what in the mind that I try to delve in as this is what will shape her as a woman eventually.

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photo above: daughter using Snapchat and its filter

 

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My twig got stuck – comprehending depression at its nascent stage

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In the roller coaster ride of life, I have at this time hit the bottom (or is the trench even deeper?). I choose to be aloof, I choose to talk and meet a ‘chosen few’ and I choose to reflect on things that I would never otherwise. Reflection has never come naturally to me as I have always gone with the flow – where my life is like a twig that has fallen in the stream and it flows at the pace of the water current. It has been mostly a very smooth ride with only now and then some thing or somebody picking up the twig out of curiosity for a while and then throwing it back into the water body (much to my respite!). At this point the twig has been stuck to a tree by the stream. It can feel the current rush around it but nonetheless, it is stuck. I would call this point being stagnant. Others would call it boredom and depending on the state of mind and the length of stagnancy some may even call it being lonely and depressed.

I have understood loneliness and sadness, despite never consciously subjecting myself to the term ‘depression’, much better at this stage of life. No amount of reading about others mental state is helpful. No matter how many happy quotes you read, it is very difficult to bring yourself up and get going.

I have understood why depression is co-related to loneliness. Why it is difficult to ask for help when one is undergoing this phase in life? Here are my reasons pointed:

  1. Because you don’t have a sad club to join. You are on your own.If you are sensible you would know that whining before family and friends has a certain limitation. The more you whine the more agitated they will be with you at one point. If they cannot express their agitation they will be barely listening to you – not hearing you. People will tell you to meet friends more often, go out, join a book club or a riders club or take up zumba or even practise yoga. Do they help? I can’t vouch for any but most in my area from my experience of taking my daughter to these dance, art and yoga lessons have taught me that they are plain money-making machines. There is less or no learning. If the purpose is to make new friends and socialise, you begin to realise how fake people look around you. You hate to be around depressed souls so why should they be around you? You fake just as they when you join them!
  2. Because though people say never compare the story of your life with the others as you are on a different chapter than theirs but you just can’t help it. While I write this and struggle to increase my workflow, I have just heard my phone beep. Upon checking my notification from a recently downloaded no-nonsense news app is that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made 3.4 bn USD in an hour after positive second quarter earnings. Wow! Ok, he and his ilk are rich shots and they make insane money and no way my life chapters are ever reaching theirs (practically writing!) but then when you start to look around people nearby whose chapters could be possibly nearer yours, you can’t but help making comparisons. Suddenly their life looks glamorous. they are getting promoted, they are switching jobs, they are getting huge bonuses, some are bored with their world travels. So when you make an effort to get up, get out and visit them in order to cheer yourself up, you end up returning home more depressed.
  3. Because you do not want to get out of your comfort zone. It is connected to the first point. There may not be a sad club but joining a happy club is an effort. Your home is your comfort zone. Not realising that it has imprisoned you. That drive to push you out of the house is missing. You have become an unknown parasite feeding on the comforts provided by your loved ones. You begin to adapt to this environment. Everything is being provided for so what else could you want? You are all to yourself. You are not making friends. You are not making enemies. You are doing nothing.
  4. Because you do not want to break down. You want to look strong. You try hard to believe that all will be ok but when? You know good times follow the bad times but how long is the bad time to be? There are thousands of inspirational quotes on every cloud having a silver lining, light at the end of the tunnel and storm before the calm but nobody can tell how long the storm will last, how long the tunnel is and when will the silver lining of the cloud be displayed. Not everyone is as patient as the other. While some don’t breakdown, others just drift to another world. I have imagined just laying on the water on my back with my eyes closed and it is a beautiful feeling. i do not have the courage to go to another world on my own but I have realised that if someone decides to do this, one should not call them weak as nobody can take this course of action in a weak state of mind. Respect them. They must have gone through a lot.

So, how does one fight and get out of loneliness and sadness?

I will tell you when it happens! The tunnel can’t be that long after all! 🙂

 

img: me!

 

from oww to wow – conquering pain

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Many a time when a non-inked person looks at my tattoo-ed Koi on the back of my neck I know the questions that I would be asked and one of it is always: ‘ was it not painful?’ The truth is that it wasn’t. I was alright all through out. The tattoo artist, a Brazilian was very passionate from the start of drawing the sketch on a small piece of paper to the final stage of colouring the little koi on my skin. The question of pain has come up so many times that it has made me stop and reconstruct the day it happened six years ago and figure out my emotions. It has led to my coming up with varied answers: ‘yeah, a little bit!’, ‘it was just as if I was being scratched’. I even go onto justify some times why was it a little or no pain with the reason being: perhaps it was on my back which is a hard portion and it has less flesh etc etc. I am not claiming that there was no pain at all but it was like an any day when you get a cut, bite or a small wound. I would not go on making a deal about it. I see my men friends with a cut on their cheeks after a shave and it has never been an issue. Perhaps getting a tattoo or body piercing attracts more attention toward the pain as this is a conscious decision to get wounded. A decision considered foolish by many who are however okay with ears and nose piercing.

I am not waxing lyrical on tattoos here. It is about pain. The physical pain. One thing which we have in common with everyone in the world. The other abstracts like happiness, sorrow, jealousy can be hidden or denied but not pain. You see somebody or the other complaining about a type of pain invariably. How does one manage a pain without using the painkillers? Simple: 1) By working on the pain! 2) By getting used to the pain.

In a recent freak accident a friend of mine had his right shoulder dislocated (which he was able to put it back in the socket right away), and he spent the next four to five days in a zombie state. He took to sleeping pills besides other pain killers. His sleeping pattern and routine got awry. The doctor had to finally tell him to stop using the pills and learn to manage the pain. He was recommended a physiotherapist to work on his loose shoulder. He has got much better since.

I was impervious to the tattoo pain as compared to my recent strange pains (lets not get into the giddiness I felt after I got down from the ‘twirl-a-whirl’ ride which I accompanied my daughter last week!). My new pair of specs for one gave me a hard time for more than a month. I hadn’t thought that switching from plastic to metal would give me severe headaches. The sticks that go behind the ears crushed my temples. I felt worse as I had spent good money on my designer (yeah, I mean fragile and the high maintenance) glasses! Being prescription glasses (and even if it wasn’t!) there was no way I was going to get a replacement. The thought that it was so expensive and I couldn’t exchange them, stressed me more. I remember how the first time when I wore them on a short-haul flight it gave me a severe headache. However, as days rolled by and with more usage (I usually wear a pair of lenses when I go out and choose to have a hazy vision at home!) I felt finally ‘at home’ wearing them. The sticks fit behind my ears very smooth.

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And how can I forget the dental pain! Everyone who visits a dentist knows what the pain is like especially if an extraction is involved. I must say I was very bold when a few tooth extractions took place a decade ago. However what surprised me recently was when a ‘crown’ was being placed on one of my open tooth that had gone through a severe process of root canal. I felt as if my dentist was fixing a stone. I conveyed my feelings to him who then asked me to hold that little crown in my hand. It was so light. I did feel heavy in my mouth for a few days and was cursing myself for not having taken care of my teeth but all was back to normal after some time.

I had conquered the physical pain. Got used to it or managed it or both.

A small pain (a recent cat bite), and a slightly bigger than a small pain (when I fell down as I jogged : Interpreter of Falls with a thud) tell me many different things: to not to play with that silly stray cat; to not to dream as I jog but never to hate the pain. I have learnt to embrace it.

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It is just the mental fears that I think I will have to live with. I don’t think I can thinking of bungee jumping.

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Images:

  1. my little koi inked in 2006
  2. my new pair of glasses with my daughter at the back photo bombing – Feb 2016
  3. tooth image courtesy: https://drbase.s3.amazonaws.com/attachment/887ef998cc-99863/tooth%20extraction.jpg
  4. cat bite – May 2016
  5. Ginger, the cat who bit me – May 2016