Progress and advancement in our times has people working to make it big and better for themselves and I see around me so much change for the grander and better in our improving India. People are working around the clock to increase opportunities that are growing, as are the props and luxuries that come with the ‘good times’. And yet what I notice under the surface is the seamier side of progress. I see the stress, anxiety and performance pressure through it all and across the board. Everyone from the more modest to the ultra-rich are more dependent on anti-depressants and medication and it is taken for granted these days that to survive the fast pace you need that ‘crutch’ of medication to survive. Life is so fast-paced that competitiveness, envy, getting ahead, and work frustrations are too much to deal with and even the average homemaker finds it difficult to cope with the challenges of ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ or surpassing them.
Sitting with friends the other day, I broached this topic and wanted to know what has become of the age old conventional sharing and caring. That warm fuzzy feeling of near and dear ones comforting you? Why do people not reach out to friends and partners to vent and offload in relationships? Friends often help by just making us see things clearly and in perspective. “In these times it’s considered an Achilles heel” my friend tells me- “one is afraid of being judged, criticized and the problem publicized. That can be a humiliating experience”.
“I feel like I’m imposing upon a friend’s time and even my spouse is dealing with his own work issues without me piling on my own problems onto him” shares another friend who has taken to anti-anxiety pills.
There was a time you rang your friend’s doorbell and just offloaded all your worries, and felt a whole lot better, while your friend just said some kind things to make you feel better and gave you a hug. You shared a cup of tea and the world looked like a happier place. You went back to the drawing board with new solutions and a resolve. Today it’s more about appearances and things looking just right for those perfect ‘display pictures’ where people live with the burden of ‘picture perfect’ façades.
Did you believe that kids are absolved from this growing malaise of stress and depression in their utopian cocoon away from it all? In a survey carried out in Australia it was found that there is a 23 per cent growth in stress levels since 2009 in 15 to 19 year olds. Kids don’t live in wonderland anymore, with demands from parents, expectations and peer performance pressures. While I enjoyed the rendition of a modern family in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ and the essence of living life to the fullest and letting go of cares in ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ there are deeper issues of pretence and coping interestingly dealt with and one sees clearly that appearances are deceptive. You scratch many ideal families or equations below the surface you find the chinks in the armour.
While I won’t get into the innumerable negative effects of pills and shock treatment which is the other way to treat anxiety, I will say that the conventional method of counselling, meditation, confiding in close friends and reaching out to family or someone you respect- is imperative. It might seem like you’re being judged initially, but choose your confidant carefully and you will find that just speaking and sharing is a great way of finding composure when you suffer from the beginnings of depression or anxiety .
To deal with pressure it is best to prioritise and cut down on things crowding you. The issues of wanting to attend every party and be part of every focus group can often cause FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Direct your thoughts to the things that need immediate attention. Do not underestimate the power of organising your thoughts and environment and make lists that prioritise work and issues that need to be addressed immediately.
Talking therapy is a great way to deal with your burdens. And if you find you are unable to sleep, are suffering frequent panic attack, are feeling shaky and cannot concentrate, then the new method used by counsellors is Cognitive behaviour therapy, where you are encouraged to change your thoughts that go with negative feelings. The bottom line here is of course to see a counsellor and talk, discuss and find solutions than jumping the gun and taking the shortcut solution of anti-depressant pills solutions which are temporary.
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