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Every day next few days I'll share one #depression/#anxiety insight from my own experience. If it helps anyone a wee bit, it'll be worth it.
1. "#Happiness" can scare #anxiety patients. In our heads, things are always going wrong. Fear of a "happy" moment undone is doubly painful.
Sorry, this won't be a daily affair as I had earlier imagined. But here's insight #2 based on my brush with #depression/#anxiety.
2. I loved #walking. But now I hate it because Doc say it's part of the "treatment". It feels forced, like all those pills. I'm not lazy.
3. Often, crying is an uncontrollable, purely physical phenomenon - like hiccuping or sneezing. #depression #anxiety #mentalhealth
4. Side effects of pills - sweating, bloating, weird nightmares, twitching, blurred vision - will daily tempt you to stop. #mentalhealth
5. The last thing you want is your family telling you how sad your illness makes them. Piles on the #guilt. Makes you clam up. #mentalhealth
6. Chronic #nightmares as side effects of pills are like stomach ache. Hard to get sympathy because others can't see them. #mentalhealth
7. When someone asks me, "How did you find out?" I tend to describe physical symptoms rather than 'sadness' or 'feeling low'. #mentalhealth
8. My favourite uncle left us. Everyone is grieving. But my mother keeps glancing at me wondering if I will have a breakdown. #mentalhealth
9. This too is a reality of #mentalillness. Even on occasions of shared grief, you are hyper-aware that your own grief is a spectacle.
10. Unlike in other diseases, with #mentalillness you often can't tell if you are really improving. Symptoms might merely seem to morph.
11. Even if you're depressed, you don't lose the ability to comfort others in grief. Discovering this about myself now. #mentalhealth
Change 'don't' to 'may not'.
12. A less-known manifestation of #anxiety/#stress is inflammation of the temporomandibular joint near the👂, on which the lower jaw rests. Mine swells up because I clench my jaws hard owing to stress/nightmares. Solution: Chew gently. Don't open mouth too wide. Muscle relaxants.
13. My therapist is teaching me the power of 'distress tolerance'. Started with learning how to tolerate the distress caused by the behaviour/habits of others. Now, I'm working on a much harder problem: being OK with the distress I cause others. #mentalhealth #anxiety #depression
14. Earlier I wrote about jaw-joint pain as a physical symptom of #stress/#anxiety. While that's new for me, there's another pain I've lived with for >25 years. Aphthous ulcers that break out overnight and make even water burn the mouth. Now trying #Ayurveda. #Mentalhealth
15. If you are on pills, *do not* skip them or suddenly stop because you *think* you feel better. Abruptly stopping psychiatric medication is dangerous. Generally, a good doctor will gently wean you off pills rather than yanking you out. #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety
16. I just got myself a @fitbit. When I avhieve certain goals - a precommitted number of steps in a day, for example - Fitbit sends me a nice email as a pat on my back. If you are struggling with getting through the day, create moments of small triumph like this. #mentalhealth
@fitbit 17. You'll feel great anger. The sleeplessness, the side effects, the struggle to communicate your struggle - you'll wish you could take a hammer to the unfairness of it all. Allow yourself that anger. Find a person who'll let you scream. Take good care of her. #mentalhealth
@fitbit 18. I have been noticing a curious phenomenon with my body and mind. There are times when I feel the onset of an #anxiety attack and sense my heart racing. But #Fitbit tells me my heart rate is absolutely normal. It calms me. #mentalhealth
@fitbit 19. Lesson from my therapist: Confronting the past can be a powerful #healing force - if you treat it as an end in itself.

If you want to confront someone about how they once wronged you, do. Just be prepared that they may not understand or say sorry. #mentalhealth #depression
@fitbit 20. Initially it sounded like vague spiritualese. Then I tried it - with my mother. Told her how something she'd once said had pained me, and that I didn't expect an apology. Was surprised how peaceful I felt and how little her eventual apology mattered to me. #mentalhealth
21. There will come a time when your doctor's words of consolation - "keep at it, you're getting better" - will ring hollow. But do keep at it. Pills, exercise, therapy, whatever. You don't have to believe. Don't try to find ways to believe. Just do. #Mentalhealth #depression
22. When I started taking pills for #mentalillness, it took me months to tell my parents.

At first I couched it as "stress and vitamin deficiency," too cagey to say "#depression".

Today, I got my father to buy my antidepressants during his evening walk. Minor win, yes?
23. Still, the urge to keep my parents out of my most intimate battles is strong. Why? Because #depression, while thriving on isolation, also makes you enjoy the isolation. It's a perverse luxury - a rare retreat into yourself that you owe no explanations for. #mentalillness
24. #Depression + #empathy is quicksand for the mind. Makes you see depression in every tired face and clutched forehead. Drags you into the hell of hopelessness.

The antidote, a friend taught me, is constantly chanting, "Not my circus, not my 🐒". #mentalillness
25. My #therapist is going away. So I must find someone new. Start all over again.

In the 2 yrs since I started battling #depression/#anxiety, this is the most deflating news I've heard.

Trying to hang on to my doctor's words. "Therapy matters. Not the therapist."

26. Today was my last meeting with my therapist of 18 months. 18 extraordinary months, which changed everything I knew about myself, and when only #therapy brought sanity.

I have the new therapist's number. Now if only I could bring myself to call her. #mentalillness #depression
27. Couple of months ago I'd missed my pills. Next morning, while driving, my head was floating. I wanted to vomit, cry, take a cold shower, all at the same time.

Last week I missed them again. My BP fell, I had a crying bout. #withdrawal #mentalhealth nyti.ms/2GK795C
28. Had heard so much about #colouring as therapy for #depression and #anxiety. Guess I was waiting to be depressed enough to finally invest in a Mandala colouring book and some pastels. I do recommend. (Remember: the goal is NOT to make it perfect or beautiful.) #mentalillness
29. Two in two days. Don't remember the last time I had this record with anything not work-related. Something my doctor and therapist have often emphasised: activities to counter #depression only work if you make them a habit.

The bad news is, weekend's over!

30. #Suicide comes to some of us as a lucid philosophical question. Some of us let others - family, friends - into that question. Others don't, and seek answers for themselves. As someone whom the question had once visited, I can vouch for the former. Talk. Please. #mentalhealth
31. Finally, new therapist happened. "So, this must be tough, huh?" she said. Good first line. Gooood first line. #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety
32. New therapist had to be abandoned coz the only slot she had was Monday noon. Sad. She had promise. Emailed old therapist who's now abroad. No reply. Would be 💔, but SRK's gyaan from Dear Zindagi playing at the back of my head: Ze shrink iz not your friend. 😏 #mentalhealth
33. 2010 was the first time I documented how 'happy' things made me cry. I wrote a goofy blog on it too (the responses were hilarious), I suddenly remembered. #depression #MentalhealthMatters wordlyties.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/cry…
34. When #depression becomes a constant part of your life, how do you know one day is worse than another? For me, extreme #guilt is a reliable marker.
35. When the thought of lightening up for a few minutes and enjoying something - anything, a new car, a bloody cup of tea - makes me recoil, because 'I don't deserve to be happy'. Yeah, that's when I know I am very depressed. Like right now. #mentalillness #DepressionIsReal
36. I've said this before. My #depression DOES NOT render me incapable of giving succour to others. In fact I'm able to do a better job because I know. But the first thing I still tell everyone is to see a doctor and therapist. Depression doesn't have home remedies. #mentalhealth
37. Open up. Open up. Open up.

To the left, excerpt from @subes01's @theinformation piece on #tech's failure to address #mentalhealth.

To the right, my response.

Read the full piece here: bit.ly/2veTPh6

#depression #anxiety #notalone
38. All of yesterday my throat was constricted. My chest mauled by heavy paws. It was not anticipation, not fear, nothing concrete. Nothing real. That's what a #panic attack can feel like. It can wear you out with its frustrating unreality. #anxietyproblems #mentalhealth
39. So I did what you do when Medusa comes for you: avoided its gaze. Ignored it. Just. No. Eye. Contact.

Then, as the workday ended, I unleashed my six-month-old's toothless grin at it.

Poof, it vanished :)

It'll be back. I'll be ready.

#mentalhealth #anxietyproblems
40. Every time people are cruel, a reminder to the self helps me feel light: You have no idea what battles they might be fighting deep within.

Sigh. If only for every act of letting go I also lost a kilo of the fat the #antidepressants have brought on.

41. This tweet is a bit different. Just wanted to share this amazing story and send a big shout out to @SAPIndia @Ford @jpmorgan @HimalayaIndia @LemonTreeHotels for bringing #autism fighters into themainstream. Story courtesy various media reports. #mentalhealth #futureofwork
42. #Depression myth: It makes you incapable of taking ownership of things. In fact I'm more depressed when I don't have ownership over things that matter to me: at home or #work.

A sense of being in control over important things is the best antidote to the hell of helplessness.
43. Over the past couple of days, folks like @netshrink and @VijayNallawala, have helped me grapple with a new dimension of #mentalillness: disenfranchisement. I'd felt it a personal level - how illness becomes an excuse to cast you out even though you're fully functional ...
44. ... but that's nothing compared with an entire community - millions - crushed by discrimination, a caste system even in illness. Thankfully, the new #mentalhealth law says my #depression isn't less important than your diabetes. It isn't more important either. And that's okay.
45. My #depression follows a predictable routine these days. I wake up ok. But by 930/10, it's like my brain is dipped in an ink pot. (I function fine, because by now I have learnt how to.) Generally, lunch helps. And by evening, I'm feeling much better. How does it work for you?
46. Of all the pains that come with #depression, #guilt weighs the heaviest. But it can also do enormous good. In my most depressed state, I see my failings most clearly. And it pushes me to become a wee bit better. Eg: I now listen more, coz I'm not the centre of the 🌏.
47. #Meditation is great, but have you tried to put a baby to sleep knowing the slightest change in your breathing or the faintest twitch of muscle could mean mayhem? 😁 #mentalhealth #alternatives #truestory
48. Much of the narrative around #depression centres on victimhood. But it can also be the result of profound guilt for your own past actions. If you're seeing a therapist, don't delay opening up about those actions. It's as important to learn how to forgive yourself as others.
49. One of the hardest physical feats I've had to perform is clenching my teeth, slamming my mouth shut with my own hands, and forcing my body to absorb my convulsions so that my sudden crying-and-shaking bout doesn't wake my baby lying next to me. #depression #mentalhealth
50. On March 31, I last met my old #therapist. She was brilliant. I was despondent when she said she was leaving the country.

Today, after more than 6 months of fumbling, I committed to a new therapist.

Not a bad way to mark the 50th tweet of this series, eh? #mentalhealth
51. Important things about #therapy:
i) If your therapist is part of a clinic where you are made to sign a form, make sure there is a clear confidentiality clause.
ii) Understand that there are 4 situations in which your therapist can break confidentiality (contd.) #MentalHealth
52. The 4 situations in which your therapist can break confidentiality are
i) If they believe you are at a risk of #suicide
ii) If they believe you are homicidal
iii) If they believe you can harm them
iv) If your doctor asks to speak with them (with your consent) #MentalHealth
53. So, new #therapist is making an impression. 1) Unlike previous therapists, she explained which school of therapy she practises ("psychoanalysis, classical Freudian") 2) seems a bit more structured than earlier therapists without giving the appearance of it. #mentalhealth
54. 3 of my closest friends - and I don't have that many - told me recently that I have "disappeared". These guys know what I've been going through, but the beautiful thing is, they will still tell me to my face that this kind of behaviour just won't do. #depression
55. Hold on to these guys. They will demand that you not cut them out even when you feel you're awful company. They are the ones who've truly accepted you. Warts and all. And will hold you to account when you decide to "disappear". @KunalTalgeri I'm looking at you :) #depression
56. A side effect of being whiplashed by #depression is heightened sensitivity. "Awakening," says my therpaist. You can never look at #people and their #stories the same way. Depression rearranges your wiring. The result, on the whole, is a better version of you, I daresay.
57. But "awakening" comes with a grave challenge: You become very impatient with people who are not at your emotional wavelength. Who don't "get" it. You want to give them a good shake and yell, "Why are you like this?!" #mentalhealth #depression
58. The toughest thing is to develop sensitivity - "#compassion", my therapist says - for those people. How afraid they must be of what "feeling" - pure feeling, without thought - can make them see about their own lives. #mentalhealth
59. Chimamanda Adichie said we should all be #feminists. I didn't quite understand her till I started fighting and writing about #depression. Lost count of the number of times I have referred to women's struggle for fairness to explain the disenfranchisement of the mentally ill.
60. A note on #withdrawal. If your doctor recommends stopping a pill you were on for a long time, the first thing you/the doc should do is counsel your family/caregivers on withdrawal symptoms so they are prepared. I did it. It is worth the effort. #mentalillness #depression
61. #Mentalillness awareness owes much to #DeepikaPadukone et al. But far too many empowered people still have zero understanding of it, neither do they want to make an effort. These are people *in our lives*. The damage they do is far greater than the good faraway celebs can.
62. Fellow fighters, choose your allies wisely. Don't assume you can make everyone see the light. Advocacy is exhausting. Your energy is limited, and precious. Don't waste it on cynics and people with poor EQ. You do not have to be their shrink. #mentalillness
63. Also, everyone who is battling #mentalillness and has a public profile - artists, journalists, doctors, whoever you are - the cultural pressure to "speak up" can be overwhelming. You DON'T have to. It is your decision. Let no one tell you otherwise.
64. Here's what frightens me the most: moments when I believe, with great clarity, that I am beyond repair - and that's okay, because it means I can simply walk away. #MentalHealthAwareness #DepressionIsReal
65. Of all the emotions that come with #depression, indifference, not despair, is the deadliest.

Despair can be treated by restoring your anchors. Your roots.

But indifference eats away at those anchors and lays waste your roots. #mentalhealth
66. New affliction. Every time I discover a voice like @shevy_nevy, who captures #mentalillnes with words that shine and wound like broken glass, every word in place, every word perfect, I feel a new kind of pressure to make art out of suffering. Must. Stop. Thinking. This. Way.
67. Say you are having a shitty day inside your head but making a big effort to keep it together and keep your spirits high. Announce it to those near you so they appreciate your effort. Or at the very least, don't add to the shit in your head by appearing callous. #mentalhealth
68. 68. A question I ponder every time I meet my #therapist but never manage to ask her. Do you also wonder why your therapist calls you a "client"? #mentalillness bit.ly/2FwZlTW
69. So, #therapist wants to try some radically new techniques, going beyond just talk. Excited, but also frightened of breaking the script. I haven't even been on the couch yet, only ever done face-to-face work. What's your most unusual #therapy story? #mentalillness
70. A certain tone of voice that someone close to me often uses to address me and claims is perfectly normal.

Full-stops in messages.

One-word replies to long messages.

Not having enough water by my bedside at night.

#Triggers #Anxiety #Panic #MentalHealth
71. So you have no problem believing in god, although you can't "see" god.

But if I ask you to believe my mind is ill, it's like I just grew horns.

"Why?!" "What's your problem?!" "You think too much."

Umm, no. *You* are a sad, vile ignoramus. #mentalillness #DepressionIsReal
72. Stop. Comparing. People. Good for you if you waltzed through your own shit without breaking a sweat. Yay, you are Superman! Doesn't make me a milksop. If you can't help, shut your mouth. #SundayRant #mentalhealth #keepcalm
73. #Anger is the worst. Ignore BS like "Let anger be the fire that lights up your path" (ok, I made that up, but you know what I mean). Anger is an impotent manifestation of entitlement, that's all. And I am yet to meet anyone who responds positively to anger. #mentalillness
74. A simple technique has often stopped my #anger from exploding. It involves pausing and asking myself 2 questions before I open my mouth.

1. Who really is this person I am about to shout at?
2. If we never met again, is this how I'd like to be remembered?
75. "Self-punishment has [many] shapes and forms ... [like] writing 100 lines saying “I am worthless and the world is better without me.”

My current favourite: throwing away food I've been looking forward to all day coz I don't deserve it. #mentalillness
76. And then hating myself more coz how could I throw away food? #mentalillness
77. Human breath is warm because the body is on fire, all the time. Chemicals are cooking inside of you in a simmering furnace. When your mind is fine, your body contains the fire. But when #depression grips you, the fire breaks free and scalds you. Every bodily process hurts.
78. 4 possible reactions to birthdays:

1) Excitement/joy
2) Reflection/introspection
3) Meh/just another day
4) Utter despair/anger/ irritability

#Depression is likely to breed the 4th. Oh, did I mention extreme guilt at being a jerk to people who want you to be "happy"?
79. Felt a rush of something vaguely like #happiness. After eons. For about 2 mins.

It was frightening. I immediately snuffed it.

Remember those movie scenes where they tell a blind person who's just been operated upon to open their eyes very gently? Now I know. #mentalillness
80. I have said this before. When you live with #depression for an eternity, your mind could (secretly) start enjoying it. Depression a perverse luxury. A rare retreat into yourself. Like walking around with a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign. It fuses with you. You can't just slice it off.
81. Could you've been abused without realising it? Yes. Labelled something "choice" when actually it was abuse? Yes. You were practically a child when it happened, but lied to yourself years after? Yes. Did it happen with me? Yes. Can it be healed? Yes. #mentalillness
82. So I have thrown a lot at my therapist. The only time she was tongue tied was when I told her how the body becomes a gross, flailing, failing relic after a certain age. You get hair coming out of strange places. You develop strange folds, mysterious sounds ... #mentalillness
83. Your body demands new rituals. A dab of balm here, a jab of ointment there. Hold your baby horizontally because L3 L4 can't tolerate vertical weight. Grow a beard to hide the second chin. Offer goat-milk soap to your angry skin. Your mind just can't keep pace. #mentalillness
84. Anxious day. Now trying YouTube binaural beats. The first track made me more anxious rather than calm me. The current one has promise but is too slow to deliver relief. Suggestions? #mentalillness #mentalhealthatwork
85. Strongly recommend this little gem if you want to put some of your moods into perspective. Warning: The satire can be triggering if you take yourself too seriously! #midlife #depression
86. THIS. This is what I was talking about three tweets ago 👆
87. We don't talk about "recovery" enough. Recovery after years of being in a haze is terrifying. It shocks you with its sheer unfamiliarity. With its stillness, which your mind, used to a constant storm, feels like whiplash. It is the pain of birth. Rebirth. #mentalillness
The feeling of nothingness - no pressure on your chest when you wake up, no dull heaviness to exhaust you to sleep - is like losing your anchor. Anchors weigh you down, but they also hold you in place. Without that weight, you might run too fast. Fall face down. #mentalillness
89. Recovery after spending years in a prison of your mind's making is disorienting. You doubt your ability to function. Like Brooks Hatlen in #ShawshankRedemption, who was terrified by freedom after decades in jail. It didn't end well for poor Brooks. #mentalillness #depression
(👆GIF courtesy realitydreamsfilm.tumblr.com)
90. Sometimes the only way to process recovery is to doubt it. I remember feeling, "This must be mania," when I felt a surge of something like happiness a few days ago. Giving yourself the licence to feel happiness after years of deprivation isn't easy. #depression #mentalillness
91. Was filling water bottles last night. My mind was blank. I was thinking *nothing*, after years of living with the heavy, rotting carcass of depressed, anxious thoughts. Felt like someone was watching me and saying, "Hey, go back in there! It isn't safe outside." #depression
92. Therapist says these feelings are very common. The mind resists freedom after years of being in a cage. And that creepy presence telling me to step back inside the cage is apparently my own self-projection. #Depression is a liar. #mentalillness #recovery
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