Friday, May 18, 2012

Help Available For The Asking

This post was a direct result of reading a fellow-blogger Sindhuja’s Post on transitions in life here:

Sindhuja is blogging about the fag end of her college life, just before her farewell party and talks about how hard it is for her to leave college and the fear she has for her future. Something which will strike a chord with every one of us. Is there anyone of us who has not gone through these same universal fears and doubts? Right from the time we left our warm and safe mother’s womb for a hostile life outside we have been taking risks and surviving. We learned to crawl and then we left the safety of our balanced hugging of the floor to get up and sway on two legs, un-balanced and then to walk. Every time we walk or run remember that if you can accomplish that with absolutely no prior experience or guidance, then you can accomplish anything else that life throws at you.

Sinduja also discusses her doubts about her career and future path. Hey, ask me about it if you want to talk to someone who was totally confused about career and life. When they sent me out of that college with a paper in my hand certifying me competent enough to treat patients I was petrified with fear. Did they really think I could do it alone? What were they smoking? And who was going to save the patients from me? These and other doubts plagued me initially before I realized that if I had to learn to swim I had to take the plunge. There was no other option left- if I wasn’t going to waste 5 years of hard work. I plunged into the deep end of the pool and today I can hold my own among some of the best swimmers in the business. But remember however far you come the work is never done. Success is not a linear experience, you will be made to take little twists, turns and by-ways (take diversion, anyone?). But as long as you are travelling in the overall direction you want to go you will eventually get there someday. I have been plagued by all the doubts that Sinduja professes and I have to an extent, successfully conquered them. And I have written this to tell her (and others) about it- that she is not alone with these doubts. She is neither the first nor the last person to fear for her future. But hey, half the fun is in not knowing what the morrow might bring. It’s what makes you jump out of the bed to find out what the day brings newly to you. 

I realized this most poignantly when I was volunteering with a suicide prevention counseling center, manning the phones to talk to students mainly, as the center personal felt that I was not competent enough to counsel people with marital problems who were suicidal. So I got the kids, the students who considered that failure in an exam, one exam, as the greatest tragedy in the universe, an event which cannot ever be redeemed in this lifetime. They were ready to throw it all away for a few lousy marks and it was my job to convince them in a few minutes of the utter stupidity of their decision, regardless of my empathy for them and their situation. I ended up having one of the highest success rates of the volunteers simply because I told every student caller that I too was a failure in exams and that hadn’t destroyed my life, on the contrary I was living it up now. It wasn’t the truth, but hey what’s a little white lie when it is a question of saving lives. That little statement – that no failure is permanent and that we always get a second chance in life, helped me save more lives than any other trained psychiatrist or counselor with that NGO. I also reminded them that they had made the brave decision of asking for help first. And that they need to figure out why (or if) they might be blaming the world for something that isn't the world's fault. And if you can break it then you can also fix it, was my oft-repeated piece of advice for them.

And if there is one thing I cannot stress enough to my friends (slapping my forehead in frustration) is when you need it or want it- just ask for help. Believe me, I know that asking for help is sometimes tough when either our pride or what goes for self-esteem inside us absolutely forbids sharing our situation or problems or even just our loneliness with others. I have been there and felt like that and I have kept my problems to myself – brooding over them in silence and bitterness. But then I have also opened up myself- to some of the least likeliest persons to do so (it seemed then) and I was astonished by the amount of understanding and insight they possessed in my specialized areas of misery and at the least with the enormous amount of sympathy they passed on to me. I have been truly enriched by those experiences and felt connected with the universe on such times. It’s hard to explain with my rudimentary understanding of sub-atomic physics but as quantum physics at the sub-atomic level tells us – we are all connected by quarks and muons to one another and to the entire known universe. You are not alone. If there is just one take home message from this post this is it.

There is nothing unique about you or me. And likewise there is nothing unique about what happens to you or what you are going through throughout history millions of people have gone through pretty similar experiences and they survived it by sometimes hard work and sometimes blind luck. But they survived and so can you. It’s especially easier to do so nowadays in this interconnected world of ours – where people are just a click away- than in the past millennia where you had to travel to even talk to another person. So call, chat, talk, message...But connect with others- don’t sever yourself away and don’t mourn in private. You never know when an epiphany will strike you- when the seemingly impossible odds will dwindle into merely manageable.  And by chance, every now and then, you will experience a new kind of focus that brings it all together and makes you realize what you're doing and why. Something which will bring that sense of purpose back into the light and let you see your own way out of whatever afflicts you.

So hesitate not, ask. Somehow, from somewhere the universe will bring you your answer. Have faith. 

(p.s.. The Ad Logo in the picture says it all- you have to be ready to face life’s many challenges’ to win)


  1. Brilliant post. Hats off to you, counsellor. :)

    call, chat, talk, message...But connect with others- don’t sever yourself away
    Now I know where to go in case of an emergency. ;)


    1. Sure V...if i can be there when no one else is there for you..its my duty as another human being to do so....welcome

  2. enjoyed the post and its encouragement. new to your blog. it would be nice to have some way to follow it, either through a google friendconnect widget or through an rss reader. it will help your readers to get automatic updates on new posts.

    1. Welcome to the blog subhorup....glad you liked this post. and yes, your suggestions are very sensible..till now i have kept its a niche blog for just my friends and after years i have just started opening it up for general i am pretty new to this connecting thing..will check out how it works and do the needful soon. again thanks for dropping by.

  3. :) Ganesh, with each new post, I see more and more of how much of insight and ideas you have there with you...and of course, the novel experiences; counseling at a suicide center? Wow! I mean, of course, you dint do it for the wow thing but

    Thanks for the post. Very useful but I have to confess that the 'everyone has gone through this' dint go too well with me. For some reason, I felt a bit nice to make into a personal memoir...:D

  4. Aww Sinduja!!! i just cant catch a break can i? without tasting my shoe leather in my mouth? And it partly your fault- you have set the bar soo high for the rest of us poor bloggers that in trying to reach up to your heights, we overreach and fall flat on our faces. In my defence i can only say (and how long can i keep saying this?) that i am pretty new to blogging and its nuances (and its rules, regulations, by-rules and commandments) that if i make an error its purely out of ignorance and not intentional. as always- lesson learned and i will make a print-out of your comment and past it on the wall beside my computer to remind me next time that i try to attempt a personal memoir- not to say "everyone has gone through this".. and if you feel the apology is not enough, i can buy you a drink whenever you happen to pass by my hometown chennai, fair?