Saturday, 29 September 2012

Are you feeling blue? Here's something that may help!

You think a rare percentage of people have to deal with but it’s actually something that 20% of people experience every year.

For something to go beyond the ‘blues’, to be classified as depression, it has to last for at least two weeks (Only! I was surprised as I thought it had to be longer!) and affects a person’s abilities to carry out their daily activities and to maintain personal relationships. The signs and symptoms will probably surprise you as something you have  probably experienced at least once in your life:
  • Unusually sad mood
  • Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Lack of energy and tiredness
  • Feeling worthless or guilty for no reason
  • Thinking about death a lot or suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Moving more slowly or becoming agitated and unable to settle
  • Having difficulties sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or increase in appetite- Changes in eating habits can lead to weight loss or gain.

Having gone through a mental health course, I’ve been thinking about how to help recover from depression (together with seeking professional help: links below)
  1. When you are depressed, you have a filter in front of you that prevents you from seeing anything good. One thing you can do to start making a habit of seeing good things is by making a list everyday of the good things around you, things you are grateful for and slowly you will start to see the positive side of things. ‘I hate my job BUT I have the potential to be good at what I do, get a promotion and that is something I want from my life.’
  2. Try to appreciate the little things in life such as a beautiful day or when a person is nice to you by offering you their seat on the bus. It won’t be an immediate change but the small things do add up.
  3. Try reading a book or watching television, anything that makes you escape from your own reality and immerse yourself into the troubles and mysteries of another for awhile, but be careful not to overdo this one.
  4. The worst thing to do is to sit around on the couch, doing nothing, wallowing in self-pity, refusing invitations from friends and family because that just amplifies the feelings of loneliness to the point of no return. If your friends don’t know or aren’t asking, make the effort to ask them. Tell people how you are feeling and it will feel like a weight off your shoulders.
  5. Go out of the house, find something to do. Volunteer, get a job, make new friends…never miss a day of school or work, no matter how horrible you feel. One of the best therapies is exercise, so go for a jog or bike ride, whatever tires you out.
  6. If you are severely depressed, you might be thinking of suicide but just remember that 100% of people who have attempted suicide and recovered from depression have been thankful that they didn’t die.
  7. Know that depression doesn’t last forever. It’s a terrible disease that f***s with your head and makes you see the worst that the world has to offer but at the end of the day, you CAN get better, there is HOPE.
  8. If at the end of all of these things, it just does not get better, get professional help who will help you manage the stress of life and possibly the adverse events that might have gotten you to that stage in your life.

Professional help:
Your first point of call is the GP. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and be sure to mention how long you’ve been feeling this way. Hopefully, they’ll refer you to a counsellor who will most likely try one or a combination of the following therapies:
Interpersonal: helps people resolve conflict with other people, deal with grief or changes in their relationships and develop better relationships.
Cognitive behavioural: Focuses on increasing a person’s level of activity and pleasure in their life
Problem solving: Involves identifying problems, thinking of different solutions, choosing the best solution, developing and carrying out the plan and then following up after.
This may all seem quite straight-forward and something that we all do in times of a problem but the thing with a depressed person is that they may not feel like anything they do is helping so a guide can make all the difference.

Otherwise, there are medical causes for depression (such as thyroid problems, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, medications or co-existing illnesses) and other medical treatment such as anti-depressants if none of the above therapies are working.

Something that always works for me personally is reading about things online so I understand the disease better and therefore, how to deal with it.  
Possible sources:
Wikihow: Ways to Cope with Depression
In my defence, instead of blogging about my feelings, I wrote about how we can all feel better together! :)
Not the person you want to emulate.
Yes, the guy in the blue sweater...that's who you want to be!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Slutwalk 2012 - Revisited and Reorganised Ideas

I’ve had this conversation with a few people, some who had no idea what it was and reacted both positively to the concept but negatively to the name. Doesn’t that just reinforce the same idea? That slut’s negative connotation needs to change (although it’s a secondary goal).

Ok, back to the point. Slutwalk’s central purposes:
  • Sexual assault is violence, not sex. 
  • No behaviour or dress justifies sexual assault.
  • Victims of sexual assault shouldn’t be blamed for their violation.
Protection is not granted because of the clothes we wear, how much we’ve had to drink, how we may have danced in a club, if we’re allowed outside to play or any other factor presented as defence. Protection is granted for every single member of society because society works best when we are treated the same without exception. A person told to ‘lie back and enjoy it’, ‘you shouldn’t drink so much’, ‘you shouldn’t have lead them on’ or that they are ‘strays’ or ‘dressed like peadophile/rape bait’ is being told they don’t have the same rights as the criminal who attacked them.                                                      Breaking the Cycle by Amy Gray

I have done a background of Slutwalk before so go check it out for more information and an interesting article from an Indian cultural perspective. The reason I’m writing this again is because I’ve mentally organised myself a bit more.

I used to have a problem with the term ‘Slutwalk’, because it seemed to have implications that people should embrace their inner slut and encourage people to behave promiscuously. This seemed to detract from the main tenets of sexual assault and allowing a woman to do as she wishes.

However, I have come to reinterpret this as taking back the word Slut. Let’s attack this from a different perspective: what’s a male version of a slut? I can think of player and stud; I’m sure you see where I’m going with this…Both these words have a relatively good connotation, if not, at least dependent on context. Let’s change the connotation of words! (Maybe the next time your girlfriend is flirting with a hot guy, you call her a slut and wink!)

To clarify, a woman has the right to not do and act as she pleases, but she has the right to be herself without fear of physical attack or mental torment.

I’m going to support Slutwalk by walking (if the dates don’t coincide with travel plans) and by participating in lots of discussions surrounding it. 

Google your location and Slutwalk 2012: you might still be able to catch it!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tightening Creams: Women empowerment or Patriarchal Reaffirmation?

An Indian company has launched what it claims is the country's first vagina tightening cream, saying it will make women feel "like a virgin" again. The company says it is about empowering women, but critics say it is doing the opposite. The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Mumbai reports.

So it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, mainly because I just moved to Australia so been really busy but this caught my attention. I’m not sure what to think of this, a vagina-tightening cream. Is it really empowering women or reaffirming a patriarchal view that women should be virgins until marriage?

The first of its kind in India, the product is marketed towards women who wish to build their self-confidence. My problem with that is, why should having a tighter vagina have anything to do with someone’s self-esteem? Ancient India was praised for their open-mindedness and lack of hypocrisy (I mean, they wrote the Kamasutra!) in most departments except for the need for women to be virgins. This attitude has not changed but the reason for chastity has changed. It used to be that chastity was about maintaining racial purity (in terms of the caste system) not about saving yourself for the right man or exploring your sexuality. This reasoning has become irrelevant now but the attitude remains.
Practically speaking, as people get married later and women are working and have more independence, it just becomes more common that they would become sexually active but on the ‘down-low’. Gynaecologists say that the most common questions she receives is, ‘Will my husband realise that I’m not a virgin?’ And from men, it is the enquiry of how to find out if his wife is a virgin. I know this is a common worldwide problem and it’s been done to death, but I have to write this one line about it: !@#$% this double-standard!
From a biological perspective, while a woman with multiple sexual partners will have experience, there usually isn’t that much evidence to be found in her vagina. Regarding the first bleed, nowadays, most women are active enough to have broken their own hymen at some point so it doesn’t really say much. Many virgins don’t bleed either. And regarding the loosening of the vaginal muscles, the only real difference happens during childbirth and that is due the walls tearing due to the physical trauma. Sorry men, you just aren’t that big!

In terms of positives, a woman would probably have a better sexual experience if she was tighter, both for her partner and herself so that’s always a positive. I mean, a men’s equivalent would be lubricant, easing and increasing sexual pleasure.
My personal suggestion for women who wish to be tighter (for their own pleasure, not to prove anything to anyone) is, take control of your own body. The vagina is a muscle that you can work out. Heard of Kegels? Google it, do it.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Simple Tips to lead a Stress-free Life

It’s not surprising to me that I’ve been writing a lot of posts about social change and human nature recently, considering I’ve always been interested in psychology and social causes. But all of these things come from extrospection, studying that which is around you. Let’s look at ourselves; introspection is not an easy task for those who don’t take the time.

Although I started this one by writing about body language, I realised what’s the point of reading others if you are not reading yourself? Confused? It’s crucial for us to reflect upon our actions and reactions, conversations, behaviour at least weekly, if not on a daily basis. What differentiates us from other animals, as far as we can tell? We seem to have a unique capability of introspection.

‘Life isn’t meant to be easy, it is meant to be lived…Sometimes happy, other times rough. But with every up and down, you learn lessons that make you strong.’

We get so bogged down in the minute details of life, in the small fights or let-downs by people we love. But we have step back and look at the big picture. Life wants us to be happy, to be at peace with ourselves and with others and most of all, that we don’t need to suffer. Thus, came about my meaning of happiness.  

·         “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer
You can’t control others’ behaviour or change who they are and what they do, but you can control yourself not to react (which takes a lot of practise). Control your interpretations, behaviour, attitude and perceptions and you will become a happier and less-stressed out person.

·         Your beliefs create your reality.
“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so is he.” – Goethe
Question everything, your beliefs, your parents, the media, your friends, your teachers. Always check if your beliefs are indeed yours or have been passed on by someone else. (This also helps to maintain a healthy amount of introspection.) You have lived your life to this day with your beliefs, you are who you are and where you are because of your beliefs. ‘Heal your limiting beliefs and you will transform your life.’

·         Don’t strive for perfection – you can’t get any better than that.
“There are no such things as limits to growth, as there is no limit to human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.” – Ronald Reagan
Perfection is a limitation. What is better than perfection? Nothing. Aim for your best, which can only improve every single time. But the catch is, your best simply has to be YOUR BEST. Even if you don’t accomplish the exact dreams you set out to achieve, take pride in the lessons you learn and master along the journey.

·         Make use of your unique talents, which would go to waste otherwise.
“The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find the greatest happiness in using it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
No matter who you are or what you do, you will have something that you can do better than anyone else. Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t compete and don’t look for external approvals. It is your responsibility to yourself to seize that talent and work on improving it and sharing that awesomeness with the world.

·         Remember that you don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.
“If you are obsessed with defeating the other guy and winning at all costs, then you are guaranteed to attract the vibrational equivalent of this thinking into life – even if you do yoga and stand on your head chanting mantras everyday.” – Wayne Dyer
We have heard this one but this requires changing your thinking which in turn changes your beliefs, which changes your behaviour which will change your life.

Friday, 18 May 2012

IIFA Dancing Stars Singapore

Hi all you beautiful people! This is actually me asking for a small favour that would only take a minute of your time! 

If you don't know me, I love to dance! It's my life's hobby and passion...I'm actually trained in Classical Indian Dance (Bharatanatyam) but have dabbled in Bollywood, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, Salsa and many others...
Video Link:

Please vote for me by clicking the *thumbs up* on the youtube video attached below (on the Youtube page)! This is an audition so I can perform at the IIFA awards in Singapore with Shahid Kapoor! IIFA is like the Bollywood and smaller equivalent of Academy Awards and he is like the Channing Tatum of Bollwood!

Shahid Kapoor in Chance pe Dance
I'm currently in 4th position and would really appreciate the help!

Edit: I reached 2nd position finally and was selected among the Top 5. It was a mixture of the votes and PrabhuDeva's selection so I was extremely proud of myself. I did the final audition and then didn't make it any further.Thank you to all those who have supported me.

Video Link:

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Story of your Arms

Body Language: Part 2

I hope you enjoyed and are practising the first part and if you haven’t read it: Reading Eyes and the stories they tell.

I know this is a difficult art to master but like everything else, it’s about practice. You have to actively look at people to read their emotions and their verbal-bodily confluences. It takes a while before it becomes second nature and even I’m not there yet but by writing these, I hope I’m teaching myself as well. Something I do is be a people-watcher; not in a creepy stalker way but just sit down and conjure up the patience to watch people in their daily activities, maybe at the mall or in a waiting room. Seize the opportunities (instead of playing Temple Run on your phone)!

Warning: Never read a person solely on one gesture. There will always be multiple gestures signalling an emotion. Gestures, in this case, refer to all body language indicators.

Arm gestures are quite easy to pick up because people use them as barriers, both physically and emotionally and can indicate feelings of openness or hostility.
  • Crossed arms: Defensive or reluctance as displayed by people reacting to authority and act as a separating barrier. Range of causes (which you can pick up using context and other gestures): animosity, boredom, fatigue. If you are giving a speech and your audience is displaying this behaviour, you have lost them; make them do something with their arms as opening it up will open up their minds and ears.
    • Note: Can be a cause of feeling cold so be careful not to misread.
  • Clenched fists: Clear sign of hostility, stubbornness and aggression. Often paired with crossed arms meaning lack of empathy.
  • Upper-Arm grip: By gripping your own upper arm (can be done in front and behind body), you are effectively hugging yourself. It’s a self-soothing gesture and usually indicates insecurity. Can be seen regularly in a person lying.
  • One arm across body gripping the other arm: Another form of self-hugging but usually used by women. Yes, this is the one women use to play the damsel-in-distress.
  • One hand gripping the other wrist:  A signal of frustration and a person attempting self-control, either they want to say something or strike out at someone (other anger gestures would be seen: clenched fists, lip curl, eyes narrowed)
  • Both arms behind body with clasped hands: A sign of confidence and authority used by policemen, armed forces, members of the Royal families, teachers etc.
  • Elbow touching: Best flirting move used frequently by both genders and studies indicate that in western cultures, ‘touchers’ are more liked than ‘non-touchers’. But this touch is only extended to elbows as it is a safe zone, far away from any intimate parts of the body. Touching a stranger anywhere else may lead to different reactions. But be warned of cultural etiquettes: some Asian cultures frown upon any stranger touching them, especially if there is an age difference as well. Best to follow their lead in that case.
The next few gestures are all different but have the same meaning: nervousness and to protect themselves, their arms are used as a barrier.
  • Handbag held in front of body (dominantly female)
  • Holding papers across chest
  • Adjusting cuff/tie/watch etc. (can be a sign of preening which is sometimes nervousness)
  • Arms/Hands covering genital regions (dominantly male)
  • Holding a drink in front of your body with both hands
  • Holding a drink across your body with one hand while seated
  • Making nervous gestures across body ie. Touching or scratching

Eyes are harder to control by the person but also harder to read. Arms, while easier to read are also easier to control to give the wrong impression. An experienced reader can tell because a person, even if they don’t cross their arms per say, will exhibit a movement that they suppress, micro-movements. An interesting thing to note is, sometimes forcing your arms to do something may cause a change in your attitude, such as if you’re feeling nervous and clasp your hands behind your back, it might increase your confidence. Or if you're listening to a speech or lecture in a class, uncross your arms, you'll get more out of it!

P.S. This is just arms; there are mouth, head, hands, leg gestures and positions in relation to others! I am very willing to write it up because I love this, really helps me learn it myself but please comment below if you are keen on a Body Language Series!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Truth Will Prevail -- Female Infanticide in India

Just watched Aamir Khan’s much awaited Satyamev Jayate (Truth will Prevail) --Video is below --. I’ve been a fan of his work (not just his acting) but his philanthropy for awhile now and am immensely impressed. This man has influence and never abuses it. His efforts are placed in his work. His movies always have beautiful messages while being commercially accessible to the laymen (Watch: 3 Idiots or Taare Zameen Par)

I must mention something that this reminds me of. I’m not really religious but I have read parts of the Gita and I subscribe to its philosophies. If you are looking towards self-improvement, give it a shot. It is, as many say Hinduism is, a way of life. It says that we should do our karma (work/duty) and not think about results as they will come. It’s taking the Secret’s idea a step further, instead of just thinking about your dreams and desires, take action upon them and the rest will follow. Aamir Khan seems to (from what the public can see) follow this principle. He put his heart and soul into his movies and philanthropic ambitions.

Anyways, back to the show. I shall the list the reasons why I loved his depiction of female foeticide. This is an extremely sensitive topic and while most people vaguely know of its existence, very few are aware of the facts. I have done a project on it, when I was 16 but have given it little thought since.

  • The show’s format is neither talkshow, nor documentary, nor preachy. It’s simply a man talking to a studio audience with the help of experts in the field who help to spread the knowledge about the issue being tackled.
  • Well researched case studies with people from every angle to support the victims such as: 
    • Journalists who underwent a sting operation to hospitals around the country to uncover the truth 7 years ago, found over 100 offending doctors, all of whom are still practicing.
    • Aam janta (mango people/laymen) who are asked where female infanticide is taking place. All answers were along the lines of illiterate, uneducated, lower-class people living in villages. Surprisingly, this is not true.
    • Doctor who explains the cause of rise of female infanticide, discussing the technological advances from 1970s and a Government ploy to decrease population in a misled manner that spiralled out of control.
    • Lawyer who discusses the Judge’s reaction to a mother-in-law who terminated her daughter-in-law’s pregnancy and trust me, it’s shocking. I shudder just thinking about who is running the judiciary system!
    • Social worker discusses the results of this discrimination in the last 40-or-so years with a huge difference in the number of boys and girls.
  • No dramatic music while the camera shows the people in the audience or even Aamir tearing up. No distracting camera work. The entire focus is on the content and the message of the show.
  • Aamir Khan is not pointing blame or encouraging punishment (while it is one of his goals to circumvent courtroom politics and speed up the hearings of the doctors who were caught by the journalists). He is not asking for justice in the form of revenge but justice in the form of prevention or change.
  • However, his main goal is asking the viewers across India to look within ourselves and change our thinking. With a change in thought, comes a change in feeling, leading to a change in attitude, which becomes a change in action, with which comes a change in behaviour, which causes change in habit which causes change in society.
I’m more than willing to help this endeavour. Not only is it educating the public but it is bringing awareness to an issue that is usually taboo because it deals with the cultural attitudes towards female children. The main attitude that needs changing here is that: Boys will be independent breadwinners while girls are dependent.

If you don’t have the time to watch an hour long show or you don’t understand Hindi and don't like reading English subs: This Summary is ‘ok’, definitely doesn’t have the whole story but captures the plot essence.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Quick Ways to tell what Someone is Thinking

I have always been interested in reading body language, ever since I learnt that it counts for 70% of all communication, regardless of whether we pick up the signals or not. One of the first non-fiction books I bought was a body language book by Barbara and Allan Pease (They are experts in the field but their explanations tend to focus on the evolutionary reasons that people act the way they do.) I devoured it and since then, I’ve been obsessed.

Recently, I started watching a television show, ‘Lie to Me’ where the main character owns a company that specialises in reading body language and picking out deception and they are often hired by the police or other businesses where they suspect someone is not being completely honest. It’s amazing how hard it is to be a great liar, and relatively easy to catch someone when you know what to look for. Definitely not an easy skill to pick up (unless you are a naturally intuitive person) but can be learnt. I don’t presume to be an expert but over my last 7-8 years of obsession, I’ve become a bit of a people reader. I don’t need to explain how this information can come in handy but trust me when I say, it becomes second nature to pick up liars, spot a person’s true motives, close business deals and sort out personal relationship problems.

Easy Ways to See How a Person Processes Information with just his/her EYE MOVEMENT

~ From the Observer’s Perspective ~ This is really important especially for anyone who has studied anatomy, you get used to saying it from the other perspective, me included!

Up-right:            visually remembered images
Straight-right:    auditory remembered sounds or words
Down-right:       auditory sounds or words (often what is called an "inner dialogue")

Up-left:              visually constructing [new] images
Straight-left:      auditory constructed [new] sounds or words
Down-left:         kinesthetic feelings (which can include smell or taste)

There is one more type of movement, or rather, non-movement. You may ask someone a question and he will look straight ahead with no movement and with eyes glazed and unfocused. This means that he is visually accessing information.

How does this information translate into lie spotting?

On a general note, looking left when talking reveals a lie because they are constructing a memory rather than remembering one.

Also, there’s a myth that people don’t maintain eye contact when lying, by averting their gaze suddenly. Unfortunately, we have been raised to think this is the case so we maintain stronger unblinking eye contact while lying, to the point where it seems unnatural. It’s hard to differentiate this from a person who just uses more eye contact than others but it’s important to compare it to the individual’s baseline by asking them standard questions. “Hi, how are you doing?” is an example; a person is usually programmed to answer something along these lines, “Fine thanks, how about you?” So even if they are lying, there is no tell because people have practised that over and over on a daily basis.

Word of Caution: This is probably reversed in left-handed people. And a good liar will be able to control their eye movement, usually by practice. But no one is perfect so if you’re good at spotting them, you could catch them with another movement that gives them away.

I've got a few more things to say about this, the rest of the body and the voice, so will write them up at some point in the future, if you're keen, let me know!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Troubled and Disturbed Youth

The Strait Times, Mind and Body, written by Lea Wee about Young and Disturbed

‘Young people in Singapore aged 18-29 are at a higher risk of having mental problems than older people, a study has found. 1 in 14 young people has major depressive disorder, as opposed to 1 in 19 for those aged 30 and above.’
The article then goes on to explain the symptoms of the illness and what are the steps that you should take when you feel that you or someone close to you is depressed (Let me save you the trouble and give you the answer: seek professional opinion.)

However, this got me thinking about what the possible causes for depression is and why has its incidence increased at this rate. Up to 20% of people experience some of its symptoms during a point in their life. Ten times more people suffer from major depression than they did in 1945 and that is not a result of chemical imbalance as human genes do not change that fast! It is estimated to be the 2nd most disabling condition (after heart disease) by 2020 causing 80% of suicides in the world.

Why this increase?

Some of the simplest reasons are ones you may have read before but to be thorough in the subject matter, I shall do a list (because you know how much I love those!) – You are more than welcome to add your own reasons to the list by commenting below and I shall add those in later –

  1. Depression is diagnosed more often because more people (medical professionals and laymen) are aware of the illness, recognise the symptoms in themselves or loved ones and get themselves checked out.
  2. Social stigma is declining (not gone, but decreasing). This is especially true in Asian countries where the school of thought was depression was just a state of mind, which you could motivate yourself out of.
  3. More reasons for young adults to stress. 
    • Think about it, they undergo the most change during that phase in life, where they have to learn to be independent from their family, start new relationships, find a job and become financially and socially stable and settled. This list of changes was much shorter a while ago. Short or long term relationships did not exist and marriage was arranged by your family. Jobs were acquired through apprenticeships. Independence from the family was not a huge issue as travel was not a major factor and joint families were relatively common.
    • While this may be a leading cause in younger cases of depression, broken homes and unstable family situations might lead to anger, resentment and self-esteem issues, all of which lead to depression.
    • Youths are more ambitious to further their career and to earn more money, due to material desires and become successful.
    • Young adults are presented with far more choices these days and while we are under the impression that variety is the spice of life, human mind is not capable of being stretched that far. People used to become apprentices in their villages, follow in their family business or choose from business, engineering or medicine. We are spoilt for choice and while the choices themselves don’t lead to depression, they cause confusion. Some of the adults oscillate from one interest to another, leading to minimum success in any of them and that MAY lead to depression. My father always used to quote an old adage: Jack of all trades but Master of none.
    • Economic crisis affecting their abilities to get the jobs they want, which leads to difficulties in paying off loans which are higher as education has gotten more expensive. Fewer jobs also suggest higher competition.
    • All of the above may lead to failure and some people can’t handle failure by themselves (for the reasons below):
      • They may have never experienced it.
      • Have the misconception that failures are bad and society will look down on you.
      • A lack of family support system
      • Or a family that is also supportive of success rather than failure (basically, every depiction of a stereotypical Asian parent)
  4. Youths, these days, are having a cultural identity crisis:
    • Exposure to global cultures leads to a modern mentality which clashes with the older generation’s cultural perspective regarding education, jobs, stability in life, relationships, all of which come under the over-arching theme of managing family expectations but still being true to yourself.
      -- Immediate Society vs. Global pressure --
    • I’m sure many 2nd generation young adults have had this argument at home: “If your cousin (or anyone in your age group) back home (original country of origin) can agree to this, why can’t you?” (This being all the topics listed in the above point.) A possible reason is that this cousin or relative back home doesn’t have that same exposure (which some people actively seek and some are very laid-back and can’t be bothered to) and thus, is completely influenced by his parents/peers who are all of the same mindset. This may be useful for reducing mental stress and likelihood of stress.
  5. These days we are much more 'self-focused', as opposed to traditional societies dating back to the hunting-gathering days to Amish society now. The idea of considering the wider community to be more important than the self is almost impossible to understand for most people, but necessary human emotional and physical needs to fulfil.
This is just a short analysis as to why I think the incidence of depression has increased in at least 65 years. I’m sure I’ve missed some reasons but also some of which fit under these umbrella reasons but haven’t been explored fully. Please comment below if you have something to add. Would love to hear what the readers think!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Human Rights: Protect Pregnant Women: Free Bei Bei Shuai

 This War on Women needs to stop. If our society wants to reduce abortions - the thing to do is do give women more support - not less - and definitely NOT punishment for being depressed. Depression is a mental health issue. Bei Bei Shauai should not be charged with murder. This is clearly the wrong message to send to women who need assistance and support. I am signing this because I believe that criminalizing women who attempt suicide, or otherwise exert their own rights to their own bodies, is ridiculous and effectively strips women of their right to physical autonomy. You are basically enslaving women, and this woman does NOT deserve this punishment. It is her body, her choice to stay alive or not. If you don't want women's choices to effect a foetus, then find a way for it to survive outside the womb!Please do your part (if you believe in the cause only) and sign the petition to free Bei Bei Shuai..
Katha Pollitt

This article appeared in the March 26, 2012 edition of The Nation.

On March 14, Bei Bei Shuai will have spent one full year in jail in Marion County, Indiana. Her crime? The prosecutor calls it attempted feticide and murder. What it really is: attempting suicide while pregnant.

In December 2010 Shuai was running a Chinese restaurant in Indianapolis with her boyfriend, Zhiliang Guan, by whom she was eight months pregnant. Just before Christmas, he informed her that he was married and had another family, to which he was returning. When Shuai begged him to stay, he threw money at her and left her weeping on her knees in a parking lot. Despairing, she took rat poison and wrote a letter in Mandarin saying she was killing herself and would “take this baby with me to Hades”; friends got her to the hospital just in time to save her life. Eight days later her baby, Angel, was delivered by Caesarean section and died of a cerebral hemorrhage within four days. Three months later, the newly elected prosecutor, Terry Curry—a Democrat—brought charges, claiming that the rat poison that almost killed Shuai had killed her baby. If convicted, she faces forty-five to sixty-five years in prison.
Unfortunately, punishing women for their behaviour during pregnancy is becoming more and more common, fuelled by the passage of “unborn victims of violence” laws in at least thirty-eight states declaring the foetus (or, in twenty of those states, even the embryo or fertilized egg) a separate victim in cases of homicide. In most instances these laws were intended to protect pregnant women from violence, especially from abusive partners, not to apply to the women themselves. But that is what has happened, as the anti-abortion forces have gained power. “The prosecution’s legal arguments are exactly based on legal arguments behind the personhood measures now moving through the states,” Lynn Paltrow, executive director of NAPW, told me by phone. “They treat the fetus as completely separate within the pregnant woman. How can you be separate and within?”It is hard to know where to begin listing what’s wrong with this case. Consider the health ramifications: attempting suicide is not a crime in Indiana. It’s the tragic result of mental illness, depression and extreme emotional distress; and it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to seriously consider it, or even try it. According to a 2010 study in Obstetrics & Gynecology, suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among pregnant women. Pregnant women in crisis need and deserve compassion and treatment. But if Shuai is convicted, what pregnant woman will seek help? “Every major medical and public health organization that has considered the issue has concluded that it is dangerous for maternal and fetal health to hold women criminally liable for their pregnancy outcomes,” says Emma Ketteringham, director of legal advocacy for National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), which is co-counsel to Shuai’s defense. Eighty such groups and experts—including the National Perinatal Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Nurses Association—have filed amicus briefs.
Pro-choicers have focused on the dangers fetal personhood measures present to abortion rights. That danger is real: they’re part of the antiabortion strategy to build up the legal status of the fetus as a person in so many parts of the law that when the Supreme Court finally revisits Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy will look like a bizarre exception. But these laws pose broader dangers to women, because they hold pregnant women liable for any conduct during pregnancy that a local prosecutor suspects caused a bad outcome—and bear in mind that every year 15-20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, 1 percent end in stillbirth and another 19,000 end in neonatal death. Under these laws, hundreds of pregnant women have been arrested, often on only tenuous evidence that their actions, including drug use, harmed their fetuses. In Alabama sixty women have faced such charges.
“These laws say there’s one law for pregnant women and another for everyone else,” says Linda Pence, the energetic Indiana lawyer representing Shuai. “For everyone else suicide is a mental health issue. For a pregnant woman, it’s a crime. That’s a violation of women’s constitutional right to equal treatment under the law.” If Shuai is convicted, Pence notes a further paradox: “If you’re two months pregnant and try to commit suicide, you can be charged with feticide, even though you could have a legal abortion.” Although maybe not for long.
In its briefs the state portrays Shuai as a heartless and calculating home wrecker who lived with a married man and “committed a cold-blooded and intentional act that ended the life of her unborn child” in order to punish him when he left. But who is really being cold-blooded here? The woman who tried to kill herself, who held her baby for five hours as her life slipped away and wept inconsolably when she died? and who then went into a psych unit? Or the prosecution who thinks pregnant women are legally required to stay sane until they give birth?
In February Shuai was granted bail on appeal—something, says Pence, no defendant in a murder case in Indiana has won in more than a hundred years. The bad news is that the court of appeals refused to dismiss the case. For now, Shuai remains in jail. I asked Curry if those eighty expert amicus briefs gave him pause. “I’m the prosecuting attorney,” he replied. “We don’t make the law. We enforce the law.”
How you can help: keep up with the case on Twitter @FreeBeiBei; “like” Free Bei Bei Shuai on Facebook; donate to NAPW at or by check to NAPW, 15 West 36 Street, #901, New York, NY 10018; write to Bei Bei in care of NAPW. You can also sign the petition to free Bei Bei Shuai.