“She is one of us, just an average, ordinary woman…
a daughter, a wife & a mother…
And yes, She is a braveheart too,
just like me & YOU!!”
It was one of the hottest afternoons of May that year and we were sitting in her air conditioned office eating our lunch, when I began to sweat after listening to what she just told me. She was Senior Manager in a Public Bank. Tall, skinny, slightly shrewd looks but gentle, cool & calm eyes. She held her pepper & salt hair head high gracefully & her face had an amused look. Something about her expressions told me that she was laughing at me.
I had requested for a half an hour meeting for a case study to collect some final details with her in person, on how she managed her work life balance & does she agree with the fact that emotional intelligence was important in her profession, as part of my research work. It was way past the lunch hour now. As a rule, I do my homework pretty well. I had done a research about her profile, how she started her career as a junior clerk & her first rural assignments, how she never succumbs to pressures at work (well most the times) & how motivates her team, wherever she has worked. She is amongst the most popular managers around and so, I couldn’t believe when she mentioned about her living in depression for over 3 years & more. She had a reason to look amused.
“You, depressed?? I can’t believe that you ever felt depressed in your life!!!”, I was expecting to see a twitch of pain in her eyes, when I said that. But the look on her face told me that she had already overcome this menace. And I began to wonder…
When an individual shows the signs of withdrawal and we as a family or a friend or the work groups, ignore, for choose not to notice it, we as a community fail !! But why the community? Because, we are social animals, we live in smaller closer groups called families, called friends, called cults. But when we become insensitive towards each other, an increase in such withdrawal incidences are reported as suicides. Psychiatrists say that some people have more prominent suicidal tendencies as compared to others. I am of the opinion that we all have fight or flight instincts, while most times we all fight with the situations in our best possible way and when the fight becomes too much we give up & flight. While each one of us face situations that leave us devastated, the most fortunate people seek & get comfort from family & friends, for others substance abuse comes to rescue.
“You see, the thing with depression is that it’s not like a physical illness or something that are apparent, these are only some symptoms. If you are fortunate your family, friends or close relatives will notice it, else it goes unacknowledged. While discussing with you, on how I manage my “chilled out temperament”, I must tell you that it wasn’t like this always”.
“So, what worked for you, how did you get out of depression?”, I decided to dig deeper.
“Self-Care & Self-Love!!”, she said. And I couldn’t believe what I heard, did she say SELF-LOVE?? Isn’t one supposed to love others? And when you are depressed, aren’t we supposed to think negative??
“Yes, you heard it correct. My anchor was, Self-Love !! When I was going through this ” by far the toughest” phase of my life, I had to choose either to sit & sulk or pull up myself & run. I decided to pull up myself & walk, because running was a bit difficult, I had just delivered a baby, then”, and she cracked into laughter. I was taken aback, wasn’t she supposed to feel low & negative? She had gone through a nightmarish experience in her life. But as they say, that doesn’t break you, makes you strong. And here she was sitting right in front of me, cracking jokes. She sensed my uneasiness & warned me about her sense of humor. “Life has taught me be able to laugh at myself. So here I am, laughing !! But trust me, my journey was typically like any other, not an easy one. I had my share of hardships, my insecurities & hence my learnings”.
Contrary to the common belief, when someone is feeling depressed, s/he thinks CONSTANTLY about themselves, all the time. It’s just that we become our own biggest critic!!! While misery loves company, we feed ourselves more negativity, much more than we can digest, and as a result, DIARRHOEA !!! (the intensity & frequency varies from individual to individual). I was waiting for her to explode but she went very poised, calm & at peace with herself. That confused me further.
“I hale from a small town Palakkad, in Kerala. Back then, in our community, girls were not encouraged to study beyond HSc, but I was reasonably bright & more persistent than all seven of my siblings so could pursue it further. My eldest sister died of tuberculosis, she survived by her husband & a 5 years old daughter. By then all my elders sister were married, and so my parents pushed me into marrying my Brother-In-Law who was working in Middle-East. I was only 17 years, I tried to make my parents understand that I wanted to study further after finishing my school & didn’t want to get married so soon but my parents were hellbend. For them, it made perfect sense and it was the only solution to both their problems, my niece & Me. The little girl was very attached with me & so was I.”
“The age difference between my new husband & me was over 14-15 years. Next couple of years, I had multiple miscarriages as I was not ready both physically & mentally. But just this once, I was able to retain my pregnancy for all 3 trimesters. I gave birth to a still born child !!”
“By then I had lost whatever confidence & positivity I was left with. When in hospital, many times the thought had crossed my mind to kill myself, to end this misery. There was a Malayali Nurse in the hospital who had sensed depression settling in me and made sure that I was never alone. She would ensure that I was eating well, taking my medicines & at nights would read me Bible. That love & care given was unconditional. It helped me restore my faith in myself & God.
I was only 21, with no friends to talk to, my niece was my only company. I could never get along with my husband. I was clueless & aimless of what was to happen to me, when the hell broke on us. My husband died in a road accident. There was no place for us to stay, so we came back to Palakkad, and some money with us. It was here that I picked up my life again. May be, because for the first time in my life I felt in-charge, felt capable to taking some decisions, didn’t matter how small, but I could decide for myself & my niece, who by now was almost as close as a daughter can be. We both picked up our studies in the government school near by and then never looked back.”
“I had always believed that God had planned a different life for me. But what kept me going was- The Desire to Learn !!” Then she showed me, a small handwritten note- which said- Don’t Give up , Seek Support & Love Yourself !! While the first two were self explanatory, I asked about Self-Love. “If I had not loved myself more than my miseries, I would have given up long back. So today, I make sure that I create sometime for myself- even if its 30 mins every day, its my-time for myself !”, she shared her anti-dote to depression!!
Today, she works for a bank & her daughter after completing her MBA runs an NGO that works closely with Girl-Child-Education.
Wishing both of the BRAVEHEARTS, a great deal of success !!
The Blogger Me !!
https://www.facebook.com/RealDepressionProject/videos/513502879074724/#selfcare, #mentalwellbeing, #yoga, #meditation, #selflove, #bravehearts, #girlchildeducation, #depression, #metime, #sayno