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MEMORIES OF ANOTHER DAY


A never-ending struggle to an ever ending one


Paritosh…


That’s the name I chose for myself.  Not the given name but the chosen one.


It means someone who gives satisfaction. Gratification. Happiness!


I don’t know how that relates to my life or my story but let’s try to find out. They say it’s always possible to connect dots, backwards.


To begin with, even though I chose the name, I never knew the meaning of my own chosen name till recently. 


Isn’t it how life works? 


We make choices without understanding what it really means to us? 


Are we really in control of ourselves?


Let’s explore…


Our brain is the main control center. It controls lots of functions inside our body. It controls our movements. It controls our thoughts. It controls our reactions, learning, development, emotions, social life, many body parameters, love, pain, and almost everything that is part of human existence. 


The brain controls us and not the other way around. It’s a myth that we control our brain. It is designed to control us.


And when, sometimes or in some cases, it starts playing different games, that are not played by the majority of existence, it creates havoc and imbalance for itself and the body it is supposed to control and take care of. It becomes a dis-order.


I, Paritosh, was part of this different game. I was the chosen one!



What Is Psychosis?

(Let’s try to understand what others have understood. Or in other terms, simpler one,


Let our mind understand what other minds have understood about everyone’s mind, especially the chosen minds)


Psychosis is a condition that affects the way your brain processes information. It causes you to lose touch with reality. You might see, hear, or believe things that aren’t real. Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness. A mental or physical illness, substance abuse, or extreme stress or trauma can cause it.


Psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, involve psychosis that usually affects you for the first time in the late teen years or early adulthood. Young people are especially likely to get it, but doctors don’t know why. Even before what doctors call the first episode of psychosis (FEP), you may show slight changes in the way you act or think. This is called the prodromal period and could last days, weeks, months, or even years.


Symptoms of Psychosis

Psychosis doesn’t suddenly start. It usually follows this pattern:


  • Warning signs before psychosis: It starts with gradual changes in the way you think about and understand the world. You or your family members may notice:
    • A drop in grades or job performance
    • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
    • Suspiciousness or unease around others
    • Lack of self-care or hygiene
    • Spending more time alone than usual
    • Stronger emotions than situations call for
    • No emotions at all


  • Signs of early psychosis: You may:
    • Hear, see, or taste things others don’t,
    • Hang on to unusual beliefs or thoughts no matter what others say,
    • Pull away from family and friends,
    • Stop taking care of yourself,
    • Inability to think clearly or pay attention.


  • Symptoms of a psychotic episode: Usually you’ll notice all of the above plus:
    • Hallucinations:
      • Auditory hallucinations: Hearing voices when no one is around,
      • Tactile hallucinations: Strange sensations or feelings you can’t explain,
      • Visual hallucinations: You see people or things that aren’t there, or you think the shape of things looks wrong.



    • Delusions: Beliefs that aren’t in line with your culture and that don’t make sense to others, like:
      • Outside forces are in control of your feelings and actions,
      • Small events or comments have huge meaning,
      • You have special powers, are on a special mission, or actually are a god.


Causes of Psychosis

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes psychosis, but some known risk factors include:


  • Genetics: You can have the genes for it, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll get psychosis.
  • Drugs: Triggers include some prescription medications and abuse of alcohol or drugs like marijuana, LSD, and amphetamines.
  • Trauma: The death of a loved one, a sexual assault, or war can lead to psychosis. The type of trauma and the age you were when it happened also plays a role.
  • Injuries and illnesses: Traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and HIV can all bring on psychosis.


Psychosis can also be a symptom of a mental illness, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.


Diagnosis

You can see a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a social worker. They’ll find out what might have caused your symptoms and look for related conditions. Doctors diagnose mental illnesses after ruling out other things that could be causing psychotic symptoms.


Medical Treatment for Psychosis

It’s important to get treated early. Especially after the first episode of psychosis. That will help keep the symptoms from affecting your relationships, work, or school. It may also help you avoid more problems down the road.


Your doctor may recommend coordinated specialty care (CSC). This is a team approach to treating schizophrenia when the first symptoms appear. It combines medicine and therapy with social services and work and educational support. The family is involved as much as possible.





MEMORIES OF ANOTHER DAY


The Early Days


To get to the heart of some of the psychiatric disorders you have to go to the very beginning of events.


They include symptoms or experiences. These could be hallucinations, delusions and anxiety.


Then there are symptoms of behavior which society says is discordant.   


Then there are maladjustments of social adaptations.


Then there is decrease of productivity.


Before I recount where it all began allow me to share a few snippets of my childhood.


I was born in a tenement in a building called P. D. Nivas. It is a building that still exists in C. Lane, (the whole area has now been taken over by merchants of electronic goods). I shared the room with my father, mother, elder sister, elder brother and younger brother. My younger sister was just a gleam in my parent’s eye. If we children wanted to play any games we had to do so in the long passage outside our room. At a very early age I discovered a passion for reading. After my mother wrote ‘OM’ on my tender tongue with her index finger, she held my small fingers in her hand and made me write ‘OM’ again on my slate. After this I was led straight to some books by my elder sister.


I remember some of them. They had pictures of dogs, little boys, small girls, etc. The stories the books narrated were simple. “See Spot run” (Spot being the dog’s name). “See Jack run”. Then the question, “Can Spot run?” Followed by the answer, “Spot can run.” I remember falling in love with the books. The simple stories were printed on expensive, smooth paper and I used to repeatedly run my small hands over the pages.


The words were traced out, letter by letter, using my index finger. I then had to reproduce it on my slate. Here again, my sister steadied my hand with her hand and the chalk made small screeching sounds. Thus, began my journey into the literary arena. I must have been all of three years.


I remember being taken to junior school. It was around 15 minutes away from my house. It had rained buckets and the whole area was flooded. My cousin put me astride his shoulders and carried me through, wading across the waters. I remember my heart pounding in fright seeing the flooded roads. I was in a raincoat and gumboots and the rains entered through the monsoon wear and soaked me.


I remember being taken for admission to senior school. Once again it was in the monsoons. My school, St. Sebastian Goan High School had shut its main door. We were all crushed in the melee of parents and wannabe students. At the appointed time, the iron gate was flung open and we all rushed in. A few fell. Then followed the queue outside the principal’s office. One by one, very obediently, parents and the pupil entered the office. Here, we were interviewed by the principal. Even the parents were questioned. The fact that my father worked in an MNC film company worked wonders. (In fact, later on, my dad’s company provided films to the school for festive occasions. Laurel & Hardy, Tom Thumb, Black Beard’s Ghost are just a few worth mentioning).


I remember the school picnic that I went for. This was in middle school. We all were herded into the school bus. And it took off. We went to Afghan Church, a place somewhere deep in the Colaba woods. My mother drilled it into my head to be careful with the tiffin box. Not to lose it. We reached sometime at around 1.00 in the afternoon. We sat in the back garden, making ourselves comfortable. I was so careful with my tiffin that I didn’t have any lunch. Then came the return trip. We got into the school bus and it took off. The driver began speeding. We had hardly cleared a short distance when the bus crashed into a street lamp and overturned. I remember it happened near Ashvini Naval Hospital. A few navy personnel who were walking nearby came running and smashing the window panes dragged us out of the bus. We were taken to the same hospital for treatment. I had severe injuries and had to be hospitalized.


Fast forward to college. I remember joining St. X. College, Dhobi Talao, Mumbai after my tenth standard. The heady air of freedom was a welcome change from the restrictive atmosphere of school. I loved every bit of it. I had a whole new set of friends and it was all quite intoxicating. We made plans, went for films in nearby theatres and on occasion, studied.


After graduation I frittered away a few years before I took up a job in an advertising company. The pay was modest but the job was satisfying. I worked with zeal and enthusiasm and was soon rewarded with a better remuneration. A princely hike in salary of Rs.200.


One day, when I reached home, I found the day’s newspaper kept on my pillow. It was open to a particular page. My elder sister had flagged an ad and kept it for my perusal. It was for a job in Bangalore. I applied, was called for an interview and cleared it. I then received my appointment letter and shifted lock, stock and barrel to a reputed MNC in Bangalore. There is an interesting incident associated with the company’s name. The font which was used, especially the E in OEM looked like ‘OM’. Three of my colleagues used to regularly try to drop it down. They succeeded in tilting it. I used to try to undo the damage and straighten it up. The situation became so bad that the boss had to call a carpenter and get the E screwed to the wall. 


I was there in OEM for fourteen months before I got a job in L. (a reputed MNC), Mumbai and shifted back to my Karmabhumi.


I worked in L. for eight months before I shifted to T. G. (fabled for its creative work)


I was in T.G. for one year. From here I shifted to F’lore. I served here for fourteen months, if memory serves me right. From F’lore I shifted to Red, Mumbai. I worked here for eighteen months. From here I shifted back to Tri. general where I worked for over five years. I then worked in Resp-Art, a department of B C and Company (leading publication), publishers of The ToI, the nation’s leading English newspaper. I was here for eight months. I then joined RKS (a large Indian Company) while still retaining my Resp-Art job. Effectively, I was earning two salaries. In RKS I worked for one full year before I quit and joined TET.


From here I joined AAA (a modest start-up). The office which was at Nariman Point soon relocated to Khar, if memory serves me right. With the new location they also changed their name to RC. It was the Art Director’s name but I was credited with it. My denials were fervently ignored. I ended up getting approval for something I had never done. 


One day, my mother who was alive then said someone called S had called. I scratched my head wondering who it was. He had left his mobile number. I called up and we soon identified each other. It was a ghost from the past. He had set up an agency called TM (a new start-up) and was looking for a writer. He went through my work and professed interest. So, I soon shifted to TM where I worked for about one year.


The purpose of giving these not so relevant to others but relevant to me kind of detail is to share the fact that I had a perfectly normal, simple, balanced and secure childhood. I grew up in one of the most happening cities of the world, Mumbai, and had no stress or challenges or abuses or traumas of any kind while growing up or as a grown-up adult. I had the best of work opportunities and jobs.


Right through these jobs of mine I never had any instance of any illness. I was perfectly fine. 





 


MEMORIES OF ANOTHER DAY


The First Whispers


For me it started outside Minerva Theatre, a cinema hall, when I thought someone was talking to me, whispering something in my ear. On the opposite side of the road there was a wall with a Lord Ganesh painting on it. I bowed my head in front of the picture, than left for home. I didn’t feel any special feeling of reverence. This was the way I was brought up. 


This was soon followed by another such episode. I heard someone say “Bitch” in my ear outside Jaslok Hospital. I was shocked. I shook my head in disbelief. Inside the hospital facing the road were two life-sized statues of Radha and Krishna, the undying symbols of eternal love for every Hindu. I had specifically stopped to look at them when I heard this epithet whispered in my ear. Further, I don’t like the word ‘Bitch’. It’s highly derogatory of women.


What did I go through? Well. These were some of the thoughts I went through. Just disbelief and shock. I could not understand anything. 


There is a Ganesh idol near my house. I used to prostrate myself. I was not the only one. There were others too who did it. On some days of the week, the idol was bedecked with garlands. Be that as it may, I was soon actively discouraged from doing so by my family members. Facing such acute disapproval, I stopped. 


Why did I not share this?


How could I and with whom? What would I share if I myself did not understand what was happening to me?   


Right through I felt helpless, speechless, and powerless. I was like a calf being taken to a butcher for slaughter. Very early I realized that I had no one to share my nightmare with. My mother was alive then and she too expressed her displeasure towards my actions of seeking solace in my prostrations. I started feeling that no one would understand me.


I was then taken to a Dr. M (Psychiatrist) who prescribed medication. There were no actual feelings. None at all. I just sat silently while my youngest brother did all the talking. I was in a numbed state, completely confused. I took all that was being done to me in an acute state of disbelief. I do not remember much of what was discussed with the doctor. I do not remember as to what symptoms or reasons were discussed that day. My mind was a total blank. 


The feeling of frustration was immense. I had plans in my mind which I could not realize. They were like castles in the air but without a foundation. I was pushing back to the best of my abilities but to no avail. The pills were a big part of the problem. Everything would go fuzzy and grey and I would just rest my head against the desk and go into a stupor.


When I think of it today, I get a feeling that the doctors and even my family members may have looked at the issue in a clinical manner and not understood things happening to me. They may not have been able to understand my emotions and my feelings. They could not empathize with me in the true sense. 


The fact remains we are siblings, born to the same parents. We shared common experiences. Our memory bank of many an incident was the same. And yet, when they had to choose, they chose an outsider – a counselor or a doctor. This came as a shock to me. I felt as if the bond holding us together was weakening. And I was being left alone. I was being abandoned.



...To Be Continued

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