Primum Non Nocere

Not too long ago, I posted on Twitter (which is linked to my Facebook), and I asked whether fighting for mental health, at the cost of your own mental health, was worth it.

I received a plethora of responses. As always I wasn’t able to respond to all of them, but I found each of them equally valuable, and I’d like to share a few below.

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Basically, some suggested that it is worth it, because everything you do comes with an associated cost to your mental health. Most of my friends, however, strongly felt that it was not worth it. That nothing was worth sacrificing your own mental health for.

Now, there is a reason I put up this post when I did, and there is a reason that post features in this article. But before I get to that, I want to briefly touch upon the two sides that came forward in that thread.

My friend who suggested that since everything has an associated mental cost, it is worth it, was right in his own manner. Everything you do, and anything you intend on doing that you hope will be disruptive, definitely comes with a lot of baggage: sleepless nights, stressed out existence, severe anxiety, the continuous anticipation of failure, bursts of anger and impatience, and so on and so forth. There is a reason such ventures are literally categorized into something called the Suicide Quadrant.


However, my own leaning was always with the friends who said that it’s not worth it. It just seemed intuitive to not sacrifice your own mental health for any cause, especially if it was to do with mental health itself. One friend’s comment about not being able to pour from an empty cup really got through to me.

But, for some reason, I wasn’t ready to accept that, or to resign myself to knowing that I couldn’t do it. So, I chose to not accept their advice (though I doubt they knew when they were commenting that I was actively looking for advice), and went, instead, with the former; this I find ironic in hindsight, because I remember reading that friend’s comment and almost laughing it off instantly.

Why did I do that?


I ran into a friend at a mutual friend’s wedding. Okay, fine. We’re acquaintances, but Facebook thinks we’re friends. We hadn’t met or spoken in ages, but she had heard through another mutual friend that I was working for a mental health startup. And I will never forget what she said to me:

“It’s so great that you’re doing this! And it seems like such a natural progression as well, because you’re always writing about mental health and sharing things about it. But I’m so happy that you’re doing this — not just talking the talk, but actually walking the walk!”

And that was enough to pump me to keep going.

I finally did last month (March) what I had been thinking about since December — I resigned. I left my post of ‘Chief Operating Officer’ at a ‘multidisciplinary therapy center’.

And it was, by far, one of the toughest calls I’ve had to make.

What happened?

Well, that’s an interesting story, but that’s not really the story for this article. But I’ll sum it up.

What it was at the end of the day was a job. And I lost sight of that. I took it on as something bigger, something greater, something that I could be proud to be associated with and ‘own’. And in words, I was motivated towards the same by my employer — I was the ‘COO’ after all. But in reality? It was a glorified secretarial position.

To add to that? My employer believed very firmly in the number of years you have been alive as being a large (if not sole) determinant of your capabilities, and since I’m a quarter-century old, I was constantly reminded of that. To the point that I now find myself constantly wondering if I even know anything, or if I’m even worth anything, or if I can even effect any good, because, after all, I’m only 25.

I found myself losing my self-confidence. Rapidly. And it would oscillate between having to pretend as if I was in control, to retreating almost instantly to a head-down, back-hunched secretarial role.

[I feel I need to clarify something. I am in no way, shape or form trying to show down any secretarial position whatsoever — any position of work that allows for an honest wage is of the utmost respect as far as I am concerned. What I am commenting on is the dissonance between words that were being spoken and actions that were being carried out.]

Why this post?

The point of this post is not to point fingers at any specific person or place. It is to highlight a trend, and a problematic one at that. Having been on the ‘inside’ of the mental health services provision ‘industry’ I have seen some things I wish I had not seen. Of course it did not help that my employer was also my psychiatrist — a dual-relationship that a number of my friends have criticized me for having established in the first place, but one that I had established in the good faith (or naiveté as my friend put it) that my psychiatrist would know what my mental health concerns are and the resultant work environment would be one where my mental health needs would be respected, and the environment would be conducive to my stability and growth.

Needless to say I was terribly disappointed.

From the get-go, I was told one thing: to not tell people that I am under his care, and to not tell people that I am on medication. And upon my inquiring why that was the case (for I assumed it would be nothing short of an inspiration story to tell people that you could be a fully-functioning human being whilst being on treatment for your mental health), I was told that people do not understand and that’s just how society is.

I suppose I’m sick of the silence now.

And so this post is me doing what I have been trying to do since 2015: raise awareness.

Getting to the Point

I find it paradoxical that a center established for the well-being of the community re their mental health, does not cater for the mental health of its own employees.

The reason is simple: you need to question the motivation behind what you’re doing. It’s as Simon Sinek puts it: start with why.

Source: Pinterest

And when your why is a little more than making money, regardless of how you try and wrap it up and put it out there, it begins to show. Again. I am not saying (for the sake of this article at least) that there is anything wrong with wanting to make money. If you are a professional who is good at his job, then you have a right to receive remuneration for your services that you have been honing for years through study, practice and experience.

What is wrong is trying to cut costs through Pharma-sponsored printing, simply because you feel they owe you. Isn’t that part of the problem? It’s highly likely that the professional does not indulge in wrongfully advantaging one pharmaceutical company over another, but it’s something that does not sit well with me. To read about this relationship is one thing, and to see it happening is altogether another.

The physician-pharma nexus is just one example of an overall dysfunctional healthcare system crippled by malpractices. There is no authority where patients can take their complaints. Against the background of lack of accountability in the system, the onus on physicians to conduct themselves ethically becomes paramount. Doctors have an enormous responsibility to exercise their powers with integrity. Jung (2002) writes “once you have sold your soul, it can be a hard item to retrieve”.

What is wrong is for you to be a mental health professional, and to hold absolutely no empathy or regard for other people. When a very close friend’s grandmother (who, perchance, had also been his client) passed away, his response, a little while later, was to inquire whether the family was feeling happy and relieved that she had passed on.

Yes. I understand practicality is important. But is it important enough to become callous towards all emotions?

And then, it is problematic when you treat someone who has been giving you 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, like absolute crap on the opening day, simply for being 10 minutes late. It’s one thing to be told that you’re late and that it shouldn’t happen again. It’s another thing to have to bear a grown man’s passive-aggression.

My version of the opening day at the center? A break-down in front of my boss. And once the dam broke, the waterworks flowed for at least 10 minutes before only quieting down.

Sounds exactly like a dream job… 

But perhaps the biggest problem, still, is not recognizing or catering for the mental health needs of your own employees.

The work timings stretched from nine to nine; and that’s not nine to nine effectively, even though it’s nine to five on paper. It’s nine to nine on paper, and nine to ten effectively. When I pointed out that it was getting too much for me, I was simply told that I should aim to wrap up at nine sharp and leave. Or that we might figure out a way in which I could take off a couple of hours during the day.

I didn’t realize it then, but I find it ironic now, considering that the same person, a year back, wrote this prescription for my previous employer:

SJ Prescription
“Unable to cope with stress at work, he needs to reduce his working hours.”

At that point, my work hours were nine to five…

But the final nail in the coffin was the surprising realization that a mental health professional of his standing could not understand how debilitating anxiety could be. When, after working non-stop, I took a sick leave for a day after a month of the opening, which is after almost five months of me working with him, and then extended it to two days, I was greeted with the following message:

SJ Messages

[When I eventually did resign (which was perhaps later the same day, or the very next day) I brought this up, and he still stuck to his guns. “I wasn’t expecting an hour-long conversation,” he said. “You could just call and tell me you’re not coming.” “BUT I DIDN’T WANT TO TALK TO ANYONE!” I almost yelled out in response.]

This of course is only my story.

So what?

So nothing.

I am not here trying to indict someone in particular or to try and blame someone else for my resignation. That is NOT my intention, and never will be: it was an active choice that I made, and I will stick by it.

The point of me writing this post is perhaps more cathartis than anything else. When you feel let down by someone you deeply trust, you hold faith in, and with whom you have been emotionally vulnerable, it hurts. Like a fly-bat made out of bricks just came and hit your body’s anterior with swatting force.

Everyone keeps asking me why I left (what could only seem from the outset to be an inspirational story of me) pursuing my passion and doing my bit to help people and their mental health issues and finally working towards what I keep talking about. And I never have a decent answer. Even though I know.

Because it’s hard to reconcile. And it’s tough to come to terms with.

But even if I withdraw myself completely from the situation, and view it as someone who has been fighting for mental health awareness and has been advocating for the same since 2015, I find myself feeling sad, despondent, and helpless if this is the state of affairs in the field.

Because this is just one story. And within that story, this is just my narrative. There are hundreds of such stories out there. But we’ll never know. Because we are on the outside.

And so I’ll leave you with this one simple question:

Source: Pinterest



The title of this article is Latin for, “First, do no harm.” The same principle also forms part of the Hippocratic Oath.






It’s back.

Somebody hand me a quick fix. Something. Anything. Something I can put under my tongue, close my eyes, and open them to find that everything is perfectly fine.

Or maybe just a quick fix that comes with a trigger. Maybe I don’t have to open my eyes ex-post-facto.


It won’t respond to me.

It just worsens. Like a snake wrapping itself around my neck, and slithering its way up my back and up my neck. Tightening its grip, slowly, but surely.

I can’t breathe.

And my heart is racing. A hummingbird’s wings would have nothing on my heart. It’s past the point of no return. It’s just going to thump-thump-thump its way out of the vessels that hold it in place, and hold it back. And it’s going to thump-thump-thump right out of their grasp and, suddenly greeted by gravity, fall down into the pit of my stomach. Maybe a part of it has already fallen off, and is already in my stomach. Because I can feel the palpitations. I can feel the something fluttering there. But it’s not butterflies. This has weight. This has conscious weight. It’s there. I can feel it. Like a bit of my heart broke off, in all its messy fleshy nature, and is now writhing in my stomach, like a lizard’s tail after it’s been chopped off.

Oh. You think that’s disgusting? You’re revolted by it?

How about trying to sleep and waking up but an hour later to find yourself heaving and panting and covered in sweat–your shirt so wet you literally have to get up and go wring the water out of it–waking up in the morning to find salt stains against the navy blue background?

How about standing in front of people you know — people you’re familiar with — and not being able to say anything? Standing there. Silent. Mute. Seemingly still. But you’re not still. You might be frozen stiff on the outside, but everything inside of you is screaming. It’s chaotic. It’s everywhere. It’s all over the place.


EVERYTHING IS SCREAMING. But you stand there.


How you wish your heart would be right now.

So you plug your ears and you put on one song, just one, on repeat, on loop, continuously playing, over and over and over again. Because you need that familiarity. Because you need that sense of knowing what’s going to happen. Because you need that predictability. And because everything on the outside is scary. And dangerous. Even the birds chirping can set you off.

They’re always so damned happy.

And if you talk to someone about this, they’re going to dismiss it. Oh they’re going to dismiss it.

And they’re going to tell you it’s all in your head.

And they’re going to tell you you’re being stupid.

But you know it’s real.

‘IT’S REAL!’ you try screaming out; but nothing rises above your insides already screaming inside of you.

Your soul is shaking. You’re not sure how you know this, but you do. It’s quivering, in fear. It’s cowering, and so are you. In your mind, you are already in fetal position, and you are awaiting the blow — the blow that never comes. 

You lie down. But you can hear your damned heart. You can hear it yelping, like an over-active dog, over the sound of the music playing in your ears. You can hear it so loud.

You just wish it would stop.


And this is why you did not want it back.

Why did you come back?



I have nothing more to give to you. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I’m spent.

And I have nothing more to give to you.

I have nothing more to give to you.

I have nothing more to give.

Coming Clean

There is no glamour in this post. Only a lot of shame.

Because I am a social leper and I am diseased.

There is no way for me to cloak this in literary verbosity, and present it to you like a MasterChef dish. Because what is the use of making it look pretty when you can’t even smell it, leave alone taste it?

I am a frightened little baby. I am scared. I am petrified of the inevitable, even though I can feel it coming. I can feel it approaching me.

I am a deer, caught in the blinding headlights of a moving truck, racing towards me with every bit of knowledge that I am standing right here, but with no intention or want to stop, to brake or to let me get out of this alive.

Death is inevitable.

But you knew that.


Did you really know that?

Because you don’t really act the part of a mortal, aware of the finity of this journey called ‘life’. You take it all for granted. You go about your life with nothing to fear, with no remorse, with no guilt, with no conscious understanding of consequences, with no will to question, with no want to understand and with no desire to achieve anything worthwhile.

The good thing about cycling downhill is you don’t need to pedal so often.

In fact, if you completely forget there are pedals on the cycle, you can still get to your destination.

But then. Then there was Sisyphus.

Perpetually rolling the cursed rock up the mountain, only to watch it fall back down again. And yet, his Zeus-ordained punishment could never be complete until he succeeded in rolling the rock to the top of the mountain – a task that could never possibly be accomplished.

A task designed for Sisyphus to fail.

And yet.

He kept trudging.


What a silly man Sisyphus was, you might now be thinking to yourself.

Except, what are you doing? You, with your glorified suits and your voyeuristic minimalism, treading through life as if you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain and everything that you do has some form of higher purpose. That it is so essential for you to earn more money to add to the pinnacle of the pile of gold you already have stashed in your basement, because no amount of ‘enough’ ever truly is enough for you. And so you keep on going through life, without questioning, without asking, without wondering – you just do.


But it’s the robots  you’re afraid of – robots who you are so scared will take over your means of livelihood. Robots that will replace you, because no one else can perform the mundane, repetitive tasks quite like you can.

And robots don’t have morals. How will they ever find a way to circumvent any form of ‘guilt’ if they 1) don’t recognize what ‘guilt’ is, and 2) if they have no moral compass to guide them to imaginative lies that will help them sleep better at night for having exploited another human being because, let’s face it, robots don’t need sleep.

So. Have you tried turning it off and on again?

I wish I could.

Perhaps there is a bug in the system. Perhaps there is an error message hidden down within somewhere that just doesn’t get picked up and dealt with.

But I know as well as the next person – if you turn us off, we don’t get rebooted. With us, it only goes one way.

Perhaps I’ll let Albert Camus explain this from his famous work, The Myth of Sisyphus (Congratulations, you already now know who Sisyphus was).

But why am I writing all of this out?

Why am I telling you, a random person with no regard for his/her mortality and, therefore, no anxiety of the very notion of life, all of this?

Because that is where I am. And I need you to understand.

Because I am not the only one who goes through this. I am NOT THE ONLY ONE.

Have I wanted to end my life? Yes.

Have I wanted to do away with ‘me’? Yes! This narcissistic sense of ‘ME’ and this perpetually resonating ‘I’, the sheer noise of which makes living surviving an impossible task.

People think that suicide is an act of weakness. That suicide is an act of stupidity and cowardice.

Perhaps, it is. It is weak, because the people who go through with it lack the strength to continue on with life. Except. Have you ever wondered how strong they have been and for how long? I dare you to hold up the smallest cushion in your house on the palm of your hand at shoulder level for two hours. Tell me if you are able to do it. No cheating, and no pausing in between. And now if you, with your gym-going routine and your physically buff biceps can’t lift that feather-weight for two hours, who are you to judge anyone else?

Perhaps it is stupid and cowardly. Perhaps people don’t understand the beauty of life and can’t see all that life has to offer or just how many people (claim to) love them and just how appreciated they are. Don’t you understand? They’ve reached the point of numbness where none of this matters. Even if it is true, it has hidden itself behind an ugly black Veil. And I don’t mean any veil. I mean the Veil in Harry Potter. The Veil that takes away Sirius and so many others. The dividing line between the here and now, and the complete unknown – the world shrouded in mystery and the world unbeknownst to any of those still alive. The truth hides behind that Veil. So how do you expect them to reach out to it?

Except. What if that is the truth?

What if they really don’t feel loved? Don’t you understand? Loving someone isn’t just about what you do – it’s about how it feels to them. And if they don’t feel loved, despite you uprooting the Tour Eiffel and placing it at their feet, then that just means the Eiffel Tower is not what they want and you need to reevaluate what loving them entails.

I have let people down. Left, right, and centre. I have let them down. I have been a terrible human being. I have hurt those closest to me. I have hurt them with no intention of hurting them, and, in my mind, loving them beyond my capacity. I have tried to be there for those I care about and I have failed. And now, all I am, is someone who doesn’t deserve love or companionship or friendship. I don’t deserve any of that. Not now. Not ever. For if this depression and this anxiety can turn me into a monster and render me emotionally abusive, then I don’t want to be with anyone, because it will only mean hurting the singular person I would never want to hurt.

Even the Hulk has more self control. Do you understand? Even the Hulk does not blindly smash anyone and everyone.

But I do.

And I annihilate the very people who mean the most to me – the very people that I would like to support in their growth.

It’s not just about being unloved. It’s about realizing that you don’t deserve any of that. You don’t deserve that emotion.

Restaurants have big shiny plaques that yell “Rights of Admission Reserved” in your face as soon as you walk in. And you just go there for a meal. An hour. Two hours. Three hours. Five hours if it’s a buffet and you’ve handled your plates with great proficiency. Except. This is a relation(ship). From your parents and siblings to your friends to that ‘special someone’.

So if you won’t go into a Michelin-Star winning restaurant in tattered shorts and a mud stained T-shirt, then you sure as hell would never entertain a relation with the sort of demons you have on your back.

And I see that now.

And once you see it, you can never un-see it. You can wish that if you gorge your eyes out, everything will be fine. Except, by now, it is a memory. And memories are tricky, tricky creatures (they might as well be creatures who are treated as separate entities because they crawl about your brain and make you sick inside). Instead of you having any power over them, they end up controlling you.

And so begins your Hell on this earth.

And so you lie back into the nearest piece of furniture – the bed, the couch, the chair, the floor – whatever you have around. And your insides are going ballistic. It’s a civil war inside you. The forces are clashing at Heart Central, and the mutiny is rising up into Thoracic Town and moving south on Abdominal Boulevard. You can feel the footsteps of these Lilliputian soldiers. And you feel the stampede. And you feel the canons bursting and the guns being brought out, and the occasional sword slicing through your insides or the stray arrow lodging itself under your skin.

You can feel every single movement. And you just want it to stop.

You try to drown them inside. You try to flush them out. You try to calm yourself inside so that winter descends and they freeze in their positions. But nothing works. The horses charge through the flood, and the lit torches melt away the ice.

But it’s this noisy, suffocating, omnidirectional tugging that is slowly making you go insane.

You can’t survive this mutiny.

The only casualty of this battle, it seems, will be your sanity. And the only casualty of this war, it seems, will be you.

The slime of dread crawls up your back, with goosebumps on your arms and the hair on the back of your neck standing upright at Attention to salute the sludge of dread as it crawls on by, activating your adrenal system at every step of the way, causing your body to misfire adrenaline all around like the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Just as loud. Just as disruptive. Just as attention-grabbing. But not remotely as beautiful.

There is nothing beautiful about any of this.

You will do anything to curb this tsunami inside you. And when you say ‘anything’ you mean Anything. Because you just can’t take it anymore.

And you see no more options.

So you start creating your own: a blade to the wrist, a bottle of cough syrup down the throat, a noose from the ceiling fan, and whatever else you can Google and discover.

You take out an entire strip of anti-anxiety medication. You don’t even feel it. It’s just a swig of water. You know what this means, but you feel oddly calm. And the anti-anxiety medication hasn’t even kicked in yet.

But it doesn’t kill you.

It doesn’t kill you and it sure as Hell doesn’t make you stronger, because you spend the following day, after waking up in the morning (surprise!) in the worst hangover of your life – your head is heavy, your lethargic body is no longer your own, your words are slurring, and your eyes are probably giving you away.

Sometimes, it isn’t as chaotic. Sometimes, it’s just this this descent of a void into your chest – a black hole, with its unbearable weight, pulling everything inside you into its own self, while anchoring you down as if trying to pull you into the ground like quicksand. The more you fight it, the quicker you sink.

And so you stop fighting it.

And so you sink nonetheless into that void inside of you.

And while I have been there, I am scared. I am scared of this being just one more thing I have failed at, to be added to the never-ending list of relationships, friendships, family, academics, job, social life, pursuit of passion, and countless other facets of life, where I have already proven to be inadequate and a disappointment.

I am more scared because of my belief in the after-life. Because of my belief in God.

And since the hangover, every time my brain lights up like Diwali, the struggle is merely to convince myself to not go through with it. Except, the struggle soon becomes the disappointment with myself at not being able to go through with it. At giving in to the last-second wishful notion that perhaps ‘this time’ things will get better. That maybe this time it will not be so bad.

Except, it is – every single time, without fail.

Loneliness. Isolation. Desolation. Anger. Frustration. Guilt. Reclusiveness. Failures. Disappointments. Let-downs. False promises. Slipped-and-shattered hopes. Half-forgotten dreams. Crumbling ideals. Tainted notions. Lost motivation. Ephemeral inspiration.

Nothing seems just a little worth the fight against life. Nothing seems just a bit worth it to keep doing this every single second of every single minute of every single hour of every single day of every single week, of every single month, of every single year.

With no drive, how do you find a purpose?

And with no purpose, how do you keep fighting a battle you no longer believe in?

When you’re just so tired, and exhausted, and you just want to go sleep and never wake up again.

When you’re beaten, and bruised, and down, and you just can’t get up again.

What do you do?

What can you do?

How long do you suffer the insufferable?

How long do you pretend there is hope?

How long do you hide behind a mask of synthetic laughter that now plays on cue, and repeatedly practised jokes on self-deprecation, and this awkward giggle every single time life (or even a conversation on a singular, miniscule aspect of life) gets too much for you to process?

How long do you pretend you’re okay?

It turns out that the magical answer to all these problems is acceptance and the ability to love one’s own self.

Except, how do you love something you hate?

And how do you hate when you’re slowly becoming indifferent?

And how do you carry on with that indifference, when you become so numb to not even recognize your own reflection in a mirror – the looking glass on the wall, the eyes of someone very close, or even the stare of a stranger – any mirror?

And how long do you go on living for all those around you, when all you can feel yourself to be is a hollow shell of your own self – a remnant of the time gone by, decaying with each passing moment.

Give me something.

I will try everything.

I will try anything.

I will try.

I promise.

As I often have before.


Until the perception of life shatters.

And even the reflection looks back as abstract pieces on the floor.

So until then, I think I’m just going to revert to my good old friend Kurt, and revel in his ability to turn my body inside out, so that my frail soul forms the exterior, open to being scratched and weathered, clawed at by life, and shred to tiny strips of inconsequential nothingness, until the moment when Mother can “throw down [her] umbilical noose so I can crawl right back.

I will move away from here
You won’t be afraid of fear
No thought was put into this
Always knew it’d come to this

Things have never been so swell
I have never failed to feel

I’m so warm and calm inside
I no longer have to hide
Let’s talk about someone else
Steaming soup against her mouth
Nothing ever bothers her
She just wants to love herself.

Anxiously Awaiting

I wait. My internet is being a little slow.

There is a tick.

It turns out your internet might be slow as well.

It transfigures into a double-tick, and, almost immediately after, it turns blue.

You are online.

The message has been read.

I wait for your response – for your status to change from ‘online’ to ‘typing…’.

It does not.

You go offline.

I sit there staring at my phone’s screen waiting for you to come back online and respond. I haven’t asked you a particularly tricky question – just if you’d gotten a chance to read the article I sent you earlier in the week – and so I wonder why the response isn’t coming. It’s as simple as ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; if you want to be polite, you can lie and make up an excuse about why you haven’t read it or that you have read it and you liked it. Though I know it was a terrible piece of writing, if it can at all be called that.

You disappear and you don’t return.

This surely only means one thing: you hate me and you don’t wish to talk to me. But you’re too polite to say it to my face, so instead you’re choosing to just ignore me. Hoping that I’ll just stop messaging you and nagging you; hoping that I’ll eventually stop and leave you alone.

I will leave you alone. But not because I no longer want to be your friend or I no longer want to talk to you. I will leave you because I understand now that I am no longer worth it for you and you don’t wish to have me around in your life. I know now that I am just a burden, and I do not wish myself to be so. I do not wish to become the name you see on your phone and roll your eyes instinctively. I’m very scared it’s already too late.

The simple truth is I’m just a bad friend and I’ve messed it up. The simple truth is you never want to see my face again. The simple truth is I’m a liability and not someone you wish to be seen or associated with.

I understand.

I shall leave you be.

The phone rings.

You’ve read the article I sent you.

You think it’s pretty decent.

And you’re sorry you didn’t reply immediately – your mother had called you to scold you for not cleaning up your room.

But is that the truth? Or are you just making up convenient half-truths because you know that I’m fragile?

I’m not crazy. I promise. Not entirely anyway.

My adrenal glands work overtime. My fight, fright and flight responses never really fade out; the goosebumps never really go away; the hair on the back of my neck never really settles down.

Every now and then I have severe chest pain: I can’t breathe or move or function.It isn’t a searing pain. Rather it’s that blunt, heavy, dull pain that just doesn’t leave. It’s usually hours before it goes away.

This is what a heart attack must feel like,” I wonder to myself.

Most times, it just doesn’t dissipate until I fall asleep, worn out by the sensation that I am about to cry, albeit incapable of even a single teardrop finding its way out of my eyes and down my cheeks. The fluttering pain in my chest is so severe I just want to stab my heart with the first sharp instrument that appears in my sight, only to form an outlet for the pain to seep out. I quiver under the covers, hiding from the light or any other sign of life, hoping for the pain to just go away — what I wouldn’t give for the briefest of respites, to be able to breathe in normally once more.

The sound of the television, faint in the background, sounds like the battlecry of the Romans, about to charge towards me and trample me under the stampede of their horses’ hooves. I want to run in the opposite direction, but my feet have suddenly become of lead – anchors for a ship that wishes to just break away from the quay.

Do you know what would happen if a weathered small-sized boat were to try to pull away from the shore, while its anchor was still grounded? In between the ensuing tug of war, the boat would explosively disintegrate, with wooden shrapnel flying in all directions, and splinters launching outwards like darts being fired.

Would I rather be that boat?

I don’t have the energy to tug at anything.

I barely have the energy to hang on to the rope of life.

Everything is slipping away. From right in between my hands, I can see it slipping away. I have become a spectator in my own misery – how poetic.

There is this undeniable feeling of a chillingly cold steel surface being pressed against the back of my neck. The hammer is really cold. It is lifted up. I cringe, and I fold my body inwards towards my core. I know the hammer is about to come down on the back of my neck with such brutal force that I will black out from the pain. I know it’s about to come down.

Any second now, it will strike me and knock me down.

Any instant now, I shall see my own blood graffiti the floor below me.

It’s right there behind me.

It’s right there.

The blow is inevitable.

The blow is inevitable.

The blow is inevitable. 

The blow… it’s inevitable.

The blow… it’s coming.



Who’s a Good Boy?

I have been left distraught.

Distracted so easily by this pain.

My life has become a perpetual state of suffering.

You would imagine I would get used to it by now – perhaps I have. Perhaps, that is the worst part of it all.

It is my masochistic friendship with this pain that pretends to be noble.

It is all a disguise.

I inflict more pain upon myself.

I just want to feel again. I just want to feel something.

I keep talking about this pain inside of me, except it’s a weighted, blunt expansion of the black mass in my chest. It pushes outwards in all directions. It is a force more than it is pain.

This force needs to stop its constant thrust – I have no energy to push back with.

I don’t collapse because it does not push me down.

It pushes out.

There’s a child inside my chest that can’t take the reality of this world anymore.

She just wants to come out. She is trying to propel open a hole in my chest, and escape. She tried to burn the hole – the heat inside is getting too much. It’s scorching me.

Her tiny hands are unbelievably strong. Like a newborn’s grip around her mother’s finger, she’s trying to climb out of my chest.

I don’t want her gone.

I know she’ll take my heart with her, like a bagpack swung over her shoulder by the aorta.

But the heat.

And the rage.

The anger makes me go blind.

I go blind with the anger.

I can no longer hear her screams.

Nothing makes sense anymore.

Everything is burning but I am calm.

Last night was different though. Last night I could not control it.

I stood against the car, taking a drag of my cigarette breaking down in whimpers, like a little bitch after being run over by a car.

But when he came by, I beat him up.

I was so angry, I would have killed him.

In that moment, I wanted to kill.


Other lives are valuable.

I made him cry.

Then I cried.

No wonder she said I emotionally abuse.

Because I feel too much and can’t make up my fucking mind.

Emotional expression is overrated.

But it is vital. For communication.


Wag your tail.



Roll over.

Play dead.

The Itch

Sing me a lullaby and caress me to sleep, Mother
Hold me in your arms and never let me go
I’m afraid I’m falling, falling endlessly
It is a pain that I can no more endure

The cough syrup bottle sits on my side table. It doesn’t, but there is no harm in my imagining its existence within my reach. I know where it is, though, in reality. I know that if I get up, off the bed, walk to the kitchen and open the fridge, it will be there, in the side pocket of the fridge door – chilled to the perfect temperature.

I have this bad tingling sensation in my throat. I can’t quite describe it to you. It’s the kind of sensation when you wish to speak but no words come out or when you don’t wish to speak and the random facts about your embarrassing childhood traumas come tumbling out, one after the other. It’s the itch you have that you can’t reach, like spiders crawling just beneath the surface of your skin, but not inside your throat because you can’t feel them there. They’re invisible beings – light in their movements, swift in their stead, but they leave behind their trail in the form of an itch that cannot be scratched.

Clearly, you will agree with me – I need cough syrup. I need it desperately. It will surely help me breathe better and will help me go to sleep because the itch, you see – the itch does not let me sleep. I try and I try. I follow the old trick of counting sheep, but soon I’m shearing all of them and making wool and handing it to my grandmother so that she can knit me a new sweater. I try saying God’s name over and over again, but it soon gets lost and loses all meaning, the same way you say a word repetitively and it will lose all sense and sensibility.

Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Life. Do you see what I mean? Now it’s just a word that starts with a capital L and has an f in the center of it. It could just as well be pronounced <liffee> or <leef> and it holds no meaning whatsoever.

The word, indeed, has lost all meaning. I’m certain that some will argue that the word is very important – it denotes a system of being, an ascertainment of being alive and a purpose to continue to push your boundaries and fight through all the torments that are thrown your way in this video game – but I can relate to it no more. It floats off my tongue like the dandelion rolls off my fingers and floats away in the wind, light on the breeze and itchy on the throat.

Ah! The itch. Yes. It is that very itch that I would like to eradicate. You must think that I wish to have cough syrup because the word has lost all meaning for me. Alas, not at all! I am not an irrational being. I understand that a word losing meaning or the concept losing meaning altogether are not necessarily the best of things to happen to someone, but are completely repairable and can be fixed with a little effort and a lot of will power. No. It is only this itch you see.

I can show you a prescription if you like. Oh – you would like to see it?


Here you go.

See – right there. Second last from the bottom of the page. It says that I can have cough syrup in case of a bad cough or should my asthma act up. I grant you that my asthma has been under control for a while now and that is not acting up at all (though should I be in the vicinity of dandelion seeds, it surely will act up – allergies, what can you do about them?) but this itch.

I would surely go to a doctor and tell him about the itch, but what if the doctor should think me crazy or mad? What if the doctor should think that the itch is a construct of my imagination? A blueprint of my mind – an excuse that I am giving myself, simply to have cough syrup. No. I cannot trust a doctor to be in the right state of mind whilst examining me. No. He will just make excuses for he does not want me to have the cough syrup, for the company perhaps does not pay him very well for its representation. He might want to refer me to a psychiatrist – but I’m not mad. I assure you. I’m not crazy.

It’s just an itch. I could scratch it all the same, if that’s what you think I should do but then I’m scared I’ll scratch my skin off and that will leave a nasty scar just below my Adam’s apple. And I have enough scars as it is. Look. Here. On my arm – I got this one while playing football. And this, here, on my thumb – I got this while cutting vegetables. Yes, the knife got away from me. Tricky little utensil I tell you. It’s almost as if it has a mind of its own with such a sharp edge. And it’s that very edge, the fine edge, that I’m straddling at this moment.

But I know that if I take the cough syrup, I’ll want to take more – I’ll want to take it until the itch is gone. And I’m no doctor, but I’ve been told I’m smart, and I don’t really think that just one table-spoon of the stuff is going to be enough to do the trick. I think I’ll need to just keep taking spoonfuls until it halts. It’s so bad, I could put one of these knives down my throat just to scratch it, but, again, that’ll leave a nasty scar, and it’s a scar that we don’t want. It just ruins the whole image of a person and makes them seem so clumsy. No.

I can almost imagine it: taking out the bottle from the fridge, struggling to get its cap open (these pilfer-proof packages really annoy me you know), and then putting the cold bottle to my lips and sipping on it like a baby going at his feeder until his thirst is quenched – until my itch is gone. And soon, the itch will be no more.

And I’ll be able to come back to the bed and fall asleep.

So… peaceful.

The Message

I wrote you a message today. It wasn’t very long. It really was simple and it really was to the point, but I’m afraid you managed to miss it all the same. So now, I feel, I’ll have to tell the world about it, so that someone else can know what to write when they send that message. So that someone else can know who to reach out to. So that someone else does not face the same response that I did.

You called me up in response to my message and yelled at me. You yelled at me and told me to not do it. You cried while I sat on the other end of the line, unable to move, unable to speak, unable to tell you quiet down, unable to move a muscle, and you told me to not go through with it. You warned me of the sheer consequences it would have. You warned me of the finality of my proposed actions. You warned me by threatening to involve more people who you feel would be able to better convince me to not go through with it.

I wish I was not in the equation. You love to travel and you love to visit new, exotic places. And yet, you don’t much care if I were there to accompany you. So imagine this. Imagine walking along the shores of Anse Lazio, barefoot with the sand playing in the spaces between your toes. Imagine the sun setting on the horizon, as the waves come splashing near your feet as if begging you to share an evening with them and listen to their joy and tales of their courage. Imagine the most beautiful amber glow on the sky that you have ever seen in your life. And yet…

And yet, imagine being fixated on a bottle that you find, embedded halfway inside the sand on the shore. Imagine wondering why the bottle was there and cursing under your breath the travellers who have no courtesy or regard to pick up their litter.

But you pick up the bottle with the aim of disposing it, only to discover a rolled up piece of paper inside. And it hits you. You’re in a dream. You knew the sunset was too beautiful and the water too blue and the sand too soft. Except you’re not. The beach is real. You are real. And the bottle in your hand is all too real, crafted by the honest traders of God knows where – but not for someone to roll a piece of paper inside of it.

Curiosity gets the better of you but you’re anxious all the same. What if this is just a dream that you can’t seem to wake up from? What if this is a joke – a prank between youngsters that you are now an inextricable part of? It’s too late, you tell yourself. You’re already a part of whatever this is, and you continue with your curiosity and you quiet your doubts.

The sun is going lower and lower and you know that soon it will be nightfall.

Your fat fingers, on an otherwise slender body, make it difficult for you to get the roll out of the mouth of the bottle. But you don’t want to break it. You want to keep it – as memorabilia from your trip to this beach so that you can one day tell stories about it. You want to keep it so that you can put it next to the books you haven’t read and the trophies you haven’t cleaned so that you can remember this sunset. So you decide to leave the message inside.

Alas. The curiosity is getting the better of you. Your shadow is growing longer and is mixing in with the shade the sand is taking on. Families around you are packing up their picnic folds and carrying them away to the parking lot to their vehicles. And here you are. All alone on the edge of the world. So what do you do?

You don’t use your hairpin to trap the paper and pull it out. You would not have thought of that. So you smash the bottle against the rocks. A shard bounces right back towards you and catches your forearm off guard. There is a surface cut – the kind that will ooze and clot before you know of its existence. And you don’t pay it much thought. You just want what you’ve set your eyes on – the roll inside.

You pray to God that it isn’t some prank. You pray that it isn’t a joke or a treasure map to leprechaun’s gold that has you chasing the rainbows that you stopped believing in long ago. You unfold the paper and you try and figure out what’s written on it. But you can’t. The sun is almost gone and the moon is hiding behind an eclipse of the Earth.

You run back to your things and you rummage through your bag to take out your cell-phone. You switch on the torch and you cast light on the paper. It reads:

Dear Person,
You have found the last words written by someone before they were washed away by the sea. I do not have it in me to write out elaborate messages – to write testimonials about life or my experience of it, or to write about what I own and who it should be given to, or even to write about how beautiful my last sunrise was. So I will keep it short and I will keep it simple, and to simply tell you this. When you read the news tomorrow and find a statistic about what happened here today, choose, instead, to remember me as a person.
Remember: life is only as beautiful as we make it and death as beautiful as we take it.
Much love.

The world comes to a stop around you.

The phone drops into the sand and the light from it shines bright upon your face, illuminating you like a lighthouse beacon in the middle of darkness on the edge of the sea.

You don’t know what to feel. You don’t know how to react. You don’t know what your next move should be. You feel trapped. You feel confined by information that you feel should never have reached you. You wish you had just gone back to your hotel so that you had never seen this message and you wish that you had found the message sooner, that you had been able to glimpse over the body of the person writing this so that you could stop them.

But can you stop death when it comes knocking at someone’s door?

Your heart heavy with dread, you roll the papers back, you pick up your phone, you toss both of them in your bag, and you go to your rental car in the parking to go back to your hotel. But you can’t help but sit behind the steering wheel and cry. You did not know the person you lost, but it feels so real. Their pain feels like your pain, and you can feel it coursing through your veins. So – what about the people you do know? Are they statistics to you?

So what happened when you read my message?

Did you get too caught up in the waves beckoning you to play with them or the sand flirting with your feet? Did you get too lost in the red hues of the sunset and the royalty of the blues as they took over from the whites?

Or did you not understand that death is not when you wade your way away from shore and its population and tie a weight to your ankle and let go, but that death is already there when the message is being written? That death is not when an intelligent teenager dresses up as Superman and pretends to fly off the roof so that even in his final moments he can hide from the world the pain he feels, but rather it is when he puts on the cape?

Did you not understand that the message itself is the knell and you are simply the pall-bearer?

An Open Letter to My Depressed and Anxious Mind

Dear Depranxious Mind,

Trust this letter finds you in the worst state of health possible.

I write to you today to mark this special occasion – one that I feel ought to be remembered and safeguarded in our memories of each other. I write to you today, not because I feel like writing, but because I feel I must let you know how I’m doing and what you mean to me. I write to you today, because it has been 366 days (it was a leap year this year) since you entered my life, and I feel we now have a very special and intimate connection.

Having seen each other naked, I can safely say that there is nothing I can hide from you. Mind you, when I say naked, I mean the insight you have gained into my emotions, my wants, my needs, my desires, my habits and my thought processes. And when I say I can’t hide anything from you, it is because the very act of concealment is a conscious act; where you reside, dear friend of mine, is much deeper and far more intricate.

I wished also to write to you today because I wanted to thank you. I wanted to thank you for having come into my life when you did and the way you did and for staying on, as a loyal companion. Needless to say, you have been there when there has been no one else for me to count on, and you have, indeed, become to me but an extension of my own self.

27th March 2015: I have a vivid recollection of that day. That is a strange occurrence for I rarely have any vivid recollections, save those of the dreams I dream whilst fast asleep and having lost control of the functioning of my mind; I assume though that you already know all of this, for you are still awake while I am asleep.

I remember the sun peering in through the window in the lounge the way that it always does – in a manner of hiding and peeking in, as if too afraid to be noticed by anyone. The Summers had not yet come in full swing but Autumn had started to give way to Spring: the tree outside in the lawn was bearing its signature red leaves once more after having remained bare for half the year. I remember wondering how it would feel if it could feel, suddenly carrying so much weight once again and being layered up just as the weather was turning to the Lahore heat that bathes all its inhabitants in lava. I remember the birds chirping and the electricity amiss, as always, as I lay on the diwan in the lounge. What I remember most vividly, however, was staring towards the ceiling with a lost gaze that lacked a sense of purpose, behind which hid a soul which had lost all sense of time.

A lot had happened in the preceding months. I can never quite figure out if you knew what all had taken place or if you suddenly descended one fine day into my life. I assume you knew all of it. I assume you were watching from the shadows, planning when to make your entrance, waiting on your cue. But you never had a cue, did you? Because that day, lying on the diwan, unable to move, unable to think, unable to function, unable to breathe easy, unable to grab my phone and reply to my messages, I realized I was no longer alone. I felt you. I heard you amidst the whispers in my mind. I recognized your gaze from the days before as you had spied on me from your safe distance, for it raised the hair on my neck and it lowered my state of awareness as if you had seeped into my body and bound yourself to my bones.

Please don’t get me wrong. I valued you right from the very beginning. I wanted you dead and gone and out of my life, but I valued you nonetheless. I know you hated me when I went to see a doctor. You kept whispering in my ear not to see a doctor. You told me that I would be deemed mad or insane and that people would treat me differently. Alas, dear Depranxious Mind, you did not know the power of my friends and family. Yes. They gave you power and they made you strong. But they, too, are human – they, too, have their demons pulling them down and engaging them in a constant battle. What they also did was help silence your whispers and hide me from your gaze and shield me from the touch of your penance. Yes. I went to a doctor because I wanted to get rid of you. Yes, I started taking medication in hopes that it would allow me to do away with you.

You see, dear fellow, I did not want to become dependent. I was afraid of dependence on you or the medication or on my friends or my family. I was afraid. That is what it was – fear. Fear that you had instilled in me and injected into the marrow in my bones. Fear that made me feel cold and sick on the warmest of afternoons and that made me sweat in agony on the chilly winter nights. It was fear that would have kept me from going to the doctor and it would have been fear that would have prevented me from coming out and talking about the problem: you.

But through time and patience and inward reflection, I learned to understand the fear. I learned to figure out why the fear existed, and I learned to subdue the chemicals that had gone on a raging spree in my body. I understood that fear was a natural element that could not be changed and that could not be altered, but merely adopted. So I adopted the fear and I embraced it whole. It nearly shattered me. It nearly crippled me. It nearly doomed me to wanting to overdose and do away with everything. But I realized then that fear was my friend. I remembered all the times fear had prevented me from putting my hand in the fire or from jumping off the edge of my balcony. Fear was not the enemy, dear fellow. The enemy was still you.

But I could not wage a war against you and win it. No. You were far too powerful. You were far too adept at doing what you did best – manipulate people’s minds and play on their worst memories. So I let you win. I sat back and I let you win, and in that time I built up my strength. I built up my strength to the point that I could smile once again and mean it. I could watch a movie and enjoy it. I could read a book and savour it. It took an awfully long time, dear fellow, but I slowly had to remind myself what it meant to be whole again.

It’s been a year, Depranxious. It’s been exactly a year since you stepped into my conscious life and tried to pull me down. It’s been one year and I’m hurt and broken and beaten and exhausted. It’s been one year, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this Tango with you. But it’s only been one year, and I will gladly dance with you until your funeral whence I will lay you to peaceful rest.

It’s been a year, and you have become my closest friend. You, who knows me inside and out, good from bad and happy from upset, have become my live-in housemate, my residual roommate and my companion in everything that I do. And I would be amiss if I did not thank you. Thank you for your company. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for your presence.

I would tell you that I’m a happier person without you, but the truth is – I’m a happier person because of you. And for that I am eternally thankful to you. You have reminded me of everything in my life that I tend to take for granted: from the sunrise in the morning to the smell of rain falling down on the evening soil. You have reminded me just how precious and priceless life really is. You have taught me that life is not a simple journey or a destination, but a composite of many tiny moments in time and space that come together for a larger purpose but not without exhibiting their own purpose first. Thank you, dear Depranxious, for allowing me to look at live through the eyes of a child again. Thank you, Depranxious, for letting me appreciate the colours, sounds and beauty of life once more.

Thank you Depranxious, for everything. You would assume I hate you – but I do not. For in my hate do you grow stronger, and strength is one thing I cannot give to you – not anymore.

I bid you all the best, dear comrade. Until we face off again.


A Letter to My Depressed Friend

Dear Friend,

It’s been a long time since we’ve met. It’s perhaps been longer since you met yourself, and I understand that. It’s been a long time coming, but you’ve always been so adamant – to not let it show, to not let it get to you, to not let it come to the surface. You’ve always been a fighter and you are still the strongest person I know. Yes. I know. You don’t believe a word I have to say, but I’m going to be stubborn too – and I’m going to say it anyway.

It’s been ages since we’ve met, and that’s okay. It’s been a while but I know you need your space and I value that just as much as you value your privacy. But it scares me sometimes, Friend. It terrifies me. It gets deep inside my bones and chills the hollow cavities inside of them, for I soon realize that when you are alone, you are not by yourself. Your demons, my love, are always with you – are they not?

I know you will never call them your friends, but they call you their best mate, don’t they? They fill your ears with all sorts of things about yourself that you never want to hear and yet, you ingest them. You take in everything they have to say about you because they’ve promised you the truth, and so you swallow it like a bitter pill. Would you hear something against your new room-mates, Friend? Would you allow me to tell you what they’re actually trying to do to you? You’ve always been very principled to never stand anything against your own – but I promise you they are not your friends, my love. They are not your friends.

I am not jealous or envious of your relationship with them, Friend – I assure you. I know you might think that they are extensions of your own self and so you have to feed them and take care of them and look after them, for they are you in the Emperor’s new clothes. But take a moment, Friend, and listen to what I have to say. Can you feel the weight in your chest? Can you feel the weight that keeps dragging you down? Can you feel the anchor that has tied your feet together and leaves you unable to move? Do you know who’s responsible for all this?

Look up, Friend. By God, look up! Do you see the sunlight up above? Do you see a ridge and some chance of climbing out of the seemingly bottomless pit you feel yourself stuck in? This is not 127 Hours, Friend. I promise you. Do you hear me? I’ll be louder then – let me scream above the chatter of the voices that fills your head and brings you down. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, FRIEND! I PROMISE YOU! YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE!

Look up! Do you see that rope dangling from above? That’s for you friend. That’s for you for when you’re ready. I know you’re not ready friend. And that’s okay. I know you’re not ready and you’re weak – If I had a hundred voices telling me I’m incompetent and ugly all the time, then I would have bashed my head in and would never have gotten out of bed from the weight that the words would place upon me. But you’re not me, and you’re not them, and you’re not anyone else in the world but your own self. And I am so proud of you, Friend. What? You can’t hear me from up above here. Hang on – let me use this rope to come down to you.

See. You’re not that deep. It’s less than six feet and more than a couple of steps. But I know it towers above you like the skyline of Manhattan and the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. I know that it makes you feel small and insignificant. So I’m right here with you, Friend. Would you like to listen to what I was saying?

I was saying I am proud of you friend. No. I am not proud that you’re depressed or anxious – I would be proud of that as well, but I choose to not be proud of that because they are not you. They are just fleas that are sticking to your skin, trying to get underneath it, trying to get into your blood and swim there and move all along the length of your body. But they don’t know your secret, Friend, as I do. They don’t know about what you hide inside that isn’t available for consumption by the world around you. They don’t know about your soul, Friend. And it is your soul and your heart and being that I am so very proud of. It is you, in your entirety, that I am proud of.

You ask me why I’m proud of you? You want to know why I feel that way even though you yell at me and call me names and try to push me away? You want to know why I feel that way even though you don’t pick up my calls and you don’t reply to my messages? Friend. I have known you since we were little children. I have known you and your secrets since before you ever got scolded for them or ever got appreciated for them. Friend, even if we haven’t actually known each other since we were little naive innocent children, it still feels like it. Our level of intimacy far exceeds our level of formality, Friend.

You ask me why I’m proud of you? The simplest truth of the matter, Friend, is that I love you, with every bone in my body. You are family, Friend. You are family.

You draw a blank when I tell you I love you. I can see the tear in your eye. No. Don’t cry Friend. Don’t cry. Here. Let me hold you. I’ve got you Friend. I know love is a word and a concept that seems elusive to you right now, as we sit here in this pit below sea level. I know that you don’t fully understand it anymore. I know that fear inside of you, that tells you that you are no longer capable of loving and being loved. Friend, that is the most beautifully untrue thing I have ever heard in my life.

Do you know why you’re in this pit, dear Friend? Do you know why you feel so heavy? You feel as heavy as you do simply because you have the capacity to feel as much as you do and to hold all of those sensations inside of your volatile, beating, aching heart. That’s what drags you down, Friend. You can’t let go of anyone or anything. You can’t give up on people, Friend. You can’t move past instances in your life. You can forgive easily Friend but you’re so scared about whether people have forgiven you or not. I understand Friend. And know that there is nothing that I need to forgive you for. Not now – not ever. And the world will always forgive you, because you are the most caring person they’ve ever met in life. And if they don’t understand Friend, don’t blame them. Just smile and move on. They are not you, Friend. They do not have your ability to place themselves in your shoes and understand what it is that you are going through. They don’t have your empathy, Friend. Forgive them anyway. And know that they can’t hold anything to forgive if they don’t understand it to begin with.

I know you feel numb right now, Friend. I know you feel as if your system has been overloaded with emotional information and you no longer know how to process it. But I assure you friend – being numb does not mean you have no emotions; being numb means you have too many of them raging inside of you.

However long it takes Friend, I will be right here with you. However long it takes, I shall not forsake you, Friend. However long it takes, you don’t have to be alone.

Chocolate? I think I have some biscuits as well, Friend. Or would you prefer to munch on a packet of crisps? Do you have a TV show in mind? I also have a book if you want to borrow it and just read and not talk.

Let me know Friend. That’s all I’ll ever ask of you – just let me know.

Your Friend.

Being Gay

Happiness feels a lot like sorrow;
Let it be, you can’t make it come or go;
But you are gone – not for good but for now;
Gone for now feels a lot like gone for good.

– Happiness, THE FRAY

Being gay is an elusive quality, reserved only for those who have the courage to exhibit it. But I am feeble. I am an introverted pile of firewood, soaked in lighter fluid, waiting for someone to strike a match and set me on fire, ablaze — bright, tall and warm. I envy the flame of laughter and the crackle of a good time.

Happiness seems little more than an everyday crime — one of those small problems that everyone brushes aside and decides to not pay much attention to in fair that they will, otherwise, start policing their lives more than they feel comfortable doing. For what comfort would they have left if they told themselves that they can do nothing that seems to give them pleasure.

It is impossible, it seems, to steal someone’s happiness, as the common colloquial expression goes. To steal something implies to (wrongfully) change the possession of that thing from one person to another. But how can you be happy from depriving someone of their happiness unless you are a qualified sadist? Can you transfer happiness from one being to another? They say laughter is contagious, but is laughter an accurate measure of happiness? Does happiness need to maintain such an overt characteristic as a display for it to be present? Assuming that it does, and that laughter is, indeed, an apt qualifier for happiness to be present, can we assume that merely through the joint participation in an act that takes place as a solo venture, but present in a group, happiness has been transferred? Are you now happy? Does this imply that happiness is unlimited and can be shared with anyone and everyone and there is no ceiling on the supply that exists and happiness, therefore, can never end?

Why then does it feel as if happiness is a crime, or more aptly as George Orwell put it in Newspeak — a ‘thought-crime’? Why does it feel then that happiness is a finite resource that must be kept safe and secure, locked away deep inside, away from the light and breeze of day and the stillness of the night, that would otherwise be broken through acts that would arise from the innate sensation of happiness?

Is happiness truly an emotion? Or is it a state that one must acquire and learn? Can happiness be achieved only when certain preconditions are met? If so, is that state of being truly ‘happiness’? Are some people just born happy and others deprived of that ability or capability, more accurately, by virtue of their birth? If it is a state that has to be acquired, can it be acquired and reached through a process that enables the presence of happiness despite and in spite of any bad, wrong, harm or tragedy that may befall a person? If it is indeed a process, then is happiness an end and not the means to an end? If happiness is an end, what next?

Needless to say — I do not feel the flame. I feel the need to keep it safe within my pocket and save the warmth of the fire from spreading for I feel there isn’t enough to go around. And if I can feel it, I must save it for a colder day when I might need it more. So for now, I feel I am far from the flame and closer to the ashes.

But is it not from the ashes that a phoenix is begotten?