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The hope of a better future kept me going…

From body image issues to dealing with depression, my story of what it feels like to be trapped in the complexities of adolescence.

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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5 habits that are unknowingly harming you and what to do about it

Some habits such as procrastination and sleeping can be self-harming. Learn how to cope with it before it goes out of hand.

Self-harm is not only physical; there are various ways in which humans harm themselves emotionally. These habits are equally corrosive to your mental and physical well-being as the body stores pain and hurt.

Read on to find out if you’re self-harming yourself by doing any of these:

1. Procrastination
Simply put, procrastination is a gap between intention and action. Take this example for instance.

Me: “I have the Physics assignment due.”
Mind: “We’ll do it after lunch.”
Me: “Lunch is over and done with.”
Mind: “After a nap.”
Me: “The nap lasted for four hours.”
Mind: “After dinner.”
Me: “Forget about it now.”
Mind: *evil grin*

How to tackle it: Someone has rightly said, “If you can complete a task in the next five minutes, you should complete it.” Making a list of tasks and completing them as soon as you can will leave you with less anxiety and worry. It also gives you a sense of satisfaction.

2. Comfort eating
If midnight snacking becomes a daily ritual; it is a cause of concern. While it may seem comforting to indulge in a tubful of Nutella while you’re stressed about the football match tomorrow or anxious about your final exams, making it a way of life can be self-sabotaging.

How to tackle it: The next time you find yourself binge eating, slow down the entire process. Savour each bite of that rich, gooey chocolate cake that melts in your mouth. Once you start to concentrate on the process of eating, the quantity of the food consumed will reduce. Simultaneously, figure out what makes you want to binge, and divert your mind away from food by applying it in other activities, say for instance, listening to music.

3. Excessive sleeping
While a nap is proven to reduce anxiety and clear out the head, excessive sleeping translates into trouble. Sleeping over nine hours can be categorized as “too much sleep,” which requires an intervention.

How to tackle it: Excessive sleeping can be a medical condition called “hypersomnia,” in which case you will have to consult a doctor. If not, you will have to sit by yourself with a pen and paper and write down all the things that you’re worried about. After making the list, write down the date when each task is due. Start with completing the tasks that you’re confident about first. Leave the intimidating ones to do early in the morning.

4. Suppressing emotions
Had a fight with a your girlfriend or cannot get over what your teacher said about you in front of the entire class? Ignoring emotions and placing them on the back burner is a sure-shot way to cause pain to your subconscious. The body stores pain and hurt, hence, you might feel temporarily okay with suppressing the emotion, the result of it will soon uncover in unexpected ways.

How to tackle it: The only way to deal with emotions is to experience them. You have to reason out two things in your head: “What hurt you?” and “what you can do about it.” You can put your ego aside and talk to your girlfriend about the fight. Taking the first step to resolving a problem is a sign of maturity and shows strength of character.

5. Extreme modesty
Modesty means “keeping with measure”. The standard of how modest you are depends a lot on how you’ve been brought up. But there is a line between being reasonably modest and feeling excessively modest. If you find yourself being guilty for being the last speaker in a debate competition thinking that you’re taking everyone’s time or if you’re feeling exposed running in a park or even feeling guilty if you lost a basketball game, you’re harming your self-confidence by being extremely modest.

 

How to tackle it: Separating your performance from others is the first step to tackle extreme modesty. You should take responsibility for your actions and nobody else’s. Furthermore, if you feel judged or exposed in public, remind yourself that “not everyone is looking at you,” many things are only in your head.

Promise yourself that you won’t come in your way.
 

If you have a story to share, Email it to us HERE.

If you have a query, Email it to us HERE.

You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.

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Disclaimer: TeentalkIndia does not offer emergency services and is not a crisis intervention centre, if you or someone you know is experiencing acute distress or is suicidal/self harming, please contact the nearest hospital or emergency/crisis management services or helplines.