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A Personal Account Of How Scary Depression Can Be

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By Rosanna Rodrigues

“I want to die,” she said. I couldn’t believe it. She was one of the most popular, most beautiful girls on campus. Full of promise. And yet she was serious.

Her chocolate almond eyes looked deep into mine, searching for judgment, shock, fear. She wouldn’t find it. This was a mantra I’d grown up with, repeating it to myself at several points in my life. It was the only thing that made sense some days. The abject insanity and palpable loneliness I sensed in my future was what drove me. I wasn’t, nor will I ever be, normal- and I knew it. I had acted on this mantra in the past. Had she?

Wordpress woman silhouetter

I asked her. She realized she was talking to someone who knew, who understood – a sister. Her words tumbled out, and I felt their weight, like a rock under a waterfall. Yet they brought healing for us both; for me, because the words were familiar – they were often my own. The song of abuse, betrayal and pain was not a new one for me. Fake smiles, forced laughter, forged strength –all things I know.

The Self

This is what it used to be like:

What’s the point, my mind screams at me. Pain washes over me in waves that radiate from my chest, left of centre. I’m paying close attention because I cannot understand it. And I feel like I should try. I’ve been living this for years now, this hell of insecurity, wrapped in layers and layers of pain that I cannot explain to anyone. I’m digging and digging for love, for I feel like it’s the cure. It must mean solace! That’s what all the books and movies say. But it’s elusive, and not constant and every time I’m alone, the pain is more apparent. And the voices in my head crescendo along with the crashing waves of pain, louder than ever – there’s no point, there’s no point, it will never change, no one will love you noonecanloveyou,youmustdie,youmustdieyoumustdieyoumustdie. It’s an unending torrent of abuse. It’s what I hear even when I’m smiling, and everyone thinks that all is right – all is as it should be. No one knows. And when they know, they do not understand, do not accept me. Buck up, it’s life, deal with it. Everyone goes through these feelings, these things. Learn to let go, to turn it off. BUT I CANNOT. Then the barrage starts anew – seeitsjustyoujustyou.there’s no point youmustdieyoumustdieyoumustdie. It’s the only way.

And then I drive people insane, you see. I push them away. And when they leave, I collapse. And this has been the last 25 years. I cannot work. I cannot smile. I cannot read. Life has eroded at my exteriors and defences completely, and left me blank, numb. Life has lost meaning for me. There’s no hope, not even the faintest glimmer. My eyes go damp as I type this. The waves of pain are concentrated in my jaw, my throat. It constricts. I swallow through it. I’m never happy, I’ve never been happy. Everyone says so. I’m always sad. Anyone reading this will say its self-pitying garbage. I’ve heard it before. But they probably haven’t felt this pain.

They probably haven’t burned themselves to escape it. Cut themselves shallow, because though you wanna die, you’re scared. And you cannot be sure, that on the other side there are no horrors. So you hurt yourself, because the red looks pretty. Because it’s the only way you have control. Because physical pain can be borne. Not the black death within me. I cannot bear that. And the black death speaks. It speaks. Constantly mocking me. Constantly telling me what I am. What a failure. In everything. Constant reminders. Imagine living that, can you? Imagine a bad dream that you cannot wake up from, except it’s not a dream. Not at all.

Imagine living life so that every venture you embark on makes you look for horrors, because you just know that they’re there. You expect pain. You cannot escape. Every smile, a lie. Every reflection of yourself fills you with loathing till you want to cut through it all, till you’re slashing at bone. Imagine wanting nothing more than to curl into a ball and die, because death is the only release from a hell you’ve been born in, it seems. Imagine that you cannot turn this off. Then what? I don’t want your pity. I want you to understand. So that you can be sensitive to someone else like me. So think twice before you say get over it. So that you measure your well-intentioned advice. Not everyone is as lucky as you. Some need help, to speak, to read, to learn. Some need understanding, time, so much more than a copy-pasted response that works in other situations. .

Today, I have moved somewhere beyond the space of self-loathing and deep depression. For me, I found that morbid poetry (which I absolutely love to write), meditation, yoga, creating some semblance of structure, creating positive spaces, expectations, they go a long way to help me stay afloat. I have a support system of loved ones, who are my safety nets, and are not responsible for me. I’m responsible for me. I realise that when I talk to you, I’m not coming from a space of diagnosis. See, I’m terrified of labels and all that they signify. I’d rather be undefined by DSM – VI, V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) or whatever it is. So I never went to the label makers. I wanted to talk about, share fragments of an experience that would enable you to maybe rethink some of the relationships in your life, and your reactions to them.

TRDLOGO1

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  1. samprikta

    I could relate, so much…
    Its an unexplained hurt…. A pain that never abates

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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