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?

Fitness In The Time Of Corona

Fitness In The Time Of Corona

Admit it: there have been a million times when you’ve complained that the gym was too crowded. Or that people had zero hygiene in there. And that you felt weird working out in front of other people. And you ended up not going in for your fitness sessions while that membership you bought died a slow, unmemorable death. Admit it.

And then the Corona Pandemic struck and you told your friends: I was supposed to start working out tomorrow, duuuuuuuude, but the stupid gym’s closed! And you went ahead, plonked your laptop on to your lap, put on your earphones and started binge watching FRIENDS all over again, while the bags of chips and soda bottles accumulated rather nastily on the floor. Admit it.

The thing is, you can’t blame a pesky virus for neglecting your fitness goals. Remember the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? I’ll go to the gym five days a week. I’ll eat quinoa and kale and snack on berries when I’m hungry. I’ll give up on alcohol and sugar and trans fat. Remember that? No, right? Everything has flown out of the window, and it didn’t even take a day of Coronavirus situation.

In order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, we’re all staying indoors. Some of us are panic-buying provisions. Some of us are eating too much at a go. Many people are drinking WAY too much and smoking joints and they seem to have forgotten that it’s just as bad to have lung cancer. I mean, YOLO, right? Wrong. Our lifestyle has gone from varying forms of active to one hundred percent sedentary. Which means that if you’re someone who, let’s say, is on a fifteen hundred calorie per day allowance with a three hundred calorie burn allowance, you’re actually just adding the whole calorie budget, AND THEN SOME, into your body since you’re not getting any exercise. That sentence was a mouthful but you need to know that I feel very strongly about this.

I know it’s hard to resist food during times like this. Specially when you’ve gone out of your way and hoarded everything, including other people’s share. You eventually end up stress-eating because WFH feels more like WTF and you legit. Cannot. Stop. Eating. And despite all my preaching *heh heh* I’m honestly no saint, either. At the same time, I don’t want to emerge from the quarantine looking like this:

NOT that it’s bad or gross to look like that, but I don’t want central obesity, heart attack and I know how terrible the hospital situation is, globally. So, issa no. I’m trying my best to stay fit without feeling the need to depend on outdoor or gym activities, and I’m not doing much, not really, but I feel like it’s the little things:

• Limiting calorie intake: It’s been a week since I’ve gone into complete self-isolation with the husband, and I’ve reduced my calorie intake by about one-third of my everyday calorie allowance. Do I feel good about myself? No, not really. But is my body working fine? Yes. No paunches reported.

• Home workouts: That yoga mat and Chloe Ting and lightweight dumbbells are coming in handy. Chloe posts a bunch of workout videos that are super easy to follow, while being super effective at the same time. Here’s the link to her two-week shredding programs – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAFs3kxY4h18ubPUONHriXCgo0YD4rmSW. She also posts meal plans that are super filling – I’ve tried a few of them, and they work.

When NOTHING works, you can actually walk around in your living room. It’s the little things, it’s always the little things.

• Doing my chores – This brings me to my last point. Mopping the floors and doing the dishes, doing the laundry and climbing up a bunch of stairs, actually sweeping the floor instead of asking your cleaning lady to do it, burns a crap ton of calories. Belly today, washboard tomorrow. Thanks to the pocha. Thanks to the Corona Pandemic, I’ve also been hydrating like a fish. Just water, I promise you, works wonders.

At this point I can’t even laugh at my own jokes anymore. I’m petrified of what’s happening. Staying in and doing chores and making sure I am not a reason for the spread has put a lot of thought into perspective. Human life is so fragile and the worst part is we ruin things by not following protocol. Or caring about things. It’s a pandemic of epic proportions and each one of us needs to be responsible. And you don’t need me to tell you this, but for YOUR sake, stay home and stay safe. On that note…

How are you staying fit during these dark times?

Quotable Quotes, So Relevant in 2019

Quotable Quotes, So Relevant in 2019

You read a book, and a part of it sticks with you. Sometimes even for ever. Some of these quotes are so beautiful, you want to get them printed on tees and on mugs. And some become the wallpapers that adorn your phone or your laptop. Here are ten of my absolute favorites, starting with a quote from a book I happened to read only yesterday.

• You can’t sit on the fence for ever.

My Sister The Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite

• Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell

Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

Turtles All The Way Down, John Green

• It’s one thing to fall in love. It’s another to feel someone else fall in love with you, and to feel a responsibility toward that love.

Every Day, David Levithan

I’m constantly left to wonder if the people we are online will lever materialize in real life.

Puddin’, Julie Murphy

There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

In my opinion, most marriages are based either on money or on the fear of being alone.

The Other Woman, Daniel Silva

• Men who want to get married
propose. You don’t need to read the signs. They propose and that’s the sign.

Wedding Night, Sophie Kinsella

Rich folks can tolerate almost anything, but not rejection.

The King of Torts, John Grisham

What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.

Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami

What are some of your favorite book quotes?

I’ve Been Sticking To A Routine, And…

I’ve Been Sticking To A Routine, And…

Before we start, can you guys believe it’s September already? Life’s totally like toilet paper, and it seems to unroll faster as you start nearing the end. I don’t know where I read that, but it’s so true.

It’s currently 5:31 in the morning here in India. I’m a pretty early riser and I don’t give Sundays a miss. I’ve been sticking to a routine for the past couple of months and I’ve noticed major changes. Major. So, does sticking to a semi-strict or strict schedule work? Yes, a hundred percent. Here’s how –

• SLEEP:

I’ve noticed that I, as well as people around me, tend to be irritable if we don’t get enough sleep. This problem could easily be solved by forcing your body and mind to adapt to a routine and sticking to it. Consistency is key, and we often forget that. Fixing your own biological clock is way more important anything else.

And now that I give my body a good six hours of sleep, I’m doing great.

• MEALTIMES:

I used to have this really awful breakfast habits. Sometimes I would even skip a meal because I thought it was okay. And I’d often forget to drink water.

It’s been a few months since I’ve turned my schedule around and I make sure to eat before 9 in the morning. Plus, I’ve cut back completely on coffee and sugar and I don’t drink water between meals. I actually use this app that reminds me to log in my water intake. I love that.

Do I notice a difference? Yes. I don’t really get the munchies anymore. There’s also zero indigestion problems. Go me!

• SKINCARE:

I’m upset because I have good skin, said no one ever. People with good skin often take care of it and eat just right. For the rest of us, with skin problems like dehydration or acne, a skincare routine is key.

I started wearing moisturizer and sunscreen everyday. I mask twice a week. And then I use a sheet mask once a week. I also exfoliate twice a week and again, drink water like a thirsty fish. I’ve also stopped wearing way too much makeup on the daily – I don’t need to anymore – and it’s made me realize that if your skincare game is at level 1000, you don’t even need to wear any makeup at all. Men in my family with great skin don’t wear makeup but they do have a skincare routine – and no it’s not elaborate at all – and it works for them.

I’m still starting out properly, but I know I’ll have amazing results.

• WORKOUTS:

I’ve been following @chloe_t‘s workouts for a while now, and she has these amazing programs that are all free. She’s got ab workouts, arm workouts and everything else that you might need. Also, these workouts are beginner friendly and you can join in on her challenges. Super effective, trust me.

Six days of workouts a week, based on her calendar schedules, have actually toned my body up considerably. All because I’ve been consistently following a routine and I don’t deviate from it.

Do you follow a schedule?

Existential Crisis

Existential Crisis

When the lights are out

When everyone else is fast asleep

Dreaming happy dreams

With happy memories to keep

I lie awake

Contemplating things, scary things

In real life I pretend I’m okay

But on the inside, I’m deeply unhinged

I’ve got it all, I know

People say they’d be happy if they were me

They’re not missing much

There’s only disappointment and misery

Sometimes I hate myself

The way I look, the way I am

The way I let other people freeload

Like it’s normal, like it’s okay, like it’s my jam

Knowing full well that I stand alone

That there’s nobody that’s gonna rush in

To help me out when I’m in need

Sometimes breathing is a sin

Everyone else’s world has color

Mine has all shades of gloom

I try, I fail, I get up, I stumble, I crash

And I feel empty even in a crowded room

“Meat.”

“Meat.”

It says “wifey” right there on my Instagram bio. That never stopped a bunch of guys from sliding into my DMs because they wanted to tap that. Do these people NOT have parents? Do basic manners not exist in 2019?

Apparently not.

I ran an Instagram social experiment and paid to boost one of my posts. This is the photo I “boosted”.

As you can tell, there’s no skin show. Just my hands, my face and my phone. My phone isn’t showing any skin, either. I’m not someone that ever wears clothing that shows a ton of cleavage or arms. I’m not someone that even has a bikini body to begin with, so I don’t wear bikinis. And despite being so covered up, stuff like this didn’t hesitate to show up.

India has this rampant rape culture and my photo is PROOF in the pudding, that it’s not about what you’re wearing. You could be in a potato sack and your hair could be a greasy mess, and you would still get objectified and propositioned to, even flashed. There have been no naked photos in my DMs – yet – and I consider myself very lucky.

What does all of this mean?

That there’s something seriously wrong with India. If you happen to be a woman, you will be – invariably – treated as meat. There will be human versions of rabid wolves fighting to sink their teeth into your skin. To claim and to maim. To destroy, pilfer and damage beyond repair.

I hate to think of what would happen if I posted a photo of mine from my workout sessions.

And it’s terrifying to me that WOMEN, and sometimes men, have to live in constant fear of the possibly of getting attacked if they don’t go into hiding. The whole social experiment proves that it’s not about how you’re posing on your Insta, it’s not about how you talk, it’s got nothing to do with your personality – you’re basically just someone’s meat. And that’s the bitter truth.

This is what scares me to death.

When Did The “BODY POSITIVITY” Movement Get Hijacked?

When Did The “BODY POSITIVITY” Movement Get Hijacked?

I’ve been seeing a lot of “body positivity” posts that are promoting plain simple obesity to be honest.

It is one hundred percent okay to love yourself but it’s kinda wrong, you know, to stuff yourself and never get any exercise. I know people that follow unhealthy lifestyles, and fall prey to diseases like hypertension and diabetes type two. They justify their behavior and call themselves curvy and they’re leading you to believe that morbid obesity is the new normal.

When I think of body positivity, the first thought that comes to mind is accepting yourself, all of your imperfections. Albinism. Crooked teeth. Heterochromia. Freckles. Birth marks. Unibrows. Everything you were born with. Body positivity doesn’t mean making yourself unhealthy by neglecting yourself and taking a drum to the streets, announcing that being morbidly obese is the new normal. There’s a lot of obese people all over – sporting beer bellies, with BMIs that are over thirty, and having to battle things like atherosclerosis, because they INSIST on eating pizza every day rather than choose something healthy. They’d rather go drinking every weekend, than actually hit the gym to stay in shape. And they body-shame people that run Instagram fitness accounts. And they have hijacked the body positivity movement and they are now insisting that being unhealthy is super cool because that’s what being curvy looks like. I beg to differ. Here’s what curvy looks like:

And she’s far from being fat or unhealthy.

As opposed to this:

Your heart is only programmed to pump so much, don’t make it overwork and don’t kill yourself. How hard is that? It’s so important to cut back on alcohol and sugar, both of which do zilch for your body. I feel so strongly about this only because I used to be overweight and I was super unhealthy. But now that I’ve changed my eating habits and made a lot of lifestyle changes, I actually feel and look good. And it makes me happy.

What’s your take on this? Do you think the body positive movement has somehow been hijacked by the over-promotion of obesity?

Friday Binge: Movie Recommendations! *contains spoliers*

Friday Binge: Movie Recommendations! *contains spoliers*

It’s Friday, and it’s probably raining where you are – or it’s really really HOT, and you’re tired from a long week at work. And if you’re like me, you’ve also got zero inclination to leave the house. Which is why, you’re probably going to binge watch a lot of stuff and binge eat and then chill.

Here are five movies you might like:

• The Queen’s Corgi.

This one has to be my absolute favorite. An animated movie, about a Corgi called Rex, that belongs to the Queen of England, animated versions of Melania and Donald Trump AND cute little puppies? Yes, please. Also, Rexie gets caught up in the underground world of dog-fights. If you’ve watched Fight Club and loved it, you’ll love this cute movie.

• Murder Mystery.

Aniston and Sandler (sporting a mustache) are a husband and wife duo that get involved in a very Agatha Christie kind of plot. Hilarious, fast paced and witty, and not to mention that Aniston made me question my sexuality while she was driving the Ferrari, this is a must watch in my book.

• Cecil.

The story of a nine year old with a lisp will have you rolling on the floor laughing in certain places. The movie has a lot going on: from selling names at Horsey Orsey and a twisted principal and Michael Jordan, and the most adorable protagonist, ever.

• Shazam!

A fourteen year old that turns into an adult with a bajillion superpowers may not seem like much of a movie plot, but Zachary Levi is hella charismatic and has some of the best lines on screen. If you haven’t already watched, what are you waiting for? Also, you get cameo performances by Ross Butler (Reggie Mantle from Riverdale) and Adam Brody!

• After.

A coming of age teen drama, with “young Voldemort” Hero Fiennes Tiffin as the male lead is something you need to watch if you’re into romantic movies. His eyebrows do a lot of talking and the British accent is delectable. After also stars inspirational YouTuber Inanna as bad girl Molly, and she nails her character down to a T.

Have you seen any new stuff lately? Leave me a comment. Have a wonderful weekend, you guys!

10 Thoughts I Had While Working Out Earlier

10 Thoughts I Had While Working Out Earlier

• Ooh, when in doubt, post a listicle. I hate having to post when I’m not feeling creative at all, but I’m also doing the #365DayChallenge and I absolutely cannot break streak.

• I worked out for thirty whole minutes, why don’t I look like Chloe Ting yet? This Tingy isn’t working for me.

• Did it not occur to anybody else that the body positivity movement has been hijacked by people with unhealthy habits and who happen to be so obese that they think that’s the new normal? Or is it just me that thinks being morbidly is not okay and it shouldn’t be enabled?

• I need new gym shorts. I need new gym tights. I need thirty billion new sports bras in Pantone universe’s color of the year.

• Ooh, I’m going to eat some grilled cheese on Sunday. Why can’t Sunday come soon?

• I’m totally going bald because of excessive scalp sweat. That’s TMI, but we’re gonna roll with it.

• Zachary Levi is super cute. I cannot stop thinking about the fact that ADAM BRODY And OMG, Ross Butler from Riverdale had cameo roles in Shazam! Who else is obsessed with the movie?

• Speaking of movies, I wonder how many people have adopted Corgis after watching The Queen’s Corgi. I so want one.

• How often are you supposed to change your yoga mat?

• It’s been forever and I still don’t have the “11” shaped abs. I’m gonna go home and eat a whole tub of ice cream and regret for the rest of the night.

Stray Bird

Stray Bird

I was never one to fit in,

I was always meant to stand out

And never in a good way.

People do things for clout

And I don’t even know what I want

I don’t know what I seek

I have no ambition

I’m often powerless, often weak.

My parents told me I was a fluke

That I was a mistake

They taught me so much

But funnily, it didn’t take.

I try to fly with the other guys

And that never happens right

I fall back and I die on the inside

Every time I fall from a height

I don’t have a purpose

No goal that I want to achieve

So far I’ve been a lonely parasite

Only taking, with nothing to give

I don’t know when my life ends

But I hope it does soon

It’s lonely to be a stray

Nursing at your own meaningless wounds.