Stop. Listen. Act

A trigger this morning is prompting me to write this article. To all those who are reading this, it does not come free. You have to read it, understand it, and make a radical change in the way you respond. Analyze your actions in any similar situations where you have been on the other side of things described in this article to see if you could have acted otherwise and in a better way. If the answer you find is a yes, make a promise to yourself to act differently next time you are put in a similar situation.

I have mentioned in my earlier articles about my meetings with a therapist. I have spoken about it time and again, in a gathering of friends and on social media, to colleagues. I was surprised, pleasantly and unpleasantly. I have received comments like it's not for us, that is not necessary, talk to a friend, etc. I was pleasantly surprised when people were in support of it, encouraged, and understood why an expert's attention is needed. I spoke about it because until I experienced it, I thought it is easy with a bit of positive self-talk and proactive attempts to better our days, it can all be put in place. But only when I went through the bouts of this, I realized that yes, those are the things that are absolutely necessary but that is a part of it. There is also another part needed which is support and understanding from the ecosystem of people around you.

Yesterday, I was watching youtube videos, and I happened to land on Shaheen Bhatt’s interview, in which she talks about the depression she went through and her book ‘ I have never been unhappier’. I could relate to the things she was describing. The book hoarder that I am, my first instinct was to buy the book, and thanks to Amazon, it was just a matter of three clicks and I had it on my kindle within a minute. I started listening to it. Shaheen talks about how when someone has a fever, the ecosystem of people around you is aware that the person is not doing well and needs to be taken care of. There is instant action, the person might be taken to a doctor, comforting meals might be made for them, periodically temperature will be measured. Systematically care will be taken, because there is a system, a way to take care of someone suffering from fever and it is the same for most people. Because fever can be measured and physically its effects can be seen in a lackluster person. But a person suffering from mental health issues can look just like everyone. Their suffering can be hidden behind laughter and jokes. The fact is, that person might not even be hiding it, it is the disorder that is hiding for the moment from the person. If it is difficult to understand the difference between the two parts of the previous sentence, imagine how difficult it must be to live with it and convey it to others who would like to believe you are fine because you were smiling or laughing.

Because of my personal experience, I was cent percent in agreement with Shaheen. In an instance when a friend calls and tells us about an unfortunate accident, or pain, we rush to them to provide help and support. We make meals for them, we nurse their bruises. I have been a receiver and giver of this kindness many times. Shaheen says share how you feel. So do many people going through painful and arduous doings of neurons in mind suggest, share how you feel, share with the loved one, near ones, dear ones. At times, there may be a call for action hidden within it. Of course, stop and listen. But can you go one step further and see if there is a call for action hidden? Even after knowing someone for years, we may not be completely aware of what their experiences were before we met them, what insecurities they harbor. The person suffering these bouts might not be able to directly make the ask for an action. But if you see or sense any call for action, do it. Ask, if you sense it and are unclear about it.

In my case, it was a simple longing to spend time for hours together. It can be as simple as that. The same ecosystem that came rushing when I burnt my neck accidentally in one of my kitchen adventures was not seen anywhere when I repeatedly shared how I felt. I too am guilty of doing the same. One of my near ones shared with me. Though in the technologically advanced twentieth-century, I could have immediately booked myself a plane ticket and would have been able to be with that someone within a few hours, I kept speaking over the phone, virtually trying to pacify over texts. I kept convincing myself I cannot go because I am busy with XYZ. But all could wait and can always wait if you are not in charge of deciding who gets to live. And in my case, I was not involved in nearly any such work. The person shared with me, I listened. And I thought my part was done. But I was wrong, I should have acted. I learned that action is needed only when I was on the other side of this.

We can find ourselves on any side of this situation. And maybe you have already been on one side or the other. Today, I urge you to analyze and make a radical change to act or ask if you sense that call for action.

I am sharing a few resources I personally found helpful:

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind — a book that has been with me through my early twenties and has traveled with me to many cities where I made temporary homes.

Rewire your anxious brain — a book that uncovered workings of the mind for me recommended by my therapist

Happiness Course by Art of Living — helped meet new people and sharing experiences. Thankful to action by my dance teacher to encourage me to take this course, when I told her how I felt.

Invisible People Youtube Channel — these strong people and their spirit gave me strength

Nrityavana — a group that met twice a week, that kept me sane because I knew if I stopped, it was the end of trying to get better.

That will be all for now. Next time, don’t forget to ACT!

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Pranjali Chumbhale

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