Posted in learning, Mental Health, QuillSe, Therapy, writing

Navigating Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The theme for 2022 is “Together for Mental Health.” It prompted me to revisit my path and publish this blog, which I had written some time ago but had since updated with some new learning.

In 2000, the number of death by suicide was 1,08,000. In 2020, this number increased to 1,53,000. NCRB data for 2020 says India has about 45.7 million people suffering from depression.

As I recount my journey, I want to highlight that I am not a “Baba” or a “know-it-all.” But I’ve been there and done that, and it is humbling if my path and experiences might benefit someone else.

My Journey

Over the past few years, friends, family, and acquaintances have reached out to me asking how I survived depression and made my way back “successfully” from the low. Our discussions hovered around some common thoughts that cross our minds in times of crisis. Our judgment of ourselves is paramount. We hold on to the misery without giving ourselves a chance to get out of it.

Along with losing my head, I had lost all faith in my abilities. I failed to believe I was good at anything. Neither as a son, a husband, an employee, an entrepreneur nor as a dreamer. I was not good enough to make anything work successfully. These thoughts had been weighing on me for a fairly long time (let’s say 6 years or so) and the triggers only got stronger after a toxic conversation in my family. That invalidated me for being who I was.

Over the next 6 months, I wrestled with myself until the day I choked on it. I couldn’t rise from where I sat; broke down for no apparent reason; was breathless; felt I was sinking.

The pain was unbearable when I was at my lowest point. Panic attacks, breathlessness, weight in the chest, regular headaches, inconsolable sobbing, lack of food, inability to sleep, focus, or remember, acute blazing wrath, insecurity of desertion, and dread of loss were all common occurrences in my life.

I was then nudged by my wife to pursue the long-pending item on my listto seek help.

From then to now, it has been about four years. The ride has not been an easy one. Nevertheless, seeking help and staying on the path was the best thing I ever did for myself and for the gift of life I have.

The good news is that if you get out of your comfort zone and want a way out of the discomfort you are in, then seek help. You and your soul WILL make it out alive.

My Two Cents on Seeking Help

There is so much taboo around addressing mental health that I wanted to share a transparent point of view and set realistic expectations.

  1. Seeing the therapist is the first step. Find one who has learned psychology (the art) or psychiatry (medical science) from an institution of repute and is recognized and licensed by the RCI (Rehabilitation Council of India). NIMHANS, AIIMS, and PGI are some of the institutions of repute.
  1. Spiritualism is not an alternative for those who need therapy. Vipassana, Baba business, Yoga, and visiting coaches or religious institutions will not fix the problem. A dispassionate approach to making you strong enough to solve your issues is the need of the hour.

Choosing a Therapist

  1. Please take help while picking a therapistReferences do matter. Your therapist should be capable of handling your situation. It is non-negotiable that they are RCI registered and licensed. Ask for their accreditation license.
  1. Therapists are not one-size-fits-all.
    • Once you kick-start the process, do not go “therapist” shopping. It will damage you. You will have to re-live your low moments every time you meet a new therapist.
    • Pick one and stick with that person for good. A therapist is someone you want to be as sure of as your partner. They have to deal with your mess in the head and fix you up. Trust them to do their job.
  1. You are NOT going to a therapist to get advice. If you are, then you are wasting your time and money.
    • It is critical to understand that you are the solution to your problems.Therapists know how to get you to solve problems, so long as you are committed to solving them.
    • If anyone is advising you with solutions, trust me, they have no idea or patience to do what their job expects them to do. Avoid therapists who act as advisors.
  1. Likewise, if your therapist starts you on medication without really making you push your mental limits of confronting your uncomfortable truths, run from them too. Find another therapist.
    • Medication is NOT the first step. My intent is not to create resistance to a medication when you need it, but rather to emphasize that refrain from taking an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drug to feel better.
  1. Your therapist has a life. Therapists are not grocers or traders, please do not ask for discounts. That is their bread, let alone the butter.
    • The average session will cost you about Rs. 2500 an hour in the metro/cosmopolitan cities. With an average of 1 session a week, you will be spending about Rs. 10,000 a month.
    • If you take stock of the money you spend every month on other incidentals, the therapist fee will still be less than that.
  1. Go to a psychologist first, and you will be recommended appropriately to a psychiatrist if necessary. They are two different roles in the area of mental health. Only a psychiatrist can prescribe medication as they are qualified medical doctors.

During Therapy

It takes about 4-6 sessions before you are likely to build rapport with the therapist. You are likely to have some difficulty confronting your innermost trauma-causing moments. Be patient. Bear through the pain; it will pass in its time. When you are ready, let it go.

  1. Some people find themselves feeling good after 3–4 sessions and decide to stop going to see the therapist. Do not stop until the therapist tells you that you can stop. Behavioural changes take time. Let the therapist decide for you.
  1. You will have healed greatly throughout and after the therapy, but it does not imply you will not experience lows. When triggered, you’re likely to have a meltdown, but you’ll be able to handle them far better now.
  1. Do not come home and tell your loved ones and friends what you shared with the therapist. As much as they love you, they are not equipped or trained to handle the issues you are going through. Your sharing with them could trigger them. Let this be the dark matter that only your therapist can handle.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • It took me 12 months before I decided to take charge of my life and do the right thing. The first step takes time. It is less for some and longer for others. Trust the process. You will come out healed with some bruises and holes. But you will live to tell the story and help another person.
  • If you think someone needs help, let that person come to terms with that fact. Otherwise, it can backfire. You can take the horse to the water, but you can not make it drink. Therefore, do not force it.
  • At times the triggers are the closest blood relatives in the inner circle. The trigger could be your parents, siblings, spouse, or children. It might require cutting the source of the trigger to be able to heal completely.
  • Lastly, going to a psychologist is like going to any other doctor. You are not mad or schizophrenic because you are not able to handle your emotions. Professional support makes it easier to get through those. It is simply the right thing to do.

Mental health claim lives

We can see a decline in the suicide figures if we treat mental health without being ashamed of it and don’t condemn those who are going through a difficult time.

Let us make a commitment to stand together for mental health.

Posted in Inclusion, Inclusive, learning, QuillSe, writing

The Silver Lining

Eda, how do we know what app to look for on the phone? asked my 78-year-old father after observing me doing something on my smartphone. While growing up, I saw him pride himself on being hands-on with technology. 

Times gone by

In the 70s and 80s, a person with tech acumen was able to operate, repair, and improve the experience of electrical equipment like TVs, amplifiers, ovens, lights, and pipes in the house. We prided him on being able to comprehend, apply his intelligence, and make things functional. He was electric and electronic savvy, so to speak.

Ever since he saw the first computer being installed in the company he worked for, something the size of a monstrous generator, he flipped. He was scared and cautious about interacting with a personal computer. The language and terms were tough to comprehend for him those were big reasons for his unwillingness to learn. He was operating from a space of fear and insecurity and hence couldn’t take this learning journey at the pace that was needed at that time.

The present

With the entry of smartphones into our lives, this learning gap has widened further. There are two generations handling this very differently. One whose lives almost depend on it and another who can’t seem to understand how anyone can do almost everything on the phone.

I spent the entire last month with my parents, and it was a very insightful time for me. I observed them keenly, their rituals, thoughts, outlook, insecurities, survival techniques, and much more.

The future

It made me think about the kinds of challenges that lie ahead for our generation and beyond as we transition through our age timeline.

What is it like now for an average person to interact and transact on the Metaverse, Blockchain, or other newer concepts? What more evolved technologies and innovations will enter our sphere, making life simpler for some and more complex for others?

Soon, silver will shine in our generation. Time is moving faster than we can comprehend. Remaining relevant and productive will become more challenging by the day.

Grow together

I wonder if there is something we can build as communities. Focus on enabling the middle-aged generation as they interface with the technology and lifestyles of the future.

What can be done proactively for the multi-generational workforce so that they are purposeful and fitting in times to come? How can we leverage the collective power of the present to prepare for the future and stay productive and grow together?

It’s about time we started building muscles and preparing as a society. This opportunity definitely has a silver lining. There is immense scope to learn and grow together.

Posted in Diversity, Inclusive, Love Stories

Dil Se Anaahat

Anaahat is described mystically as the sweet sound of the heart.It was a popular thought and a philosophy that received a lot of attention during the Middle Ages. ‘Dil Se Anaahat’ is a letter to acknowledge and express my love to Anaahat, who has been a witness to all my stories and everything else to date.

Dear Anahaat,

You have spent more than 42 years inside me, but I haven’t spent as much time with you as I should have. I realise I have taken you for granted and I want to take a moment to tell you, what you mean to me. What an awesome backpacker you have been through all these years and more so in the last 3 years of my life.

You’ve carried all of my weight and carried me along without a murmur. The power you’ve kept generating and that pump you work on has kept me alive. You have been my leader in experiencing life. Everything on the spectrum. I have heard you race and be calm. I have clutched at you-aching.

Your unwavering support

Everything that my body experiences: excitement, joy, sadness, love, lust, anger, greed, jealousy, doubt, guilt, shame, angst, affects you deeply. Even then, you have never held me back from experiences, risks, or the unknowns in store for me. You have nudged me subtly, maybe even complained a little when I made the wrong choices, but have always been there, unfailingly.

Perhaps my life would have turned out differently if I had listened to you, but would it have been as interesting as it is now? I am not sure.

On my journey of love, Anaahat, you rode on my sleeves, fearlessly. You made me powerful enough to trust and to be trusted. You have run wild with me in pursuit of love. I have felt you skipping a beat every time I crushed and squished on someone. Every time I broke, or failed, you just coped. You were aware of my hidden regrets and told me “this too shall pass”. You got me trying again.

How do you do it?

I want to sincerely ask you: Do you ever feel bored pumping day in and day out? How do you keep yourself motivated? How can you not complain? And they say that the heart is just a muscle. Such a mundane understanding!

Hats off to you for your strength, memory, consistency, tenacity, and for sailing through the test of time.

According to science, friction is essential to making sounds. But you are an exception. The beat you play needs no friction. 

The Music you Make

Seven notes have to be synchronised and in rhythm to sound ecstatic. The rhythm and beats of my journey, all the music in me, found its genesis because of you. Your beats were the first rhythm I heard. People love me singing. They say I sing from my heart. It must be true, as I sing to you and for you.

I don’t know what I would have done without you. I would not have known life or what it feels like to be alive, let alone being six feet under. I owe you everything. I feel fresh and energetic because you strive every day to make the blood flow. You clean up the mess. You make me sing, write, speak, love, and fight with all my passion, so much so that my brain can’t function in your absence.

Have I worn you out? I sincerely hope not. We still have miles to go, places to see and people to love. I need you by my side. You have bruises, holes, scratches, and tears from everything I have put you through over the years. Are you ugly or broken? Not at all.

you are a star

Trust me, dear friend, you wouldn’t have been beautiful without those impressions and experiences. Even without being painted in gold, you shine and glitter. You are “Kinstugi.” As mysterious as you are, you are valuable to me. Hopefully, one day you will be valuable to someone else too.

Stay alive and kicking. Thank you for all you have done for me. I am in great debt to you. I love you.

Skipping a beat, I say, “You are me and I am you.”

Take care of yourself.

Stay Safe.



I invite you to write your own letter of love in acknowledgment of your heart. If you heart permits, then share in the comments section.

My sincere thanks to Soumya R Srinivasan for her thought-provoking, story telling sessions based on the book “Body Eloquence”. This book gives us a perspective on our behaviours in association with different body parts. Acknowledging the heart was one such element of being in gratitude and self-love and the inspiration behind this post. Check out Soumya’s blog for some interesting read here. You can find the book- Body Eloquence on Amazon.