Saturday, June 9, 2018

From Maya's Diary: Trapped

Trapped in your own mind.                                                                                                                                                  
Sounds like sci-fi fantasy or a great adventure? Not really. It can be one of the most challenging and painful experiences you can go through in life. 

I believe, but for brief spells in my life, I have always been trapped in my own mind. A mind that has gone through tremendous transformation over the years for good as well as bad. The sad part is, in the last few weeks, it has taken the form of a vicious, slippery, bottomless pit of never ending streams of stray thoughts from the mundane, meaningless, irrelevant, and the profane to the erotic, exotic and the very profound. A mind that refuses or rather struggles to stay happy and content. One that is not kind to me.

A mind that is often tempted and is successful in leading me astray into a painful web of expectations – not so much from others as from myself. A harsh task master constantly pressurizing me to achieve the best, and beating me up when I fall short, which is quite often these days. In its current worst avatar, it is Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Confused. Twisted. Always restless, searching for meaning. For purpose. Direction. And fulfillment. But in vain.

Slowly, it drags me to a state of lethargy, frustration, irritation, uncertainty, and anger. Waking up every morning becomes a struggle. Should I call in sick at work?  Every single task that once brought joy to me now seems difficult and meaningless. Listening to music. Praying. Exercising. Even writing. The worst is being unable to even sleep it off.

Mesmerizingly magical – my mind raises me to a euphoric high where the world is a heaven of promises, possibilities and potential. The happy moments seem endless. The challenges before me seem like easy adventures to be enjoyed, at the end of which I would be crowned with laurels of victory and pride. But the euphoria is a mirage, short lived. At the peak of absolute bliss, my mind takes on a frighteningly crazy form, mercilessly pushing me to the lowest depths of unexplained, unreasonable sadness.  And then, those weakening tears keep running down endlessly in an angry haste to drown me. This has happened ever so often, that these days, even as I am climbing the peak of joy, I am also anticipating the fall. Ultimately, left overwhelmed by a sense of being cheated.     

Well, it is quite easy to define my mind and its ways using these lofty words. But getting down to cross its eccentricities and find a peaceful path, where every day can be lived normally like any other, is never easy. In spite of this, I am quite proud to say that I am forcing myself to maintain a sense of normalcy, because at the end of the day, I am not an isolated soul, but a mother, wife and employee, with real responsibilities. So I go about trying to do the routine tasks, while my mind continues to pull me deeper and deeper into a whirlpool of painful thoughts, constantly gaining speed every day.

It’s typically easy to escape from or defeat your enemies if they belong to the external, physical world around you. More so because the possibilities of winning allies to fight your battle are plenty. From genuine friends and caring family to polarized ideologists and even voyeuristic strangers who are willing to extract some fun out of the situation, there could be many who are ready to take sides with you and help you defeat the enemy. You just need to sound your bugle, and your comrades and companions come marching behind you – enthusiastic and determined to lend their muscles and brains to help you win. Well, mostly.

It doesn’t matter who the trouble makers are – your partner or spouse, friends, neighbours, employers, colleagues, politicians, or even children. Because they are real. Even trouble with money is real, framed in neat rectangular shapes and bright hues of purple and orange. The world is also conditioned to accept issues ‘related to the visible physical body’ as real because symptoms and evidences of disease and pain are crystal clear. These are serious health issues that manage to get enough and more attention and importance.

The world can understand and relate to these accepted problems that are connected to the physical world and the body.

But the mind is still an ignored, invisible enigma. 

When you declare that your enemy is your own mind, you are immediately looked at with distrust and disbelief. You could be trying to tackle mild troubles with your mind, which is distressing to you, but has not yet become a source of distress to the external world – like complete insanity, delirium or dementia. Chances are you will be labeled as being so jobless that you are actually creating imaginary problems to while away your time. Or so indulgent and selfish that you are shamelessly seeking attention and sympathy.

I agree that the times are changing and there is increased awareness around the problems of the mind. But still, there is a lot of ground to be covered before you can openly apply for sick leave stating you are depressed. The world gives you the license to either suffer full-fledged madness or safely indulge yourself in complete normalcy. Being stuck in the middle is the tricky part that everyone has trouble addressing.

So what do you do? If you are a control freak like me, you will not let the tyrant lose, no matter what. You will put in every damn effort, however painful and tiring it is, to escape from the dark chasms of your mind into normalcy. The important thing is to not let yourself fall so deep into the pit from where even your strongest ally cannot pull you out. 

You decide what is normalcy. Your definition of normalcy need not match the world’s.
To me normalcy is nothing but control. It is the state of mind where you are simply comfortable with yourself, in control and happy. It need not necessarily mean being devoid of insanity, because without a tinge of insanity, it is impossible to truly relish the beauty of life and suffer the rules of the world. 

If you haven’t already, then quickly find your allies, because without their support, you might be tempted to give up midway. Your allies are those who genuinely accept that the issue is not imaginary, or one that can be managed through simple distractions like watching a movie, eating an ice cream or going shopping. And then create a game plan for victory. Stick to it and defeat the determined tyrant called your mind to ultimately reinvent it as a haven of confidence, peace, certainty and true happiness.

The real challenge is to DECIDE you will escape. Once you have done that, the rest will fall in place.

Cheers to all our battles!

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