The act of hugging: It’s for the birds

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, ECR

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.

Ashy Woodswallows, East Coast Road

Softly and gently –
words drift away
from me.

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)

31 thoughts on “The act of hugging: It’s for the birds

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  1. Except that if you do seek ‘qualified professional’ help, you’ll most likely be given chill pills. At least in this country.

    What’s more, neither the pills nor counseling nor analysis can be shown to work substantially better than a placebo. At least, unlike the pills, counseling probably won’t further trash your life with side-effects and addiction. Though the expense can add to your difficulties.

    The problem is there’s no such disease as depression so there’s no cure for it. There’s distress that can be caused by lots of different things – physical, personal, social, existential … – that requires a response that fits the circumstances. Not a one size fits all panacea. But most professionals have little more than one big hammer and as soon as you walk into their office you become a nail.

    Better to exercise, eat well and watch the birds.

    (BTW, any idea why Ashy Woodswallows do that? Adult birds don’t usually snuggle up. Do they even do it during warm weather?)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yikes. I didn’t know those constituted to therapy in india even these days. That sucks to know. But I do many good ones who have helped those previously under medication just by “intelligently” listening.

      On the hand, I cannot disagree with your suggestion at any level.

      Thank you for such an insightful comment, dear friend.


  2. This was a heartwarming reflection and I appreciate every word of insight. You make a point that I have recently come to understand myself, that people need to visit a professional if what ails them is buried deep. We are trained to bury things or give them superficial treatment but one day, when the pain hits the surface, it is very hard to take. Hugs don’t always fix things, but they give us assurances that we are not completely alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s such an interesting observation coming from swallows huddled like magnetic bodies on the bombay local…you’re totally right about depression though we’re miles away from breaking the taboo and then making quality professional care accessible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good to see the human in you….sometimes blogs give the feel that the blogger lives a picture perfect life with only smiles and cheer….the reason for social-media-depression !

    Good that birds give you solace when you need it most.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you LG. To quote a dialogue from Fight Club – “we have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives”!

      Hope you’ve been well.


  5. Depression n mosquitoes….sure they both suck …. but you really amazed me by the comparison… perfect partners indeed! Softly, gently unsolicited they come bent on disturbing and draining!

    Loved those ‘bear hugs’ in between! 🙂

    ‘ve always admired passing clouds … they are good… they adorn, they ornate … add lustre … hope they do the same to you!

    Beautiful clicks… expressive close-up shot!… If I spot Ashy Woodswallows in future, sure I‘ll be looking for their ‘oven-fresh communal hugs’… Your blogs are a treat to thoughts and eyes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “They both suck” hehe never thought of it that way (giggles)

      Beautiful description of how passing clouds mean more that weight of the storms in them, thank you for that M. Also, for the warm footprints you leave behind in this little space of mine ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. In Texas, everything is made better with a hug. If you’re not a hugger, don’t EVER come to Texas! Complete strangers will embrace you like a long lost boyfriend if you so much as look like you need one. ‘Instead of squelching the melancholy in unhealthy ways, I drive to hill stations in search of birds.’ Here, here, Christy. It’s what I’ve been doing mostly on any time off the last few months. I have been perpetually surrounded by depressing situations caused by my own species! Hugs desperately needed!!

    Missing you, my friend. I hope all is well. I loved these woodswallows so much (wasn’t this posted previously?) I took a screenshot and kept it as my lock screen for the longest time. They — you — make me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shannoonrooooo! Missed you loads, as well, dear friend. It’s been that kinda “January – May”, hasn’t it?

      Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

      And yes, it was posted before (shameless self promotion + shame of reading the crap I have posted before)!

      Can’t wait to exchange birdy stories too (beaming smile).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. 🙂 Hugs, and more hugs. Beautiful post and photos, C! You know my story and from all that I have read and read, I have made a special note of these two – “Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.” (Marcel Proust). The other is from Dr Andrew Weil’s book Spontaneous Healing. Depression is a state of high potential energy which when accessed and channelized outwards could lead to healing. I do fail sometimes, and I would say that drug treatment has its own place in some cases. But it’s scary how readily they are prescribed. And then of course, there are MDs like Kelly Brogan who suggest that eating and avoiding certain foods and a few lifestyle changes can help one deal with depression.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sadly, mental health is still pretty taboo topic over here in Canada/the US as well…probably not as much as in India. Here, they want to prescribe you medication the minute you want to see someone. Personally I took a long time before seeking help because of what people would think if they found out or the possibility it could prevent opportunities in the future. I still have only told 2 people, but it definitely helps even to just have a nonjudgmental person listening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never quite realized that it was taboo in those areas as well, Hazel. I guess, turning into a “prozac nation” is just as bad as one that is archaic in its beliefs. I am pleased as peach that you sought help when you found it necessary. That’s so beautifully human, to exercise that control. Good for you!

      And thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think it improving but its still not something most people talk about. I used to live in New Zealand and it was much worse there. They tend to have quite an attitude of “just be tough and deal with it” and not talking about real feelings (though that is a huge generalization of course). There’s quite a high suicide rate there.
        Anyway I’m glad I did, too. Its ok to say you need help. 🙂 Sometimes I struggle with that.

        Liked by 1 person

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