Day 893

It was an evening of sharing Saagar’s story with a group of lovely young women. We talked about the art of listening non-judgementally. We practiced the skill and found it tricky. We noticed the strong urge to jump in with solutions and ‘fix it’. We found silent pauses awkward.

We explored the things that stop us from listening – a thousand things knocking about in our own head already, our own stress levels, fear of having to take action, fear of saying the wrong thing, I am not qualified, it’s not my job, and so on. Most of the reasons came from a judgement of ourselves or the situation.

Out of the blue, a thought ran clearly through my mind and before I knew it, I was speaking it out loud. I was reminded of a constant grievance I used to have with Saagar. I would request him to not leave utensils in the kitchen sink after use. How difficult could it be to put the dishes into the dish-washer? But, I often found dishes left in the sink. That small thing pushed my buttons. I would tell him off for being lazy and for not respecting this small request I made of him. I judged him. I couldn’t see that he was depressed.

Judgements come from the head.
Connection comes from the heart.
Harsh judgements create great distances between hearts.

I must not judge myself too harshly now. I am learning. Mindfully and heartfully.

Day 889

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At present, everyone seems to be planning holidays – Easter or summer or random.

Arabic was the language he was learning at University. He would be spending half of his 3rd year in an Arabic speaking country. So, we made an exploratory trip to Jordan. We visited friends and travelled around. It was one of our last few holidays together.

I ordered a Watermelon juice at one of the resorts. The barman mixed water and sugar into it. We noticed but didn’t say anything. Saagar took the drink from me,  made his way back to the bar and politely requested the man to make it only with watermelon and nothing else. A few minutes later, celebrating his little victory with a smile, he brought the new drink back to me.

The sandstone cliff faces of Petra, the barren moody desert of Wadi Rum, the red and white sand, the pitta bread with zahter, tomatoes and olive oil, the exquisitely intricate Persian carpets appear in my dreams often. These are dreams about the places we have travelled. I understand now that these places reside deep inside me. I carry these places within me now. It will no longer be necessary to travel there.

 

Day 881

The school project entailed each student discussing what they would put in Room 101 and why. Room 101 is where the bad things go.

For Saagar, it was translucent curtains. He thought they were pointless. They didn’t keep the sun out. They didn’t hold any warmth in. They blew in the wind. They annoyingly got in the way. Close up they were see-through. They twitched in the hands of old ladies. Their flimsy paperiness didn’t have a pleasant texture. They collected dust. They looked like nothing much. As far as he was concerned, they didn’t serve any purpose They definitely belonged in Room 101.

When I look back to my younger days, I can see me making similar arguments. At that time things fell into distinct boxes – good and bad, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, royalty and commoner, black and white – concepts inspired by fairy tales, cartoons and films, Cinderella and Snow White to name a couple.

As the years went by, I learnt that a lot of life happens in grey zones, many rights and wrongs are based on a given context, some things can be beautiful and ugly at the same time, royalty can be common and the good and the bad resides in all of us.

Maybe his young mind told him there were only two available choices – life or death. Maybe if he was a bit older he would have known that there are other choices, one of them being, waiting it out.

“Nothing worked but the passage of time … It’s an illness and it ran its course. I had always described myself as melancholy or depressive but I hadn’t a clue. Anything I had before was a blue day by comparison. This was altered perceptions, a mental illness.” Says the Irish novelist, Marian Keyes, 53, about her severe depression in 2009. Writing was her “rope across the abyss”. She started with short stories and her 13th novel is soon to be released.

 “Have patience with all things but first of all with yourself.”
-Saint Francis de Sales.

Ref:

Room 101 : http://www.definitions.net/definition/ROOM%20101

Novelist Marian Keyes reveals fight against constant ‘suicidal impulses’ : https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/12/novelist-marian-keyes-reveals-fight-against-constant-suicidal-impulses

Day 879

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After 3 years of no singing, last week I recorded 3 tracks of devotional music with a friend. I sent across one of them on whatsapp to all my family in India. I got a few ‘wow’s and emojis of an applause and a rose and such. My mum called to say it was nice. Yesterday my 8 years old niece spoke to me about it. She said, ”I didn’t know it was you. Mamma told me. It was like you were singing for God. It made me feel relaxed and sleepy. It was like a lullaby.” That was the most honest and descriptive feedback I had. She shared how it made her feel rather than how good or bad it was.

Judgements come from the head and feelings come from the heart. That the music made her feel a particular way, that she didn’t just hear it but felt it, that she could verbalise it as well as she did was remarkable.

The purity and sweetness of the innocence of childhood is one of the most precious things in this world.

Saagar couldn’t wait to grow up!

Scan 9

 

Day 873

It’s Thursday.
It’s the 16th.
It’s March 2017.
Exactly 29 months.
2 years and 5 months.

I am in the same part of the same hospital, doing the same job with the same people as I was on that day. I am taking a break in the same clutterred coffee room where Saagar visited me a few months prior to his death.

Today, I sit here reading the House of Commons Select Committee Progress Report on Suicide Prevention. It informs the Government’s strategy on the same.

In a nutshell, it clearly states – Suicide is preventable. Current rates of loss of life in this way are unacceptable and most likely under-reported. Even though 95% of Local Councils have a Suicide Prevention Strategy, its implementation is very poor. We must have a way to reach those at risk but not in contact with health services. It commends the work of the voluntary sector. It identifies stigma as a big hindrance. It emphasises better targeted training for frontline staff, medical students and GPs. It expresses disappointments at the poor follow-up of patients after discharge from psychiatric services, at poor information sharing with families and poor funding/staffing of services.

It identifies self harm as the single biggest indicator of suicide risk. Poor psychosocial assessment and safety planning of these patients possibly contributes to a high rate of suicides. Proper support for bereaved families should be an integral part of suicide prevention. Irresponsible media reporting is damaging. Coroner’s need to call a suicide, a suicide.

All the things that we have been saying for all these months!
To think that at least 15,000 more suicides have already taken place in the UK since Saagar’s death!

Report:
https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/health-committee/news-parliament-20151/suicide-prevention-report-published-16-171/

Day 863

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Jalebis are the most luscious of Indian sweets . They are made from plain flour, ghee, saffron and sugar – the best possible ingredients. They bring back the sweet memory of home. Lately they featured in a Holywood film, Lion, as a trigger for a deep longing for home for a young displaced man. This longing grows into a desperation and then becomes a source of great suffering. Even though the body moves from one place to another, the heart can stay in one place for lifetimes, clinging on to sights, smells and sounds that mean ‘home’ and ‘love’. The power of the mind to revisit, relive, reconfigure and re-create life from all these stray scraps is tremendous.

This big blockbuster addresses issues of adoption, childhood trauma, migration and much more. The most interesting questions it has raised for me are – What is your narrative? What is the story you tell yourself? Do you ever question it? Are you willing to see how your life might change if you did question it? Are you willing to be proven completely wrong? Would that set you free? Would that empower you to change your direction?

The things we tell ourselves have more power than we know. They make the difference between life and death.

Lion

Saagar as Lion 🙂

Day 858

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One of Saagar’s friends and housemates from second year at Uni writes in his memory book. He mentioned her very fondly very often. Friendships, so precious!

Saagar,

You were such a big part of my Durham family and being in fourth year without you is horrible. Second year in Gladstone Villas was undoubtedly one of the best years of my life and everyday I wish we could turn back the clock and be sitting in the living room all together again.
I wish I had been able to speak at your memorial service today but every time I tried to muster the courage to speak, I just burst into tears. I miss you so much.
We had some fabulous house dinners together and I think my favourite is when you convinced me to use two packs of mince for our dinner for two. This made thirty meatballs and we had to use two pans to cook them all. You impressed me with how many you managed to eat!
I always think of you and imagine you happily looking down. Still wish you were my housemate and in my French classes.
All my love,

Louise. xxxxx

Unforgettable, my darling! That what you are.