Body Dysmorphic Disorder

I want to enjoy this evening, I really do; I want to look deep into your eyes, watch the laugh lines around your face, and brush my legs against yours as we lose ourselves in this music.

But…but every time you look at me, I catch your eyes stop at my nose, making my heart sink into my knees every time they linger a little too long on the middle of my face.

I fix my hat to make sure its shadow covers most of my face, I excuse myself again and again, to apply another layer of foundation on my nose. I catch my face on glass doors and behind steel spoons, I catch the waiters turning ’round to look at it (my nose) again and again, I put my phone on front camera and check and recheck my disguise under the the table…I send a selfie to my best-friend and my mother asking them the fifth time this evening if my nose is well covered, I catch my reflection on your cigarette case…I…oh darling….I…please excuse me, I don’t feel too well, I must retire early, I think I’ll drive myself home now. 

{I cry on the drive back home. But I could not…could not bear to watch your eyes drop at my nose one more time this evening. }

You can read more about Body Dysmorphic Disorder here.

Burn Out

I am a journalist, or maybe a writer, or maybe even the Managing Director of the manufacturing company you would have liked to work in. It doesn’t matter what my visiting card says. All I am right now is an overwhelming mass of exhaustion. I might have a story to send in tonight, maybe an article to finish, tax forms to complete, budget plans to prepare, Skype calls or  overseas deals…but every toss and turn of my mind tires me. 

How did I get here?

Remind me why I got here?

I might be a sprinter, running on the field…and suddenly I can’t see the end-line any more. I am not even sure there is an end line? You know what I mean?

I can finish this article, the budget plan, the calls, the deals and the tax forms…I can drag my hands, my head, my expensive education through these slow moving steps….but what difference will it make? What is the goal, the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel (if you will) of all this. Remind me, please remind me, the point of all this. How will it get me away from the quick-silver sunsets, the rush of darkness, this overpowering tiredness. 

If I sit in this chair, unmoving, for the next whole week (or month or year) with unattained deadlines, unfinished tasks and unanswered calls, the world will still move on in its exact same devastating way. Nothing I do changes the course of this life!

Tell me, tell me I am wrong.

Before I link to other articles, I want to assert here that Burn-Out is NOT the same as Stress; and while Stress is physically damaging, burn-out is psychologically damaging (though of course, our psychological well-being impacts our physical well-being and vice versa). You can read more about occupational burn-out here. BBC did an interesting feature with Anna Schaffner, the author of “Exhaustion: A History”, which you can read here. And for a quick guide on how stress is different from burn-out, go here.

Postpartum Depression

I had painted the walls myself, of the room in which he was to live. Jurassic themed. 

I had even allowed a corner for the Manchester United logo that my husband wanted, already thinking of ways in which he will suck the child into the soccer frenzy.

I can’t enter that room now. I have been back from the hospital for over three months  and those reptiles I had drawn and painted with so much patience (and love?)…they are out to get me! Their long faces, and those big mouths…they will expose me. They look at me with that look! that look…of knowing…they know, they sense the darkness inside me. 

And that…that child. Oh! Is he really mine? Did he really grow inside me all these months. They say he looks just like me. I can’t see the similarity…I can’t…oh I can’t say it…but… Aren’t you supposed to feel something? “It will change your life” they said about motherhood. What did my mother feel when she first held me in her arms. Did she feel love…why can’t I feel the love I am supposed to feel. 

I can’t look at him, I can’t…I can’t watch those arms stretch at me. They keep bringing him to me, but I can’t feed it…him. My breasts, my body, my heart has nothing. There is no mother in this body!

Every morsel I eat feeds this wretchedness inside me. I am scared to sleep…I am scared of what I will become when I wake up. Can I undo these 9 months? Can I undo this? He cannot deserve a mother like this? 

And each day those reptiles grow…bigger and bigger. They are all around me. I bathe and bathe and bathe wishing praying that I can shed this…this hideousness inside me. I can’t stand my own self, all my insides, my intestines, my brains, all mix and convolute into knots and knots of pain. 

As usual Mayo Clinic has all the basic information about the disease that you can read here. There is also this interesting account by Stephanie Grant about her mother who had suffered from Postpartum Depression; find it here.

 

Bipolar Disorder

Hello darling, let me buy you a drink! I feel like I have known you all my life, I have a sudden urge to kiss you and feel your body in my hands. I know you find me attractive, I see it in your eyes; and if you don’t you will once you hear me pour out my heart to you. How can you not! I come like a gust of overpowering energy and charm that you have never seen before . You will not be the first woman to fall in love with me tonight, and you are the not the first girl I have bought a drink for today. I love them all. Every girl in this room has my attention, I want to buy them drinks and flowers and make them laugh all night long. Where do I have all the money, you ask? Well, that’s what they made credit cards for. 

I could fall in love with myself tonight. Look at these perfectly articulated sentences I create out of thin air. I conjure up stories and jokes without a pause. My stories sound so plausible that I almost believe them myself. I could be born in Mexico, or maybe New York City, or maybe I was born to the daughter of a concubine in Lucknow. It doesn’t matter, as long as the story is interesting and I have your attention. I want to call every single friend I have not been in touch with the last month and tell them how much I love and miss them. I have already called my mom and reminded her that she will always be my favorite woman in this world; I think I made her cry with emotion. I wish everyone could see me right now; how wonderfully charming I am. I  have the perfect comeback for everything today, and the answer to every question you have. I have so much poetry coming out of my brain, that I keep jotting down lines on tissue papers and on the backsides of drink bills. 

Three hours later I find myself on the terrace of this bar; I am with a girl, I can’t remember her name. When did we come here? How long have we been talking? Her face reminds me of my ex-wife, and my daughter that she (my ex-wife) won’t let me see. I feel the air leave my lungs, how dark this night has become; I look down the railing and see the ground stare back at me, waiting. I am suddenly aware that there is nothing holding me back, nothing holding me back from making the jump. I look at the girl that is (not) my daughter and my ex-wife and I plead “please don’t let me jump”.  Her eyes go wide and I am conscious of every single eye in this room looking and judging me. I want to get out of here, but what a long way till home and how tired I am. I look down again and realize how much closer that ground is to me right now, and how easy and quick it will be. I close my eye and try to think of my mother’s face and count till 20 and wait for this nausea to stop. 

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Bipolar Disorder, the NIMH site is of course a good place to get a basic understanding on it. But if you really want to know what it means to live with the disorder, consider reading this book by Kay Redfield Jamison, the wonderful writer and psychologist who has herself lived and thrived with (and despite) being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder since an early age. It’s beautifully written and I think will be an interesting read even if you’re not interested in mental health.