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Learning To Fight My Addiction To Porn Is Difficult, But I Refuse To Give Up

I remember the first time I ever masturbated. It was in my washroom, just a week before my thirteenth birthday. I had previously ‘edged’—always stopped before climax. But that day was different, for a senior had shown me a stunning, blonde, foreign girl as naked as the day she was born. He’d told me everything about masturbating. The feeling. The rush. So I thought to myself, “I’ll stop right before it happens”. I didn’t stop. I probably couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to. And so, for the very first time in my life, I came.

It was everything he’d described, yet nothing like it. The feeling. The ecstasy. The heat. The thrill. It was scary, yet absolutely exhilarating at the same time. An undiscovered superpower within me. I washed my hands and came out of the washroom. Looking at my face, my mom asked if I was okay.

For representation only.

And so it started. The curiosity. The pleasure. That feeling of instant gratification. But I never went overboard with it. A few times a week, with some light, ‘hot’ YouTube videos. Maybe following a few gorgeous models on Instagram, and so on.

And then, for the first time in my life, it all came crashing down.

When I was 15, my family and I went on a trip to the UK. When I was there, a suggestion came up on my app store. Its name was Skout, and it described itself as an app where you could meet other people. Make “friends or acquaintances,” it said. And so I joined it and met a few really cool people in the first few days. Then I changed my “meet people” settings to women all around the world. From friendship, it went to some light flirting and at times, more. Imagine this situation: a 15-year-old boy from a boys-only school starts messages such as “OMG you’re so cuteeeeee” or being described as “hot AF” by gorgeous girls from all around the world.

I was absolutely, exponentially, and fantastically hooked.

Within the first three weeks of using the app, I received my first nude. I had only asked her for a selfie. Instead, she replied, “I’ve got something even better”, and sent me a picture of her breasts. By this time I had moved on from YouTube and had started using more “traditional” sites. But the adrenaline rush I received when I opened that image was unparalleled. I started getting bolder; my flirting becoming more apparent, more sexual. Sexting became a regular, everyday thing. I became closer to my sexting buddies than my real life friends. I made fake Instagram accounts to talk to the people I met on Skout. And while I was becoming more and more confident in the online world, back in reality, my insecurities became even more pronounced. I became more withdrawn from my parents, my friends, and my teachers. Talking to women in real life made my heart beat faster, and not in a good “romantic” way. And so I swam and ran deeper and deeper into the fake little world I had made for myself that revolved around the internet.

And then, for the second time in my life, it all came crashing down.

Until 15, I was good at one thing—and that studying. In my school, getting into the “Science Stream” was a big deal which, something reserved for ‘the elite’ when it came to academics. And so, in Class XI, unsurprisingly, I got into that stream. But, gradually, I went from being at the top in a class of average students to one of the lowest in a class of intellectuals. My insecurities started becoming even more pronounced. I began to feel that I was good for nothing. I had nothing working for me. I could do nothing. I could be nothing. I couldn’t sing, dance, speak or write. I wasn’t particularly good looking and I couldn’t act. I was as bad at making friends as I was at making jokes. Good for nothing. And these thoughts drove me down a path of depression and anxiety. It was something that I would never wish upon anyone on this planet. Tantrums, breakdowns ,and shouting matches became a common disruptor at home. My poor parents were at a complete loss as to what to do for me. They tried to console me, they did their best not to get angry with me, and they told me, that no matter what, they would always be there for me. And I loved them from the bottom of my heart for that.

For representation only. Image Source: Getty Images.

There was someone else who also made a similar promise. And I was deeply in love with this person too. But by this time, with the anxiety and tension being mixed into my life, porn and sexting became a habit. It became a part of my life. In certain instances, it became a part of myself. I used to wake up every day early morning, under the guise of “studying”, yet I always used to end up at either Skout or one of my favourite porn sites. Whenever I feel tensed or worried, I always turned to one of the two. I started masturbating four or six times a day, on average. The number always went up during exams. Porn made me feel special. It made me feel like the king of the world. It made me feel nothing else mattered. It pulled me in. It suffocated me, yet, at the same time, it convinced me that I liked the feeling of the breathlessness.

I finally understood I had a problem. It happened a few months ago. I thank my hands for that realisation, for whenever I opened my laptop to look for porn, my hands flew around the keyboard like a chef flies around his kitchen. My fingers perfectly moving from ‘s’ to ‘k’, and from ‘p’ to ‘o’. And so I did what every kid of my age with a problem does. I googled it. And then I got shit scared. I read about dopamine shots. I read about neuroplasticity. And then I read about “#NoFap” and how it works. I decided to give it a try—to abstain from all virtual sexual pleasures for a certain amount of time. And I barely lasted five days. I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed.

But unlike so many other instances, I decided not to give up this time. I decided to not give in to this addiction. I decided I would not succumb. For I want to be that beautiful boy who made his mother laugh, not cry. I want to be that beautiful boy who used to make his dad proud, not worried. I want to be that beautiful boy who could make friends easily and didn’t keep comparing himself to others or getting so disappointed. And while I may not be that beautiful boy any more, I want him back very dearly, for I have finally realised that I loved him.

And maybe, just maybe, this is my shot at getting him back.

Featured Image source: 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.

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.

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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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