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Where did Cassie go?

Once upon a time,
there was a Bhanvra
and a Bichoo.

They’d had it rough
getting to be
Son of the Sun and
Daughter of the Moon.

Theirs was
to

live and die,
fight and fly

by the rhythms of
the tides, Indra,

flowers, rainbows, unicorns standing by

One terrifying day,
the Monkeys started sprinting
across the everlake

The Bhanvra and Bichoo then knew

That snake! it must have bit a Langu

and now
the dam Pugs were on their way.

Quick,
said the Bhanvra,
I’ll take the sky
you take the sea

we will see then
what’s meant to be

the Bichoo cursed and dove under
the Bhanvra kissed a poppy and
rose under

To this day,
it’s the butterflies
that marry the twain.

The mother of the Shebas
wails as she wars

Where did my Cassie go
where o where did my Kassie go

oh I miss her so
Oh God I miss her so.

Aqseer Kaur Sodhi, for Nirmal Sangha.

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My best friend’s wedding – the scam

Title says it all. Check this video – and if you are Aquarius Sun Moon or Rising, beware. You think you’re friends, no one else thinks that.

 

In fact they’ll fantasize about you, then slut-shame you. It’s really something else. Double binds from here to eternity.

 

Best

Aqseer Kaur Sodhi.

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featured image jaap hollander

“Provocative coaching,” telegraphically delivered.

Many years ago, I inhaled, digested and tried to pass on what I learnt of Provocative Coaching by Jaap Hollander. Since no one is as excited about it as I have been, here’s the magnificent text in a nutshell + how I’ve incorporated it in my practice.

Now some of you have been witnessing my blinding growth and flashing changes to the practice in a cross-eyed fashion. Plus, you don’t even know me from the time I started, much less when I was a snarky, bully of a sarcastic pain-in-the-ass kid growing up.

Bitch is snarky. 🙂

My clients will testify that I can often hit the nail on their proverbial heads. Aarti Kuber refers to my style as “something else” and thanked me for my “teers” at the end of a 1.5 hour session with her feminine power+mystique Chandrakala Collective.

Everything I’ve learnt by way of integration my various gifts into one bullet-train of sticky insight is thanks to this fantastic text by Jaap.

Jaap is a torpedo-head like me, and he doesn’t believe in pulling punches on the client.

Here’s the 5Ws and 1 H of provocative coaching as deployed by Mr. Hollandaise in my own telegraphic style.

  1. the Problem is not a problem. Make it worse. Go along with the client’s catastrophising.
  2. the coach is not the container. Force the client to step into that role and push you to SEE that there is in fact a problem. Classic reverse psychology.
  3. the client wants to believe in themselves. Make fun of them, exaggerate their tendency to “split” – aggravate the black and white thinking till they begin to defend themselves. Nicknames are THE love language.
  4. build the client a coat of self-esteem armour, trust in their ability to step up and be their own parent, own adult, and own inimitable, empowered child.
  5. take their punches, turn them into jokes. Roasting is the ultimate love style.

Have fun! Therapy is a goddamn drag beyond a point.

To coach with me, read my FAQs, then sign up here. Depending on where you are in your mental health journey, we’ll spend 3-12 sessions on your childhood trauma, then up your game and get you in coaching.

How much, dude?
– 3000 per session which will be between 45 minutes to an hour.

<3 \w/

Aqseer Kaur Sodhi 😉

PS – before you come to me for coaching, please watch Coach Carter and The Last Dance. You’ll thank me later.

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Repression by Neerja Singh #repost

“While Tia raced along the Ring Road towards the Hauz Khas Village to let steam off with some friends, her grandmother continued to stare at the breaking news on the television. It was about Leslee Udwin’s controversial documentary entitled “India’s daughter”. The senior watched, outwardly passive but distraught with conflicting emotions inside. Her fingers traced the prayer book lying unopened in her lap. Nirbhaya’s rapist Mukesh Singh and the defense lawyers were spouting cultural toxin:

“She should not be put on the street just like food…if you put her on the street, the dogs will definitely take her away”.

“We have the best culture, in our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

“You can’t clap with one hand…a girl is far more responsible for a rape than a boy…only 20% girls are good.””

Read the rest here.

PS – this my momma. :):)

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Heartbreak: the day I gave up on 98% men

If you know me as more than the scary figurehead of this huge ass brand, you know I have always stood by men. Especially as a radical, raging feminist, scratch that, as a furious feminist, I have ALWAYS defended men to crazed “feminists”.

MRAs have met the organizers and supporters of SlutWalk Bangalore in the respectful middle.

I have been a naive idiot. My ideals made it so I gave men second chances where not even one was deserved.

Most Indian men of the English speaking variety are transphobic, sexist, and just plain lame.

 

So this is me, throwing in the towel as your ally. Go fight the she-wolves yourselves.
Cause this way, ain’t none of you stepping up. You’re busy pointing fingers at me and my diagnosis and asking me if I’m manic and why I’m not calm,

 

 

hahahaha. You are no man.

Good bye, abusive pieces of lame lendi shits.

PS – Beatrice is a shit feminist. Do not read her. She hates on men for their biology, I will make it a point to call lazy feminists out. That’s the new tack. Didn’t cause women scare the shit out of me, but that’s my trauma, and I’m working through it.

Stay accountable folks. Stay sensitive.
And above all, never, ever out a person with their diagnosis. It’s like the N word. You don’t get to say it, only I do. *Rolling eyes continues*

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Therapy In The Times of a Pandemic: A Therapist’s Perspective

This pandemic has not been easy on any of us. Our lives came to a complete stand still. How we worked changed completely and work from home became the new normal. Even as a therapist, it became impossible to see clients in person, and taking sessions on phone or video calls was the only resort left. 

The thing with a psychologist-client relationship is that it relies a lot on their connection, and being present in their physical space sort of helps build that relationship between the two. In terms of building rapport with the client, it has been a lot more difficult to do so in the context of virtual therapy. If that basic foundation isn’t built well in the first place, it is a lot more difficult for both parties involved to be invested in that relationship. Communication with clients, scheduling, rescheduling, all of it is overwhelming when it is all happening at once, and now you have 10 unread emails, with no motivation to reply to any of them. 

Productivity has been a little too difficult for me during these times. Being a freshly post-graduated psychologist, looking for non-existent jobs during a global pandemic, has been extremely daunting. As much as I want to push myself to work, this whole anxiety related to not being good enough because I haven’t found a job yet, often pulls me back. Sounds a lot like toxic productivity, I realize that, and it probably is. I do end up valuing myself only based on my level of productivity. 

Toxic productivity is the unfair expectation that we should be able to stay productive, even reach new milestones, during adverse situations like the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s an idea that expects us to feel guilty if we haven’t worked hard and used our time extra effectively.

You end up putting this pressure on yourself to be in a good mental space at all times, being a mental health professional and all, and even if you aren’t in a good space, you make yourself available to help others. Not sure if this is just me, and I’d like to know if this is a toxic productivity pattern that others suffer from as well. Sometimes, working from home doesn’t feel like work to me, I’m used to being so constantly busy with something or the other, that having time to myself during the day makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. 

One thing that also wavered my confidence was that clients in online therapy tend to slack off really easily, and ghost you a little too often. Not trying to play a blame game here, they might’ve had their reasons, but it was happening a little too often. Frankly, initially I thought there was something wrong with me so to speak, but later I realized that this was the case with most of my colleagues. The situation still sucks but it was good to know that I wasn’t alone in it, I guess? 

At the end of the day, a therapist-client relationship is a two-way street. It goes a long way if one person takes a step forward too. Considering the fact that we’re going to be in this situation of work from home for the months to come, a little more consideration from the client’s side can help the therapist feel better as well. Something as simple as not ghosting your therapist and telling them that you wouldn’t like to continue, or that you would like to reschedule. We’re humans too, after all. 

Another factor that comes in with the whole work from home, stay at home thing is that your outlets for unwinding yourself reduce by a great deal. Had a tough day at work, went and chilled with my friends, and the day seems a lot less stressful. But now, where do you go with all that frustration? Back on the couch, binge-watching reruns of that same old sitcom? 

All in all, online therapy is great in terms of it’s reach and convenience, but I would much rather prefer to have face-to-face sessions with clients, whenever that may be possible. 

 

Effective ways to deal with feeling ineffective:

1) Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling, instead of ignoring your feelings. If it helps, start journaling to keep a track of your thoughts and feelings. 

2) Rest. Take a break. Let yourself just be. We tend to see rest as a reward instead of a necessity. When you take a break, do nothing or invest in downtime you’re not shirking responsibility; you’re taking care of yourself so you’ll have the stamina to be your best when you get back to high-value work.

 

Resources:

https://medium.com/personal-growth/feeling-unproductive-and-overwhelmed-reframe-your-focus-701f43b138f7

https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/kingscareers/toxic-productivity-vs-healthy-steps-on-your-career-journey/#.X7eXmahX6Nw

 

Image Credits:

The Ultimate Egypt Online Therapy Guide

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Humor and Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people around the world. It is classified as a mood disorder and may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. People experience depression in different ways and it may interfere with your daily work, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. It can also influence relationships and some chronic health conditions. Depression can be more than a constant state of sadness or feeling “blue.” Depression is more than just that feeling of being low that we experience when things don’t go our way, or when we go through a break-up, or lose a loved one. 

Something we’ve all heard quite often, “laughter is the best medicine”, may not always be true. We often tend to associate humor with happiness and joy. Someone who is humorous and cracks jokes quite often cannot possibly be sad, right? That often seems to be the widely held misconception. Turns out, people with depression do use humor, and they may use it quite often, but the nature of humor that they use seems to differ from their counterparts who do not have depression.

There are four different styles of humor so to speak, affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, and self-defeating.

Affiliative humorIndividuals who are high on this dimension engage in witty banter, telling jokes, and say funny things, as a means of facilitating relationships with others and also to reduce interpersonal tensions. They may say funny things about themselves and may not take themselves very seriously; but at the same time, they tend to maintain a sense of self-acceptance. This could very well remind you of that ‘class-clown’ you may have come across at some point in your life. That one person that people are drawn to because of their sense of humor and a jolly and engaging personality. 

Self-enhancing humor Individuals who are high on this dimension tend to have a humorous outlook on life. They maintain such a perspective even when they are faced with stress or adversities. This dimension has been closely linked to the concept of coping humor, where the focus is on the use of humor for the purpose of emotion regulation or as a coping mechanism

Aggressive humor This style of humor involves sarcasm, ridicule, teasing, and putting down. It also involves the use of humor to manipulate others through implying the threat of ridicule. It relates to expressing humor in ways that disregards its potential impact on others. This also includes the humor used in order to bully or shame someone.

Self-defeating humor – This dimension involves doing or saying funny things at one’s own expense, which is usually done for the purpose of winning over other people or to get their approval. Individuals high on this dimension often allow themselves to be the topic of others’ humor; they also tend to laugh along during this process. It has been hypothesized that people engage in this type of humor in order to avoid their underlying negative feelings or to avoid dealing with their problems in a constructive manner.

As you can see from the descriptions of these 4 styles of humor, two of these are adaptive (affiliative and self-enhancing), and two are maladaptive (aggressive and self-defeating). It may not come as a surprise when you read that people with depression have more of a tendency to use the maladaptive styles of humor more often than people without depression. Contrarily, people without depression often use the adaptive styles of humor to a greater extent than do people without depression. Scoring high on the two adaptive humor styles has been linked with various positive health outcomes, such as being happier and having healthier relationships. On the other hand, having high scores on the maladaptive humor styles can have a negative effect on one’s health.

This pattern of humor usage, and the differences between its use when comparing people with and without depression, may not be seen in all cases. This pattern can be heavily influenced by culture. For example, in a collectivistic society, such as in India, the use of maladaptive humor is less in general since the community is given more importance over the individual. In comparison, the use of maladaptive humor is seen more in individualistic societies where the individual is generally given more importance. 

The causes for this difference in the use of humor, in cases where it is seen, however, are still unclear. Sigmund Freud theorized that comedians often tell jokes as a kind of relief system from some kind of anxiety. His theory seems to be in line with what has been described as the ‘sad clown paradox’, that sees a link between comedy, and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. This paradox states that comedic performers are characterized by feelings of deprivation and isolation in their early lives, where comedy evolves as a release for tension, removing feelings of suppressed physical rage through a verbal outlet. Laughter has been shown to decrease the secretion of the stress hormone, serum cortisol.

It has also been theorized that humor can leave people with a feeling of control over a situation in which they would otherwise be powerless. Although, this difference in the use of humor may very well be connected to a lack of self-esteem that seems to accompany depression. A lack of self-esteem may push these people to use a lot more self-defeating humor, which involves a lot of deprecating or insulting of the self. Other possible explanations that have also been suspected are that people suffering from depression choose to use more negative styles of humor and not try to improve their situation by using a more positive humor style, which in turn maintains their condition; Or perhaps using a negative humor style is influencing depression. The third and likely possibility is that certain factors (both genetic and environmental) affect depression and the use of maladaptive styles of humor, but more research is needed on this topic.

 

How does this information help you?

Signs of depression may not always be obvious. People suffering from depression may often internalize it, and show very few and subtle signs of it externally. Thus, you can start paying attention to the kind of humor that you and the people around you have been using. Doing so may be an indicator toward recognizing signs of depression and then further seeking professional mental health services if required.

 

How can this information help the process of therapy?

The goal of therapy is to make clients independent and provide them with tools to help them cope well in their daily life, even after the termination of therapy. People in therapy can be equipped to use more adaptive styles of humor during the process of therapy, which can be a useful tool for coping that can be used in daily life outside of therapy. If used with caution, humor can be a powerful tool in enhancing relationships, including a therapeutic one. 

(Image credits: https://bleedingcool.com/tv/the-boys-season-2-episode-4-teaser-homelander-sure-is-one-angry-supe/)

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Till you address my self-worth, self-care tools are meaningless

You know the adage, “if you tell a depressed person to go for a run, you should be shot”? You don’t? Not yet, cause it’s mine.

Alcoholics have a disease, folks with diabetes have a disease, and so do codependent people with personality disorders. Except that with the depressive ones among us, the disease is born of a fathoms deep sense of being shit. Being too much.
Too pessimistic, too sad, too sensitive, too needy, too controlling – we’re carrying around a bag so heavy with the ways in which we’re messed up that it’s genuinely unimaginable to us what y’all folks are doing planning haircuts and dalgona coffee during the lockdown.

We’ve been carrying around a fundamental sense of badness for so long that when we’re down and you give us some super obvious self-care task to do, we’re hard on ourselves for not being able to do it.

I’m a therapist and peer-support advocate and my beloved kitten Kumi’s death on 8th May sent me into bed and old depressive spirals about offing myself and giving it all up to turn into a nun. Again. I mean enough already, I’m a therapist and peer-support advocate FFS. It’s been seven years of this, why do I keep coming back to killing myself, what the hell is going on?

Let me tell you, trying to use CBT tools when you’re depressed and feeling unworthy, probably depressed because your unworthiness is triggered, is like sticking your neck out for repeated chapeds across the face. It’s not that these CBT tools and manifestation tools and the rest of what positive psychology~new age tools has to offer is worthless. Far from it.

It’s that until you help me resolve my fundamental sense of badness, unworthiness, too-muchness, I won’t want to use any of it. I won’t want to feel better, I won’t internalize any of the feel good mantras you’re giving me and I definitely will not be able to feel gratitude for all the good things in my life, because I have my head so far up my ass I can’t even properly see them yet.

Please know that I’ve been intellectually aware of my sense of unworthiness from the first time I was depressed – it was actually a healer by name of Minal Arora that pointed it out to me. This was sometime in 2014. It’s been at least six years since then, and only because I lost a cat in circumstances that were totally outside my control could I finally face the fact that I have been blaming myself for every thing that went wrong in my life because the people around me could not see me for who I am till it was too late. I have internalized planet-sized shame around being sensitive, and different and it has made me feel like I need to protect people around me from me.

Which if you’ve met me you know is frankly ridiculous. 🙂

So having emerged from this final bloody round (I swear to god Aqseer) of suicidal ideation, revisiting the first principles and asking about the meaning of life, here’s what I gotta say to myself, and to you.

Couple things happened to you that were not in your control.

You survived those things, you survived the drive when you weren’t at the steering wheel. Now it’s time to grab that wheel with both hands, and choose the road you wanna go down.

Because you see yourself, and love yourself, and know your worth, you will choose in every moment to be in your body, to practice gratitude, and give yourself what you need.

Everything is figureoutable, and now, you wanna figure it out. For you. Go you.

For those of you that are struggling with your sense of worth, write to me for an appointment at sodhiaqseer@gmail.com, we’ll get you there.

– Aqseer

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Pavitra in her element

Food supplements for depression and anxiety

In my own recovery from depression and anxiety, I have largely relied on good old Lithium and dedicating myself to my work and spiritual practice. This is not to say that that is the route to recovery for us all. Far from it.

There are people that just won’t take psychiatric medication because they don’t like the feeling of dependency. There are people for whom it doesn’t work. There are people who want to transition from it to natural substitutes. And there are people who believe in treating an illness like depression or anxiety in a holistic, mind-body-soul way.

Whichever description fits you, I’m excited to share with you some learnings from a conversation with friend and self taught food-therapist, Pavitra Nanthan.

Let’s cut to the chase here, is food therapy real?

In a word, yes. There is considerable research to establish the connection between the gut and the brain. Think about when you’re about to get on stage to deliver a speech, the performance anxiety you’re facing makes your stomach queasy.

So you could take an anti-anxiety medication that would calm your mind down. Could you also drink a calming tea that could soothe your tummy, and would that relax your mind? The science says yes.

But can food supplements be a substitute for psychiatric medication?

For a person willing to make their body their temple and adjust their lifestyle to the feedback their body is giving them, changing what they eat is absolutely essential to recovery from chronic illness, depression, anxiety and feeling revitalized.

Having said that, it’s not enough to go on an intense detox for 1.5 months and then ride that “borrowed immunity” in an urban setup – your body will slide again and attempting to recover from a serious illness in that environment without pharmaceutical medication will be slow, and tough.

So, for folks on a maintenance dose, i.e. for people that have stabilized on their psychiatric medication, or for people dealing with low grade depression and anxiety, food supplements and mindful eating can go a long way in helping you maintain your progress or manage your illness. But given the extent of enmeshment with stressed out urban life, we cannot say with confidence that it works as a full substitute for psychiatric medication.

What do we mean by listening to the body and making lifestyle changes accordingly?

Well, my friend here had done enough introspection to know that she felt less depressed when she was in nature, and ideally working with the soil, being physically active. Ayurveda felt too structured, pharmaceutical medication was clearly a band-aid solution, neither of them seemed to be treating the cause. So she went on a journey to Sehatvan, an action research space for forest therapy, purely to heal her body.

That was a life-changing experience where she discovered “what the body is capable of doing when you do nothing to it.” Autophagy or self-devouring is a natural response of the body to fasting (such as a 6 day water fast) where deprived of external nutrients, the body begins to feed on toxins built up inside.

She says it’s after this fast that she first felt free of depression in years.

Context in place, let’s talk about nutmeg, cinnamon and turmeric/curcumin.

  1. Ever heard of poshto? The legendary Bengali dish guarantees a heavy head and good sleep due to the properties of poppy seeds, a natural drug used in ancient India to help people rest and recover. I’m told nutmeg has the same properties and when consumed in tea, increases dopamine levels in the body and gives us a mood boost. Imbalanced flora in the gut is implicated in depression and nutmeg soothes that wonderfully, she says.
  2. Cinnamon tea has an especially calming effect on Pavitra – at the same time she cautions that every body is different and the key here is to cultivate enough self-awareness to know what our body needs when.
  3. Turmeric or haldi is a favourite in Indian kitchens, and I’ll always chuckle at Kanan Gill’s bit on how we collectively attribute mysterious, yet total healing powers to it. Pavitra tells me that it does in fact have anti-inflammatory properties, keeping the gut alkaline, which is a good offset for all the acidic processed food we tend to consume, especially during social isolation. Please note that turmeric needs a carrier to be digested – so if you’re off milk, try mixing it with jaggery, or boil water and drink it with some pepper; otherwise you can just mix it in some ghee.

In closing, I am far from an expert on food therapy, but this conversation has shown me that there’s lots to learn here about healthy, sustainable ways to feel better, to feel good.

– Aqseer

If you’d like to book an appointment with me, please write to me at sodhiaqseer@gmail.com, or learn more here.

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Wake-up Corona

For a long while, I have struggled with balancing 5d (spiritual) and 3d (material) realities. For instance, if we individually choose our soul families, what does that mean for how we collectively respond to child sexual abuse?

That some of us choose a particular set of experiences for our soul’s growth cannot mean giving up on collective responsibility for that experience in this world, maya or samsara as it may be.

In other words, if our material world will never be the same after this pandemic, what are we going to do about it?

Before we get to that, here’s two major don’ts.

Do not succumb to the temptation of other-ing.

On one level, the virus is being traced to Chinese wet farms. Before we point fingers at “them”, we have to question why wildlife farming began in the first place. We may then find that we have a collective responsibility for the poverty that drove this practice in the beginning, AND for the greed that kept it going. If the universe is a fractal hologram, endlessly reflecting itself, we have an opportunity here to heal the parts of us that want to blame the other so we get past “us and them” and get to ‘we’ in fighting this together.

Do not see this pandemic as an isolated three-six months of our lives.

In our lifetimes, we have not seen a public health issue of this magnitude. The last such experience was in 1918 with the great plague. I’m concerned for pot-banging denial that goes looking for sparkly masks and fails to understand that the present moment is screaming at us to change our lifestyles significantly in preparation of what is to come.

Here’s what to do, based on your personality adaptations.

1. If you’ve seen this coming and were tending to schizoid anyway, here’s your chance to find your purpose, your route to connect with others meaningfully.  Its time to use your expertise, and ability to chill by yourself and show us the way out.

2. If you’re codependent (borderline adaptation), this is a great opportunity to get on your two feet, emotionally. Learn to ask for what you need, don’t expect people to read your mind, don’t overextend or chase people that give you just enough to keep you hooked. This is a great time for dating, counter-intuitively. People looking for an easy lay are hopefully going to look elsewhere as long as this self-isolation lasts.

3. If you’re narcissistic and know it, deep dive into your artistic/creative/showboating side, turn it into a side-hustle, get your need for admiration met in a healthy, constructive way.

If you’re planning a major life-change already, let me know in the comments.

To book an online therapy session with me, email me at sodhiaqseer@gmail.com, to learn more about online therapy go here.

– Aqseer

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