The mind, much like the men it controls, always gives precedence to pain that bleeds out than that which seeps in. You could be starving yourself and staying curled in your bed for days at a stretch and you’re mostly likely to develop anxiety too on the side of freshly baked depression. The mind leaves you to your misery, much like that lone weeping girl on the stairs everyone cautiously walks around not to intrude her bubble. The instant you slide a knife under the skin or perhaps break an arm, beta endorphins are sent rushing to the rescue filling you with that blissful pleasant relief, much like all the people you see crowded around the smashed-in car desperately calling for the emergency services. That’s precisely why you have so many people walking around pulling down the long sleeves of their jackets nervously trying to veil the horrors that lie beneath.
How do I know all this ? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. But be it scuba diving or self-harming , if I’m about to try something new, I like doing my research. And of course, by ‘research’ what I really mean is googling for any stories or blogs related to people who have done it before and that was more or less the gist of all those stories. It’s about physically feeling the same kind of pain you experience mentally. Apparently after a while people don’t even feel any sort of pain while doing it and it actually begins to activate the pleasure centres of the brain. Pretty neat but equal parts messed up as well. It was my last straw though. Or so I had thought. I did try other things, I used to paint in school, and I took a dab at that ; I used to write before and I started this blog. Nothing could really satisfy me though. I couldn’t just take a step back to happier times in the past. Unfortunately humans do not run the latest windows operating system where you can reboot into ‘last known good configuration’. I had to break new ground.
Maybe it was fear, maybe it was because I do not own that many full sleeved clothes or maybe it was my misplaced sense of morality but I never could put what I learnt to use. It had done its job though, it gave me a distraction and fascinated me and being an engineering student, I improvised. What do people do where they put themselves under physical duress and get acclaimed for it? When is pain appreciated and scars define success? When it’s from the gym.
Well I can usually talk my way into pretty much most things I want but when it comes to strictly physical features, I am not your alpha male. (To hell with alpha, I’m probably not even in the Greek alphabet.) It is also worthy mentioning that making fun of my friends who do go to the gym used to be one of my favorite activities of the day. It does not make them smile when you compare your ectomorphic skinny ‘abs’ to the ones they develop after months of crunches in the gym. But it made me smile though. So if I was going to do this, I have to do it right. I had about a month before college began and I could start freeloading the university’s gym. You can pretty much guess my next move if you have been following this so far. I went on google and did my homework. Lots of it. The prime target was to not embarrass myself when I do go to the gym, so I had to know all the terms used, the name of the machines, and proper form and background data about the most basic of exercises. This was the fun part though. I like reading about things, I always have. So far, so good. Then came the next phase. Building self respect. For about an hour everyday, locked in my bedroom, music set a-blaring, I attempted to mimic the mystic arts of push-ups, free squats, crunches and planks. Just the four, for no specific reason. Starting at the slowest of pace, I barely pushed myself. This was all about getting myself comfortable with the idea of working out. This was new, and totally uncharacteristic of me and I needed to stop making fun of myself first regarding this. Honestly, I expected no results whatsoever, it was strictly a ‘testing the waters’ session but it did come with its own surprise twist towards the end of the month. Well obviously, I wasn’t brimming with muscles and sculpted traps but I wasn’t lanky anymore. Things didn’t look too different, but they sure as hell felt very different. I could feel my t-shirts touching me in new places and sitting on my shoulders just right. For someone who has been ridiculed for being skinny all his life, this was a new high. I was also to discover that merely making yourself stick to a schedule will do wonders in terms of how you go about your day.
The new semester began and it couldn’t have been any better. In hindsight, if I hadn’t done the acclimatization regime back home I would’ve quit in a week. This was much better than expected. I had purpose again, something to look forward to when I woke up. The feeling of helpless and lack of control that comes with when you’re depressed, dissolves away when you put up a schedule and follow it through to the bone.You feel like you’re no longer skidding through the snow but rather catching hold of life by the reins and steering it towards where you want to go. Plus it adds a whole new layer of discipline to your self. The disorder dies down – for instance, I found myself regularly leaving my shoes in the exact same place in the same orientation every day, my clothes were never strewn across the room, I didn’t talk more than I need to and my procrastination levels died down. Remember Gus Fring politely taking off his suit and laying down towels before kneeling in front of the toilet to hurl up the poison he just drank on Breaking Bad, that’s the kind of ‘order’ I’m talking about here. All the stuff they say about getting physical exercise being so fulfilling, all that is true. More often than not, it’s overthinking that adds insult to the injury when we are feeling low. But when you are sitting in class fervently noting down the details of iris and plug type nozzles used in military aircraft and the slightest stretch of your shoulders invites delicious soreness all through your torso, you don’t really feel like overthinking about issues that are absent in the first place.
All that was a year ago. I even got overly enthusiastic and ran a 10k marathon in between but that calls for its own post. Of course the drive reduces a little with time, but the mirror is bound to keep you heading back the next day. College has been getting in the way a lot, but finding the perfect balance shouldn’t be too hard. So if it hasn’t been your day, your week or even your year, drop the kitchen knife and grab a barbell, all shall be well.