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My Experience With Mental Health And What I Learned

I’ve been thinking to write about this topic since it has challenged me personally in my past. Disorder regarding the mental state is nothing but a phase of life that sometimes we cannot accept. I’ve been there. Rejection and failure are the two sides of this coin. Once you flick the coin, it’s bound to be there with either of the sides. I learnt this in a hard way but recovered. Not everyone has the potential to deal with it.

Recently, the demise of a well-known celebrity has become the centre of gossip for everyone. Everyone might be talking about it, but none of them has a particular feeling that leads you to understand what mental depression is and what it does internationally.

During my struggle, I had some friends who understood me and several books which guided, holding my hands and walked with me until I made sure that I could walk alone. Very few authors touched me on this topic. One of the few was Erich Fromm with his book The Art of Loving. I made some rules while reading that book. And I made them based on his knowledge and experience.

  • Unconditional Love

Love has an umbrella feeling of good. But if you are skilled enough to segregate, then you might categorise love into two different terms: conditional and unconstitutional. Always be aware of your value and your existence. From this, you can distinguish between the conditional and unconditional form of attachment. Sometimes you don’t even need to find unconditional love around you. If you are avoiding contact with humans, then a pet can be your buddy.

  • Be Expressive

According to Nancy Chodorow, women are more expressive than men. But when you are dealing with depression, you have to be expressive, irrespective of your gender. Cry, please would you. Ease your heart with flowing tears. It will smash the stubborn rocks in your heart and melt them down.

  • Don’t Try To Be Great

Look, history has proved it. Even Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. You are human. You feel pain. Please do not hurt yourself for the sake of someone who doesn’t deserve it. At the end of the day, everyone is going to forget you.

  • What Will People Say?

Indian society is like glue. Wherever you go, you will find a bunch of people keeping an eye on you and start judging you. It’s a fact. You cannot avoid such things with a huge population like our country. Always remember the pressure of society is needed to a level where you must not take any bad decision, not more than that.

  • Moon’s Dark Spot

People have a tendency these days to focus on negativity. Whether it is a source of rumour, facts, news, stories or a gossip. We always avoid the positive sides of an incident. If we focus on the dark spots of the moon, how are we going to enjoy the beauty of a full moon?

  • Competitiveness

Competition always leads to quality; there is no doubt in it. But everyone has a limitation. Nobody can achieve everything. Competitiveness leads to a conflict where principles are broken and that results in a clash. There is a saying in Hindi “जितने की इच्छा जीने की इच्छा से बड़ी होती है” and you should know where to draw a line.

  • Not Every Battle Should Be Won

We live an unpredictable human life. There is no certainty in future. Relationship, career, plans do not always match your requirements. Whether you accept it or not, you cannot plan everything and you cannot win every battle. And sometimes small battles need to be sacrificed to win a war. Even if you don’t, accept with your heart and move on.

  • Expectation

There is a word which I used to recommend in every small incident of life — “Perfectionist”. Perfectionists tend to control everything in a certain way that most of the time doesn’t go well. The world is a big stunning imperfect masterpiece. It’s an abstract painting. Different strokes, beautiful uneven shadows make it more delightful to watch. You would be a fool to seek perfection in every other picture.

  • Central Emotional Dependent

We are socially connected to everyone. Parents, relatives, friends, partner, soulmate or colleagues, which makes our life separated and combined. We cannot compare human companionship with every relations we make. Our emotions are divided with different energies, attaching every individual of our life. The sweet tender of a mother’s touch on our head cannot be compared to the shoulder of a friend in need. Every chapter is important, and together combined, these make a beautiful book.

  • Physical Activity

For stability of hormones, we need to get our machine working. There are no alternate ways to handle this. It’s your life, take only 30 minutes out of your whole day and invest it on your only home, your precious body. It is sacred; you will not realise it until it starts to degrade. Handle it with care.

So this is it. This is how I construct my way out of this dark pit called depression. Obviously, there is medication; there are extreme health condition to be taken care of by professionals. Whenever you feel it’s getting out of your hand, seek help. These personally tried and tested methods are completely my own experiences and I hope they help you too.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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