There is a lot of pain in this world. Each of us encounters it in different ways. Either we suffer or we see close ones suffer. Be it a simple jerk on the funnybone, migraine, gangrene, cancer, appendicitis or a simple harmless toothache. I have seen people sympathize and try to help the sufferers. And then I think, I know most people will consider my comment too gross, but I think, how lucky the pain bearers are, their injuries are visible to the world. They get help without asking. They are understood if they cry. They are understood if they’re rude. They are understood if they’re bitter towards circumstances and life. They are understood. That is why they are lucky.
There’s a whole plethora of illnesses that are not visible. Injuries that are not seen. They too cause deaths. But those deaths are blamed on a weakness of a troubled mind or a screwed up life. How many of us sit back and think, what a person might have gone through when he/she decides to end this one entity that solely belongs to him/her? I am no expert on psychology neither psychiatry. I am just another person who has suffered from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and clinical depression. I am no authority on statistics of what percentage of people suffer from this or what is the age at which it starts or nation wise or occupation wise what the numbers are.
I am one of maybe a million who face it each day and honestly I am not interested in knowing the medical details for now. All I know is Obsession is one hell of a virus (metaphorically) to have in the mind. Sometimes I wish I were a dumb idiot. Its something that requires intelligence.
Enter the mind of an obsessed person and you’ll find a whole lot of confusion, imagination, fear, conjectures, ifs, what ifs. Imagine you have a needle in your hand. You know you’ll prick yourself if you push that needle in your finger tip and you also know it’ll hurt. But even then you do it. Not once, not twice, again and again. Only thing is, here the needle is the thought and the pricking happens in the mind. It could be anything.
Most articles quote people who cannot stop washing their hands, or washing the kitchen platform or mopping the floor. Why do they do it? Isn’t there an element of integrity, don’t they know that if they’re seen doing it, people will look at them oddly and think they’re mad? They’re rational enough to know it. They’re even human enough to feel the pain, but they do not have the power to stop. This needle prick could be anything. As a kid, when I was seven, an age most children won’t even remember, I once borrowed a fellow girl’s new watch in the class and while we were all experimenting with its various buttons I pressed one that changed the display from time to date. The girl started crying, thinking I had spoilt her new watch and she would be scolded. The teacher scolded all of us. And I kept crying, thinking about the girl, the scolding she might get and the watch I had supposedly destroyed, for almost ten days, each night, till my mother convinced me that nothing of the sort had actually happened. In my third standard, I once forgot to do my homework and got a remark in the school diary. Its normal, its hurting for an over sincere kid, but from then on, till the end of the year I used to go to a shop near my house to call a friend to confirm the homework each evening, as we didn’t have a phone at my place.
I was always in fear. Some fear, some insecurity. I never confidently said ‘Yes, it’s this’ or ‘No its not that’, even for simple questions. I always began with a ‘ I think so but I am not sure’ . Many of you reading this might just think , ‘well so what’ each kid has some problem. But think again, these were the minuscule things that no one noticed but that made me into what I am today. It took away my confidence, my spirit of enjoyment, my ability to laugh out loud, to be carefree, to be guilt less. At the age of nine, I could not eat in a restaurant without feeling guilty and sad for the poor homeless kids outside. People thought I will grow up and get over this ‘evangelistic spirit’ but it ruined all my outings. When I was thirteen , I gave a packet of dicloran tablets to a senior on a basketball trip as he had a muscle pull, and he happened to take two of them. The next day he played, we traveled back home and then I worried almost for six months each evening of whether that extra medicine would have caused him some problem later. I tried to contact him in several ways, pushed my parents into doing that. Still years later when I think of it, I get a spasm of guilt that I might have killed him with a dicloran. I would keep crying, in the assembly, in the class room, during practices, while cycling. I can list a whole lot of such events, but that is not my intention.
Today I am at a pretty good institute, doing a pretty good job, with a life that can be called a slow and steady success. But it has taken a hell lot of effort, and in the end, I am still not happy. I still don’t have friends and a social circle like most 25 year olds would have. I still pick up on tiny issues and blow them up in my head.
The point I want to make through this article is that, there are many people who undergo OCD and depression. What I have seen most people do, both educated friends and family alike, is to outcast these people. Tag them with a name, an identity. These people are not necessarily unhappy permanently. They go through waves of intense unhappiness and fear. They act differently from the others. They pursue a thought or an action with vengeance. But they also need understanding, because they are hurting. You can’t expect kids to accept them, but as elders, as family, they should be made to feel comfortable, encouraged to talk out their fears. Its like a toothache, or a migraine. Only difference is it cannot be seen.
Since years, I have made it a point to talk about this with my friends. Some of them understand, some scoff at it saying there’s nothing like depression, its only the strength of will power that’s weak. But that is untrue. Recently, I was reading on what causes OCD and there’s a scientific explanation to why those urges happen, why you can’t control the repetitive and irrational thoughts. Depression is different. It may or may not have a biological reason to it. It may be circumstantial. But nevertheless, it’s a disease.
Our society does not recognize mental ailments for being just plain diseases. People are very easily classified as ‘Mad’ or ‘Weird’ , whereas, their problem might be as simple as a common cold or fever’s equivalent in the mind. All of us come across such people, very simply putting, the character of Monica in the series Friends is most of this. We tend to make fun of such people. But this should be stopped. It may not be lethal but it is definitely life changing. I had the good luck of having a very strong willed, sensible and educated family, who understood what the disease is. I did face ridicule from friends. I do resent that. But I am one of the lucky ones who had a family backing. Many have good friends, but many don’t have anyone. It would be good if the next time you come across a person whom you think is a little different in ways and thoughts, instead of judging and categorizing that person, try to see the good, the struggle and the pain within, and try to be a little more understanding. He/She might not have a migraine, but the pain nevertheless is very much there.