Mixed Bag

Pressure Cooker Syndrome

Kerala is the most literate state in India. Something that Malayali’s have always been proud about. But here is another interesting statistic, Kerala is also among the top 5 when it comes to suicide rates in India. Wonder why? Hold that thought and read along.

U-turn to an era when DD metro aired Britannia Jai Hanuman every Tuesday 10 p.m. Growing up was like living inside a pressure cooker. There was pressure on everything. To come first in the class, to excel at extracurriculars, to ace your entrance exams, to secure a medical or an engineering seat (only), to get a job, to get married, to have a kid, to have one more. Mid-life is no different from the pressure to lose weight, look young, stay away from diabetes and cholesterol, prove that you are in a wonderful relationship and let people know that you are doing well in life.  

Pressure Cooker Syndrome, let’s just call it, I think has its origins in Kerala, where you need to consistently perform and prove yourself every single day. Nerds hang out with nerds, losers hang out with losers and whoever else gets lost in the middle hang out together, yes kids can be so mean. If I come to think of it, I can start by blaming the education system, the society, or the neighborhood aunty. At a macro level, I could go on to blame Indian politics or global climate change or even Trump to an extent. But secretly I would acknowledge that the only person responsible for my pressure cooker syndrome is me.

As you grow, pressure cooker syndrome grows with/within you. You see evidence of this when you pressurize yourself to perform at your peak and it is likely you win every single time. You enjoy it and it becomes a way of life. Now you start taking yourself seriously. You feel that you are very important and you believe that your expectations would be met at any cost. And then one day, you step out of your cocoon, unprotected and unarmed ready to face the unfamiliar unpredictable world.

There you will meet people way better than you, come across people who take undue advantage and people who can go to any extent to get what they want. You may experience dirty office politics, favoritism, adultery, infidelity, bigotry, sexism, misogyny, body shaming, racism, hypocrisy or all of the above first hand. You will feel cheated, singled out, diminished or let down. You may feel that you did everything you could but nothing seems to work. You will feel you are not important anymore and not taken seriously. In the pressure of winning, convincing and proving you will feel like a wrecking ball and feel pressurized to end everything. And that explains the correlation between literacy and suicide statistics.

Living life is easier when you start taking yourself lightly. Life is easier when you start thinking that you are important but not the “only one important”. Life is much easier when you realize that you and only you can control the pressure inside your pressure cooker.