Samyak's Nook

Coping Mechanisms

I’d suggest you to skip to the section after the horizontal divider, just in case you lack the time to read too much detail about trivial stuff. If you are lazier, go straight to the next italicized paragraph. If you’re free, however, who am I tell you anything!?

I was feeling like shit by the evening. My PS-1 Quiz 2 finished, and I was the first one to submit it. Since I was fairly confident of what I wrote, in addition to the approval I got to most of the answers from the WhatsApp group we were discussing the answers in, I decided to turn in my quiz. People only managed to point out one thing that I got wrong. As I was feeling impatient, I promptly corrected it and waited for more corrections. Impatiently.

To my pleasure (?), I didn’t receive any corrections after this. So, I thought I’ve done well, that too without asking anything, and I submitted. What I got in return was shocking.

I scored 2.75 out of 5 in the quiz, which was horrendous. What’s more? One of the answers were marked wrongly, and to my dismay, only one of them. Hopefully, the answers will get regraded and I will get a 3.75. But hey, I am already lurking behind in my post-midsem grade. I’m getting an A- (which is not so common in our station, where most of the people are getting an A) and I again scored below average. Why below average, you ask? Well, well, you curious kid, all of these guys learned from my mistakes! In a sense, they used my dead body as a bridge to get across the pit of uncertainty of wrong options. And guess what? Most of them (for I don’t know about all of them) ended up with a 4 out of 5 in the same quiz. They will eventually get regraded to a perfect 5.

So, as I was saying, I was feeling like crap. Let’s replace the cuss words now so that I sound more educated. I was distressed. This was not the first time I did such a dumb thing (well, I still feel I wasn’t that dumb for this, but hey, I’ve stopped being too hard on myself), but it was my fault only, the mistakes I did in the quiz. I recalled all those times where I have fallen into similar situations, much more so recently. I recalled that evil laughter from some of my “well-wishers” which was more painful to my ears than a screeching piece of chalk. I started feeling worse about myself.

But this time, I took the leap. It’s a Monday, the “first” day of the week, so I decided to fix myself of my bad habits and jump into the things which have proven themselves to help me. I went to the TV, not for that fun and frolic show which makes me feel warm and fuzzy, but for that 15-minute HIIT workout I’ve been planning to do and have been slacking off for so long. This was the time. This was the time to fix things, to take revenge on myself.

After a long, long time, I decided to change the way I cope with problems. I didn’t try to comfort myself this time. I decided to punish myself the way I felt I deserved to be punished.

15 minutes of excruciating effort, an unbelievable amount of sweat dripping from my body and my long quarantine hair, partly due to the hot weather and partly due to the sheer effort I put in this workout. I’ve also grown a bit unfit since the lockdown, but please don’t judge me too hard. I was tired, but I continued. I started to fail out on the different varieties of push-ups towards the end, but I carried on. If I wasn’t able to go down for the full push-up, I stood up in a high plank. If I didn’t go for a full burpee, I did the beginner variant, but I carried on.

The last set of burpees was the second best thing that happened to me this month, the first one being all those nice birthday wishes I received two weeks ago (thank you once again!). I maxed out this time, wringing out all that I had in my body. That rage, I converted it into a perfect set of burpees, I finished my workout on a high. I exulted, I felt like a king. I did it. I made it. Most importantly, I recovered.

I’ve been pondering over this for a long time now. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health and coping mechanisms and knowing oneself and what not, for the past 3 months or so. What gave me the power to share this, however, was the unfortunate incident that one of our rising Bollywood stars suffered. Since then, I’ve resolved to sort myself out and try to help others get sorted too. I’ve decided to work on this condition I’d been in, for years, and take help from you and know about others and myself in the process.

Coming back to the point, I think we are exposing ourselves to a wrong set of coping mechanisms. I repeat this again, mental health disorders are fairly new to us, indicating our mental unpreparedness for the lifestyles we are going through nowadays. Hence, it becomes crucial to look into what went wrong, what was it that we weren’t prepared for? What are some of the obvious stuff we are doing wrong, but is not so obvious anymore due to repeated exposure, a Stockholm Syndrome of sorts?

What I am about to say is purely my opinion, and I may be grossly incorrect here. But I’d like you to note it and point out any flaws that you may find.

For the most part, we very well know what we are doing wrong. It’s usually that we are too afraid to acknowledge it, in apprehensions of being mocked at by those around us. In a similar way, we know what we are doing right. When we do the right thing, we subconsciously crave for an award, a shoutout, an acknowledgement that makes us feel relevant, important and loved. Likewise, when we do the wrong thing, we crave punishment, we secretly feel we deserve to be scolded and shouted at. We want to get hurt so as to balance our wrongs. If done correctly, we get into this state of equilibrium, yet again.

Many times, nowadays, I have observed people getting too soft over what they do wrong. If people feel bad, they try hard to be not-so-hard on themselves. They take their mind off the situation, sweep it under a rug and keep on doing that till they are symptomatically relieved of their plight. If not all, they usually end up with the wrong coping mechanisms, something which leaves them even weaker. Maybe it is being reflected in our education system through special improvement classes for students and compulsory promotions in elementary school. All of this culminates to something worse than any of the previous situations combined! I’ve found myself guilty of doing so too, and I think you’ve come across it as well. Please bear in mind that I’m certainly not in favour of abusive behaviour. If by any chance, someone is a tad too guilty of their actions, climbing on their shoulders and shouting in their ears will do more harm than good. But a tendency of wrong → punishment and right → reward provides a tolerant, simple, easy to assimilate system of checks and balances. Therefore, we should find ways to punish ourselves in healthy ways, if we think there’s a need to do so.

If you have said bad things to your friend, push yourself to say sorry, to do something special for them. If you have cheated on your diet, punish yourself by working out extra. If you wasted too much time playing and having fun, feel free to feel guilty and get to work!

Everything bright and beautiful is not the reality we live in. There’s a natural balance of light and dark, happiness and sorrow, crests and troughs, feeling high and feeling like a trashcan. And I’m happy that it’s so. Imagine how bland life would be like if it were the utopia we dream of? Gah, no fun. Not at all!

Till then,