The kind looking man sitting across me was saying that these are just the beginnings of symptoms of OCD. “I am fairly sure these can be treated without medications. Lets look at a more holistic approach...” For the next three quarters of an hour, he took me through my personal issues, gently counselling me at every stage till I was fairly convinced that I am a healthy person with a healthy mind and I can live a normal life.
The trigger (I am not completely sure about this) was a power point presentation I had seen in my son’s school as part of their culmination day activity. The presentation showed the grave consequences of misuse of water with the prediction of a doomsday just 50 years from now when our children would have less than 1 glass of fresh water a day to drink. Such predictions are always exaggerated, based on highly approximated figures but that did not help to lighten my mood as I walked out from the room with horrifying images plaguing my mind. That was a year ago.
Now, a year later, I am suddenly greeted by dark thoughts sneaking into my mind. What if all the water resource of the world gets depleted in a few decades? What will happen to our kids, and their kids? Then one day I get stuck in a real bad traffic jam and anxiety knocks on the doors of my mind. How many thousands of new cars hit the road every day? What if when my kids are grown, the roads are so full of traffic that no-one can ever reach anywhere? I see an aeroplane flying high and wonder how much fuel it must consume per flight. Then, before I know it, the treacherous thoughts invade my mind. How long would the energy resources of the planet last? What will happen to the rain cycle once when all forests are cleared for urbanisation? Will there be enough fresh air to breathe in the near future or will our grand kids have to wear oxygen masks? And so on, the thoughts become stronger every day. They baffle me with their persistent energy. They rock and torture my mind, giving rise to a whole lot of uncontrollable anxiety. I am unsure as what to do. I am incapable of showering, eating, thinking. I want to fast-forward my life to see what happens. I panic at how to get through the day. I cannot discuss this madness with anyone out of fear that I would be laughed at. At last, out of desperation, I confide in my husband. He suggests that we seek professional help.
The first doctor I consult talks with me for precisely five minutes. She concludes that I have OCD and prescribes three medicines which I have to take for a long time. I hesitate. I google the definition of OCD and get the following... “Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviours aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.” I study the symptoms of OCD, they all seem to match my condition.
My husband suggests that I seek a second opinion. After giving it a thought I decide to reach out to an old friend whom I can trust. She helps me immediately with the reference of a ‘wonderful’ doctor who had helped her mother in the past. And that is how I find myself sitting across this kind looking man, late one Saturday evening. He is talking to me. He wants to listen to everything that matters to me. He takes time to talk to my husband. He suggests to me to break the monotony of my everyday life, to try and do things differently. While talking to him I realise that I have been very lonely for very long. I had felt pangs of loneliness when my husband would be away on his profession (he is a sailor) and a different kind of loneliness even when I am surrounded by people. I had given up a blooming career in advertising eight years ago to devote myself to the children. I guess I had started to structure a routine to make my life easier but in the process my days have become predictable, monotonous.
I walk out feeling that I am normal, perfect. I will try to live more spontaneously as I used to. We stop for ice-cream before heading home. I see an aeroplane flying. I don’t panic. For the next few weeks I am a happier, more relaxed person. I don’t arrest the thoughts when they knock on my mind; I greet them and say hello to them and tell them I don’t need them. I follow all the instructions of my doctor. I meditate. I laugh loudly and freely.
Then one day out of curiosity, I decide to do some research online; not the most reliable source, but still. I discover that we have plundered this planet and depleted one-thirds of its total resources over the last three decades. Our extravagant and wasteful lifestyles (especially of the developed nations) are fast upsetting the delicate natural balance and cycles. No amount of technology can make life sustainable beyond this century if the current rates of wastage of resources continue.
Some of the dark foreboding anxiety grips me. I am on the edge of panic. Then my daughter runs in with a paper and crayons and I immediately visualise a lovely life bringing up my kids with joy. I know that I can deal with my thoughts, I know that technology will advance fast enough to provide an answer to every problem mankind may have, I know that if I have faith, the Universe is a great provider.
I am normal now. I ask myself some perfectly sane questions which any person of sound mental health may contemplate without panicking. “Is it really necessary to stretch the gifts of nature to the limit?” “Are continuous materialistic aspirations and fulfilment making us continuously happier?” “Now that the wheel has been set to motion, can any power stop it, or control it?”
My daughter begins to passionately colour the sky a lovely shade of blue. I sincerely pray that it stays that way. I know I am normal but another stray thought sneaks in through the backdoor of my mind and I wonder, “Are the world and the vast humanity that dominates it normal? If so, why are they not panicking?”