Sunday, 29 October 2017

Loneliness - The Silent Painful Universal Phenomenon

She enters a room and is alone, but she is happy. Another girl enters a different room, where there are  a few people in it, but this girl feels absolutely lost, anxious and disconnected with everything around her. 

How can that be? Its a typical, happy, social situation, right?  
Guess Not!
Psychologically these two girls are experiencing very different emotions. One girl is just ‘physically alone’ but the other is experiencing ‘psychological’ and ‘emotional’ signs which are very hazardous to health.

What is about loneliness that drains a person so much? Why is happiness so difficult to attain or rather to sustain?

Loneliness is a complex and rather unpleasant emotional response to being alone- or rather being isolated or in a constant lack of contact between the society and other individuals. There are many different reasons why a person could feel lonely and it could all be a mixture of social, emotional, mental and physical factors.  

“When you're surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you're by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don't feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you're really alone.” 

We all have the need to connect with other people but most often; many of us go home alone. Of course there can be many positive people surrounding you throughout the day or you could even be in a lifelong marriage but that deep, pervasive itch of loneliness may still be there.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” 
Mother Teresa

Loneliness has been a topic of concern for many years and decades. Just stop and think about it, for a minute; we are constantly, desiring, more positive experiences and that itself is a negative experience.

“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” 
Jodi PicoultMy Sister's Keeper

This is exactly what Alan Watts’s, the philosopher had used to refer to the backward law.- an idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time the less satisfied you become; as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. It has always been of concern to the society, “how to be lead a happy life”, “how to strengthen intimate bonds, etc.      

A lot of research has been conducted about loneliness and has even been described as a ‘social pain’ where it is referred to as a psychological mechanism that is in fact meant to motivate an individual to seek out social connections. If we were to rephrase this it would be the unpleasant experience that occurs when a person's network of social relations is deficient in some important way.

There is a lot to talk about loneliness as it is very often miscontrued to being ‘alone’ or ‘being socially isolated’. When we talk about the feeling of loneliness we refer to the the necessary and achieved levels of social interaction; while the later refers to the lack of contact with people. The whole experience of loneline can be a very subjective experience for a person to go through.

There are severe affects of loneliness on a person’s mental health and well-being. Besides erratic sleep quality, a person suffering from loneliness can fall into deep depression and even be at a risk of suicide. For others, there are possibilities of becoming antisocial, self-destructive, hostile, aggressive, experience social alienation and all of this can leave negative impacts on the memory and learning abilities of th person.

In order to get the appropriate treatment it is important to understand why you or the person is suffering from loneliness. There are many different reasons. Some of them could be:
  • New situation loneliness- where a person has either just moved to a new city or started a new job and they don't know anyone.            
  • I’m Different loneliness: You perhaps feel very different from the people around you. Sometimes it is very hard to connect with other people especially when you don't share common likings.
  • No-sweetheart Loneliness:  You may have a wonderful family and a good set of friends, but if you don't have the intimate attachment of a romantic partner, you could feel lonely. Maybe you do have a partner but you don't feel the deep connection anymore. This can be extremely stressful and a person can be very lonely within.
  • No animal loneliness: Pets can sometimes be your best friends and people have a lot of attachment towards them. If there is a situation in life where you cannot have the ‘pet’ or animal’ it can lead to a lot of traumatic feelings and feelings of loneliness.
  • Untrustworthy friends Loneliness: Sometimes, life can move in unexpected directions. It can be slow at times and extremely fast. All you can do is just be a passenger. Sometimes you may even doubt your own friends and lose your ability to confide in them. When that happens it can be really hard because it gets lonely.
  • Quiet Presence Loneliness: Its odd isn’t it, that someone who is quiet can affect your life so much when they are gone?  Do you remember that person sitting in the corner while you were with your friends at the other table? It could be anyone, right from a family member, a roommate, a neighbour or just about anyone.                        
  • No-time-for-me Loneliness: Life is all about meeting new people and making new friends, right? However, sometimes it becomes really tough especially when the opposite person is not open to move from the ‘just friendly’ to ‘friends’ part. It can make you feel very lonely within as you can see all your other friends happy with their friends but you cannot connect with others.                    

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Depression is not a sign of weakness. Its a sign of trying to remain strong for far too long.

“I’m feeling, happy; wait that's just a lie I tell myself. I’m honestly feeling empty, isolated, confused and I don't know who I should trust in life.”

This is a tiny  glance into the life of a person suffering from depression. Its hard to admit things, especially when it comes to our mental health, isn't it? Depression is not a small fluctuation in our mood but a constant of low mood and aversion towards any type of activity. In fact the person suffering from depression doesn't even realise but his thoughts, feelings, behaviour and sense of well being are all getting affected.

 It’s common to feel sad, anxious, worried and even empty when you are in such a state.  While it is very normal to feel down once in a awhile, if you are perpetually sad most of the time then it probably means you have clinical depression. You may have to seek treatment for the same and talk to a therapist and perhaps make some adjustments and changes in your lifestyle.

The different types of depression are:

Major Depression: As indicated by the name this type of depression is severe. If a person experiences depression on most of the days then the depression is called ‘major depression’. Of course, there will also be side effects or symptoms that will also accompany this. Some of them include feeling worthless or even guilty, having sudden weight loss or gains, having loss of interest or pleasure in activities, having trouble falling asleep or even feeling sleepy during the day, having thoughts of suicide, having trouble concentrating or making decisions and feeling agitated and restless all the time; or otherwise sluggish and slowed down mentally or physically.

Anti-depressants, after being properly prescribed by a mental health physician can help out in addition to regular therapy. Although its rare, if the medication and therapy is not working the doctor may suggest:
·       Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
·       Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)

Persistent Depressive Disorder: Depression is most often a chronic problem many people face. When a person suffers from depression for over 2 years or more it is known as persistent depressive disorder. Why this name? It's a combination between two conditions that were previously known as dysthymia (lo-grade persistent depression) and chronic major depression. Common symptoms for this type include: feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, lack of energy or fatigue, either sleeping too MUCH or sleeping too LITTLE, trouble making decisions and concentrating and changes in appetite (i.e. not eating enough or over-eating). This type of depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy or even a combination of the two. 

Bipolar Disorder: Swinging from highs of mania to lows of depression, bipolar disorder can be very difficult to not only diagnose but also can be of four types: When a person is in the low phase they will experience all of the symptoms of major depression, but when they are in the high energy- manic phase they experience all the symptoms of mania.

The 7 main signs of mania include:

1)     A feeling of being too happy or high – for long, extended periods of time
2)     Showing a decreased requirement for sleep
3)     Speaking very quickly, often with thoughts raving in fast forward
4)     Feelings of impulsivity and restlessness
5)     Feelings of Distractibility
6)     Exhibiting overconfidence in one’s abilities
7)     Engaging in risky behaviour

The 7 main signs of depression include:

1) Feelings of hopelessness and sadness for long, extended periods of time
2)     Withdrawing from family and friends
3)     Losing all interest in activities that were once ‘enjoyed’
4)     Feelings of lack of energy for no apparent reason and severe fatigue
5)     Changes in appetite
6)     Facing problems with concentration, memory and decision making
7)     Having thoughts of suicide or preoccupations of thoughts of death

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Seasonal Affective Disorder is a period of depression that strangely occurs most often during winter season (winter months). This is the time when days are shorter and the nights are longer; but what is most important to note is that the amount of sunlight that a person gets becomes less and less.  Although this type of depression usually goes away in the spring or summer, if needed anti-depressants – after being prescribed by a physician can help. Light therapy can also help where you have to sit in front of a special bright light box for about 15- 30 minutes EACH DAY!

Psychotic Depression: An extremely serious mood disorder, which requires hospitalisation people with psychotic depression have all the symptoms of depression IN ADDITION to psychosis. Psychosis is a LOSS of CONTACT WITH REALITY. It includes delusions, hallucinations, and false beliefs about what is taking place or who a person is. In short, a person sees, hears, smells and even believes things that ARE NOT real. This type of depression is extremely dangerous as it can cause people to become suicidal.

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression (PMDD): Women who have major depression in the weeks and months after childbirth may be at the risk of facing Peripartum depression. The only way to treat this is by antidepressants, similar to treating major depression. The woman at this time will also experience many other symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, trouble in concentrating and feelings of being overwhelmed.However, oral contraceptive and antidepressant medications can treat PMDD.

Situational Depression: Have you ever heard of something like this? Known to not even be a technical term in psychiatry, a persona can have a depressed mood when they face a specific stressful event in their life – such as a death a death in the family, losing a job, a divorce, etc. It may also be known as “stress response syndrome”. The only solution for this is psychotherapy, which will help the person cope with the stressful situation/event.

Atypical Depression: Known to be a subtype of major depression/dysthymic disorder, atypical depression involves a number of symptoms such as an increased appetite or weight gain, marked fatigue or weakness, excessive sleep, moods that are strongly reactive to environmental circumstances, feeling of heaviness in your arms and legs and oversensitive to criticism


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Would You Feel The Same if it Were a Homeless Child?

Did you ever realise that homeless animals outnumber homeless people and the main reason animals are even in shelters is because their owners gave up on them OR animal control authorities found them on the street?

Do you even know how many stray cats and dogs are killed every year JUST because the shelters are too full or there just aren’t enough adoptive homes? It’s pretty sad, isn’t it?

In India, the Animal Welfare Board of India is the statutory advisory board advising the Government and was established as early as 1962. However, this was only under a section of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960. There was a lot of cruelty involved when animals were used for entertainment purposes.

This cruelty- to bring to your attention included animal abuse, animal neglect in both the unintentional and intentional infliction by humans upon animals. Specifically it meant causing harm or suffering to the animal in order to achieve some human gains such as for food or fur and often can be encompassed in zoo sadism (pleasure derived from cruelty to animals).             

Animal Welfare is a very important topic in current times, It refers to the state by which the animal receives treatment. This also includes animal careanimal husbandry, and humane treatment.The protection of an animals welfare basically means providing for his/her physical and mental needs.

Although, it has not yet become a global phenomena, the welfare of animals is gaining a lot of importance in India. There are is a substantial rise in the number of volenteers who support NGO’s for the welfare of animals.

In fact, The Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of to Animals was set up as early as 1874. This charitable organisation also includes the Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals. Ever since it came into existence its main purpose has been to prevent any form of cruelty to animals and to provide relief and help to all animals in Mumbai city. It is an animal hopital that is accessible around the clock (24 hours) and treats about 400 animals PER DAY! (and these are all different species). Mumbai is full of animal welfare organisations to rescue different types of animals. From dogs to cats, bird, owls, turtles, horses, rabbits, ducks, parrots, etc.       

Animal cruelty is an especially common problem in India and animal welfar organisations are constanlty getting calls on a daily basis to report animals in distress. Animals too CAN feel pain, how we humans feel pain. However, they are yet tortured, maimed, illegally bred and poisoned. If you cant be a paren to an animal, cant you think of being a foster parent instead? Fostering an animal just means that you are temporarily taking care of the rescued animal untill they find a permanent home. This time duration can last from a few days to a few months, all depending on the medical condition of the animal or the time it takes to find a loving home.         

 Some of the Top Animal Shelters in Mumbai are:

1)     Animals Matter to Me (AMTM)- an NGO in Mumbai, India committed to the welfare of stray dogs, cats, birds and all kinds of species.

2)     The Welfare of Stray Dogs – The Welfare of Stray Dogs is a Mumbai-based organization working to eradicate rabies and control the street-dog population in a humane, scientific way.

3)     Peta India: This is a welfare organisation PETA India that operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment, while educating policymakers and the public about animal abuse and promoting an understanding of the right of all animals to be treated with respect.

4)     World For All Animal Care & Adoptions is a registered Mumbai-based animal welfare NGO that has revolutionised the model of stray animal adoptions. It has homed over 7500 stray animals, conducted the sterilisations for over 9000 and attended to over 10,000 emergency medical aid calls. 

5)     Awaaz- Voice of Stray Animals: It is an organisation run by Amit Pathak. He has been working for he welfare of animals actively rescuing more than hundreds of injured/wounded/ill animals, which include dogs, cats, and on few occasions large animals such as cattle and donkey. He started his work as a volunteer and today has registered his own ngo-Awaaz Voice of Stray Animals to help animals in distress .  Most of his work is spent in helping the animals from the slums and industrial areas of Mumbai, which has negligible amount of awareness - 'About Animal Welfare'.  With Awaaz Voice of Stray Animals, he hopes to help in spreading awareness about animal welfare, sensitizing people and provide medical help to the animals- free of cost.

6)   ALAS - Animal Lovers Association Society : Founded in 2004, this organisation was formed to help stray animals in distress between Mira Road to Bandra in Suburban Mumbai. This organisation also runs a mobile clinic that is equipped with emergency drugs and medical equipment.

7)   Ahimsa Hospital: Ahimsa Is a non-profit body that works right at the grass-root level with stray animals to ensure their safety and well-being. This NGO alone has been able to save over 100,000 innocent lives and also the sterilisation of 26,000 strays which has helped to make the city healthier not just for the animals but for humans as well!

8)  Indian National Kennel Club (NKC): This NGO was founded in 1957. Its motto is “Dogs for a Good Life ... A Good Life for Dogs". The organisation registers pure-bred dogs and litters, maintains records of dog’s pedigrees and issues necessary certifications of dog registration and transfer of ownership. Dog shows, workshops and seminars are all held whenever necessary. The main purpose of this NGO is to inform, educate and empower the general dog owner and hobbyist-breeder to have a better understanding of their dog and establish a mutually fulfilling relationship between them.  

9)     In Defence of Animals (IDA), India, Mumbai

IDA,  India was started as a non profit in on the 31st of October, 1996 in Mumbai. It initially started as a project aiming at neutering spay street dogs. Besides this it also is dedicated towards establishing and even defending many rights of non-human living creatures. 

    10) Karuna for Animals in Distress: This registered charitable NGO  works for the welfare of mute and innocent animals. Animals too can suffer the same way we humans can suffer and that is why they are mute in the first place. It was set up in 1999 and has made relentless efforts to improve the standard amd quality of animals rights and their care. Vans operate in areas from Bandra to Dahisar, Mulund to Chembur and has a head office in Andheri. As said by this organisation, its not that animals cant communicate, we need ti know their language!.  
Another very important NGO worth mentioning is the AIAWA - All India Animal Welfare Association.
Besides JUST MUMBAI, there are plenty of other places across India that are wonderful shelters for animals – GIVING THEM a HOME that they DESERVE!

These include:

1) People for Animals, New Delhi
People for Animals, also known as PFA, is India's largest animal welfare organisation with a nationwide network of 26 hospitals, 165 units and 2.5 lakh members. Coincidently PFA is also on the Film and Censor Board of India to check animal abuse in films and has in fact successfully filed cases against films that misuse animals.

2) Animal Air Unlimited, Rajasthan

Three people founded this shelter and sactuary in Udaipur: Erika, Jum and Clair Abrams-Myers. Having lived in India for 15 years now they have also started Animal Aid Unlimited, upon witnessing the shocking and startling conditions of the animals over there. 

In 2003, they opened the Animal Aid Hospital and this grew rapidly in the area, leading to the treatment of over 50,000 animals by 2015. They have volunteers from across the world who give their time towards this cause.

3) Charlie’s Animal Rescue Center (CARE), Bengaluru:
    An organisation that was started with the main purpose of housing, rehabilitating, re-homing and even giving imely medical aid to abandoned and stray animals, this organisation provides 24 hour veterinary care. 

Some of the services offered here are impatient facilities and adoption of cats and dogs, ambulance services and a medical center which is currently being built that will consist of an operation theatre, an OPD, x-ray and scanning facilities for stray animals.

4) Blue Cross of India, Chennai

The Blue Cross of India is perhaps one of the country’s most recognised animal welfar organisations abnd also one of the first of the new genre of organisations to look after the welfare of ALL kinds of animals. It is home to all kinds of creatures that have been abandoned, injured, abused or disabled. This organisation alone has been able to rescue, treat and save a whopping number of animals and birds since 1964!

5) Friendicoes, New Delhi

This animal welfar NGO has taking care and saving homless lives of animals for over thirty five years for Gurgaon and Delhi. Due to a massive financial crunch, this NGO was in the news  last year.       

6) The Bombay Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals (BSPCA)Mumbai

This charitable organisation is a one of kind in India. It has been running for over 134 years now and its purpose is to prevent cruelty to animals and provide relief and help to ALL animals in Mumbai city. This animal hospital works around the clock, 24 hours and treats approximately over 1000 animals every year. 

Some of these animals include owls, vultures, geese, turtles, horses, monkeys, dogs, emus, different species of birds, etc. In addition to this, they have started their own new projects such as an ICU, a blood bank, a cardiac centre, an animal birth control centre, an electric crematorium and a shelter for ownerless animals.

7)  Debasree Roy Foundation, Kolkatta

An NGO, which started since 2009 DRF is a registred NGO that aspires to establish a good relation between animals and humans by bringing them closer through comprehensive adoption programs and awareness camps against animal cruelty. DRF is concerned with rescuing sick or injured dogs and giving them new homes. In fact, making sure that these animals are vaccinated and healhy is a very important goal of DRF

8) The Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre (SGACC), New Delhi

This NGO is India’s oldest and in fact Delhi’s largest animal shelter. Being an ‘all-animal’ shelter that was founded in 1980 it also happens to be Asia’s largest one also! It is home to over 3000 different animals at any given point of time. There are also OPD clinics, special care units, modern dental care, operation theatres and many other units. Its main purpose is to provide the wounded, sick and abandoned animals with food, shelter, medication, safety, kindness and care for as long as they require it.

9) Visakha Society For The Protection and Care For Animals (VSPCA), Andhra Pradesh

Animals are very often abused and misused for all the wrong reasons. One of those reasons, being illegal trade. The Visakha Society For The Protection And Care For Animals came into exitence in 1996 to stop the illegal trade in internationally-protected sea turtles, recue water buffaloes and cows that are too old or injured to be kept by their previous owners. It also provides a permanent happy sanctuary to the hundreds of cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, tortoises, ducks and other animals who have been suffering sever abuse and neglect.

10) Posh Foundation, Uttar Pradesh

A shelter and treatment centre for animals in Noida, Uttar Pradesh the Posh Foundation is an India-based NGO thatis actively based in animal awareness related issues and has a very strong vision of working for a world where all humans respect and live in harmony with other members of the animal kingdom.