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Am I Mad?

‘I think I will go mad!’, ‘I don’t know how long I’ll be able to handle this stress.’ – These one-liners have become so common place that even kids studying in primary school have started using them when their homework load gets a little heavy!

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Mental illness

But can we actually comprehend what it is to feel mentally ill? Do we acknowledge that it is possible that we ourselves are falling into that most dreaded pit of mental illness or mental instability. Believe it or not, almost 40%  of human beings at one time or the other will be in a situation very close to a serious mental health problem; may be depression anxiety, panic, PTSD, and the likes. Strangely not each of these people realize what they are going through because most often it coincides with a major life event (eg.: loss of loved one). Some do not admit to themselves that they might need help. The unfortunate  truth is many of these later develop very serious mental disorders that could have been prevented with the right intervention at the right time.

Our Attitude regarding Mental Illnesses

When it happens to a Loved-one

At first we would be scared, frightened to even acknowledge that they have a problem. When is crosses the limit we are scared how to approach the subject and about what will become of them , their future.

Most of us don’t know how to handle that situation. We hope that our loved one agrees to visit a psychiatrist or we force them to. We blame ourselves for not knowing. We think we could have done something earlier to prevent it. But never ever do we think that he/she is an abomination or contagious nor do we stay away from them. We do our best to help them heal.

When it happens to a stranger of a distant acquaintance

‘I think he/she is mentally unstable!’, ‘There is something wrong with her head’ – we say these thing with a crinkled nose and the look of disgust that would suggest we just found out that someone cheated on their spouse. We become oblivious to the fact that someone facing a mental problem is just as vulnerable as we are and that most of the reasons that contributed to their unfortunate mental state was beyond their control. We try staying away from them, all the while including their trepidation as a source of our mirth during tea parties, gossip sessions or cocktail evenings.

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Stigma against Mental Health

How indifferent and hypocritical we are! When we see mental illness in an up-close and personal manner we know it should not be a taboo; it should be talked about; and help should be made available. But we have a different rule for others.

It is exactly this – the fear of being judged, talked about in contempt behind their backs and being made socially isolated  that forces people to trample their feelings and doubts about their mental state and push it deep down inside themselves. It only aggravates their condition and finally results in the most unexpected form of illness.

When it happens to ourselves:

There might have been times when we ourselves realized that we are infact going through a mental problem. But we feel ashamed, we defer treatment – in fact we somehow convince ourselves ‘to get over it’ and behave normal. We believe that if we come out and accept that we have a problem and approach a professional then it would mean that we are weak. But the truth is that it takes a lot of courage to accept the fact that we are facing a mental problem. Those who think that being brave is bottling everything inside , could not be more wrong. By doing so they not only risk developing a severe mental illness but also risk becoming a cause for the pain that their friends and family would have to endure in the future.

What can we do to improve the state of Mental health?

Be the change that you wish to see in the world – M.K.Gandhi

We blame our society that places such a taboo on mental illness. We are the society. We need to change for the society to change. It needs to start with us.

So the next time someone brings up a gossip about someone mentally unstable or ging through a mental illness, turn the conversation into how you could help him/her or how you should deal if such a situation arose in your family.

Encourage someone feeling severly depressed to meet a psychologist or counsellor.

If you think you might be in such situation – then be brave, pick up the phone and talk to a counsellor; if not a counsellor speak to your close confidant, or a loved one.

How to identify the beginning of a mental illness?

The following tips have been sourced from http://www.psychiatry.org/mental-health/more-topics/warning-signs-of-mental-illness

One or two of the below mentioned symptoms can’t predict a mental illness. But a person experiencing several together that are causing serious problems in his or her ability to study, work, or relate to others should be seen by a mental health professional.

  • Social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.
  • Unusual drop in productivity, especially at school or work, such as quitting sports, failing in school, or difficulty  performing familiar tasks.
  • Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain.
  • Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations.
  • Lack of initiative or desire to participate in any activity; apathy.
  • A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality.
  • Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or  “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult.
  • Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling.
  • Uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior.
  • Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
  • Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or “mood swings.”

Do give us your feedback in the comments section.

The Magic of Love and why we fall out of it!

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.” ― Alfred Tennyson

The feeling of bliss, going weak in the knees at the sight of someone, just can’t stop thinking about someone, their sight lights ups your day – Yes if all this is true, then the classic diagnosis is that you are falling head-over-heels for that special person. However, you may wonder if the above are true in love, then why do people who were once so much in love and practically inseparable end-up so insufferable, resentful that they break-up or head for a divorce.

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UNDERSTANDING LOVE To understand love in its entirety is no ball-game. It has many facets, in different cultures; to different people it could be a manifestation of a varied number of things. Simply put, to someone it may be cooking dinner even after a long tiring work day just so their spouse may get home-made meal atleast once during the day, to someone else it may be staying by the bedside and comforting when they feel low, for someone else it may be a waking up to a loving whisper in the ear.  But all differences, all cultural variations apart we can safely say that love is that emotion that pulls you close, makes you do things for that one person  that you wouldn’t otherwise do for anyone else, makes you want to be together in sickness as much as in health. FALLING OUT OF LOVE: If love was ever so wonderful, omni-potent then why does it cause pain? why do people break-up? why do they say – ‘He/She stopped loving me’?

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Experts have a scientific explanation for why the love goes bland and why people fall out of it. Dr Nivashinie Mohan said that when a person falls in love, the romantic attraction activates pockets in the brain with a high concentration of the chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical messenger closely tied to states of euphoria, craving and addiction. The surge of dopamine when people first fall in love, she said, causes increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and delight in the smallest details of the new relationship. People fall “out of love” when they develop a tolerance for the love the same way they would towards a drug. “They lose the romantic high’ that they had because their brains have adapted to one another and it becomes harder to get the same feelings again,” she says. Psychologists and counsellors have a slightly deeper explanation. Partners in a relationship start taking each other for granted. Their expectations might not be realistic but more importantly the communication between them may be broken. Sometimes it’s just that they assume why their partner said, or acted or took a certain decision the way they did, without actually asking the real reason. People who stayed together and in love for more than 20 years revealed that they had a great understanding of the other person’s habits, feelings and thoughts so accurately that you can only call them soul-mates. Even when their relationship went through a rough patch they had an unsaid agreement on how they would mutually handle it. So the crux of the matter is – If you are in love but are worried that it is fading away here are few things you could do:

  1. Bring back the romance – surprise each other, take a romantic vacation, try new things in your relationship.
  2. Communicate – whatever you feel, your likes and dislikes, even if you think the other person said or did something wrong confront them not with an accusatory but with an open mind to know the reason behind it.
  3. Forgive – It is possible that your partner makes a mistake, you should definitely make it clear that you are upset or angry about it but still try to forgive and let go after all we are all human.

If you know a really great love-story, share it with us in the comments section.

Loneliness: The Result Of Over-valuing Relationships

According to several studies, those who are driven by a quest for happiness are more likely to end up feeling lonely.

One primary reason behind the same fact is that they focus too much on themselves rather than on connections around them. Their close relationships are hampered including their blood relations.

Happiness can be luring and elusive but scientists say it is tied to our relationships and connections with others.

The study authors from the University of Denver and University of California, Berkeley, said: ‘Few things seem more natural and functional than wanting to be happy.

‘We suggest that, counter to this intuition; valuing happiness may have some surprising negative consequences.

‘Striving for happiness might damage people’s connections with others and make them lonely.’

the elusive happiness

The team of psychologists carried out two experiments. The first involved 206 men and women aged from 20 to 60 who completed online surveys which assessed how much they value happiness.

Starting a week later participants filled out 14 daily diaries before going to bed, reporting the day’s most stressful event, how stressful it was and how lonely they felt.

The more participants valued happiness, the more lonely they felt during the stressful events. Researchers said the result held true after controlling for factors such as age, gender and socioeconomic status.

Reconnecting with your long forgotten school/college friends can boost your sense of well-being

The second study sought to establish whether it was valuing happiness that caused greater loneliness. It involved 43 female undergraduates who watched an emotionally neutral film-clip and then rated how lonely they felt.

Some participants then read a bogus newspaper article, which emphasized the benefits of happiness on relationships, careers and overall well-being.

Participants in the control group read the same article but with the word happiness replaced with ‘accurate judgment’

All then watched a 35-minute film designed to make people feel affiliation and intimacy.

The two groups did not differ in terms of feelings of loneliness at the start of the study. But after the experiment and the long film clip, the group manipulated to value happiness more reported feeling significantly greater loneliness.

The authors said: ‘The current findings present a possible explanation for why a desire for happiness can lead to reduced happiness and well-being. It may be that to reap the benefits of happiness people should want it less’.

10 Things that’ll help keep your mind healthy!

Have you been feeling drained? Feel like giving up even most mundane tasks? Feeling depressed because of a personal loss or tensed because of unprecedented problems?

Mental health is a complex subject. Although there is no single set of solutions that can be dished out to everyone, there are certain things that definitely help in keeping your mind healthy.

Try out these few tips, and you will most certainly feel the difference!

1) Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! – Lack of sleep increases the stress hormones in the human body. Adequate hours of sleep (7- 8 hours for adults) help the body and the mind to get refreshed and recharged. So stop pulling all-nighters, and get a good night’s sleep every night.

2) Eat healthy and Exercise right – Our moms were never more right about junk food. Try gradually increasing the quantity of green leafy vegetables and other nutrient rich foods. There are some foods that boost your mood. Figure out which foods keep you on your feet and those that make your sulk. Exercise releases endorphins, which energizes the body and even makes your feel good about yourself.

3) Forgive yourself – No amount of guilt will undo anything that you might have done in the past. What’s in the past is in the past. If you can make up for it… great, if not , if you have messed up…. You need to let it go. It is crucial that you understand your mistakes and forgive yourself for them so that your maintain your mental health

4) Communicate – Communication with people is very important in maintaining your mental health. Speak to your close ones regarding your problems, give compliments, keep in touch with your friends and family, if possible join a social club (drama, music band, Art groups, NGOs etc) or be part of an organizing committee.

5) Engage in creative activities – You may not be the best painter or the best writer or even a decent singer, but all the same try picking on any creative hobbies like photography, drawing, painting, learning a new musical instrument even creating clay animals. It helps the mind to be refreshed.

6) Revisit your childhood – Go to the playground, hang out with children and be one with them. Playing with children and even doing childish stuff with them, although might look stupid, in fact is a great stress-buster.

7) Control your drinks – People tend to indulge in binge drinking and substance abuse, for the momentary relief that they provide. The fact is that it only creates false illusions of happiness or positive emotions, clouds your judgment and eventually makes you crave for the false illusions. Try limiting the number of your drinks and avoiding drinking when in stress.

8) Take a mini-vacation – Give yourself a break from the hectic schedule from time to time. It helps to reduce mental fatigue. A mini-vacation to a nearby place like a forest, waterfall or a hill, will most definitely pump up your spirits.

9) Organize yourself – Being in control of your day, your activities increases a sense of self-worth. It also helps you to focus on important things, leaving little time to worry.

10) Be Proud of who you are – There are things people are good at and bad at. Take time to feel proud of yourself for the good things that you do and for things you are great at. We are all different, accept yourself just the way you are, because only you can be ‘the perfect you’!

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