"Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine."
― Honoré de Balzac
I've always found the irony of these words a little haunting. Is that really true? Do we really NEED someone in our lives eventually? Is the 'Human Connection' the biggest addiction of the 'Human Condition'?
There was a time when suicide was just a contrived device in an arty story. A random article in the middle pages of a tabloid. The skeleton in the closet of other people's extended families. Things that depressed artists did in the 50s. Just a 2D word I could stare at. Never 3D. Just a word. And then one fine day, there was that friend, a fellow writer, a lively chirpy, over enthu voice the night before . . . now a cold, blackened body on the floor of a crematorium. Dazed faces around some crying, some blah. The wheels of the carriage carrying the body pushed into the waiting fires as a shutter clamped down. So final. So cold. And just like that suicide became a reality around me. Over and over again.
Most people in the profession haven't seen the line between their self and their work. Everything is personal.
I've dealt with suicide a lot ever since. Over phone calls, texts, conversations, and so-called rescue missions. Thankfully, I've not lost anyone in it. I think I just have that kind of a face. People tell me such things. And it's obviously because they don't have the confidence to share such things with anyone else around them. Out of the fear of being judged or, even worse, of not being taken seriously. I can almost hear the emptiness within, like a light being switched off, like a gnawing black hole threatening to consume their insides. A dull, numb, cold feeling that simply needs a human connection to re-ignite. It's a NEED, not a want. And that is where the tragedy lies - this pathological dependence on another human being for emotional sustenance. This desperation to connect to and own another human heart. This belief that one would die without this. And the desire to actually die without it.
What I'm saying is loneliness seems to be leading to suicides. All around me.
Commercial success is the new stamp of creative approval. Failure is a very personal rejection.
Last week, another young member of the glamour industry (film, TV, modeling) took her life. Many news channels got shrieky over the topic - is Tinseltown full of brave smiles and lonely lives? A silly cliché in many ways, one would say, but I tend to agree. Yes, Tinseltown seems to be full of people undergoing depression. Yes, people in front of and behind the camera are suddenly crumbling within. Yes, even super success hasn't stopped a Deepika Padukone from being depressed. As a life coach, I am dealing with it in session after session. Each time, the same story - this need for appreciation, for fulfillment, for contentment through love. This manic investment in someone who one even knows is not worth it, in someone who is perhaps emotionally abusive and simply unable to handle this overt deluge of affection. This inner vacuum that is being filled by something called love. But is this love? Or just a weakness under unreal pressures? Is it the answer to a sudden lack of meaning in life that both failure and success can hand to us? Or is it just an unhealthy latching on to another's identity because we haven't found our own? Somehow, the last bit resonates with me the most.
But is this love? Or just a weakness under unreal pressures?
Over the last 20 years as a media professional, I've learnt one thing. Most people in the profession haven't seen the line between their self and their work. Everything is personal. A Friday makes someone saunter into a café with three hangers-on, a Monday makes the same person sit alone in a corner, judged. Commercial success is the new stamp of creative approval. Failure is a very personal rejection. These extreme highs and lows, the investment in an external image and validation say just one thing - we have all forgotten how to be ourselves. Or that we never stopped to look within and meet ourselves. And yet this IS that profession that dabbles into one's sense of self the most. In its imagery, in its idolization, in its need to tap into inner reserves for stories, this IS that profession that is directly playing with emotions on all fronts. And the easiest thing to lose is your own bearings. The biggest achievement is not to lose those bearings no matter what. Let others be the supporting cast but be the hero of your own story. Have an authentic relationship with yourself. A healthy one, a compassionate one, an objective one, but even a bad one will do to begin with.
And I'm not even talking about turning 'spiritual' or even following a practice. I'm just saying, look within. Find your Self. Own your Self. Love your Self. You don't need to be an emotional leech. Visit a shrink if that helps. Find friends who help you maintain that balance. Seek help when the 'lights go off '. Talk about it, reach out, wave the red flags - someone is sure to notice sooner than later. Do whatever it takes to be your own best friend first. Save your Self.
Let your Self be the one to tell that solitude is fine. Loneliness isn't.
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