We are not alone, no matter how lonely it may be.

Posted: January 27, 2013 by Arushi in Thoughts
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“Everyone is born human, but is everyone born equal?” I am not sure where this thought came from or if this is even my thought or something I heard from someone. But it is a thought that I have decided to keep with me. Because it is true. We are all born human, we are all born people, but we are not all equal. By the fact of where we are born so much is determined. To whom we are born changes so much. In the end though, I like to believe that what we do is what determines what happens most in our life.

Maybe I am foolishly optimistic. Maybe I am foolishly cynical. I have not seen the whole world. I do not understand everything. I cannot stand here and judge. I simply hope.

The reason for this introspective mood is multi-pronged. I have, as mentioned in the previous post, been attending a Literature Festival for the past few days. Today I had the pleasure of attending two sessions by Andrew Solomon. In the first one, he was on a panel of five and he spoke about his book Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for IdentityThe second session featured only Mr. Solomon and readings from his book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

The first session was not about Far from the Tree, it was just one of the topics that I learned about. We all go through life with this innate fear of being different, of standing out in the wrong way. Of being awkward. It is so difficult yet liberating to realize that we are not the only ones going through these experiences.

The first session was called Love and Longing and the basis of this was gay and lesbian love and longing. It was interesting to hear the different viewpoints but it was something Mr. Solomon said that really impressed. He pointed out that in a lot of major ways, a child is very similar to his/her parents. So when there is a huge dissimilarity between the two, the parents are at a loss and might want their child to conform to their idea of normal.

The child too might suffer from this feeling of disconnect. There is no ‘vertical connect’ as he put it, but one has to find a ‘horizontal connect’ with a peer group. The thing is, in the context of the session one might think of this as something that might happen to straight parents when faced with a gay or lesbian child. But as he so clearly pointed out, parents with deaf children are faced with the same issues,  as are dwarf parents with non-dwarf children.

When I think about it, I can understand this. There is always so much pressure on the parents. They are expected to know, anticipate, understand and fulfill completely all the needs of their child. So when that child is alien to them, they have no idea what is going on. Imagine the horror when deeply religious parents have a child who chooses to be atheist? Or vice versa? There is always pressure on a child. He or she always carries the invisible weight of the parents’ expectations around, even if they try not to burden him/her.

Everyone who goes through this, thinks they are in a unique situation. If I were to claim I was giving up religion tomorrow, I would face shock from my family. Maybe not horror, but shock nonetheless and the incomprehension as to why I would choose this path. But I am not alone. Because probably someone who chose the goth look has faced the same incomprehension from his/her parents. A child who is deaf faced the same disconnect that probably someone who is gay did. They are different. It matters. But they’re not alone. That matters more.

Not alone in their experience. Not alone in their disconnect. Not alone in their problems. Not alone. Period. That truly changes everything.

And that leads into the second session. Depression. The talk was about severe depression, signs, treatments and some of the stories that Mr. Solomon had to share.

To know that you are not along through this low, truly low period of your life is the best thing a friend or your family can do for you during depression. It is not about making themselves feel better by what they are doing to ease your suffering, but by just being there, and letting you know that they are there, in case you might need them.

What he also did was clearly destroy some misconceptions that are prevalent in regards to depression and it’s medication. He pointed out that depression is biological so there to assume that a person suffering from depression has a weak character is incorrect. It is not about the character and strength of a person but rather a biological process and should be treated as such.

Medication. I am quoting from memory here: “Just because you know the cause of depression does not mean you do not need medicine. If you fall and break you arm, you know how you broke your arm, but you still need to set the bone.”  That is not verbatim, but I am hoping it still gets the point across: taking medication does not make a person weak and giving it up is not a sign of strength.

Depression has been described at times as a middle class disease, or as a disease of luxury, because the poor do not have time for it. What he pointed out was, sometimes, people have despairing lives because they are mired in a deep depression but it goes undiagnosed since their lives are despairing. It is a vicious circle where it is hard to tell what caused what, but the person is unable to break it due to the depression.

He described the various stages of depression (grief, agony, anxiety, pain, fear). The treatments can be therapy, medication or a combination of the two. It can also be something as drastic as brain stimulation therapy, which involves the insertion of an electrode into a specific area (area 25 – not that I have any idea which one that is) of the brain and then giving it an electric charge. The thought of someone suffering enough to actually agree to have an electrode inserted into their brain is scary. But it also means that no matter how bad the situation, there are cures out there.

I cannot do his talk justice. I am pretty sure that I have messed up on the stages of depression. But I am also wrapping up this post. The festival is Jaipur Literature Festival and for anyone interested, by all means check out their website. They do put up the videos of the sessions. Mr. Solomon is wonderful to listen to.

  1. Vega says:

    Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance: 5 stages of grief/depression. (source House M.D. season 2)

    Quite an introspective time you’re having (:

  2. Arushi says:

    No, these are the five stages of grief. Depression is a different critter and severe depression can be debilitating from what I heard in that session. There is agony: the deep sadness, if there is an immediate cause, or when things cease to matter when there might not be an obvious cause. One of the stages is anxiety: the feeling as if you are about to fall, and to keep feeling that for days, months on end. One of them is pain: it is too painful to even leave one’s bed. And for the life of me I cannot remember the rest. I will look up that video once JLF posts it and update my post to make it better. It gave me a flat new understanding of depression and the problems so many people have to face.

    Yeah, it has been an introspective kind of week 🙂

  3. Vega says:

    Chha. Info went for a waste. Write more.

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