Thursday, March 8, 2012

SUMAITRI -A NEW LEASE OF LIFE

Depression is horrifying. People kill themselves, unable to face immeasurable grief. If there were a reason for grief it would make the process of healing easier. But this causeless, without reason grief which persists despite everything, is in short ubiquitous is highly damaging. It erodes self esteem, depletes the will to live and makes life insipid, meaningless and empty.

About an year and a half back i had a similar experience. The exiguity of life became increasingly palpable because i was just recovering from a suicide attempt, my fourth. The physical experience of having my stomach pumped, yet again and the attendant coma was disquieting but the grief, pain and emptiness i felt were unbearable. To succeed in killing yourself denotes closure but a failed suicide tag dogs you for life subjecting one to unwelcome, prurient, sanctimonious speculations. It is difficult for me to convey the act of killing myself without an underlying reason but this underscores the harsh reality of depression. A chemical imbalance that could have such ramifications is inconceivable.


I shut myself from the world, enclosing myself, seemingly inviolable but vulnerable. Worried family members and relatives kept making meaninglessly anodyne statements about cheering up, meeting friends, being social. Only a depressed person would know how inadequate these aphorisms are because the guilt of not carrying out these encomiums is exacerbated in inverse proportion to their ineffectiveness as palliatives. I was increasingly empty, just floating, frequently suicidal, oftentimes violent and very reclusive and introverted. I was seeing a therapist at that time whose useless ministrations compounded my misery. He had asked me to maintain a mood chart. The problem with psychotherapy, as i realized, was its essential dogmatism. Operating on presuppositions the mechanisms it expounded conformed more to a universal, representative type than an actual flesh and blood mentally ill person.

One day, violently suicidal i sat with a blade before my wrists, desirous of finality but subliminally aware of yet another failed attempt. Some well meaning friend had left a brochure of an NGO called sumaitri which had a 24 hour suicide prevention facility. I called up and sat wordlessly. The person on the other side, seeing me unforthcoming, didn't keep the phone down. He merely said 'we are there'.

The next day my mom took me to them for therapy. I distinctly remember a kind woman sitting before me and i wept continuously for four hours. Grief, dammed up, contained burst forth. She didn't say a single thing but let the storm tide over. But the wordless sympathy, the fact that a person cared me irrespective of everything else alleviated the misery somewhat. The pallid, lukewarm compassion of my therapists was a dessicated substitute for this simple being there. I saw that social worker only once but i know she's there, somewhere, whenever i need her or her organization.

Since then i've had my share of depressions and manic episodes, even another major suicide attempt. But the insidious dark has now, since then, always been laced with hope. If i've plumbed ominous depths i've also held on to the tenuous, evanescent iridescent kernel of happiness which i know will help me cope, survive and live to tell the tale.