jaee jadhav

5 months ago

Toxic Positivity

It was a Friday. Ira and I arrived at the neurologist’s clinic at around 3.45 PM. We had an appointment at 4 PM. Usually, I visit him in case of Ira’s epileptic emergencies in a panic state! This time it was our regular 3-month follow-up with Ira accompanying me, excited to meet the doctor. 

We settled in the clinic. We were the second one to have arrived, which meant the second one to get in and wrap up by 4.45 pm. The only other individuals in the vicinity were us, the gentleman in the corner, and the receptionist. I did not initially take note of the specifics of the situation, until the gentleman suddenly popped up his question in Hindi, slightly uncomfortably, bending forward. And of course, it was the same old question we always get,

"How long has she been like THIS?"

I do not like being asked any personal questions by strangers. I find it rather intrusive and far from casual. It raises the question as to why individuals cannot simply focus on their affairs. With a deep sigh and forced smile, I replied, “Since she was 1 year old”. The receptionist suddenly blurted in Marathi, 

“He has come for the first time here.”

“Oh, is it, where is his kid, the patient?” I asked. 

“He is the patient,” she said.

A young boy sitting there cringed with a scared expression looking at me as if wanting to talk more, share more. He did not understand Marathi, he was born and brought up in a village near Patna. Seeing him fidgeting with his fingers, and now that he had already asked me about my daughter, I continued the chat, “How are you?” he as if was waiting for me to continue the conversation.

“I am scared, madam. I had seizures last week at my workplace. I heard some lady nearby let out a scream. Guess she was freaked out seeing me like this. Thankfully, there were some 5-6 people around who helped me in recovering and rest. This is the 5th major seizure attack I have had in the last 4 years. Some ghost has captured my mind and body. I am scared it will strike again.”

“How old are you?”

“22 years old. I have come here for a job. I am a waiter at a nearby restaurant. There are no jobs in my hometown. My father is calling me back due to the convulsions. I get them intermittently. This time it was a big one. I got this doctor’s contact from the internet. Visiting him for the convulsions, the first time for me. It is high time I check with someone about it.”

Surprised I asked, ‘’For 4 years you have been having seizures and you have not consulted any doctor to date?  Did you not inform your employer about your problem? ”

“I dodged the topic or lied about it whenever it came up.”

He is stuck with a small lie that gets bigger and bigger. He assumed it would pass away, the ghost would somehow leave his body and he would resume his life. His parents are concerned about his marriage. The fear of venturing out alone plagues him, haunted by the possibility of the 'convulsions' striking unpredictably. Will anybody help him at a new place if he falls – on the road, from the train, in the campfire – convulsing? Will he be required to go back home and not work to earn? How would he provide for his family? For how long he will live? I found myself at a loss for words in response to his predicament. He was full of unknowns. Serious unknowns, fearful ones.

There was NO way I could say, “Everything will be alright, don’t worry!”

This sentence and the attitude around it always seem like a ‘toxic positivity’ to me. I have observed this many times happening with me. When I find myself in a particularly challenging situation, the last thing I desire to hear is the phrase, “Everything will be alright!” 

It is always a lone battle pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game. And let's be real, things only start looking up when we roll up our sleeves and put in the work to make them better. It's all about the grind, the planning, the doing, the failing, and the trying again! In the end, you must fight your battles, no one will bear your pain!

I could feel his fears, they were like mine, many of them. All I could say was, “I understand, this must be difficult for you. But I am sure you will figure out something. My daughter and I together, are in the process too of figuring out how to deal with our ghosts every day!” Ira was sitting right beside me listening, smiling at him. For the first time, a random stranger’s chat ended on a positive note. He was called inside to see the doctor before us. As he got up, he smiled at me and said, “Looking at your daughter, she is so happy, talking to you – I somewhere feel less scared. Let us see what the future holds for me!”

“Take care!” 

Prompt of Story #2 – a scream, a small lie that gets bigger and bigger, campfire 

Prompt by: Authoropod

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Satyajeet Jadhav
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Comments ( 7 )

Satyajeet Jadhav

5 months ago

What a beautiful read! More power to you and Ira!

jaee jadhav

4 months ago

Thankyou.

Narayani Manapadam

5 months ago

A new perspective on mental health. Thanks for writing this.

jaee jadhav

4 months ago

Glad you liked the content. Thankyou

Romila C

4 months ago

This story is a poignant and touching glimpse into the lives of individuals dealing with medical challenges and the complexities of facing them in a society that often stigmatizes such conditions.

jaee jadhav

4 months ago

True!

Tanvi Agarwal

4 months ago

This reminded me of my first seizure, thankfully I was with family. I can understand how it feels when everybody starts judging you based on your illness

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