Aug 13, 2014

The legacy of Robin Williams

Yesterday, the world lost one of its funniest citizens.
Just to remind us that depression can be masked.
Just to remind us how deadly depression can be.
Just to remind us how misunderstood depression is.
Hopefully, there will be more awareness about it.
And more conversation/discussion about it.
Hopefully, people will learn about helping one another.
Hopefully, people will venture into helping one another.
Finally, what I'm doing to help myself and others.

A twitter movie reviewer, I have become

is a consequence of THIS
and THIS.

Aug 12, 2014

Ashok Row Kavi interview on BBC World Service's Outlook

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised when I logged on to BBC World Service's web page and found a smiling Ashok Row Kavi staring at me. I found out that Ashok was featured on one of the station's flagship shows called "Outlook." This morning, over my first cup of coffee, I heard the interview. I thoroughly enjoyed knowing more about a man that I have personally known, albeit rather casually, for several years. I recommend this interview to anyone who would like to know more about one of India's pioneering hay rights activists.

Aug 4, 2014

What I'm going through to get better

I'm sure that among my readers, there are at least a few who have battled depression. What it does to you is sometimes devastating. You simply forget how to live they way you used to live and forget how to love what you used to love. It's incapacitating. I still remember that only a few years before, I was interested in going out to a movie and eating out and simply having fun. Two years back, I was absolutely in love with traveling and look forwarded to go to new places and have exotic experiences. The list goes on and on.

After being on a relatively ineffective pharmacotherapy cocktail for approximately two years, I consulted my present shrink, who switched to the present the pharmacotherapy cocktail (below) and guided me to talk/behavioral therapy. During the course of psychological testing, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety disorder, stress disorder most probably as an effect of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to childhood trauma. Yes, it sounds like a lot. Hence, along with the medications, I have started an efficacious, albeit debated, psychotherapy method called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for PTSD.

As pharmacotherapy for depression, I'm on the following cocktail:
  • low-dose amitryptiline (a classical tricyclic antidepressant)
  • medium-dose bupropion (an atypical antidpressant mood stabilizer)
  • low-dose clonazepam (an antianxiety agent)
  • low-dose haloperidol (an antipsychotic agent)
Apart from that, I'm taking Vitamin B and Vitamin D supplementation.*
As part of pscyhotherapy, I have undergone/am undergoing the following:
Wondering the reason behind why I'm posting all these details? To be honest, I have come across several people suffering from depression who are simply unaware of what they can do to get themselves and their lives back on track. By being open about what I'm going through, I hope to bring more awareness regarding depression and PTSD so that more people can help themselves.

An important point to note is that the bullet about reading and learning about depression, PTSD, and cognition in general need not be limited to who are suffering from depression or PTSD. I would recommend this as a useful exercise to just get accustomed to the concepts and the phenomena underlying these conditions. Especially, those who are close to those who are the sufferers.

In the last few weeks, I have recommended these the first two books to several people and I have gotten very positive responses regarding the same. I hope that I can get my family (my sister and my mother at least) to read these books.
If you are reading this and if you know someone who shows signs of these conditions, please encourage the to seek help and/or read these books.

*I was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency a couple of years back.

Aug 3, 2014

Being an elder brother comes naturally to me (a photo blog)

A couple of years back, I faced a situation that kickstarted my being-an-elder-brother-for-a-younger-gay-man mode. My friend, who calls himself Emosexual in an online chat room* on that I initially met him in, was then a barely legal young man in another metropolitan city in India and was facing problems with his family after they discovered that he is gay.

One morning, I received a text message from our common friend Mickles1, a wonderful British man settled in California, explaining to me that Emosexual had been asked to leave his home and that he in distress and was not sure what to do. In a couple of hours, I arranged for a flight reservation for emosexual and transferred some money to his account. By that night, he was in Mumbai, and eventually stayed with me in my apartment for approximately two months before returning to his home, of course, having reconciled with his family.

I am not a very social person and living with someone else is extremely stressful for me. Yet, I was able to manage living with a precocious, bubbly, energetic young man for a couple of months. I enjoyed mentoring him, or so I hope, helping him adjust to his new role, in which he was way more independent and responsible after having come out to his family. I think I was successful in my endeavors, and I hope to have Emosexual comment on this post to ensure that this is fairly accurate.

Since then, I have faced similar situations, and while they were not as drastic as Emosexual's situation was, I still enjoy donning that role. For example, I did it with another younger man here in Mumbai, who was then involved in a rather dysfunctional relationship with my friend Frankenstein**. Although I received some help from Jay, I was involved in the mentoring role for a longer period. I enjoy such situations and I latch on opportunities whenever I get some, especially in a situation that does not involve too much of personal/social stress.

This also takes place on social networking platforms and gay personals sites as well. Here's an example of that on a very popular gay personals platform in India called PlanetRomeo. I thought I did well. I'm in grey bubbles and the young man is in white bubbles.

*Chat rooms are still relevant in my neck of the woods. Yes, even in 2014.
**Frankenstein is one of the most hilarious men I have ever met. He is also my movie buddy, and we go out for sci-fi monster flicks. We are planning to watch Marvel's Guardian's of the Galaxy this coming weekend.

Aug 2, 2014

The African void

Three points about Africa:

1. I just read about this on Times Of India - Uganda court scraps new anti-gay law

2. Yesterday, I also heard a BBC anchor from Africa say something in the lines of, "I come from Africa which gets its share of daily doom."

3. After hearing this, it dawned on me that I don't have any friends - online or offline from Africa. I have so many friends from the USA, Canada, UK, Asia, Australia, and even Latin America.

I feel sad and about Africa and ashamed of myself.