Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Truth About Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder
noun: bipolar disorder; plural noun: bipolar disorders; noun: bipolar affective disorder; plural noun: bipolar affective disorders
  1. a mental condition marked by alternating periods of elation and depression. 
I'll admit: it's not easy admitting to the internet that you have bipolar disorder. But I've done that in the past, and I'm doing it again, because it's not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of. It's just a part of who I am, and it's a part I've accepted. 
It's been almost two years since my first symptoms of bipolar disorder (depressive episodes) started cropping up, and to celebrate that, I thought it would be nice to openly talk about the things I've been through and maybe, just maybe, prevent you from making the same mistakes I - and my doctors - did.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

'Open Minds (Mindjack Series, #1)' by Susan Kaye Quinn

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

'All the Glory' by Elle Casey: A Book Review

Jason Bradley has everything going for him. He's Banner High's first-string varsity wide receiver, headed to another State championship, and the college recruiters are already knocking on his door. His girlfriend is every guy's dream, there's a brand new black Camaro with a 6.2L, V-6 engine parked in his garage, and he's on cruise control.

But when the school's beloved football coach turns up dead and Jason's found standing over the body, his cruise control cuts off bringing his charmed life to a screeching halt, and the reality of being an accused murderer of the first degree takes over.

When everyone else walks away and leaves him to hang, one girl can't. But it's going to take more than guessing and wishing to get through to him and the truth of what happened, since he seems bound and determined to accept his fate as a criminal, tried as an adult and eligible for lethal injection.

Can one really determined girl get to the bottom of the mystery when no one else seems to care? It would be so much easier to watch him go down, and for many, maybe just a little bit too satisfying. After all, who isn't guilty of finding pleasure in seeing that perfect someone suddenly exposed for the self-centered prick that he really is?

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017!

It's been a while since my last post. I feel like I've said that too many times this year.
2016 has gone by in a blur. A surreal, sadistic blur. There are tons of memes on Facebook about how much 2016 sucks, and I've got to say I agree. It's been a bad year for me, too, for reasons that I can't admit on the internet, reasons that only three or four people in my life know.

Yes, 2016 was good for me, too, as I'll discuss later on in the post. But at this point, I'm going to have to rack my brains to remember, because all I can see is the grey cloud that still looms over me.

Alas, the past is the past, and there's nothing we can do about how shitty 2016 was. But it's the last day of the year! A fresh start is upon us! What could be better?

So here goes: the good and the ugly of 2016. Let's go.

The Good Memories

1) New House + Same Roommate

Last year I told you about my wonderful roommate and my beautiful room. Well, that hasn't changed, except now I have a room of my own in a new house, and a lot more privacy. My roommate's still the same, which I'm very thankful for, because she is the absolute best friend I could have ever asked for.
As for my new room... plenty of posters, glow-in-the-dark stars, yellow curtains PLUS sea green curtains, a tiny bed, a couch, and a study room... you get the picture. Lovely.

2) Fresh Diagnosis
I finally got the proper diagnosis and the treatment that I deserve, and I'm happy to say that my life is... normal now. With the right medication and the right therapy, I'll never have to worry about my mental health again. :)

3) Book Five?!

I spent all of 2015 working on Not That Kind of Girl, and I'm plenty proud of it, but I'm prouder about the fact that 2016 brought to me Always You, Love Thy Neighbour and my current work-in-progress, The Year I Fell in Love. This has been a wonderful year for writing - and maybe that's why I've been neglecting you, dear readers. Hopefully that'll change in the new year.

4) My Business
I've talked about my editing business previously, so I won't go into too much detail, but Feb 2016 is when the magic happened and the epiphany struck: if you're good at something, never do it for free. And that's how I started critiquing and editing books for a living. Wonderful, innit?

See, all this stuff is great, but I can't think of anything else. Let's just move on to the bad.

The Bad Memories

1) My Grades...

I got a disappointing GPA of 2.7 in my fourth semester, bringing my CGPA down from 3.67 to 3.4, and even though it's now settled at 3.35, I can't help but wonder how the girl who came second in first year with 3.71 is now just... above average.
But hey, it was a trade-off. Mental health or marks? I picked mental health, and that was the right decision to make. So yeah. That's my silver lining.

I promise you there's a lot more serious stuff - legitimate stuff - that I can only talk about in therapy or with my best friends - so I can assure you that this year has not been rainbows and sunshine for me, either. I remember 2015 me thinking, well, it can't get any worse, can it? Well, 2016 sure beat you to it, 2015.

But I know for a fact 2017 is going to be better. I have so much to look forward to! Graduation, my sister's wedding, moving back to Bangalore (hopefully, at least), setting up my business, maybe getting some response from publishers... there's a lot to look forward to, and I hope that this time next year, these will be the things that form part of my "good memories".

Tomorrow, I go back to Mumbai, ready for a fresh start. A clean slate. With the knowledge that yes, this time, and I can say this for sure, it can't possibly get worse. I hope...?

Well, Happy New Year to you, Geeks! I'll try being more active in 2017 - maybe that can be my resolution, to give more time to the things that matter instead of sleeping all day - though I can't make any promises, but I shall see you when I do.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

How to be a Happier Person

noun: happiness; plural noun: happinesses
the state of being happy.
"she struggled to find happiness in her life"

Funny how the example above is so true for most of us. Happiness isn't quite an emotion anymore, it's a goal. An almost unconquerable goal, at that. It's something we all strive for. Something we all chase. Something that may or may not be within us, but something we need to choose all the same.

I'm going to be honest here. It's not always easy being happy.

But it's worth a shot, isn't it?

I've struggled with happiness myself. Mostly because I'm not quite as emotionally stable as I'd like to be, so I tend to go back and forth, but I do like to think of myself as a positive, optimistic person. And so today, I'm going to tell you - and myself - six ways to start your journey as a happier person. Let's get started.

1) Create an Intention
First things first: decide to be happy. Okay, I know what you're thinking: "Swati, why on earth would I decide to be unhappy?" But think about it. It's so much easier - and somehow more satisfying to the sadist within - to be miserable and complaining and grumpy all the time, isn't it? Isn't that why most of us share those memes on Facebook about being unhappy or thinking about death as a way of comedic relief (something I never do, just so you know - I don't have a twisted sense of humour)?
So yes. I'm telling you to choose happiness over sadness. One way you can do this is to create an intention every morning. Wake up, look at yourself in the mirror as you're brushing your teeth, and say, "I choose to be happy." It may sound silly. But do it just the same. This is going to set the tone for the rest of your day, and give you a jumpstart into being a happier, more positive person. If you don't intend to be happy, none of these tips will work for you. I can guarantee that.

2) Don't Criticise

Oh, this is a tough one to fix. Criticism seems to be hard-wired into our brains. A defence mechanism, perhaps? I don't know. Anyway, we have a tendency to criticise each and every thing that we come across, no matter how amazing or perfect it may seem. Old aunties do this ("oh, that bride may be pretty, but she's too skinny - how will she bear children?), our parents do this ("why can't you be more like Sharmaji's son?") and we ourselves do it ("I hate that professor. Why is she always on her phone in class?"). I'm not saying those things aren't justified. Maybe they are; how would I know? But criticising changes nothing. Constructive criticism does, sure, but not the one we partake in.
So how can you become a less critical person? For that, head over to step 3.

3) On the Bright Side...
Do this exercise every time a negative thought or criticism enters your head: "On the bright side..." Want an example or two? "She's too skinny a bride, but on the bright side, she loves the groom so very much." "You may not be as smart as Sharmaji's son, but on the bright side, you're such a good photographer!" "That professor is always on her phone in class, but on the bright side, she doesn't mind us using ours!"
See how you turned that negative thought into a positive one? There's always a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. There's always a silver lining to a cloud. You just have to search for it. It's easier to criticise, sure, and it may feel satisfying at first... but in the long run, being resentful will get you nowhere.

4) Affirm It
There's this great blog post by Jeff Goins I read a few years ago about how he always said he wanted to be a writer... until his friend pulled him aside and said, "You are a writer. Just start writing."
Such a big shift in your mindset, isn't it? And it makes all the difference. If you want to be a happy person, stop just wanting it and start affirming it. Think of yourself as a happy, positive, magnetic person, and start attracting those vibes and that aura towards you. If you think, "Oh, I want to be happy, but I'm so negative," then you're going to stay negative. Remember, creating the intention is one thing. Affirming it is another.
You are a happy person. Just start being happy.

5) Be Grateful, Baby
If you've been following me on Instagram, you'd know that I'm big on gratitude. I recently completed the 28-day gratitude challenge from the book The Magic, and I can't say how much it's helped to shift my attitude to one of gratitude.
If you want to become a happier person tomorrow, you need to start being grateful for the things you already have today. Gratitude makes you happy - it's been scientifically proven. Positive psychology for the win!
So if you aren't already being grateful, start. Download apps like Attitudes of Gratitude or Bliss on your phone, both of which I've used and loved. Grab a diary and jot down ten things to be grateful for every day. Whether it's that first cup of coffee in the morning or a special person in your life or even the air you breathe, it doesn't matter as long as you're genuinely feeling grateful for it. Trust me, this will change the way you see things. It will make you happier. And I know it's tough. Some days, it's hard for me to get all ten items on the list. That's okay. List down as many as you can. It will make a difference. I promise.

6) Be Around Happy People
Now, I'm not saying you should ditch your friends in their time of need. No. Absolutely not. But there's a difference between a bad situation and a bad personality. Some people are highly negative, draining and exhausting to be around. They're a bad influence on you, period. On the other hand, some people - the ones who have already been following these tips - are full of joie de vivre and are so much fun to be around. Be around those people. Try to emulate their habits. Ask them what's their secret.
And if you can't let go of those negative people - maybe they're family, or your best friend, or your soulmate - then challenge them to do the gratitude practices with you. Maybe together, you can both become happier people. That's killing two birds with one stone, isn't it?

If you've enjoyed this blog post, go ahead and share it with your friends, especially the ones who you think can benefit from being happier. What are some of your tips for becoming a more positive person? What's the one random piece of gratitude from your list today? Mine is gratitude for "honey and almond cornflakes. I never realised how delicious they are!"

I'll see you soon, Geeks. Bye!