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Depression Hit Me When I Didn’t Score Well In 12th But Here’s What I Did To Fix It

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By Moin Mubarak:

The recent declaration of the twelfth standard CBSE results brought back memories from my days. I had planned to get more marks than the cutoffs demanded, and it was difficult. Like most of us, I got caught up in different activities due to various reasons my parents had (mostly, excuses in my case) and couldn’t score as well as I had expected. However, they weren’t a major cause of my stress. We are all bombarded with images of successful toppers for whom life is all joy and comfort. Most of us desire to attain that. Yet, we aren’t able to. Life isn’t that simple.

Long story short, I got into a college I hated and spent three years of my college life in despair. I hated everything around me. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression. I looked okay to my friends, but I was in a constant state of inner turmoil. Being depressed because of college, low marks, or any such thing is termed as ‘disenfranchised grief’ (my therapist taught me this) as it isn’t recognised as a valid reason to be depressed about. I had denied the possibility of being depressed even though I had lost interest in all activities which I earlier liked. I didn’t talk to people, and I didn’t speak much to my close friends either.

Understanding Your Depression

The funny thing about depression is that once you recognise it for what it is, the effects become clearer – be it physiological or psychological. Low self-esteem, low appetite, loss of interest in everyday activities, and several other symptoms. Mostly we try to shrug it off by comparing it with the fatigue of everyday work. But the important distinction that can be made is that fatigue wears off, depression doesn’t. Sleep doesn’t help it. Eating doesn’t help it. It leaves you feeling helpless. A lot of young people are pushed into suicide due to this helplessness, apart from the pressure of being labelled as incompetent and irrelevant.

So if you find yourself in such a situation, what can you do? Don’t give up hope. Easier said than done. But convince yourselves that come what may, taking our life isn’t an option. Numerous celebrities have talked about their depression, how it made life miserable for them. Yet, we fail to give it the respect it deserves. Just because the symptoms aren’t physically evident doesn’t mean everything is alright.

Seeking help

Seeking help is one of the biggest steps you can take in this situation. The more we judge ourselves for being depressed, the worse it becomes. We need a space that is non-judgemental and understanding, be it a friend, a parent, a sibling, or even a therapist. Yes, a therapist. There is nothing wrong with visiting one. I visited four different therapists. Finally, I settled on one, and I discussed everything about my life with her.

I found my therapist via a simple Google search. I picked a doctor at random with good experience and went ahead. It was a little risk I was taking. I had nothing to lose but the doctor’s fee. I deliberately chose one who was far from where I lived, so no one knew where I was off to. As I entered the clinic, a regular scenario greeted me. A receptionist took my name and made a file. I was sent to a room where a psychologist took my details and asked me about my problems. Then I was sent in to see the psychiatrist, a cheerful and welcoming man who talked to me about what was wrong and examined me. It was as regular as a visit to a dentist. I was put on anti-depressants and medicine for anxiety. In a few weeks, I could see the restlessness go away. The physiological symptoms reduced slowly. Meanwhile, I started my counselling with the psychologist.

The critical distinction that I’d like to highlight here is that a psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor and can prescribe medicines. Psychologists are trained in studying human behaviour. They help you understand and modify how you behave. For me, both went hand in hand. One helped me to tackle the physiological effects, and the other helped me to understand why I felt the way I felt.

Gradually I realised that popping pills wasn’t the answer; addressing the root cause is. Self-reflection and self-awareness are critical to understanding yourself. Depression takes its own time to fade away. Slowly we see that life is more than our problems and that we are capable of facing them. We have to keep the conversation going and know that there is an end to this dark tunnel.

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Image used for representation.
Image source: Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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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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