“Growing up, all I remember is chaos. My father was a very abusive man, never letting us see a moment of peace. The first time he hit me, I had a severe anxiety attack, only to hear “wow, great acting, I’m proud of you”. His hands mockingly applauded me, triggering something in me that there was no going back from. I had to protect my mother from him, and get her out of that traumatic household.
Ever since I was little, I faced abuse in one form or the other, be it emotional or physical abuse at home, or verbal abuse through fat-shaming, bullying and name calling at school. “Your skin is so dark”, “Why don’t you lose weight?”, I even had a teacher tell my mother to dress me ‘modestly’ at the age of 9. My self expression and budding personality took a major hit during this phase of life. I closed myself off into a shell that has left mental scars on me that are apparent even today.
Three years ago, my mom, brother and I ran away from home together. We were forced to go into hiding. Every moment outside was unsafe, our phones were being tracked by my father, and we had to cut off all contact from our relatives. It was difficult adjusting to life after where we came from, with no father, no income, and no knowledge of the real world. That year, I began posting messages about mental health and awareness. I’d come to realize that depression is so inherent in teens and pre-teens, and somehow, nobody was talking about it. In India, nobody even seemed to even acknowledge the existence of such a thing. It got me thinking about the importance of mental health awareness, and about how maybe if I had been diagnosed sooner, I wouldn’t be in the place I am in today.
This sprouting activism grew to include messages about body positivity, LGBTQ+ awareness, mental health, and offering a helping hand in general. Being a bisexual woman that has dealt with several struggles involving depression, ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety, as well as countless body image issues, I know I can offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, if nothing else. In a country like ours, therapy is so inaccessible that I truly believe our biggest reliance is on treating one another with kindness and acceptance.
It took me a long time to get to where I am today- content with myself, surrounded by the warmth of my family, in a loving relationship, and with a platform on social media to express myself and offer my support. Everybody wants to be heard, and I want everybody struggling to know that if nobody else, I will listen. Everything is a process, and things take time to heal, but the important thing to keep in mind is that someday, they will. And until then, take your own time to truly heal and understand yourself, because at the end of the day, you will always have yourself to fall back on.”
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