Depression can be a pesky mosquito. I try and swat it when I hear it buzzing in my ears. The feeling disappears for a while but it never really goes away. It just goes into hiding and waits for me to slip again. I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this. Instead of squelching the melancholy in unhealthy ways, I drive to hill stations in search of birds.
I seek solace in nature and its magnificent creatures. I am a tie-dye tee shirt away from being a tiresome cliché. It embarrasses me to think about it. But I won’t change my ways. I still want to escape internal conflict instead of dwelling on the details. It helps that I get to see birds exchange love with each other. They reaffirm my faith in humanity despite belonging to a different species.
I can’t explain it. I suppose, therein lies the charm of believing in it.
Ashy Woodswallows are stocky endemic birds I spot at least once in a month. Every morning, they haunt the dry evergreen sections alongside a scenic highway road. I find them in groups atop wires. These woodswallows are huggers. They start the morning with oven-fresh communal hugs. I imagine the saddest one is in the middle – soaking in the warmth from others.
It is also a great way for them to dry up the moisture in their wings.
As much as I adore seeing them hold onto to each other, I realize that it probably won’t work in my world. Hugging can’t turn things around for me when I am down and blue. Except if it is a literal ‘bear hug’, followed by severe mauling and eating of the face. That will change my emotional priorities.
Maybe it’s because depression is a series of passing clouds in my life, rather than seasonal weather. I know that some suffer from far more serious bouts. They need a pain management process. One that can ease and eventually – dissipate the stress, the anxiety, and the fear.
All the love and success in the world can’t take their hurting away in one swift movement. I am not so sure if hugging can help them much. There are no sustainable benefits to it. But a conversation with a qualified professional may work wonders. They go by different names – psychoanalyst, psychologist, cognitive therapist, etc.
Not everyone is game for it, though. In India, it is still considered a taboo subject. Like abortion, divorce, homosexuality or a degree in arts, people tend to sweep in under their family carpets.
It’s unfortunate. After all, seeking therapy is akin to talking to a close friend for a meaningful amount of time on a regular basis. The only difference is he/she cares deeply about you for different but equally valid reasons.
If you feel that depression is consistently holding you down, and leaving you gasping for air. Please get professional help. If you aren’t sure about it, go for an early morning trip and observe your local woodswallows.
They are really good at this hugging business.
Softly and gently –
words drift away
The night swallows the road.
Serenity becomes a dream within a dream.
And the birds leave,
fearing the worst.
Don’t touch me.
I may scream.
(Photographs: East Coast Road, Pulicat)