Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Thought Bubble

Exams get you thinking. More than just the ritual of learning *cough* mugging. For a change, this time, I actually managed to sit it out and read up the causal factors of all disorders. It made me think all the more (really, why don't I ever contemplate life on non-exam days, when I'm more jobless, I wonder.)

In School, I would always end up with a throat infection or an upset stomach every March and September. I still remember this one time when I had written an exam in school, and then had to sit mum throughout the entire bus journey (and our school was on the outskirts of Bangalore, so go figure!) , only to rush back home from the stop and throw up. I would never eat outside, never drink cold water/ice cream/just ice (yeah, it's a peculiar habit, I know) at least weeks before an exam. And despite that, I'd land up with a stomach/throat infection. Every March and September.

Today, it's manifested in a whole lot of different ways. I don't worry so much about the exams. Other things take up priorities. But the throat/stomach infections got me thinking about the stress that we all carry on our heads all the time.

Nearly all the causal factors of disorders that I've studied include stress. From Unipolar Depression to Schizophrenia, Eating Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Conversion Disorders..etc. They ALL have the common etiology of stress involved. In fact, stress has been credited with a whole set of disorders, called psychosomatic disorders, instead of just being causes of co-morbid conditions.

How many of us can stay cool in the face of exams? I know I can't. Sure, I walk into the room like an ice cube, but before entering, I'm a bundle of nerves. I wonder if it is worth the cost of my sanity?

We all live in this thought bubble that unless I have a schizophrenic relative, I'm not likely to get Schizophrenia. Oh well, I'd like to tell the rest of us, happy wishing. Stress is harmful, way more harmful than we can ever imagine, if we let it take over our lives so completely.

The prevalence of most disorders caused by stress is highest in the age range of 20-30. We're building futures, shaping careers, managing and sharing lives...basically constructing that dream house for when we retire. So I guess it's unfair to believe that we can all just take a break, relieve the stress and wait it out. We are probably going to have to deal with it instead.

So just take a minute off your work/study/life. Close your eyes. Replay the technicolour movie of the most important people and events in your life (happy ones only. I don't want to get into therapy for depressive disorders now!). Think of that flower you saw on the bush, but did not stop to admire it's hue and texture. Think of the time when you saw your first perfect A (sure, I'm a geek and that works for me!). Think of everything that can possibly bring a smile to your face.

And then open your eyes. You'll see the world differently. I know I did. It's worth spending a minute every now and then to appreciate what you have rather than worry about what you may/may not have in the future, right? In fact, if nothing else, it gives you the determination to pursue your goals with an increased fervor. A will to build more dreams, and convert them into reality.....who knows, maybe some day, you'll close your eyes for that one minute and think of the very dream you're trying to achieve today?

P.S. If I sound like an evangelist/fanatic/yoga teacher/value education teacher, kindly blame 'Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life'. A book that has inspired me to take a minute off, and think. Made me realize that my life is much more important than appearing as a statistic in their future editions.