THAT FIRST STEP INTO HAPPY HELL 

You make the appointment with the Counsellor. It is a week ahead. It is always a week ahead. I guess they are busy flinging clods of advice at dozens of us. You would have to declare an emergency for them see you the moment you ask to meet them.

The office has a depressing sameness to it. Minimalist, to the point of emaciation in terms of décor. A few certificates are framed on the wall underscoring the Counsellor’s pedigree and there is the mandatory family photo on the otherwise clean table indicating warmth and obviously designed to make you feel more at ease.

They always offer you coffee as if it was a panacea for all ills and as friendly a gesture as a hug. If we have coffee together, we can be friends. Pewrhaps confidantes.

Then, as if you have all the time in the world they come at you from an acute angle, pointless questions about you, your family, the dog, the canary in the cage.

Come on, you have been there, you know exactly what I mean. Harmless questions creating little pieces of your jigsaw which they will then use as the big picture of your evaluation. And if you are a parent reading this with children studying abroad and you drop that data into teacups at your social soirees and market their departure as a triumph remember your child in the counsellor’s room has just taken one giant step into denuding his mind to strangers and allowing them to intrude and take over that space.

Oh, they are very good at it, so gentle and understanding, sparring with you, acting like those fencers do, cut and thrust, inveigling you into saying things you said you wouldn’t.

You are now knee deep in the Counsellor’s liquid concern and it is drenching you and now that amazing chemistry kicks in and you feel guilted into nodding in agreement to whatever he is saying.  A few more sessions are needed, we will fight the goblins in your mind together, this is our battle.

The move across from lonely me to togetherness is done so deftly that you do not even realise you have been mobilized and are now a freshly recruited soldier in the pharma child army.

But wait a minute, it is not the Counsellor who gives you the medical prescription, it is the psychologist. So to get there you have to go this route. You have to nod assent and accept that more rounds of talks are needed and these will be good for you, so see you Friday at 4 pm and we will take it from there.

Except that in the quiet morning there is much despair. Sleepless nights, fuzzy minds, criminally heavy workloads, shortage of pills in the dorm or the ‘contact’ as you are engulfed in wave after wave of uneasiness and a gnawing claustrophobia, the only port in storm Friday 4 pm and you begin to yearn for it. The Counsellor understands you.

No one else does, no one knows what turmoil there is within. And then, it is the first time you refuse to pick up the phone from your parents five thousand miles away. Let the phone jangle and play its corny tune I don’t want to talk to them, they will ask the same questions, switch off the Skype, we can always lie that the Net was not functioning, stop with the ringing, Friday is three days away, three long unending days.

It is ringing again, why can’t they leave me alone, I am fine, I am okay, there is nothing bloody wrong with me. Is it so difficult to ask for a little space, just a little space, how will I ever get this work done.

Friday comes and Friday goes. So does Wednesday at 3 pm and the next Monday at half past five for a longer one on one and finally the 65 million dollar question; would you be averse to meeting a psychologist.

Averse? A shrink. Are you crazy, you thinking I am crazy.

Not at all. The meeting could do wonders. Everyone who takes a little therapy comes out the better for it.

Then they offload the responsibility. “We only recommend it if you are agreeable and open to the idea, it is just an idea, no pressure.”

No pressure???? Are you kidding, it is the psychologist who is going to give that prescription, remember, make nice, say yes, who cares.

You find yourself signing up for a second tour.

Another step into the war zone. You wanted to go, you nodded like a celluloid doll, the Counsellor only did what you asked.

No guilt, clean hands, unlike Lady Macbeth.

Here I come, Monday at 3 pm.

GETTING AN ADULT INTO THE MIX

The first pill is invariably swallowed by the second and the third and there is always a crisis,an exam,a special study session and not enough minutes in the day.you need that little pick me up,oh come on get that monkey off my back,it’s no big deal everyone is doing It. From that point the leap to the I am not getting addicted,I can stop anytime is a small one.

At one moment around here when the post high depression kicks in like a malevolent cloud and fuzzes the brain there is a passing doing that romping in the Valley of the dolls.

 the dolls isn’t all that benign an excursion. It has got consequences.

What one can do in this phase is seen the shelter of a friend in the same boat.if that is too in your face then take an afternoon off,latch the door and begin floundering through the search engine forest looking for key words,cold comfort and sanctuary. The bleak scenarios are easily dismissed it isn’t as if you are hooked,you are just checking out of curiosity,get a feel of what it is all about. Days of this diet and you are ready to drop it in total except for that niggling doubt. Why does everyone say there is a change in your behaviour. You are quiet, snappy, withdrawn put on weight ,lost weight, stressed, what’s up.

That you can handle. Shrug it off. Slip into denial and be jovial even if that is the last thing you feel. Then your parents get into the  act. Those painful ‘beta’ strewn inquiries while you struggle to control your impatience, get off my damn case, this is a crazy workload ,if you were loaded with half of it you would go crazy, yes, I am eating okay, no not pizzas, yes I promise, yes, got to go now, love you, phew.

Then you feel bad because you made them feel bad and you didn’t want them to feel so but they can truly get on your nerves with their questions.

Maybe in a saner world we would respect the ‘respect’ our parents are giving us and the space and how do we tell them that inside we are hurting. Easier to be gruff and waspish.

One day comes the reckoning. No great revelation because the need that you don’t believe you have is superseded the unavailability of the pills. It is not as if they are mints that you can buy at the drugstore, the stuff, contrary to popular opinion, is not that openly on sale. And it costs, no is peddling out of love. It is a hardcore business.

So back to chasing digital breadcrumbs on the Internet and checking out how to get a prescription. They lead straight to the office of the university psychologist and you think, okay, let’s do it, get a proper medical assessment of things as they are not as they should be., May be I need the counselling, perhaps if I get an adult into the mix this endless dizziness in the head will stop.

You make the appointment for next Monday because they are heap busy, not easy to give a whole hour, five days to go and the little box on the table has only two blue pills left.

Guess will have to make do.

THAT FIRST PILL AND THE SELL OUT !!

You never really know when the slide begins.   That specific point when you need the chemical support to keep you going. What triggers the impulse? It could be a B+ grade when you were expecting at least an A. You are affected by peer pressure, Everybody in and around you telling you “However smart you are you cannot get into Medical School”. The camp between the expectation and the reality sinks your boat. Doubts filter in like shards of ice and you begin to ask yourself if you can hack it. The college workload stares at you like an impassive mountain, impenetrable, looming and evidence of your pending failure. Panic licks at you as you wrestle with that twist in the pit of your stomach. You will have to give up half way, the dream will crash and you will have the dangling albatross over failure around your neck. The pressure is intolerable and waves of claustrophobia   close in on you. Nobody can understand what is going on inside me-not even I myself. I have no control over why I am feeling that no matter how smart I am, or good on paper, it is simply not enough. I tell mom when she asks me “Mohit why are you quiet and not responding” ”Mom everyone here says ,you cannot get into med school however smart you are “to which she responds in that case “Do not do Med School “she also tells me “Mohit you are so smart so don’t get into that pressure of what people say and she tells me if you being so smart are facing this hurdle, what about others who might be not that smart “and I reply to her “Mom the entire class is with the Therapist all Asians “so she doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation being miles away when I tell her the entire class is with the Therapist. Therapist means only counselling no Medication.

Now, you are hurting. Here is where a counsellor comes into the picture You need somebody to talk to. The counsellor seems to be nodding and listening to you and drinking in what you say. At some point you do feel you are understood and someone else in this crazy world can understand a little bit of what I am going through. Taking advantage of your toxic med environment she tells me “You know you feel sad because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. Just take a pill and it will even you out. I bought into her philosophy thinking she meant well and good for me and no way she can harm me since she is my doctor and better educated and equipped to understand me than Me myself or my family. Take one of these, opening a tin that once housed mints but is now a repository for little blue and cream pills designed to give you that moral support.

No way, you resist because these are narcotics, not your scene, way to help, a one-way ticket.

But your eyes are glued by a lack of sleep, your head fuzzy with the funk of losing out and the long haul of the week ahead is intimidating at best and corrosively frightening at worst, so you know what, one dam tablet tonight won’t matter, it’s not as wit will mess me up or form a habit, just for now, till that midterm menace of an exam is over. And you can hear the devil cackling evilly because he knows he’s captured you in his net and is rubbing his hands with glee.

What sadness can do to yourself, and self-esteem. You are no more smart, just frail like everyone else. Now you are hurting and no way you can resist because these are narcotics, not your scene. These medications are not like your regular ibuprofen tablet. These are high grade-high risk medication which are supposed to be given only under surveillance and guidance.

So you take the little blue one and offer thanks because you wouldn’t have been so happy doing this if you knew what you had so easily done. You sold your soul but you don’t know that. Why should you. The surge of plastic energy, that engineered clarity, the rush of adrenalin gives you a new confidence. This stuff works. You have the capability to tackle the studies, be up all night get that elusive grade.

Bring it on. I am invincible. One little blue circle full of magic, it cannot be that bad, I have made a new friend, my little bridge over troubled waters.

You do that and convince yourself that this is okay, everyone is on something so what the hell and you have taken your first step towards hell. There is no coming back.

The whole felony committed upon yourself is so beguiling like the sirens song luring you towards the rocks but you are helpless. The music is so sweet.

 

 

–  MOHIT MULANI

Mohit Musings – Beginner

There is something ethereal about this blog or column or whatever you may wish to call it. In the 21 years I was on this earth I left a mark. With my thoughts, my ideas, my values. They live after me and always will. So this is not so much from beyond the pale as a sharing of those ideas with you and the conversations you and I going to have each week. See it as a forum for debate, an activity I was exceptionally fond of and excelled in. Because unless we know each other’s views how can we get consensus.

You might ask; what happened with me, to me…the why and wherefore of how even in our young and not yet fully matured minds we find ourselves often shepherded into corrals without our permission or enough data to know why something is being done. My peeve is not that someone messed with my mind but that you cannot use the canopy of concern and caring in medical terms to cover up the messing up of someone’s mind. That really pisses me off. I was hooked all the while thinking and believing that this regimen of tablets and upped milligrams was helping me handle the strenuous pressure of medical school in New York.

 When I came back on that August 2016 break I was bouncing like a balloon. Even the sanctuary of books which I love and often escaped too offered little comfort. I had become high strung and snappy and I knew it, knew this transformation in my behavior was hurtful and confusing but I could not help it.

Every week we are going to talk issues in this space because when I look down from above I am convinced that there are far too many of us young men and women made subservient to uppers and downers and anti-anxiety pills and anti-depression capsules until they rule us and the clicking of the turnstiles at the global pharmacy makes good music in financial terms. But we are the ones paying the  bill.

The question that rose in my mind and then was tucked away was whether we were victims of a gigantic conspiracy that we do not see because the herd instinct takes over. After all, if everyone is okay with it then it must be okay. If psychologists and trained psychiatrists are sic-ed upon us unsuspecting students and they prescribe these dosages they would surely know what they are doing.

Even as you and I share our thoughts on various subjects ranging from the hypocrisy in society’s fabric to racism to political skull-duggery to the trafficking in children and women and the exploitation of the weak, of caste and colour and corruption we will talk in earnest. Because these effect the legacy being given to the next generation and we, the young, have to be responsible now before we are gurgled down the drain. No more casualties.

There are so many things to be furious about. Hunger. Wastage. Disease, Poverty and its choke. Greed. The systematic pillage of the planet. Hatred. Violence. The victims of a hundred cross fires.

It is the idealism of the youth that has to form a defence.

I have one more point to make in this first message. Parents, don’t be afraid to check out your kids if you find noticeable changes in their behavior. You do not have to ‘understand’ them, you only have to understand that something is not quite right. Don’t let children intimidate you. Often there is no distinction between a cry for help and a cry of ‘leave me alone, I am fine’ anger and outrage. We know so well how to scare parents into submission. But the price is huge.

I may not be there in person but my words and thoughts live on. Matter is indestructible and so is everything we have ever said or written or believed in. Every week, I will share these perceptions and expect you to pick it up from there so we create a vat of liquid introspection and address issues we would normally duck.

You people are my voice now. But the thoughts are mine. All mine.

 

 

Mohit Mulani