Foreword: The following article is a self curated piece by Arushi Jain, a mental health warrior from Jaipur.
Relying on drugs to fall asleep, feeling breathlessness and having panic attacks in middle of college can teach a person a lot. Hi, my name is Arushi, I’m from Jaipur and this is my story.
They say your childhood is the happiest you’ll be, but that wasn’t the case for me, at least not for the majority of the time. While growing up, I went through different stages, both emotional and physical like anyone else. But, the intensity of emotions I experienced was exceedingly high. My parents came from a conservative family and adulting didn’t happen as I thought it would. My life became like a remote control game, where my parents had the remote to my life, controlling every turn I made. I eventually stopped being myself and started seeing the world from their perspective. For the majority of the time, my rapport with my parents was good, but then slowly things began to escalate. My parents began yelling at me. It might have been a normal thing in other households but I wasn’t used to it since I hadn’t seen this side of them before. Although I knew it came from a place of love it took a toll on me. As kids, we are always told that our parents are right no matter what. So, I didn’t oppose them and carried on with life.
One day, my mom and I had our usual argument and misunderstanding and to my shock, all the appalling memories as a kid came rushing back to me: every time I kept quiet, every time I ignored my feelings and every time I acted as if things were fine. I began bawling my eyes out and questioned my existence, and why my parents never understood me. It became like a daily ritual for me. So, I isolated myself from everyone and everything. I reached a point where I began self-harming myself in ways I shouldn’t have.
Things helped to a certain extent when I went to a school counselor. Through my counseling sessions, I learned the importance of learning from experiences rather than protesting against them. I told my parents that the school counselor wants to meet them. After my parents had a session with her, I saw a commendable change in them. I don’t really know what brought about a change in them but things changed, I guess? After some time, my school counselor left the school, I cried because I didn’t know who to share my feelings with now! And after some time, my parents again turned to who they used to be as parents, strict!
During the 11th grade, my tutor requested my parents to take me to a mental hospital only because I wasn’t able to solve an accountancy equation. I failed my prelims twice, society imposed an impression on me that nothing below 90 is acceptable. However, I brushed off the expectations and managed to change my fail grade to 76.2%. That day I realized, in the end, marks are just numbers, what truly matters is the zeal and hard work you put in.
Ever since I was in the sixth grade, I dreamt of pursuing a career in fashion abroad. I remember spending days and nights, pouring every shred of my heart and soul into creating a portfolio that helps me get into my dream university. My parents were on board too, everything was on track and how couldn’t it have been? I had been planning it for 6-7 years.
But then, everything came crashing down, once again. My family was hit with a financial crisis and so was my dream of going abroad to study. It was heart-wrenching but I didn’t lose hope. I paddled my dreams into going abroad for my masters or even the possibility of bagging a good job. My most dreaded nightmare had turned into a reality and I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have anyone to turn to, once again.
Helpless, I took admission in a private Jaipur based university and enrolled myself in a fashion designing course. I remember having a meltdown on the first day of college. I was horrified by my fellow classmates, and the thought of spending the next three years of my life around them sent me shudder in fear. We were like two sides of a coin, me being an overachiever and them having no dreams or aspirations, whatsoever. It took a toll on my mental health. They taunted me for completing my assignments and projects on time, only because they would have to do it then. My mom told me to focus on working in college and not paying heed to my peers, but it was easier said than done. I stopped socializing and didn’t have the regular college experience: no outings, mass bunks, college memories, and what not. I lost all hope of getting a job which in turn increased my paranoia. Nonetheless, time went by and I learnt to accept my situation. I got an internship at a reputed firm in Bangalore where I met my boyfriend. It was like a summer seen and heard of only in movies, until time revealed his true colors. His toxicity resulted in my deteriorating mental health and I had to cut ties with him. It affected my work but I went through it.
Finally, I was close to graduation. Just a few months to go and I would be out of college. But then I began feeling breathless. Little did I know that we are welcoming new friends- depression, anxiety and panic attacks. My parents mistook it for asthma and took me to consult a doctor. He prescribed me with anxiety medication but it wasn’t much of an aid to my worsening situation. Eventually it escalated and I couldn’t even stand up. I was into the last week of my college and was being rushed to the hospital. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I got numerous panic attacks in a day and relied on drugs to fall asleep. I didn’t know what was happening but this certainly wasn’t what I expected to happen while I was graduating. It got to me and in the little time I was conscious I resorted to self harm. That day, everything came out from when I was a child, the scoldings (intensity was high in my case), conservative family, not having many friends to talk to, not being able to go out for college, all the college tantrums, being scared of not getting a job seeing the college’s scenario, EVERYTHING!
Have you heard of this line: “A FRIEND IN NEED, IS A FRIEND INDEED.” I got to know it’s real meaning after being through it all. You really who’s real and who’s not.
As I was being seen by a psychiatrist and a psychologist and we had regular sessions irrespective of the fact that I avoided them because I somewhere started to find comfort in that space which was like an empty tunnel. It was like I’m drowning in it. I wanted to shout and cry but tears didn’t come out because I guess like life even at a point my tears got irritated from me.
But my parents somehow managed to take me to the doctors on time, they ensured that I don’t miss even a single session. Today I am really grateful that they forced the heck out of me to get up and go. As the medications and sessions were going on, I don’t know what word my parents had with the psychologist, it made them change so much that I couldn’t even imagine. We started hanging out, sharing our feelings and became frank with each other, something that I couldn’t even dare to dream of. I’m guessing its because they saw me changing from this jolly overachiever to someone finding comfort in loneliness, Who knows? I’m just fortunate that they began to see more than what they were used to.
I eventually got better with medication. It was hard but yea, here I am! However, this rollercoaster of a life made me understand the importance of letting out my emotions and not keeping them bundled within me. I also mastered the art of expressing myself when I had to, either vocally or through writing, scribbling, playing synthesizer or maybe exercising. I opened up about my journey with mental health, on Instagram and received a lot of love and acceptance, I received the confidence I didn’t know I needed and my best friend- Aanchal, stuck by me through it all. I couldn’t be more grateful. Instead of criticizing and looking at things from a negative perspective, I started hunting for the silver linings. Instead of thinking I lost something I started to look for things to gain from. Instead of holding my emotions in, I started letting them out and this really helped me get through the deep dark phase that my mind had gone into.
I’m now finally about to graduate. I bagged a great job on my own merit, in one of the biggest fashion firms in Bangalore. I’ve even started studying psychology honours with the aspiration and hope of being a helping hand to those in need, free of cost. Although I had to learn it the hard way, I am now a firm believer of things that happen, happen for a reason. I don’t have 1 best friend now, I have 3 now l, my parents and Aanchal who have always got my back! Not only have I achieved everything that I thought wasn’t possible anymore, but much more.
Dear anyone who’s reading this,
I know life seems extremely difficult to you right now but you know what it will get better one day. If I could pick myself up and heal with professional help, I’m sure you can too. Just keep believing in yourself! I believe in you.