An Ode To Semi Colon: It's Not The End

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT Thank you to all the people who worked so hard on their art pieces and sent them over to us for the magazine. We’re really glad to have started this campaign and the compilation of this magazine filled with great words couldn’t have been possible without these contributors. All the speakers, the moderator, the panelists and the performers enlightened us on the topic of “Mental Health” by discussing their own experiences and opinions about it, something rarely talked about was heard extensively on 1st April, 2017. Thank you to all for their insights. All our partners and sponsors – Demould, Uber, HotMess, Mash Project, Health Nuts, Being Dilliwala, DU Beat, Campus Candidly, Cuddll, and Chaayos, have played a big role in making our Summit and Magazine possible. We would especially like to thank our Togetherness partner Cuddll for being the greatest hand in the success of the campaign. By bringing together people, Cuddll has been representative of the spirit of our campaign in every manner possible: bringing together people to talk about taboo topics to break the stigma around them!


An Ode to Semi-Colon: It’s Not The End Of The Scars that Don’t Show An initiative by Spoon University – Delhi Chapter

Editorial Board: Kritika Narula Niharika Maggo

Cover Design Namrata Satija

Published: April 2017


An Ode To Semi-Colon: It Isn't The End An Editorial Note by Kritika Narula The need to create a dialogue. The beauty of the symbol of semi-colon. The outburst of thoughts and emotions of survivors. And other things.

The idea of using a semi-colon to symbolise our initiative on gathering written anecdotes and poetry and stories revolving around mental health strikes one as so full of metaphoric significance that one cannot help but wonder how easy it is to understand the concept of mental wellness. A semi-colon is used by the author when s/he can end the sentence but chose not to. And yet, so much remains unsaid and understated when it comes to our actual daily discourse around the issue. A person doesn't die of suicide, but by it. And when we live in a time where the stigma around mental health and related issues tries it's best to suppress dialogue around it, it becomes all the more a necessity and an obligation for us to look that stigma in the eye and beat it. When fighting a mental illness, it gets difficult to understand that there's light at the end of the tunnel. The end seems concrete and dark and it becomes difficult to believe in all that is said about 'hope'. But it is not the end. If you or a loved one suffers through something like this, please know that this is absolutely not the end. Mental Illnesses are just that: Illnesses. But, unlike common cold or flu, they are hard to see. No, one can measure the intensity of the anxiety attack, one cannot measure the depth of depression, one cannot see the panic of a bipolar mind. But just because they’re invisible, doesn’t mean they are non-existent. And you can never tell if the person sitting next to you right now is battling, or surviving through one of these. However, there’s a worse thing you can do than failing to identify a mental illness, and that is stigmatizing it. Making it an issue to be discussed in hushed whispers. Attaching shame with such conditions. At Spoon University – Delhi Chapter, we have always been strong proponents of breaking the silence, beating the stigma and creating a dialogue on the scars that don’t show. Words are important, and this compilation is a celebration of the fact that either we survived the invisible scars, or we were there for someone when they were trying to. This compilation is a celebration of this victory. This compilation is a symbol of this courage that lets us stand for each other, and support each other when the other is suffering from something s/he cannot explain but only feel. We hope this is as much a purveyor of hope to you, the reader as it has been cathartic for the contributors.


Contents  Incongruence by Puspangana Singh  The Scars by Kshirobdi Tanaya Dash  Suicide Squad by Purnima Singh  We All Have, Or Have We? by Nidhi Saxena  Morphine For Her Pain by Mandira Srivastava  It Made Me Feel Happy For Once by Manya Sinha  Questions and An Answer by Ria Bhargava  Residents In My Brain by Meher Sethi  Cover It Up by Arushi Sharma  A Letter to Depression by Ishi Bhanot  From The Diary of the Girl who No One Looked Out for, Except Herself by Namrata Satija  Kabira by Aarooshi Garg  What is Mad? by Pranjali Dobhal  No Longer Mine by Jessika Taneja  Poison by Divina Sethi  Bullied By My Insecurity: A Free Verse by Danya Sethy  Depression: An Introduction by Shraddha Kumar  The Issue Behind The Issue by Tushar Priyadarshi  Mental Illness and its warning signs by Dr. Pradeep Choudhary  5 Ways In Which Food Affects your Mental Health by Devika  Words Bleed by Aprajita Rana  Makeup And Depression by Kavya Pillai



INCONGRUENCE By: Puspangana Singh Last night, I woke up at 2.29 am trying to decipher What it could mean if I start seeing you In my dreams again, That you, you swoop back into my life Like a misty mountain breeze Whose arrival makes the weather chilly, But also kind of irresistible; I was up till 4.05 trying to decipher You, me and the incongruence of it all I knew you would be startled to Hear me use that adjective for us; Incongruence? "We are not incongruent", you will say. And I will smile and run my hands Through your hair and kiss your lips, And I will tell you, we so are. So if you caress me and ask me again why, Why I call ourselves incongruent, I will tell you to go open a dictionary and find The meaning of incongruence And don't, don't come smiling back to me Saying that you've understood it, Understood it all and that we are Not incongruent, oh just don't, Don't just by seeing a dictionary, you tell me that You can feel all the layers that a word hides. Don't ever say incongruity is just A term of psychology and mathematics; Incongruity is us, because we, We are absolutely incongruent triangles; Because if you ask me why I'm broken and Scarred and bruised and shattered, You know I will give you the same answer; Because you wouldn't understand it, And you'll leave me, you'll leave me again, Frustrated at not being able to understand, Angry at being not understood, Dejected for getting the proof that we Indeed are incongruent, incompatible, Inconsistent, incomplete, and inexperienced; And I don't want to be broken and scarred And bruised and shattered every time You leave me because of the incongruity. So after thinking about you for almost three hours In the morning in a sleep-wake state, I give you up, and go back to sleep. I go back to sleep only for it to Be disturbed by your voice, Your haunting laughter in my mind, your face, And your eyes Your hazel eyes let me dream, Let me dream about all those Draconian fairy tale Moments that we shared And you say that we are not incongruent. Have you ever looked into the mirror and seen your hazel eyes? Your eyes which sometimes reflect


Different colours from different angles The way light falls on them. Have you seen your eyes, and then seen my eyes? My eyes are black, with no variance, no reflections in them; There are only shadows in my eyes, While your eyes hide a whole Universe within them. How long does it take for you to realise that we are incongruent? How can you even term us congruent, When you know that our poles are opposite, That I, I have two poles, two aspects, Two personalities, two existences, even two dualities, But it is all me; It is all me even when you see My other side and do not embrace it as mine. See, this is what congruity is about: My two poles are congruent even when Their angles and their sides are not equal, And we, we are congruently incongruent Even when our sides match, our angles coincide, And our love continues to bubble like hot lava Ready to erupt from the dormant volcano And destroy everything in its wake. We are incongruent, Because my bipolarity, my duality Makes me congruent to myself But leaves you and me, Conveniently incongruent

Photo Credits: Shreya Shreshtha


The Scars By: Kshirobdi Tanaya Dash She spoke from within Had a voice inside her own The voice drowned the noise around her Everything reeked of the disappointment she thought was inevitable The scars, oh the scars that could speak were burning a hole in her The scars she felt, their obdurate hostility, their lack of empathy and their sickening penetration The scars, oh the scars were so invisible to others but so invincible Day by day, they grew Drowning friendly voices and beautiful sight Only to make her look morose She knew no one but her and her scars The scars just couldn't let anyone enter No one could know Her puffy eyes could be seen, her lost soul could be seen disappearing into the dark abyss of her eyes But the scars, oh the scars they couldn't be seen Only she could feel their animosity Just when the scars had somehow been shaped She needed to be listened She needed to speak Scars were invisible but she wasn't No friendly voice cooed in her ear No one bothered to take her out of the engulfing clutches of the scars that gripped her She was unheard And now that those friendly voices wondered, talked to her They just couldn't see the scars but they had heard their murmurs Yet they went on After all there is no such thing as mental health She was perfectly physically healthy Then why did she look sick?

Photo Credits: Kritika Narula


Suicide Squad By Purnima Singh

Warner Brothers’ suicide squad is so meh when compared to mine, Sure, my suicide squad didn’t get a 6/10 rating on iMBD, Didn’t get a cool soundtrack by twenty-one pilots, And didn’t save the world when superman died. But my suicide squad is way more interesting, Surely the names are a bit unconventional, Let me introduce you to my suicide squad, There’s depression, there’s anxiety, low self-esteem and then there’s body image issues. They have been by my side since I was 11, And have made me realize that blades that don’t cut can be swallowed, So that there are no scars left to see. My mom thinks they are a bad influence, My therapist thinks they are bullies, So they put me on a diet of think positive-s, and please go out more-s, try and lose weight-s and meditation is good for your soul-s Which didn’t succeed to fulfil the appetite of those who are well fed on aspirin, drain cleaners, razor blades, sleeping pills, and sometimes medicines whose names I don’t know, Look we took the BuzzFeed quiz, and our BFF score is 80%, I swear we all are thick as thieves, This world just doesn’t get us, you see, Doesn’t get our dark humour, doesn’t get our late-night searches of painless ways to kill myself, doesn’t get it when we tag each other in stories of suicide and say #Squadgoals We have had our differences, They have a special aversion to all the boys that I have dated, Have told me that I’m just not pretty, not thin enough for them, Told me they will leave as soon as they see the real me, For they don’t see an empty glass bottle and think opportunity. Have a special aversion to wholesome memes, Think they are too overrated, Because when your happiness dies and the handsome brown eyed stranger leaves, They share my blanket with me.


Photo Credits: Kritika Narula

You see I'm high on the taste of blood from all this lip biting, They have got me hooked to the burn from all the blades that I swallowed, And on the days when my mouth is more knives and less teeth, My hands less nails and more claws, And even when I'm barely resisting the urge to scratch my eyes out, They don't leave my side. So tell me if every 3 in 5 people are prone to killing themselves, What happens to those who couldn't? What happens to those who are too afraid? Do they have their own suicide squads? Where they share pen-knives instead of friendship bands And bouquets of blades instead of flowers? Don't let DC comics fool you, These villains don't turn into anti-heroes in my story, All my failed suicide attempts are just all the motivation I need, Because what didn't kill me did not make me stronger, It only made me want to kill myself more. Stop Googling painless ways to kill yourself because they are A) neither painless B) nor do they kill you. So as much I would like to hear another success story, I have realized I don't want to, not even one more. I want to change the number of my speed dials, And I wish my squad goals wouldn't leave me hunched over the bathroom floor. Because maybe Batman will make a special appearance to save the day, Just like he did in the movie, We never liked Superman much anyway.

We All Have, Or Have We?


By Nidhi Saxena

I have, you have, we all have, grown up with the stories of witches and monsters and demons and ghosts lurking in the attic hiding behind the curtains lying beneath our beds living in the dark of closets. But have you, you, or you, lived with the truth of witches and monsters and demons and ghosts lurking in the thoughts hiding behind naked eyes lying beneath our hearts living in the dark of souls? I have, you have, we all have, seen the Sun shine bright and Moon sing a lullaby of dreams and promises and stars and cotton candies lurking in our smiles hiding behind loved ones lying beneath the sky living in the gardens of bliss But have you, you, or you, hated your very own self made of doubts and scars and tears and fears Or have you been terrified to speak, or to feel, or to think or just go and greet your cousins? Have you ever cried all night for no apparent reason? Oh and did you ever feel you were not you? I have, and those who live with their demons have heard our families say "You're not trying hard enough to be happy, honey!" Oh you don't know how much we try to live like you and how badly we fail and how we feel the terror of that demon's reign and that excruciating pain of the scars that don't show.


Morphine For Her Pain By Mandira Srivastava When the summer came, she hid. Bolted the doors and shut the windows, Resided inside the four wall of her room. She was like a drug, Should have come with a set of instructions: “Store away from sunlight. Keep out of the reach of children.� And men. And women. Anyone. Everyone. She wore a label stating the side effectsLoneliness. Desolation. Agony. Remorse. At night she tossed from side to side, Trying to find comfort in her affliction. When we are in pain, We want it to end, We wish for us to end. We shatter. We fall apart. Or, we search for love. Love to fill the empty spaces in us. We need healing. She was lucky, Because she found someone. Someone who not only loved her. Someone who did not just fill her empty soul. Someone who was not there to simply heal her. She found someone, Someone who was ready to fall apart with her.


It Made Me Feel Happy For Once By Manya Sinha

That night when I sat at the edge of my chair I still remember staring blankly at my arm which later became the wounded soldier of the battleground of my emotions that night, I slept with knots in my stomach when a voice inside my head told me that the scars that self-hatred gave to me are the reason why I feel alive I continued gliding blade after blade on the surface of my skin for temporary salvation the burning sensation gave to me from feeling numb months passed by and the wounded soldier found refuge under my long sleeved uniform so I didn't have to worry about anyone knowing I used to see through my flesh in the hopes of feeling human again how was I to know that I was only shredding my humanity to the worth of a piece of stainless steel until one day as I drowned myself in self-loathing


yet again and felt like putting an end to it I couldn't find the nerve to bleed that night I shut down the voices that told me that a moment of weakness is what should define my entire life and as the symphonies put me to sleep it's only in that moment did I realize that there are other ways of reminding myself that I'm human: the first is to breathe It's been 3 years since I cut myself for the last time I could feel the battle scars healing still there are days when the blade persistently asks to meet my flesh again but I know myself better now I remember sitting with a friend who asked me, 'why are you hurting yourself?' why did I hurt myself? it made me feel happy for once.

Photo Credits: Manya Sinha


Residents In My Brain By Meher Sethi

Trust me when I say I've had anxiety rip my sleep apart I've sat in the bed for days, waiting for sleep to touch my eyes. Hearing the clock sing tick- tock I've had anxiety whisper "They left you but I won't" When anxiety holds you down like it was gravity now. And when spoken about it it was always "just a phase" And I had to patiently wait. Anxiety wanted to be a friend of mine But I needed this friend to let go. They say walk away Don't let this get in your way But go away where? My demons lived in my brain.

Questions and An Answer By Ria Bhargava

Euphoria, dysthymia or mentally retarded? Quiet, preoccupied or overly guarded? Catatonic or reluctant to move? Hallucinating or is it actually true? Are the symptoms malingered or factitious? Is it an episode or is she capricious? Anorexia or body dysmorphia? Are these obsessions or paranoia? Is the behaviour learnt and observed? Or is it just naturally absurd? It's NOT just a phase that'd pass, Like all other wounds and scars.

Cover It Up By Arushi Sharma Cover it up with ice-cream, Cover it up with smiles, Go out for shopping, You’ll start feeling fine. Cover up the gloom, And look for answers out, All they’d ever ask you Is what you’re up to now. Cover up the dreams and Hustle all day long, But when you are lonely, The spider would start to crawl. He’ll pull up the veil and Bring back your frown, So know that quick fixes Are not wise or sound. All they’d ever tell you Is what the world’s about, But who you are matters When all comes crashing down.


A Letter to Depression By Ishi Bhanot Dear Depression You've been residing in my head for such a long time now I've forgotten what it feels like to be by myself anymore You're like that roommate The one I felt comfortable with in the beginning But as time passed you started ruining my belongings behind my back It took me too long to realize it was you who was ruining my life And when I finally did It was too late You didn't want to go You occupied the whole apartment which I once owned The lights which once shone brightly all over lighting up my world? Now they remained turned off I was too scared to switch them on without your permission You didn't let me out of the apartment And slowly all of the links began to break I began hurting the ones I loved the most By words You made me feel that every single thing that had gone wrong for my loved ones From a sneeze to admission in hospital All of it was my fault My concentration skills turned null The things which I once loved were despised by me now You made me see everything through grey-tinted glasses You made me lose hope You made me want to give up On everything The girl who was the happiest child of the family Who could cheer anyone up She no longer remembered how to smile Do you know why, Depression? I do Because she couldn't even get out of her bed She was bound by chains By you Because you made her leave You made her leave, Depression I'm not the same person anymore I'm not who I once used to be I'm not the girl you finished Because finishing a person doesn't always have to mean their last breath It was the moment you finished the girl who loved herself The one who could light up the whole room by her bright smile The one who was great at all she wanted to do And even if she wasn't She'd practice till she was. She was amazing, Depression


I am not her But neither am I a captive of yours anymore. I can smile now And on good days, I laugh wholeheartedly too I've started singing again and I love it I purposely try to not hurt the people I love and those who love me I'm sure there'll come a day that it'd just come naturally And I would be able to stop trying constantly I like myself too now And on good days, I even feel I'm beautiful and deserve happiness You still haven't left But now I've learnt to live with you Now I'm the one The one who has the largest share of the apartment of my mind And even if the lights don't shine my whole world anymore They do shine enough for me to see through the dark Rationality has entered my life And I've realized that there's no possible way For me to be held responsible for someone else's misfortune No matter how close the person is to me Yet there are still days when you take over a part of me Days when everything is gloomy and I feel numb When I feel like giving up Again But now I know how to hold the hands of the people who love me And are reaching forward to pull me out From that corner of the smallest space in the apartment The one which you pushed me in I don't know when you'll realize that you've overstayed your welcome and leave for good But in the meanwhile, I'll just go spend time with those I love It keeps you at bay, I've learnt Hoping to bid you goodbye soon A survivor

Photo Credits: Alex Arthur


From The Diary of a Girl Who No One Looked Out For, Except Herself By Namrata Satija

You don't get it Because you don't live it Your madness Makes you weak and vulnerable My madness Makes destruction and fire You can rest Since you have a lot to live for I don't Because I need to chase what I live for You'll stumble And someone will pick you up I live a solo life I am the one who picks me up You'll hold a hand and hug someone I'll love and then hurt someone Destruction is love-struck While obstruction a hokum Go on, live for what it is that you can do See me die everyday For you're not concerned And I am tired of giving you the keys To the door locked far away.






Kabira By Aarooshi Garg Kabira, I don't remember the last time I cried and the owl outside my window didn't peek inside I hope it doesn't mind when I do it because my professor insists our cries are just turbulent sound waves that qualify for air disturbance No it‟s not the Nietzsche brand of radical philosophising, It is what it is. Air disturbance in an orderly world. Kabira, My chaos receives validation in my suitors To them, it's charming and beautiful or some bullshit. The very act of believing that my flaw is their fetish makes me want to strip myself off of this wantonness and be a champion of normalcy Even my chaos isn't my own. Kabira, I know I'm sad when I'm too tired to chase squirrels when my bones crackle and crackle and crackle A warmth baking my insides in an ice-cold bathtub Thermoregulation is not that easy when your heart holds your body hostage To its own dopamine delusions. Kabira, The owl seems perturbed I will stop now.

What is Mad? By Pranjali Dobhal What, indeed, is 'mad'? If I isolate myself from society, East will say I'm not normal. If I involve too much with all, West will ask, “Where is my individual identity?‟ If I fall for one particular person, I am a criminal in unnatural love, If I don't feel I'm in the right biological body, I'm out of my mind Tell me, what is 'mad'? Is there a definition or it‟s a concept we all create for our own selves? Is the confusion worth bullying someone? If situations, time, past, personality, surroundings, money, If they all matter to what I am today, If I want to live peacefully, if I don't intend to hurt anybody, Would you still call me mad for I don't fit into the majority?


No Longer Mine By Jessika Taneja You know the girl, that sits alone, while people pass her by. At night, she curls up, on her own, her blade makes her cry She cuts her hope has lost all faith knows only hurt and pain. With stress, can't cope, trying to lose the weight, she never did gain Try, she might. fail, she may, pretending to be fine No guiding light can guide the way for a soul that's no longer mine.

Poison By Divina Sethi

The white liquid Trickling down her lips She looks in the mirror With satisfaction- and grips The sides of the basinAs she falls slowly Down to the ground Immense ecstasy Just noises, and yet no sound Except her breath Now heavy and fast She laughs at her achievement For this time is her final And her last She loses control of her body To join her long lost soul Trying to escape to a haven Where this hole Might not haunt the remains of her heart.


Bullied By My Insecurity A Free Verse by Danya Sethy Wrapped in an obsidian paper with no creases, Insecurity lay with immense calm and pleasure on my doorstep. Unexpectedly, he tore the serenity apart and emerged into his real form. The next scene was predictable, the girl runs into her bedroom and hides inside the closet. But this plot, took a slight twist. I ran into my bedroom and hid under the warm and velvety duvet surrounding myself with a few moments of tender comfort. Not before, Insecurity pounded the door with his infrangible fists clenched in a pain-stacking grip. Eventually, the barrier broke releasing a loud 'thud'. Instantly, my hands clutched the duvet with more strength which in turn released a grimy droplet of a fading flaw. I sneakily peeked from under the duvet, later realizing what a huge mistake I had made. Insecurity saw me. He took giant steps towards me and pounced on my weak figure. I whimpered and struggled an escape, which later seemed completely pointless. He smirked in triumph and dragged me towards the mirror. I looked at my reflection in utter disgust, bitter side effects of insecurity dangling on my layers. Without any warning, Insecurity leaned next to my ear and whispered. Words were slithering out of his poisoned mouth into my now foul ears. I cringed. Automatically, a droplet of salt and water trickled down my cheek, burning a whole lot of my selfesteem. Insecurity grinned with extreme satisfaction, but didn't leave. He hovered over my head like a dark cloud in my mind. He flowed through my veins, contaminating the Crimson with its perpetual mark. And my splintered layers continued to breathe, under his dominating and indestructible shade, I heaved.

Photo Credits: Vishesh Monga


Depression: An Introduction By Shraddha Kumar Mood Disorders are characterised by disturbances in mood or prolonged emotional states, and include depressive, manic and bipolar disorders. Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a common but serious mood disorder. Depression covers a variety of negative moods and behavioural changes. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. People who are suffering from major depressive disorder experience long periods of depressed mood, and commonly show a lack of interest and pleasure in most activities. Other symptoms of depression include a change in body weight, constant trouble in sleeping, inability to think clearly, sluggish behaviour, fatigue, emotional numbness and thoughts of death and suicide. Depressed people also commonly experience feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness. While genetic make-up may result in a pre-disposition towards depression, women at young adulthood and men at middle age are the most likely to experience depression. Depressive disorders are also common among people who are experiencing negative life events, illnesses and do not have adequate social support. In India, conservative estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) indicate that 1 in every 20 Indians suffers from depression. However studies by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that Indiaâ€&#x;s depression levels are as high as 36%, making India the most depressed country in the world. It is important to remember that depression, just like any other physical illness is treatable. If symptoms of depression persist over several months, then it is important to seek help from a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist. Treatment for depression can involve medications (including Antidepressants such as Prozac) or psychotherapy. Exercising regularly, spending time with friends, seeking positive social support and setting realistic goals for oneself can also help to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Photo Credits: Alex Arthur


The Issue Behind The Issue By Tushar Priyadarshi (First published on www.feministaa.com, reproduced with permission)

1,35,445 suicides in India in 2012. 15 suicides an hour. 371 suicides a day. 17% of world‟s suicides in the land of the golden bird. This „progression towards regression‟ surely is an alarming situation, as India is secretly slipping into dark lanes under the pretence of „India Shining‟. Why such an important subject is not openly being spoken about? Do even disorders need brand ambassadors? Why do we need a Deepika Padukone to make it a talking point? Many psychologists and doctors believe that suicide is a mere trigger reaction to unaddressed issues that have been piling on. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the burden of depression is 50% higher for females than males, which means that for every male suicide, there are two female suicides. Now this is a moment of introspection. In the quest for success, have we gone a little too far? Have we succeeded at the academic and/or financial front only to fail ourselves miserably at the art of living life? Stress levels have gone up right from school level which spreads it poison well into the old age. Excessive expectations to excel, excessive pressure to meet our own and others‟ expectations, but inadequate thought on how to undo the harm we are unknowingly causing to ourselves is just a prologue, but to a grim farce. “Yeh Beti nahi, Beta Hai Mera…” It is an undeniable fact, and sadly so, that even today, when we hear so many stories of Indian women achievers, it‟s not rare to hear condescending remarks passed at daughters by fathers who wanted a „chirag’ for their „khandaan’. For it might have failed us as a society, but it never fails to amaze me how deep the roots of patriarchy have made place in our minds while strongly binding our cerebrum to interlock it with such complexity that it can never be unlocked to think again on what things like these actually mean. This statement, in fact, is the first green flag to the train of depression amongst young daughters to excel and prove to the world that although she is a daughter who is supposed to be inferior by birth, but she is no less than her male counterparts who, supposedly, are superior by birth. The seeds of depression that are sown in the early days, are watered by the upsurge of hormones associated with puberty, changes in body shape and emerging sexual identity that all contribute to the onset of depression in young women. At a time when she is already trying to cope with the sudden changes, failed relationships make those seeds germinate. Astonishingly, as much as 4% of the suicides are caused due to failed relationships, especially in today‟s times of instant break-up and instant patch-up. A whopping 6773 suicides in India in 2014 were triggered by marriage related issues. Coping with changes in family and lifestyle, especially if all is not hunky dory, further helps in the growth of the „weed‟ of depression. Add to that infertility, and the situation gets worse, given the fact that even today, the primary goal of many women‟s lives is to raise a child. Pregnancy depression, too, is common, affecting between 14 and 23 percent of expecting women. And it‟s no wonder that women are even more susceptible to depression when they‟re expecting. Surging hormones, coupled with stress, anxiety and societal pressure to feel a certain way can cause toil to a woman‟s emotional state during pregnancy. Couples who plan a baby when the


mother is not emotionally prepared often leads the mother to hate the child, which is again a consequence of postpartum depression.

As women are plunging forward and are steadily leaving men behind in the race to success, stress levels are obviously on the rise. How often we talk about inspiring business women and success stories of women entrepreneurs, but we never talk about what all goes into reaching those heights of success. It will always be more difficult for women to succeed at the official front than men, as a woman would probably never be able to neglect family for work. She can rule the boardroom, but she would want to rule the boardroom only if she is able to rock the cradle. Failure as a wife, failure as a „bahu’ and failure as a mother are just a compendium of the variegated leaf of a woman‟s suffering. Irrespective of her competence, she is always required to prove that she is as worthy as men at the workplace. Instances of sexual harassment in office make the situation worse. Going To A Therapist The problem with India is that here, anyone who goes to a counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist is deemed MAD by the society. “Haye haye vo pagal ho gaya?”. This mindset is reflected in the shockingly poor ratio of the number of people who need treatment to the number of people who go for treatment. In fact, the number of registered psychiatrists isn‟t even close to the number of psychiatrists needed. NIMHANS estimates that India needs at least 12,000 psychiatrists. The reality is, there are less than 3,500 registered psychiatrists in the country. That‟s approximately one psychiatrist per 3,00,000 people. But no, India still needs more engineers than psychiatrists. It needs to be realized that depression is just another disorder that can be treated. It is mostly accompanied by the “Log-kya-kahenge” syndrome that CAN‟T be treated. Dear Individual, you need to accept the fact that you are facing trouble, when you feel anxious, and depressed. Dearest Family, you need to forget what Sharmaji will say. Only you can save yourself.


Mental Illness and its Warning Signs By Dr. Pradeep Choudhary Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and happen to someone else, in fact, mental disorders are common and widespread. Mental disorders afflict 5 crore of the Indian population (5%) and need special care. 80% of our districts do not have even one psychiatrist in public service. World Health Organisation estimates of 2001 indicate a prevalence level of about 22% of individuals developing one or more mental or behavioral disorders in their lifetime in India. Over 90% of people with mental illness are cared for within their communities by their families and may never even receive a diagnosis. What are the warning signs of mental illness? • Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others. • Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain. • Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations. • Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity; apathy. • A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one‟s surroundings; a sense of unreality. • Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult. • Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling. • Uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior. • Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene. • Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or “mood swings.” • An unusual drop in functioning, especially at school or work, such as quitting sports, failing in school, or difficulty performing familiar tasks. One or two of these symptoms can‟t predict a mental illness. But a person experiencing several together that are causing serious problems in his or her ability to study, work, or relate to others should be seen by a mental health professional. If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is hope and help. Guidance counsellors, teachers or classmates are often the first to notice the symptoms.


5 Ways In Which Food Affects your Mental Health By Devika Your diet affects your mental health in a significant way and your brain is probably the best and the worst gadget you will ever own. It runs 24 hours, obeys every command and even swears for you and scolds itself when it doesn't! But someone rightly said that the brain is the best slave and worst master. The same gadget that does your every bidding can also turn on you and wreck your life if you aren't careful. Mental health is not just treating yourself but also this gadget right. As all gadgets, this one too runs on fuel. It obviously misbehaves when the fuel is bad quality or not adequate. Just FYI I am talking about food as fuel for your brain. Recent studies have shown how much food impacts your mood, physical well-being and ultimately mental health. Research has shown that the risk of depression increases about 80% when you compare teens with the lowest-quality diet to those who eat a higher-quality, whole-foods diet. The risk of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) doubles. Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research remarks "A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.” There is also interest in the possible role food allergies may play in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, she says. But why does food affect your brain this drastically? Here's breaking it down for you: 1. Serotonin and How it Affects Your Brain You feel queasy when you are nervous because that's your brain affecting your gut similarly your gut affects your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. About 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gut and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells or neurons. It makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don‟t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions. 2. The "Good" Bacteria. The function of these neurons and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that make up your intestinal microbiome. These bacteria protect the lining of your intestines and ensure they provide a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria. They limit inflammation and improve how you absorb nutrients from your food. They also activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain. So a bad diet can affect the way your Bacteria and neutrons function ultimately affecting the way your brain functions. 3. Your Diet is crucial for brain development. Roxanne Sukol, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute says "When we eat real food that nourishes us, it becomes the protein-building blocks, enzymes, brain tissue, and neurotransmitters that transfer information and signals between various parts of the brain and body.


4. Your diet puts the brain into grow mode Certain nutrients and dietary patterns are linked to changes in a brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. A diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of this substance. On the other hand, a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars has a very potent negative impact on brain proteins. Some research hints that a high-sugar diet worsens schizophrenia symptoms, too. 5. Stay away from "Trick food" Some foods are perfect at temporarily promoting the neurotransmitter that we lack and, as we crave and then consume them, they „trick‟ us into feeling better, for a while. Substances like chocolate, coffee or sugar-rich products encourage the brain to down-regulate. Downregulation is the brain‟s instinctive mechanism for achieving homeostasis -- a balanced state with the perfect amount of neurotransmitters. When an excess of substance leads to a flood in neurotransmitters (for example, adrenaline triggered by a strong coffee), the brain‟s receptors respond by „closing down‟ until the excess is metabolized away. This can create a vicious circle. The brain down-regulates in response to certain substances, which in turn prompt the individual to increase their intake of those substances to get the release of the neurotransmitter that their brain is lacking. This is one reason why people sometimes crave certain products. Diet hence plays a major role when it comes to one's mental health. You can check out how what you eat is affecting your mental health and how you can improve your mental health by eating healthy right here! Remember to mind the stomach as much as you mind the mind!

Photo Credits: Karan Kapoor


Words Bleed By Aprajita Rana


Makeup And Depression By Kavya Pillai , Sub Editor at Deccan Chronicle (Republished With permission from her personal blog)

This is difficult for me to write, not only because I‟m letting it all out but also because of the strange biases that come with both these subjects. When you tell people you like makeup, for them you can be one of three things – either you don‟t love yourself or you want attention or you‟re not intelligent. When you tell people you have depression, well you get a lot of unsolicited advice – you should try cheering up, maybe you just need to go out more, don‟t let it take over your life, you‟ll get over it. While I understand where it comes from, I and a lot of other people going through the same do not appreciate that you haven‟t tried educating yourself about mental health before speaking to us. We do our best to cope with the issues we have, the setbacks we have – and one of the things, besides writing, that I learnt gave me joy, was makeup. Last year was incredibly tough on me – I was in a high-stakes job, I was in a city that I had very minimal experience of, I had gone through an incredibly bad breakup, there were medical issues and more. Post the breakup, I started eating A LOT – I ate when I was stressed, sad, happy and angry. I gained over 10 kilograms in the span of a few months (which was really unhealthy for me) and I developed self-esteem issues. When you have depression, even getting out of bed some days is a Herculean task – that would explain my falling grades in school after previously being a straight A student – and getting up for work was just the worst. But I digress. When I was lonely in this new city, I discovered makeup tutorials on YouTube. Point to be noted, that my regular makeup previously was a nude lipstick and eyeliner – no frills. When I discovered makeup, it was as if I had struck a gold mine. It had enough creativity in it, enough details, for it to suck me in like a blackhole and keep me hooked. I used to look forward to coming back home and watching video, after video, and learning more and more. I bought my first lipstick and a brow pencil online a couple of months after that, and then an eye-shadow palette, and then a concealer. It was like a whole new world opened up for me. Makeup to me, is a small yet very important way of dealing with my depression. I have a hard time sleeping, but going to bed thinking of what look or what hack I was going to try the next morning gave me a reason to look forward to the day. When I wake up early to have to blend that concealer into my under eye, I am only thinking about that in the moment. When I look into my palette filled with all the colours of the rainbow and more, I am thinking of what will go well as the lid colour to my crease colour. I am thinking of nothing else and I am in the present, which has been a problem for me. I have always been creatively inclined, so makeup gave me yet another outlet to my emotions and my thoughts. It is art for me. It is therapy in a gorgeous shape and form. It helps me be different MEs each and every day and considering that I can‟t even draw a decent flower to save my life, my makeup is no minor feat. It is the war paint I don before heading out to face the big bad world. It is sometimes one of the very few things saving my day from turning into complete and utter shit. It gives flight to my fantasies and it is an expression of me, just like my clothes, my hair, my tattoos, my piercings. Sometimes, I just look at myself in the mirror and think „Wow, YOU did that!‟ or „Damn, you look great‟, and that in itself is a success. Makeup comes with its own pitfalls – it promotes body image issues, just like anything else you put on yourself these days. I wouldn‟t be a feminist if I didn‟t recognize that and didn‟t admit to that. No one should be told how they should look or should put on their person to match some unrealistic standards that society has for us. None of us are completely comfortable in the way we look and the makeup industry cashes in on that and tries to elevate that. But there are tons of women who do


makeup out of the sheer love for it, tons of women do it because they feel great in it, tons of women do it because it gives them confidence and like me, tons of women do it because it is creative selfexpression. I somehow still love my face without makeup on, I somehow still don‟t care if you „think I‟d look prettier with less eye-shadow on‟ or „less goth with a different lipstick on‟ because by the end of it all, this is my choice to do what I want with my body. I‟ve had times I‟ve felt conscious about my makeup, toned it down to go on a date but I‟ve come to understand that society will shame women for doing anything of their own accord, so why not do what you want full-fledgedly? This is definitely not a fool-proof coping method for depression. Sometimes I still feel like shit no matter how cool my winged liner is, sometimes I wake up unable to pick a brush up. But the fact that it helps me have some grasp on life right before I head out, that it helps me calm down and collect my thoughts, and most importantly lets me create art that I had no idea I could, is worth the love I have for it. No one NEEDS makeup, no one should feel pressurized into doing something they don‟t like and don‟t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you don‟t like makeup, you and I can talk about other things – like books, how cute pigs are, equality, zombies, you name it. If you love makeup or are interested in it, do not let anyone shame you for it, and do not let the makeup industry tell you what you need or don‟t – make those decisions for yourself with good research. You and I can gush over a great eyeshadow palette, great books, how cute pigs are, equality, zombies (*gasp* shocker! Women who do makeup have other interests AND can be fully realized human beings with goals and ambitions, how weird!) Conclusion: Do what makes you happy and keeps you healthy – emotionally, mentally and physically. And if one of the many ways you look out for yourself is makeup, welcome to the club! Don‟t let other people decide for you what can and cannot be done to your face, this life is too short for that, don‟t you think? Treat yourself!



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