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It crept into my life slowly, like water seeping into cracks. Curtly making its way into my veins. One moment, I was on top of the world, and the other, lost somewhere in the pit of a bottomless ocean, drifting, drifting and drifting. You don’t realize until it hits you like a ruthless wave, and you’re stuck in the whirlwind of your thoughts, dark thoughts. When depression hit, it took.....
It crept into my life slowly, like water seeping into cracks. Curtly making its way into my veins. One moment, I was on top of the world, and the other, lost somewhere in the pit of a bottomless ocean, drifting, drifting and drifting. You don’t realize until it hits you like a ruthless wave, and you’re stuck in the whirlwind of your thoughts, dark thoughts. When depression hit, it took away my will to live.
It all started in grade 10 when a group of boys boycotted me because of a misunderstanding between my father and a male classmate. Growing up in a conservative family had its pitfalls. One of them was that I could not talk to friends at home, and a boy calling was a big deal. Other things were not wearing clothes that Bollywood actresses wore in movies, going to malls (because then I could watch movies and insist on buying clothes that Bollywood actresses wore) and disagreeing with adults (bado ko sirf ‘ji’ bola karte hai), to name a few.
Clearly, I didn’t like home, and school became a safe haven. I found a plethora of activities to keep me busy. One semester I was representing the school in a debating competition or going to different cities to attend student-led conferences on social topics and the other I was dancing to Beyonce or acting in plays.
Going to school was thrilling only because of these co-curricular activities. They boosted my self-esteem and got me in the limelight. I lost a few friends – some out of jealousy, some because I could not stay in touch. But the ones who drifted out of jealousy started making fun of my physical appearance. This affected the way I looked at myself because I didn’t fit into the conventional standards of beauty. I was short, had curly hair and was healthy.
Once, during an extempore activity, I was asked to talk about braces, since I had them. I ended the speech by saying, “I guess people with pretty smile have to wear them.” A group of boys in the class giggled and one said aloud, “So why are you wearing them.” The entire class started laughing, I was hurt and embarrassed, but I let it go. But how many times could I have let it go?
Girls had a different way of bullying. They’d promise to meet for lunch but would not turn up. They’d stop inviting me for parties; though I hardly got permission to go, but still. To be invited and not making it is different than not being invited at all. So, I was left all alone in school. Harry, Nancy Drew, Mia and Dick (a character from Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five; what did you have in mind?) gave me company. Also, I found writing extremely therapeutic. So I read and wrote.
Going through my journal of when I was teenager revealed that all I wanted was to be slim and tall with, off course, straight hair, like they show in hair oil commercials. Approval from friends was important. It assumed larger importance in my life because I didn’t have approval at home.
The downward spiral had begun. Every day used to be constant struggle. My days would pass in a haze. I would often forget to carry the correct notebooks for lectures and often find it difficult to concentrate on classes. By grade 11, I lost interest in dancing and theatre, activities I was extremely passionate about. I started experiencing mild panic attacks and would cry at the drop of a hat.
I believed that if I vanished from the face of the Earth, nobody would realize I was missing. Thoughts of suicide crept into my head, one after the other until the only way out was to succumb to the pressure. You consider suicide, but how do you do it? I cut myself, aiming for the green vein on my wrist, slashing it with a razor blade. The external pain numbed the pain inside my soul, but I knew I would survive. It takes courage to take your life, even if you’re feeling like a piece of shit. Curled up on my bedroom floor, I saw blood spouting out from my hand.
After another episode of cutting my wrist, I finally decided to tell my mother about the depression. The only proof I had were the results of an online test I had taken. She would sneak me out of the house a couple times a week for therapy. It took me two years to recover fully. What helped me? The belief that there was more to life. The belief that life is beautiful. The belief that I will make new friends. The belief that I am a wonderful person. The belief that this is not the end.
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