Monday, September 1, 2014

Adolescent Turmoil and Suicide--a true story--part one.

What propels a youngster to run away from home or attempt suicide ?Whenever we come across such news in the media we feel sorry for the boy (or girl),and wonder what led to it.One such boy was brought to 'Sahyog' some years ago.

Jagan,an eighteen year old student of twelfth standard was literally dragged into my office by a furious looking father.'Look at this boy',he said.'He has run away from home twice and twice he has cut his wrists.He has fallen in love with a girl,does not listen to anybody,is doing poorly in school and his life is all but ruined.'So saying,he plonked him before me and stormed out of the room.

This dramatic start to an interview was quite earth-shaking.Though Jagan had been dragged forcibly into my office and derided in the strongest possible language,he was not at all reluctant to talk to me.Perhaps he too wanted to put a closure to this sad chapter in his life.

He told me that he had taken Rs 500 from home and taken off for Mumbai after a tiff with his parents.But half way down,he realized the futility of this step and returned. Instead of coming back to his home he went to his paternal grandmother's house.There he met a girl with whom he fell in love.His uncle-of whom he is very fond-talked him out of this and persuaded him to return home.

He intended to catch up with his studies.But according to him,the atmosphere in his home was very tense and hostile towards him.Every 8-10 days something or the other happened to distress him and his parents,instead of trying to understand him,got angry; and then he would feel like ending it all.He craved their sympathy and trust.

All this took a lot of time because I allowed him to pour his heart out.This session was mainly aimed at giving him catharsis and winning his trust.There was very little counseling involved.I told him I would help him to put his life back on track provided he cooperated and did not attempt suicide again.

Then I called his father in and asked him to return the next day with his wife and daughter.

To be continued

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Competition--Merits And Demerits.

Whenever I see images of sportsmen,or women in sports pages--their muscles taut,facial expression grim,stance defying the law of gravity and adrenalin oozing from every pore--I am overawed by the spirit which drives them.Fierce competition enables them to beat existing records and establish their supremacy.Undoubtedly,a competitive spirit has many benefits.It paves the way for self improvement,motivates us to do hard work,master new skills,give out good performances and win accolades.Competitions also spur innovative thinking,keep our enthusiasm alive and raise our self esteem; thereby contributing to our success and happiness.So far,so good.

Unfortunately a competitive spirit can also have negative effects.If carried to the extreme it will deprive us of rest and recreation.That's not all-it can also generate undesirable traits like jealousy and violent thoughts.Downturns or failures will be hard to digest possibly resulting in inertia and melancholy.Unbridled rivalry goads us to outshine everyone on our radar but there will always be someone who is smarter stronger,or more successful than us;this becomes a relentless chase allowing us little peace or satisfaction.

Today most of us struggle to compete on many fronts--be it education,career,society,friends or family.In order to present a specific image we strive to be seen living in plush houses,wearing branded apparels,patronizing elite clubs and knowing the most influential gentry in town.All this makes a huge dent in our resources and energy levels and still leaves a lot which we hanker for.When we chase so many targets all at the same time stress is inevitable.No wonder so many of us are not satisfied with our lot.But in order to be happy or successful,we need to satisfy our own urges ,do what we think is suitable and important for us,rather than trying to prove to the world at large that we excel in all that is considered the done thing. 


This craving to always eclipse everybody else is at it's worst when it is implanted in growing children's psyche.It is true that children have to be motivated from the very beginning to study hard and do well in life.But it is a crime to rob a child of the natural pleasures of childhood and instead make him into a robot whose only aim in life is to win every time.

When we implant a fierce competitive spirit in a child from the very beginning and expect him to be at the top in every activity we expose him to dispensable stress.Overenthusiastic parents who express their disappointment or displeasure when the child cannot touch the goals laid down by them may  in fact hinder it's progress by burdening it with additional stress and anxiety.Children have certain innate tendencies and predilections which could conflict with their parents' designs.

I am reminded here of a child who often came home dejected due to his friends' bullying.His mother asked him to give it back in kind,to which the child replied ' But I don't like violence and fighting.'His mother's disapproval of his behavior must have deepened his anguish at being bullied.

Actually children should be allowed to develop the spirit of competition at their own pace from their own volition.Too much pushing can distress them.Overburdening them with targets to be achieved,skills to be learned can leave them breathless.This is precisely what is happening today.As soon as schools close for vacations they line up a horde of activities to snare the students back inside their precincts.Dance,drama,debate, art,music,judo-karate-and God knows what else!The parents too vie with one another to have their child recognized as the brightest all-rounder.

But how many toppers can there be in any field?When we lay inordinate stress upon winning are we not relinquishing the rest to grapple with their feelings of disappointment and inferiority best as they can?If only we lay less stress on winning and more upon just doing our best and bettering our performance a lot of heart-ache can be avoided.After all there is a lot of fun in participating and being part of a group---or just BEING !!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When Strangers Leave Pleasant Memories :) :)

Memories are an important component of mental health and mental sickness.Pleasant memories are therapeutic in nature.They lift our spirits and drive out boredom.While most of our memories relate to our friends and relatives, some also stem from total strangers whom we accosted once and are not likely to come across ever again.Yet these memories linger on and bring a smile to our lips.

One such memory goes back to my college days.I had to get some certificates attested and not wanting to bother my father,I went to Tis Hazari courts and requested a magistrate to attest them.He did the needful but asked me if I had come alone .I said yes,to which he replied that I ought not to have done this because the courts are teeming with all sorts of unsavory characters.His concern for an unknown girl touched my heart --I mean how many persons go beyond the call of their duty to think about the welfare of a stranger?

Then there is this amusing incident which stands out because it is so innocuous.We had just passed a by-lane in our car when a boy came rushing on from that lane on his bike and dashed against our bumper.He stopped to say sorry and my husband cautioned him that had we been driving fast then he would have had it. And do you know what the boy says to this? 'Just think ,today is my birthday'.Now what are we supposed to reply to this revelation-we both burst out laughing.

This happened very recently.We had stopped at a red light when i noticed that my window was open while the AC was on.I asked my husband 'you have the AC on?',when suddenly,from my left,I hear a voice say 'it is so hot,see I have prickly heat all over'.I looked to my left-a very flustered youngster was sitting on his bike.I had not even noticed that anyone was so near and listening to what I had said.I was surprised at his innocent  spontaneity.

What is it about these one-time encounters that makes them memorable?You tell me.I am sure you too must have some such anecdotes which gladden your hearts.