Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Broken Promises

Promises, broken and unfulfilled, lie scattered here and there-
I walk upon them with my feet bare.

They make me writhe in pain,
And I look upon them in utter disdain.
I resolve to throw them off the window
But the stubborn shards refuse to go.
They stick to my hand like glue,
And tears well up in my eyes in rue.
I end up with blood trickling down my palm,
But at least the feeling of despair does never come.
They go making my heart free from a stinging sensation,
But leave behind them a vacuum beyond perception.

© 2018. Swagata Tarafdar. All rights reserved.

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Battling Depression: My Ways of Healing

"We must love someone
If we are to justify
Our presence on this earth.
We must keep loving all our days,
Someone, anyone, anywhere
Outside our selves;
For even the sarus crane
Will grieve over its lost companion,
And the seal its mate.
Somewhere in life
There must be someone
To take your hand
And share the torrid day.
Without the touch of love
There is no life, and we must fade away."

This poem by Ruskin Bond aptly summarizes the importance of love and how we all grieve when we lost our loved companions. Yes, no matter how badly we want to cling to the loves of our lives, some relationships are simply not meant to be. Heart-breaks are inevitable in life. I also went through a similar situation during my separation with my ex-husband at the tender age of 29, which culminated into a mutual divorce. I was just 32 years at that time, a single mother of a 4-year-old baby boy. I spiraled into a depression at that time, with my confidence and self-worth plummeting to an all-time-low. But I never visited a therapist, as I always believed in the infinite resilience of human mind and the healing power of time. Today, one-and-half years after my divorce and four years after my separation, I am writing this article to share with all my battle with depression, in the hope that this may help someone out there, who is going through a rough patch in life, for one reason or the other.

Depression after Divorce

Depression is nearly twice as likely to affect women than men. In case of women, depression stems from different factors including reproductive hormones, stress and social pressures. Generally, women tend to be more emotional than men, thus being more prone to depression. During bouts of depression, women are more likely to rehash negative thoughts. Ruminating about depression causes it to last longer and can even make it worse.

The depression that occurs due to traumatic life events such as divorce is different from clinical depression. It's called adjustment disorder or situational depression. Both clinical and situational depression manifest in similar ways.

Most people going through divorce experience some degree of situational depression as part of the normal grieving process over all the losses the end of the marriage brings. If anybody claims not to experience any kind of depression post-divorce, I'd call it a blatant lie. Every failed relationship gives us pain. This is more true in case of marriages as marriage in our religion is considered sacred and the nuptial ties are expected to last for seven lifetimes (bandhan for sat-janam). In general, women are more likely to experience situational depression after divorce than men.

Symptoms of Depression

"Na din hota hai ab na raat hoti hai
Sabhi kuch ruk gaya hai
Woh kya mausam ka jhonka tha
Jo is deewar par latki hui
Tasveer tirchhi kar gaya hai..."

There was a general feeling of indifference towards the world. It seemed to me that my life has come to a stand-still, where nothing mattered to me anymore. I lost all interest in activities that used to me so much pleasure, like reading books or watching movies. I felt as if someone has wrenched all goodness that I held once, out of me. I was drained, exhausted. Someone else might feel differently, but we can summarize some most common symptoms of depression as under:

1. Feelings of emptiness and sadness,
2. Irritability, guilt,
3. Feelings of exhaustion and tiredness,
4. Feeling out of control,
5. Sleep disturbances,
6. Inability to concentrate,
7. Frequent mood swings,
8. Ignoring responsibilities.

What Needs To Be Done

The biggest factor that contributed to my healing was my professional life. Apart from keeping me engaged, my job gave me opportunities to interact with a lot of people on a daily basis. This somehow eased my feelings of despair.

My son
Another biggest motivation was my son. Being a mother is always a demanding job and it occupies almost all of your time. And so I had to feed him, teach him alphabets, play with him, make him sleep, attend parent-teacher-meetings in his school, no matter how depressed I felt. This engagement somehow managed to keep my own feelings of despair at bay.

Another biggest factor contributing to my well-being was the discovery of my spiritual side. I was never a religious person. Never did I fast or offer puja on a daily basis. But after my separation, I turned to spirituality which gave me solace during my difficult times. I read The Bhagavad Gita often and it has helped me to view the world from a different perspective altogether. Whenever I am distressed, I remember the following quote from The Bhagavad Gita, which has become my philosophy in life:
"He who is not perturbed by adversity, who does not long for happiness, who is free from attachment, fear, and wrath, is called a muni of steady wisdom."
Whenever any recurring thought comes to destroy my peace of mind, I simply remember the following:
"The man whose mind is not under his control has no self-knowledge and no contemplation either. Without contemplation he can have no peace; and without peace, how can he have happiness?"
Yes, The Lord has told us to prioritise peace of mind over and above everything else.
Whenever I feel that simply going through the day has become difficult and tiring, I remember the following verse:
"Do your allotted action; for action is superior to inaction. And even the bare maintenance of your body will not be possible if you remain inactive."

One book that I read in the aftermath of my divorce and which changed my perspective drastically is "The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living" by HH Dalai Lama & Howard C. Cutler. Dalai Lama's words soothed my frayed nerves and felt like a glass of cool water after a scorcher. This book teaches you that happiness is a choice that we make and happiness comes from within.

Engage in activities that give you pleasure. In my case, I tried to read books, watch movies and listen to music. I took up writing during this period which was therapeutic. Even now, there are days when I don't feel upbeat about life. Then there are days when I actually feel very low. It is these days when my writing helps. I never knew that I write well. I discovered this post my divorce. It came to me when I was fumbling, deviated from a so-called 'normal life'. Remember the famous saying of Vincent Van Gogh: "Normality is a paved road; It's comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it."

The magic of Time
Lastly, believe in the healing power of time. Time can heal every wound. You just need to keep moving on with the flow of your life. Albert Einstein said: "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."

I'd end this with a verse from Brahma Kumaris:
"When I have faith and belief, that darkness won't last long, I accept bad memories with the right spirit and attitude. With hope, I find the way. When faced with criticism, I am able to see clearly what new learning I could take."

This post titled How I Helped Myself Heal From Depression Caused Due To My Divorce has been published on Women’s Web as a Featured Post. Featured Posts are a careful selection of highly relevant and interesting posts picked by the editors of Women's Web each day. Here is the link to it: Click here.

© 2018. Swagata Tarafdar. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Review: The Tree Bears Witness

The Tree Bears Witness The Tree Bears Witness by Sharath Komarraju
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free review copy of this book, alongwith a letter from the Marketing department of Westland Publications Pvt. Ltd. mentioning to share the feedback. Though I was a bit late to finish reading the book, but sharing feedback is almost an obligation to me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. What seemed like an impossible murder mystery in the beginning, came to a logical conclusion at the end. Set in the Mughal era, the famous courtier of Emperor Akbar, Birbal, fitted the missing pieces of the puzzle with sheer intellect. I am a huge admirer of Komarraju's writing and this book has only served to kindle that admiration further. Komarraju's writing style is lucid as usual. This novel has proved that he can be the Agatha Christie of India.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 8, 2018

You and Me

Tonight as the thunder-storm rattles the windows
And the raindrops splash against the glass-windows,
I can almost hear you whispering sweet-nothings into my ear.

Tonight as the thunder-storm makes the tree leaves swish
And the raindrops descend upon the parched earth,
I can almost smell your distinct male scent.
Tonight as the rain-clouds veil the moon
And the raindrops draw a curtain around me,
I can almost taste your nicotine-burnt lips in my tongue.
Because in nights like this,
You and I come dangerously closer.
Because everything comes in pairs in universe.
Pleasure and Pain.
Sun and Rain.
You and Me.
For without 'You', there won't have been any 'Me'.
Without you, none of my struggles would exist.
Without you, none of my depressions would exist.
'You' and 'Me' co-exist in two different worlds,
Light-years apart.
Nights like this bring you closer to me
From a world that exists beyond the curtain of rain.
And write our very own love-story.
For every love, there exists a story.
Even for the unrequited ones, too.


This post has been published at Women's Web. Click here to read.