Day 930

Anthony

Look out for me and watch the signs
I have come to you, so many times
I am a feather that falls from the sky
I am in those events that make you think – why?

I know that you feel me when I am around
I guess there’s breeze or a certain sound
I can see in your eyes my presence is felt
In a movement, a glimpse, or something you smelt.

In my new life I’m different, there’s so much to do
But still my thoughts turn back to you
I sometimes play truant from this world of beauty
I must get in touch, I feel it’s my duty.

For giving me life, for just being there
For showing me love. For showing you care
I feel I must thank you and tell you each day
That I know I am loved, that won’t go away.

Despite all the sadness a cruel world applied
You kept me afloat till the day I died
And now I can tell you- have no fear
For certain I know you will meet me here.

So in the days ahead, till the end of your life
Whatever the worries, whatever the strife
Keep strong, keep loving, keep living with joy
Remember me … your friend, your boy.

‘From son to his loving Mother’ by Anthony’s dad for his wife Nicola who uses Anthony’s favourite T-shirt as her pillow case.

Day 929

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Loveliest stranger

“Hi.

Whether this will reach you I do not know, whether this will cause you pain I hope not as that is the opposite of my intention! I have hummed and harred over sending this message to you as I am not usually one for publicising my feelings or feeling like I am getting involved in other people’s business but I just wanted to send you a message.

I only learned yesterday of saagars death. A photo came up on my news feed with the quote ‘gone but never forgotten’. I read in to the articles I found on his profile and was instantly shocked and completely saddened by what I read.

First of all my thoughts go out to all of you and your family and friends, I can not begin to imagine how traumatic the last two years have been. I met saagar when I must of been about 16 years old, I was on a train coming back from Exeter and he got on somewhere between there and London. I was at a table with my revision books out, I had my French GCSE exam the next day. He sat opposite me and we instantly started talking. We did not stop talking for the entire 2 hours and we helped each other with French (he later admitted that he has chosen to sit by me because he saw my French books and had the same exam the next day!), he offered me his carrots and humous, we talked about the gym, drumming, his girlfriend at the time, who he’d been to stay with. I can honestly say that he was and still to this day is the loveliest stranger I had ever met. He was gorgeous, funny, talented and charming and we got on incredibly well in such a short space of time. We kept in contact via Facebook and unfortunately lost touch over the years and I never got to physically see him again, but I will never forget meeting him. I am so sorry for your loss and again am sorry if this message upsets you, I just want you to be proud of the amazing man that you brought up and I will forever cherish those few hours that i spent with him x”

(Message from EH on FB Messenger dated 6/8/2016. Discovered yesterday.)

Your message does not upset me E. I have always been proud of him and always will be. Thank you very much for taking the time to write to me.

Day 928

Metamorphosis

When something like this happens, it changes who you are and how you live your life. Your alignment with the universe shifts and you transform into an avatar of your former self. There are some similarities but huge differences.

I can’t remember what I used to be like.

Large swathes of my mental canvas have been rendered blank. Maybe it’s a defence mechanism. Maybe it’s the accelerated ageing process. Maybe shock and grief have gobbled up millions of my grey cells. Maybe part of my brain has mulched into pulp.

Whole new plantations have made an appearance in this barren space. I feel like I am going mad about MAD – making a difference. Writing was a miniscule and secretive part of my life but now it claims a lot of territory. I used to spend a lot of time and energy on my job. Now it takes up only a small part of my time. My job used to be satisfying and pleasurable. Now it sits in the back-ground. I find fulfilment in writing, connecting with people and volunteering my time to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Keeping Saagar alive through sharing his story seems like the most meaningful thing to do. Repeating his story as many times as it takes, to change things that need to change is of paramount importance.

Living in gratitude is the only way to live.

Last week I wrote this article sitting at the dining table in my parent’s house with the intention to mark the Mental Health Awareness week. Thankfully Huffington post published it today.

Thirty months on:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sangeeta-mahajan/thirty-months-on_b_16412078.html

 

Day 927

Westminster-Abbey-DrugFAM-10th-Anniversary

The bags from my journey home 2 days ago were still waiting to be unpacked. I was in two minds whether to go for the service or not. I could think of a hundred items I could tick off my ‘to-do list’ if I didn’t go. It was optional after all, even though I had booked a place for myself.

I have lived in London for nearly 11 years. I work 150 yards away from it and yet, have never visited the Westminster Abbey. This was my chance. If I didn’t go today, I would probably never make the effort.

‘A Service of Celebration and Hope’ was being held by DrugFAM.

A charity that provides a lifeline of safe, caring and professional support for families, friends and carers who are struggling to cope with the nightmare of a loved one’s addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Elizabeth Burton-Phillips lost one of her twins, Nick, to heroin addiction in 2004. During this harrowing time, she and her family had very little support. In 2006, she founded DrugFAM with the sole aim of ensuring that no family, friends or carers are left living in isolation, fear and ignorance of the support available.

Silence, shame and stigma – these terms apply to Mental illness and  Drug addiction. Both remain deeply misunderstood.Both claim many young lives – lives worth talking about. Today’s service was a public acknowledgement of the strength and courage of those lost to addiction and of those who are still living with active addiction in their families. In her address Elizabeth quoted Robin Williams,”I used to think that the worst thing in life is to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.” She said, ‘Today, no one in this Abbey is alone.’ It was indeed a celebratory, yet serene and unifying one hour. It was a renewed commitment to continue efforts to  enable every human being to live with dignity, to be respected and to fulfil their potential.

Even though my ‘to do’ list was left untouched, I felt honoured to be there.

Day 926

AYA-5

Finally something wholistic. Is it?

Ayahuasca is a foul tasting, nauseating brown Amazonian psychoactive brew.

The name comes from the Quechua language where aya means soul, ancestors or dead persons and wasca (huasca) means vine or rope. One interpretation of the name is “vine of the soul” and another is “rope of death”. Of late more arguments are being made in favour of the former than the latter.

This Shamanic concoction has been the core of many religious, magical, curative, initiation, and other tribal rituals for millennia in the indigenous and mestizo populations of South America. They respect the brew as a sacrament and value it as a powerful medicine for physical and mental problems, social issues and spiritual crises. It is traditional medicine and cultural psychiatry.

During the last two decades Ayahuasca has become increasingly known to both scientists and laymen. Its popularity is spreading all over the Western world. People seeking improved insight, personal growth; emotional healing and contact with a sacred nature, deities, spirits and natural energies have given rise to the phenomenon of ‘drug tourism’.

In the correct therapeutic/ritualistic setting, with proper preparation of the user and subsequent integration of the experience, Ayahuasca has proven effective in the treatment of substance dependence and depression. The therapeutic effects of Ayahuasca are best understood from a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual model.

The first Randomised Clinical trial, led by Draulio Barros de Araujo at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil has been published.  2 similar groups of 14 and 15 patients with resistant depression were randomised to receiving either placebo or the active drug. They filled out standard questionnaires the day before receiving their dose and 2 and 7 days later.
64% of patients who took Ayahuasca felt the severity of their depression fall to half. This was true for only a quarter of those who took placebo. The inference drawn is that Ayahuasca is better than placebo at least for the short term. More studies are required to see if the effects are sustained over longer periods.

Roughly 350 million people experience depression globally. Between one-third and half of  them do not respond well to medications. In addition to psychedelics such as Ketamine and Psilocybin, Ayahuasca is being investigated further as potential treatment for resistant major depression.

Ref:
Articles:
1. Therapeutic Potentials of Ayahuasca https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773875/
2. Rapid Antidepressant effects of Ayahuasca: http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/01/27/103531

Presentation by Draulio Barros de Araujo: https://vimeo.com/143399447

Day 925

Vulnerability. Not weakness.

Stories are data with a soul. Researcher and storyteller Brene’ Brown has taken the time to take a deep hard look at shame and vulnerability.

She believes that ‘connection’ is neurobiologically why we are here.

Shame is fear of disconnection or not feeling like you are worthy of connection. For example, not good enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, not rich enough and so on. All experiences of excruciating vulnerability.

After 6 years of researching ‘Shame’ she took a closer at a sub-group of individuals with ‘Worthiness’, people with a strong sense of love and belonging who believe they are worthy of love and belonging. She called them  ‘Wholehearted’. This group had a few remarkable  traits:

  1. Courage – to be imperfect
  2. Compassion – ability to be kind to themselves and others
  3. Connection – ability to give up the idea of perfection

They fully embraced their vulnerability. They believed that vulnerability makes them beautiful. They were willing to reach out their hand first, to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. It was not comfortable but they did it anyway.
Vulnerability is also the birthplace of tenderness, belonging, love and joy.

What makes us vulnerable?
The simplest things like asking for help, waiting for the doc to call back, initiating sex, loosing a job, asking someone out on a date and many more.

Why do we struggle with vulnerability?
The uncertainty is too uncomfortable. So we numb it.

At present, we are most highly addicted, medicated and obese populace ever.
We can’t selectively numb feelings.
When we numb vulnerability we also numb joy and connection.

The ways in which we deal with our discomfort with vulnerability are:

  1. We make everything uncertain, certain, eg- religion.
  2. We Blame- a way to discharge pain and discomfort.
  3. We Perfect – most dangerously our children.
  4. We pretend – like what we are doing doesn’t have an effect on people.

We need to let ourselves be seen.
To love with our whole hearts even if we are unsure.
To practice Gratitude despite the uncertainty because our vulnerability means we are alive.
Lean into joy and believe – I am enough.
That enables us to be kinder and gentler to the people around us and to ourselves.

Ref:

Book :
Daring Greatly by Dr Brene Browm
TED talk by Dr Brene Brown on Power of Vulnerability:

Day 924

 

Day 924

CHIRAG
(Central Himalayan Rural Action Group; Also means ‘lamp’)

Every time I return to India I witness immense beauty in simplicity. I feel that beauty changing me. I grew up in a simple, sweet world. Moving away from it was difficult but time moulded me. Somewhere deep within that appreciation of simplicity remains. I see it without romanticising it. It is a part of me. I feel closer to myself each time I am faced with it.

Last week I volunteered to tell a story at a primary school in a small village in the Himalayas. I sat in a circle on the floor of a well lit large classroom with a group of  sixteen 7 year olds and we chatted for about half an hour in a mixture of Hindi and English. One of them asked me if we would be singing but I wasn’t able to confirm that. It bothered me.

The Principal, an enthusiastic young man of 29, said they didn’t have a music teacher in the school as the charity had just about enough money to pay for teachers to cover the academic curriculum. A local musician has offered to teach music but they are waiting for funding to come along to be able to employ her.

It is Saagar’s 23rd Birthday today.
I think he would have liked for that school to have a music teacher.
Happy Birthday Darling!

“O Bud! Your life is so moving that only for a while
You blossom, for just a smile.
“In this garden, O dear,” said the bud
“Just a few are lucky to smile, even for a while.”
(Translation of an Urdu couplet by Josh Malihabadi)

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Chirag School Newsletter 2_Autumn 2016