A skeptic who is yet to make peace with marriage

elizabeth gilbert

Sometime during last year I happened to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ which talks about her soul-searching journey through Italy, India and Indonesia over a year after a devastating divorce. She spent time in Italy to eat and in India to seek before finding love again in a Brazilian businessman named Felipe in Bali, Indonesia. After a not-so-long period of courtship, Felipe and Liz swore their love for each other but decided never to get married as both of them had bitter divorces.
Since, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ was not really a bad read, I picked up its sequel, ‘Committed: A skeptic makes peace with marriage‘ which focused mainly on her ordeals with the US government that ended up in her marriage with Felipe as it was legally required for him to live with her in the US. She also talks, in the books, about the history and evolution of the institution called marriage while attempting to tackle her fears of the same. The bond of true compatibility that she found between herself and Felipe made her quite confident that they would make a wonderful couple.
After finishing the book this morning, I visited her Facebook page where I found a post about her commitment ceremony with her writer-girlfriend, Rayya Elias. She separated from Felipe, her husband for nine years, in July last year after she discovered her feelings for Elias, her best friend for more than a decade. She also informs her readers that the reason she’s going public with her and Elias’s relationship now is because Elias has been diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer, which is incurable. She goes on, “I’m walking through this cancer journey with her, not only as her friend, but as her partner. I am exactly where I need to be — the only place I can be.”
While I wish all the best to Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Elias, I also realise that everything around love is beyond our comprehension and a bit complicated.
Here are some quotes from Eat, Pray and Love:
“It’s still two human beings trying to get along, so it’s going to be complicated. And love is always complicated. But humans must try to love each other. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” 
“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.”

HIV and Depression: Let’s talk

 

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Deepak (name changed) found out about his HIV infection at a blood donation camp. It devastated him! Not yet out of his post graduate college, he did not have the courage to share the news with his parents, skipped lecturers at college and locked himself at home. He fell hopeless, and was in a state of an emotional upheaval. With much persuasion from his mother, Deepak finally opened up to her. Though it took her some time to accept reality, she never blamed her son, and instead, gave him the assurance that the entire family would support him, and never forsake him. The family got him enrolled for ART, and subsequently he became a part of Vihaan Care and Support (CSC) programme. The CSC provided him with peer support to cope better with his new circumstances. He realized that HIV was no longer a life threatening health issue, but a manageable one. Today, he sees life with much more optimism and fortitude. He has resumed his studies as well, and is closer to his family. He completed his study and is confidently managing a CSC working as a Project Coordinator.

HIV is still considered a jarring enough diagnosis to plunge a patient into depression. The Healthline News in 2014, highlighted, “When depression is paired with HIV, the two diseases can feed off of one another. A 2001 meta-analysis of studies on HIV and depression underscored the severity of the problem. It showed that people with HIV run twice the risk of depression as those who are at-risk for HIV but remain uninfected.”

I talk about this story today, as the central theme of this year’s World Health Day is ‘Depression’. Every day, across India, 360 care and support centres and 32 Help Desks teams consisting of counsellors, peer counsellors and outreach workers from the Vihaan programme, reach out to thousands of individuals living with HIV, many of themselves living with HIV. They encourage and support them to accept life with courage, actively access and retain themselves in care, support and treatment services, and have a positive outlook towards their lives. At Vihaan, we believe mental health is a crucial factor in ensuring the wellbeing of PLHIV. This World Health Day, we pledge to renew our commitment to continue to support PLHIV to improve the quality of their lives by helping them in enhancing their mental health and wellbeing.

http://www.allianceindia.org/world-health-day-depression-lets-talk/