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My Mental Health Story: How I Beat Depression As A Teenager

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My story of how I fell into depression is too personal; however; how I overcame it is something that I feel would definitely help someone. I fell into depression in my teens, when I was in high school, back in 2009. You are most vulnerable in your teens, you barely even know your own self, forget understanding depression. For a long time, I didn’t quite understand what was happening to me until I just couldn’t take it and ended up consulting a psychiatrist because I thought I was going crazy.

It is so important to talk about it and honestly, it can happen to anyone. In my opinion, chances are, it happens more to those who tend to overthink. Now, overthinking, in my opinion, is a blessing, only if you know how to use it to your benefit. It can drive you mad if you use it on less important things as I did by thinking about the problem and not the solution, or it can make you achieve incredible things because you have the gift of thinking deeply and passionately about things. Now, depression for everyone is different, I am not trying to make a statement that my journey will work for everyone, but it might for someone and it’s worth a try.

The thing that depression shatters the most in you is your self-confidence. So, the fastest way to beat depression is by working on restoring your self-esteem.

Find your purpose and let it drive you.

Having A Sense Of Purpose, Genuinely Wanting To Get Better Helped

Most people succumb to it but if you keep your will power strong and have a sense of purpose in life and big dreams, you will beat depression. The next most important thing is to stay happy. So, I recommend doing things that will boost your confidence level and bring you joy. Identify what brings you happiness and do more of it. While your medicine is doing its work, forget about it and focus on things you love and aspire to achieve.

Now, did I overcome it naturally or with medication? I had to consult a psychiatrist and take medication for a month. Even though I was prescribed medication for 2-3 months, as soon as I started to feel slightly better and most importantly, when I started to feel a little confident, I made it a point that I would not rely on any medicines from that day on. I wanted to beat it with my willpower, simply because I wanted to prove myself that I was strong and wise enough to not let my own mind ruin my life. I took it as a challenge – the first step of standing on my feet.

A brief description of my personality – I’ve got strong willpower or at least I’d like to believe that, a very strong belief system and values. I am an over-thinker. I won’t call myself an introvert but I’m not an extrovert either. I’d call myself a good mix of both. I like to go out for parties and stay in to read as well, spend time with myself and write. So I don’t think it has to do anything with you being an introvert.

When depression first hit me, I shied away from it, didn’t want to face it, couldn’t talk about it with my friends fearing I’d be treated differently, but most importantly, the only people I shared it with didn’t understand what it was – my family. So basically, I was on my own. I knew something was definitely wrong with me but didn’t know what. I used to get sudden bouts of sadness, I couldn’t even swallow food, did not feel like eating ever!

I couldn’t sleep at all, once I went a week without sleeping. I wanted to die. But, the good thing was that I desperately wanted to get better because I had big dreams and couldn’t let anything ruin my life’s prime years. I wanted to move out of the city, be independent, make a living for myself and stand on my own feet. That kept me going. So, it is very important to have a purpose in life for it can bring you out of most of the problems you face along the way.

I started feeling better very soon, in almost a month’s time but the worst thing about depression is the rebound. It keeps coming back and doesn’t go away completely for years. However, with time, you start to understand yourself so well that you develop a defence mechanism against it; you learn how to stop it from rebounding and how to get yourself out of it. My first step was consulting a psychiatrist- he prescribed me medication for three months. Medicines helped me with eating and sleeping, two things that were messing me up even more. So, at least medicines got that out of the way.

So here’s a list of the things that I did which might be useful for you too. Remember, self-confidence and happiness are the keys to beating depression!

  1. Eating nutritious food – It is so important to eat right in depression because you’re dealing with the most complex organ of your body that basically controls every function, so nutritious food is the first thing you need to keep your brain healthy. I got to know about brain foods and the whole science behind it. I have even posted about the top brain foods in my last article – check it out.
  2. Keeping busy all the time- I kept myself busy – with studies, watching TV, reading books and going out. Keeping your mind distracted is imperative, if you keep thinking about sad things, there will be no room for good things.
  3. Music – I love music, playing my favourite music and dancing on it when I would start to feel sad.
  4. Reading – I read John Green’s novels all through that time.

    Curl up with a good book.
  5. Sleeping well and quick napping – I overslept every day. It made me feel days were short and that I didn’t have to stay awake and experience more sadness, so anytime I would feel sad, I would go to bed or take a quick nap. Made me forget my sorrows for a bit.
  6. Long walks – I didn’t use to exercise, but I did go for long walks. Walking clears the mind. Whenever I have to think about a project or have to make a decision, I go for a walk and do the thinking while at it. Your brain works well when you’re moving.
  7. Dressing up well – I would doll up, put on some lipstick, do my hair well when out. It made me feel good about myself.
  8. Meeting self-created challenges – I would give myself small challenges every week. Writing was on the top of my list and then there was public speaking, sketching human faces, delivering presentations, designing etc. I won’t say I’ve become perfect at it, but at least, I don’t suck either. With every day, I started to get better at it and that helped restore my confidence.
  9. Writing your feelings down – I would keep a journal and write about what I was feeling. I do that even today. Surprisingly, while writing I say really motivating things to myself (haha!) and also come up with solutions to my problems and stupid feelings. Most importantly, I completely forget about them after writing them down. Most people tend to believe the more you write about your sad feelings, the longer they stay with you and even become worse because you tend to attract them, but for me, it’s the right opposite.
  10. Having a sense of purpose in life – This is the most important! If you have a goal in mind, it will drive you out of every challenge. If you don’t have a clear goal, that is okay. You’d still know if you’d like to be rich one day, have your own house, have a great family, would want to open your own business. Go deep within and ask yourself. It is important to find your purpose.
  11. Knowledge is power – Educate yourself, not just in academics but other things. There’s so much to know about. History, politics, business, culture, world. I like to read about the human brain, it is so fascinating. Space and the universe intrigue me. I have an opinion on almost everything because I read a lot. I still have a lot to know but it’s the process that I love more.

If you are in the same situation as I was, try these things and please feel free to reach out to me. I feel very strongly about mental health because having been through it, I know what it feels like and what damage it can do to you and your brain. The rebound makes it even worse. So, it is important to work at the root level and completely throw it out of your system.

You can write to me if you ever feel like having an open chat 🙂

Love.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sakshi Kotwal

    Powerful!

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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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