On Depression, Suicide and the Death of Hope

The death of Sushant Singh Rajput has not hit me hard because I was a huge fan, or even followed his work at all. In truth, I barely followed him or his work. 

Yet hit me it has, mainly because he was 34, five years younger than I am, who, it seems, felt like the only thing better than breathing another moment, was never to breathe again. That was how hopeless he felt. 

When things like this happen to celebrities there is often a slew of opinions: preaching positivity, detachment and the benefits of meditation or yoga, of gratitude, and many other such things that are great in principle – but ineffective in reality.

Nobody who suffers from or struggles with depression can just cheer up. Nobody who struggles with anxiety can just calm down. 

More positivity, more gratitude, changes in perspective, yoga, meditation and all those other wonderful things can benefit people who are already in relatively healthy mindsets. They may help some in people who are struggling, but in others it will just remind them of failure.

Continue reading “On Depression, Suicide and the Death of Hope”

‘Senseless Worries’: A Story about Anxiety and the Power of Being Alone

 

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Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash

As a young woman I had all sorts of ambitions of where I would be at 30. Successful, surrounded by people I loved (including, perhaps, one special someone), and generally on an accelerated upward trajectory towards achieving all of my dreams. I was to be wildly successful, because, like all millennials, this was my destiny.

Continue reading “‘Senseless Worries’: A Story about Anxiety and the Power of Being Alone”

Toxic Adaptability: Why I wrote ‘Spilling Over the Edges’

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Photo by yulia pantiukhina on Unsplash

Almost every woman I know has had at least one relationship where she has willingly allowed herself to be treated poorly for months, or even years. This is not a judgement, rather an observation. Some are lucky enough to escape these relationships, others not so much.

As girls growing up, I think many of us were conditioned to be accommodating and adaptable. Now don’t get me wrong, these are very good qualities, but combined with poor self-belief they can be toxic.Continue reading “Toxic Adaptability: Why I wrote ‘Spilling Over the Edges’”

Changing the Narrative of My Own Story

 

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Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

I got into a fascinating discussion on Twitter the other day, courtesy of Women’s Web, with Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, speaking about her book The Radiance of a Thousand Suns, which has now made its way onto my TBR.

We were speaking about Margaret Atwood, and what made her characters so powerful (I’d been watching The Handmaid’s Tale for the past few months and women’s bodies and the violence inflicted on them were top of mind).

It was then that I understood, what was so appealing about June Osborn, the main character in The Handmaid’s Tale: her agency.Continue reading “Changing the Narrative of My Own Story”

Thoughts on the Lockdown

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Photo by @gebhartyler on Unsplash

We are now on Day 6 of the lockdown.

 

It has been an interesting week. A mix of good and bad, of optimism and despair, anger and hope.

I know a lot of people who have struggled with depression and staying positive. They may be far from their families, they may be struggling with the emptiness of days, they may feel frustrated that they can’t do anything, they may be lonely or any number of things.

At the same time, I see a lot of “be positive” messages on social media, pointing out, rightly so, that we are privileged to have a roof over our heads, particularly as compared to the thousands of migrant workers, with no choice left but to walk home, and those of lesser circumstances.Continue reading “Thoughts on the Lockdown”

Journey of my e-Book Debut (Reblogged)

Of course, I was an early reader and writer.

No shit, Sherlock!

Though my early attempts were rather laughable, they make for great anecdotes! Get this, at one point, I hand wrote a newspaper about the goings-on of my home and was selling it to my family for 25 paise a story. I think I set a precedent right there.

I wrote poems, which rhymed but never actually said anything. There was even a soon-abandoned novel – about someone using scorpions as a murder weapon to kill people (I had just discovered what scorpions were and they both horrified and fascinated me). It was, of course, full of plot holes:  the ten-year-old me was definitely no master novelist.

All said and done, writing has always been therapy: a way to empty all the garbage in my head. I’ve kept a journal regularly since I was 21. But my fiction – both short story and any attempts at long-form – continued to feel half-baked and superficial for years.

This changed when I returned to Delhi, following 15 years abroad. Adult life in India, with all its peculiarities and challenges, somehow shifted something in the way I wrote, or perhaps it was age and experience.

Don’t get me wrong, like many writers, I regularly suffer from imposter syndrome, when I read the work of writers I admire. But then I have to remind myself that writing and stories are an integral part of who I am – and that while not everyone will enjoy what I write, that is okay.

Getting something published – even in e-book format, is one of the most terrifying things. First of all, you must place something you have toiled over in front of a stranger’s eyes – and then lay it bare to criticism and judgment.

Then you have to promote yourself and the book, all the while battling that little voice in your head that keeps whispering “what if everyone hates it?” Self-promotion for me, like many writers, feels unnatural and contrived. But at the end of the day a book is a product, and if we don’t tell anyone about it, how will anyone read it?

I had great publisher partners who gave me guidance along the way, answering loads of stupid questions, and doing an amazing job with the edits. I also had a friend whose been through the process who has been a constant source of advice and reassurance.

These stories were all started at different points in time, and I first started revisiting them in late 2017. There is a lot of joy in re-writing older work. I found I was able to add a lot of substance that was previously missing, though it took a lot of reworking to get them to where they are today.

Solitary Confinement was inspired by the way we see the events that happen in our lives, and the narratives we create, and how they impact us.

Spilling Over the Edges was in some sense a result of my own battle with guilt, and perhaps my feelings of inadequacy, and not quite being comfortable in my own skin.

Senseless Worries was written at a time when I was contemplating the dynamics of friendship and neediness, originally for a short story course I was taking online. I’ve changed much of it since.

The Mirage actually started as a result of a writer’s meetup I attended in Delhi, as a result of a free writing exercise. It was actually triggered by feelings of self-doubt in previous relationships due to gaslighting type effects – and the result of not being sure of what’s happening and whether it is right or wrong.

The Storyteller was written as an ode to the city of Delhi, originally as a contest entry, but later withdrawn (the said contest was quite suspect!) It is also a personal tribute to storytelling.

All five of my protagonists are flawed. They make mistakes, things do not happen to them. And that’s what our lives are, in a sense: imperfect, bumpy, inconsistent and unpredictable. We don’t always do the right thing, and because of this, we must deal with the consequences of the wrong thing. And that’s okay.

We look at mental health, stability, happiness, and positivity in a very tunnel-vision type of approach. Perhaps this is enhanced now by social media, but in a sense, the expectation to conform has always been there.

We feel this pressure to achieve, to have our shit together, and to be winners at everything. But sometimes, in chasing after these things, you slip into your own darkness. We tend to struggle against this, banishing thoughts we deem negative, pushing them so far down that we don’t need to think about them.

But that doesn’t make them go away, and it’s these very thoughts, that I wanted to explore in this collection. What each reader gets from this might be different, but if you are all able to walk away having resonated with one of the many emotions I poured into this book: my job is done. Happy reading!

Mira Saraf’s debut ebook The Boundaries of Sanity is now available on Amazon Kindle.

This blog was first published by Readomania here: https://www.readomania.com/blog/the-journey-of-my-ebook-debut

HARD TO SAY GOODBYE

My father writing on caregiving for aging parents. This is worth a read 🙂

Rakesh Saraf: Writing & Thoughts

Some nine and a half years back, I had to say goodbye forever to my father. He was 90 years old, an intellectual, a scholar, ex-civil servant, ex-diplomat. It was then that I realized that watching a parent age, and eventually die in front of your eyes is one of the hardest things to go through. Having been a care-giver, and having gone through the stresses and strains of caring for someone, compelled me to seek professional counseling from a psychologist. I saw her for 2 years and ended the engagement well after he passed on.

Now, nine and a half years later, I am going through all this again with my 94 year old mother. Ninety four, you say? Well, that is a long life and a ripe old age to have lived, so why stress and why feel sad? Right?

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Book Review: Just Another Day

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It’s always nerve-wracking to read a close friend’s writing – and especially so when it is writing that has just been published.

Fortunately with Piyusha Vir’s “Just Another Day”, I needn’t have worried at all. This collection of three short stories, Vir’s debut book, is available on Kindle, and did not disappoint.Continue reading “Book Review: Just Another Day”

Words for Asifa

To the monsters that broke her body:

what twisted state of mind begets

belief of your claim to innocent flesh

in the house of your God, no less?

Was there an ounce of shame lingering

somewhere within your thirst for blood?

Or did you feel powerful when

you shredded her dignity and

squashed the life of a little girl

perhaps too innocent to

believe in an evil and

cowardice such as yours?

Did you feel proud that it took six

of you to tear her apart,

spirit and soul, bones and skin?

What is this darkness without

remorse where human life is cheaper

than a depraved gluttonous hunger

for power over an 8 year-old?

There are no words to articulate,

no torture or torment great enough

to make you feel what she felt

There is only our own self-disgust

and a growing number of

involuntary martyrs,

that bleed pain, despair and hopelessness.

Vengeance will never be painful

enough, to crush this disease that

breeds within our minds.

********************************************

This does not seem like nearly enough to address the horror of what happened to Asifa, but it is all I have. I don’t know whether to be angry or heartbroken – both seem equally useless against this sickness that plagues our society. How many brutalized bodies will it take us to change? It doesn’t look like that’s anywhere close to happening unfortunately. They gangraped her in a temple and then murdered her, because that’s how cheap human life has become. And there are people who defend the rapists like there is any justification for doing this to anyone, let alone an 8 year old girl. Whatever we are doing it is not enough. I am still reeling from this and I don’t know what else to say except we need to fix this, break off the root of it and crush it forever.