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My Story: How The Lockdown Became A Physical And Mental Prison For Me

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Created by Amartya Sarkar


I couldn’t think of a better-suited title than this for penning down my personal experience because apart from its literal relevance, there’s much more to the metaphorical context hidden within. I might sound quite relatable to some for what I’m going to write next.

The breaking out of this pandemic has been the most unanticipated and definitely not prepared for, by people across the globe. Little did I or for that matter, presumably all of us, imagine that stepping into the year 2020 was going to change our lives in ways we never thought we’d have to. Talking about a change as big as this, I cannot help remembering Heraclitus’ famous saying, which also happens to be one of my favourites:

‘Change Is The Only Constant In Life’

These times have been trying and challenging like no other in the history of mankind. Highlighting a crucial aspect of this pandemic, I’d like to address an issue which of course is not considered important enough to address; the effect of the pandemic on our mental health. Being a teen myself, trying really hard to scrape through this pandemic has proved to be a rather rigorous task.

The lockdown and the pandemic have led to a state of despair for many.

It has been all the more difficult for me, being a board examinee this year, and seemingly I was to undertake the examinations which anyhow got deferred and finally cancelled given the virulent strain was at its peak. Well, the disappointment, the news of the exam cancellation brought along, let’s keep that for another time to discuss.

Isn’t it ridiculous how a microscopic creature has been wreaking havoc all around, making us all handicapped and prisoners to our minds in ways more than one? This whole time, staying at home, I have changed in several ways; some of which I do detest but at the same time feel grateful for that I did. There have been times where I found myself extremely detached from my friends and near and dear ones.

Sometimes, I did long for the warmth of social exchange which had been long missing since we all had been shut down at our homes. The darkness at times dawned on me and scared me to the core, threatening to deluge me into its abyss.

There were a lot of ‘what ifs’ whenever I felt apprehensive of the safety of my family members. With heartbreaking and pitiful news being reported and written every day in the newspapers, it was not always easy to keep my calm and mental sanity intact.

Pessimistic thoughts crossed my mind now and then on days when my spirits were low. Well, that’s a word I was looking for to describe one of my newly acquired traits. Pessimistic. I have become such a pessimistic creature that at times, over the telephone, my otherwise stoic and optimistic friends even started feeling dispirited listening to my incessant self- dubious thoughts.

What-Ifs, Frustration, And Anxiety

Depression would be too strong a word to describe any of the mood swings I’ve had so far. A constant frustration and anxiety, however, have been the two feelings I’ve been feeling of late. The fact that I don’t have a place to vent my buried emotions is not helping atop that. Petty family squabbles, not getting enough personal space teens my age desire to, and having to put up with hectic academic online schedules had proven to be a rather fierce combination.

Until the pandemic, I usually prided myself for having that one virtue called ‘patience’ which, however, I lately find myself stripped off, owing to the prolonged period of time I am having to stay at home. I’ve been running out of patience for quite some time now and am not being able to focus on anything fruitful for more than a few minutes.

Self-doubt, low spirits, self-demeaning thoughts, and inferiority complex have also found a way back to me in these times. The lack of motivation I feel at times becomes too pathetic to bear. That’s exactly what has got into me.

I don’t feel motivated to do something new or look forward to something meaningful in life. I no longer feel the urge nor the energy to keep going. I just feel so drained out which I know a boy my age, shouldn’t.

Notwithstanding, since the pandemic times have been the very epitome of negation to all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ of life, this has to be accepted no matter how off-beat it sounds. Change is one such thing that I have always found very difficult to accept and dreaded to get used to. Before the pandemic, life seemed just fine and simple but now certain things no longer do.

Feature image is for representational purposes only.

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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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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.

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