Dreamcatcher

She woke up with flailing limbs and clothes covered in sweat, even as new beads of perspiration took form on her brow. Gasping for air, she looked around wildly, surveying her surroundings for any sign of the monsters that might have followed her back to reality.

Leaping off the bed, she ran to the window and looked out, searching for the moon to bathe her in its calming, embalming light. She sighed once and shook her head, shaking off the worst of her fears.

But the window pane glimmered as if the glass was fluid and she let out a piercing scream. This was unreal, she realised, staring hard at that surreal glitch. She closed her eyes and accepted that she was trapped within a dream.

Continue reading “Dreamcatcher”

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A Way of Life

I came across a video on Facebook that gave me reason to pause and think. It was a commencement speech by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Now, you can agree to disagree but we all know that Mr. Trudeau is the gift that keeps on giving. What struck me however, was how his speech was a departure from precedent. He did not ask the graduating class, which is all set to venture out on its own into the big, bad world, to go out and make it big, to do great things or to become big names. No, what he advised them was to do small things in a big way.

To elaborate, he told them to donate an extra ten bucks to their favourite charity, to send a bouquet of flowers to their mothers on a day other than Mother’s Day, to strike a conversation with someone who looks completely different from them, to switch their cars with a bicycle when the son’s down. Just very small, presumably inconsequential things. Yet, he stressed on how that donation might enable a young girl to study, how that bouquet might make a mother’s entire week, how that bicycle might just save the environment. 

I know what he said is not something completely new, but we forget to see how it can be a very nice way of life. It is true that in our quest to achieve as much as we can as fast as we can, we tend to lose track of the things that actually matter. 

It’s the small things. It’s the meaningful things. It’s the unrecognisable, or rather the things that might not get you recognition, that leave a smile on your face at the end of the day. 

We all have somewhere to reach, and we’ll get there, eventually. Some sooner than others. Some a tad differently than others. Some might change tracks midway. Yet, whatever journey one chooses to embark on, it is imperative to remember that the journey in itself is an experience. It is, in fact, a destination in its own right. Let’s make it worthwhile so that we can grow while we’re still on our way. 

I will take your leave today by citing Murakami. 

Spend your money on the things money can buy. Spend your time on the things money cannot buy”

In our rat race of a life, lets do small things in a big way!

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts on this so please share your views in the comments section down below.

Of mountains and burdens

We’re six months into this year now. Phew! Time really does fly when you ain’t looking. I’ve been seeing a lot of people reviewing this time or putting up posts about what they’ve learnt during the first half of this year. This got me thinking. I recalled a little post I’d written in January and realised it would still be pertinent today. It is a piece of learning that is a continuous process so I thought of sharing it again with you all. It is a journey into self assessment with an empowering route to realising self worth. Please give it a read below.

Moonlighting Scrivener

“These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian

Who amongst us has not felt the weight of the world laying on our fragile shoulders? Oh Atlas, I wish you could see how many kindred souls you have!

It is time to jettison all the extra burden that we have self-imposed on ourselves. Yes, self-imposed. No, no, you heard me right.

I agree we live in a fiercely competitive dog eat dog world in present times. No one is spared from an ever present, all consuming pressure to perform. Right from toddlers participating in fancy dress competitions in pre-school, to high-school students scrambling to be popular and cool, to suicide attempts on failing entrance exams, to attaining promotions over all other colleagues, the list is endless. Expectations from parents, from the world, peer-pressure, everything demands of us to excel, to be beyondSuccessful. There…

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Pop! Goes the Weasel (Mental Health Awareness #5)

All round the mulberry bush

The monkey chased the weasel 

The monkey thought ’twas all in fun

Pop! goes the weasel.

If you’re a reader, a fan of books, passionate about words, you know all too well that a nursery rhyme is never just that. Right from Dame Agatha Christie who very creatively incorporated lines from rhymes as book titles to set the stage for her mystery sagas (A few notable examples of Christie’s titles being One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, A Pocket Full of Rye, Three Blind Mice, Hickory Dickory Dock – Please feel free to treat these as book recommendations), to Sidney Sheldon whose use of the nursery rhyme quoted above still sent chills down my spine.

In continuation of my regular series aimed at spreading Mental Health Awareness, today I shall be basing my post on a novel titled “Tell Me Your Dreams” by the aforementioned Sidney Sheldon. If you’ve already read the book, then I do not need to fret over revealing spoilers. If you haven’t yet, then, really? why haven’t you?! And do I really need bother about revealing details to such people? Eh, No!

Jokes apart, I wouldn’t dream of spoiling any book for anyone, yet, the topic that I intend to cover today is more important than any of this. So, here it goes. (Please read on, I assure you, you will still enjoy the book even after this.)

Continue reading “Pop! Goes the Weasel (Mental Health Awareness #5)”

Breaking the Habit – Getting out of an Unhealthy Relationship

There are all kinds of relationships. However, some of these can be unhealthy and quite detrimental to our overall wellness. Oftentimes, we continue to subject ourselves to the torment of being in an unhealthy relationship. It is quite possible that one of the reasons underlying this habit can be the tendency of human nature to resist change. In doing so, it spells its own doom.

At the cost of sounding selfish, I declare that no relationship is worth being in if it doesn’t make you happy, does not let you grow as a person and if it gives you sleepless nights. You are, indeed, your foremost priority. No, you’re not mean or self-centred if you prioritize yourself. This is so because the main essence of a well-rounded, fulfilling and healthy relationship is that it nurtures you to the extent that you don’t have to invest in looking out for yourself. As a result, you return equal care and affection to your significant other. So when I ask you to prioritise yourself, I’m imploring you to get rid of the shackles of a lovesless relationship and welcome one that’s actually right for you.

Thus, today, I aim at, firstly, identifying the hallmarks of an unhealthy relationship, secondly, prescribing how to get out of one and, thirdly, providing suggestions on how to move on in life towards better things.

If you’ve noticed, I’m going about this in a precise, scientific manner. This is intentional. I am attempting at doing away with all emotional overlays to get to the crux of the matter. This is needed because it’s those emotions that make us forgive the worst of things, that make us go running back to a person who’s only given us unhappiness just because he/she happened to shower some kinds words on us for once and so on and so forth. The decision to get rid of something that’s pulling you down should be logical, calculated and final. I hope you’d appreciate my intent and forgive me my drabness for today. If you do wish to read a short story on the emotional aspect of it, please read my previous post titled Do I Know You? If you wish to read on my own experience with one, please read Is love, love, love alone.

Moving on.

The Warning Bells

Unfortunately, the slow, cruel demise of a relationship that might have once, probably, been a happy and mutual one is never augured by big omens. Yet, on the bright side, there are various lines of queries that can make you reach a conclusion regarding the nature of your relationship. Try answering the following questions –

  • Do you feel you’re not being given enough time, care or attention?
  • Do you feel like you’re the only one expressing love and doing things to make the other person happy?
  • Do you feel like you’re being lied to a lot?
  • Do you feel like you’re always available for someone yet you’re only needed at the other’s convenience and/or whim or pleasure?
  • Do you find yourself having to provide explanations for the littlest of things?
  • Does your partner keep you updated on the going-ons of his life so as to make you a part of it?
  • Are your friends/family apprehensive of the person you’re with and have implored you to leave him/her?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping because you’re left wondering how to make things better?
  • Do you feel lonely, dejected and unimportant even when surrounded by a crowd of people?

    If your response to any of the above and similar questions has been a yes, then I’m sorry to say, you need to retrospectively review your relationship. 

    Sometimes it can happen that two people grow apart over time and yet continue to stick together due to regard for the time already spent and due to having made a commitment once. At other times, they don’t end things in order to not be left alone. It can even happen that people make tremendous compromises just because they’re used to having a certain person in their lives and that has now come to define their comfort zone. Although all these are valid enough reasons, try to weigh out your compromises against the benefits of such a relationship. 

    For example, if you’re feeling or are being called ‘clingy’ then, in all probability, the other person just isn’t giving you enough time. One should never have to ask for things like these. Of course, provided that you don’t expect people to leave work or professional engagements to be at your beck and call. Or to not meet their friends and family, etc. In those cases, you’d be the guilty partner and I’d recommend your partner to go through this post!

    Once you’ve identified the unhealthy quotient of your relationship, move on to the next step.

    Cutting Ties

    If discussing your issues with your partner does not work, if you feel he/she will not be willing to put in an effort, then you need to end your relationship. Don’t fall prey to thoughts like ‘maybe this is the most that I deserve’ or ‘but he/she does claim to love me’ or ‘isn’t life all about making compromises?’. No, my dear, you deserve everything in life, you won’t need to hear claims when someone actually loves you, they’ll make sure you come to know of it in a myriad ways and no, life is what you make of it, and compromising with happiness is not the way to go about it.

    Sadly though, there’s no other way to end an unhealthy relationship other than going cold turkey. You need to get up and packing. Whatever happens, do not look or turn back. They can smell weakness. They can exploit weakness. Weakness is their granola bar, it energises them. Honestly though, it’s in both of your interests for you to move on.

    So once you’ve had enough, just rip off the bandaid. Easier said than done, right? No worries, I have a hack for that too. Appoint your best friend as your relationship monitor. Let her/him ensure that you stick to your decision. Usually when we have trouble in paradise, we tend to hide it from our friends. In this case, make them your confidants. You’ll find out in due course that there’s no one as fierce as a best friend protecting a friend’s heart. (Except for mothers, of course, but then again, they’re all Wonder Women)

    The Journey Beyond

    You’ve chosen happiness. Good for you! Now it’s time to reach it too. Once you’ve broken up with the one false love of your life, it’s time for a good, long introspection session. 

    No, I’m only kidding. It’s time for a makeover! 

    No? Well, fine, it’s time for a lifestyle transformation. Check yourself out and see what all you’ve suffered from. Do you have trust issues from having been fed too many lies? Do you have self-doubt from having been treated like a doormat? Do you look physically changed due to all the stress induced hunger pangs you indulged in or crash diets you went on to earn a little attention? You get the drift, right?

    Well, then it’s time to hop on the wellness bandwagon with full commitment. Fill your time and thoughts with ideas of making yourself better. Emotionally and physically. Read more on the importance of wellness on my previous post on mind and body. Feel your best, look your best. Get to your happy place. Once you get involved in investing in your own self, you won’t even have the time to wallow in despair over the death of a relationship.

    Then, when you feel you’re ready, remind yourself that you deserve all the love in this world. You will love yourself till someone comes along who can love you more than that. And then, finally, you can sit back and make being loved your new habit.

    In case you want to reach out to me on social media for any of the reasons mentioned in my about page, I’m always available a the following links:

    To read more of my posts on wellness, click here.

    To read more of my posts on lifestyle, click here.

    Thank you for reading, please feel free to leave your comments and feedback down below. I would love to hear from you! Especially if you’ve experienced any of the above mentioned issues in life or know of people trapped in unhealthy relationships.

    5 Life Hacks to Avert a Quarter-Life Crisis

    25! The magical number. An age when you actually feel like a mature, responsible, adult. When you can even pay for all the parties your friends try to get out of you on your birthday.
    Unfortunately, it’s also the time when you sit back and question all your life choices. The fact that all your peers seem to be racing ahead doesn’t help either. So, a normal pondering turns into a full blown panic attack stretching into a bout of stress and anxiety. You find that you’re not where you’d hoped to be by now. You also find that you’ve no clue where you want to be or What you want to do. Not even what’s best for you. Worst of all, you have no clue as to what you’re currently doing. From then on, it’s just a downward spiral into depression.

    I was surprised to find out that there’s actually a term for this. The quarter-life crisis. No applause for guessing when I discovered it. (And yes, I was stupid enough to write a post on the ‘mid mid-life crisis‘ when I was 24, but we all make mistakes. I am a year older and, arguably, wiser now)

    Thus, to help kindred souls, I’ve compiled a list of life hacks that are aimed at getting you through this tough period and keeping your thoughts in perspective. I hope it helps.

    Here it goes:

    1. A Person- For all you Grey’s Anatomy fans, there’s no need to describe what having ‘a person’ or ‘your person’ means. For those oblivious to Shondaland, your person is that first human you turn to in all your times of need. When you’re happy, when you’re sad, when you’ve majorly messed up, when you need to be saved. There’s this one person who will take one look at you and know what’s up. There’s that one person who cbs decipher all your garbled, alcohol induced and distorted-by-tears words with unerring expertise. It can be a friend, a family-member or even a colleague. Identify who that person is for you, then put in an effort to divulge your worst fears. Talk to him or her about your life plans. Just discuss. It’ll not only make you feel lighter but I’ll also give you a much needed respite once you get it all out of you. Even the best of us have the tendency to bottle things up when it comes to our careers, dreams or aspirations and never reveal our worries to the closest people. So, talk to your person.
    2. Comfy PJ’s – No I’m not kidding, please hear me out. Anxiety and stress can make you lose sleep. Especially when nearing this age, your mind refuses to rest. Find a pair of comfortable pyjamas in which you can get a nice spell of sleep. Let it be a reminder of the fact that even if you don’t have anything sorted, it’s okay. You’re not supposed to. As long as you’re doing something, as long as you have a rough idea of what you like. Or, most importantly, you have a fair idea of what you don’t like and would much rather not be doing, you’re on the right track. So get your trust PJ’s and get a good night’s sleep. Life can be figured out tomorrow but now when you’re functioning only on a caffeine induced high.
    3. A Pair of Blinders – You know how horses and some more animals are outfitted with a pair of eyes patches that give them a tunnel vision? So that they don’t look right or left but move on straight ahead? Yes? Get a metaphorical pair of those for yourself. Don’t look at what others are doing. Don’t judge yourself by their standards. Don’t assess your progress by the pace they’re proceeding at. Do what you’re doing, diligently. Do not be affected by peers. One can never actually walk in another’s shoes. Our own are prickly enough. Stick to those. You never know what another is going through. But you sure can make your own life better by concentrating only on it. For a clearer understanding of this concept, read my previous post defining successes and failures and how to not let them define your worth. Because, these mountains that you’re carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
    4. A Full-Length Mirror – If you have a Full-Lenght Mirror at home, well and good. If not, I suggest you invest in one. Take out five minutes daily to look at yourself. No, I’m not trying to fan your vanity. Just take a good look at yourself. Take in all your battle scars, take in the glimmer of hope in your eyes, take in the look of determination in the set of your jaw. Take it all in and then breathe out. Deep. Look at yourself, accept yourself and then, maybe, love yourself. Give yourself a small pep talk everyday. You know you’re doing the best you can. Make sure you tell yourself that. If you really think you’re doing something you should or that you’re not doing enough, tell yourself that too. But what you shouldn’t do is undermine yourself. We’re already our own worst critics. Let’s not let that intimidate our faith in ourselves. So, look at yourself and let your confidence grow. Remember, you’re the only person who can set the roadmap and tracks on which your life will follow through.
    5. One Day of the Week- Set aside one day of the week to pamper yourself. Not the weekend but a work day. By pampering, I don’t mean our weekendly ritual of grooming. This is about pampering your confidence. Step out on that day with your best foot forward. Wake up early. Get dressed impeccably. Your best formals. Put on makeup or your best cologne or aftershave. Look your best. Have a healthy breakfast. I know it’s difficult to put in so much effort everyday when we’re trying​ to catch up on lost sleep or scrambling to get to work on time. Hence, reserve this extravaganza for any one day of the week, without fail. It’s true when you like how you look, when you have a good, satisfying start to the day, it does wonders for your confidence. I remember distinctly how just even adorning a pair of high heels adds oodles to my self esteem since I’m short and heels also give me an amazing posture. So I seem so much more confident to my own self. Do that for yourself. You know you deserve it. One day of the week, let it be your day.

    Now I’m no expert on self-help but all the hacks detailed above have been tried and tested by me. I always write from my own learnings. I hope these help you too. Let me know in the comments sections if you’re going through a crisis like this or if you’ve already undergone one. Feel free to add to the list. Let me know if I’ve forgotten something. Most of all, share messages of positivity to help our fellowmen get along.

    We all have places to go, we’ll get there when we’re ready. Be ready to hear the bang of our arrival!

    Featured Image

    Mind and Body

    So I haven’t posted anything in a while. I’ve been slightly busy with family engagements. However, today, during the midst of a family dinner, a thought struck my mind and I haven’t been able to shirk it off till now. So here I am, getting it all out.

    As some of you might know, I was recently doing a regular feature on Mental Health Awareness. I discussed the importance of breaking the taboo surrounding such issues and to always get appropriate help in this regard. Then I proceeded to pen down my own interpretations of some mental health issues like depressionanxietyself-doubtMaladaptive Daydreaming. Today I realised how I missed out on a very important aspect of mental health. This is my rectification of the same.

    This happens to be the physical aspect of mental health. No, no, hear me out. I get that common understanding dictates mental and physical health to be two different categories albeit that go hand in hand. What I’m trying to propose here is that they’re one and the same. You cannot have without the other. Hence, you need to strive to have both.

    A case in point being my own journey in the past two years. Working long hours as a corporate lawyer takes its toll on not just your sleep, time and peace of mind but also your physical fitness. Most days I could not take out any time to eat and survived on black coffee. No meal was ever on schedule and we all know how harmful that could be. Late working hours also ensured that home cooked food became a luxury I could no longer afford. Ordering food to be delivered to my office became the go-to resort. Needless to say, all such food was very detrimental to health by virtue of being very heavy, oily, fried, unhygienic and nowhere near about fit for regular consumption.

    Resultantly, I ended up gaining 20kgs. It didn’t help that I’m also short. Thus, there was nothing to prevent me from looking like a football. Thank god for gravity and friction or one strong kick would have had me rolling round the universe for eternity.

    These two years have also been my lowest as far as mental health is considered.

    Since the past six months, however, I’ve put my heart and soul into taking back control of my body. I’ve lost 12kgs and have 8 more to go. I feel fitter, lighter but most surprisingly, happier. My outlook has become more positive not just towards life but also things that invariably used to pull me down. So without even having to put an effort into bettering my mental health, improvements in my physical health led me to an unforeseen and way better emotional headspace.

    Thus, I reiterate, even though mental and physical health go hand in hand, they’re not two sides of a coin. In essence, they’re much the same. A healthy mind would prefer to reside in a healthy body and make sure that happens. A healthy body will do all it takes to provide a mental workout to your mind. Either way, health will Triumph

    It’s not mind over body, you all. Its mind and body. Be healthy, be happy, take back control of your lives and live long and prosper!

    Also, if any of you need any motivation or tips to achieve fitness, mental or physical/mental and physical, I’m always available to help in any manner I can to the best of my ability. Please feel free to comment or drop a mail at varnikajain92@gmail.com. I promise to respond within a day with the best advise I can muster!

    [P.S. – Wish me luck for the remaining 8kgs. A little support goes a long way 🙂 ]

    A thing of beauty, is in pain forever

    Featured Image

    Her eyes crinkle as she laughs

    A full-throated, soulful chime.

    Her expressions flicker across her face,

    Betraying her thoughts every second of the day.

    They come and go with each word she says

    A little before and a little behind.

    Her hair are a golden brown,

    Like sunshine dipped in cinnamon,

    Falling in gossamery wisps to frame her face,

    The curls bouncing with every breath.

    Her skin all honey and caramel,

    Contrasting against her peachy lips,

    That carve a bow with such a perfect arch,

    That even cherubs would fail to match.
    Then in an instant all that beauty dissolves

    When she smiles in utter melancholy,

    Over a pain too great for her eyes to contain,

    As she pays a price far too dear

    For a man’s thoughtless folly.

    If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

    If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?
    Even if reality is full of hurt,

    Where dreams turn dull and ambitions turn to dust.
    If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

    Even if you desperately need an escape

    Because in this world there is no place for hope.
    If you’re​ happy in a dream, does that count?

    Even if you’ve lost track of the last time you smiled or had a hearty laugh

    When the tears in your eye were only of pure joy.
    If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

    Even if the world around you pulls you into abject misery

    Where men become beasts and lose all humanity.
    If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

    Even if you’ve lived through terrors untold

    That no person should ever have to see.
    If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

    Even if you never want to wake up.
    If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

    Illusion

    The downside of Walter Mitty (Mental Health Awareness #4)

    We have all come to know and love the harrowed, milequetoast of a man by the name of Walter Mitty. Be it through Ben Stiller’s portrayal of him in the movie or through the written word of James Thurber, we have all taken an unusual amount of delight in his escapades from the real world, especially from the browbeating of his overbearing wife.
    For the uninitiated, Walter Mitty was an avid daydreamer to the extent that he hallucinationed about his daydreams. From a war-time pilot, to a world renowned surgeon, to a roguishly carefree murderer, Walter Mitty became all, albeit in his own mind. He  took no time in creating an Imaginary, idealized, heroic persona of his meek self at the slightest of emotional triggers.

    We have all laughed at his antics. We have also sympathised with the poor chap when he invariably got pulled out of his reveries just seconds before his moment of glory. Yet, behind this obsessive facet of the character lurks a deeper, important issue.

    It is imperative to not overlook the fact that his daydreams were vivid with great detailing, idealized, to the extent that in them he became the exact opposite of himself, and, lastly, lengthy. Furthermore, on reading between the lines, it becomes quite easy to see that he was a depressed, lonely soul, isolated from most wordly and social interactions.

    This isolation and substitution of social interactions with daydreams portraying a glorified sense of self is what I want to bring to your attention today. Coined as Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD), this mental illness has highly debilitating effects on sufferers. Spending hours at a stretch inside a dream, while real life continues, people ailing from MD lose their grasp on reality. While inside a dream, they are oblivious to the passage of time in the real world. They might also not be able to identify their emotional triggers and not be prepared to face them, thereby spiralling into dreams at the most unexpected of times. There have been instances of patients who’ve kept on walking till their feet bled because they’d started daydreaming and did not realise how long it had been. Thus, in effect, it is quite easy to lose oneself if you’re suffering from MD.

    This is precisely why it is necessary to spread awareness about this Mental Health issue so that affected persons or their well-wishers can get the required help. I believe every person is beautiful in his or her own right and no one should have to feel so down in the dumps that they have to end up imagining a better version of themselves, a better life for themselves, better friends, better job, better everything rather than actually working towards it. Let us make sure no one gets subjected to such abject misery.

    (This is post is a part of my regular feature on Mental Health Awareness. I have previously written on the importance of disseminating awareness on mental health issues here, on depression here, on anxiety here and on self doubt here. If you like and support my efforts in this venture, please share and spread the word. I shall be eternally grateful for this act of kindness on your part. Thank you 🙂 )