A young lady in suburban Mumbai, ended her life last week by jumping off her balcony. She left behind two children, no older than 6, who don’t yet know how to mourn and a husband in deep disbelief. She was, I am told, someone fighting a pre-existing psychological condition.
A period of lockdown is hard for all of us in general. When we are forced to huddle together and figure out ways to deal with what is being thrown at us, often we do not look beyond the surface. We find it easier to get frustrated than to try harder to find that silver lining shining from within… the one that shows us how lucky we are… how we are in a much better place than a million others across the globe… We have a place to call home, a family that is safe and with us, a healthy body and an unimpaired mind.
And yet, we pick holes in it, we despair and feel dispirited. We worry about petty things and grumble about having too much to do… Enough. Let us pause here. Let us pause and look beyond ourselves. Now is the time.
Think about those who do not have the luxury to think like most of us can… those who have always feared being crowded around; or those who have been told… “Step out, take a walk when things get overwhelming” but cannot do that now; those who are dealing with Major Depression, Generalised Anxiety disorders, or people who may be anthropophobic or have other psychological concerns… who experience every fear more intensely and feel extremely unsettled during difficult times like these, much more than one can imagine… so much more…
A lot of us are now either stuck alone in our temporary residences or losing sleep over our loved ones being hapless and unattended to, to say the least. But for those with an existing psychiatric morbidity issue, this period of lockdown and a pandemic looming large over us is far more overwhelming than it is for most others.
How do we help them? Some of us know those with psychiatric issues, some of us don’t, but all of us have friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, teachers, students, staff, helpers – some old, some young, some social, some asocial, some we have always stayed in touch with, some we haven’t met in years… and yet, to them all, we can all do two things that can help.
1. Check on them.
2. Be kind.
We do not need to counsel them. All we need to do is look out for them. If they don’t sound all there, then seek out for support on their behalf…maybe they are unable to do it themselves. Show that we care and can help them find a way if they are feeling frightened. If it is your immediate family that is hurting then be gentle with them, be patient when they become testy...be kind when they seem enraged. And for everyone else in your circle, physical distancing need not translate to zero communication; not in this age of instant connectivity. A call is all it takes... all that is required. A call of reassurance or sometimes a call just to check. We don’t realize how much a call, or a message means to those who find it difficult to believe that they matter. What a smile or a bell ringing can do to the minds of those who are ready to give up… That is all we need to do…Be supportive... Send a note of kindness…Make a call of love.
Help fight loneliness and despair. Be kind. Be aware. Reach out. Be that friend you always wished you had. People may forget what you did for them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. I read this somewhere as a child… now I know that no truer words were ever spoken!
Care… because that is the best way to give back.
Care… because you just might be saving a life that way.