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How Stress And Carbs Killed My Mother’s Sanity

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Mental health is the most ignored attribute when it comes to Indian household women, my mom being one of them and excelling at being the best mother. It’s purely because the word “mental” is disregarded. The happy Indian family never feels the need to introspect what our mind is deprived of.

We were a family of four until my sister and I got married, and we became six. I now also have a lovely son.

As an Indian family, we have always worked and thrived very hard for sticking together; the other side of the world still frowns if sons stay with their parents after their 20s or their marriage. Still, the fascinating truth is it’s indeed a beautiful concept of generations staying together under one roof.

My Mom.

But we aren’t here to discuss this. My anger and concern are I wished we spoke to our mom about what bothered her beyond the cliff before she left us on 26 June, 2020.

It all started around 30 years ago when my mom was detected with diabetes and blood pressure issues while conceiving my younger sister. Since then, medicines have held her more than people. Diabetes affects almost 17% of the population in India.

I was hoping you could read this till the end, stick around because you could quickly put yourself in the place I always was since my mother was struggling with her mental health and stress.

We never talk to our moms after a specific time and age. Forget effective communication; at least call them to say “Hi”. Chatting with her every day will not only keep an existing relationship healthy, but it will also help a frayed relationship get more substantial. Talking always helps to cope, help, identify, solve problems and make each other feel better.

Isn’t just listening to her sometimes important?

Respect and appreciate them for everything. Respecting will boost and satisfy their inert most emotion. Listen very attentively to their needs, desires and concerns and show by acting on them. Our mothers do countless things for us, and we will never be able to pay back for her favours. The least we could do is shower unconditional love and care.

Give them all the time they need with their grandchildren. Spending time with grandparents fosters intergenerational family connection. This unbolts the door for grandparents and grandchildren to learn and maintain a healthy and safe relationship with people who differ significantly in age. Many lessons can be learned along the way of forging this special relationship.

Rice is the staple of South India. But we need to get this straight that our diets need a makeover. There’s no denying that South India loves its rice. But there are enormous studies that warn us to use caution while piling our plates with the refined version of this staple grain. 

A lot of people in India have diabetes. Ever wondered why? Some doctors say that this is because the Indian body is prone to diabetes, just like some cars may guzzle more fuel or give you less mileage. After all, that’s how they’re built.

Sedentary living and bad eating habits have only made the problem dramatically worse. However, a recent and disturbing study conducted by Harvard University has established that consuming just one cup of white rice (polished rice) every day can put you at risk of diabetes, regardless of your nationality or whether you have a family history of the disease. Since rice is our staple food, the study’s implications can have a tremendous long-term impact on the way India eats.

diabetes
Diabetes is a big problem in India.

Your diabetologist never wants you to heal — because that’s what they have learned to preach. Before you jump the chair off, it’s true. To understand, we all know that insulin is released every time we eat. Insulin helps control blood glucose levels by indicating the liver, muscle and fat cells to glucose from the blood. Insulin, therefore, allows cells to take in glucose to be used for energy.

If the body has sufficient power, insulin signals the liver to take up glucose and store it as glycogen. All doctors want you to do is eat five meals a day, raise your blood sugar, raise insulin and then suppress the sugar by giving you medicines or insulin injections. There goes the never-ending never happening healing cycle forever.

The body demands more carbs and sugar — the spike is followed by a sharp dip an hour or two later, which can leave you craving more sugar and make you feel sluggish. This is why you often feel sleepy after having a doughnut with your afternoon brew or why you crave sweet treats even when you’re full from the high carb dish you’ve just had for lunch.

The alternative best approach — what happens when you don’t eat any carbs? It’s estimated that when fuelled by carbohydrates, the brain needs roughly 110–145 grams of glucose (from the breakdown of carbs you eat) per day to function optimally. Most people who follow a typical modern-day high-carb diet eat roughly twice as many carbs as their brains use, providing them with an ample glucose supply.

What happens if you eat far fewer than 110 grams of carbs per day, or even no carbs at all? Does the brain starve? Absolutely not! Your liver and muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen. Although the amount varies from person to person, an average-sized man weighing 154 lbs (70 kg) stores about 100 grams of glycogen in his liver.

When you stop eating carbs for several hours, liver glycogen is broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream to prevent blood glucose from dropping too low. Although far more glycogen is stored in your muscles than in your liver, it remains in the muscles to meet their energy needs and can’t be released into the bloodstream to raise blood glucose.

After going 24–48 hours without any carbs, glycogen levels become depleted, and insulin levels decrease.

At this point, the liver steps up its production of water-soluble compounds known as ketones created by the breakdown of fatty acids. Ketones can be made from either the fat you eat or your body’s fat stores. The resulting ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier to provide the brain with an additional source of energy.

This means there’s another fuel source available for the brain when the body runs low on stored carbohydrates. It is highly favourable for people with diabetes to reverse its effect.

Grandmother
We need to give our parents more focus.

Humans don’t need any dietary carbohydrates to thrive because the brain can function much efficiently on Ketones.

Hence the four most important things, which are the reasons for high mental stress/illness, which I’m trying to point out below are intricate for us to identify, help, support and care for our mothers if they suffer from diabetes:

  • Healthy Food and Well-Being

Health is the most important. My mom never learned from her doctors to control her diabetes and hogged on the high carb diet. The sad part is that diabetes never stops at itself; it opens the entrance to various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis).

If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have heart disease or stroke. My mom suffered from mild infarction.

  • Emotional Intelligence:

A happy and loving family around builds a strong family relationship and is a source of comfort, guidance and strength that you can draw on in times of stress. Likewise, they provide a sense of belonging and unconditional love you are not likely to find anywhere else.

There’s nothing like family. The people we’re related to by blood and marriage are expected to be our closest allies, our most significant sources of love and support. However, our interactions with family are often filled with misunderstanding and resentment, bickering and badgering.

Family is where our first and strongest emotional memories are made, and that’s where they keep appearing. And this is why emotional intelligence (EQ) succeeds where other efforts at family harmony fail.

  • Communication:

It is an influential element in the family because it puts you in control of your relationships with parents and children, siblings, in-laws and extended family. When you know how you feel, you can’t be manipulated by other’s emotions, nor can you blame the family conflict on everyone else.

Therefore, most of the techniques for improving family relationships are centred on communicating your feelings to those you care about, as close relationships are centred around feelings. Without this emotional intimacy, family contact becomes a burden because no one is comfortable spending that much time with strangers. If you want your family members to know and accept each other lovingly, you have to begin with your emotional honesty and openness.

  • Generation Conflict:

We live in an era of generations living together. We Indians take pride in it, but conflicts are bound to happen where there is more than one person at home. Our moms are already victims of sufferings from socio-political and economic changes. Most of the time, their children neglect them in a world of a global culture focused on material life thriving for success and personal ease only.

We have to agree we are becoming more intolerant for weak, different or difficult ones — our old parents (especially moms). We have to understand and give the leverage to focus more on our parents’ sufferings than on those of ours.

Thank you for reading and appreciating my article. Make sure you give it some claps and my blog a follow if you enjoyed it, and have a great day.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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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