MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL

American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic floor final earlier this year to focus on her mental health. She has not minced words in documenting her struggles with mental health in posts on her social media accounts. Mind you, she has been a reigning champion – a superstar!

Of late, mental health has been drawing the much needed attention from several quarters. Celebrities coming out to share their mental health struggles has immensely furthered the cause, which is otherwise considered to be a stigma in most parts of the world.

If you are a person who still thinks that there is a lot of unwanted fuss being made about ‘mental health’ and that there are other issues that deserve more attention, then you really need to rethink. Just as one would nurse a bruised limb in case of an injury, a wounded mind also needs to be nursed.

Be it about the physical, social, spiritual or psychological issues, we humans focus more on the seen than on the unseen. And this shapes our behaviour most of the times. However, what is unseen is more crucial than what is seen!

Have you ever attended a Puppet Show? Not only children, but adults too are attracted towards the colourful talking, singing, jumping puppets. But, what attention would puppets draw without puppeteers or marionettists doing their jobs well, behind the screen? The voices of the puppets and their movements are all regulated by the puppeteers. Puppets look attractive, but without voices and movements, they won’t be any different than dolls or other toys that kids play with and no one would accord them much attention. What is unseen is significant to the visible performance of a Puppet Show and that by large determines the success of the show!

We humans focus so much on what we consciously perceive, that we ignore the major preconscious and unconscious zones of our minds. What is concealed comprises of more than what is revealed. And, this concealed zone influences the revealed zone greatly.

This article is not about training the preconscious and unconscious minds. Rather, the intent of this article is to drive home the point that since a person is more than what you and I see him or her as, and since a person’s behaviour is regulated by factors more than what is seen in the external environment, we need to be sensitive to each other’s mental health.

Who are the target groups?

Everyone.

Starting from foetal stage till grey hairs right  upto the grave – each one needs mental health care.

Mental health deterioration in a person (if it happens) starts from the time s/he is conceived owing to environmental stressors and genetic predispositions. When we ensure sound mental health of an expectant mother, we ensure sound mental health of the baby that is born. If the foetus growing within the mother is indirectly exposed to environmental stressors be they in the form of physical/ psychological/sexual/substance abuse, domestic violence, workplace harassment, maternal distress and sicknesses, poor nutrition – the baby that is born either develops a hardy personality (i.e., extreme resilience to stressors and a remarkable ability to cope with them) or develops a vulnerable personality (i.e., extremely sensitive to stressors and ill-equipped to cope with them). Besides purely medical conditions, the genesis of mental ill-health begins from this stage. Hence, foetal mental health is of utmost importance.

Children’s mental health needs a lot of attention too. The way children are shaped and cared for reflects in their adult lives. While the mental health of all children is crucial, those who suffer from disabilities and consequently from low self-esteem, those from single parent or parent absent families, those from war torn parts of the world, those subjected to abuse, those exposed to trauma and other disturbing life events – need specific mental health care.

Adolescent mental health care is crucial as the youngsters leap from childhood into adulthood and dabble with identity, acceptance and self-esteem issues. As they experiment with looks, relationships, careers and largely detest the tons of parental advice that are heaped on them, as they taste success or meet failures – there mental health needs attention. If the adolescent suffers from physical or psychological disorders/ disabilities, targetted mental health care is essential. This is precisely the stage when adolescents need to understand and accept that it is absolutely vital to seek good counsel.

Healthy adults shape up a healthy world. Numerous factors can mar an adult’s mental health. Starting from a lack of social acceptance, repressed childhood memories, to job hazards (harassment, exploitation, deprivation of rights and entitlements, unhygienic environment, layoffs), personal or familial ill-health, financial crises, family disputes, domestic violence, substance abuse and many more such additions to the list – an adult’s mental health requires a lot of care.

During the sunset years of life when one lies in a phase of apparent relaxation, mental health needs to be cared for. This is the time when most aged people are left uncared for, given menials and in many cases given the least attention. This is the time when they feel unwanted, when their desires are left unmet and their thoughts wander without expression. This is the time when most of the aged suffer from various illnesses. While a seed that promises to bear fruits needs care and nurturance, a tree that has borne fruits and flowers throughout life needs to be proffered due dignity.

So you see, all stages of life require mental health care just as they require physical health care.

With this I come to another important aspect which I would urge everyone to ponder upon.

Is mental health consideration meant for the educated and the affluent alone? What about that tramp on the street, the maid in the house, that ragpicker, the child labourer, the trafficked girl in the brothel and all those who find themselves at the receiving end of educational, social, economical deprivation? Those whose primary concerns are two square meals a day, a few old clothes on the body and perhaps someone’s doorstep for shelter? Who cares for their mental health, if at all?

With an unprecedented pandemic hitting the world which was at the helm of economic, technological, social progress like never before – mental health has suffered severe battering. In the last one and half years, there have been reports of increase in crime and domestic violence of humungous proportions – a majority of which have been under reported or have gone unreported. Millions of people have been rendered jobless. Thousands have lost their loved ones. Children have been orphaned.

While mental health professionals are doing their bit to help a wounded world, what can you and I do?

  1. Recognize the need for sound mental of those around you – your spouse, parents, children, siblings, neighbours, colleagues, superiors, subordinates, domestic helps, caregivers, service providers and anyone who you come in contact with.
  2. Cater to their mental health to the extent you can – Understanding words, appreciation, encouragement, connecting to legal/ medical/ mental health professionals as the requirement may be.
  3. Be sensitive – Do not share sensitive details of one person with others without their permission.
  4. Take care of your own mental health – In order to cater to and be sensitive to others’ mental health, one’s own mind needs to be in good health. Take a break when required. Do things that relax you. Arrange for like-minded caregivers to fill in for you in your daily chores as you care for your mind.
  5. Pray – Health is a blessing from God. He alone can grant the serenity and well-being of the mind when the tides rise against us. Whether you are in bliss or in the tumultuous tempests, pray that God keeps your mind tranquil and supple.

God’s plan for mankind was never chaos and destruction. But since we have driven ourselves into it, our mental health has suffered a severe beating. Seeking His strength, we can collectively work together for our own and others’ psychological well-being. May the theme of Mental Health Day 2021 be our focus for life: Mental Health in an Unequal World.

Home & Body – Cleaner The Better

My entire childhood and teenage (till 18) was spent in a small single room with just partition walls to separate kitchen and bathroom (if presence of a gas stove and a commode makes them respectively what they are called). And the space available in the middle of the house was a convertible one. When plates were arranged it was our dining room and when mats were laid it was our bedroom. If guests arrived third chair would find it difficult to fit in forget about having a couch. And when it rained we had a personal pool right in middle of the house. With regular power cuts we spent innumerable nights under the star lit sky and water supply as good as probability of finding an oasis amidst a dessert.

Memories!!!! Those days were tough. Financial and physical hardships have toughened our mettle indeed. Our navigation through those tough waters was guided by a compass with two blades –

  • You have a roof at least over your head and a full stomach when you go to sleep.
  • Work hard for your betterment, stop complaining.

14 years later, in 2017 I moved into MY (OUR) own house. What a joy it was! The peace of having and living in an abode where you are sure no one will surprise ( read shock) you with an evacuation notice out of nowhere is surreal (conditions apply – regular EMI thy name ). Every hardship, every austerity measure in the past finally paid off.

But since we moved into an old property considering our budget constraints then our house needed lot of renovation. We recently got the heating system changed in the pursuit of having hassle free winters and also to add to the resale value of the house if at all in future we decide to do so.

Allegory came to mind: We all know what renovation means – lot of dust and dump to clean up. While I was at it, one thing stuck my mind – isn’t our body same like our home? While a structure made of bricks and mortar gives us shelter, another structure made up of flesh, bones, water and blood shelters our heart and soul. We take a lot of pain and make lot of efforts to keep our premises clean lest it won’t be presentable and hygienic too. Then why we behave negligently towards our body that is nothing less than a temple created by the greatest architect – The God.

Yes I can hear those voices “what are you talking about? We take utmost care of our hygiene and with Covid around we are not taking any chances whatsoever”. I would say ” you are doing great. But what about those who are maligning this temple with various addictions like smoking, drinking, drugs? What about those who are knowingly or unknowingly giving shelter to dacoits named ego, greed, jealously, lust, anger, pessimism in the compartment called heart that are corroding and robbing them of their sanity & peace and consequently Joy. These termites are blindfolding us and deviating from the path which everyone of us is destined to trend. The path they make us walk are ecstatic to begin with filled with fun and frolic but as the end approaches we

  • Clueless,
  • Corrupted morally and ethically,
  • Consumed by poison once we were consuming,
  • Crippled by illness, close to a painful death.

Get your Insurance done: Just like a house has insurance against any possible loss and damage due to theft, fire, water etc. Insurance for our joyful lives is HIS WORD, EMI being EP – everyday prayer. If you sign for a premium plan of “Please Enlighten Me” you shall surely be delivered from temporary hardships of falling prey to the vices and get a bonanza of eternal joy!

Points to be noted :

  • Respect your abode, be it house or body.
  • Keep them clean for health – physical, mental & spiritual.
  • Rent/EMI/Prayer – being regular is the key.

Just like a structure that we live in needs regular cleaning so does what lives in us needs a regular check.

From rented house to own- I had my fair share of experiences, hardships, memories and delightful moments. Now I have embarked on a journey to cleanse my temple – renovating my approach, dumping out the negativity. It’s hard and I am prone to falter but assurance of Joy of Enlightenment is my driving force.

Getting ‘in line’ for the ‘On-line’ World

Probably the most ‘trending word’ doing the rounds in the world today.

From the humbler days of when ‘being online’ meant – Yahoo Chat or MSN Messenger, to the current day when an avatar just isn’t enough to distinguish you from the rest, hiding behind a computer screen with only a user name – today, the person himself has come ONLINE. (not out of choice, but more out of necessity)

From our very homes directly to board meetings in conference rooms, we are to be accessible at all times, from different locations from a simple electronic gadget.

Life has certainly moved gears overnight, and we have to move with the times.

Much before the whole ‘Life coming aboard Online’ thing happened, we had this beautiful connection that came into existence to people from around the world, better known to us as Yahoo Chat rooms, where people just clicked on random names, started chats, and started getting to know each other from around the world. Who says two perfect strangers cannot make great friends?

Sometimes opening up to a Stranger is much easier than with a friend.

While life has graduated from chat rooms to friendship/dating sites, to blogging platforms, we’ve all come across people who we never knew existed and forged great relationships, some of which may have overridden relationships that we have with people who we meet every day – that said, there are two sides to everything. A ‘Friend’ is of course a relative term and it depends on each one, on how they perceive friendship and what do they expect from the relationship.

In the Era of Whatsapp and social media, we are constantly bombarded with information, telling us the importance of communication, relationships, and un-explored opportunities between people from different nations – the more we’re willing to go searching, the more we come across different kinds of people. I stumbled on one such opportunity of being part of a community called ‘7 cups’. 7 cups is a website that provides online therapy and free support to people experiencing distress by connecting them with trained listeners. Like I said earlier, sometimes it is just easier talking to a stranger than a known person.

So while the whole debate of Online strangers turned friends in a virtual space is good or bad, is for every individual to take a personal call – Online connectivity and the fact that the world is slowly coming together is (or rather are) steps in the right direction.

I am part of 4 WhatsApp groups, members of that particular group who I personally do not know, but share similar interests with – is an opportunity to share knowledge, build connections and who knows where it could lead to… and that is where I’d like to bring in a different aspect of how online connections can get you to places you’ve never been to, money in currencies you don’t earn in.. and an opportunity in a country you’ve probably you’ve never heard of…

Over to my co-writer who will enlighten you further

Further to what Savio mentioned about how we’ve transformed from Yahoo Messenger to the current state, let me personally tell you that being online has transformed me in more than one way. Work-wise, I belong to a shared service industry where I support regions other than India. And over the last 12 years, I have built some excellent professional relationships only by being online. While I work from home these days due to the pandemic, I keep 2 dedicated hours in the morning only to talk to my Kiwi and Australian counterparts. All this happens over hangout messenger and calls. It doesn’t stop here. We finalize financial reports, sales numbers, and profit numbers all through the same medium. And you will definitely agree with me that this is common in the IT industry as well!

Coincidentally, I developed my passion by writing too by being online. This made way to some beautiful relationships that blossomed through the online medium. To mention two, in particular, Savio and Charlie, even though I have never met either of them in person, I am very comfortable talking to them and picking up writing from where they have left off… this post from Savio and many previously written story relays from Charlie.

I am also a part of a wonderful blogging community, again, I have met none in person but on the virtue of penning down my thoughts, I got the opportunity to evolve my passion of writing into a second profession. Presently I am coordinating with many people via regular online meetings to understand their requirements and write content for their website. Now, isn’t this awesome?

I think being ‘in line with the online world’ is the futuristic way to life. We all need to do it in different proportions and capacities. Today everything is available virtually – schooling, banking, hobby classes, jobs, and professions, and thanks to this pandemic, catching up with parents and friends also happens through the same online medium.

Cheers to this new way of life!

Like Aditi said earlier, it’s not in the physical meeting but in the connection that is formed between individuals that one can take off from where the other has left. With coming onboard with the whole ‘getting online’ situation, the world has gotten closer inter-state and within countries – no doubt, but have the offline connections suffered at the expense of excessive screen time?

The lessons have been many throughout this past week, a couple of them more with this post. (for everyone who can point out the lessons learned through this post, gets a virtual date with an exclusive ‘Aditi-Savio’ meet [yes! that’s a THING now])

If you’ve paused even for a few seconds to think about what you’ve just read, we’d consider ‘our’ job well done. It isn’t always about the information imparted but our abilities to self introspect after reading the views on various topics presented through this amazing platform, how the mind works, what makes us tickwhat is that one particular word/ phrase or sentence that helps us ponder, heal, smile or even at best go and reach out to that person you’ve always wanted to.. but never ended up doing.

Cheers to life! Cheers to relationships! Cheers to what’s ahead – we’re all doing our little bit to contribute to the bigger goal, making this world a better place and as long as we’re doing that, we have nothing to worry.

My fellow Candles, and all you lovely readers – this one is dedicated to all of you.


Also if I may add, being professionals in our respective fields, Aditi & myself both felt this little post of ours was dished out more like a presentation, you know the kind that people stand on the stage and deliver?

So, if you are more of that visually inclined person and see words come live in front of you as you read – this is right up your alley, you are free to visualize us on a stage speaking the same, suited up, smiling and holding on to that mic as if it were the most precious thing ever.

Collaboratively written by Aditi Ranade & Savio Paes

ARE WE RAISING A BRITTLE GENERATION?

When the popular Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide I was shell shocked. Only question in my mind was WHY?

I mean as a typical middle class person we all aspire for the success, fame and money. And he had it all… So what went wrong?

He is not alone. Recently there was news of a 17 year old Tik Tok star committed suicide. This social media star enjoyed a huge following on various social media platforms and had gained immense popularity due to her dance videos. So again the question – WHY?

Another actress of the ‘Balika Vadhu’  fame and contestant of Big Boss too committed suicide couple of years back.

These are just a few famous people we know so their deaths have made headlines. There are thousands others – students, housewives, patients etc who give up on their life and it is just a small news item in some inside page of the newspaper. And a notable trend is that the number of young people giving up easily and choosing death as a way out over the struggles is on mercurial rise. And many a times the reasons too are quite absurd.

* Problem – Failure in exams; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Didn’t get the new iPhone; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Parents denied night out with friends; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – not enough social media following; Solution – Suicide.

And I can go on with the seemingly funny reasons that we can laugh away but serious enough for this generation to take the dreaded decision or at least emotionally blackmail their loved ones into accepting their clueless demands, as well as jetting them in deep sorrow because of their weakness to confront issues or simply lack of trust on the bond they share with their close ones or simply because of their low to no comprehension of life and its value.

The question that looms large is why? We have a big hand in glove in raising such a brittle generation. See how:

  • The primary reason I understand is the parenting styles. I have seen parents of the mindset that “I will provide everything that my child desires. He /she will not suffer as I did in my childhood for small things because heck I can afford it“. This mindset of new age parenting is actually denying the children their right to evolve and grow strong. The struggle is cut short by providing everything readymade in platter hence snatching away from them the entire exercise and experience of knowing the value of things and they end up taking life very lightly only to be hit hard in the real world. When they grow up and the world does not fulfill all their demands like their parents used to they are at a loss on how to handle the situation. This is the point where they succumb easily to even the slightest of pressures.
  • Not being able to handle a loss is also another major cause of breakdown. Be it a breakup or death of a loved ones; be it a failure in an exam or business or career, some people really struggle hard to cope with it. As parents we need to make a child emotionally strong also. I personally as a mother tell my kids that it’s ok to fall, to fail, to lose because be it a game or life situations change. Not every moment or person is same. You might get hurt but you must know the art of self healing. And I firmly believe that this mental grind must start at young age. Usually we see parents intentionally losing to kids so that they see them happy and as they grow up parents want kids to win for their (parents’) happiness, irony isn’t it? Efforts must be consciously made to make our children understand that losing is not a big deal but not trying again or losing hope surely is. I see rather an alternative approach where winning, coming first, excelling in every sphere for the recognition purposes, being perfect is being encouraged. That is creating an immense pressure on young minds.
  • The prevailing education system sadly is not creating great characters. Our curriculum is on great deficiency when it comes to imparting good value in its students. It’s more or less a system following “demand and supply” theory. The occupation in vogue in the market decides the curriculum of the young ones. Educational institutions are no more a character building laboratories but factories mass producing robots having no substance / knowledge when it comes to their inner mechanisms (read mind and soul) in the face of extreme life situations. Surprisingly a lame man from a village is far more tactical, holding more wisdom and knowledge about life than a Masters degree holder just out of the college with no exposure to life outside the campus. And rightfully he is not the one to be blamed. In the first case life has given the needed lessons but in the second case the education on which the students rely so much for their betterment must have enough material to train the young minds. It’s really appalling that world history has witnessed numerous great personalities whose patience, hard work, perseverance, never say die attitude, humility we can swear by are either never a part of the text books our kids read or simply mentioned as a blink and miss chronology just to add the volume of the book. To put it precisely our education system is actually churning out literates and not educated ones with strong minds.
  • Wrong concept of “space” has doomed us. 10 years of age and we fear saying something to our own kids. They might get hurt, their space might get encroached, they might feel ashamed of our involvement in their lives… give me a break!!! These are the guidelines on which new age parenting is working on. This extreme fear of “we might hurt them” is actually making kids overtly sensitive. Imagine a baby is crawling towards an electrical switch board, what would be the immediate action of the parent , stop the baby or he/she will get hurt, isn’t it? Then why parents of young kids fear the reaction and go to inaction mode? Wouldn’t that harm your baby ? Is the world outside so considerate? It is our responsibility to train our children into a strong personality by telling them wrong and right for our grey hair isn’t just age but experience too. Its absolutely ok if they feel bad now but have the last laugh when life puts them in a tricky position for they know the solution. Giving space doesn’t mean dancing to their unacceptable whims and fancies but respecting their opinions, giving a thought to their ideas and thought processes, providing an amicable environment for their invidualities to prosper in a fruitful manner.

The crux lies in how we nurture our gen next. Right from the beginning one thing must be made clear : Life is not a bed of roses and world is ruthless. Whatever results your choices bear, own them up and don’t kneel down for we have your back!!! And one thing we must remember : Attachment and Love are not synonymous. Attachment with our kids impedes us from being strong whereas our Love for them groom them into a strong personality; an individual with an individuality even if it means being adamant or painted in bad light sometimes.

***Not a parenting tip but an emotional note: I think what a troubled person genuinely needs is empathy and a listening ear. There are already demons inside their heads telling them that their lives are not worth living. So they don’t need any more judgments or rationalizations they need someone to hear them out, pay attention and understand.***

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY KALPANA VOGETI AND KULJEET SAINI

 

IS HATRED THE WAY TO DEAL WITH THE NEW NORMAL?

Today, HATE has become a new normal in our societies! The Christchurch mosque shootings are still fresh in my thoughts. Close to 50 people lost their lives in the peaceful land. There were kids, foreigners who had no connection with that hate crime what so ever in those 50 people. New Zealanders picked up all the pieces left over by that brutal crime with extreme pain and suffering. The whole world paid tributes., There are many such instances happening all over the world. Many are affected directly, some lost their loved ones. Peace and tranquillity are at stake. 

Recently came across an article regarding increase of hate crimes during the Corona pandemic. The analysis was that there could be stereotyped conclusions that people belonging to certain countries or regions or race don’t follow hygiene practices. This is the time when humans should have more compassion towards each other than hatred, yet, we are slowly drifting towards hate. Hate is not new to us. We have come across several instances even inside a family about how hatred can destroy lives. Close to 5K hate crimes are reported every year across the world. 

There are religious hate crimes, racist hate crimes, homophobic hate crimes, crimes against the LGBTQ community, sectarian hate crimes we hear about on an everyday basis. Makes me wonder if we have set some strict boundaries for normal? Anything that does not fall into this category bothers us to an extent that it won’t matter if a life is lost? Nine out of ten hate crimes have violence, often the offender is armed. Hate speech is also considered as one of the factors for a hate crime. Maybe, it develops from thoughts to language used. 

Does hate crime have more impact than the regular crime? Most probably the answer to this would be a yes. 

  • Victims are left with fear even after they survive the attack.
  • There is always a threat of attacks in the future. 
  • On a larger scale, this could affect a group of individuals. 
  • Hate crimes also give a strong message that the victim is not accepted by society.

Hate crimes not only cause physical pain, but they also leave a mark on the mental wellbeing of the victims. It is a negative emotion to handle when the situation is not very favourable. People might even feel threatened to leave the city or country they live in to save themselves. 

Well, in the hate stories why can’t a perpetrator sensitize the pain of the victim? How come the monstrous look of brutality does not haunt the perpetrator?

Unknown to me but someone has rightly said,

“Insecurity is an ugly thing, it makes you hate people you don’t even know.”

HATERS ALWAYS PLAY THE VICTIM CARD. Haters always feel insecure about reasoning, sacredness, righteousness, love, and truth since they have concealed themselves of deceptions. A deceived mind believes lies and as a result of it, they consider anything that is good and reasonable as their opponent, and the only way to secure yourself is taking a notorious way out. To deal with haters (victims of deception), the Bible teaches,

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling but on the contrary,

bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

An untamed horse is of no use but a well-tamed horse crowns you with glory so is with human passion. Passion for money, sex, luxury, and power is natural for both the rich and rags but it is always the unbridled passion disrupts our character. THE UNTAMED PASSION OF HATERS convinces our mind to strategies for prey and the evil of hate in our heart-mind bridles us for a hateful crime. Every 15 minutes, a girl is raped in India, and every second crime is organized and loots are legalized around the globe today. Hating something/someone is obvious to the human mind and the passion of hate serves as bait and for which the Bible advises us –

“Nail your passion and sinful desires to the cross and crucify them there

before it entices you to shameless acts, later receiving the due penalty for it.”  

Hate is always by a person for a person, so the personhood is intrinsic in every hate crime. The endpoint of the haters in every hate crime can be better understood by recalibrating The Wolf In Sheep-skin story –

A wolf was walking in the countryside. He found a sheep-skin spread on the ground. He thought, “If I wear this skin and get mixed up in the flock, the shepherd will not suspect me. At night, I will kill a stout-sheep and then take him away with me”. As he had expected, the shepherd took him as a sheep and shut him also in the pen. The wolf was waiting for the night. The shepherd had a feast that night. He sent a servant to fetch a fat sheep. The servant saw the sheep-skin covered wolf by chance. That night, the guests had the wolf for supper.

Responding to hate against hate gives the starting point to another hate crime. But God in His goodness never withholds justice from the unjust victims of hate crimes. There is always sunshine after darkness. Therefore, God in the Bible says,

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scripture say, “I WILL PAY THEM BACK, says the LORD”.”

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY AASTHA AND AVINASH

CARING FOR THE CAREGIVERS

Being a caregiver is not easy. It necessitates commitment, sacrifice, compassion and patience as the chief virtues. Whether or not one has the attributes needed to be a caregiver and whether or not one is prepared to be one, sometime across the lifespan one has to play the role of a caregiver.

You don’t have to think too deep to figure out who a caregiver is! Isn’t there a wife or a husband, a mother or a father, an aunt or an uncle, a brother or a sister who is a caregiver in each household? These are routine caregivers. And then, there are specialist caregivers – nurses/ paramedics in hospitals, people trained (either professionally or by virtue of experience) to take care of differently-abled people or terminally ill patients, nannies/ babysitters, etc.

While they provide the much-needed care for others, who takes care of them? Do we realize that the caregivers around us need to be cared for too?

Be it a routine or a specialist caregiver, s/he is also a human in need of care in ways not necessarily overtly evident. As care-receivers or simply as observers of caregivers, what are the things we can be vigilant about:

  1. Caregiver burnout – Committed caregivers have the tendency to continue to care even when they are drained out. And so, it usually escapes cognizance that the caregiver also needs a break from care-giving. A burnt-out caregiver might continue to provide care, but the efficiency gradually starts going down the hill.
  2. Caregiver anxiety – Just because a person is into the role of care-giving, doesn’t mean that s/he is a confident juggler against all odds. Just because a caregiver might wear a caring smile most of the time, doesn’t mean that she is not mentally battling with issues. A caregiver’s anxiety may be due to the care-receiver/s or purely personal.
  3. Caregiver finances (if s/he is a paid caregiver) – Though professional caregivers who are hired from Consultancies are secure about the remuneration they receive, not all have such assurances. At times, caregivers in dire need of finances offer their services for petty sums.
  4. Caregiver emotions – Caregivers are not robots. They have emotions too. Their emotions might go unspoken and unexpressed many times. At other times, their spoken and expressed emotions might go unheeded.
  5. Caregiver needs and wants – Caregivers often render sacrificial service ignoring their personal needs and wants. This is an area that requires sensitivity by significant others.

To sum it up Caregivers are In, Among, Around and One of Us. So our responsibility towards them gets all the more enhanced because at the end of the day we are only helping ourselves. Ironically our selfishness is actually our selflessness, working towards a greater cause and a token of gratitude towards our Caregivers. Let’s take a deep introspection :

  • Talking about the caregivers and their services towards the society and the country, this pandemic period has brought forth how our front line service providers – Doctors, Nurses, Sanitation Workers are risking their lives to provide care for the ailing people and help them fight the dreadful virus and reconcile with their loved ones. It’s not that we are oblivious to their services but these testing times have made us witness their courageous, selfless side. So how can we do our bit to help them win this contest against an unknown enemy? Simple, follow the hygiene and sanitation rules to the T and making sure every individual (family) continues to do the same. This simple act would make sure that the splurge of numbers in the hospitals is contained giving a breathing space to our caregivers to focus better on vaccine trials which could mean a solution to this humongous problem and not just a hide out. And aren’t we helping ourselves at the end of the day?
  • The above mentioned way has a non linear correlation between our action and the ensuing result. But there are other more linear ways of exhibiting that – “We care for our caregivers”. Own their families like our own, in the absence of the warriors (they are indeed warriors shielding us) take care of their needs (can be deep as emotional or momentary need of groceries) or at least as a helping hand and a generous word to be around. That makes a lot of difference. To know that their family is not alone in their absence goes a long way in fighting off their anxieties on one front (even superheroes have families to look after, isn’t it?). Not every help is necessarily financial. Every small and intangible gesture too matters. When caregivers are busy caring for our families, let’s be family for their families.

This is just a bird’s eye view of how we could reciprocate for the selfless service we are receiving (especially in reference to the current situation). We need to ponder harder over this.

Identifying the psychopaths, very important!!! Society isn’t free of black sheep. When the entire world clapped and lit candles in respect of the great service our caregivers are doing to the mankind there are a certain clan of people (of rotten mindset, nothing to do with any ethnicity whatsoever) who not only denied to accept the role our front liners are playing but went an extra mile to insult them. From spitting to pelting stones; from beating to demanding evacuation of their rented accommodations; from hurling personal insults to torturing their families – few sick minded people have done it all and sadly all around the world. Such people with their shallow comprehension of life bifurcated the caregivers for simple reason of their close liaison with the effected people albeit they might get infected too. Fear is justified to an extent but foolishness and cruelty can’t be. “What if that patient is from my family?”,”What if the caregiver doesn’t come forward to my aid?” – simple questions that needs to be answered individually before venting out venom. There is also a creed of people from whom life is a mere Profit & Loss statement. Their crude mentality comes across in the absurd manner they put across this statement – “so what, don’t they get salaries?, they aren’t doing any social service?” Though a slap is an appropriate answer to such gibberish talk but holding the civility together few questions to be fired at them “would you risk your life for the same amount of salary they get?”, “would you forgo your family time to shield hopes of a stranger?”

Coming back to our focal point of discussion – How to show / convey to our caregivers that we care – Act responsibly – it sums it all. Every citizen taking care of themselves reduces the undue burden on our caregivers that might arise out of our recklessness. And for rest they are there anyways!

Special mention: They might not be counted as Caregivers but the service they render can never be discounted – Police Force & Security Forces. Irrespective of the situations prevailing in the country these forces are on their toes to make sure that we are safe in our safe havens. They dare the weather, sacrifice their family time, face the bullets and lay down their lives with a sense of pride. Don’t they deserve our recognition and appreciation?

  • So what can we do to help our police personnel. Just be alert! This is the minimum how we can help them. If something antisocial is going on around us we should inform the concerned authorities in time. No tolerance of injustice is actually justice served. Even a single case less in our police stations is our way of showing our respect to our caregivers (from a different perspective) – our policemen.
  • Just like our policemen are keeping us safe internally our security forces are guarding us from external forces. What is our responsibility then – we must stop fueling hatred within the boundaries in the name of caste, religion, language. Is it too much to ask for?

An orderly stable financial support is definitely an added perk to our caregivers but what brings forth their zeal to shower their care is – A bright smile, A warm embrace, An assurance of being together and around, and A responsible behaviour, period.

 

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY RAJNANDINI SAHU AND KALPANA VOGETI

TOGETHERNESS IN PANDEMIC

It was a 45th marriage anniversary celebration this June in 2020 for my parents as well as for my paternal uncle and aunt, both the couple married just 4 days apart. We had planned a get together last year only and were so looking forward to our gathering until this COVID pandemic ruined our plans.

We wanted to get rid of the growing negativity and monotony, so we sisters, Kuljeet, Prabhjot and I, decided to make a family video to celebrate our love and togetherness. We have a WhatsApp group by the name of ‘Pyara Tabbar’, which means loving family and is quite an active group. So, almost 40 members of our family danced and the final compilation was simply prodigious. Our efforts were highly appreciated and all the members confessed that it was so much fun and they wanted to have a similar kind of celebration frequently. We didn’t let the pandemic and lockdown dampen our spirits.

Whenever we feel low, we make a group video call, sometimes only our generation and sometimes with the elders. Our elders get cheered up just by seeing us all together on one screen. When we cousins make a video call, it’s more of pulling each other’s legs- making fun of someone eating during a call (Prabhjot, I didn’t mention your name), laughing on our pity state of too much work and chores, proudly telling about the new dishes that we tried, etc. One day, my brother, who’s currently in Bangladesh, staying alone, showed us his house, his in-house gym, and his lockdown hobby- painting. Till now he had made more than 10 paintings and has reduced 12 kgs by running on his treadmill every day. Altogether, it’s a wonderful feeling to share our feelings and inspirations. These kinds of video calls happen across the time zones too. last week to celebrate my uncle’s birthday we had a group video call. His son stays in the US and because of the opposite time zones he was half asleep. Poor thing he couldn’t keep his eyes open but we kept teasing him and pulling his leg throughout. Didn’t let him fall asleep 😉

In my friend circle, I have a group of friends who regularly get together to play Ludo online. I never thought playing ludo would be so much fun all over again. It’s like going back to our childhood. Adults fighting like kids in the game. People are also playing Dumb Charades, Antakshri, Lotto online with their extended families and friends. It’s a great way to reach out and come together.

My co-sister joined meditation classes with her sister. Sister stays in New Delhi my co-sister stays in Mumbai and the classes are conducted by a person who stays in another corner of New Delhi. Unheard of around 6 months back. But it works! And gives the sisters a shared experience too.

What if we are all locked up inside our houses. We can still get together and have fun. Connect with your loved ones. Just seeing each other’s faces gives the feeling that we are close by. Like my uncle in Canada said that next time you all join the video chat ensure that your children are also with you. We want to see how big they have grown. Such calls make great memories and give a feeling of being close.

So go ahead and make a dance video with your cousins, or join Zumba with a friend online.. Challenge someone to a cult fitness workout… Or join a prayer meeting with your grandma. All from the confines and safety of your home but together.

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY KULJEET SAINI AND PREETA BHATNAGAR