Saturday, 28 July 2012

Fear is the Key...or is it the Lock?

It has been an eventful decade for me: The Bi-Polar decade..

Am continuing to elaborate on my previous Blogpost: At the crossroads of life 
because a number of readers had shown deep interest in knowing more about Bi-Polar.

I need to clarify here that this is NOT an attempt to attract sympathy..Just felt that I have to share my experience, especially my way of dealing with it.

Its been a decade since it has been diagnosed: typically, the condition is present for years in the afflicted person before the dreaded Diagnosis.

For example, in my case, my family Physician had mistaken it for a bout of Depression triggered by a certain event rather than a more serious underlying condition.

His line of treatment (he prescribed me Uppers, not that I blame him) which in fact triggered my first REALLY high phase.

The climb from the pit was tortuous. The total lack of self confidence, the despondency, anxiety, difficulty to think clearly,lack of drive, physical and mental tiredness, the side-effects of the Potent drugs:

Dark days..for years together.

What's killing about Bi-polar is the uncertainty: if for a couple of months I felt radiant, back to my best, that joy would be short-lived. The symptoms, intensity and Moods vary across Individuals. I my case I have been in a Low phase (Depressed) overall. The Highs have been few, tempered by the Mood Stabilisers.

I have had the benefit of being under the treatment of a fantastic Psychiatrist, who is as good as they come. His patience, Professionalism and Hawk eyed vigilance have spotted out seemingly harmless Mood-Swings. Medically, the hurdle has been my body's intolerance to the most proven Mood-Stabilisers: Lithium and Valproate caused severe side effects. The second line of Medication has been prescribed in combination, which causes Sleep disturbances.

Initially, for quite a few weeks after every change in therapy, I slept for 4 to 5 hours during daytime each day,in addition to my regular Night's sleep.

Obviously, efficiency and motivation went for a toss at such times. That's when the maximum effort is required to come out from the morass. As my Doc himself says, Medication can only keep the condition under control. At the end of the day its the effort put in and Self-Discipline of the Patient that counts.

For example, I have read a lot of self-help books, attended Seminars to untwist myself.

Recommend a few:

Dr.David Burns' FEELING GOOD ( a Bible for Depressives),
this Book is one of the pioneers in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - a method that analyses thinking patterns and correcting them. Invaluable help!

THE SECRET: The Video, the Book made me realise the circumstances I was in were a creation of my very own thought processes, that I could turn it all around the moment I chose to.

THE MIRACLE MAN: is just a Chapter in The Secret narrating Maurice Goodman's unbelievable recovery from near death due to his Mental strength and Positive Visualisation abilities ( I said to myself: If he can, I CAN too!)

(Must mention here that both the Secret and a Docu-film on Maurice Goodman were given to me by a dear friend, Mentor and Colleague: 

Jigish Bhat. He himself has been a source of strength and encouragement during the blackest days..)

The Bhagvad Gita:
'In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagvad Gita, in comparision with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial'-
Henry David Thoreau

The Gita not only gave me a spiritual grounding, I found the answer to my relationship with God and my life purpose.
People talk loosely about Spirituality:
'I'm a Spiritual person': without a deep understanding of your inner-self, the universe and God as well as the inter relation between these, it's a hollow statement.

The self discipline part involves many aspects:
-Trust in your Doctor, sticking to Medicinal regimen, no matter how bothersome it is.
-Being Physically active and fit (direct link: Exercise releases Serontonin which in turn alleviates Depression)
-Meditation: The calming effect of Meditation is difficult to describe to someone who has not experienced it: Sheer Bliss!
-Yoga- has certainly helped me
-Social Interaction
-Interpersonal Relationships, Family Bonding play a crucial role, too.
I have the good fortune having  a Fantastic family that has stood by me through thick and thin (Mind you, I've had to make a lot of adjustments personally, too).

Above all an individual's Attitude to the Illness, the debility and resultant Emotional havoc it wreaks is a Key factor in the recovery process:

I realised that the uncertainty regarding my future state of mind was doing me as much damage as the illness itself!

The bigger picture gradually begin to become clearer:
If I had withstood and overcome the horrors of the darkest days and come out shining each time in the past, what was I afraid about?

Unlock the door to positivity, hope and faith.

Then, throw the Key away..

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

At the Crossroads of Life # Part III

A friend of mine recently wrote to me on Facebook as to what was my next career move: he happens to follow this Blog. I'd promised him I would be posting about it soon.

It was the summer of 2003, the month of May, to be precise.

One fine day I had the carpet literally pulled from under my feet..

It must have all begun years ago but culminated on that day. My sister had been noticing and pointing out to my abrupt change in behaviour: irrationality, incoherence and excessive irritability. Problem was, neither was I nor anyone else in a mood to listen to her.

This went on for a while until one day she got the support of one of our friends from the Housing complex. Of course, he thought all I needed was a consultation with a Psychologist who would calm down my nerves.

With a lot of cajoling I agreed to meet the Doctor. We were joined on the visit by my concerned uncle and cousin sister. They too were alarmed by my incessant talking without making any sense. I must have talked non-stop during the journey and while in the waiting area at the Doctor's.

I had a heightened sense of predicting things: I clearly remember a lady asking for some help with her Mobile phone and me cutting off my guidance to her midway: 'It is 1 pm, I'll be called in, I told her.' Guess what, the buzzer rang at that precise moment!

After listening to my rambling for a minute, the lady Psychologist said to my sister, 'look, he needs to be taken to a Psychiatrist right away'. That's precisely what my wise sister had been concerned about all this while.

She resourcefully located the telephone number of a well known Psychiatrist in the Suburbs and fixed up an urgent appointment. My rambling which was getting even more out of hand, continued at his clinic. It stopped only when I collapsed and slumped on the Doc's desk.

One assessment is all he required to diagnose the problem:
Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder). 

Immediate Hospitalisation was necessary.

By now, my Uncle, just recovering from a Heart surgery was exhausted (the stress hadn't helped one bit) and my Sister excused them all and took charge alone. She had a harrowing time admitting me to Hospital because I was extremely irritable and impatient.

On the first visit my Doctor asked her what medication was I onto. She showed him my Medicine box which contained besides my Asthma inhalers and a Strip of tablets.

He furiously discarded that strip saying it was the cause of me tripping into a stage of Mania: it was an Anti-Depressant (Upper) prescribed by my physician. After great cajoling I was allowed a regular room (not in the Psychiatric Ward). This was on the reassurance of my sister that I'd never harmed anyone and that she would be constantly be my side.

The Dark Era began. The week at Hospital was one of those experiences. I wonder how my Sister managed to pull it off so magnificently under all the pressure. Remember, she had to attend to our Business work and calls at the same time. My unreasonable attitude didn't help matters. The Nurses there approached me hesitantly. Was I imagining them talking about me?

The fears started creeping in. I swapped my Patient's bed with her Visitor's smaller one: Why? I had the gnawing fear I was falling off it!!

As regained my senses a bit after a few days it started hitting me more. WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME!

The immediate concern was the Business where my credibility was at stake. My future appeared hazy. All those business loans, commitments.. Under the Doc's orders all the cheques were to be signed by Sis (I wasn't allowed to).

Post discharge, matters did not improve much. My state at that time: Restless, anxious and very irritable: noticeably so.

The visits to the Doctor were disappointing: The dreaded verdict: Bipolar is an incurable condition which might need indefinite treatment. Always having been a person comfortable with being in control, this didn't sound good at all.

History shows, many creative geniuses and celebrities have been afflicted by this dreaded condition, many having lived tormented lives.. Some have harmed themselves, others ended their lives..

It has been a troubled journey of a decade since then, getting brighter and brighter.

It wasn't hunky-dory all through. The unpredictable (at times extreme) Mood Swings, Lack of enthusiasm and energy at most times, Drug induced daytime sleepiness, utter lack of motivation can tear anyone apart.

Whenever I was feeling better I beamed and told my Doc, I'd resolved that I'd never slip into that morass again. Doc used to (rightly, from the Medical point of view) pour cold water over my determination: 'You can never be sure'.

One hears of seeing the Light at the end of the Tunnel,

At least one makes headway in a tunnel..
My condition was more akin to being in a dark well on a moonless night, with the day being a dull overcast one..
The hopelessness makes recovery difficult.

My career was affected quite a lot. I had sought clarity from my Doc whether my profession would be affected (especially from my Clients' perspective). For once I was assured that this was condition was at an emotional level and my logical thinking ability would be as fine as ever.
So how did I turn things around? I have always been following the regimen prescribed: Meditation, Yoga, Exercise and Medication with fluctuating success.

The turning point came on my reading the Bhagvad Geeta. The philosophical look at the suffering a human being goes through in life, the reasons behind them and above all the answers to Who am I, my connect with God.

My regularly reading it brought in a sense of peace and ups in downs were easier for me to handle. It's come to a stage where I can take in the biggest challenge with equanimity.

The Spiritual grounding has been my biggest friend, besides my supportive family and friends of course. The single BIGGEST Factor has been a change in my attitude: If I have ably faced these traumatic events and come out shining so often, why worry about the future? I say to God, you tested my mettle to make me stronger, I'm prepared for everything you throw on my path.

The biggest sign came a month ago. I was to visit my Doc and tried to locate his file. To my consternation after searching every nook and corner of the house I couldn't locate it. It was the only record I had of the illness beginning with the Hospitalisation. Since I'm quite methodical, I was flustered for a while.

I thought about it for a while and said to myself, its maybe time to bid Bipolar goodbye..

Friday, 20 July 2012

How Important are Experiences in determining the course of our Lives?

Past Experiences, especially traumatic ones leave an indelible mark on one's psyche.

There are, however, innumerable instances of Brave souls who have fought back after suffering huge Setbacks, both Physical and Mental. Not only have they survived, they have gone out of the way to be shining examples and inspire other stricken souls.

Helen Keller is as fine an example as any.

Therefore, the glaring fact is that two persons, each with different Mindsets and Attitudes would respond differently to the same set of Stimuli, Circumstances and Calamities.

One might find the burden too tough to handle and buckle under the sheer weight of it, the other treat it as a Challenge and in fact come out Stronger and Wiser.

Which set do YOU belong to?

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Genesis of the HIGH FIVE Seminar

The Seminar our Group enRICHen recently hosted, owes its success to many people.

To begin with, HIGH FIVES is the title of the Book I'll begin writing soon. It's about the 5 key Influences that determine what a person's present is and future will be.

The Book itself was a brainwave the very next day after I attended Dharmendra Rai's 
(India's Ace Mind Map Trainer) 
Mind Mapping Seminar a few months ago. He referred to it as the 'Eureka Moment' that occurs as a result of the Training!!'.

In an instant out of nowhere I could see the threads of the contents of the Book, its name and feel!

The excitement was palpable and I knew there was something about writing that got me involved fully.

Meanwhile my Group, enRICHen, 
 was organising the first of a series of Seminars on the 7th of of July.

Somehow, the speakers to address it just were not fitting the bill for some reason or the other. I had always toyed with the idea of using the HIGH FIVES principles to train people after the book would be published.

I had discussed this thought with my friend Yogesh   who saw a successful Public Speaker in me. Yogesh incidentally has played a key role in my career switch to a Communicator: he helped set up my BLOG, the enRICHen website  and guided me with his immense knowledge of the Social Media.

With the venue booked, the Audio-Visual team in place, I thought of inviting Dr.Chandrashekhar Ranade, a long time Mentor on Facebbok through his group Guru L-Earning Systems

He graciously consented to travel all the way from Ahemedabad to deliver a Key closing Presentation at HIGH FIVES on The Power of the Mind.

A last minute inspiration made me request Mr,Chaudhary, a Spiritualist, Laughter Club leader and conductor of daily Meditation sessions to join us.

His 30 minute closing demonstration of the benefits of Meditation cast his spell of magic over us. Although I've been practising this art for over a decade I always appreciate his skill in guiding the uninitiated.

My own presentation was based on two Mind Maps with interlinked images that supported them.

Certainly, being the very FIRST Public talk by me at such a level, there's always room for improvement.

The Seminar was livened by the interaction with the Participants which revealed some startling facets of the persons.

Well, the biggest takeaway from the tight-knit gathering there was this:
This was one of the most Positive, Innovative and GIVING set of people I had met together in one room.
It is a source of immense satisfaction that they felt the same, too! Isn't that what matters the most?

Monday, 2 July 2012

At the Crossroads of Life # Part II

Having quit our family business abruptly, although I had the freedom to choose my Path, which Path?

I was in a quandary because I was all at sea as to what my next move should be. One thing was certain, I would NOT take up a job.

Another uncle of mine was very well informed and innovative in these matters. He came up with various suggestions for me to consider.

I somehow had a natural knack of sizing up Cash-Flows and weighing Risks versus Opportunities in a Project. I homed in on one of those business ideas which seemed most workable and excited me at the same time.

Video Projection was a nascent technology at that time (1989) and our plan was to set up a Audio-Visual Rentals unit, initially with just one Video Projector.

Now came challenge of Financing it. As fate would have it, my mother had been hospitalised just a few months ago for a Cardiac problem. The fat Hospital Bill had wiped out our entire savings. Talk about timing!

We did manage to get the Project financed by a Bank. There remained the small matter of the Margin money..My Uncle, who had been my Godfather since childhood stepped in magnanimously by pledging his investments as well as standing as a Guarantor for the loan. It is an example of his magnanimity that despite our having split recently, he supported me wholeheartedly.

The going was tough initially- that's an understatement. Here was I, a Commerce Graduate venturing into the technology arena when I hadn't even operated a VCR before.

Where there's a Will, there's a..Highway!

I had the good fortune of being guided by Mentor who was a Technical Wizard: Manu Daryanani.

His patient, intensive and generous sharing of his knowledge played a key part in the success of my outfit, Frontline Communications. Besides, I had the able support of my Sister who took care of all our Admin. and Managerial tasks.

A few years down the line, we were among the better known Multi-Media Equipment hirers, albeit not on the volumes count, but certainly in terms of quality and dependability.

I fondly recall many of my esteemed clients.
All those CISCO, Microsoft Events which were complex and challenging,
The Conventions for AMWAY's Distributors: NETWORK 21,
The Art of Living,
Zafar Hai, one of the finest Short Film makers,
The Siddha Centres of Meditation,
the Glamour Events such as Rock Shows, Award Functions and so on..

We were pioneers in a way- Some of the equipment was procured by us before anyone else in India.

The biggest plaudits we received are cherished by me till date.

The Network 21 (AMWAY) convention brought one such. I had taken almost impossible risks and shown initiative in actually shifting the Convention to another Venue at a very short notice. This was because the original Venue was a stadium with a collapsed roof!

The show was a roaring success, confounding my critics. Midway, I received a note at our Tech console.

Beverly Sallee, the 'Double Diamond' of Amway wanted to meet me in the Green Room. The beautiful elderly lady asked me whether I was in charge of the A/V.

Her remark stunned me: 'Yours is the finest and most resourceful Audio-Visual team I have seen worldwide'
Certainly the highest Accolade I had received from someone who addressed people in all corners of the Globe.

A similar one was by Zafar Hai, a renowned Short film-maker.
An absolute stickler for quality with an eye for detail, it was very tough to please him!

He had just Directed an absolute gem of a Film '100 years of the Taj' for the hotel's Centenary, commissioned by the Tata group.

At the Films preview for the Tata bigwigs, he introduced me to the Head of one the Tata companies as: 'the finest A/V man in India'. Coming from him, that was SOME accolade.

A rollicking journey of fourteen years it was- Stressful, Challenging on one hand, fulfilling and enjoyable on the other.

So why did it end?

Looking back, I feel the primary reason was I had lost my passion for it. There was growing disinterest in all the Events, wasn't feeling the burning desire to excel in it any more.

I did find superficial reasons such as cut-throat competition, bleak prospects, labour issues..They were all valid to a certain extent.

The primary reason for shutting down of Frontline Communications, to my mind was my lack of passion.

A business which brought out to the fore the best of my skills and abilities: I had to regretfully let go of it....

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