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‘Seek help without shame’

I was in the second year of college when I realised I was mentally unwell. I had gone through a breakup a few months back after being in a relationship for more than two years. The heartbreak caused by our separation shattered me. This was aggravated by the fact that I was already going through a low phase in my life.

In the first year of college, I fell for my professor. We developed a bond and realised that we wanted to be together. At that time, I was already dating someone. So, all these complications made my life tough.  The guilt that came with cheating made me feel miserable, so much so that I started hurting myself physically — I used to cut myself.

The worst part was that even my family was involved. They were in good terms with my previous boyfriend. So, after the breakup they were angry as he had told them everything about my  involvement with my professor. This created a huge turmoil at home.

One day, when my parents were reprimanding me for all this and constantly blaming me,  I felt that I could not take it anymore. I decided to commit suicide. I locked myself in a room and started cutting my hands with a blade. Luckily, my father broke in and saved me.

Something similar happened again. I got embroiled in a huge fight with my parents. At that time, I started having self-destructive thoughts. So, I started lighting my books with a matchstick. My mother rushed to stop me and poured water on them.

The problem was getting worse, but my parents were probably too ashamed to take me to a therapist or psychiatrist. I surfed the Internet and what I read convinced me that I required medical help. But I got no support from my family. And I was not ready to talk to my friends about it. Even the professor seemed aloof, of no help.

I knew I had to cure myself, so I took the bold step to visit a therapist all by myself. I did not even inform my parents. The therapist did help me and when I started taking the sessions, I felt much better. I believe all I needed was someone who would listen to me, without bashing me or judging me.

As I look back, I am thankful that I understood the need for counselling and sought help at the right time. And after so many years, I am in a much better place mentally. I still visit a counsellor sometimes, whenever I feel the need to. I had no one waiting outside the chamber to pick me up — but I had to pick myself up from the situation I was in. And I am proud today that I did so.

Realisation plays a key role in this, as well as acceptance. If no one is supporting you, you should support yourself for a better life. I believe many other young girls, like me, are going through something like this or even worse — all they need to do is seek help, without hesitation or shame. Things have changed for me and will do so for them!

As told to Shruti Das

‘Prioritise mental health’

Ruchika Sharma

I was 27 when I got married. After a few years, I realised that my husband is abusive — both physically and mentally. At first, I thought these things happen in the heat of the moment. But gradually, I understood that it is something that should not be normalised.

So, I moved out of his house, saying that I need some time off to think whether or not I should continue this relationship. During that time, I spoke to one of my friends and she asked me whether I have faced something like this before. Ironically, even my previous relationship had the same issue. And every time, I went on to forgive the abuser. So, what my friend suggested is that the first thing you need to do is to change yourself and stop blaming yourself for everything.

I began taking therapy. I easily opened up to my therapist and was told that the abuser definitely needs counselling as well. My husband also started taking therapy, at my suffestion. And it actually solved the problems that we were having. Even though, getting him to admit and accept that he is in need of it was a task. But this did save our marriage.

I am not ashamed or embarrassed of the fact that I sought therapy and so did my husband. I feel everyone should understand the problems they are going through at a deeper level – that is what therapy taught me. Some things might get out of our control and cannot be mended, but there is no harm in giving it a try.

The problem in our society is that we give physical health a priority, but not mental health, even though both are equally important. Ignoring your mental well-being can never give you a happy life, no matter how successful or physically fit you are.

Ruchika Sharma, 35, is a homemaker

As told to Shruti Das