The scenarios, genders, and locations are heavily manipulated | Cover Image is generated using AI, any resemblance will be purely coincidental.
A woman called our office phone.
I answered and greeted her with a professional tone, asking how I could assist her. As the designated Public Relations Officer (A post that I created for myself instantly on a call as stated in case 2), I was committed to fulfilling my role to the best of my ability.
“Sir, I tend to forget things these days”.
I said “Hmmm”.
After a pause, I asked, From when it is happening?
She said, “from the past month”.
Can you give me some examples of things you have forgotten recently, I asked.
She shared with me that she had been experiencing forgetfulness for some time. She mentioned instances of misplacing her mother-in-law’s medicine, and household items like utensils. Despite thinking she places these items in a specific location, she does not find them where she thought she left them. This causes confusion for her.
As I was on the call, I quickly sent a message to Dr. Asif asking if the woman’s forgetfulness could be a psychological issue. I had previously seen a case of dementia as a close relative of mine was diagnosed with it and received treatment at a neurological hospital in Mumbai. Meanwhile, I remained on the call and waited for Dr. Asif’s response.
Our conversation continued as I probed further. I asked the woman if her work or personal life was causing any stress that may be contributing to her forgetfulness. She informed me that she was a homemaker, married for two years, and residing in Muzaffarpur with her husband and mother-in-law. She reported no significant sources of stress in her life.
I also enquired about any recent traumatic events that could have affected her memory. She stated that the only significant change in the past few months was her mother-in-law being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. However, she added that this did not cause her any stress as she had previous experience with diabetes in her family, including her maternal grandfather and her mother.
The woman brought up her concern about her increasing forgetfulness once again. She mentioned that this was a new development in the past month and had occurred around 4 to 5 times. Meanwhile, I received a response from Dr. Asif who suggested that her symptoms could be indicative of Adult ADHD.
“I informed the woman that it was possible that she had developed Adult ADHD. I did not mention the possibility of dementia as I wanted to avoid alarming her. The woman responded with a confused “Hmmmmm” (Exact words in Hindi- a confused accha). I was almost sure that she didn’t hear about ADHD word.
I inquired if the woman needed an appointment, to which she asked about the location of my clinic.
Upon telling her that it was based in Patna, she expressed her difficulty in traveling there as she lived in Muzaffarpur.
I then offered the option of online counseling, but she stated that she did not trust online services and preferred to see a doctor locally.
As part of my entrepreneurial development, I learned how to turn potential leads into customers, so I spontaneously asked the woman if she felt relaxed while talking to me. She replied affirmatively, stating that she appreciated my patient listening. I then explained that this was a similar approach to online therapy. The woman asked about the prospect of a physical examination and medication, to which I responded by saying that we would advise on whether the medication was necessary or not.
I believed that the woman was uninformed regarding the distinctions between psychological, psychiatric, and neurological problems. She must have come across our Facebook ad promoting a “free 15-minute consultation” featuring a broken brain, Dr. Asif’s image, and the image of distress, which prompted her to contact us. It was unfortunate that our ad accounts got suspended within 3 weeks for repeatedly violating Facebook and Instagram ad policies, which didn’t allow advertisement of distress.
The woman consented to the arrangement and requested to speak with the doctor.
I informed the woman, “Madam, before anything, I need to book an appointment for you, and that will cost 1000 rupees.”
Her response was, “Oh my God, it’s very expensive.” (Her exact words were, “Baaaaap re, bahut mahanga hai ji aap log ka clinic.”)
I explained, “Madam, one session requires approximately 45 minutes of our time, while a general physician only listens for 5 minutes and charges 500 rupees in your Muzaffarpur.”
She replied with a contemplative, “Hmm (Accha).”
By that point, I was confident that the woman was unfamiliar with counseling or therapy.
Recognizing that continuing the conversation would likely be a waste of time and that this lead was unlikely to result in a conversion, I attempted to end the call.
I stated, “Madam, you may consider visiting a local doctor, and we hope you recover soon.”
She interrupted me, saying, “Wait wait, listen (Accha suniye suniye).”
I responded, “Yes, what is it?”
She asked, “Do you accept Google Pay?”
I replied, “Yes.”
The woman asked, “When will I get an appointment?”
I replied, “There is a slot available tomorrow evening at 6.”
She inquired about a slot in the morning, as she is occupied in the evenings when her husband returns.
I responded, “Okay, I will book an appointment for the day after tomorrow at 11.”
She agreed to this arrangement and stated that she would pay an hour before the session starts.
I confirmed with, “Okay.”
On the day of the counseling session, I was with Dr. Asif at the clinic and I reminded the woman to make the payment an hour before the therapy session. She made the payment, and the session began.
I was taking notes while Dr. Asif conducted the session over a video chat on WhatsApp. I was not visible in the frame and was seated next to Dr. Asif.
The woman related the same information to Dr. Asif as she had told me previously.
Dr. Asif questioned the woman about specific details such as what she misplaces when she misplaces it, and where she misplaces it.
After reviewing the information, we both at the clinic noticed a pattern – she frequently misplaces items in the kitchen, dining hall, and her mother-in-law’s room. Most of the things were related to her mother-in-law.
I looked at Dr. Asif, and he looked back at me in response, without saying anything. I wrote on a piece of paper, “Misplace things in the bedroom?”
Dr. Asif then asked the woman, “Do you misplace things in your bedroom?”
I could see her facial expression on the video chat, and she appeared confused by the question.
She answered, “No. I don’t recall misplacing anything in my room.”
I wrote another note for Dr. Asif, “Ask for a detailed example.” He asked the woman for the same.
She related a specific incident:
“My mother-in-law’s medicine was on the dining table one morning, and she asked me to put it on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen, where she normally keeps her medicine. I thought I placed it there, but in the evening, when my mother-in-law went to retrieve it from the basket on the fridge, it was not there. I was in my bedroom talking to my husband, who had just come home from work, when she called me to ask if I had placed the medicine in the correct spot. I told her that I had, but when I went to find it, it was not there. I was puzzled because I was sure I had placed it in the correct spot.”
My mother-in-law was frantically searching for her medicine as she was due to have her dinner soon. My husband joined me in the kitchen as we both scoured for the missing medicine. However, before we could find it, my mother-in-law called out from the hall to inform us that she had her medicine envelope.
My husband and I returned to the hall and I noticed my mother-in-law collecting the medicine that was lying on the ground, under the dining table. She had to bend down to reach it. I felt ashamed, and I believe my husband thinks that I don’t show proper care for his mother.
I was confused and couldn’t remember if I had put the medicines away in the kitchen. This situation made me feel terrible, which is why I reached out to Neuragram after seeing an advertisement on Facebook.
Something alarmed me!
At my former workplace, I faced gaslighting from a senior colleague. He would tell me one thing in private, then deny it in front of others, causing me to feel confused and doubt my own memory. I initially believed that his forgetfulness was due to heavy cannabis use, but after witnessing him in a drunken state, I confirmed that he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I already noticed multiple traits of chronic narcissism in him before.
In my situation, I was aware that the person I was dealing with at work was a narcissist as I had thoroughly studied the topic of narcissistic abuse while I read 48 Laws of Power for the first time in 2015. I chose to leave my former workplace and sever all ties with anyone there, including not requesting an experience certificate, in order to minimize the harm caused by the individual who manipulated and confused me.
Nonetheless, let’s get back to the lady’s problem.
Dr. Asif interviewed the woman, taking a thorough history of her childhood and family, and advised her to start journaling until their next session. I could see that she was relieved and seemed to be opening up for the first time. After the call ended, Dr. Asif and I had a casual discussion about the possibility of the woman being manipulated by her mother-in-law. Dr. Asif had previously encountered cases where older individuals pretended to be victims, successfully creating a rift between their children and their spouse so that they could spend more time with them.
Please note that These were our assumptions and not judgments.
Dr. Asif added that if the woman’s mother-in-law misplaced her own medicine, it could indicate insecurity. He stated that some individuals manipulate others unconsciously and that the mother-in-law might fear abandonment. The next session was scheduled for the following day, but Dr. Asif was concerned that even a gentle conversation about the mother-in-law could lead to a difficult situation.
The next session began as planned, with a video call. The woman displayed her journal, which documented her daily activities. She did not mention any instances of forgetfulness. Dr. Asif’s first question was about whether she had forgotten anything in the last two days, and she replied that it did not occur daily.
During the session, Dr. Asif explored the dynamics between the woman, her husband, and her mother-in-law. He learned that the mother-in-law became a widow about 10 years ago and spends much of her time on religious activities. The woman described her mother-in-law’s routine of doing household chores, watching soap operas on TV, and resting. She also mentioned that they don’t have any friends in Muzaffarpur since her husband’s government job is transferable and they’ve only been in Muzaffarpur for 4-5 months. The woman, her mother-in-law, and her husband are the only ones in the household as they don’t have any children.
Dr. Asif advised the lady to keep track of her memories and suggested that she should try to spend some quality time with her mother-in-law. The lady responded in a lighthearted manner and said that whenever she tries to spend time with her mother-in-law, she finds faults in her or makes derogatory comments about her family background.
Dr. Asif chuckled and suggested that perhaps when she becomes a mother-in-law in the future, she may also start engaging in similar behavior.
Dr. Asif asked me, “I could have said “All mothers-in-law are like this” but he rather chose to say “if you will become a mother-in-law, you will also start doing the same”. Can you tell me why?”
I said, maybe to emphasize the situational factors that can cause someone to behave like a stereotypical Indian mother-in-law, as often portrayed in TV dramas.
Dr. Asif agreed, adding that you don’t fully grasp the experiences of aging until you reach that stage yourself. The insecurities that come with losing a partner and the fear of losing their son to their daughter-in-law can be overwhelming for some elderly individuals.
The next therapy session took place 4 days later. In the session, the woman reported that she had not experienced any more episodes of misplacing things and had been spending quality time with her mother-in-law, which had made her happy. She had even started participating in religious activities with her mother-in-law. Her routine involved helping her mother-in-law get to sleep by 8 pm after administering her medicines.
Dr. Asif Asked if the mother-in-law stopped making remarks about her family or not
She replied that she still does it sometimes but I have stopped minding it.
At this point, it was apparent that the woman was not suffering from Adult ADHD, although confirming that she was not suffering from Dementia, she would require visiting a Neurologist. We left that part untouched.
Things got sorted out in the third therapy session without telling her about the possibility of being gaslighted.
We did tell her to talk to us after a month and share if the problem is persisting or not.
She didn’t call. I thought of doing a follow-up call but didn’t do it. She used to post frequent WhatsApp stories and I saw her happy faces in the stories, so I assumed that things are okay on her side.
- The symptoms of being gaslighted can often be mistaken for memory problems.
- Before attributing issues to memory loss, it’s important to examine the root cause of the doubts. If these doubts stem from interactions with others, it’s possible that you’re being manipulated. This type of manipulation is often very subtle.