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Depression, Anxiety, Worthlessness And What Losing Friends Have Gotta Do With It

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The worst thing about anxiety, worthlessness, polarity and chronic stress is the way they affect your relationships. They make you do things to people you’d normally not do. It makes people do things to you that they normally wouldn’t.
In this state of SAD—Stress, Anxiety and/or Depression—you sometimes, for no valid reason, spew venom on people closest to you. You call, text, or even wake people up in the middle of the night just to fight or have an argument. All this not because they have done anything to deserve it, but because you are in such a deep pit yourself that all you can to do is try to pull people inside along with you. How do I know all this? Because I have done it over and over again.
Some of my friends, upon being pulled into the pit have given me company—they have read jokes to me, have offered me a drink, have cooked for me and fed me. Some have stayed inside the pit with me out of compulsion but run out the minute they could; later they blamed me for all the dirt they had accumulated there: they were now smeared with the same dirt as I. And then there have been those who have come in and taken me out to show me the world that exists outside the hellhole.
Stress, anxiety, depression happen to many of us and because of many reasons. Some of us are affected more than the others, and some of us deal with them better than others. This does not mean that those who are affected more—or can cope less well—are inferior to those who do not go through it, or deal with such emotions better. But society makes us believe so.
We, as a culture, are so used to people playing normal and complying with the unwritten rules of the civilized society, that any aberration becomes difficult to handle. Because we do not know how to respond to a sensitive situation like mental well-being (or the lack of it), we do what we can do best: we label. Someone dealing with anxiety is labelled as a weakling, someone dealing with depression becomes overly and unnecessarily sensitive; those who suffer from polarity issues become irresponsible and moody attention seekers, and those who suffer in the hands of chronic stress become crazy lunatics. In short, they suffer twice over: 1) at the hands of their condition, and 2) at the hands of society.
A lot of my friends have told me that I bring this sadness upon myself. They believe that I look out for things that are not right and then wallow in misery. They feel that I enjoy self-pity and self-hurt. Then there are those who have seen me suffer and advised me to loosen up; to chill and relax. I have lost count of how many times I have been told that I can be happy if I choose to. Unfortunately with every such accusation and advice, I have only gotten farther from people.
The thing about such feelings is that they isolate you from the world around you. You see the world as them and I. You look at them being happy and going about their lives while you continue to suffer. Often in silence, without anyone stopping by to really listen and understand. The few who do stop by shower you with unsolicited advice. In the whole bargain you only get bitter about the world and wary of its people. It becomes a vicious circle in which you are trapped forever.
But you have to break the circle. That is the only way you can escape this chaos. There are times when you gather courage and seek help. You try to tell people about what you are going through. You try to put into words a feeling so inexplicable that your vocabulary falls short. If your own thoughts sound alien to you, how would someone else understand them? How do you explain to a normal person the knots in your stomach, or the sinking of your heart? The tears that appear without a reason and refuse to stop? How do you convey the helplessness and dejection, the fear that grips you and the anxiety that paralyses you? How do you justify the highs and the lows, the agonies and ecstasies?
Most of my highs have been followed by lows. The happier I have been, the more forlorn I have become. The feeling of being on top of the world, in no time, transforms into a feeling of uselessness and worthlessness. The transformation is so sudden that often I don’t know what to make of it. It is therefore quite understandable if others around me cannot. It’s also possible that they see me as someone who is moody and irresponsible, and someone who is erratic and insensitive towards others. I guess I cannot blame them. After all they can only see the manifestation of the anguish, not what goes on within.
But it feels good when people understand you. Or at least try to. When they trust you and believe you. When instead of doling out advice, they listen. Sometimes all you need is someone to talk to without the fear of judgment.

Many people have understood and forgiven me. Many have lent me an ear when all I needed was to talk; they have been there when all I needed was a shoulder to cry on. They have hugged me when I was afraid, held me when I was anxious, been with me when I was dazed, confused, or just plain sad. But there have been many more who have neither forgiven, nor helped. Who got so overwhelmed by the dirt in my pit that they decided never to get close to me again. Ironically these were the ones I relied on the most. Maybe I had hurt them beyond repair: you always take those closest to you for granted, don’t you?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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