So, the birthday went off quite undramatically and rather peacefully. That makes it a first. Made me realize- controlling and fine tuning your own mind is absolutely vital, especially for those of us who have more melancholic days than cheerful ones. People keep harping on ‘being positive’, well for some of us it doesn’t come naturally.
These are ten ways that help me to beat the blues, when I’m down in the dumps.
Know Thy Self– Different things depress different people. My Mother grew up, in a huge house in Jammu. She was surrounded by siblings, parents, cousins and domestic help. She met my Father in Delhi, fell in love and fought with her entire family to marry a man, who they didn’t approve off. When she moved into her Husband’s house, other than her doting Mother-in-law, no one really welcomed her. Within a couple of years of her marriage, my Father and Mother were asked to move out of the Family house in Bali Nagar to Masjid Moth and my Mom suddenly found herself alone, most of the time. I don’t know if that triggered off the depression but after all these years of observing my Mother, I know she hates being alone.
I on the other hand, have the opposite problem. While my Mom was loosing her mind, her family was also bearing the brunt of it. There are to many unpleasant memories from my childhood that I’ve grown to accept as a part of life but I’m still amazed at the conversations the adults chose to have in front of us children. The way I dealt with them was by shunning most people away. When I look back now, I know many of my signature traits came from my mom’s illness, including my legendary defense mechanism and my ability to bounce back. Most of all, my limited need for human contact.
‘The game’, depresses the crap out of me, not because I can’t play it but because I resent when I do . When I have to outsmart someone just to make them behave themselves, it truly saddens me. Being alone depresses my Mother. My Father feels blue without his friends. Maybe the fear of the future depresses you or the fear of death. I’m sure marriage depresses the crap out of people…just kidding. But whatever it may be, when you’re feeling blue avoid doing something that will trigger you off.
Be with people in whose best interest your mental well being is– Remember one thing, your family and friends don’t have your best interest at heart, they have theirs. The same goes for you. That’s why people confide in psychologists because they are not a part of their everyday lives. If you don’t believe me read ‘The games people play’.
We are all selfish creatures, we do everything that makes us feel good about ourselves! Each time I say this to someone, people think I’m too damn cynical. But look around you. You will see a doting mother who will spoil her children so that they remain dependent on her. You will find a wife who will put up with her husband’s bs so that she can play the victim, ‘the nice one’. The thing is that most of the time we don’t even know what we are doing. We play our parts very unconsciously.
Think..analyze your past, identify people who have had a positive affect on your life and be around them, especially when you are feeling low. Without my teachers, mentors, assistants, friends who are not a part of my immediate social circle, I would have either been a crack head or in an asylum, by now.
Have a cheerleader in your life– Some people are just born with a positive outlook. For the longest time my Father was like that. He believed that everything turns out well. Before Shahrukh Khan mouthed off, ‘Kismat badi kutti cheez he, saali kabi bhi palat jati hai’, my Daddy had been saying this to me for years (without the profanity).
You may be a cynic or an atheist yourself but it’s nice to have- the spiritually inclined, the God fearing , the Fatalist friend or relative to give you another twist on things.
Love your body- One of the most important things in life, is to take care of your body. That’s your temple, your friend, that’s what keeps you going. Exercise it, nourish it, listen to it and respect it. Do yoga, join the gym or just dance. Don’t do it to fit into the society’s preconceived notions of beauty. But for yourself.
Most of my family members are as white as milk, so the colour of my skin was a bit controversial when I was a little girl. Many quips were made about it. But by the time I reached adolescence, with Anu Kapoor and Noynika hitting the modeling scene my wheatish complexion and curly hair was considered attractive. I’m told I looked the best at that age but I was a masochist who abused her own body. With time, it wore off considerably. But I put on around 20 kgs and the hair is neither straight nor curly, anymore. Despite, that I never really seriously wanted to alter my body at any point, up until last year.
Only at my lowest ebb last year, I wanted to change the way I looked. Not because I was bored but because I was so depressed- I just wanted to straighten my hair and my crooked nose. Thank God better sense prevailed. If you ever feel like that, don’t make any decision in haste. Wait a while, you’ll probably feel differently in a few days. Don’t take remarks about your physical appearance to heart. I know it’s easier said than done. I still can’t get over someone saying to me, If I was better looking my ex would have married me. I look almost the same as I did two years ago. I have no dearth of men, in my life at the moment. Trust me there is someone out there who will love you just the way you are. But first you have to love yourself.
Lower your expectations- The less we expect from others the happier and more grateful, we will feel. While on my previous birthday, I was really hurt. This year, I expected nothing so I was really touched by a common friend calling me up early in the morning. It was just a five minute conversation about his trip to Ladakh but when you don’t expect it, you’re grateful for the gesture.
Though, I wished that my ex who had been my best friend for over a decade would have sent me a message this year, I knew there was no point having such unrealistic expectations. After a while, we have to know that everyone has their own lives, relationships and priorities and some of our own expectations are silly. My new mantra in life is-‘Jo mil gaya usi ko mukadar samajh liya, jo kho gaya usi ko bhulata chala gaya. Mein zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya.’
Listen To Music- Music is considered one of the best therapies for people with mental illnesses. Some say it aligns your chakras. Studies suggest that the sound created by certain instruments like the flute, the sarod, the santur and the harp have calming effects on the mind.
I spent my birthday weekend at a voice and music meditation workshop by Tritha. Though, I can’t sing to save my life. Tritha’s enchanting, sultry, Bengali voice juxtaposed with the sound of the Tanpura, left me calmer than usual. Music helps the moody.
Enjoy Nature- Take a walk in the park, go on a trek or just sit and stare at the greenery. It’s great for your eyes as well as your mind. The voice workshop at Zorba was conducted in Tritha’s first floor room. The view was so spectacular that I couldn’t stop staring at the trees that waltzed slowly with the wind.
Solo Dating- Enjoy your own company. No one knows you better than yourself. Watch a movie, take a class, spend some time alone… you are your own best friend.
Don’t be pressurized by the idea of time- I’m a big believer in ‘live as if today’s your last day’ but I’m slowly starting to realize that there has to be a balance between that and ‘you may live for a really long time’. I’m impulsive, I do things without thinking them through-travel, date, work… everything is driven by my gut. You may be the opposite. You may need to take the next train to nowhere just like I don’t have to date someone right this very moment.
Dance the blues away– Many forms of active meditation, help to release the stress from the body and mind. The perfect end to my birthday weekend was when The Delhi Drum Circle jammed and the participants from the workshop danced away to glory. When I returned home, I slept like a child.