Depression is a mental illness, not a weakness.

“How could someone so strong get into a depression?”

Have you ever felt that way for a friend, family or your own self?

I was bouncing in joy, just about to deliver my baby, exactly 3 years ago. That was the day I imagined holding a bundle of joy and posing for all the beautiful mommy pictures inspired by social media super moms.

I delivered. The much anticipated moment was right there. Overjoyed to get back home from the hospital, we started our parenting journey. The three of us and a beautiful home. It felt perfect.

Around her 25th day, I sat on the couch, felt a sudden bout of anxiety in the head and a tremble in the hands. My newborn escaped her first fall! Her dad was right there, in awe. We choose to sleep off, hoping tomorrow will be better.

Morning sun was nice and bright. We had a good meal before he left for work. I was relaxed and positive for a new day. I walked with her in my arms and realised it wasn’t on a straight line. The bout of anxiety struck back. It was 4pm as I rang him up to get back home on an emergency.

As days passed, the anxiety got more familiar and had a constant place in the mind. The mirror did not show any resemblance to the beautiful pictures of social media super moms.

I researched on PPD – Post Partum Depression. I refused to accept that it could happen to me. How could I be so weak to get into a depression?!

We condition ourselves to believe that becoming parents are a sheer joy. It is a joy, most certainly yes. But it is not entirely joy, not entirely all smiles. It took me months to realise that parenting is hardwork; permanent hardwork. At every small leap, there is an overdose of smiles, that keeps us sane and gives us hope. I had to accept and overcome the anxious phase. I had to accept that depression can happen to anyone.

I couldn’t manage to visit a Dr; little did I realise it was important to do so.

Friends came to the rescue. Far & away, we connected on calls that lasted hours. I was fortunate to have my best friends in the family too – my husband & sister. The conversations felt good and convincing at the time. And after a while, it was back to square one. I learnt that depressed people could cry without a reason.

I had to get this over with. Who else could help me? Ahw, but I had ‘me’. Yes, self help is very powerful.

In the evening, I embraced to face the world and take a walk through the apartment, wearing a messy worn out look. An old man asked me who takes care of the baby, looking at my drained look. It was an annoying question. I said “me”. What?! Ah yes, the worn out depressed soul could take good care of her baby. Wow, I realised that pride is so important to cure anxiety. Take pride in your little achievements!

Oh yes but I loved driving and din’t drive for months. He got me a child seat and I got her buckled! The first drive with windows down is one to cherish. I took a U turn and drove back but it lifted my confidence, just a little bit though.

Next day I was nicely dressed up for the walk. I took a look at the mirror and smiled. It was the same worn out face but only this time I found it normal. I hadn’t slept through nights and it is ‘normal’ for a new mom to look tired. Bang on, I realised acceptance of a situation works wonders to heal the mind.

As loads of fresh air tickled my face, I smiled. And my baby smiled! Months ago, all I wanted was to smile back at my smiling baby. And there I was, making her smile. Fresh air is nature’s best cure.

Months and years passed on. I got better. Not that I don’t feel anxiety anymore, but I know how to control it.

Depression is a disorder, an even painful disorder than having fractures. If you ever find someone depressed, be there as a listener. You don’t have to remind them to be positive, trust me, they try really hard to be positive. Take that friend or family member on a trip. Tell them they are loved. Make them feel important. Give them hope without heaping advices. Spread some love. You never know, it might even be your own self that you end up healing with loads of love and self-love.

This write-up is dedicated to all new moms suffering from PPD and to anyone reeling in the hands of anxiety. You are not alone in your journey. You are going through this because you are strong enough to handle it!!!


Love grows with distance

It was a sunny Saturday morning, when I boarded a bus reaching airport.

There was time left for the arrival, yet I couldn’t stop myself hurry from the bus station to the airport plaza.

The Flight Information Display System changed the E77 flight status to “Landed” and there I was with a broad smile.

Two months ago, I was at the same airport, as I relocated for work. Finding a house, settling things down, travel & photography kept me occupied, despite bouts of yearnings to meet my daughter. I was a breastfeeding mom of a then 27-month-old toddler. There I was, trying to kill the guilt of abruptly ending the journey, without taking her consent.

I look at the display board again. It says, “Baggage on Belt”.

It is my husband and daughter that are joining me, after 2 months. The 2 long months meant that I had the space & time just for myself. It was the “me” time that my husband often insisted that I should treat myself to.

It was just me in an empty house, doing a routine at one’s own pace. I couldn’t make calls to my daughter as she did good until I spoke to her to remind that I existed. Things were just fine without the calls. I believed that she wouldn’t forget her mom, even if she is miles away. With distance, they say, love grows.

Clock appeared to tick slow, but it was still a good time of my life.

I could take a long shower, without a toddler knocking at the door. I could visit the nearest supermarket, without the fear of things being pushed & shoved.

I had the time to retrospect, introspect and take on peaceful long journeys, without worrying if the diaper bag was packed.

It felt like a therapy. It helped me heal my mind and appreciate my family even more.

The passengers start coming out, one after the other. I grabbed a yellowish orange rose for my kid and placed myself right behind the steel barricade. I reminisced how I was at same airport few years ago, to receive my then boyfriend who visited me when I was away for work. And here I am, waiting for him and our daughter. Time sure, flies!

Almost after a dozen people walked out, I kept peeping out of the barricade to spot them.

There she was, in a twin pony, cuddling her dad in a soft-structured carrier, as he pushed the seemingly heavy trolley ahead. His eyes sparkled, as he signaled me to stay silent until she found me. I saw her searching for me all through the airport. She turned towards me, as I said ‘ammu kutti’. And we reunited!

After a brief hug with her dad, I looked at her again.

With a feeble smile, she came into my arms and hugged me tight. No words uttered.

I saw her again after the cuddle, there was a broad smile on her face and a realization that we were together again. Her dad was right in time to click a priceless picture.

I wrapped her in the new jacket, held her hands and we started back to my house, ah no, our home!

A mother’s first day outside a daycare

At 8 months, 17 days, 10.5 hours, I drop her at the daycare. Earlier in the day, we called it a ‘test run’ for a few hours to understand how she manages. It was during the brief moment when she was carried away into the infant room, I realised it was also concerning how I would manage. 
It felt vicious to drop a baby off without being able to communicate that she will be picked up for sure. I wanted to reassure her that she will come back home to her parents.

Only means of communication that could connect with her was the much familiar kiss on the forehead and she smiled beamingly, not knowing the separation anxiety awaiting the both of us. 

Thanks to technology, I could watch her through the camera for almost as long as she was inside, until the receptionist had to insist I take a break. 
After a porridge meal, she looked all over the vast room, apparently searching for me. I could hear her cry, loud and clear, as if she is the only child in the room.

Another angel in a blue frock reached her. Neither of them could speak but it was incredible to watch them communicate. The other angel managed to distract her search for mom. 

This little moment in life is called humanity. A sense of trait instilled to all, at birth. To be nurtured for rest of life.

It is glaringly visible that she is sitting on someone, lifting her leg up and dropping it down. An action she performs only when at ease. Convincing as it seems, I step out for a break.

Half past noon, she must have had her lunch meal or so I presume. I go back to the entrance to pick her and felt a thud in me, to hear the cry again, albeit mild. A cry that stopped instantly on distantly grabbing a glimpse of me. 

‘She doesn’t know how to sleep and we are trying to help her’, assures the care taker. We discuss ways that could help before bidding good bye for the day. 

Little one came back to throw a smile. And so, returned my own smile. I check if there is lesser water and fewer diapers left in the bag.

As I drive her back home, I must admit that she managed the first day better than I did.

A common person’s perspectives on demonetizing

It was just another evening, as the mobile app popped out an alert. “Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes invalid from midnight: PM Narendra Modi”. Coming from a renowned app, it can not be fake, as much as it may seem at the onset.

As I google for more information, there are a few tweets trending in a few seconds. The responses dwindled from hailing versus horrendous call outs, although the hails were more.

The next alert popped out. “In order to curb black money, the higher denomination notes of 500, 1000 are void”. Ah, now we are talking! And that sets out a citizen to think of the many perspectives that could emerge, by and large, for a nation as diverse as ours.

Turns out that there is a list of exceptional places that would continue to accept the denominations for a couple of days, in order to avoid events of major public inconvenience. However proactively considered, there may be a few initial disturbances for the unorganised sector as in vegetable vendors, hawkers and maids who transact in cash. It calls out for an eminent need to go cash free at the grassroot.

On an anxious note, it raises a few questions. 

Could this movement prove to be a check mate to any of the corrupt educational institutions, jewellery shops, real estate builders and any party of significance per se that deny bills and demand to be paid in cash? 

What about the big players who would probably not have them in cash within the country? 

Are banks and post offices equipped to handle this change?

What is with the new 2000Rs note the images of which are spreading viral and why is a higher denomination being introduced again? 

What about the foreign tourists who are carrying Indian rupees and were here to spend it?

With all the questions open, even if a minimal percentage of unaccounted money holders were to fall under the radar, that could still be reassuring for the common public that are earnest in paying taxes.

After a lot of thought, I finally remembered to check the safe and found just a few of those notes, mostly belonging to my infant’s piggy bank. 
As a common citizen, I do not know all of the intended objectives and if they will be achieved, but it is quite impressing to know that a leader exists, that has the courage to communicate a message that would evoke a plethora of responses in a diverse nation. And the assertiveness to make decisions is a trait, I adore!

 First month without a paycheck

It was a number that was inherent of corporate introductions. I, for one, could not comprehend the purpose of uttering the number. Wouldn’t ‘a few years’ sound more courteous than an actual figure? As one grows in age, one adds more years to work, but the count does not say anything about how the person performed, if she enjoyed it or what she aspires for. That has remained my belief on the number of years of work experience.

Strangely today, I wake up to discreetly count the years since the first pay cheque. It turned out to be the first month without a pay cheque.

With the  advent of Whatsapp and other mobile apps, SMS has considerably lost its charm. Except on the last day of a month, as the bank sends an SMS on the credit.

More than the amount of monthly compensation, the idea of being rewarded for a job well done was exhilarating. It gave the kind of zeal to plan holidays (yes, travel is so dear!), garner gifts, consider investments and fend on shopping.

Maternity leave is incredibly exciting with moments that will remain etched. As a mother, it feels great to have the time to recover from child birth and the joy of a new born has no bounds! It is a most certainly a phase in life that is priceless, not denying that all other phases are as well.

As an individual however, it may seem invariably intriguing. A day’s work was a means to travel, meet, learn. It was not the figures on the pay cheque that counted more than the self proclaimed celebration of a personal identity, beyond the surpassed social, family identities. 

As thoughts ponder, one comes to think of the enticing crafts, personal interests, freelance, investment banking and the myriad options in one’s own space, all the same capable of procuring a decent pay cheque during one’s parental break . If only we are trained to go to ‘my’ office instead of ‘the’ office, wouldn’t mothers be more equipped?!

More doors than windows

It was a rainy day on a relatively cold winter. The pendulum clock struck 9. A packed lunch box and a school bag laid in front, as I looked through a window of my house, that had two doors and six windows. My neighbour who was usually early to school was back home. Yes, it turned out a holiday as she communicated across the window.
Two decades later, the house now has six doors and five windows. I looked out of the window. A few metres away is a neighbour’s window with a curtain, spelling fancy in English shades of grey. Other windows in the house are facing walls, considering privacy. 

On a stormy day with no electricity, it turned out to be a day sans telecommunication. No pop up notifications flashed on mobile nor breaking news on the television. Searching vehemently for the missing wrist watch, it dawned upon that there was not a wall-clock in the house. 

With no idea of the passing time, I cuddled snugly onto bed and waited to wake up to a restored electricity supply, still not bothering enough on seeing another human soul.

Technology has brought the world closer, with a potential to make the farthest seem nearer. What fate does it then bring up on the objects that are nearer? 

The much merrier meeting up of families and friends squirm under the advent of mail alerts and sale notifications. Befriending a stranger seems distant with the constant sighting of mobile phones that neither received a call nor a message. 

When those questions on route navigations, recipes, sports, gardening et al crop up, the virtual world comes to rescue, providing all the information on a platter. All the same, it silently discards the real time discussions and very human experiences of learning, living and loving. 

So, when was the last time you looked out of a window, concentrating only on the big, beautiful world outside? 

A daughter’s joyous birth & a mother’s agonising rebirth

It was the 3rd of June.

A regular maternity check up for 38 weeks at the gynaecologist resulted in immediate admission owing to high blood pressure & above average uterine contractions.

Yes, I turned out to be an eclampsia patient who wasn’t apparently diagnosed earlier. My regular doctor wasn’t available and it was about 7 hours since another doctor arrived to decide on my labour. Saviour as she turned out, she wasted no time post her arrival.

An emergency c-section was performed and my daughter was born. The most wonderful moment of my life was to see her flesh and blood.

Sighing a sense of relief, it seemed all done and over now. Destiny however had it different the next morning, my stomach bloated with fluids like a 9 month pregnant woman. I couldn’t carry myself and gained several kgs in few hours. Doctors were clueless. Food and liquids were cut down, with just trips running through me.

I couldn’t get up to grab a look at my new born in the cradle and fed her lying on back, with the help of my sister during the day. At night, it was with the help of my husband and kind nurses.

On the third day, I pushed myself to get up and lift the baby for the first time. It was so precious because I couldn’t repeat the act. I couldn’t even use the bathroom and toilet with out my husband.

After 4 days, I was to be shifted to another hospital with better facilities. Being hurried on to an ambulance, in blurry vision I saw my sister in tears, husband grasping me tight, dad running and rest of family standing before me; my just born daughter left alone in maternity hospital.

The critical care unit in the hospital called the medical condition ‘ascites’, caused by protien leakage due to high BP pregnancy hormones. Needles were injected to remove fluids.

It was a nightmare as I was heavy on drugs and steroids. Using bedpans in critical care was the last thing I wanted in life. It was 9th of June as I clasped my husband and sister tight during the brief visiting time, as I felt it could be my last. I could feel my intestines and other parts by touching on the stomach. There were patients around me in the ward each with its own criticality. It scared me to death.

The only solace among all the happenings was shifting my new born to the safety of my sister’s house. I told myself that I have to come back for her.

On 11th of June, I had shed off 10 litres of fluids. It took another two days in the general ward before I was discharged.

Finally my family welcomed me and the baby home.
Ten days in two hospitals taught the values of life, family and friends in ways that will stay etched.

Today, I’m full of scars that remind me to stay strong, come what may.