This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Survivors Against TB. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

My Struggle With TB Only Strengthened My Resolve To Fulfil My Dreams

More from Survivors Against TB

TW: Mention of suicidal thoughts.

Mumbai, the city of dreams- that’s where I was born and raised. Like all of those young people in the big city, I was ambitious with dreams in my eyes. I was found to be infected with Tuberculosis when I was 18 years old. At that time, alongside being a B.Com first-year student, I was also involved in many extracurricular activities. During this time, bad eating habits and hectic daily routines, perhaps made me vulnerable to TB. I started getting a fever every evening, which went away by the next morning. I had been coughing since the past 2-3 weeks. I didn’t take the prescribed medicines on time and I also started seeing symptoms of TB.

Young people think they are invincible. Not true. A chest X-ray showed that there were white spots in my chest. My family doctor recommended me to a private hospital’s chest specialist. I was diagnosed in two ways by him. The first diagnosis said I had first-line TB, while the second one confirmed that it was second-line TB. But the doctor, at that time, found it more appropriate to start the treatment for the first-line TB.

Image provided by the author.

After 4 months, my reports showed that a few medicines were not working, and that is when I was sent to a government hospital to get treatment for MDR TB or multidrug-resistant TB. There, I was told to take medicines for about two years and injections for a period of 6 to 8 months. I used to get all of these for free from the TB centre near my house. The challenges I faced were unprecedented weight loss, body ache, difficulty in walking, suicidal thoughts, loss of vision. Every day, while I was fighting all of these problems, I believed things would get better.

But It Took A Toll On My Mental Health

Almost a year into my TB treatment, my mental health started to suffer. I had major mood swings. At times, it was difficult to express my feelings, and I chose self-harm as an alternative. I used to have bad thoughts about my family and my future. This was when I sought help from a mental health professional. I was diagnosed with depression and given treatment.

That’s when I realised, TB is not just a physical fight, for many it is also a mental struggle.

During my MDR TB treatment, I was in my second year of B.Com. Many suggested taking a break from studies. My dreams didn’t allow me, and I decided to continue. I convinced myself that whatever I was going through today, was only going to make me stronger and better. I turned to spirituality and saw positive changes in myself after I started doing Rajyoga Meditation at the Brahmakumaris Centre.

Because of this positive thinking, I successfully finished my B.Com studies and also finished a course on Industrial Accountancy. There was a time when during my exams, there was no electricity at my home for three whole days. It didn’t stop me, instead, I used to go and study at my friend’s place.

During treatment, I had full support from my friends and family. My family understood my problems. From nutrition to ensuring fulfilment of everything needed – they provided me with economic, mental and emotional support. My friends also helped ensure I ate properly and I didn’t feel lonely. Sometimes, they even accompanied me to my checkups. In this struggle to achieve freedom from TB, my friends and family were my greatest source of power.

I had to face other challenges too. The doctors of the government hospital were neither kind nor patient. The people at the medicine centre routinely treated TB patients badly. There was no lift at the medicine centre and thus, we had to always climb stairs to reach the fourth floor. I used to almost faint a lot of times too! The medicines provided by the government were sometimes of low quality. Despite this, my dreams and family helped me persist.

My father is an auto driver- who did everything that was required. I did not face any financial problems during treatment. However, for the treatment of ADR (Adverse Drug Reaction), I was supposed to travel to another hospital, and I had to handle all the travel expenses for it. The government provides TB medication for free, but the expenses of multivitamins, calcium, etc. are all borne by the patients. Under the TB scheme of the government, all TB patients are given 500 rupees every month, but this money never reaches the patients who need it on time- and for this, we have to visit the government offices multiple times.

I am stronger, wiser and more determined than before. I chose to tell my story because thousands like me remain silent. If we want to finish TB from its roots, then the treatment system, the healthcare systems, should be immediately improved. It is necessary that every patient gets regular counselling, information and support. The government nutritious food scheme should also provide all patients with compensation of a minimum of Rs. 3000 every month during treatment. This will enable all patients to get their treatment done without any economic distress and in dignity. 

Finally, don’t let the patient forget that TB is not their fault- stigma is often more harmful than the disease itself. 

Yashwant Marathe is an MDR-TB Survivor, Patient Advocate and SATB Fellow based in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

You must be to comment.

More from Survivors Against TB

Similar Posts

By Swathi Nenavath

By Vaseem Chaudhary


Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below