If you could have a conversation with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
It should have to be Friedrich Nietzsche owing to him being one of the most misinterpreted philosophers in the western history. His concepts like ‘Übermensch’ and statements like ‘God is dead’ have won him pessimistic accolades, where in reality the implications of these statements and concepts were to acknowledge a human’s potential of being capable of orienting their lives in whichever direction they want, without relying on any superior power.
It would be a privilege to have a discourse with a personality that advocated free will.
How did you choose your current profession?
My journey towards my profession began by being a patient of clinical depression and panic disorders myself. See when you sit on the pathological side of the table, you’re sort of transcended into a world of a compulsive urge to flail your hands and do whatever it takes to rescue another human trudging the same path as yours.
I guess during the course of my illness, I was introduced to how everything in the human mind is mostly in the form of a labyrinth. So curiosity and relatability to the struggles of a pathological mind got me choosing psychology as a profession.
What do you want people to say at your funeral?
Well, since mourning is the epicenter of funerals, dictums like “Gone too soon” or “such a wonderful human” pretty much comes out as a reflex. But, I’d still like to put forth my version of the answer to this and I’d do so by keeping the mainstream South Asian mindset in the center.
Since anything associated to mental health or alternate sexuality is a taboo here, I’d be glad if in my funeral people said that they’d put in efforts to have an inclusive mindset and not demonize mental disorders or scorn upon the idea of therapy.
What has been the best moment in your life?
I guess I’d have to say I’ve had many of these miniature but positively impactful moments.
But if I were to choose, and I’m pretty certain this would either make people go ‘aww’ or ‘how puerile can someone be’ but I’m going to say it anyway; my first kiss.
Even while in the moment, more than passion, it was a sense of childish joy that took over me. As though I’m being tenderly nursed with warmth.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
It would be something of a request to urge people to emphasize more on the listening part. We’re a world full of people always equipped and on our marks to offer suggestions and advices or just our version of how situations have to be troubleshot.
But most of the time, what humans are looking out for in another human is a patient and empathetic listening ear.
As a psychologist, what do you think has been the biggest mental impact of the Covid-19 pandemic?
I think with so many events like death, unemployment, helplessness, etc taking place within one’s family and in the society in general, people have become overwhelmed with constant exposure to strong negative stimuli and very little to no time to process and address it.
The result of which is all these negative cues being unhealthily repressed. And any thought, event or emotion that goes unaddressed, somehow finds a way to make its presence felt in the form of anxiety or depressive episodes or phobias.
With all the talks of physical recovery, how can our mind heal from mental stress?
Since preventing is always better, people have to reduce the consumption of news. By saying that, I don’t mean they have to be ignorant, but just have a way to keep a check on the amount of news they consume in a day.
The drill here is to not overwhelm the mind. Maintaining a journal of thoughts and emotions felt throughout the day also works wonders.
One of the major anxiety inducing factors in the current situation is uncertainty.
Establishing a daily routine allows people to ward off the uncertainty factor to a great extent. The activities need not always be something productive. It could be anything from watering your plants or having a meal on time.
But all of these cannot be substitutes for professional help. So if the symptoms aggravate there has to be medical intervention.
What are you most grateful for?
My profession. Humans are in fact, prisoners of their minds and trust me, these guys can be absolutely ruthless at times! With whatever tools I have at my disposal, I can unchain the humans and help them coexist with their minds. It’s a satisfying feeling.
Where do you find inspiration?
There’s so much encased within them; thoughts, thoughts behind thoughts, empathy, barbarism, doubts, selflessness, you see, I could just go on.
It’s like all of them are these ginormous, thousand-page walking books. I pluck bits from each one of them (metaphorically!) and string it all together.
What is the most defining moment of your life thus far?
I guess it has to be this. Having my opinions and thoughts in the form of inscriptions. I believe when reading this interview, people would take away a piece of me with them. And what better than finding a home within people.
And I must say, I have a heart full of reverence and gratitude for you all for making that happen.