Sangita Thakur Wadnerkar is a clinical psychologist. She has been practicing in Pune for the last eight years at her clinic on M G Road and Salunke Vihar. She has also been practicing at the Inlaks & Budhrani Hospital for the last six years. She specializes in counseling children, couples and adults. Patients with problems of depression, phobias, poor communication skills, stammering and personality problems are a regular for counseling and treatment at her clinic. She also specializes in marriage and career counseling (including Aptitude Testing) and conducts personality development workshops for children and adults. She has published a lot of articles in local newspapers and is co–author of the article “A Personality of Drug Addicts: Eysenchion Analysis”. This article was published in Personality and Individual Differences Journal, 1993 vol. 15–No 2.
Articles given by Sangita Thakur
Bring Back The Pep In Your Step
So what if you are going through a difficult patch just now? Keep up your spirits, look for the silver lining and wait for the new dawn of a new day. Bring back the color in your life, advises Sangita Thakur, a clinical psychologist. Rani was having an affair with a boy for three years. Life went on wonderfully for her. It was like living in heaven, as if she had found the “Prince of her dreams”. But one day, she had a heated argument with her boyfriend and he left saying, “I don”t want to see your face again”. Two years have passed since the incident. She still thinks he will come back to her one day. Even after six years, Mrs Samant cannot forget the day when she saw her 23 year old daughter’s body hanging from the ceiling fan. She still has restless nights and often cries out loud in her sleep. She has also lost interest in catering to the needs of her other two children and her husband.
Mr and Mrs Adhikari divorced two and half years ago, in spite of staying together for 15 years. The reason for doing so, says Mr Adhikari was that “I tried to be a loving, understanding, dedicated husband with a stable job, but I failed”. Even though two years have passed being divorced, Mr Adhikari still feels guilty for not having worked harder on their marriage. He often feels depressed, lonely, angry at himself and is not interested in marrying ever again. Four years back, Ramesh Kumar met with a terrible motorcycle accident in which he lost his right leg. The memories of the fateful day still haunt him day and night. He curses himself for his fate and wishes he would be dead.
Above are only a few incidences of people whose past traumatic memories of life still haunt them and affect their present life drastically. It is as if, their painful past has been ruling their present life. But, is this the right kind of life these people have been living? Is it worth living for the sake of living or living happily. Do we have the right to spoil our own lives knowingly? It is these questions ’people’ who have been living like the above cases should ask themselves and then try to bring color to their life. Found below are the reasons why and how we are responsible ourselves for bringing distress into our happy lives. Whenever a human being experiences a traumatic, painful incident in his life, after expressing his negative feelings (like anger, depression, guilt, grief etc.) to the situation for some days (depending on the severity of the situation) he would either brood or try to forget the event.
Individual Broods Too Long
If the individual broods too long (for months) over the incident, it could be harmful for his life in the following ways:
- It would ruin his present life as he would remain more engrossed in his problems rather than continue with his daily activities of life.
- He would often feel depressed, dejected and might also start hating himself with the passage of time. Trivial incidents would make him get irritated and angry.
- If the stress continued for a longer time, his body could also be affected and might have heart disease, stomach problems, asthma, ulcers, etc.
- He would also prefer to be alone and avoid social contact as far as possible.
- He would have less confidence in himself and his self esteem would also be affected with passage of time, he would perceive most of the events of life negatively and also loose faith in himself and in life.
- Shilpa’s mother dies in an accident, five years ago. Brooding over the incident for so long has caused her to lose confidence in herself, get depressed, angry on trivial situations, and remain secluded from people. She also is suffering from asthma and has had severe hair loss and lost a lot of weight.
- There are some individuals who instead of brooding try to forget the traumatic incident, they completely deny the existence of the problem (the forgotten problem might be pushed down to the sub–conscious mind which is more harmful).
Below are the harmful effects of forgetting painful memories:
- There would be moments when the individual would feel depressed, disgusted, hopeless, agitated with life in spite of there being no events taken place in his present life to make him feel so. So sometimes he might become aggressive or violent in his behavior towards his friends, family members or even strangers. Trivial incidences will lead him to react in such a manner.
- The individual might start having nightmares and may also be heard crying, screaming or talking when asleep.
- If such an individual watches movies, television programmes or hear stories which are similar to his forgotten memories than he is bound to feel upset, depressed, agitated but would not know why he is feeling so.
Individuals who forget their memories to the extent that it goes to the unconscious mind would experience similar problems as mentioned above in a more serious way. They would also find it very difficult to recall the memories on their own. Psychotherapy is the only way that these unconscious memories can come out. 26 years old Ranjana used to find it very difficult to communicate with people of opposite sex.
She would feel suffocated and anxious in presence of boys, she used to have terrible nightmares and often used to cry in her dreams. Through Psychotherapy, it was found out that as a child she was sexually abused for some years. With counseling and therapy she is now more able to cope up with her present life and also face any difficulties in communicating with men. Thus, when an individual experiences a traumatic incident, the best way to deal with the memories of the painful event is to accept them, rather than try to forget or brood over them. “To accept” means to face the problem and its memories how much ever difficult it might seem to be (Remember, it is not impossible). The truth remains that whatever has happened had to happen, was going to happen and no matter how much ever you would have tried to stop it, it would have still happened. So continue living your present life without allowing your past to affect it in any negative way.
An important aspect to remember is that before the individual accepts the situation, it is very necessary that he expresses his feelings of guilt, anger, sadness, fear or insecurity (as per the situation demands) fully for the required amount of days (depending on the severity of the incident). In order to explain the above point in a better way, let us take the case of Ramesh Kumar who lost his right leg in an accident four years back. If he would have remained depressed, felt helpless and angry towards life for a month or so, then life would have been different for him today. He should have also accepted the loss of his leg and worked towards getting an artificial leg, followed by learning how to walk and then continued living life without his handicap acting as a barrier. But it is yet not too late for people like Ramesh to bring joy and color into the remaining years of his life. Remember the road to success is not difficult if you work hard for it.