Here for you

I would like to talk about mental health.

At the age of 8, I was in a world of depression having left my home. I was surrounded by children around my age and some adults (boarding school staff) assigned to look after us. When I told someone that I couldn’t focus, they told me I was a bad student. When I told them I was being bullied, they made me shake hands with them hoping that fixed everything.

One night, I found myself unable to breathe and unable to move. For more than two minutes, I was terrified. I felt like my body wasn’t my own. It was like someone had sucked all the air out of the room. When I finally found my strength and tried to tell someone, they checked my temperature, told me I could take a day off school and said that I was fine. Because it’s easier to ignore symptoms than to accept the ugly truth that even a child can face such ordeals of depression and trauma. Age isn’t a factor when it comes to mental health.

With no one there for me, I had to be there for myself. This was not me being motivational or inspirational. This was me clawing back out of depression because no one else was around to help or listen. It required all the will power I could muster to focus on the good in my life and make the journey on my own. To discover my passion for reading and writing. To stand up to bullies. To deal with emotionally stressful days by reminding myself that it would be alright. To know that it was going to be alright.

As I eventually learnt to rise above the depression, I knew I had a clear goal in life. To be there for people like I wish someone had been there for me. I am grateful that I was spared and I am thankful that I now know the consequences of standing idle while people go through things. I have lived those consequences.

And now to you, the person reading this.

Reach out to people. To those who stopped responding. To those living in difficult conditions. To anyone, really. Reach out and talk. Don’t just voice solidarity online and then go back to your life. Practise it by talking to someone. That’s honestly all it takes. Ask people how they’re doing. Talk about your day. Give some time to the sea of people out there going through bad days.

As for me, there is no choice to make. I simply cannot stand by and let someone walk down that path alone. If I do, all my efforts to rise above my poor mental health state will have been for nothing. So I am here for you, reach out, contact me through the social media on my blog or anyway you know how. I will not judge you, I will not ignore you and I will do my very best to offer the highest level of support of which I am capable. You are not in this by yourself. Not if I can help it.

I AM HERE FOR YOU

My doctor

This is a personal one. And a long one.

Today, my sister finished 6 years of medical school. That’s nearly 50,000 hours. For the more than half a decade, I have called her countless times to find her either in class or in the library or studying way past my bedtime. As the older sibling, she was also assigned the duty of handling her baby brother’s tantrums and rants about how engineering is hard and the world is unfair and how he procrastinated all day. And somehow, she managed to make me feel better about all of it. Truth be told, she didn’t have to be a doctor to fix whatever I was going through.

Textbooks bigger than my arms and chemical terms longer than my full name. Her field has always seemed so daunting, especially since the only medical experience I have comes from House MD. We would often enjoy fun late night Q&A sesh’s where she would ask me complex questions and I’d give the most ridiculous answers you have ever heard. In those moments of laughter, I was happy I could share just a bit of the heavy burden she carries on her back.

We were sent to boarding school at a very young age. We only had one another to cope as we prepared for a life of living away from our parents and eventually, from each other as well. As a cool pre-teen, I never fully appreciated the role she played even then. No one wants someone watching over you and taking care of you at that age. But you need it. And I did. At the end of the day, I needed someone to tell me that it was going to be alright. That we’d see our parents soon. That cuts and injuries healed over eventually. That I was a good person no matter what. More than a decade since we were in boarding school together and she still does all of that. Whenever I need it. Every single time.

As incredible as completing medical school is, it’s still not the most remarkable thing I’ve seen her do. She was the third parent. She was the backbone to my parents as I snored blissfully in the back. I honestly don’t think I’d have made it this far without her.

But enough about her. As a brother there’s only so many nice things you can say about a sibling. She gets nothing but jokes about her face for the next few weeks. But for today, my congratulations to her and the people she graduates with. They go on to become the healers we need so desperately in the coming years. I wish her and all of them the best of times ahead.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

Gandhi

Missing Blogger

In my last post, I wrote a post about being calm even though I had two midterms on the same day. And then I stopped blogging for almost two months. Despite the message this blog sends out over the first two sentences, I’ve just been busy. Life catches up at the worst of times and you fail to stay committed to things you care about. But I’m home now and I feel like writing.

So let’s do a recap.

I was halfway through my semester when I last posted giving midterm after midterm. Nothing relieves stress like knowing that you are only in the first midterm season and the second one is well on its way. My midterms went as they always do. Not as good as I wanted them to but enough to allow me to kick off my shoes and relax afterwards.

Air Quality and Hydrology projects gave me great insight into what these fields might hold for me if I do decide to go one of those ways. The Air Quality project was about preparing an Emissions Summary and Dispersion Modelling (ESDM) report for an actual facility. With a combination of AutoCAD, air modelling software, meteorological data processing and a whole bunch of complicated words, this project was perhaps the most challenging of them all. But completing this project gave me immense satisfaction. Not from a job well done, but from a job done. While not effective, this ideology helps one keep up with the pace.

I ended up dropping Economics. While I am to be blamed about not giving it the attention it deserves, I found that course a wee bit overkill. I will have to take it later on and this might even result in an extra semester but I knew that this course would only hold me back. All in all, some regrets about not sticking with it, but I’m only human. Kudos to my peers who stuck with it. You’re the real heroes. 

I got offered an 8-month work term at Coca-Cola Bottling Ltd in Brampton as a manufacturing development co-op student. Now, this is neither the finest job out there and nor do I fail to notice the presence of the word “bottling” in the company name. But, neither of those are important to me. It’s my chance to build relationships, develop competencies and give it my everything from day one. So, looking forward to that.

But apart from academia, I learnt things about myself that were very wrong. I learnt that I judge people too fast. And this cost me a friend and a broken moral compass. I suppose we all like to think we’re doing the right thing when we’re doing it. We find what reasons we can to justify our actions. But, that doesn’t make them right. Nonetheless, I messed up and I’ve spent every day since working on myself.

That’s pretty much it. Exams. Grades. My first work term. And a lesson to never forget. If I had powers to go back in time, I’d chuck them down the drain. This semester and the good and bad in it was for the best. I’ve made my peace with that.

Merry Christmas!