Being in a sunny place is lovely as long as I am not directly in the sun. Similarly, being next to a large water body is really soothing as long as I am not directly in the water. I have never felt comfortable in water. Although I pride myself on the regular practise of breathing exercises, when it comes to breathing in water, I am all coughs and splutters. I can swim the length of one breath at one time. While on land I think I am well coordinated, in water I am as clumsy as a drunk elephant.
Somehow I was gently persuaded to have a diving lesson this morning. The instructor, Joseph seemed calm and proficient. I had a short introduction to the theory, the kit and the sign language. Getting into the wetsuit was a bit of a wriggle. We had a trial run in the clear blue swimming pool and went through some of the essential skills.
I had serious reservations about the real thing as I was sure I would panic and make a mess of it. But I tumbled off the boat into the water and descended. It was like being in space. The buoyancy was like nothing I’ve experienced before and the view mesmerising. I single-mindedly stuck with slow long breaths, in and out, in and out through the mouth. Every now and then I equalised the pressure in my ears and cleared my mask and that was it. I lost sense of my limbs and fins. Joseph was in-charge and I was all eyes. I felt like an intruder in this happy, peaceful, magical place. The floor and walls were covered in a carpet of colourful corals where many gorgeous fish of all shapes and sizes played hide and seek. A shoal of tiny silver ones swam right over me. To experience such ecstasy in complete silence made it extra special. The silence made me feel very close to Saagar but I missed him. He didn’t get to learn diving. He would have loved it.
Today’s dive was for you my darling. Love you. xxx
Being on holidays for most equals luxury. But we also hear of luxury apartments, luxury holidays, luxury hotels, luxury yachts …
What is luxury? Is it a physicality or an emotion or a bit of both?
For me, to wake up naturally (ie. without an alarm) to the rising sun, the sounds of the ocean and the birds, feeling calm within and enthusiastic about a new day is luxury.
To have a pain free body willing to spend a little more energy than it consumes everyday and a stress free mind with no compulsion to be chasing time all day long is luxury.
A generous warm rain shower and no need for air-conditioning or central heating, lots of Darjeeling tea, clean air and clean water, a pair of comfortable shoes, an afternoon siesta, a long walk along the beach, a spacious mattress, firm with a thin top cushion.
To have time for healthy sit down meals, free of anything processed and to be able to share it with Si and all my family, to be in a healing space to just be and be creative with writing, reading, flower arranging, dancing, listening to music, cooking or colouring a colouring-in book. To be able to contribute to our community in a positive way.
Laughter and sharing with friends, time for Yoga and meditation, to sleep under a star-lit sky, to have love and gratitude for this life, a spiritual experience in a human body.
Does any of this cost too much money or does the modern urban life-style just doesn’t allow for it?
To miss out on all the hype around the US presidential election because there is no TV and no one cares. Ignorance is indeed bliss.
As an eleven year old I often felt like I was born in the wrong country with the wrong nose, wrong hair and wrong skin colour. It was all a bit awkward but not much could be done about any of these things. So, the hair was cut short and stayed so for most of my life.
It’s normal for those with dark hair to want them light and vice versa and for those with curly hair to want them straight and vice versa. This is a small example of a much wider discontentment and dis-ease within humans.
We travelled for 36 hours, including an overnight stay at Dar-es-Salaam, 5 take offs and thankfully the same number of safe landings to get here. 3 of these were on the smallest plane I have ever been in. It sits about 14 people including the pilot. It reminds me of ‘Out of Africa’. The engine makes clicking sounds in response to the subtle mechanical actions of the pilot and the scenery is out of the world. Sapphire blue deep waters with turquoise shallow edges dotted with emerald islands with golden crescents along the curved margins.
This is the north of Tanga, a point jaggedly jutting into the Indian ocean with a white sliver of surf marking the reef’s edge. The noon-tide was so far out that it was nothing more than a soft whoosh but we woke up from our post-prandial coma to the rhythmic roaring of the sea that had arrived right up to our doorstep.
The smiles that greet us with ‘Karibu’ are happy and a bit shy. There is no running water or mains electricity. The internet connection comes through a generator and solar powered router, best described as flimsy. Yet, something about being here brings the word ‘contentment’ to mind. This is what it must feel like.
Saagar would have loved this place – a little piece of heaven.
(Sorry, no pictures as very narrow band width on the internet. May be later.)
Today, I woke up determined to have a ‘normal’ day.
Fed the cats. Helped Si make a breakfast smoothie. Got ready. Gulped the thick fruity drink down and headed for the train station. On the way, I received a text from a junior doctor who thanked me for sharing this blog with her as she thought it was full of very valuable insights. From her own experiences, she knew how reluctant society was to talk about mental illness. She is seriously considering specialising in Psychiatry.
At work I had a capable young trainee working with me. Aside from anaesthesia we talked about the gentrification of Brixton that had gone too far and how doing admin is far more tiring than looking after patients. Then I caught up with some admin.
‘Grassroots’ in Brighton sent an e-mail thanking me for contributing to their World Suicide Prevention Day celebrations : https://youtu.be/aclR9grDt1Q
One of Saagar’s school friends sent me a ‘friend request’ on face book! Yay!!! 🙂
Went to the gym after work. There was a beautiful, slim, tall blonde lady training at the same time as me. I overheard her saying that she did not like to look at herself in the mirror. I couldn’t think of one reason why that might be the case. Wonder what her story was! After finishing the session had a heart to heart with my trainer who shared his difficult time looking after his father in a hospice for 3 months before he passed away. We both had tears in our eyes and we gave each other a warm healing hug before saying bye. While having a shower I realised that if I stood absolutely still under the warm shower, it felt like being inside a warm duvet.
On the way home, I slept with my mouth open on the train. Luckily didn’t miss my station or swallow a fly. Got a phone call from R’s Mum. She has not had a good week. R’s inquest is coming up next month and she really wants to talk to me about it. So, we set a date for next week.
Got home and lit a candle for Saagar. Sat down with a cup of tea and heard a knock on the door. There was a lady from Greenpeace. After talking to her for 5 minutes at the door I invited her in. For the next half an hour we had a great conversation. I didn’t mind missing the ‘Archers’. We spoke about many topics close to my heart – air quality on London, lack of proper usage of solar energy in India, people forming strong bonds with technology while loosing their deep connection with nature, writing, campaigning and so on. I am now a proud member of Greenpeace!
Now I am about to cook dinner for Si as he is working late…again.
As I stepped out of the door early this morning I was struck by a big huge sphere in the sky, a pale silvery moon on a pinkish blue canvas seemed to be sitting just at the end of my street. It was so close, I felt I could reach out and touch it.
(Saagar’s last message on facebook)
It was the same moon as on 8th october 2014. It was in the same phase too. Full!
He saw it and probably felt it’s energy strongly enough to comment on it.
There is a clear co-relation between high tidal waves and a full moon night. We are made up of roughly 70 % water. So, it must have some effect on us too. Is it possible that the sub-conscious mind finds greater expression on a full moon night? Some psychiatrists and mental health nurses swear that they see more patients around this phase but scientific research does not support that.
The article below shines some light on the subject. It goes on to say that there is a higher incidence of animal bites at this time and some police forces put a larger number of staff on duty on full moon nights as they expect more trouble. Some studies have shown that people report a relatively poor quality of sleep around this phase. After all, the term ‘lunatic’ has its roots in ‘lunar’.(http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131029-does-a-full-moon-make-people-mad). But there are no clear answers.
Historically, I love autumn. It seems that nature has been saving up all its grandeur all through the year for the month of October. The stunning, warm, earthy colours, the cushion of leaves under the feet, the crisp morning sun and the hypnotising evening light. A time for change.
Big change from the energetic lightness of summer to a calm and reflective time.
A time to be centered.
A time to be quiet.
Last 2 autumns have been cruel. They have thrown not just seasons, but Time out of synch. Things seem to be happening in the wrong order. Time has taken on a strange nebulous quality. Starting and stopping at will. Meandering and then barging ahead with full force.
This is a new autumn. It’s a new opportunity to heal. To learn to let go, like the trees let go of their leaves one by one, completely denuding themselves and bravely exposing themselves to the harsh winter, only to come alive again, fresh and new. To know that ‘acceptance’ and ‘forgiveness’ are processes that take their own time. They cannot be rushed. All we can do is allow time and space for them. Pain is a constant companion, sometime more visible than others. Again, it cannot be shooed away. All I can do is to acknowledge it and honour it and allow space for it to sit with me. Settle down.
“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Back in London, I notice the filthy water of the Thames, the inescapable stenches of various kinds emanating from nooks and corners on the streets, the stress of the daily commute and the demanding work environment. Patients demanding to be treated like ‘customers’ who are always right and managers trying to get results unachievable with the realities and limitations on ground. Me, finding myself stuck in the middle of the two. One patient, who was denied a separate room that she demanded for no valid reason said that this is the National Health Service but their ‘customer service’ is very poor.
Many nurses and doctors feel demotivated and exhausted by constant firefighting and not having the time to actually do the work they want to, taking care of patients. This leads to earlier burnout and sideways movement of highly trained staff away from frontline work to more lucrative and glossy management roles.
Stress is the biggest killer of modern times. One of the definitions of stress is, not living up to one’s own expectations. With fewer job prospects, growing number of ‘zero hour’ contracts, rising property prices, longer working hours and rising living costs, it is not surprising that young people find themselves not achieving as much as they are capable of.
The latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics highlight that young suicide in the UK is at its highest for the past 10 years. In 2015 1,659 young people under 35 years took their own lives; an increase of 103 more than in 2014 and 58 above the previous highest recorded figure (1,631 in 2011).
Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK and tragically the figures continue to rise. It is a national crisis yet far from prominent on the government’s agenda.
Sunday lunch at the start of autumn on a warm day of blue skies and a warm sun, sitting under a wise old carob tree with supported branches and multiple dried brown beans hanging from a wide umbrella of dark green leaves with friends and strangers making introductions followed by conversations, smiles and laughter, references to this and that, occupations, travels and hobbies, daughters and mothers, food and wine, so on and so forth …. as if straight out of a film set infused with a sweet subtle smell of eucalyptus.
All of it completely meaningless, empty, futile, feckless, inane and pointless. Words, words and more words! Exhausting! I had to get up and walk away with my i-pad and take pictures of something. Anything.
In 2 weeks time he will be dead. Around this time 2 years ago he was scoring max on his depression scores and he gave it in writing to his GP in the form of a PHQ-9 form but got no help. No escalation of care. No attention. No mention of ‘suicide’ to us and yet holding a firm belief that a safety plan was in place. Sent home with the suggestion, “It will get better. Give it time. Rome was not built in one day” and a piece of paper.
It was early autumn then and it is early autumn now.
I lived in what I thought was our world then.
I live in a world of my own now. It sort of overlaps with this one in places but most of this one is irrelevant to me.