"We All Talk About Change, but We're Not Ready to Be the One Who Brings It." - Vedant Saxena

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1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I am a hotel management graduate, completed my training from Le Méridien, New Delhi, before finding my niche in writing. After graduating, I met with a career-threatening accident and was forced to stay on bed for 6 months. In that period I contemplated my life and choices I had made, depression had caged me, with chronic anxiety and panic attacks (all these things returned, I suffered from these things earlier). 

People around me were sceptic and weren't supportive, they even blamed me for my condition and said I was faking my misery.

This pushed me to the edge. And I found myself drowning again. But somehow I fought my way through it. In that period I decided to write a book, about my life, obviously. It has the ingredients of a better tragedy than Shakespeare’s plays. How a guy who suffers from depression fight his way out of it, despite the reluctance of society to talk about the pain of men. And, considering the stigma of depression in our society.

I walked out of depression while writing this book. And then I decided to help people going through similar tragedies in their life. I planned to be the voice of people who can't share their pain. At first, I started talking to people who just wanted to be heard, but after some suggestions and criticism, I decided to make it a profession. Thus did some psychology courses, even enrolled for masters in psychology.

My book "Will You Stay?" Got published in 2019 January to rave reviews, topped the bestsellers chart, in initial days of its release. It helped hundreds of people, all around the globe. Boosting readers from 25 countries.

After that, I compiled true stories of people who have been through depression or are still fighting it and compiled it into a collection of short stories "The art of moving on" which was published on 2nd May 2020, during the lockdown. Till now, it has received positive reviews from people.  It even provoked some people to acknowledge their struggle, as well as the fight against their issues. My third book is expected to come later this year, in October.

From fighting with depression to helping hundreds of people who have been through depression, issues in their life and having suicidal thoughts. Life has taken a full turn.

2. What led you to take up this career path?

I chose writing to pour out everything I had been holding inside and bring a change in society, even if it is minute. We all talk about change, but we're not ready to be the one who brings it. There are a lot of issues to be addressed, which I wish to exploit. Even if it gets controversial, I will try to stay on this path of change, which I've laid.

I started studying psychology because people in India are not taught about mental illness and are not aware of it. Thus, a lot of severe as well as mild cases go untreated. At first, when I started counselling people, they didn’t want my help, but my degree. Even that doesn’t help them.

Since I know a lot of professionals, who charge hefty money for counselling and sometimes it doesn’t even help. How can people reach out to them? So I decided to make it my profession and a promise to myself that I’ll try to help as many people as I can, in any capacity. I run a page on Instagram with readers around the globe, 25,000 people follow it. I mostly post self-help work, motivational posts and awareness about mental illness.

3. What are some common myths in society about psychology?

There are a lot of funny and sad myths.
1. People think the psychologist can read minds.
2. They’re immune to depression, anxiety, sadness. They can’t have time off. If you start reading psychology, you become invincible.
3. It’s very easy to study and people think they know everything since its common sense. Hello? Read Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, guys.
4. You can be a therapist just after completing bachelors. 
5. People can be treated just by talking. They don’t require medication, which is a very dangerous thought.
6. We get paid a lot. This is only true after years of struggle and for people sitting at the top of the hierarchy.
7. You get cured after taking medicines and therapy. NO. Some issues return back, you never get rid of some issues.

4. How can people practice mindfulness?

It differs from people to people.

It is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment from the outer world. Practising mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. In layman terms, you drain yourself of every toxic thought.

  • Body scan meditation. Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in order, from toe to head or head to toe. Be aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body. Try not to think about any external things troubling you.
  • Sitting meditation. Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Breathing through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note the experience and then return your focus to your breath. Try to let go of everything.
Here’s a short practice to get you started:
1. Take a seat or lay on the floor/mat. Find a place that feels calm and quiet to you. Be comfortable.
2. Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
3. Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, in lotus posture, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position, you can stay in for a while.
4. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
5. Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
6. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.

Apart from this, you can indulge in things you love, workout, listen to quality music (no Arijit) and spend time with your family. Divert your mind of things, which gives you stress.

5. What are your tips for people who want to practice this profession

With a change in lifestyle and sudden turn of civilisations, people are drowning deep into mental illness. And the sad part is, there aren’t enough professionals to treat them. While other fields have seen competition rising, psychology is still untouched. This is a bright time to take it as a career. Since according to a study, there has been a jump of 500% of cases of mental illness after this pandemic struck. And it’ll keep increasing because the situation will get worse.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself as well while studying psychology, which will help you to turn things for yourself, as well as society. And it always feels magic, when people tell you, you saved us, go and be a saviour.

6. Is work-life balance a myth or reality according to you?

For some people it’s a tough job because they can’t distinguish between them, they take their life’s issue to work and ruin their productivity, or take work-related issues to their home, and make it bitter for people around them. While it’s not easy to stay disconnected with things. Both life and work should be private affairs, which should never be mixed with each other. And it can be done by having good control on yourself, your state of mind and thought process. Refer to point 4, it will help you to achieve the balance.

7. How, according to you, can one manage stress?

Again, it differs from people to people. But the trick is to engage yourself into things that you love. Listening quality, peaceful music, reading book, cooking, dancing, working out, so on. This helps you to get acquainted with yourself, as well as distract the part of your mind that is sticking to make your life stressful, miserable. Diving into these hobbies, gives you an escapee, a much-needed break from things, which are giving you stress.

Though a lot of people consider mediation difficult and not helpful, I believe that it is a remedy for everything. It gives you peace, control over your thought and comfort. It is effortless and fun to do, refer to point 4.

Lastly, everything has a solution, and you can work out things, why bother your peace of mind, tensed life, wrinkles appearing, hair falling and dark circles popping, on things, which you can always control.

Interview by - Geetika Bali
"We All Talk About Change, but We're Not Ready to Be the One Who Brings It." - Vedant Saxena "We All Talk About Change, but We're Not Ready to Be the One Who Brings It." - Vedant Saxena Reviewed by Geetika Bali on June 25, 2020 Rating: 5

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