DO NOT HESITATE! YOU CAN PREVENT A SUICIDE!

I still regret that incident which literally shook me in the year 1994. I was a teenager then but I could have prevented someone from taking her own life. Sadly, I could not.

World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on the 10th of September every year. This day is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. IASP is “dedicated to preventing suicide and suicidal behaviour, alleviating its effects, and providing a forum for academics, mental health professionals, crisis workers, volunteers and suicide survivors”. 

WSPD is an opportunity to raise awareness among all that suicide can be prevented. Even I felt, I could have prevented it by being a little vigilant and attentive to her and her feelings.

When the thought came, how we can prevent a possible suicide, I asked my friends to share their thoughts and they were quick to respond with their views.

Aditi says,

I will just keep talking and checking on that person and ensure that he/she doesn’t feel alone or left out.

Kalpana says,

If ever I feel a person is depressed, finding it difficult to cope up with the stress of facing challenges life is throwing at him or her, my initiative would be to make them realise!! Realise what? “Look around, we are not alone. We are in a situation which in our perspective is very difficult and life not worthy of living. But there are others who are struggling to have your piece at least to survive. And then there are others who rose from these dark waters. The first case is motivation to cling on to life and the second case is an inspiration to fight back. Do everything except to give up.”

Preeta says,

Regularly be in touch with my near and dear ones.
Being observantnotice change in the behavior of my friend, i.e., could be a weird message.
Not ignoring social media posts of anyone on my friend list, I mean, the posts expressing negative feelings of a person or friend.

Aastha says,

Suicide is a transient thought and often the extreme step could be avoided. No one is born with suicidal thoughts. Some failure or pain would have caused that thought. The only way “we” – friends, family, and society can help is through empathy and compassion. I would choose empathy over everything else.

And finally, Rajnandini gave her counselor’s view summarising all of our views…

1. Be vigilant for suicidal tendencies in people
2. Give a patient, non-judgmental hearing to anyone in distress
3. Encourage people to seek professional help and counseling when required
4. Impress upon people how precious a gift life is
5. Pray for those battling with life stressors

We must be aware of and must be seeing much news about the suicides during this pandemic. It has affected mental health big time. Staying isolated at home, less physical activities, unexpected changes in life and lack of proper connection between humans have made things worse. So, preventing suicide has become all the more important during this gloomy pandemic situation.

In the end, for our encouragement, I want to quote what God says,

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Stay Alert & Stay Blessed!

A BOAT OF HOPE

I didn’t have a bad day. In fact, it was a nice day, having fun with my cousins and friends. Why then, I see clouds all around? Is it a dream, I’m seeing?

I saw darkness hovering around me and I screamed in my thoughts, “Ah…where am I? Why can’t I see myself?” The dark clouds all around me made my vision obscure as the bright light that I was seeing a minute ago almost faded away.

Then an intense sorrow pierced through my spines, my flesh, and my bones. The dark despair within me made me walk through the hidden lanes of my life. I felt ashamed of myself. I hated myself. The rotten scent of my sinfulness broke me into pieces. I saw a defiant me, standing and asking questions about my own creation… as I found myself to be a weak, neglected and a rejected piece of morsel thrown on a pile of garbage.

A gripping fear and a distressing agony engulfed me when I saw the raging sea waves approaching me and I just tried to duck down my head to let it pass but I could not do. I tried again and again but all my efforts seem to be in vain.

I realized my inability to rescue my own self. I understood I needed someone else to bring salvation, and restore me from this chaos.

Lo and behold! I soon saw a boat glimmering in the middle of the sea.

I had lost all my hope but a ray of hope sparked within me when I saw the boat. That boat, to me, seemed like a piece of leaf for an ant floating away in the water. That boat reminded me of my God, the Saviour Himself and I remembered His assurances, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for YOU are with me; YOUR rod [to protect] and YOUR staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.”

I could not feel whether I swam through the waves or not but somehow, I reached that boat and found myself on it, cruising through the waves, going beyond the clouds of darkness.

This may not be a dream that I saw in my sleep, but I have seen it many times in my life and still see it even today. I’ve walked in close proximity to death. My life has never been easy but the good thing is, I always found myself being consoled and reassured with the promise of that small boat of hope at every dark situation of my life.

I know, God has been and will be the boat of hope all through my life, even during this pandemic situation… till I enter eternity after my death.

I DON’T SHED TEARS BUT I CRY…

A lot has been spoken about men not being allowed to cry, gender bias related to it and many other things. I personally feel that even though there could be a social pressure on men for not shedding tears, it is more of a choice and poise of the man.

How do we define crying? Crying means expression of grief and pain with or without tears. So, is it that men never feel the pain or they never grieve? (Please don’t quote the filmy dialogue “Mard ko Dard nahi hota”). I have seen men in my life cry, like really cry with tears in their eyes. And no single person ever shamed them.

The first man I saw crying was my grandfather. He cried his heart out when his first daughter was going away with her newly wed husband to start a new chapter of their life. My father did the same when I got married, though in a lesser intensity. But he did cry!

I have seen my husband cry quite a few times in these 10 years. I have seen him grieving when my father in law passed away. He was crying so bad that his whole body was wobbling. I have seen him cry with me when I was in tremendous pain because of losing pregnancies before we had Aarnav. I have seen him cry when he saw me going through the medical turmoil that I had to just to conceive Aarnav. I have seen him cry when we made a wrong decision of chucking a job before having another one on hand and then later facing unemployment for a long time. Every time his crying was not accompanied by tears, but I could see he was crying within.

We have a tradition that someone from the family accompanies the new bride to her new home, makes sure she is comfortable in the new house and then return. I remember my maternal uncle had accompanied me to my new house. At the time of “Grihapravesh” I turned back one last time just to feel assured that he is around and yes, he was there, with a heart full of happiness and eyes full of tears that his little niece is stepping in to a whole new world and will be on her own.

In spite of the fan fare of this social pressure, do ask yourself if men don’t cry ever? I am sure you have seen men cry too and there is no big deal about it. Earlier generations many have set standards for shaming men for crying but hey, we can change that, can’t we? I tell my son not to cry. Yes, I do, but NOT because boys don’t cry but because instead a crying he must learn to tell what is bothering him and what can be done about it.

Next time you see a man or a boy cry, just let him be. Don’t think what society will name him. Don’t suggest him whether he should cry or not. Just let him be. Instead, try and identify many other men who cry within. Do something to shed their grief. Do something to make them comfortable.

EVERYONE HAS TEAR GLANDS AND SO DO MEN

This famous toothpaste ad pops up onto my children’s favourite channel frequently. It’s an ad where some boys are playing football and a girl comes in. One of the boy says- “Ladki hai, chot lagegi to rone lagegi” (She’s a girl, if she gets hurt, she will cry) . 

If any of those 7-10 year olds get hurt badly, they will cry for sure. What’s the point in giving a statement like it’s the birth right of every girl to cry! And making it air on the kids’ channels so that the gender fights begin from childhood only is just ridiculous. 

It’s a very common notion that is imbibed in most of the boys- “Mard ko dard nahi hota” (Men doesn’t feel the pain) or Men don’t cry. 

Why? Does the pain comes only to girls? 

Doesn’t every child cry the moment it is born?

Does the pain sees the gender first and then decides – “Ok,  it’s a girl, so let me hit her”? Ouch! 

If the God hasn’t reserved the crying part for the girls only at the time of birth, then why is it so that as the children grew, there are such statements in many homes- “Don’t cry like a girl” or “Boys are strong, they don’t cry”. 

Well, really? 

The answer is NO. Boys do cry and so do men. It’s just that as the boys grow up, they start hiding their emotions because of the social stigma and don’t shed tears, at least not in front of anyone! 

When you are a child, crying is easy. As soon as you grow older, you realise that crying is a big no-no, at least in front of anyone. Obviously, when an adult cries, something seriously is meant to be wrong, that’s what I felt as a kid. When our mom used to have wet eyes in a movie, my brother and I used to laugh! And now look at me- I cry during movies or watching my sons perform on stage or even when I am mad with anger, as I mentioned in “Let them fall”.

Men tend to get emotional which is perfectly normal. Otherwise the feelings will vent out in anger or abuse. So, tears are always better. 

My dad skips every “Vidai” function after marriages, just because he can’t see the bride and her relatives crying as he can’t control his tears. Though he couldn’t skip my ‘vidai’, he cried his heart out. And the person who made me cry during childhood, courtesy sibling rivalry, was weeping loudly when he hugged me as he bid me adieu after my marriage! 

Our society doesn’t lack stereotypes who believe that dolls are for girls and cars are for boys. One of the psychological column that I read mentioned that it’s important for the boys and girls to be introduced to every kind of toy, not being gender specific, as this improves their creative and problem- solving skills and develops empathy. I realized this when my elder son went to play at her cousin sisters house, where he found all sorts of dolls . He was amazed on seeing and holding Barbie dolls, their dresses and shoes. When he came back, I asked him if he liked playing with the dolls, I will get him one, but he refused and wanted a kitchen set instead. 

I bought him a kitchen set and obviously faced statements like- ‘why did you get him a girl toy‘, etc. Trust me, he enjoyed playing with it so much and now my younger one also likes to play with it. I got them a miniature pressure cooker and they now want me to add more cookware to their kitchen. In real life, they watch how their father helps me in the household work and so they also eagerly lend me a helping hand in drying the laundry, unloading the dishwasher or even dusting. My elder one loves to prepare tea (under my guidance) and younger one rolls a Chapati when he wants to. My younger son has a ‘Masha’ doll from his favorite show Masha and the Bear and both of them fight over aeroplanes, lego blocks, cars and plush toys too. 

The other day my sons and my husband were playing in-house cricket when suddenly the game had to be paused as the latter had to attend a call and said- “Play with mummy now.”

 “But, she doesn’t know how to play Cricket,”  my son said confidently.

And what makes you think so?” I asked. 

Because girls don’t play cricket“, he said. 

My husband laughed and said, “They do and our country’s women’s cricket team is a strong one.”

Really! Then why don’t you play mumma?” My son asked. 

Because I don’t like it too much. I hardly played cricket when I was young. I preferred skating though and learnt that on my own. No game or sport is specifically either for boys or girls,  just like colours. My favourite colour is blue which doesn’t mean that I am a boy.” I replied in a hope to make my sons unconventional.

MEN ARE HUMANS TOO

A day such as International Men’s Day makes us stop on our steps and give a deep thought to men. Women do need that extra bit of attention because all the world over, be it in developed or developing nations, they are the oppressed lot – in different but many ways. However, men are calling out too – their voices being doused by the stereotypes and mutilated by the rigid societal frameworks that have defined gender roles.

The theme for International Men’s Day 2019 – ‘Making a difference for men and boys’ made me think whether any difference is needed for men and boys, and if so how can we (men and women) contribute towards it. Some stereotypes definitely need to be revisited to be modified.

#Men are supposed to be strong

What does ‘strong’ mean exactly? Well, in the context of men, ‘strong’ means physically, emotionally, financially and socially strong. A man who is well-built, is able to steel his emotions, has good source of finances and has social contacts to get things done, is considered to be a manly man. By this definition, a man who is thin and frail or displays his emotions or is unemployed or is more of a social recluse, lacks what it takes to be a man. Are we expecting superheroes out of men?

Few years back, a boy of fourteen was walked into my Counselling room in the school where I was working. He was contemplating suicide and had shared with a teacher with whom he was a bit free. It took me two and half hours to talk him out of his plans, while I was all the while praying for God to intervene. When I spoke to his parents a couple of days later, the mother panicked while the father laughed it off saying, ‘is this how a man should behave? He is my son. He should roar like a lion, and not resort to all this depression-anxiety-suicide drama.’ The father refused to mend his ways (he was part of the problem) or acknowledge that his son needed help. He never turned up for the parental Counselling sessions that I called them for (in fact I got to know that he was waiting for the boy to pass out of school so that he could confront me 🙂 ). The boy was aware that he needed help. And so, apart from regular sittings with me, he used his pocket money to consult psychiatrists for medications which were needed for extreme trigger situations. It has been five years since! I received an elaborate letter from him last week only to say it has been five years that he is alive, that he is part of an accepting peer group, is doing well in college studies, has been off medications for a long time now and is no longer prone to depressive spells and panic attacks.

Would the boy have not been spared of all that he went through, had his father taken cognizance of his son’s need for help? A baby boy is not born strong. He is as tender and vulnerable as a baby girl is. If we stand by our boys and men during the times of their frailities, to lend them an understanding ear and a supportive shoulder, we can be agents of strength in their lives.

#Men don’t feel scared

Don’t toddler boys cling to their mothers when they perceive danger? Aren’t men supposed to be afraid of gun-weilding men or snakes or tigers or lions? They are humans after all! Just because they are men doesn’t mean that they are supposed to play with their lives. Men are portrayed as protectors and so have this attribute imposed on them. A man walking with a woman means, the woman is safe. Who says? So many rapes are committed while women are with men – either by killing off the man or by restraining him. And, the man ends up nursing a guilt all through life that he wasn’t able to help prevent the wrongdoing. Any person, man or woman would have such a guilt. But for men, the level of guilt is escalated by people just because they are ‘men’.

Men feel scared too. They need protection too.

A boy of seventeen rushed into my Counselling room one afternoon (while I was taking a session with another of his batchmates) saying that he had given it back to a bunch of bullies and they have threatened to ‘see him’ after school hours. He was very afraid to return home alone as those guys could go to any extreme to bash him up. I, then calmed him down and made certain arrangements for him to be accompanied home that day. The other boy with whom I was in the counselling session was observing all this. He said later, “Ma’am, is he a man? I really doubt it! He is as scared as a girl. How will he protect his girlfriend or wife in future? I know the guys he is talking about. I will talk to them. Tell him to go home without fear. But, also tell him to behave like a man and not be a sissy.”

Here was a macho boy-turning-to-be-a-man sitting before me who had been booked by the police for playing protector few days before by bashing up a guy who had looked at his girlfriend!! He had no regrets for what he had done. In his words, he was protecting his own dignity by protecting his girlfriend. And, he expected men to behave similarly without fear.

Men, it is alright if you are afraid of spiders, cockroaches and lizards. There’s nothing abnormal about it. You don’t have to be ashamed. It is alright to desire protection when you feel unsafe. Don’t be burdened by society’s pressure to play the protector all the time.

#Men better not express their emotions

This stereotype especially holds true for the sad emotions. Anger? It’s normal for men to be aggressive and angry – we hear. Happiness? A man can laugh out loud – no problem. But, the problem that society has is with the emotions that are considered grim. If a man is hurt, he better learn to be thick-skinned. If he is anxious, he better not wear his anxiety on his sleeves. If he is sad, he better not show his tears. Why not?

A young boy of eighteen in the final year of school had a broken relationship with a girl of his own class. Though he was crying out inside, he continued to portray his macho face for all. But, such emotions do need a vent and they often find one. So, what did this chap do? He spent hours at the gym till his body ached and his veins swelled up. He shared with me how angry and sad he was at the turn of events. But, he thought it best to take out his hurt and anger with gym equipments rather than on people around.

This is called ‘catharsis’ in psychological terms. Though it is considered to be a much-accepted way of giving a vent to one’s anger, sadness and frustration, it doesn’t help solve issues from the root. And when men internalize their emotions, they take to addictions – alcohol, smoking, sex, drugs, binge-eating or they go on a destructive spree or develop suicidal tendencies.

When God created humans to be emotional beings, he did not segregate certain emotions for men and certain others for women. Over centuries, stereotypes have crept into almost all civilizations of the world and have percolated down even to the present digital age. It’s time to encourage men to share their emotions and to seek help when needed.

Being learned men and women of this age, we need to let men be humans and not simply cage them under the brand ‘MEN’.

ARE THE MEN WHO CRY, WEAK?

Oh boy, do not cry, you are a shame to the boys

Being boy you are crying, shame on you

Be a boy, Don’t cry like a girl

You are a boy, don’t crib

We all must have heard such comments that are prevailing in the society.

Don’t you think that it is the harsh treatment we do to boys?

Girls get umpteen chances to weep a lot. If you look at the TV soap serials, there are enough ones to justify my statement. Interestingly, the market utilizes the fact that women cry and men don’t cry.

In reality, Men do cry. And actually, I want to refurbish that statement- Real Men cry.

Crying is signified as a sign of weakness. But it is not right. Women cry but they are never weak. Crying is one way, our body expels the pressure that we give to the mind. A perfect cry can make even the roaring mind calm.

Over the years, we have taught the boys not to cry, as it is bad for them to do it. doing it, we have overburdened their emotions and not allowed them to expel in the right way. As they grow up, these frustrations and negative emotions build up and finally, they begin to be harsher. It not only ruins them but also the people around.

Instead, when we let them cry, their mind do not get burdened and they are able to cope with the changes.

Let us break the myth that -“to emote is to be weak“.

Sometimes I keep wondering who gets hurt when a boy cries? Does it ache them so much while crying?

As moms, when we raise a child, be it a girl or a boy, raise it like they are a whole human being rather than segregate emotions like for boy and girl. Encourage even the boys or girls to share or expel their emotions, it is not the sign of weakness. It is important to teach them, why it is essential to express what they feel.

Have you seen a toddler go crankier and crazier when they try to express some emotions and they do not know how to go about it? Anger is one such emotion, that derives from subsequent bottling up of emotions. This, in turn, makes men more abusive and starts beating up the people around them.

Many doctors have stated that suppressing emotions especially crying, is bad in many ways to men or even women. Depression and anxiety are something we have to look forward for in such cases.

Want to raise good human beings – forget the gender bias. Learn to garner such insights that make the boys or even girls understand and analyze the mystery of crying. Teach them to open up their emotions in the right way rather than suppress them.

Cry, when you need to cry. Tears have no gender bias, they just flow down, even if you have a beard or not.

CAN WOMAN BE THE VICTIM ALWAYS?

“Me Too” movement has been  a phenomena off late that saw many skeletons tumbling out of the glossy doors that contained for long rotten corpses.  This movement that transcended to different countries, communities raised a strong voice and gave strength for many women to join the force against the sexual harassment in work place.

For more details we have wikipedia pages anyways 😊.

This movement has given a hope to many suppressed voices.  Women finally started voicing their horror experiences.  And the culprits – Men (not a generalisation) are being shown the doors.  That is something to be cheered up ans celebrated, isn’t it.

This movement is a minuscule part of a revolution called Feminism. Age long patriarchal dominance, suppression and submission is finally seeking freedom.  “We are no less than you, we are at par with you, we have been doing our duties now it’s about our rights.  We will no longer take it lying down” sums up it all. Fair enough! Much needed indeed.

But the problem is misuse of the concept or let’s say  the “Woman / Victim card” just to settle few scores, gain some popularity or simply sympathy.  Don’t get shocked, it is prevailing.

Let me give you two examples (out of many):

  • Rohtak sisters of Harayana were hailed by one and all as they beat an “eve teaser” who was harassing them in a bus.  A bravo act! And they repeated the act in another incident but now discrepancies started to appear in their script.  And recently the accused whom the sisters beat was acquitted by the court of law in  light of various testimonies given by the co-passengers and ironically they were girls too.  They just used Victim Card to get some attention and fame. Proved! But very late though. Boy was shamed everywhere to the point he lost everything.
  • Delhi’s Saravjit Singh Bedi Vs Jasleen Kaur case.  It was an altercation at the traffic signal. She (Jasleen Kaur) clicked his photo and circulated via her social account and accused him for eve teasing her and since then he was branded as “Delhi la Darinda” (Delhi’s Scoundrel). He was heavily accused, hated and penalised. Lost his job, his image was tainted, his family lost face and lot more. And amidst all this she easily escaped to a foreign land even evading the court hearing dates to prove his misdeed.  Strange, isn’t it?
  • Mohammad Shami, the cricketer was embroiled in a false domestic violence case because he is a Man!

False rape cases, dowry cases, domestic violence cases are on rise. When things don’t work their way few women unfortunately using their “weaker sex/ victim” card because they got the pulse of our somewhat flawed laws meant for their own betterment and our undesicive society who never battles an eyelid in shaming the victim irrespective of the gender and believes in hogwash rather than truth underneath.

What are the repercussions?  Using flaws in laws and popular movements for personal agendas by handful of scrupulous souls is definitely not serving any purpose (not taking the personal ones into account). This is in fact widening the already existing gap between the genders.  This is some how resulting in distrust that one gender has on another. If a woman finds it difficult to trust her male counterpart, a man too fears a possible exploitation at the hands of law meant for woman’s protection  which could be easily misused for settling few agendas straight. On the flip side the huge volume of false cases is making sure that those who actually need help from the judiciary are being denied or delayed justice.  And this is actually impeding many from taking action to demand justice.  So if being a woman, a woman wants to misuse the law for her benefit she is actually denying someone else the justice simply by slowing down the process.  Period!

Media’s Role in creating sensation / shaming: unfortunately the media is to an extent responsible for sensationalising issues without any analysis. In their stride to top the TRP charts they want news chops that can garner interest. Source never matters so does the truth.  They want to cash the trend. When the country is raged at the gruesome rape cases of Nirbhaya, Kathua news channels use clippings of Rohtak Sisters to sound relevant in their coverage. And that results in sensationalisation because we want our girls to retaliate the wrong and we shame the boy because we are in mindset “he must have definitely done something wrong to be at the receiving end”. And when the truth comes to the surface channels already have something else to showcase (elections 🤣), so no one cared about it whereas the boy is still suffering the impact of social ostracism. This is too dangerous, mark that.

Fight against heinous crimes committed against women is not a fight against Men. This has to be emphasised.  When Jessica Lal was murdered by a Man there were hundreds of same gender who were out on streets to fight for her. When Nirbhaya happened the police “men” sweated it out to nab the culprits.  My Father supported me in my decisions throughout so did my Husband and I forgot to mention Chiradeep, my mentor who always guided me.  They are all Men. Right and Wrong; Good and Bad; Righteousness and Sin are free of gender bias. A woman can be wrong too – please take a note all the pseudo feminist out there who are doing more harm to women and humanity as a whole than good. “Feminism” as understood by few is not a fight against Males.

As a woman I feel that the strong wave of important movements like “Me Too” or “Feminism” shouldn’t be curtailed or restricted to ulterior motives of handful for they are meant for superior objectives of upliftment and serving justice.