“A Bad Friendship Is So Much Worse Than A Bad Relationship”

People always talk about how a toxic relationship almost destroyed their lives, ruined their self-confidence, brought their self-esteem to the ground. They will tell you how that one person put them at a place where they couldn’t even recognise themselves, how everything fell apart, how they hit rock bottom. But, hardly does anyone talk about a toxic friendship destroyed their lives.

You will often come across survival stories of people who were in a bad relationship, they will share their journeys with you so that it inspires anyone and everyone else who is going through the same. Such inspiring stories of adapting, surviving and thriving through the worse. But what do you do when you get yourself into a toxic relationship with a friend? How do you come out of that? I mean yes, the answer is as easy as stop being friends with them. But is it as easy as it sounds?

As melodramatic as it may sound, but in my experience, a bad friendship is so much worse than a bad relationship, or friendships in my case. Yes, plural. Now, I am a person who doesn’t learn from her mistakes. One might also call me an idiot because it’s either that or I have an atrocious fate. I believe in astral influence so I’ll stick with the latter.

Now, I want you to imagine your best friend and think of all the things you have done for each other, all the moments you have spent together. *Representational image*

It’s been a lifetime of poor choices for me or poor friendship choices to be precise. Years have passed and I am going through the same spiral and it’s devastating every single time. It has brought me to a point where when I meet a new person, my anxiety kicks in and I all I could think about is how this friend will exactly be the same as the others and I barely know them. As a result, I become hostile and unapproachable and numb. I had trust issues with everyone.

We meet hundreds of people in our lives and only a bunch of them remain in our lives as our friends, and out of that bunch, you have that one person you call your best friend.

Now, I want you to imagine your best friend and think of all the things you have done for each other, all the moments you have spent together, all the fun you had and now imagine them choosing someone else over you. Imagine one day waking up and finding out that you have been blocked or you have been calling them or texting them nonstop and all you get is a cold dead answer “stop bothering me, if I want to talk to you I will, stop calling me.” And the line goes blank. Hurts, doesn’t it? Or something like “you are the worst thing that ever happened to me. You don’t deserve to be called a friend.” This is the story of my life. Not once not twice but every time. I pick a human, make friends with them, and then best friends, only to end up crying myself to sleep.

When your partner breaks your heart, you go to your friends but when your friends break your heart, whom do you go to? How do you deal with broken friendships? Whom do you vent to? Do you stop making friends? Believing in people? What do you do when your friends think it’s okay to parade all over you? These were the questions that were eating me up and literally swallowing me inside out until I went numb.

Being anxious, you always think that it’s your fault that your life is crumbling around you because you weren’t good enough. And that is exactly what I was thinking. I am not a good friend. I might have said something or done something to offend them. Maybe I was too clingy or not available at all. Maybe I was oversharing everything or not sharing anything at all.

It took me a couple of years and a lot of medications (if you’ve read my previous article you would know why) to realise that they did what they did because they wanted to end the story. It was not my responsibility to make them stay or be my friend. It’s not my fault either.

I might not be the best person, but believe me, I am not the worst too. Why did they become cold? Why did they hurt us? Why did they leave? These were not the questions I was answering anymore. I might be at fault but so were you. We were in this together. *winks*. I tried and tried until you gave me no reason but to quit. But did that change me? Yes but for good.

Now I have friends that I can trust, rely upon. I have become much more open in making friends, cautiously though. I am more of a ‘mast maula’ now. Because if I need you, you need me too. I am happy. I am content. I am better than I’ve ever been all because a person once told me ‘’itna sab hone ke baad bi kisi par bharosa karo na tho raat me neend achchi ati hai( If you can still trust someone after everything that’s happened, then you’ll sleep better at night).

So sleep well, guys. It’s a friendship, not a bond. If they want to stay, they will. If they won’t they were never your friends. Atleast that is what I learned.

*Feature image is representational.*

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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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