From the desk of a psychologist!

Posts tagged ‘India’

Addiction in India: The War Goes On!

I am so thankful to Aamir Khan for giving voice to an  important & relevant major cause, which exists in our country but no one is willing to listen. I am an addiction counselor, who came back to my country with huge dreams of  changing the world of addiction treatment here. But am not ashamed today to accept  that I left my struggle because it was full of hurdles.  I am so grateful that today after watching Mr. Khan’s episode of Satyamev Jayate, my candle of hope has started burning again.

I have worked in various addiction treatment setups in India and it is sad but a fact, that most of them are only there to mint money. No one has a clue of what works. Because people are needy they trust them which is then misused. I was a part of this system. It made me question my integrity and disturbed me. I wanted to help but didn’t know how. I realized how much it means to me to find the answers. I traveled to the hub of addiction study, United States of America, and completed my chemical dependency certification and worked there for some time. It helped me understand this dubious disease in a better way.

I came back with huge dreams and hit the reality pretty soon. It was a WAR against the age-old mindset. I gave up but with time I had learnt one important lesson that I am not here to change the nation but to give something back to the society. Even if one person learns something from this blog, I would think that my goal is achieved. I have this powerful tool of my blog today and this post goes for the passion of my life… Addiction. Though in the show the talk was only about alcohol but here we are going to talk about addiction, whether alcohol or any other chemical ( marijuana, cigarette, cocaine etc.). The disease remains the same.

We have a very sorry state of addiction in our country. There are so many prevalent misconceptions & myths that there is no help for it.  I would like to put some light on this topic through an Indian perspective:   

  • Addiction is a disease not a bad habit or moral issue: Why in a party some people can be decent drinkers while a few make a fool of themselves. People actually wait for them to bring entertainment in a lifeless party.

I will give an example to make you understand it in a better way. Two friends decide to go for a drink. Let’s say Mr. X & Mr. Y.

Mr. X suffers from addiction while Mr. Y has no such disease. When they have the drink, Mr. Y may enjoy it but for Mr. X it is a new never  felt  before state. Mr. X is never going to forget about it.

  • Chasing the dragon: Then the chase starts. An addict, every time when goes under influence, it is with the wish of reaching the same state it felt the first time. This never happens only the substance keeps on increasing.
  • Tolerance is not good: How many times have you heard someone boasting that I can hold my drink . The biggest indicator of chemical dependency is increased tolerance of the substance.
  • The different stages of the disease: It’s an ongoing treadmill which ranges from experimentation, use, abuse to dependency on the substance. If you have the disease and you introduce your drug of choice to your body, this is how the disease will progress.
  • Hit the rock bottom:

Tony Robbins once said there are two things that motivate people to make dramatic changes in their lives: inspiration and desperation. In the journey of addiction recovery, there needs to be a kick which can stop us from the journey of  self-destruction.

Teenophobia- The cure

India is rapidly changing as a country. People, thinking, attitudes, relationships almost everything is changing. The equation between parents and children are also going through a huge transition. As we all know by now, change is good but often painful.

I am a person, who witnesses both sides of the coin. I don’t know whether I should take it as an advantage or not because it makes me feel for both and I find myself in a fix. I understand the dilemma both go through on an everyday level.  There are a lot of confusions, frustrations, irritations which leads to utter chaos.

If you are a parent of a teenage child, these are some of the statements you often must have heard,

” You need to trust me”,                  

” If everyone is allowed to do it, why can’t I?”,

” My friends understand me better than you.”

” Why do you compare me, all the time?”

” Why should I do something just because you want me to?”

” What’s your problem with my phone or computer use…It is my life!”

” You are never satisfied or happy with me.”

And as a parent you must have seen yourself repeating these sentences over and over,

” Do you even listen to me.”

” Put the phone down.”

” You need to do this because I say so.”

” Where is your respect?”

” I am just asking for a little responsibility.”

” I have seen the world, trust me.”

The gap, between both of you, all of a sudden looks so huge. Something, somewhere has changed drastically in a couple of years. It is like as a parent you were doing great and now nothing you do is sufficient.

Every day I have at least a couple of sessions which give me the feeling of déjà vu. After dealing with quite a number of these cases, I have understood some things, which  I would like to share with you today:

  • There is a lot of Miscommunication or Lack of communication between an adolescent and parent: While talking to both the parties, I have realized one thing…both have a lot to say to each other, which they never do.

Parents are generally uncomfortable in talking about certain issues, like sex, substance abuse, which leads to them either opting to not talk about it at all or becoming overly aggressive as soon as the topic is brought up.. This also makes the kids uncomfortable. They sense the discomfort of their parents and find it easier to hide or lie about it.

  • As parents, we need to understand that the world is changing, as so is our culture. We need to be aware about what  the general trends are as far as the freedom and independence of our kids are concerned. We need to know the outing hours, frequency of peer outings, time on laptops and phones of the friends of our kids.We can neither live in the last century, nor just let go of all the rights of a parent.

It is always a good idea to be in regular contact with the parents’ of the peers of our teenager. We should know what is being allowed and accepted by others. This will help us with the typical, ” The rest of the parents are cool with it.”

  • We need to have our own home rules and regulations. It should be talked with the adolescent and make them understand the point and the reasons behind them. It is also a good idea to abide by these rules yourself before implementing it.  They will learn the best when they will see you rather than hear you.
  • It is a good idea to always give them the reason behind your decisions. Just because you have gone through a childhood, where rules were made without any questions and answers, that doesn’t mean you could do the same.

If you’ll make decisions without giving reasons, you’ll lose the trust of your child. They will start taking you as a dictator and stop sharing their thoughts and issues with you. They will think that their friends understand them in a better way than you.

Generally, I have seen that you stop giving reasons when you yourself are out of it. Reflect and see, whether the point you’re sticking to is even worth it?

  • There is also a major issue of ‘talking back’ of children: The generation we are talking about is very forthright. They will ask till they get an answer, which they like. We need to understand it and should be tactful in such situations.

If the ‘ talking back’ becomes disrespectful, you need to be clearly voice it to your teenager. There also is a need for the presence of proper consequences when there is crossing of limits, which needs to be decided beforehand.

You should always remember that whatever is the situation, you need to be emotionally available for your adolescent.

For a teenager, the times are really difficult. They are going through change within them as well as the outside world . They are highly confused and as a result very vulnerable. Be gentle with them.

Your child is seeking support, though it comes with an attitude. You can’t blame them, it is their age of confusions!

P.S. If you are a teenager reading this article, I have a message for you. Your parents love and care for you and that is why they always want to protect you from this big bad world. They are scared and don’t know how to reach you. Help them help you!

Are we raising Homophobics?

India, A country where we are  not only uncomfortable but actually dead scared to even say the word SEX. Talking about it to our kids is still a big TABOO for most of us. As a result, it has become a dirty word here. Everything and anything to do with sex must be a really bad thing.

Conclusively, the views about homosexuals are not only of unnatural but actually some phenomenon to be hated. I think we could tolerate a rapist for once, but not a homosexual. We have extreme thoughts about the homosexuals.

Today, I am not here to judge or decide between the wrong and right. My question is if there is someone we know, who is a homosexual, how are we getting hurt by it? What makes us work overtime and fill our children’s minds with hatred against them? You see a homosexual, then not only run but HURT them…You’ll be an Indian Hero!

Last year one of ours took the lesson from his parents very well ; went ahead and made a mark. He actually went for a home run. I am talking about Mr. Dharun Ravi. An Indian student sadly ended up with a homosexual roommate. He was quoted as saying, ” I still don’t really care, except what my parents are going to say. My dad is going to throw him out the window.” As learnt, he punished the wrong doers with the extreme behavior leading  the roommate to end his life. Now, this ex Rutgers student is facing a verdict of being guilty to 15 different charges.

Sonia Katyal, a law professor at Fordham University, said “for those who grow up in a world where no one talks about gay issues … it helps you to understand why someone might make the choice to engage in some sort of bullying or some sort of intimidation.”

Amit Bagga, a gay Indian-American former Congressional aide who has been active in the LGBT community, said his reading of the case suggested that Ravi was “generally homophobic,” consistent with the South Asian cultural environment in which Bagga said he grew up. Bagga explained the perspective as a form of collective denial: “It’s ‘Why would we even think to talk about this? Because this is something that is so alien to us and our worldview and our understanding of the world.'”

Let’s be honest and ask ourselves, why are we so negative and reactive to the very mention of the word homosexual in any form? The reason for any phobia is FEAR. Are we scared and if we are of what and why? Is it the fear of what we thought to be the right way all along is not the ONLY WAY? Is it our religious & cultural beliefs?  Is it an envy to a point of hatred?

I could be asked this question that how come this sudden emergence of homosexuality? Let me tell you something ( which I am positive a lot of you already know), homosexuality in India is prevalent  from the time of the Vedas. There is enough literature of it in them. Even in the last century, our country had its share of homosexuals, which were generally referred as mad, weird and evil people. It is just that now we have started to murmur about it and my apologies for bringing it here also.

Please introspect : Do they need to charge Dharun for the crimes or our society as a whole? Do we need to now at least try to become comfortable with the sexuality of a person and let them be whoever they are?

When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.  ~Epitaph of Leonard P. Matlovich, 1988 (Thanks, Marlene)

Why Online Counseling?

When I decided to choose the line of psychology and become a therapist, I never thought I’ll one day advocate Online Counseling. To be very honest, in our time there was no field  called as online counseling. Technology was still finding its place at that time. I had the full intention of becoming a traditional counselor and I did so too. Gradually I started hearing the term ” online counseling” and I thought must be a way of fooling people. My personal belief was no proper certified psychologist will do this. I found it below my level!

And as they say a little knowledge is dangerous, it made me naïve and think like a fool.Today, after gaining some knowledge in this field, I am at a very different stage . I started online counseling as a way of helping someone, who was just not in a situation to come out and look for a therapist. It started because there was no other alternative but became one of my biggest tool today. So, here I am with the reasons why I find online counseling an emerging way of helping those, who really need it but can’t get it in the traditional face to face way. Lets start with what in the first place counseling is ? Here is a power point to shed some light on the definition of counseling:

counseling

This was about counseling and why do we need it.

Now there could be two situations pertaining to this : you need something and you go ahead and fulfill it but many times, due to various reasons there are issues which hinders you achieving your need. Same goes for counseling, lets talk about the different issues which can make the conventional face to face counseling difficult for a person :

Lack of resources : In our country finding a trained qualified therapist is a tough job. You recognise the need for counseling and try to find a therapist but it becomes difficult and gradually you leave hope. The extra stress of looking for a counselor,who really can help  is something which only adds to your misery.

The taboo of visiting a shrink : ” Oh my God, is everything alright?”, ” Do you want to share with me about it”, “Are you crazy?” are some general reactions and apart from these questions there are also the judgmental looks to go through. You really need to be superhuman to not to be bothered by them.

Busy schedule: sometime you just are so occupied that finding time becomes an issue. You want to see a therapist but when?

No travelling time & stress: India has many great things to boast of but traffic is not one of them and if you’re in one of the big cities, God bless you!

Being in your comfort zone:  If you’re troubled, going to an alien place feels traumatic. Just the security of being in your house give you the courage of starting the process. I have known so many people who have made the phone call but when the time came to visit the therapist, they just were not able to do so.

These are my general reasons of trying to prove that online counseling can be a good way for people who needs counseling but unable to reach out to a therapist’s center but now the million dollar question is ” What is online counseling and how is it carried out?”

It is actually very simple and straightforward.Online counseling is the provision of professional counseling services concerns via the Internet. Services are typically offered via email,real-time chat, and video conferencing.

So, the different medium of video conferencing could be:

            

A very good way which has emerged for group therapy & self-help groups is Google+ hangouts.

This was a glimpse of online therapy and what it has to offer. I am sure it must be a great feeling to know that YOU HAVE OPTIONS! 

If this article has left you with questions brewing in your mind…Go ahead and ask, it is not going to hurt anyone 🙂

Both Bullies And Their Victims Are Three Times More Likely To Have Suicidal Thoughts By Age 11

I chose to start my blog with the topic of bullies because of a reason. Bullies, in any age, can be a major traumatic experience for all the players involved. You get affected as a victim, bystander or even as a bully. We live in a community, were still major population is not even aware of this term. It is sad but true! Please as parents, wake up. Start talking to your kids about bullying. Trust me if you’ve a child, he or she is a player in this game; the roles are different. Join hands for a cause!

Both Bullies And Their Victims Are Three Times More Likely To Have Suicidal Thoughts By Age 11.

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