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I had short hair until I finished my schooling, and it made my life miserable. I was often forced to explain to strangers why I had breasts or why I didn’t have enough hair (for a girl). Teachers would call me out and advise me on how to be more like a girl. They would body shame me and that was okay. For my peers, I was the beginning of a harmless joke that passed as acceptable to everyone around me. I was called all sorts of names. I was very tomboyish and my mannerisms were masculine. My body language suggested something else than the gender assigned to me at birth based on my sexual genitalia. It wasn’t acceptable. I never realized that I had an option to be neither boy nor a girl and I was put through the constant pressure of choosing one. I was put in a state of conflict as the people around me tried to label me. This was my beginning in understanding gender and sex. I felt stuck with labels that never described me. And I haven’t managed to get free from this dilemma of ticking boxes. I still don’t consider myself entirely a girl, when someone asks me, I say I think I am a woman or I am not sure. I still haven’t figured out what gender category I belong to and I think it’s not gonna be easy. I am not calling myself anything as of now. But for my sexuality, it didn’t start to pop up that soon. I had time to experiment with my likes and dislikes.

When I got on the bus, people stared at my hair then at my breasts and then they would just gaze from my head to toe and right back up finally deciding that yeah, it’s a girl. I was so fed up explaining myself everywhere. I got my ears pierced because I was just tired of being the bud of jokes. But then again, hair was the prerequisite to being a woman and not a vagina. My friends from my same gender would go out with me calling me their boyfriend. They enjoyed my company; they said they felt safer with me than with anyone else. Their parents would ask me to pick them up and drop them off. Take care of them every single day. I had girlfriends who were allowed out only with me, I still do. They admired my independence but failed to inculcate the same in their children. I think it’s sad how they fail to recognize their inability to do right by their children and their failure in parenting to develop these children into capable and independent adults.

short haired girl

But when I went out amongst crowds and travelled in crowded buses, the men didn’t think of me as anything other than a body with breasts and ass. Nobody bothered about my hair when they got a chance to grope me, molest me or rape me in their minds. I was just a woman but not quite enough.

It’s so agonizing when the whole world is just trying to make you choose something that you don’t even consider options. It makes you question everything that you do. It affects your confidence, your self-esteem. The consistent conflict that we are put through for something as basic as my gender and many other things is inhumane.

So, I tried to conform to the requirements of being a woman. I grew my hair out. I joined a college in my home town. My mother was feeling protective of leaving her 17-year-old kid in a metro city, so instead, she played it safe. One the first day of college, I was stared down by everyone. Teachers, non-teaching staff, classmates and batchmates. I didn’t understand. I had a good bed of hair. I went shopping to find decent clothes for the first day of college. And I was sure I looked fine. Then a teacher came up to me asked me – how dare I wear jeans to the college? Jeans. An ordinary pair of denim. In college. How rebellious of me!

depression

 

I didn’t know there was a dress code set in place only for girls. The college diary stated that girls had to wear a three-piece churidar whenever they entered the college premises. And the boys could wear whatever they thought was appropriate. I wasn’t given attendance until I started wearing a churidar for a week. My class teacher called my mother and sent me to the principal. He allowed me to wear cotton pants Kurtis and a scarf. My attempt at fitting into society was changing everything that I stood for; how I expressed myself as an individual.

I felt the weight of society pouring down on me. It didn’t matter how well I did in class or not, nobody bothered. It didn’t matter what was inside my head, I had a lot of trouble initially. But after, my first two months, after people got to know me, I made friends and people were accepting of me. I was elected class representative unanimously the first year and voted in again the second year. Later I elected as the Association Secretary of the psychology department of my campus.

 

During my third year in under graduation, the women’s cell was being reinitiated as part of the NAARC visits to the campus. I was elected president of the same. The women’s cell staff coordinator was not happy with me as I didn’t fit the description of a good student. The staff coordinator excluded me from all the activities of the functioning of the cell. On the eve of the first seminar organized by the women cell on the topic- ‘’Restrictions on women due to clothes’’, the staff coordinator called me up and asked me to wear my shawl properly so that it would cover my chest. I was disgusted at the hypocrisy. She warned me not to attend the seminar. I felt dejected and disheartened. After this, I took it upon myself to set up a program for Women’s day. I faced criticism for aiming too big and wasn’t encouraged to do anything. The administration put all my proposals down. They weren’t interested in Women’s day. And on the Women’s day that year, the women cell to my surprise conducted a talk on Women’s Safety, and the panellists were a select few men. And these learned men shared their valuable insights on women’s safety, such as – women staying at home after a designated hour and dressing appropriately. It was appalling to have found that the floor was offered to privileged sexist men to spread more sexism and misogyny. It was repulsive and violating.

Free and independent women celebrated International Women’s Day. It was in the press. Empowered finally. All thanks to a couple of powerful men who graciously set limits for us women!

transgender-women

During the last few months on the campus, we were celebrating Boy’s Hostel day. The girl hostlers who were the guests for the function were humiliated and ridiculed by men performing sexist programs on stage which were screened beforehand by the management. It was horrific and disgusting to watch. The girls boycotted the program and it incited masochistic chauvinism from the men. They shouted, threatened and verbally abused their guests. The next day my classmate who was the first to leave was targeted and harassed by the male students the entire day. They threatened her in between classes. While leaving the campus and to my horror, I found my friend in a terrible situation. She was enveloped by men shouting and screaming at her. I saw her faint, another friend and I jumped to rescue her. These men then started to verbally abuse me and threaten me. I vaguely recall 15 men who had surrounded the three of us. I saw my professors, classmates, and juniors walk by without coming to help us. It was like we didn’t exist. I was deeply hurt and I registered a formal complaint in the nearby police station. I was pressurized by the entire student, faculty and management body to withdraw my case. I was turned into a heartless ignorant human being by these men in the coming days. None of my friends whom I stopped to help showed me any support. she testified for them. I was neglected and ignored by everyone. Strangers came to ask me why I was hell-bent on destroying innocent lives. But my family was with me throughout my fight. All three of them showed me that I was not wrong to stand my ground and I had every right to feel violated. They showed me the support that no other family would dare to.

The explicit portrayal of discrimination and dejection was very damaging to my wellbeing. I was excluded from my classmates. I was the class representative for two years out of the three but nobody lends me a hand. Nobody saw me as a victim but as a witch sent to destroy lives. I felt alone and abandoned. The whole process of trying to get justice from these men ended up emotionally destroying me. They were celebrated after their return back to the campus. The whole campus was perpetuating misogyny and nobody even seemed to care. This was the education that was being awarded to these students. What were the lessons that were being taught?

lesbians kissing

I don’t know but I sure learned my lesson. I made a friend who was equally abused by these same men. They used to body shame her. They used to throw stones at her behind. Like she was some mute abandoned pest that you see on the road. But it was always our fault. This incident affected my college life even though it was towards the end of the course. I felt lonely and neglected by my friends when I needed them the most.

This incident took away my confidence and trust. I was left alone to struggle for my future. It was the darkest period of my life. I avoided contact with those few who remained as friends. I found it impossible to trust anyone. I retracted my room and spent my time watching movies and TV series. Then out of the blue, a piece of information swept right into my life and managed to lift my spirits. I had just been accepted into one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country.

Hyderabad Central University was a different story altogether. But I was still distrustful of new people and it hindered my social life. My course department wasn’t any better than the one in Kerala, in fact, it was worse. They had a system where they rewarded and punished students through internal marks. They cut marks of students who didn’t follow the culture of the department, and once again I was targeted. I was targeted because I didn’t wear traditional Indian ethnic clothes to class. I was judged for the company I kept. The people I spent time with were also judged by my professors. But my batch mates made all the difference. We supported each other throughout the two years. We started an initiative called Udhavi. It was a support group for students to tackle academic anxiety and it served its purpose very well.

we-are-one

Madhavi was our attempt to stay alive. We were so desperate to find help, we decided to help ourselves and others like us. We started with a small group. It took time to build an audience. It was steady and small, we did activities that helped increase self-esteem, trust and coping with stress. There was once a meeting, in which we asked everyone to write down a problem that they wanted to get help on anonymously. We collected the chits and picked them out randomly by each member. The activity was what would you do if that was your situation. We were trying to foster empathy. It was so enlightening, as we tend to get stuck in our heads and forget that there are other people out there, with their problems and issues. It was very hurtful to know that we found ourselves talking about sexual abuse a lot in our meetings. Everyone thinks that their problem is the biggest or is unsolvable. We encouraged activities that build trust with each other. We were able to make a space safe and non-judgmental so that people felt safe to express themselves and me. It gave a lot of peace and satisfaction with Udhavi.

Here I also found people who had different identities, like me they too were different, but we never felt different together. This was something that couldn’t even be imagined in the conservative society I lived through in my previous college. I found myself in a queer support group. We had a limited number of members and the meetings were often held in secrecy. It was difficult to organize and arrange a group of people together who had non-compliant sexual and gender identities. We had so many hurdles to overcome every week and limited time to spend together. People were unsurprisingly hostile towards the LGBTQIA+ community. And there were also extremely violent right-wing activists within the campus. Two of my friends who were transsexual used to talk about how stressful it was for them to live in a men’s hostel while they identified as transwomen. During this time, we witnessed a hate crime against an open transwoman, who after coming out was raped by a man inside the men’s hostel in HCU. This news wasn’t worth much to the media and the university couldn’t care less. The transwoman couldn’t go to the police as Section 377 was still in place back then. The victim was not very cooperative with the support group and I didn’t know them. We were not able to reach out to them. This is a major drawback of the community as we find it difficult to forge meaningful and deep relationships with our own.

LGBTQIA

The group’s primary objective was to create group coherence. We set up meetings all over the campus with the sole aim of understanding each other. We talked about our unique experiences and upbringing. Most of us hadn’t come out yet to our families and we talked in-depth on how best to break the news. We encouraged each other to educate ourselves more and in-depth about our own identities. Before meeting up with this group I was unsure of my queerness. The question of how queer you are is always asked to those who are trying to come out. We held long conversations on the issues that we faced in our daily lives. For some identities example, who had a different sexual orientation, they were excluded from visual judgment as most times their physical appearances never gave them away. For a gay person, him being gay only came into the picture when he wanted to make intimate relationships. It was easier for them to not come up on the cisgender heterosexual radar. But for the other half, it was a daily struggle. I met a friend online.  She sent me pictures of her, I saw a full-grown man, dressed up as a man. He had a shirt on, pants and shoes. He had ties and watches that were all masculine. This person lived in Kerala disguised as a man.  But I knew she wasn’t a man. I got closer to her. I saw her struggling to put up a face that didn’t belong to her. She didn’t like looking at herself in the mirror because she saw a man. She told me she liked girls. She is a lesbian transwoman. But right now, she was nothing. She was being destroyed as a person. She was lonely and unsatisfied with her life. And it wasn’t her fault. Last I heard, she was struggling to find enough resources to migrate to a more accepting country, a place where she can finally be herself.

A bird forced to abandon its home, made to search for a new home because it isn’t allowed to spread its wings over this land, a land they loudly claim doesn’t belong to her and the likes of her.

gay

After finding peers who could understand me, respect me and moreover love me for who I am, I found peace within myself. These people helped me understand my own emotions. When I used to try and talk to my cissexual and cisgender friends about my emotions and feelings, they never understood what I was talking about. They gave me sympathy but most of the time they ignored me. They told me I was hypersexual, some even called me a sex addict because they never understood what I was talking about. When I talked about sex with my gender or the other gender they were more or less clear. But when I told them that for me gender didn’t matter as long as I could like the other person as a human being they didn’t understand. They called me a whore who would sleep with anyone. They couldn’t comprehend when I used the term pansexual. These people said that it’s just another term for a ‘’whore’’.

It was only from my queer friends that I got the acceptance and dignity that I deserved. This has always been true. When I was 12 years old, my mother took into our home a lesbian couple who had eloped from their homes. They had no other option and had to flee their home town because of the stigma and the shame that they supposedly inflicted on their parents. My mother let them stay with us and we were a family from then. I have queer sisters who helped me understand the difficulty and hurt that they were subjugated to by society. I saw how they struggled to get the basics – rightful education, a house to live in and someone to love. They weren’t the last couple or person my mother supported. We were able to give them, the unaccepted and the shunned sons and daughters, true acceptance and care. We realized early on how love and care were all that we needed to become a family. Unconditional love and consideration were all that it took to bring these hurt souls to the shores of hope.

While completing my formal education in psychology, I also learned something else. Theories and assumptions about human nature that textbook psychology talked about was completely ignorant of the minority population. Psychology with its never-ending fancy jargon and empiricisms has neglected the subjectivity of the voices and identities unknown or unaccepted by society. Great thinkers have talked about sexuality and gender outside the realms of psychology. But psychology as a subject is unwilling to address and incorporate learning from fields that cannot always be scientifically quantified and it has led to the formation of blind spots in its leanings. The traditional psychologists are as adamant as they get. They hold on to their outdated concepts of morality and sexuality and they try to impose that on us. They try to advise and change people who are different and convert them into ‘’normal’’ people. Those who are trained to help, end up putting more pressure and stress on individuals who are already vulnerable. But all hope is not lost as psychology is trying to rectify these mistakes.

We all are human

My experiences have led me to believe that being a queer health professional is an added advantage when I deal with queer clients. There are better chances of understanding and developing trust that can help speed up the helping and healing process. The knowledge that you are not being judged or stigmatized at the least from a health care professional is an important prerequisite to accepting help.

Mental health in itself is much stigmatized and to talk about the mental health of further stigmatized individuals is not an easy feat. Starting my professional career as a queer centred health care professional has been a dream come true. Softmind, the mental health clinic in Kerala has given me and the LGBTQIA+ community the long-awaited safe space to talk about queer mental health. Here we have queer-friendly and queer health professionals who are sensitized to the needs and requirements that a queer person in distress demands. I hope that I can help elevate the quality of life of the queer folks who come in contact with me. It is also my ambition to help other psychologists understand the specific needs of the queer community to enhance their mental health.

Only when we feel at peace with ourselves can we live better lives. Talking about emotions is a must. Because what we think and how we think is the foundation of creating attitudes, and attitudes dictate how we express ourselves. The understanding of the importance of a sound mind is primal. And for those of us who are discriminated, abandoned and face social injustice, life itself becomes a cause for declining mental health and increased mental disorders. And that is why we all have to stick together. And for my queer siblings, we finally have trained professionals from among us to help take care of our own.


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15/Jul/2019

 

For centuries, especially in the western civilization our society has divided genders into two categories. Male and Female. Everyone was included in one of these categories when they were born. If they didn’t behave and act as per the societal norms of the time as assigned to each gender, such people were considered crazy, misfits, aberrations and abominations. And according to this category, human sexuality was quite simple. Men should feel attraction towards women and women should feel attraction towards men.

We have known this isn’t the truth for a very long time. The murmur of dissent and opposition has grown only stronger and louder in the past century. And now we know better. The human sexuality spectrum is much broader than what some people may have you believe.

Progression of human sexuality

prgression of human sexuality

For centuries before, only the human sexual organs were considered the precursor to a person’s sexuality. A person born with male sexual organs was considered a man and he was supposed to feel sexual attractions towards a woman. Likewise, a person born with female sexual organs was considered a woman and she was naturally supposed to be attracted towards a man.

Things were seen in either black or white. But fortunately, more of our society has opened up at least to the idea that human sexuality exists outside the set patterns. And the monochrome black and white colors have given way to the rainbow colors as often seen on the LGBTQ flag

Nowadays, we have stopped limiting people’s attraction towards others based on their gender. And we have been able to differentiate between heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, pansexuality, etc.

Science behind sexuality

science behind sex

In biological terms, male is a person who has one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. And a female is someone who has two X chromosomes in their genetic make-up. It has been found that the Y chromosome is essential for the formation of a testis and the testosterone from the testis has an impact on the brain.

This testosterone plays an important role in the development of human sexuality. Testosterone acts on many other organs but to stick to our subject, we will focus on its effects on the brain. It activates a complex protein in the brain known as the androgen receptor. If a mutation in the androgen receptor occurs, then the brain may not respond to testosterone. It would be like as if the testosterone didn’t even exist. Examples in human beings include embryos with XY chromosome who are insensitive to their own testosterone. They are born looking like females, and grow up in that belief (i.e. their gender identity is female).

They are discovered to be XY individuals only at puberty because of non developmental of primary and secondary sexual characteristic as per the biological gender. Such people are said to be suffering from AIS or Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. They often have normal and properly developed testes, but it is hidden inside their abdomen.

A converse situation, i.e. excess testosterone in XX embryos isn’t that common. But a condition called Congenital Adrenal Hypertrophy (CAH) results in abnormally high amounts of testosterone in females, but this occurs much later in pregnancy. Such individuals do have a higher than expected incidence of bisexual or homosexual behavior, but nothing that can point it as its cause. Such people may also have doubts about their gender identity, but it’s not as common or as striking as AIS. The difference may be a result of timing. The effect of testosterone affecting our sexuality and sexual development becomes less as overall development proceeds. Although pre-natal testosterone is a powerful determinant of sexuality in humans it is not the only one. Science is yet to pinpoint a gene or a genetic marker responsible for influencing a person’s sexuality.

Sexuality in humans in all its forms is also greatly influenced by social and experiential factors to an extent.  People don’t decide who they are attracted to, and therapy, treatments and persuasion won’t change a person’s orientation. You cannot also turn a person gay. Although sexual orientation is usually set early in life. It isn’t all uncommon for your desires and attractions to shift throughout your life. This is called fluidity.

Pansexuality

pansexuality

Pansexuality is a relative modern way in which human sexuality can be conceived. It means that sexual orientation is characterized by a physical and emotional attraction to an individual and it has nothing to do with their sex or gender identity.

Pansexuality isn’t restrictive and individuals that belong to binary genders and non-binary genders can also be pansexual.

Difference between pansexuality and bisexuality

difference between pansexuality and bisexuality

It is quite easy to mess up the differences between pansexuality and bisexuality. A bisexual person finds both men and women attractive. So in a way, bisexuals associate people to the two conventional genders of either male or female. On the other hand, pansexual individuals don’t take into account a person’s sex or gender identity. To put it in simple words, a pansexual feels a physical and emotional attraction toward a person regardless of these things.

A new world

new world

Some bisexual and pansexual people like to identify themselves as queer. Queer is more of an umbrella term for sexual orientations outside the heterosexual norms and also has a political and activist root to it. At the end of the day, everything is just a label. But this mustn’t be confused with dismissing it as – it’s just a phase, and that the individual will come out of it. It is not a phase. Instead, be respectful towards everyone. And help those who seek it. For this big world can seem even bigger for abandoned and persecuted sexual minorities.

Reference:

  1. Wikipedia.org
  2. Psychologytoday.com

 

 

 


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01/Jul/2019

Somatic symptom disorder is characterized by an extreme focus on physical symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, that causes major emotional distress and problems in normal functioning. You may or may not have another diagnosed medical condition associated with these symptoms, but your reactions to the symptoms is not normal.

What this means is that you often end up thinking the worst about your symptoms and frequently seek, medical care, continuing to search for answers even when other serious medical conditions have been excluded.

Health concerns then end becoming such a central focus in your life that you are unable to function normally and this ends up becoming a liability and disability.

 

Pathogenesis

Pathogenesis - somatoform disorders

While we haven’t been able to completely understand the causes of somatoform disorders, contributory factors include depression and anxiety. These can also manifest as an obsession with interpretations of somatic symptoms as evidence of a disease, excessive concern with physical illness and a tendency to seek medical care for everything. A family history of a particular condition may have shaped the patient’s beliefs. Doctors also sometimes inadvertently contribute towards the symptoms by either dismissing the patient’s complaints or by over-emphasizing and investigating the possibility of a disease.

 

Somatoform disease can present itself in several different ways:

 

Somatoform Autonomic Dysfunction

Somatoform Autonomic Dysfunction - heart complaints

This refers to somatic symptoms referable to bodily organs that are largely under the control of the autonomic nervous system. The most common examples involve the cardiovascular system (cardiac neurosis – heart complaints for which no organic cause can be found), respiratory system (psychogenic hyperventilation – respiratory disorder, where you are breathing either too deeply or too rapidly), gut complaints (psychogenic vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome)

 

Somatoform Pain disorder

Somatoform Pain disorder - occupational areas of functioning

This describes severe, persistent pain that cannot be adequately explained by a medical condition. The pain causes clinically significant distress, impairment, in social, academic and or occupational areas of functioning. The pain is not intentionally produced or accounted for by a mood disorder.

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

It is characterized by excessive fatigue after minimal physical or mental exertion, poor concentration, dizziness, muscular aches and sleep disturbance. This pattern of symptoms may follow a viral infection and symptoms often overlap with those of depression and anxiety.

 

Dissociative Conversion Disorder

Dissociative Conversion Disorder - amnesia

Dissociative conversion disorders are characterized by a loss or distortion of neurological functioning that is not fully explained by an organic disease. These may be psychological functions such as memory (dissociative amnesia – when a person cannot remember important people, events from their life), sensory functions such as vision (dissociative blindness –a person has selective paralysis or blindness). The causes are unknown but there is an association with recent stress and adverse childhood experiences, including physical and sexual abuse.

 

Somatization Disorder

Somatization Disorder

This is defined as the occurrence of multiple medically unexplained physical symptoms affecting several bodily systems. It is also known as Briquet’s syndrome after the physician who first described the presentation. The symptoms start often early in childhood but can also present itself after a bout of physical illness. The disorder is much more common in women. They are characterized by recurring, multiple and current, clinically significant complaints about somatic symptoms.

 

Hypochondriacal Disorder

Hypochondriacal Disorder

Patients with this condition have a strong fear or belief that they have a serious, often fatal disease (such as cancer) and that fear persists even after repeated medical assurances and tests done. They are typically highly anxious and seek many medical opinions and investigations in futile but repeated attempts to relieve their fears. These often resemble OCD, but in a small proportion of cases, the disease reaches delusional intensity.

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

This is defined as a preoccupation with bodily shape or appearance with the belief that one is disfigured in some way (previously known as dysmorphophobia). People with this condition often make inappropriate requests for cosmetic surgery.

 

Management of Disease

Management of disease

The general principles to medically manage such symptoms are by:

 

  • By taking a full sympathetic history
  • Excluding disease but avoiding unnecessary investigations and referral
  • Seeking specific treatable psychiatric symptoms
  • Demonstrating to the patient that you understand their complaint
  • Establishing a collaborative relationship
  • Giving a positive explanation for the symptoms but not over emphasizing psychological factors
  • Encouraging them to return to normal functioning

 

Reassurance

Reassurance

Patients should be reassured and effort should be put in to find out more about their condition. It isn’t wise to categorically state that they don’t suffer from any disease. However, it may be emphasized that the probability of them having this disease is low.

 

Explanation

Patients need a positive explanation for their symptoms

Patients need a positive explanation for their symptoms. It is unhelpful to say the symptoms are psychological in nature or it is all in their head. When possible, it is useful to describe a plausible physiological mechanism that is linked to psychological factors such as stress and imply that the symptoms are reversible.

 

Drug Treatment

Drug Treatment

Antidepressant drugs are often helpful, even if the patient is not depressed.

 

Psychological Treatment

Psychological Treatment

A mix of talk therapy and cognitive behavior therapy can be employed. Behavioral therapy can be used to modify dysfunctional behavior. CBT has shown reduction in anxiety, depression and improved physical functioning.

 

 

References –

1. Mayoclinic.org

2. Davidson’s Principles and Practices of Medicine, Medical Psychiatry


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24/Jun/2019

Homosexuality and mental health go hand in hand.

Now that I have your attention, it clearly does not in the way that you think. Being gay, trans, questioning isn’t a mental illness in any way. But studies done worldwide has shown that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, inter-sex, trans people show greater levels of anxiety, depression, suicide ideation, as well as substance addiction issues than regular population. The reason for this is the overwhelming opposition and stigma that they face and not because of their sexuality.

LGBT people can, of course, have a mental illness like any other person, but the important takeaway is that being queer is not a mental illness.

Homosexuality and / or transsexual per se doesn’t imply any impairment in judgment, memory, perception, consciousness, stability, reliability, or general social and vocational capabilities.

This is why it is high time all mental health professionals came forward and took the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with LGBT individuals.

 

LGBT Mental Health Issues

lgbt couple

Various studies have concluded that members of the LGBT community are often discriminated by the very forces and institutions that are supposed to protect them. Stories of abuse at the hands of police, law and even hospitals are common within the community. So it is understandable that the LGBT community are at a higher risk of mental health issues like:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal feelings
  • OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Anxiety disorders, including panic attacks
  • Self-harm
  • Substance use and abuse

What’s more disturbing is the fact that many LGBT mental health issues often start in the childhood and teen years. But it often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed. The statistics show that LGBT teens show a higher risk for suicide than their heterosexual peers.

Getting Help for LGBT Mental Health

lgbt help

But don’t lose hope. It’s important to know that though the facilities and resources are less and the awareness is low. There are many affirmative and safe avenues available for the LGBT community to tackle their mental health issues.

Many doctors, psychologists and therapists also self-identify as being queer themselves or as gay friendly or specializing in issues of homosexual mental health. You can find these resources through local LGBT support groups such as:

  1. http://queerala.org/ Contact – +91 80756 45060
  2. http://orinam.net/
  3. https://snehaindia.org/new/ 24 Hours Helpline

 

You may also get in touch with Softmind to know more about mental health issues and therapy practices.

 


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11/Jun/2019

According to the National Institute of Mental Health – Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

According to available public records, the term Schizophrenia was first used to describe an illness in 1887, more than 100 years ago by a pioneer psychiatrist called Eugen Bleuler. And since then we have come to accept two things – that schizophrenia means a loss of touch with reality in a patient and secondly, that it is rare.

But newer studies conducted by scientists have begun to question both these points. They are trying to redefine schizophrenia, and are also coming to the conclusion that it is more common than once thought of among the general population.

Which means that now schizophrenia isn’t looked at as a specific and rare single illness, but more of an amalgamation of different type of symptoms and conditions which can also be seen in people not suffering from any mental illness.

The main problem with diagnosing someone as a schizophrenic is because of how limiting the diagnosis method is. Even a well-qualified practitioner of mental health usually looks for the following factors in a person to diagnose them as suffering from schizophrenia. Conditions like – hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing sounds that aren’t there), thought disorder (being unable to think straight), paranoia, grandiosity (delusional beliefs that one possesses special powers or is famous), and anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure).

The problem arises when the symptoms mentioned above doesn’t affect all the people and not with the same intensity also. And having one symptom doesn’t mean that you will develop any of the other either.

health professional

So what happens in the offices of a mental health professional? Most of the diagnosticians tend to look at the main problems faced by the person. And the patients too will choose to focus on problems that give them the most difficulty. And when the doctors see these problems in isolation, they quickly club the problems as the symptom of a single illness.  And when you start defining illness based on the symptoms of people in hospitals, then you end up with a definition that doesn’t take into account the problems and symptoms of majority of people who do not enter the hospital system.

at prison - prisoner

And it isn’t even that difficult to trigger the common symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Prisoners in our jails who spend vast amounts of time in solitary often ‘lose’ their mind and their thought processes. People who go without sleep for more than two nights consecutively see hallucinations and have delusions. Overdosing on alcohol and drugs can also bring about symptoms usually associated with schizophrenia.

What this suggests is that schizophrenia isn’t one specific, rare, and rigorously defined illness. Not at all, in fact, it consists of a wide range of unrelated conditions which are also seen in people not mentally ill. The severity of the conditions themselves can range from the minor to the severe. It is just that the people diagnosed as a schizophrenic often have conditions that fall on the extreme end of that spectrum.

hallucinations

What all could be the causes behind such conditions? What causes hallucinations and delusions and paranoia in people? According to research, the modern man living in big cities often face unprecedented stress that former generations of people before him have not faced. Lack of space, pollution, stressful jobs all contribute towards it. As does childhood experiences like poverty, early drug and alcohol abuse, migration, etc. People who have been victims of violent assaults also tend to be on top of the list of people likely to suffer from these conditions. Conditions like paranoia are also seen in people with anxiety and depressive episodes.

Family and genetic factors also play a part, but so far research hasn’t been able to single out a single specific gene responsible for causing schizophrenia. There’s likely to be different genes that are responsible for contributing to it. And like with all genetic factors, it is ultimately our environment that decides which way these genes end up shaping our lives.

At the end of the day, the idea isn’t to retell or redefine schizophrenia for the current generation. But it is simply an impetus for an idea or a thought that there’s more to mental health than what meets the eye. And that we must spend more time and resources to better understand our psychotic problems. Like with all illnesses, the diagnostic criterions change over time and I’m sure this will happen with schizophrenia as well.

If we start focussing on specific problems, then we will be able to get help to a person while targeting their specific problem. This is the only way forward, and not by planning treatment for a loosely defined illness that affects different people differently.

 


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09/May/2019

 

Morning or evening best time to share bad news? According to a new study, they say the morning is the best time to share bad news. because in the morning we know how to handle it but in the evening we will off plumping from this. So we suffer less a physiological stress response at this time

If someone hurt us physically or mentally the pain doesn’t disappear soon. The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) is our central response system. HAP acts when we get stress.HAP it increases the level of the hormone cortisol, which helps to release the glucose for energy into the bloodstream. The stress response gives extra fuel to handle the situation.

When our body gets stress or threat our midbrain release stress hormones that are primarily cortisol and epinephrine.

There is a daily pattern in the baseline level of cortisol. There are many kinds of factors influence an individual’s cortisol level at any given time age, sex, wakeup and sleep time exercise pattern and general stress level. The level of cortisol raises the possibility of how we respond to stress in the day time.

Findings of Yujiro Yamanaka

group of people

Yujiro Yamanaka at HokkaidoUniversity and colleagues recruited 20 male and 7 female having same sleep duration and average wake/sleep time and they have no hormonal, psychiatric or sleeping problems. They collect the saliva samples of the participants every two hours for one day with saliva they can evaluate the typical daily cortisol level of the participants.

How they measure stress?

The researchers used the Trier social stress test, the test gives participants presentation and mental arithmetic performance of the participants videoed of studies. The researchers also collect the saliva sample before the test, immediately after the test and every ten minutes for half an hour.

Side view at female employee relaxing from computer work holding hands behind head, young woman stretching at workplace taking short break for rest in office to increase productivity

After the test the researchers found that the group was stressed in the morning showed a statistically significant increase in the cortisol level of participants after the test when we compared with before cortisol level. This shows a large stress response in the morning but in the evening the cortisol level is low so it does not reach statistical significance.

 

The researcher says that the HAP axis responds more powerful against psychological stress in the morning rather than in the evening. Animal researchers say it’s because of adrenal cortex become less sensitive to a hormone called ACTH produced by the pituitary gland that triggers the release of the cortisol for our daily process.

Addison Disease

The low cortisol level condition is known as primary adrenal insufficiency or Addison disease. The efficiency of cortisol affects the psychological stress response. if a person with Addison disease experiences psychological stress that can lead to an Addisonian crisis.

Conclusion

Smiling young relaxed man enjoying pleasant morning sitting on rattan chair on terrace outdoor, happy successful businessman rests outside luxury house in peaceful place, stress free weekend concept

The study was done by Yujiroshows the individual cortisol level and respond to the stress and how it responds in morning and evening. Our body is designed to be under constant stress our body naturally lowers the cortisol level during normal time. The researchers say that if stress in the evening doesn’t raise the cortisol level so it does not have to increase the glucose availability and we will become more vulnerable to any threat, it would be harder to respond in the evening. The respond in lower cortisol is always better higher cortisol level affect our health. We can say the morning is the best time to share bad words.


08/May/2019

happy couples at psychologists

Life as you and I know it is rarely without its challenges. When we dig deeper, we find that mental health issues are the result/casualty of such challenges.

But speaking about mental health issues, the focus is mostly centered around known big name issues like – Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Major Depressive Disorder, Post Traumatic Disorder, etc.

These are definitely serious mental health issues, but they can be mainly managed through pharmacological interventions (as prescribed by a licensed psychiatrist), and a psychologist can at best provide only an empathetic and supporting role in their lives.

But for the vast majority of people, these big-ticket diseases aren’t what breaks them down. From the death of a loved one to everyday stressors causing anxiety, it is important to note the role a psychotherapist can play in their lives to help them solve the many problems life throws their way.

Stress and Anxiety

Portrait of a frustrated student girl sitting at the desk biting her fist. Education concept photo, lifestyle

Jobs to relationships can cause a lot of stress in people’s lives. Stress left untreated can lead to anxiety problems, social isolation, depression, among other problems.

Tip: A psychotherapist can help them manage stress and anxiety by finding the source or cause of their problems, as well as appropriate ways to overcome them.

Depression

Young business man crying abandoned lost in depression sitting, emotion face

Depression is often overwhelming feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. There is a misconception that people can simply choose to be not depressed. This is not true.

Tip: A psychotherapist can help them find their source of depression. This is often the first step to feeling better.

Death

Young widow laying flowers at the grave

Death is an unavoidable part of life, but it is also never easy to deal with for anyone. The loss of a child, a parent, a friend, a lover or even a pet can affect different people differently. Grieving is a natural process but when that grieving leads to a loss of touch with reality, it can create bigger problems.

Tip: A psychotherapist can help them find appropriate and healthy ways to cope with the death of a loved one.

Phobia

Phobia

Phobias can range from being afraid of heights, spiders, fire, to public speaking and even death itself. Such unusual, irrational and unfounded fears can create substantial health problems in people’s lives.

Tip: A psychotherapist can help people overcome their fears so that they can live without phobias.

Relationships

Parent and kid hands connecting couple jigsaw puzzle piece with drawn red heart

Relationships, whether family, personal, or work-related, have many ups and downs. While relationships can be the source of many joys in life, they can also be a source of stress and problems.

Tip: A psychotherapist can either individually or in a family setting, help iron out wrinkles that can form in even the strongest relationships.

Addictions

addcitins to alcohol, drinking

Addictions like smoking, drinking, drug use, eating disorders, anger management, insomnia, and hypersomnia are often symptoms of larger underlying problems.

Tip: A psychotherapist can help people get to the root of those problems, and they can also help you tackle these problems immediately.

I was a psychotherapist believe in utilizing Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Therapy and Humanistic Therapy to help people overcome their problems. Behavior Therapy focuses on our learning’s role in developing both normal and abnormal behaviours. Cognitive Therapy emphasizes what people think rather than what they do. And Humanistic Therapy emphasizes people’s capacity to make rational choices and develop to their maximum potential.

counseling by a psychologist

Identifying and managing diagnosable mental illness is priority numero uno in the psychiatric community. But providing affordable and personalized psychological help for those with a clear condition that can be managed is just as important. Aside from suffering needlessly, those in distress actually make their problems worse by avoiding professional help.

Get in touch today for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan. We at SoftMind respect your privacy and can offer you personalized treatment and care.


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07/May/2019

Stress is not as harmful as we think. There are some benefits to stress. We can classify stress into two types of’ positive stress and negative stress. If you see the stress as a benefit like boosting your brain, motivating you to success and that stressful challenge can give learning and achievement opportunity.

Many studies show that the benefits of a positive mindset. A new diary study in the European journal of work and organizational has found the implications of the stress mindset of the workplace the first investigation was led by Anne Casper.

Findings of Anne Casper

Science student using pipette in the lab to fill test tubes at the university

The researchers led by Anne Casper at the University of Mannheim found that if the employee has positive mindset the anticipating the workload on a given day that increases their performance of that day and takes more proactive step to meet the challenge they feel more energized at the end of the day these where the main factors found by Anne Casper and researchers.

How Anne Casper and Researches Came To Conclusion

Focused young woman making notes in outdoor cafe. Pretty lady wearing casual clothes and sitting at table with chairs and building in background. Education concept. Front view.

The researchers use 171 employees’ works in various fields mainly in medical, educational, health and social care and it. Their average age was 39 and half of were men. The researchers firstly completed a survey about their stress mindset. Then they give employs online diary the employee has to complete the diary three times a day in the morning, after work and before bed for five working days. In the morning the online diary asks them to answer the questions about the workload that day. After work, it asked how did they any constructive steps they’d taken to meet day’s challenges like planning or scheduling and seeing the challenge as a learning opportunity. In the evening they asked how did they perform and how energetic they felt.

Startup Business People Looking on Strategy Board Information Thoughtful

The employs with a positive stress mindset, there was a relation between expecting larger workload and make more proactive steps to deal with it and this proactive constructive behaviour was related to performing better and they feel more energized after work. But in a negative mindset the relation was reversed the more workload they anticipated they perform less constructive coping behaviour. That affects the performance of the employee and they feel less energized at day’s end the people with negative stress mindset try to cope through avoidance.

The new study shows that our stress mindset influences how we respond to the challenge. If a student with a positive stress mindset is more inclined to seek out feedback after completing the successful task.

Conclusion

Millennial employee taking break from computer, young businesswoman or student stretching at workplace in multiracial coworking, relaxed manager happy to finish work enjoying pause for relaxation

Anne and her colleagues show the benefits of stress and it will raise awareness among the people about the stress mindset. There is some evidence that people can help to develop a positive stress mindset. Researchers say there are some limitations stress was according to work is different there is the limit for stress over stress is harmful.

The research didn’t give any strong reasons for the effects of stress mindset. This research was focused on a single day that is not enough to evaluate. It helps to clear the negative thoughts about stress.

The study shows the about positive mindset and advantages of the stress. Overall it’s important to have good stress in our life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


04/May/2019

counselling with doctor

Vijay Kumar was brought by household members when he tried to suicide for counselling he tries out.

He said “I saw the death in front of me, I have no hope. The pain was I can’t do anything for my only daughter” he stumbled.

When I tried to know what’s the matter Vijay Kumar unleash the matter.

On a journey, Vijay Kumar accidentally caught blood from strangers wound. He worried that contact with blood will pour aids. He has no guts for a blood test. When the fear increases he saw a psychiatrist. He says some of the mental problems to the psychiatrist while buying the prescription of medicine Vijay Kumar asked as a general suspicion.

Sir If someone else blood caught in your hand can spread aids?

If you have wound and he has aids, that blood falls in it maybe you have a chance to caught aids” doctor replied.

That’s enough for Vijay Kumar always thinks about the terror of aids. He thinks that he is an aids patient. A kind of obsessive rumination. His voice breaks. He avoids the presence of friends. He then surrounds sounds became a cruel noise. In a depressing morning, he tried to suicide.  His doctor could not understand the inner nature of the question behind the question of Vijay Kumar, He did not have any doubts about his own thoughts. That doctor would have to treat his vain interests in a strategic way.

Of course, the counselling is just advice and without thoughtless words can give serious problems.

Sad man holding head with hand

So what really happened with Vijay Kumar? Vijay Kumar has been experienced this emotional crisis for over time. It can be understood as a social-cultural state. His behaviour influences heterosexual chemistry. Financial crisis can also be a reason. Various interpretations can be made from the fields of chemistry, psychology, economics, genetics, and social science.

At this level, it’s not easy to evacuate every think carefully and counselling. However professionally counselling should have a better understanding of human nature.

Counselling Harassment

psychiatrist doctor touching stress patient man to cheer up him from sadness on hospital bed. Mental or depressive disorder sickness. Healthcare concept.

Counselling is done on the basis of several psychological theories. Religious counsellors are mental counselling and mentoring the psychological aspects of religion. There are physical and mental problems in childhood and the counselling of psychoanalytical arguments against the cause of mental illness.

There are counselling methods on the basis of studies by Maslow’s idea that humans aren’t merely an Animal, he has to culture the potential to reach self-actualization. But psychoanalysis and human rights are against modern concepts towards the world and human behaviour. Since the principles of Humanitarianism were roughly based on the social and cultural theories were acceptable by religions. The much latest theories like Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (EBT) and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

Silhouette of human hand holding bible and cross, the background is the sunrise., Concept for Christian, Christianity, Catholic religion, divine, heavenly, celestial or god.

The Christian religion preachers realized these were against the interests of the religion and presented the rational emotive spiritual therapy. The principles of the church were that we should never doubt the religious teachings and that is the cause of problems in life, we should control the mind through our soul, that there are limitations to believing in our own abilities, also that God is above all, along with logical reasoning we should also treatment of our ails is also necessary, and that Jesus Christ is the greatest psychiatrist.

quran

The teaching Of Islam psychology is that if you want to have a spiritual impact in accordance with the god, one must find shelter in Allah.  Spiritual (swanthvana) advice of clinical theology that is sheltering in the Lord Almighty came under the name of the Christian religion. Based on various Indian philosophies in the name of Indian psychology karma theory and Bhagwat Gita annotations and activities were propagated.

In short, religious priests, teachers, and educated martyrs are exploiting religious beliefs with their beliefs. Mind power training, meditation, retro and art of living training are all over the course of persecution. It’s wrong through counselling all human (manovyathikal) will solve and difficulties get worse. Those who do not know enough about human nature can simplify the meaning of the words of the person and complicate simple issues. When the common sense of the people tend to oppose the existing thinking they oppress or say it psychic nature of mind.

Modern Counselling Ways

Social Media Users & Happy Words - Do they really mean the same?

Some scientists make use of the efficiency of science and put forward a sort of Metascience method. For their own privacy, they conclude in integral observations. There are also some dangerous observations due to their own personality standings. The fact that Regeneration treatment, dynamic medication and various other healing therapy and tests like roach are traditional methods is a known fact Psychological methods should be renewed in a natural habitat. Observations of brain scans and studies in hormones cannot be dismissed with such ease. Not only that there have also been apparent changes in the traditional thoughts on basic human social interaction methods.

On the basis of the growth of genetics, molecular biology and neuropsychology the viewpoints on the mind and (bhodamandalam) are accepted after various academic discussions. There were methods using evolutionary psychology to understand human behaviour.

The method of scientific counselling eliminates the state of mental and physical vulnerability and slavery. This isn’t forced upon the now prevailing theories. The counsellor interacts in the modern viewpoint of (bhodamandalam) and mental practices.


23/Apr/2019

Female tourists spread their arms and held their wings, smiling happily.

A sense of dread fills the mind of most people today. Their minds are filled with doubts and thoughts about their actions from the past. It is easy to shut the voices of criticism coming from outside. But what if the hurtful words are coming from your own mind?

I have only two words to say to you – Accept Yourself.

Read more to find out how you can overcome the many self-made barriers and accept yourself and also learn new habits to heal yourself emotionally.

Group of friends help comfort friend who are feeling sad, stressed and pressured.

Whenever we see someone get hurt or crying, we almost immediately feel compassion towards them. Even if we don’t know them, we are able to empathize with them. Now, look back at the last time you were hurt or the time you were crying. Did you show the same level of compassion and empathy to yourself?

And what did you do instead?

portrait of handsome young man pointing to the front

You blamed yourself. You found occasions in your life where you thought you had gone wrong. Your mind filled up with unwanted thoughts. Awful, embarrassing and traumatic memories from the past started occupying your mind. You started experiencing body aches and pains and you were highly disturbed by it.

Strange isn’t it? That we are often nicer to complete strangers than towards our own self?

Around 5,000 people were surveyed by the charity – Action for Happiness and the University of Hertfordshire in the UK in 2013. It listed the main habits practiced by people that led to a drastic improvement in their happiness level. In that study, self-acceptance was shown to make people most happy. In fact, self-acceptance won more points than other habits like being positive, learning new skills, and spending time with friends and family collaborating on a positive project.

young man pointing his mouth

Since you are here, one would assume that you are someone struggling with self-acceptance. So what are the barriers in front of you? Most people surveyed said that to practice self-acceptance, one would have to surrender control. I.e. not do any action and let nature/destiny take its course. This is often the biggest barrier that one faces. Because everyone likes to be in control and charge of their lives and fate. And no one likes to feel like they don’t have any control over their lives.

People also feel that self-acceptance means giving up when in real life, it only means acknowledging our situation and not trying to change it all by ourselves.

Another barrier is the inner critic that resides within us. We don’t have to completely mute him or her. But we certainly have to coax them to offer criticism more gently.

self acceptance

The good news is that it is never too late to begin the journey of self-acceptance and forgiveness. Here are a few simple steps by which you can achieve this.

Follow these simple steps –

  1. By developing feelings of compassion towards yourself.
  2. Practicing meditation and mindfulness to identify harmful ways of thinking and isolating it.
  3. Accepting the many physical ailments in your body. Be it insomnia, pains, aches, various diseases, and illnesses.
  4. Accepting the many mental traumas you have suffered. Accepting the abuse, unwanted thoughts and negative emotions.
  5. And finally, accepting your own body and personality. Celebrate and cherish who you are and what makes you unique in this world and never compare yourself with others.

Remember, acceptance isn’t a solution that magically solves the problems that you are currently facing. Acceptance is merely the starting point on the path to a solution. Self Acceptance is simply telling yourself – “Yes, this is how my life is at the moment. But this is okay. I will overcome this one day.”

Pro Tip: You can try writing positive and compassionate messages and letters to yourself.


SoftMind

We’ve experienced practising clinical hypnotherapist, consultant psychologist and Forensic Hypnologist in our team to work with people with a full range of mental health problems and emotional distress.

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