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“Sometimes A Broken Heart Isn’t Such A Bad Thing”

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By Musheer Ul Haq Manhas:

“Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic, sometimes to anger, resentment and blame. But under the hardness of that armour there is the tenderness of genuine sadness….This continual ache of heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.”
– Pema Chödrön

A few weeks ago I was going through a bad break-up. My engagement had broken. It wasn’t the longest relationship of my life but it was the deepest. It had so much potential and it ended in the most cursory of ways.

“You got me, I have broken the engagement.” That’s the only line I remember. I had noticed that my fiancée for last couple of weeks had been acting ‘strange’ and hence confronted her about it. There was nothing I could do and nowhere I could go.

I felt that burning sensation on the back of my neck and in the depths of my heart only unimaginable pain. I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I lay on my bed, heartbroken for the rest of the day. I spent that week smoking and skipping my meals; assuming that since I hadn’t shed a single tear, everything will be just fine. I was wrong. It wouldn’t.

After bearing unimaginable pain for a week, feeling fragility and tiredness, wailing because of the gloom that had descended over my soul, I was broken into pieces. After spending this week, all of sudden, it hit me. She was gone. I was alone.

I broke down, sobbing uncontrollably. I saw no hope, just days and days of pain ahead of me. Death seemed apparent. I was spending sleepless nights with my heartbeat racing relentlessly. I was anticipating a nervous breakdown with the doctors prescribing sleeping pills for me. Unfortunately, that would come true.

Why did it happen to me? I was accommodating. I was honest with my relationship. I had dreamed of her, for her. I had decided to let every last drop of my blood spill for making her dreams come true. It was all her fault. She cheated on me. She left me. She did this to me. I was the victim. It ended because of her. She ridiculed and abused me of being a wretch with no hope or career. These were mere allegations and lame excuses by her to hide her intentions. Had she been sincere in our relationship, she would have provided me time to think. But I came to know later she wasn’t. So she didn’t. Sure there were major red flags, but a good partner just ignores them, right?

Sometimes a broken heart isn’t such a bad thing. It can inspire more love in you than you thought you were capable of.

I made an executive decision to spend some days in the remote region of Karnah, Kupwara with my relatives there and hence form a relationship with myself for the first time in life.

There it dawned upon me that after graduation I had messed up my life. I didn’t get selected for the masters’ degree in Kashmir University. I hadn’t completed my tuitions for civil services and hadn’t even made it to the preliminary examination. I hadn’t done much with my human rights cum community media organisation. I had left my distance mode masters degree with IGNOU and even abandoned Namaz (the five obligatory daily prayers).

They say everything happens for a reason, even bad things, and I truly believe that. Out of the ashes of my sadness and fear arose responsibility, hopes and passion. I started praying five times a day, sometimes offering Tahajjud as well. I rediscovered my love for writing. I mastered in History from IGNOU with a good percentage. I travelled deep inside myself and awakened my spirit and passion for doing something great with ‘My Camera’. I quit smoking.

I was finally becoming the person I was supposed to be. I wasn’t lonely. In fact, I was less lonely than I’d ever been.

I also realised that I wasn’t victim. All my actions, all my choices, and all their consequences were happening because of me, not just happening to me. I began to notice that my broken heart brought me closer to my career and dreams.

It was not an easy journey, by any means, and it’s far from over. But two months later I have come a long way. I’m awake, aware and alive.

In my experience, big emotions like heartbreak aren’t meant to be avoided. They are meant to be felt. It’s a bit like standing at the edge of the ocean and having a giant wave come crashing down on you. You can kick and fight and pull against it, but it will only drag you further out to sea.

Instead, you can look at it and dive head long coming out the other end, perhaps even feeling refreshed. The same goes for heartbreak. The more you kick and fight against it, the more you will get dragged into the very depths of that misery. The only way is through. You have to let the emotions roll over you like that wave.

Sometimes we must suffer heartbreak to truly open us up and let out all the greatness we hold within us. I’m thankful for every day that my heart was broken. I will never allow myself to close back up again.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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