Shit Happens to Others

Everything happens to somebody else, until it happens to you.

We can never truly apprehend the gravity of a situation till we are in it. This is true for every situation in life. And is more profound for the difficult situations or negative experiences of life. I am not too sure if this is applicable to life’s positive experiences. Happy situations do not have much room for analysis. It just leaves us high and we don’t think why this has happened to me or how do I deal with this – we’re just happy.

I can write about a ton of such life situations to exemplify this. In this post, however, I am focusing on illnesses of near and dear ones.

A Parent Diagnosed with Life-Threatening Disease

A close friend’s father has been recently diagnosed with cancer. He was a very healthy man, who was until now leading a perfectly healthy retired life with his wife (my friend’s mother). They would even go traveling every now and then. The latest one being just a few months ago when they traveled to Nepal. I even met them just after my Nepal trip to exchange travel stories when they were here in Bangalore, visiting my friend’s home.

The cancer news was just too sudden like a bolt from the blue. And the tumor is at a stage when operation is not an option. Surprising as he never had any symptoms. For the first time, I am experiencing the struggles faced by cancer patients and their families. Being closely associated with my friend, I am privy to all the happenings so much so that I can feel her struggles as my own – fighting emotions, running between hospitals and doctors, taking tough decisions, keeping faith despite all the adversities, handling her father’s sentiments and frustrations while managing a household, a job, and an overactive toddler. And, a lot more can be added to the list.

When I used to hear of the struggles of cancer patients and their families, I would just feel bad for the moment and then forget about it. This is the first time I am feeling the struggles. I can place myself in her shoes and feel the helplessness. I am unable to help her in any way and that bothers me a lot.

A Child Diagnosed with a Life-Long Medical Condition

A few months back, another friend’s adolescent son was diagnosed with Type-1 Juvenile Diabetes. Again, for the first time I witnessed the impact of an unannounced life-long medical condition of a child on a family. Their entire lifestyle went topsy-turvy. Adding to it was the emotional turmoil of seeing your child having to live a life of restrictions and inhibitions. There are so many aspects of such a situation that would have never occurred to me otherwise.

A Family Fighting Psychological Disorders

In my own family, I have struggled with close ones suffering from depression and anxiety. I know what it means to have a psychological condition and how normal life can get disrupted in no time. And how the social stigma associated with mental illness makes it even tougher. It’s only in very recent times that there is a lot of awareness in this regard and thankfully so.

For me the very word “depression” is uneasy. I find it utterly uncomfortable when people use the word loosely, such as, “The traffic in Bangalore depresses me.” To such comments, I find my mind saying, “Please find a better word than using the depression word so casually!” Then there are Facebook statuses saying things like – My door is open for you, please come talk to me if you feel down……blah, blah and blah – to which my mind says, “Do you even know what depression is? If talking would be so easy, they wouldn’t land up in this condition!”

Depression and psychosis affect not just the person concerned but an entire family. Relationships get disrupted and nothing ever gets back to normal again. All these become even more difficult when diagnosis is delayed – something which happens all too often. By the time you realise something is not okay, it already late.

Well, we really have no control on things that happen to us. This reminds me of something I read somewhere – In life we may control ship and sail, but never wind and wave.