Have you ever put your mind, body and soul into winning something? A competition, grades, championship, against addiction, for a cause? I have, only once before, when I was preparing for my MBA entrance exams.
I was desperate….I had finished my graduation, was teaching kids and knew it wouldn’t be too long before “marriage” would start getting discussed at home. For obvious reasons (see previous post) I had no interest in another living being – romantically. The only option was to do something related to a “career” to be able to escape the usual route of marriage after graduation (incase you don’t get the desperation, you were either not born in India or born here after 1990!).
I barely knew what CAT was but decided it sounded decent enough as a path to freedom and prepared for it. I did everything anyone suggested – ANYTHING! Right from reading editorials, highlighting and jotting down every single new english word I spotted, taking help of a coaching centre, practicing tests at the specific time ( apparently that sets your body clock to be most attentive during that time of the day), praying at a nearby mazaar, working on interview skills and much more. I gave it my all, at that point in time, and I was rewarded – I joined one of the best management institutes in the country. Marriage was now a choice; as and when I wanted it. I won.
Luckily for me, I have never felt that desperate again. I have been blessed with the best always since then and of course I forgot all about how it felt to be so driven…..till, I fell sick. This was a completely different scenario….I was fighting against a weaker, zero-willed, hopeless and mostly crying, absolutely directionless version of the girl I knew. To begin with I couldn’t identify with this new person at all. I remember walking into the psychiatrist’s and explaining to him my situation and emphasising on “I am sure this is not me and I know I don’t want to be this new me at all. You have to help me the road to getting back to the happy me.” Thus began the new desperate war of “old me” v/s “temporary me”.
Once again, I tried doing everything that the professionals as well as well-wishers suggested. Antidepressants, meditation, reiki, homeopathy, Zumba, running, therapy, self help books….and much more. I think everything worked in bits and the result must be a combination of all but I want to share what I feel helped me most in different phases.
In the beginning (around end Nov, 2015) I was unable to understand what was effecting me. It definitely wasn’t PMS or mood swings…it was a weird constant fear in the centre of my being. It was a fear about everything. Earthquakes, accidents, death, separation, bad luck (how long can someone remain as blessed as I was?), failure, embarrassment, public humiliation! You get the scene right? It was EVERYTHING. And then the therapist suggested something which seemed to help….whatever you fear might happen today, assume it has already happened, then see where you have reached and decide if it is life-changing. Did anyone precious die? Did you die? If not, then is it something you still want to deal with and carry on?
This might seem silly to someone, but it worked – If I was scared that a meeting with the client would go bad and I will break down and embarrass myself – then what could happen? I lose that business? But, nothing really bad, of significance, can happen. My dear ones and I can absolutely continue happily ever after. I actually started writing down such a thought process for the fear-of-the-day (or fear-of-the-moment to be precise) and would see logic and some hope.
However, this worked for only some initial days till I had the strength to go through the process. Slowly, I was getting worse and losing all chances of discussions with myself. The “old me” was almost disappearing and the “temporary me” seemed be getting very strong. I was losing.
The doctor had said that the medicines only start working after 2-4 weeks (from the time you start taking them regularly). That meant that I hit almost my rock bottom by December end – it was as dark as it could get. That’s when I started trying something else the therapist suggested – to stop trusting myself!
The idea was to realise that my judgement was impaired and I needed to look for facts and past experiences to support the current fear. If I thought a dear one was abandoning me, I needed to look at the history of the relationship and look for any incidents that supported it – if none, then I had to tell myself I was confused as the “temporary me” was fooling me into wrong beliefs and I had to just ignore it. I am probably unable to explain well but I hope you understand what a strange exercise this was. I was continuously proving to myself that my gut feelings were wrong!
It could be the meds. It could be the hazaar other things I was doing. It could just be the passage of time. But slowly by January end, I saw hope. If I had 4 bad days, I would get one good day. The “old me” had not completely lost!