July 14, 2020

Gayatri Aptekar talking of depression, suicide prevention and positive parenting

Today September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Here’s a story of a mum who has battled through depression, attempted suicide in her early part of life, come out of the turbulent phase and now is an enthusiast mum and a professional storyteller. She is also a creative writer and an emotional wellness coach.

Meet Gayatri Aptekar, from Mumbai who shares her journey with Mums and stories. She also chronicles her experiences and journeys through a blog with an interesting titled ‘Outside my kitchen window’.

It is courageous enough for an individual to talk about suicide or any such phase which people have been through themselves and we thank Gayatri for sharing her journey with us.

“Some of my very first memories as a child are growing up in a village called Thanjavur in Tamilnadu, with my grandparents. When I moved to Mumbai to stay with my parents, the struggle began. Childhood was tough as I fought to get attention of my mom. I faced verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Deprived of love and acceptance my childhood was challenging.

Usually people have pleasant memories associated with their moms. However, in my case all I remember are her abuses, physical and verbal. I grew up hating her, however today when I look back at the time I spent with her; I strongly feel that she was going through some mental health issue (Bipolar/depression/anxiety) which was left undiagnosed. I’ve forgiven her and there is no place for hatred in my heart. I am grateful to her for she was in my life for a reason, to make me the person I am today.

A child needs a loving and caring environment to thrive and in my case I didn’t get it. I grew up witnessing fights, hearing abusive language and had a mom who was indifferent to me. A lot of unanswered questions kept bothering me and this I guess triggered my emotional outbursts. My sister was my only confidant and when she got married, I lost myself completely. It was during that vulnerable phase I tried committing suicide twice. Most of my emotional outbursts were ignored and I was labelled as a rebel, stubborn and lazy child.”

Talking about depression in people she says, “‘I’m depressed’ is a statement that people often use to describe their sadness. I personally feel this usage needs to be stopped. Clinical depression is prolonged sadness, where one loses the ability to think clearly, take decisions and even do normal everyday tasks of brushing teeth and combing hair. It is an amplified version of anxiety, guilt, loneliness and sadness.

Each emotion is equally important for our growth, however if a certain emotion overpowers our rational thinking ability and limits our performance, then one needs professional help. Parents need to communicate with their children.

If a child is going through a traumatic experience, like loss of a parent or grandparent or sibling, shift in school or locality, then parents need to give special attention to children. Children often look out for a person who can listen to their fears and feelings without judgement.  Also if you observe any change in eating or sleeping habits, behavioural challenges, immediately seek for professional assistance.

As a child to get over loneliness, I wrote poetry and scribbled stories, but after marriage writing came to a halt. It was my husband who urged me to start writing again. Initially words refused to flow and I felt some kind of resistance towards writing. That’s when I started reading blogs. Gradually I got connected to few bloggers and the next step was to setup a blog. Blogging helped me to open my heart to strangers who didn’t judge me for what I was going through.

Some of them guided me to alternative therapies too. After I finished my Master Practitioner NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) I realised most of my emotional challenges were rooted to my childhood upbringing and environment. That’s when I decided to be a parent coach and guide parents to become a better version of themselves.

I share my experiences as a parent and as a child who suffered emotional challenges and I think that’s what helps me connect with other parents as well as children.

I want to say this to parents that you are raising the future of our nation and it’s our responsibility to raise confident and emotionally healthy individuals who can exhibit values like compassion and resilience. In order to inculcate these values in your children, you’ve to take care of your emotional health.

Children emulate what’s in front of them, so become the best version of yourselves, every single day. Look at your beliefs and do a quick check, how many of these beliefs are limiting and how many are empowering. Be very careful, instil only empowering beliefs in your children.

I have a daughter who is 9 years old. According to me there is no one best thing of being a mum….but several wonderful moments and memories. It is amazing to see how a life is nurtured and empowered under a mum’s guidance and love.

As a mum I try to be more empathetic towards raising my daughter. I believe in providing her an environment where she can thrive as an individual.”

 

 

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