I have come on to write on my blog after 2 years. And honestly I am nervous. My last post was made in 2020 and I had shared too much about Depression and Anxiety and how I don’t feel like living. Guess what I AM ALIVE! I really didn’t think so that I would be, because I was pretty miserable. I have been on a journey which not many will understand. But I have come to realize a couple of things. And first realization being, that I have so much lust for life and a thundering thirst to thrive. And so much hunger for freedom. But my lovelies, freedom comes with a price. And that price is priceless which cannot be described by words. To enjoy the fruits of freedom, you got to be FEARLESS AS FUCK!
And as a woman born in a middle class family in North India, we are conditioned to be fearful from childhood by parents, friends, school, society, teachers, mentors, gurus, politicians, administration where you work and what not. Don’t offend people, don’t be too loud, don’t say that, don’t sit like that, laugh like that, walk like that, talk like that. Be docile, respectful. Cover your body. Never express your sensuality. Don’t share that you are/were being sexually abused, emotionally abused. If relatives are mean to you or disrespectful or body shame you, don’t say a word. But I refuse to buy this IDEA and this BULLSHIT! You give respect, you get respect. Just because you are elder and related to me by blood, I won’t respect you if you are a JERK or JACKASS or A MEAN ASS BITCHY AUNTY!
Throughout my life, I have fought in the school, universities, with my parents to let me have my FREEDOM. Cut to adulthood and dating life, I am again fighting about my freedom with the men I date and trust me I have dated enough of them, across different states, religions and caste and some of them even living abroad. One phrase that I have never stopped hearing, ever since my dating life began back in 2013 is “NEHA, YOU ARE TOO MUCH TO HANDLE”
Yes, I am too much. And I won’t let another man dim my light. We have made our women free thinkers and independent but we haven’t taught our Indian Men to deal with the modern woman as Jerry Pinto puts in his book “Surviving Women”
Amit Tandon in his 2017 Stand up comedy said that Men in India are not born stupid but they are brought up stupid. And that is the second ULTIMATE TRUTH after DEATH. Refer to the quote- “Life is a Journey, Death is the Ultimate Truth.”
Anyway that is not the point of this blog, the point is I have so much lust for life, thirst to thrive that the rules of current society are holding me back. But this journey that I am on, be it of being a PhD Researcher, be it being on a Spiritual Path, be it wanting more out of life, is a lonely journey. Shah Rukh in his interview said that “I have always wanted to be on the top, but let me tell you, being on the top takes a lot of courage and it is very lonely up there. But that’s the price I have to pay for being THE Shah Rukh Khan”
So I have realized that I am SPECIAL AS FUCK. And I want to be THE NEHA THUREJA: THE WOMAN WHO HAS ALWAYS BEEN TOO MUCH. And it will be super lonely. I often think about things like- Whether I have it in me to take on this journey? Will I survive? Will I have the money? Will I be able to attain my goals and get to my higher purpose? Will I be able to become who I want to be? Will I be able to let go of all the Karmic Debts? Settle all of my karmic accounts? Will I be able to complete the journey of my soul? Who is this “I” that I keep referring to? Where does this “I” come from? Will I have a companion or is it going to be solo trip? What if I get exhausted? Will I get my tribe? On second thoughts, I do feel that I have a tribe, I am just not there with my tribe yet.
I live in dual worlds- one where I am a privileged girl who affords herself luxury spas where she experiences the joy of Tantra that OSHO talks about and the other one who goes to the villages and observes the lives of farmers and women in rural areas and want to make a change in this world by being in the village and wants to be a revolutionary. And I don’t know what path to take, whether I should aim for luxury or whether I should go to the roots, whether I should take the path of marriage or whether I should just become love and keep on loving as and when life gives me the opportunity without binding myself in the rulebook of society- Study. Job. Work. Career. Marriage. Kids. Grandkids. Die. Repeat.
You see I am not perfect, I am neither enlightened. I cry out loud and laugh out loud and when I get angry, hurt or upset, I EXPRESS THOSE too. And yes, I am not fearless yet. I do have my own share of fears. And I am confused about my path, my journey. I want to be attached but also be detached. Some of the things that I do are logical and some are pure filmy magic and then there are certain out of body psychic experiences that are above logic and beyond magic that make people say that “Oh don’t bother about her. She’s Crazy”, maybe I am.
For so many years, I thought I wanted to die, I thought I hate life or life hates me and maybe I should not be alive anymore. Those thoughts do bother me today also but I have realized that it wasn’t the above case ever. I HAVE ALWAYS HAD THE LUST FOR LIFE AND THIRST TO THRIVE and guess what! I will do it someday and it could be 6 months from now on or maybe 6 years from now on! I will come back to this space of Euphoric Being, My blog to share that I did it. Because I am gonna do it baby! WATCH OUT.
I hope you all are doing amazing. Winters in Delhi are approaching and it’s time to snuggle into blankets with a cup of hot chocolate, some butter cookies, a book or maybe a romantic netflix movie to set the mood. That’s how my winters go by to be really honest and I eat a lot of chikki, gajak, panjiri, til laddoos and what not to complete my winters and by the time winters are over I have gained over 5kgs and then my summers goes in losing all the winter fat but this time around I plan to continue with my fitness journey that I began back in September this year. If you know me personally or are a regular reader at this space, you’d know how much of a lazy ass I am. I hate getting up early in the morning, I am not a morning person, neither a night person, I am just some type of permanently exhausted pigeon. And with my mood swings I do a lot of emotional eating which affects my weight a lot. And I have been trying to get on the path of fitness mentally from tomorrow for about years now but that tomorrow never came until I met this group called Healthwise (www.healthwise.in). I came across this beautiful person called Gayatri through one of my mother’s friend and she runs this group called Healthwise where their ideology is that weightloss is something that happens in a community. When I spoke to her I actually liked her, which is a rare case because I end up not liking people who promote such fitness programs because most of the times they tend to make you feel bad about your existence and tell you that you’re worthless because you are so fat and they are somewhat your saviours and would change your life and blah blah blah that after the first conversation I usually end up blocking them and try to buy bigger jeans like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, have a relationship with my Pizza and then get even more fat and sometimes it reaches to a point where you no longer give a fuck how you look and you would literally bite the next person who tries to lecture you about your weight or healthy habits or anything like that. I had reached that stage to be very honest and I would always eat more whenever my mother would tell me I need to look at what and how much I am eating, even though she was concerned and right, I was hell bent on doing self harm. But then I met Gayatri and she seemed kind and someone who could really help me without being mean. I basically got really nice vibes from her so I decided to give her program a shot, when I first talked to her, I told her that don’t expect me to follow the diet because I won’t. I’ll just do yoga and workout and even with yoga I can’t promise to be regular because it’s a morning class but with other workout class I will be regular, that was my first disclaimer to her and she was like you just join and show up and we will help you out wherever you feel lagged behind but when I joined and started doing the program and became a part of the community, it was such an enriching experience! People would share tasty healthy recipes on the group, they would boost each other up, and there were buddies that were allotted who kept track of each other whether they were showing up for the classes or not, eating healthy or not, taking care of themselves or not. There were little little challenges on the way like no sugar day or no biscuits today or have rainbow foods etc and everyone would share amazing pictures! Best part was I learnt to go into the kitchen and cook some healthy stuff for myself, I have never really cooked properly before this but now I can make proper meals!
Even though I gave the disclaimer I did end up following about 60% of the diet chart if not 100% and that’s progress in my eyes and I actually managed to be fairly regular. There were days when I would wake up at 6am for yoga, do the yoga class and doze off again at 8am and then wake up around noon and I did not miss a single workout session till now because the person who conducts fitness sessions is so candid and fun, Rishabh, does not let you falter, he’ll make you laugh when your legs would be shaking from all the squats and keeps you motivated. I might have slept through some of the yoga classes and Gitika keeps wishing me good morning as keep yawning through the class sometimes but still I was a good student considering my history and attitude towards the idea of fitness before joining this group. Now I want to work towards my body and I can feel the change. I have already lost 2.5kgs and I know I could have lost more if I had not cheated with my diet in between but yeah I am happy. So if anyone who is super lazy and wants to change their life Gayatri is the person to contact. You can call her at +91 8928744270.
P.S. This is not a promotional blog, I am not getting paid for this. I am just happy and wanted to share my experience ❤
Also, take a look at some of the amazing things I made/ate during the program:
I don’t know where to begin to be honest. Mental Health is one topic which is so close to my heart, not because I am a trained psychologist or a psychiatrist. I am just another girl in this whole wide world who like millions of people have faced mental health issues and my attachment to this topic comes from lived experiences. My struggle with my mental health has taught me to be more compassionate towards others, it has made me read the signs when people feel low or depressed, it has made me more self aware and more than anything it has made me want to learn more about mental health and do something in this field so that I can make people feel that they are not alone in this struggle. When the pandemic started off in India, somewhere around March, in Mid- April, I read the first post on Instagram that talked about how this pandemic is going to affect the mental health of the people and then I started reading academic papers about it and the projections were disturbing enough. Then recently I had started doing art in lockdown and there was Dr. Bhavesh Kathiriya who asked me to sketch something on Mental Health specifically and then it was just his little push and I started doing a full fledged series of sketches on Mental Health on Social Media which people could relate to and identify with and I didn’t reach too many people through my series but I got a couple of messages saying that they can really feel the art and my art saved them. And making difference to just one or two lives was enough for me.
Later on, I connected with one of my professors Dr. Keerty Nakray who taught me in my PhD classes and with her help I did a small project on Mental Health in the Times of Pandemic where I took interviews of some people and did a visual analysis of my sketches and that was one of the most enriching experiences for me because it helped me connect with people facing mental health struggles and also professionals who are helping such people. I tried to get my work published so that it could reach people and would be of some help but then I was facing an ethical dilemma which was that since I am not from the field of psychology and psychiatry, how credible is my work because it comes from a standpoint of lived experiences only so therefore, today on World Mental Health Day I have decided to share some of the key insights from my personal work on Mental Health in the Times of the Pandemic and then it is followed by stories of people who closely connect with the topic of Mental Health and have something to say. This post might get a little long to read but I am sure it will be worth it.
Mental Health in the Times of the Pandemic: A Qualitative Study
How do people define mental health?
How people facing mental health issues respond?
How pandemic and lockdown is impacting the mental health scenario?
Consolidated Findings and Discussions
People define mental health as something very personal. Their definitions differ and that is because of their understanding of it based on their real life experiences and their exposure.
While there are several factors affecting mental health, broadly they can be categorized as internal and external factors or individual or community factors and some of these factors are in individual’s control while the rest are not and there comes the concept of resilience on how one deals with unfavourable situations and factors.
Self awareness and self realizations have come up as major concepts in coping with mental health. If one is self aware about his mental health issues that is considered positive mental health and being aware also helps in employing the coping strategies effectively. Lori Gottlieb in her book Maybe You Should Talk To Someone quotes “I try to wrap my mind around this paradox: Self Sabotage as a form of control. If I screw up my life, I can engineer my own death rather than have it happen to me. If I stay in a doomed relationship, if I mess up my career, if I hide in fear instead of facing what’s wrong with my body, I can create a living death but the one where I call the shots” is a classic example of how control is an important aspect. Even though here is context is of self sabotage but having control over one’s own life gives a sense of achievement and helps in coping.
Pandemic and lockdown has impacted the mental health of the people as there is a sense of loss of time, businesses and stability. Pandemic has brought with it the inevitable lockdown and due to that, there is a lot of uncertainty, the businesses are shut, people have fear of losing their jobs, savings are drying out and income is not there, and in lockdown people are locked with each other, while family is often a source of support but sometimes, not having personal space leads to conflict which may lead to deterioration of mental health and sometimes our families can be toxic to us as well so one needs to take that into account while analyzing how pandemic has affected mental health.
People often shy away from taking professional help due to stigma attached to it and there is a tendency of label avoidance. Even seeking help has its own problems such as not finding the right therapist.
Coping strategies are different for all. While there may be some universally accepted strategies such as mindfulness, meditation and physical activity, people know what works best for them and try to do that. In the book Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, the author uses humor as a coping mechanism, she tries to make fun of every terrible situation in her life, Matt Haig in his book Reasons to Stay Alive started using writing and journaling as a coping mechanism. One of the participants used painting to deal with panic attacks while I have used sketches as coping mechanism. Coping strategies work only when one is self aware about what works for them and what does not.
Social media has been known to affect the mental health of the people but it has been looked in the positive light. My initial hypothesis was that social media impacts the mental health negatively but based on the interviews I have taken I have found that people view it in a different light, it’s the screen time that worries them not the content on the social media. One has control over what to consume and what not to consume.
Sketches that I have drawn in the time of pandemic have helped me in coping and also connect with the community that faces and connects with mental health issues on a deeper level. They have helped in spreading positivity and awareness about mental health and destigmatizing the act of taking help in a very small way.
Following you can see the glimpses of some of the sketches and my interpretation of them:
This sketch highlights that a person’s heart is broken and he is trying to hold it all together with a bunch of safety pins. There is tornado drawn at the end which highlights the turbulence and instability the person feels. The words on the side describe how mental health is an internal problem and not many people around you will realize that you are sick because it is not something that is visible like a runny nose. It describes mental health issues in a negative context when it uses the term a head full of darkness. Here the intention of drawing this sketch was to portray how sometimes people facing mental health issues fail to take care of themselves but they are so fragile and barely keeping things together. It touches upon the idea of self awareness about your mental health to be able to take care of your own self.
The girl in the sketch is looking inwards while she has a huge cloud of thoughts hovering over her. Overthinking is the process of constantly analyzing and anguishing over one’s thoughts. It may include rumination, in which an individual is stuck mentally rehashing their past or present decisions and/or actions. Many a times whenever a person who is overthinking shares his/her thoughts they are dismissed and people tend to say some of the insensitive things like “Get over it” as quoted above in the sketch but instead one should be empathetic and say things like “Your thoughts are valid” because it is a powerful statement and it helps the individual going through the issue of overthinking and makes him/her feel a little less alone.
In many of the books on Mental Health, it has been mentioned that your depression and anxiety lies to you and often it appears that your mental health issues are bigger than you are as portrayed by the monster of anxiety in the sketch but that’s not really true. They exist and they seem very real but humans can cope, they have the strength and they just need to tap into it. This sketch again emphasizes on importance of self awareness about one’s own mental health issues and speaks about emotional resilience. Breathing plays a key role in calming down as mentioned in the previous sketch as well and it’s because when a person focuses on his breathing he is becoming self aware and his attention is on his “being”.
Pandemic is a tough time and also it was observed that there was a narrative going around that you have to productive during this time, it’s not true. The times are tough and one needs to take care of themselves before competing in a social media race. The sentence “It is okay to be not okay” reinforces the idea that you can be not okay during this time and you can share your troubles. When I drew this sketch I was personally not feeling okay so I needed to feel a little less alone and in a way I am letting this sketch speak to me and giving me positive reinforcement and I posted this online and it was shared by a mental health page “Hub of Psychiatry” on Instagram and people connected with it and there was a feeling of togetherness in the community and the fact that we will all get through this time together.
People often hide their mental health issues and feelings because of the stigma attached to it and also because they feel that those around them will not understand so they pretend to be fine while inside they are feeling a lot of pain and negative emotions. Being asked “How are you” is a painful question to answer for some people and most of the time this question is asked out of courtesy and not because one is really interested to know how the other person is doing. Personally I have hidden my own mental health issues for a long time and acted like this girl in the picture before actually seeking out for help.
This sketch is more about coping strategy. One can cope with mental health issues by taking up a new hobby or creating something new, it gives a sense of achievement which is important for one’s own self esteem. I was feeling a bit off during the pandemic and lockdown and I started creating a series of sketches on mental health to connect to people and that helped me in my personal healing as well as those around me so that helped me gain some confidence and connect to people going through mental health issues and building a safe space for all of us to share our vulnerabilities.
This is about control we have over our minds. It has to do with self awareness that you have the power and control over your mind and thoughts and by growing positive thoughts and feeding positive things to your brain you can take care of your mental health.
This sketch highlights what mindfulness, meditation, yog nidra can do for a person. These coping strategies were mentioned by the professionals in their interviews can lead to a calm mind and that calm mind will help in building strength and resilience to fight the mental health issues.
People with mental health issues face so much pain internally that they don’t know how to deal with it and many a times they get attracted towards alcohol, nicotine etc because it hampers with their brain and they feel that it numbs their pain and before they realize it, they start getting addicted to such stuff. It’s important that the people around them take note of their state and guide them through it by giving them the counselling and the right kind of help at the right time. This sketch was purely drawn for sensitizing the people about the gravity of the issue.
Are you getting tired by this whole charade? Please don’t lose heart. First of all, I want to thank you for reading till here and now I am going to share write ups of the people who had something to say about World Mental Health Day.
My first contributor is Trishala Mahendru, she is a dear friend and runs a page on Instagram called as Dot To Stigma, she provides a safe space for people to share their stories and struggles with mental health. She has the following message for you all.
Mental health has become a hullabaloo in recent times; this has brought forward many different facets to it. Where earlier mental health was seen no more than a fancy word and a result of westernisation; it has now become a very serious and empathetic issue to discuss with anyone. For a person like me, who have had mental health issues, few trails of which are still on my mind; mental health is a very sensitive and important aspect of life for me. I see mental health as an integral part of my physical and mental system. Like how every morning i free my body from the undigested food and juices and detox it physically, similarly if we start detoxing our minds everyday from all the negative aspects surrounding our life, we can do wonders to our mental heath. One of the important keys for this is talking to yourself daily. We should more than often introspect our actions and try and put them in the right direction. Like it’s believed that every relation needs time, communication, connection and understanding; similarly you and your brain should also have a connection where you spend sometime of your day with your thoughts, try and understand them and communicate the reasons for any bad thought to yourself. The relation between you and your mental health is a daily task not the one on which you ponder only when you are reaching a breakdown. Therefore it’s important to give up bad mental health habits and inculcate a few new ones so that your relationship with your mental health can last longer and stronger. Be loyal to your mind, be loyal to yourself-That’s the mantra we all can thrive upon.
My second contributor to this post is Ekansha Khanduja, she is has been a support system and a dear friend and says, “I find it fascinating that we think of mental health as separate from physical health. It is ignorant to say the least that we can think of any physical health existing without mental health. The discourse of western medicine separated mental from physiological, but Eastern health systems like Yoga have always spoken of health from a holistic view. The importance of Yoga and meditation for maintenance overall health cannot be over-emphasized. Show love to yourself by making yoga and meditation a part of your daily rituals. Love and peace to you all.”
My third contributor for today is someone really special, her name is Soumya Singh Chauhan and she is a pursuing her PhD along with me in the same batch and one day we got talking beyond our PhD topics and there was no looking back, she is a lecturer as well as does digital art and does fun with make up series on Instagram, she is also a poetess and she has shared her most personal experience with Mental Health, to be honest, initially I told her that I might not incorporate her entire story because it’s too long but then I read and reread what she wrote and I did not have the heart to exclude a single word from it so here it goes:
Waves by Soumya Singh Chauhan
In late 2016, I went through my second long bout of insomnia during that year. I would lie down looking at the dark road and climb out of bed when the bay across the street would start to reflect day light. Now when I look back, I had been repressing a lot of emotions throughout that year, feeling abandoned, disposable, not enough, hurt. But it was the passing of my best friend that brought everything, even unrelated to that particular grief, to the surface. Within a week I was in a foreign country where I wasn’t close to anyone and I didn’t meet family friends who resided there for two months. I needed time to mourn. I needed to hug someone and cry. But I worked and studied and repressed, and stayed awake with my thoughts during this time that seemed longer than usual, and lonelier than ever.
I don’t know what the right way was to deal with that time. I knew then that writing helped me. I started writing in early 2016, but I penned most of my poems during my first year in Seattle [September 2016-June 2017]. That is when I bled out of me everything that I thought I had swept off my shoulders, not under the rug. I would write about everything, struggle to write about her but do it nonetheless, and never look at those verses again. As if they had served their purpose and going back to it would be stabbing at wounds without given them time to scab and fall off the skin. But like I said, I still don’t know if that was the right way to deal with it. I don’t know if there is any right way to deal with grief at all. But I know I wasn’t doing well, that writing helped me, sharing it with the public at large by posting it and holding myself accountable to creating more helped me; it helped me then, all it could. So much so, that when I went through a writer’s block, I embraced it. It seemed like I had finally written everything out of me. I cherished days when my mind wasn’t buzzing with thoughts deciphering emotions, and figuring out ways to envelope an ache to best present it in an appetizing manner; I could never really write a raw narrative.
Maybe at that time I should have gone to therapy, talked to a professional, detangled the overlapping loops of my mind. It makes perfect sense! I know I would have if it was normalized. If it was normalized to talk about death and grief, maybe that thought would have crossed my mind. It just never did. Conversations about mental health are important, if you’re reading this writeup, you probably already believe it. But not just about diagnosable conditions like Depression or General Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder, but pain and grief, sadness. We all feel it and we brush it aside as if we weren’t just mere humans specifically wired to feel those very emotions, intensely, with no recourse but go through it. We feel jitters and joy, and love and excitement, and know nothing of why we do. But happiness is comfortable. Sadness shouldn’t be, rather its silence shouldn’t be, and it isn’t. The silence of sorrow is not comfortable to the person who experiences it, its sound is uncomfortable to those who have to hear it and we shut our mouths and plug our ears so as not to bother others with the ripples of these disturbed waters. No matter how much it storms within.
I am no professional in the field of mental health. I can only speak of my own experience. I’ve learnt to always reply to texts, respond to calls, and thank god for it, for the many crucial conversations that have happened since. If your own mental health allows it, be there for people, as much as you can. Listen to them. It takes several pep talks in the mirror and in the corners of dark rooms before opening up to someone about the most intimate detail of your life, about your struggle with yourself. If someone comes your way, hear them out. [And then guide them towards a professional, no one expects you to cure your friend, and shouldn’t, it’s not enough in several cases.]
If you enjoy someone’s beaches, welcome their waves. Welcome their waves when they crash on your tranquil territories, we can’t love people in pieces. And when we love them for all they are, respect them for it, we’ll normalize everything they feel, that inevitable, by virtue of being human, we will feel as well. So grief becomes grief, joy becomes joy and neither is foreign to words and voice.
Fourth contributor for this series is Akshay Chauhan, he is the quintessential shy guy who will only speak up when it is necessary and is a poet too. He writes, “Nothing can push your buttons as hard as the lack of mental well-being. It is not something which can be hushed away or turn a blind eye. This is a real issue. And not doing something about it would be cancerous. See, it’s a simple math, when you are at peace with yourself you’ll find all the good in people around you; even appreciate little things to be grateful for; might even dance to bird’s coo but when you are not at peace, the world seems bleaker than ever; nothing makes sense and the worst of all…you just wanna give up on life itself! So, I beg of you all to not let it go undiagnosed. Talk to someone, seek professional help the moment you think there’s something funny going on up in there.“
Fifth contributor for this is Shivika Suri, a trained psychologist, she writes, “World mental health day is celebrated to make sure that the awareness about “mental health” is on point. This day is all about realising your worth and self-love. If loving yourself is important to you then mental health will be the first thing you would want to look into. Also, I want you all to remember that just because a person laughs a lot that doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with any problem. Just because they haven’t gone through any pain in the past means that they are doing fine. Just because she/he is a therapist that doesn’t mean they don’t need help. Seeking help or taking therapy is a sign of strength because hiding it is a weakness and living with it is the weakest you can be. I hope you are celebrating this day by coming out and talking to someone about what you are facing and going through. After all, this is about self-love and that favours your sanity. 🙂“
And last but never the least is my personal favourite Rachna Kulshreshtha, she is a second mother to me, a teacher, a friend, family, guide, and someone who I really look upto. If you want to meet a strong woman, she is one and she can teach you to be one. But at the same time, she is humble, sweet, caring, gentle, feminine. Women like her are rare and she writes about Elephant Ears. Let’s Read!
‘World Mental Health Day’, I knew it was around the corner but was in my own mental trip, which I called being off the grid, to notice it was today. Neha asked me to send my thoughts by evening and I was like… Today? “Haan, it’s today na.” She replied.
Just then. That very moment this term World Mental Health Day mocked at me. As if saying, “Girl! You? You can’t be serious. You’d write about me!! You’re so fucked up in head yourself.” I looked at her, replied gingerly, “You know what I am going through, don’t you?” She said, “Yeah! So don’t even think about it. I want someone sane enough to be writing for me.”
“Huh! All the more reason for me to write instead.” I muttered. “Okay lemme see what you can do.” She shrugged.
I opened the notes and began and this is what I wrote. I wrote because I must. I wrote because when I pour out it feels light and good. I wrote because someone out there will read and might resonate and might decide to pour their heart too. Maybe through colours or through conversations or through any other form of expression.
Who knows, they might feel light and good too. You know, I have elephant ears to listen to someone when they genuinely need someone to listen. But sometimes even I need someone to be those elephant ears to me.
This beautiful day came was born because the ‘Human’ inside us got fucked by ourselves. World Mental Health Day is our illegitimate baby and of all the situations that we create around us and then we don’t find the courage to own them.
We look for surrogates, step parents, orphanages to nurture this baby but we don’t do it ourselves. High time that we take our own responsibility. I am ready to own my situations and help myself. If I am not capable enough to help myself then I am not ashamed of asking for help. It’s some courage and one decision away from you. Trust me.
For I truly believe, ‘If I can be the elephant ears, so can you.’
And that’s the end of stories from the contributors. I want to thank all the contributors for writing these and to you my dear readers for reading this. Mental Health Day might be just a day but Mental Health is something that needs to be taken care of throughout your life, so keep breathing and take good care of your bodies, your heart and your mind.
I know I have been pretty dormant with my blog off late and whatever I wrote in the past few months was nothing more than few random scribbling of a depressed mind. As I write this, I am trying to be as cheerful as I can because let’s face it, we all can do with a bit of happiness in these morbid times. It has been more than 6 months since the pandemic of covid 19 has hit India and we are all locked up in our homes working from home, a lot of people have lost their jobs and are just sitting home idle trying to survive on their savings and while some don’t have savings either and have to just manage somehow, let’s face the fact that life is currently hard for EACH AND EVERYONE. There are sick people in the family, there are deaths, there is financial struggle, exploitation at work and lack of peace of mind so all of these things are going around and on top of that we hear the news that India has the largest number of covid 19 cases and the lowest GDP, there is hate in the world against the government and political leaders, people have lost tolerance for each other in such times and while people need to be more kind and empathetic, there is a general drain out with regard to empathy in the people, people are finding it hard to empathize and understand now that so much is going on in the country at a large scale and so much is going on with the people at a small scale, in short, no one is spared, everyone is suffering, be it kids, be it teenagers, college adults, doctors, teachers, parents, businessmen, women in general, the list is endless. Almost everyone I know is having mental breakdowns every now and then, I personally have breakdowns atleast once a week. There is tremendous pressure to be productive and fit. A lot of people have put on weight during lockdown and due to which there are emerging insecurities about body image issues and with gyms not opening, there is a surge in online fitness programs which people feel the need to attend, I, for once, followed a diet plan for a month, lost weight and when the program ended, gained even more weight, so it is extremely difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle or fitness routine in this pandemic. I saw a meme yesterday which said that “The pandemic has been so long that I got in and out of shape in these many months” and I could not help but laugh it off because that’s exactly what happened with me too, though I was already out of shape because of pandemic, thanks to emotional eating and huge consumption of cheesecake during depression days but then during the pandemic I lost 2kgs with a diet plan and then again put those back on and now my face is also fat and my arms are giving competition to my thighs but enough about me. I have no clue how people are motivated to exercise during these times, I am not even motivated to get up in the morning. Some nights I just wish please god make me die in my sleep so that I don’t have to wake up but then I guess I have work to do before I leave this world, so god is kind and lets me live. But whenever I talk to anyone and ask them how they are doing, there is a standard reply “kat rha hai time“, it seems that everyone has given up on joy and the idea of “living” the life. This pandemic has turned all of us into survivors and well, like everyone, I am also trying to survive. There is a bank of good days and bad days. There are productive days and days which are followed up by complete lethargy and sure work suffers during those days but then it balances out in productive times. What I have learnt in my six months of pandemic is that self love and self appreciation is really important for survival. Most of the times when we are busy in our lives, we have these small little milestones like “Boss approved of my work”, “A colleague appreciated me”, “I did my work before deadline”, “Someone called me pretty at the party I went to last week” and there is negative stuff too like politics in the workplace, stress etc but there is a routine, you wake up, you take a bath, you have to reach office on time, there is work on your desk, you get stuck in traffic, you come tired, you spend time with the family or watch tv, eat your dinner and go to sleep so it takes your mind off the little milestones and the negativity in your life, but pandemic took that sense of routine away with you and you have a lot of time to think and be with your self and even though there is work but you are not being watched and there is no set office environment, the lines between work and family time or time with oneself are blurred and this gives room to negative thoughts, this is where your self love and self appreciation will come in handy to keep you sane in times like these. You need to pat your back for little little things you do, like you made food for yourself or you cleaned your house or you studied and made a document or you painted or you wrote something instead of measuring your self worth by the amount of office work you got done. I am telling you all of this because this is something that I have experienced personally, I tend to measure my self worth by how much productive work I have done but then we need to normalize this fact as a society that times are tough and if you are just surviving that is enough, sure you need to work and earn and do stuff but sometimes it’s okay to break down, it’s okay to relax, it’s okay to reach out for help. We all shall make it, one day at a time.
I have been struggling with creating something new for a long time now. It’s not that I have a writers’ block but I have stopped feeling writing come naturally to me like it used to. This lockdown had given me sometime to go through my own blog and I observed that earlier I was able to give words to my feelings so very easily but now with overconsumption of content on Instagram, I just end up sharing relevant posts with a caption “Relatable”, “That’s so me”, “Mood”, “Life these days” without actually writing something of my own. Like I share a meme about period cramps when I am having my own periods, I share a depressing as fuck post when I am low on energy, I share a happy dance video of someone else on my instagram story instead of writing my own happy post, I share content about the corona virus pandemic, mental health posted by others instead of actually expressing my “own” “original” thoughts because I often have this feeling that my thoughts are not unique and I had stopped writing for the soul. I do write diary entries sometimes but even my diary writings have become so short and crisp and not long enough where I would dwell into details like I used to do earlier. I feel so exhausted so soon like right now, when I am writing this blog post, I have written barely 200 words by this line and I am feeling exhausted and I don’t feel like writing further and I remember being very good with my expression, I used to write long texts, long letters, long emails and I never struggled with the task of completing my word limit but now I do. Earlier I used to write 500 words in the blink of an eye but now I struggle to write a concrete article or a blog post as a matter of fact. And this has been bothering me for a while because right now I am in a PhD Program, where I have to start working on writing of my thesis and I am struggling to come up with the first sentence itself, even though my guide and my professors have guided me how to go about academics, I still am struggling. So I thought, instead of going into the realm of academic writing, let me first create something for my blog and here I am trying to voice out my thoughts.
Writing is an art that requires natural skill and talent and I used to think I have it in me but with what has been happening lately, I feel it’s more about passion and state of mind as well. In addition to this experience, I am also struggling to find my concentration in reading books, technically, both writing and reading were activities which were usually effortless for me but now they require a lot of effort from my end and now I start writing something, but don’t really complete it and so is with books that I begin reading but abandon them in between and what bothers is the guilt of abandoning my written pieces and books like that. It is that guilt that is making me write this post.
However, what comforts me is that art has not really abandoned me completely, if I am not able to write and read these days, I have found comfort in the art of sketching and photography. That is keeping me sane through this struggle, like
“Hum ko maaloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat, lekin Dil ko khush rakhne ko Ghaalib yeh khayaal achcha hai”
I know that the struggle to not being able to read and write to my heart’s content is bothersome but it’s good to find hope in other art forms such a photography and sketching but at the same time I know I missing out on my original essence. The sketches I create are usually art created by others which I simply copy because I am not very good at sketching things based out of my own imagination. However, what is my own is the photography but my photograph of the moon is like any other beginner’s photograph of the moon on Instagram so I don’t find the satisfaction of being unique even there. Yes if I have clicked 2000 shots, about 100 of them would be good, unique and can be dearly called as my personal creation but I still lack that satisfaction and when I talk to my mom about it, she tells me contentment is a state of mind, sometimes, you should feel content that you exist and I struggle with this thought.
In one of the discussions with a dear friend sometime back, we talked about how “Sense of Achievement” is important for our mental health. While it is important to be physically fit, have sound relationships and a stable career for a better life, this feeling of sense of achievement is also equally important. During the phase of my depression last year, I have gained 10 kgs over a period of time and now I no longer fit into any of my clothes and that is a major cause for my personal insecurities. Looking good is very important for self esteem no matter what people say and having gained weight I have become conscious of my body but at the same time I am unable to be regular with workout and lose weight. Food is my weakness, I do emotional eating. There is a void inside of me which I try to fill through good food. So, these insecurities hamper my sense of achievement often. Even when I manage to study well I struggle with giving myself a pat on the back. By god’s grace, I have been blessed with amazing genes that even with weight gain I manage to look elegant and pretty and I am able to pose for self portraits and post them online and gain validation but what bothers me is my own need for validation at times. This struggle to create something new is a struggle of validation from my ownself.
Instagram positivity pages talk about self love, how it is just enough to exist but can someone really tell me how?
We are in a global pandemic. Life has suddenly changed for everyone across the globe, the schools and colleges have been shut, people are working from homes and apparently there is a shortage of groceries and toilet paper and what not. This year started off with Australian fires. In India, Delhi saw the worst riots and now this corona virus has shut everyone back to their homes while the earth heals from the kind of pollution it has been exposed to. These are tough times to live in. Everyone you know is worried, economy is in a slump, jobs are not there and you can’t be cuddling with your partner because of this virus so the comfort also goes away. As someone who survives on hugs, at our home, we have stopped hugging each other because of corona and it sucks. Mental health also goes for a toss, no matter how hard you try, in times like these, it is very difficult to maintain a positive outlook. Chakra Healing, youtube videos of spirituality don’t work either. It all seems like a facade. In some random moments of the day, I somehow wish for the virus to hit me and take me away from this life but I might sound very selfish here again because there’s still hope of a better future, there’s still family to hold on to but when depression hits again in the middle of the day, this is the dominant thought. I often tell myself that I have healed from depression just because my therapist said so and I have also been doing normal but who defines normal and what is normal but yeah whenever I see a possibility of death I want to grab it more than I want to grab that job opportunity. Sometimes I feel I am just existing for the sake of it and not really living life the way I would want to but at the same time, there are people who depend on me for their happiness and it is for them I have to be strong. I have often observed that it is always easier to be strong and be there for others than for ourselves. And this self quarantine is just for that, you are forced to think about others and for humanity and for the world. In times like these, stay strong for the world if not for yourself. The world needs you. And please please please respect your health care system, your nurses, your doctors and wash your hands.
I find it hard to write blogs now. There is so much content on the social media that I don’t know how to express myself uniquely anymore. Everything that I feel is already been said in some or the other quote on Instagram that I just keep sharing quotes without actually doing the catharsis of writing things myself but today I had to. You may not find anything new in my blog but what you can expect out of it is all things human, things that we all go through at some point because after all, we are all made of the same stardust but we are all unique in our experiences of life and in our own little ways. There cannot be another you and there can never be another me. Me is Me and You are You. Don’t judge on the grammar of the expression Me is Me, just get the point that I am trying to make here. Life has been kind to me lately. After an year of depression, I am learning to love life. I end up finding pleasures in the small mundane things like raindrops, a cup of tea, cleaning my room, writing a paragraph, reading something for my PhD, participating in discussions, going for walks, wind blowing. Ab Zindagi ko Jeene ka Mann karta hai (Now I feel like living life) and I think that is an achievement for someone who always thought about ways to kill herself. Honestly, if corona virus had broken out during my depression days, I would have seriously met the infected people just so I could die but now things are different, I want to experience life as it comes. However, last night was something different. Despite being happy and wanting to live life, I had one of the darkest nights where I felt that I had lost all hope, I felt depressed again and there was a sense of emptiness that made me choke in my chest, I tried to sleep but I could not. And for a second, it felt like I had not healed at all. Like my wounds are still afresh, there was hurt, there was panic, there was jealousy but what made me come back to my normal state was how well aware I was about my feelings. Sometimes all it takes is to be aware of what you are feeling, I think what depression has really taught me is that it has made me so much self aware like I now know what’s happening to me and where I need to stop and breathe. It’s important that we take care of our mental health as we take care of our work because in today’s time, work holds a higher priority than anything else. Some have told me that talking about mental health is a privilege, there are people in worse situations who cannot talk about mental health, they cannot afford to, they just have to live life the way it is without really questioning its premises and I agree but I am a reader of Calvin and Hobbes and following comic defines how I think:
Calvin speaks my mind often. I feel he is the most sorted kid ever. Anyhow, I think even if I come from a position of privilege, I should try to make my life better in whatever ways I can and sometimes you need all the help you can get, just to be yourself and there is nothing wrong in being vulnerable. I somehow feel that my vulnerability is my strength.
Continuing with the tradition I started, I am again going to document the books I read in the year 2019. This actually provides a great opportunity to reflect back and see the progress. In 2018, I managed to read 37 books in total with 4 half read ones, however, the quantity of books I read this year is less but totally worthwhile. Without wasting anymore time, here I begin.
Sometimes I spend so much time in setting the background that content gets lost. To be honest, I felt this year was far too long and it got divided into two halves, the first half of the year was pretty normal, happy, chirpy while the second half was full of darkness and I had to cope with depression during that time so reading took a backseat, anyhow, the list and the experiences are as follows.
1. Surviving Women by Jerry Pinto
Times have changed and it’s hard being a man for now there is a strange species around: The Modern Woman. This book talks about how the confused Indian male sees the modern woman and majorly talks about male psychology and answers several questions about manhood, patriarchy and feminism. It’s actually a good read with a lot of funny elements and sarcasm. Both men and women can give this book a shot. It shares voices of 110 odd men throughout.
2. HBR Guide to Emotional Intelligence
This is one of the most insightful books I have read in a long long time. I have not been really fond of Self Help Books but it isn’t really a self help book, it is something that makes you go deep into self analysis and analysis of the people around you. It makes you understand yourself and the people around you in a better fashion and helps improve your relationships with yourself and with the people in your life. Definitely a recommended read.
3. Destined to Play by Indigo Bloome
Honestly I have received too many judgments whenever I tell people that I like to read erotica. But I feel it’s important to indulge into such reads once in a while.
On the face of it, this book can be a very casual read but at the same time if you give it enough thought, it will make you think about concepts of female sexuality and importance of pleasure for females, notions of consent, psychology, manipulation, insecurities in a relationship and insecurities about one’s own self.
Reading this book was a mixed experience because while it is exciting and thrilling for the most part, it does gets emotionally disturbing too.
I’d rate it as a 3 star book on a 5 star scale. You may or may not pick this book, totally your call.
4. What to do when I’m Gone by Suzi Hopkins and Hallie Bateman
What to do when I am gone is a book written by a mother-daughter duo. The mother and daughter share a special bond and the mother is the lifeline and anchor in the daughter’s life and they talk about a lot of stuff and one day they were talking about “Death” and daughter requested her mother to help write her a step by step guide to get through life after the mother has died and this is one of those books that have made me feel so warm and happy from the inside. Like in Disney movies whenever someone would fall in love, the animation effects would show that the heart glows in yellow, this book made my heart glow through every single page.
5. Am I there yet? by Mari Andrew
5th book of the year was this graphic novel.
Journey of a girl from her 20s to 30s.
This book is so so so so beautiful which talks about so many things
1. Overcoming uncertainty
2. Creating a feeling of home when you are away from home. Creating your own space
3. Finding the purpose of life
4. Love and dating- making wrong choices and dealing with them
5. Heartbreaks and loss- how to handle grief, how to manage your own self.
6. How to overcome disappointment in life and become resilient as an individual
7. Discovering one’s own self
8. Finding yourself and finally becoming an adult by the time you hit 30s, just keep growing always.
There will be challenges even after hitting the 30s but then you’ll be equipped with enough experience to get through the life ahead. ❤️ Recommended read for all the people in my age at least. (P.S. I turn 25 in Feb 2020, Teehee)
6. HBR Guide to Better Business Writing
This was a tedious book to read but extremely important if you’re a student or a professional who has to do a lot of writing at work or a teacher too. Highly recommended read for all.
7. Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This book was literally put into my hands by my dear friend Eshita Hatwal, she had been after my life to read this book for a long time and me being me kept on procrastinating it but she actually put the book into my hands by gifting it to me on my birthday and I cannot describe what I really felt after reading this book. I was just numb because it was one breathtaking read. Read it to feel the extreme overwhelming power of unconditional love between two sisters.
8. The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine
This was purely a scientific book with all the medical terms but at the same time it taught concepts to a layman through stories supporting that science and this is one book which MUST BE READ by all women in order to understand little boys, teenage boys, 20 something young men, 30-45 age group men and beyond. It has answers to why boys get aggressive, why male ego exists, why men come off as emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable at times, why sometimes work comes above relationships, why fathers bond more with daughters or why they share a disciplinarian kind of relationship with their sons and why grandfathers are usually grumpy.
And honestly this one would make you respect and love the men in your life more.
9. The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine
It was again an extremely insightful book about how our minds work. I would recommend every woman and every man to read this book. It explains several of our behaviors, mood swings, PMS, the motherly instinct and much more.
What I learned from this is that it is true that our biology affects us a lot, our hormones play a huge role in our daily life and they become our reality, however, if we start understanding our biology, if we start understanding how our minds respond to situations and conflicts, we will be better equipped to transform our realities. We can ‘re-wire’ our brains if we understand them in the first place.
10. The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
I finished reading this book in one sitting and that happens rarely now. This is one such romance novel which you cannot stop reading once you pick it up.
Books like these make me believe in all things magical. What a heartwarming read. If I could I would marry the man in this book with no second thoughts ever. ❤
11. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Mental Toughness
I am genuinely blank about review of this book. I remember picking it up but not much of it has retained and this was the time my mental health started to get affected bit by bit so I tried to read it to keep myself charged but honestly right now I don’t have any memory of it. It was more mechanical and a tough book to read. I don’t remember how this book made me feel or what it said.
12. The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The story of Ramayana through the eyes of Sita and how different it is when told by a woman. Honestly when I picked it up, it looked a little lengthy and confusing and a bit boring too but once I crossed reading first fifty pages, I could not put it down and it was a beautiful journey then on. Definitely recommended.
13. Jungle Radio
A big children’s book about birds. The one with too many colors and bird poems, it was a pure delight to read this one. I felt like a happy kid while reading it.
14. Delhi Heritage Top 10 Baolis by Vikramjit Singh Rooprai
Vikram Sir is a dear friend and he came up with his first book and I just had to read it. It is a beautiful piece of work and anyone who is interested in history and heritage must pick this one up. I have personally been on a couple of heritage walks with Vikram Sir and therefore, there were certain parts of the book I could relate to so well because I have seen the Baolis and heard him explain things. It was an amazing journey, and I am eagerly looking forward to more books by him.
15. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
A collection of erotic poetry, just for sad days.
16. Public Policy In India by Rajesh Chakrabarkty and Kaushik Sanyal
India has 130 police officers per 100000 citizens, 0.62 doctors per 1000 people, 15 judges per million and we need huge policy shifts. Quite an insightful read.
17. Destined to Feel by Indigo Bloome
Part 2 of Destined to Play book, highly disappointing. Part 1 was a nice read that motivated me to pick up the second part but a waste of time.
18. Dealing with Difficult People
This was about how we manage our emotions and people in our daily lives and mostly at workplace. Good read.
19. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
This was by far the best book of 2019 because of how relatable it was for me at that time. I was going through a rough period with regard to my mental health and I spent a month reading this book about therapy and mental health. It made me think a lot and cry a lot too. Sometimes the book would get so heavy for me to read that I had to abandon it for days but when I finished reading it, there was certain sense of calm and peace and it was after reading this book I found the courage to go to therapy and realize that I was in need of help and nobody will save me if I don’t reach out. I want to thank Kritika Narula for this recommendation.
20. Tongue in Cheek: Funny Side of life by A. Khyrunnisa
Not very gripping, short stories which you can read before going to bed or in between study breaks, that’s how I finished reading this book. Doesn’t live up to the expectations, will probably make you smile a little occasionally, that’s about it.
This year, I didn’t have any half read books like last year because the books that were half read in 2018 are still pending and I don’t know when will I pick them up again. Till then, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and have taken away some good recommendations with you. Happy reading.
I was lazily enjoying my semester break and as the hangover of my solo trip to Kedarkantha started to fade a little and I was just getting into the zone of my PhD studies which keep on getting delayed for one reason or the other, one day while binge watching Modern Family on Hotstar tucked in quilt, I got a call from Tauseef Bhaiya about Katha Utsav. He told me all about it and how mentors for poetry are needed to teach kids of 4th to 6th and all of a sudden there was a new project and excitement in life. I was initially nervous because I have never taught poetry before but then I studied so hard for 5 days to perform for 4 days. Reading books, developing content and activities for children, PhD work took a backseat and I had only one thought- to deliver good things to the kids but by the end of the Utsav, I learned more from the children than I was able to teach them. They were so brilliant that I felt privileged to be their mentor.
Other than my experience with the kids, I learnt so much from the mentors. I am taking away new friends from this festival, thanks to Tauseef bhaiya. I got to spend sometime with Gouri, Gunjan, Shivani, Rachana and many more and there was abundance of love and hugs and positivity. There was abundant laughter and lots of good food.
I am grateful to Vikramjit Sir for this opportunity and guiding me through this festival. He helped me curate my content and gave me the validation for the activities I had planned for the kids. He was a constant support during this and I am glad to have worked with him and so many beautiful people.
Lastly, I am grateful to Sameeksha and the Katha Team for putting up such a good show!
For more than a year now, I had this dream of going on a solo trip and December 2019 was the time I could do it. In India, it is super difficult to convince your parents for the solo trip but somehow I managed to break the barriers and go and it was surreal. This trip was much much needed for me in order to end this year on a good note and find myself and my identity. This year had been a rough one to say. I had been depressed and given up on life in general and was in therapy so doing this was so important for me to regain my self confidence and faith and belief in myself, in life and in all things beautiful.
So, I booked a trek to Kedarkantha with Bikat Adventures and off I went. Why Bikat Adventures? It’s because I have heard so much good about them and the fact that they take extremely good care of their participants so I had full faith that I’ll be in safe hands and I was.
I had taken a Volvo Bus from Delhi to Dehradun from where the journey was supposed to start. On my first day, I met my trek leaders Lalit Yadav from Noida and Yitso Waka from Nagaland along with a group of 10 people-The Marwadi Family with whom I was clubbed to travel and it was a pleasant ride from Dehradun to Sankri. This was the first day and it was a day of introductions, we all just got to know each other and I was getting quite surprised reactions so as to how come I am travelling solo, little did the people knew why being solo was important for me. As we were approaching Sankri, I was informed that there will be no network for five days and when I told this to my parents, they freaked out a little and so did I but eventually I was comfortable because I had finally time to myself and there was an opportunity for digital detox.
In Sankri, we stayed in a homestay with the warmest of the blankets.
On the second day we started off with our trek from Sankri to Juda ka Taal. The climb on this day was steep and tough and I was the slowest person from day one but I managed to reach up there safely and then we camped in Hargaon. As we were approaching Juda ka Taal, we saw traces of snow and our camp at Hargaon was in the Snow. I kept my speed slower than usual because I wanted to be safe, I really didn’t want to be clumsy and fall on the first day and injure myself so I took baby steps and was lagging behind from everyone. And wherever the climb would get tough that I thought I cannot make it, my trek leader Lalit, aka Lalli Bhai was so kind that he held my hand and helped me climb at each step. From day one he was motivating me and keeping me going and didn’t lose patience when I was slow. When we reached Juda ka Taal, we saw that the lake was frozen and another local guide Jaychand Bhai who was with us even glided on the frozen lake and clicked jumping shots for everyone. We reached Hargaon campsite by evening and as soon as we reached there, there was a stretching session to keep us fit for the rest of the trip and later on we were served snacks and tea. The family I was travelling with carried so much of food with themselves that it was amazing, I had the opportunity to taste different kinds of Puri, Theplas, Papad Churi, Butter Cookies etc while being with them. At night, we had bonfire where gossip sessions took place. One of the girls from the group worked as a Make Up Artist with Bollywood Celebrities and she narrated some juicy bollywood gossip over bonfire and we all shared a good laugh. Along with this gossip, we had a learning module too on medical conditions in high altitudes and how we can equip ourselves better while being in the mountains. If you’re a first time trekker, make sure you go with Bikat Adventures because their learning modules in between the fun sessions will make you aware about things you don’t know otherwise and will stay with you for a lifetime.
Anyhow, we enjoyed the night and then when we went back to our tents to sleep, we were given sleeping bags but it was so cold, I couldn’t sleep at all throughout the night and kept on shivering. I had worn every piece of woolen clothing I got and still I was shivering, the temperature was somewhere between -2 degrees to -5 degrees at night and there was chilly winds, what kept me sane was the beautiful moonlight and the stars and the golden hour. What’s the golden hour? Golden hour is the time of the sunset when all the snow mountains turn pink and they change hues to orange and it’s a magnificent sight to watch the sky at that time.
Next morning, after breakfast, we started off our trek to Kedarkantha Base Camp. Before the start of this trek, we were given gaiters so that the snow does not enter our shoes. It was a short trek this time, we reached the base camp in two hours. On this day, we were also celebrating the birthday of one of the group members. When we reached the base camp, there was again stretching and we learned how to pitch a tent. The sun on this day was bright so we enjoyed a lot in the sun and chilled and relaxed, there were gossips and we had lunch then in the evening we all had music, songs and fun games and a cake made of Sooji Halwa. After a super fun session, we were briefed about the next day which was the Summit Day, the day we were supposed to climb the Kedarkantha Peak. We were supposed to wake up at 2AM and get ready. We all went to sleep early that night.
Now, my mood and experience till the base camp was up and about and I had zero self doubt and everything went on smoothly but the day it was summit day, I started having severe anxiety and doubts and almost gave up, I told everyone that I am having second thoughts and I don’t want to go to the Summit and I started developing backache, gastroenteritis, stomach ache and everything. I was super scared, I wanted to stay back at the base camp and not go further to the peak but then everyone motivated me and gave me a pep talk and I decided to go ahead and I am super glad that I didn’t give up because the trek to the summit was the best trek experience. I had such amazing meditative moments during this trek- there was a state of pure awareness and thoughtlessness that I cannot describe how amazing it felt, I was just one with the nature. It was a feeling where I was aware of my single breath and there is only one way of life- “Bas Saans Lete Raho” just like Hrithik said in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, it was that moment for me. I also saw the moon rise and moon set and sun rise and sun set on this same day. These are such special memories, how moon and sun change colors while rising and setting. I reached to the summit in six hours and it was all worth the effort. I am so glad that I did not give up because had I given up, I would have not experienced such divine nature the way I did. It was stupendo-fantanbulously-fantastic. And while coming down, I had the opportunity to slide on the ice and it was like I am in heaven, I felt like a kid so free being able to slide in the snow, I was at my happiest.
On the same day, we climbed down to Sankri, we walked continuously for 16 hours, it got a little hectic and I developed blisters on my feet but they’re reward marks and if given a chance, I would go on a solo trip again. It helped me find myself and love myself and find the strength that I had lost this year while battling through depression. This trip made me feel alive and I cannot be more thankful to god, to my parents, to Bikat Adventures, to my trek leader Lalit because of whom I could complete the trek, to the Marwadi Family who were a constant support throughout the journey and to my friends who have managed to stick with me through thick and thin.