An Essay on Mental Health.

An Essay on Mental Health.

Two celebrities took their own lives within one week of each other. One, a talented Bollywood actor. The other, his former manager.

Sushant Singh Rajput was only thirty-four when he committed suicide by hanging. There was no note. Indian media being the Indian media, the family was harassed and photos, circulated. Photos that showed the poor soul lying supine on the bed, ligature marks around his neck. And people kept forwarding those images on social media without showing any respect for the deceased or his grieving family. There were no trigger warnings, either. It shocked me to see how people here lack respect, empathy and common sense. As more details surfaced and as more people shared what they knew about the situation, a couple of major issues came to light. Depression, and the fact that since the Indian film industry only survives on the ‘product of nepotism’, Sushant had also been left feeling unacknowledged. He’d made it to Bollywood without a Godfather to push him, and he was finding it hard to stay afloat. In a conversation with a fan on social media, he confessed that he would be kicked out of the industry if his movie didn’t do well.

While the rest of B-town shared posts on social media talking about how they should’ve been there and been more accepting, keyboard warriors started sending hate to top-tier actors. Case in point: Alia Bhatt getting bullied for her post on Sushant. Kangana Ranaut, another self-made actor, getting way too much hate for speaking up about Sushant’s mysterious suicide. And this is exactly how the cycle never ends. Trolls find someone to bully and sometimes, even the strongest of minds breaks down. And goes places where it’s hard to recover from. And it’s not just celebrities or prominent people that face mental health issues, it’s shockingly sad to see that it’s a thing in every Indian home. A thing most families choose to ignore. A thing many believe – TO THIS DAY – that it’s not an issue at all and can be chased away with a proper beating. Not only is that child abuse, it also worsens the child’s state of mind.

As a Bengali Indian, and now a married woman, I’ve faced my share of bullying, I’ve been pressured into doing something I didn’t want to, made fun of for having clinical depression, been doused with buckets of unsolicited advice, been body-shamed and at the same time, never been taken seriously when I needed to talk to someone. And it pains me to say that many others I know go through some form of mental health problems and are dismissed for wanting to talk about it. In (Bengali) households, fifteen-year-olds are mocked at for being low on energy or having enough courage to say that they’ve been feeling depressed. Many are ridiculed for wanting to choose to study something they find interesting. God forbid should you want to become a photographer or a makeup artist. God forbid if you’re not doing well in med-school. While in others, children are made fun of for being “weepy and dead inside” all the time. They’re dismissed if they’re not interested in the same things their parents like. As they grow older and get married, they’re bombarded with questions about when they’d be gaining or losing some weight or when they’d be making babies, despite being fairly new to the whole “being married” scene. No one asks you what you want or if you’re doing okay. No one checks in on you when you’re struggling to reach out. Some people only want you to be happy while putting pressure on you that if you’re not happy, you’d be henpecked into doing what they want because that’s how the world works. People are in fact so quick to judge that all you’re going to end up getting is a bunch of ridiculous statements ranging from “Get over it” to “You’re just thinking you’re depressed. It doesn’t happen that way. No go do the done thing.”

And all of this is normal. That’s what we’ve all grown up facing and are still facing today.

People are so educated but there is serious lacunae in our understanding of mental health and how important it is for a healthy living. And it’s often the people that post about how they wish they’d been there for someone, are the people that spew the most hate. No one actually likes to listen. And that’s the major issue here. We don’t have good listeners around us. Everyone likes the sound of their own voices too much to ever give someone else a chance to speak. And that’s how we start feeling lonely despite being part of a proper unit. And that’s how we start breaking down. Despite all the “education”, we still consider things like pansexuality or depression as something that should be kept under wraps only.

What if the neighbors or the relatives find out? We’ll be so embarrassed!

Why’s any of this taboo when it’s actually out there affecting people badly enough to make them want to take their own lives? And we know that with the quarantine very much in place, it gets hard to keep a brave front all the time. And we need to learn that it’s okay to let do and to have a breakdown or two. But it’s not okay to not have anyone to reach out. Therapists are there for a reason and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s time we learned to be more accepting, more vigilant and more aware. The time for passing crude judgment has now passed. If we want to live healthy, we’ve got to focus on our mental health first and quit treating it as something that can be shoved under the rug and forgotten. And just saying that we need to do something isn’t enough. It’s time all of us actually DID something about it. It’s June 2020 – so if not now, then when?

Feminism: An Essay.

Feminism: An Essay.

Science has a no-nonsense way of conducting experiments as we were taught in school. Make observations, draw an inference from said observations and the experiments and then supply a conclusion based on the results. Have no bias whatsoever and stay true to facts. That is what I will attempt to do here, be as objective as possible as to determine the cause and effects of lack of equality among human beings.

Before we talk about things like feminism, misogyny, benefit of doubt and subtle changes in the gender hierarchy, we need to talk about human beings as a whole. Dynamics between men and women and how our minds work is of essential importance while trying to understand the existence of complicated issues such as sexism, racism, casteism etc. Let’s observe ancient history, where men and women were barbarians. There was this inexplicable need the males felt when they saw the females, they couldn’t explain it but they NEEDED it. So they used objects to hit women on the head till they were unconscious and drag them into their cave to procreate. Sometimes the females would die, so they adapted & started using blunt objects to only maim and not kill their target. The females, tried to defend themselves but more often than not were physically overpowered. That’s how the seven billion people of today came to be.

“When the chips are down and rules don’t matter these civilized people will eat each other if they have to”, quoting Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight here.

Might seem out of place, but this is very relevant. It speaks about how everything humans do is conditional. And that only the condition matters.

Fast forward to the era between the 1500s to the 1900‘s, humans became much more aware not only of themselves but also of the things around them. Education and art flourished during that period, equal human rights started to seem possible and not just a far-fetched dream. That change came – not without reason – as science advanced scientists found that human bodies were all more or less alike irrespective of gender (excluding reproductive systems, obviously), caste or creed. That shattered the dominant male’s world view, in their opinion they were physically stronger & mentally sharper so they had to be superior, how could they then be considered equal to women? Like every change it not only took a while to implement but also wasn’t accepted by everyone, still isn’t till this day. Seems kind of weird for the mighty human species, the apex predators as we call ourselves, civilized human beings to not be able to make the change in themselves based on reason when barbarians made the change in themselves based on wanting to simply get off. The key point is the change suited the barbarians and their priorities, it did not suit the civilized human males’ priorities. “Kind of weird” is putting it mildly, it’s actually insane. What else would you call someone who completely ignores obvious evidence?

“Insanity is like gravity, all it needs is a push”, second quote I mention from The Dark Knight by Joker which speaks about the condition from the first one, and how that condition just needs a trigger and it can turn into an irrational compulsion, a force that drives you from within to take/not take actions based on facts. In the barbarians that condition was being horny, which drove them to make the change in their style of weaponry. For the civilized men the condition was power, which drove men to deny that the power dynamics were not in their favor, at least based on empirical evidence it wasn’t. I firmly believe this is the reason for feminism to even exist, it’s the incapacity of people to accept change since they weren’t able to place facts over personal priorities.

Feminism proposes the liberation of women from the patriarchal society we have created, & change it into an equal one regarding matters of social, civil & personal rights. A society where people aren’t judged by their gender, but by their abilities. Atleast, that’s what the originators of the ideology imagined.

It took a while for the world to catch on, but the various social media movements such as #metoo and #timesup gripped the world in horror, when people realized how women’s rights are still lacking in majority of the world. Shouldn’t that have been enough to make people realize how messed up our priorities are? Human beings can send machines beyond our own solar system, we can send humans on the moon but we simply cannot accept men & women as equals? That is where another kind of trigger happens where not unlike an auto immune disease the protectors attack what they want to protect.

When a person/people propose a revolutionary theory in any particular matter, the immediate reflex of the human species is to ignore it, to laugh and ridicule it and finally to destroy it. Again, let’s look through history from peace & unity promoters like Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King junior to scientists like Hypatia & Archimedes all of them were murdered. Feminism met with the same ridicule,it wasn’t a person though but an ideology so it couldn’t be killed off. With people taking sides according to their own opinions, a divide came into place which wasn’t much different from the divide caused by race or religion. And that is precisely what brings me to my third and final quote from The Dark Knight, again by the Joker “You either die a hero, or live long enough to watch yourself become the villain.” The hatred spewed in each direction between pro-feminists and anti-feminists, began to blur the lines & before people could know what was happening the victim became the aggressor in the form of feminazi’s and male-bashing. Is that a fair statement?  Women were denied equal rights for centuries, still are in many places and yet they are being held accountable for being overzealous and ending up violating what they claimed to believe in. Are they both the same magnitudes of offence? Definitely not. Does that make it right? Definitely not, but it surely gives men the excuse to stereotype all feminists as feminazi’s and try and draw attention away from the underlying issue.

So what now? Are we doomed to ignoring what the other side is saying and yell our own opinions louder? Will humanity get compartmentalized on the basis of difference of opinion to the extent that people will just stop trusting each other? Depends on what you believe, if you believe the need to prove yourself right exceeds the need to question & analyse what’s right then the Joker would be proud of you.

The reason I keep mentioning the Joker and his lines is because one of the few great things DC comics ever did was to create the character of The Joker. He had no superpowers, but he also didn’t have any delusions about people. He saw the world for what it was and not what he’d like it to be. He had no motives of his own, and that is precisely why he was so dangerous, he knew people. How their minds worked, and that is specifically why this fictional character’s quotes from a somewhat old Hollywood film hits home a little too hard. 

But he wasn’t right in the end of the movie, was he? The people in the bomb-rigged ships carrying the trigger for the other ship didn’t blow each other up. From that I’d like to believe in humanity, I would sleep better knowing that maybe, just maybe at the brink of destruction humanity will do what it does best- evolve. Because that’s all any of us can do really, do our best to learn and listen, and have faith in the people around us.

© Suyash Upadhay, 2019.

When Did The World Get So Overwhelming?

When Did The World Get So Overwhelming?

A friend and I were having this conversation the other day and she said:

“I guess we were all running away from home to bigger places and faster lives and social media attention and now when all of it is ruining us, we are running back to the peace of the little towns and taking a supposed social media detox.

Like why do we even need a break from something which wasn’t even our real lives in the first place?”

She’s a hundred percent correct.

There’s no living space, there’s very little breathable air and no drinkable water. India already has a water crisis going on in a lot of places. And everyone else is just so unaware. Doing things for clout, preaching about feminism that doesn’t feel like feminism anymore and pretending to have chill, happy lives which we should all look up to. Most of us don’t even like our day jobs anymore. In a world where YouTube celebrities and Instagram models are fast becoming role models, where do our moral compasses point to, really?

The thing about the modern world is that you cannot say or do the “right” thing. If you post your opinion online, you’ll get trolled and hated and dragged through the mud for it. You’ll be misinterpreted and misunderstood and nobody will cut you any slack. The world is very accepting, yes that’s true – but it is also very unforgiving at the same time. Everyone is constantly and perpetually triggered and is out for blood. It’s so scary and so overwhelming. And you’ve to think a million times before even posting something as simple as a thoughtful and well-written eyeshadow review, or even a book review dismissing a popular author, because God knows who might get offended. There’s so much going on – Stan culture, cancel culture, pile-on hatred and bigotry – that you don’t even feel remotely safe or comfortable anymore.

And you still go back.

You go back to what hurts you and you want to see what’s going on and it’s like an itch and you keep scratching at it, and you bleed. And you still look at what’s bothering you. Social media addiction is a real thing. And at some level, we’re all afflicted. It’s crazy how we all compare ourselves – both on purpose and subconsciously – to that image of some influencer’s perfect. We choose to flaunt fake stories, we choose to show happy when we’re really NOT. There’s a rise in divorce rates. Cheating incidents. Scandals. People feel so entitled to take what’s already taken, and they don’t stop to think or analyze. There’s a rise in immorality and a serious fall in moral values. And if you dare say anything, you’re just a depressed piece of turd that’s moral policing and has no life. They say, Live and Let Live, And before we could realize it, it’s turned into Die and Let Die, but don’t say anything. It’s twisted, really, when we could be idolizing real people with real stories, but we choose not to give them any importance. The ones actually making a difference only exist in the footnotes of some super obscure magazines. Or they exist as obituaries in newspapers yellowing with age – they were the real influencers. The real feminists. And it’s scary today, to see to how far people calling themselves modern influencers will go, for mere likes and followers, losing themselves in the process.

When did social media become our whole lives?

A Total Bloodbath

A Total Bloodbath

I cannot keep quiet any longer.

People love to hate on doctors in India. We’re termed as moneymongers, bigots and a whole lot of offensive things I don’t want to get into. Which is fine. I’m sure haters exist for the sole purpose of entertainment. That’s fine too.

What isn’t okay with me is the fact that people think it’s completely normal to beat people up.

I come from a state where the the ruling body happens to be headed by a tyrant, who uses power to uplift one religion and appease its followers, while shaming the other. There have been incidents, documented on video and in the papers, of a certain house of worship condemning the other religion and asking for blood. Why am I talking about this? If you’ve read the news or been on Twitter, you’d notice that the doctors attacked and stoned haven’t been given protection. Security hasn’t been tightened. I wonder if things would have been different if there was a bit of a role-reversal. The cops just stood and watched, the mob came and beat doctors up, and the CM was busy inaugurating hotels and she never paid heed to the situation.

I’ve had situations were people have abused me because apparently I didn’t know a thing. It’s not true.

Doctors take the Hippocratic oath, when they graduate. You’re bound by duty and humanity to treat patients and never discriminate. My dad, who’s had a thirty year long career as an ophthalmologist, gives free treatment on Wednesdays, including free surgery and free medication. All of this goes overlooked. No good deed, actually, goes unpunished. People never thank doctors when treatments are successful but they get a huge mob or two, or a million, to beat us up when things go wrong.

And everyone out here is making it all about politics not realizing that all doctors have ever wanted was an ounce of respect and to not be killed on the job.

Also, Bengal has a lot of illegal immigrant Bangladeshis, and they’re the reason why there’s so much bloodshed in the state. Although the border is seemingly under the control of the Central Government, strangely enough things don’t work that way in Bengal. There have been cow smuggling incidents and funnily enough, people aren’t allowed to vote – the ruling party has minions at their disposal that ensures that the voting system is tampered with. And Bengal is quickly turning into Bangladesh too.

Which brings me to the incident that happened a couple days ago – doctors took to the streets to protest but the violence has managed to spill over and spread to the BDS students. You cannot protest, you cannot vote, you cannot have an opinion and if your patient dies despite your having followed protocol, you’re going to be killed because that’s the right thing to do. Why? Because you’re a second generation doctor and you deserve to be stoned to death. Several doctors have resigned and we are going to face a shortage in doctors because no one wants to die serving people.

This is British Rule all over again, except that this time the tyrants are both illiterate and abusive. Which to me, is the deadliest combination that can ever happen. The worst part is that people that don’t live here, that don’t understand what’s going on, are the ones with the strongest opinions against all that the people of Bengal stand for. Our cops aren’t on our side, you guys. The hardest reality that hit me with the force of a speeding train was the fact that the cops never made any arrests. The CM has them on a string and they do her bidding. I wish the police would for once, grow a pair and make their own unadulterated decisions. Whoever makes a mistake, should be punished. Whoever is innocent, should be spared. It should not be based on your religion or your race or your political beliefs. If you’re in power, please be just. Don’t be an appeaser.

How difficult is that?

Seasonal Patriotism

Seasonal Patriotism

Well, something happened this year. I saw a crap ton of flags on cars. 

India was declared independent on August 15, 1947. And everyone’s been tweeting about #70yearsofindependence. Who messed up this simple math? Why didn’t anyone bother to correct people? It’s been 69 years, not 70. Why does everyone want to make poor Mother India a septuagenarian a whole 365 days before her birthday? How uncool.

I also saw droves of people, their faces painted saffron, green, white and blue – the national colors of the Indian flag – do this rally thing on the freeway. With flags. All pointing down. Without helmets. Nobody arrested them. The Indian Constitution clearly states that the only people who can use flags on their vehicles include the President and the Prime Minster. And you can’t put the flag at half mast unless someone is being mourned. 

The whole code is something everyone that claims to be Indian should know. It’s appalling how poorly history is being taught in schools. 

Also, this whole seasonal patriotism bothers me. As much as it bothers me when people spit in public. Patriotism isn’t something you buy in stores on 26 January and 15 August. It’s funny because you won’t spring to attention when they play the national anthem at the movies or sporting events. You won’t bother if they play it on TV because hey, why would you stand up when it’s not being played in front of you when you’re actually at said event. Right? 

You won’t even know what’s going on at the Olympic Games because hey, who cares if some guy called K. Srikanth made it to the Badminton Quarter finals this year at Rio. Right? Because your pouting selfies and your pecs are more important than knowing that there are people trying to do India proud. 

When you say you’re proud to be an Indian, don’t just say it. Mean it. 

That there are people fighting to change what the world thinks of India. Stop being seasonal. Start with the little acts of actually being patriotic. 

Remember what Gandhi said: 

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

 

No matter what Winston Churchill thought of the half naked fakir of India, the Bapu did get something right. 

Jai Hind!

I Voted!

I Voted!

And it was crazy because the booth was empty. It was eight in the morning and the goddamned booth was frigging empty! And then people have the nerve to complain that the country is going to the dogs. It’s crazy. I mean, you can’t wake up to cast a vote and you expect things to be peachy. *insert applause*

image
Yes, they ruin your manicure. Glad my nails were bare.

How typical.

Everyone says you gotta be the change you want to see in the world, blah blahetty blah. And they all expect so much. I only want a politician with a heart. Even though politics means a vicious group of blood sucking insects (poly – many, tics – bloodsucking insects) and it’s really foolish to expect no extortion. But still.

I voted because I have hope. Hope that someday, somehow, we will have better people in the Government that don’t encourage corruption and don’t ignore heinous crimes like rape and honor-killing. And I hope that someday India will stop being “developing” and become “developed” instead. I hope that one day, people will have the dignity of labor and not treat cleaning ladies and petrol bunk workers as filth and less than human. That the literacy rate will peak. That we won’t have jealously and wars. And I hope, for Lord’s sake, caste-ism will be gone for good.

And that Indians, the biggest racists of them all, will stop being that way.

Please, God.

Thinking Back

Thinking Back

For over a year, I tried (and failed) to steer my blog in one definite direction. I lost the handful of friends I had. I lost love. I lost myself. I try to keep this space as entertaining as I can but there’s only so much you can rant about. And I’m not Narcissa Malfoy, so I refuse to go about my life acting like there happened to be a nasty smell under my nose.

This is not me.

I’m not a beauty blogger. I’ve never been to cosmetology school. I don’t know anything about anything. I’m just a random uninteresting third person with a random uninteresting blog. I haven’t created anything nor spread love. I need to stop talking about all things makeup and get my head back in my books where it belongs.

Now that I think of it, I’ve only been self-obsessed on here. I actually believed for a while that people did love me and they did care. Little did I know that I’m just… uninspiring. I’m nothing special. I’m a geek that happened to think glamour would make me feel okay – I was so wrong. I’ve never had anybody or anything but my books.

Come to think of it, they never ditched me.

image
Lost in the pages.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. It’s the start of the new year in my part of the country and I’m still stuck in 2015. When I stopped reading. I stopped being that voracious reader I used to be, I stopped doing what my blog was all about and I stopped being myself and tried to be cool. Cool doesn’t sit with me. I’m not meant for that sort of awesomeness. Certain people reading this would scoff to themselves and say, “Bitch thinks she’s the center of everyone’s world. Trying to gain sympathy. Sheesh.”

Truth is, I don’t need it. Nor do I want it. There are times in life when you stop and go back into the shell you emerged from. This is it for me. Why the sudden drama you ask? Well, I am the child of the moon. I’m a Cancerian. And a woman. I’m prone to these unbecoming-of-a-blogger mood swings. But then I’m not a blogger. I’m a boring nobody who went to med school in this boring corner of the planet. Don’t mind me.

Gonna wipe the dust off my chair and go read.

image
Thank you, words.