Depression and Me

You feel bad– You take pill — Problem solved.

I am a 28 year old single women, living away from family since I am 18.

All alone in big cities , miles and miles away from family, I was always the occasional visitor to home.

Life has shown me it’s different colors , sometimes black sometimes white but most of the times gray.

But everyone around me sees me as the most happiest person on earth. Very few know about the depression and anxiety I have been

through. Nasty breakups, financial crisis, ill health, job changes, working as a team leader in a male dominated industry isn’t so easy. Especially for a girl who hailed from a small village in kerala.

Lots of people asks me how I am happy and pumped up all the time.

I would never say that I have “cured” my anxiety. That just seems silly to me.

I have made a list of things which I have to give more importance in life, to be precise, a checklist.

I am able to continue living my life anyway, as happy as I can be?

You bet I can.

I didn’t always feel this way.

When I was 14, I first experienced the “Bad Touch” but wasn’t able to understand and do anything about it instead I choose to remain silent and avoid the situation, like many girls do.

There must be something wrong with me to feel this way– I thought.

During the struggles of life, which most of us face, we tend to forget what we are actually capable of. We tend to forget our strengths and feed on our weaknesses.

For most of my life, If I felt sick, I went to the doctor who gave me a pill and made everything better. Never gone too deep to the roots of the cause. Western medicine led me to believe this was how health care worked.

You feel bad– You take pill — Problem solved.

The same approach even when anxiety wrecked my world.

Anxiousness, panic attacks, Night terrors– the answer was pills.

There were nights when I cried out so loud for no reason- then I would look at my mirror and talk to myself,

that made me feel like I am not alone.

I saw doctors, therapists– you name it. Everyone offered me pills, good sleep, drink water, engage yourself to the things you love— but nothing seemed to help, after all I didn’t love even a single thing around me.

I decided I should change– I should start finding beauty in everything– no matter how hard it is.

I made friends, I started dating. But I was too bad at choosing.

Some of them used me for financial benefits, it’s not always true that girls suck the money out of men and leave.

Most of the time its other way around.

I realized I am the therapist for my problems. I started my dance practices, started writing, read books without even looking what sort of story it contains.

Slowly.. Very slowly..

I was able to choose my books, believe me — if you can choose the right book to read, rest all will come naturally.

I decided- No more doctors– No more feeling sick– No more feeling bad about myself.

I am enough– I worth more than what I received.

Those nights, A fire lit inside me like I had never felt before. As if I had hit rock bottom and the only way to backup was to rise to the occasion.

It took far too long for me to realize that I had it all wrong. I had no one to guide but only me.

The moment I took accountability for my happiness is when I realized how stupid I was all along.

I made some simple lifestyle changes that drastically improved my situation.

That’s why I tell people I never cured my problems, I learned how to manage it.

We all can do that, I believe.

There wasn’t actually anything wrong with me, it was all my mind playing games with me when I was alone.

I started enjoying my solitude.

To manage this , I had to become proactive.

Do not fight your feelings , instead recognize it for what it is and allow it to fade by its own.

It took me a painfully long time to learn this art.

But if you let go, You allow yourself to be free.

I rose from the pit of despair and conquered my fears.

Today, I happily manage my problems, but I sure as hell I haven’t “cured” it.

Writer :

Aadhira : Just a small town girl trapped in a big town. Amature at everything. I live for the moments you can’t put into words, and few things transcend a cup of coffee and someone to share it with.
Hotelier by profession. Still living the quarter life crisis.

Do you follow some rules for Casual relationships?

Living alone in a city, is never really easy. One is always looking for that one person to talk to, maybe sleep with, or just cuddle with. And being a women, it just becomes all the more tough. It is like people already  a moral code around have how to live alone in a city.

I was born on October 2nd. Woah! What a great day to step into this beautiful world!

Birthday of the Father of our Nation and I got holidays on my birthday during my schooling and even when I started working- Privileges of being born on a public holiday.

And  now , tell me how someone can forget this date and do not wish me on my birthday- any excuses.? Ohh maybe you are not good at remembering dates – but I am not very convinced with that – in this world of social media- you can never forget an important date.

So here goes the conclusion: That simply shows your place in his/her life.

This year, on my birthday, as usual  I got my public holiday off from work but still  I was feeling sad. A guy that I have been sleeping with, had not wished me and in the afternoon I was simply laying on my bed ignoring every other calls and wishes.

I felt so stupid.

I don’t want any commitments. honestly!

But I see a birthday wish as a sign of respect . I would like to be acknowledged on my birthday especially when I have very few people to show up with love. And about love, Yeah.. a birthday wish is a fair amount of love to carry all over the year. I choose to have sex with him because sex is phenomenal. And before him I was not very much aware of the ecstatic feelings our bodies can give us. And when we are together we are actually genuinely laugh and have pretty good conversations and he is one of the nicest human I have ever came in contact with.

I act like I don’t care about not receiving a well wish from him .
Like Damn. I thought at least we were friends—but I guess I am not even a ‘Friend’
But  wait.. Am I being over dramatic?

He may had no idea that him not wishing me birthday would become a matter of life and death for me. We are not exactly in an ideal relationship and as far as I know, he is really really bad with dates . If he can nearly miss his international flight due to his forgetfulness, this is nothing.

So here I implemented a key aspect : Stop Counting.

I wanted to hear from him but he did not call or text and in this I forgot the people who took their time out to wish me. I should appreciate the friends and family who wished and forget this specific guy I wanted to hear from.

When I say forget, It’s just about forgetting this incident- not forgetting him.

Living alone in this big city, I have very few people to rely on and he is one.

He is the solace , we are having great sex, he makes me laugh- and moreover, no strings of attachment so far.

It’s great,Isn’t it ?

It is!

So stop counting and start living.

Writer :

Aadhira : Just a small town girl trapped in a big town. Amature at everything. I live for the moments you can’t put into words, and few things transcend a cup of coffee and someone to share it with.
Hotelier by profession. Still living the quarter life crisis.

Ex-orcism?- How Did I Finally Leave a Miserable Love Life?

We answer your doubts around sexual and reproductive health.

WhatsApp us at : 8861713567

Yes it is about an exorcism ! It’s about how I chased a demon out of my life.

I met this amazing man in Goa. Handsome, educated, from an affluent family and I fell on my knees the very first time I met him and soon he asked me out. Eventually we became the most celebrated couple in our circle. Things were all well and good for the first 7 months and then boom, we decided to take it to the next level,

We both Virgins; decided to have sex one fine morning.

Stress was circling around us but we did it… YES- we did it and miserably failed – anxiety and fear over ruled our hormones. But we never quit, tried over and over again, and we did it.

Wow the feelings.

Pain and pleasure of passion, mourns and murmurs.

I touched him, kissed him and circled around him like he is the sacred gift sent from up. I spent every breathing moment consumed by his presence around me.

But then things started changing, our happiness started fading each day.

He wanted more.

But what more? I was confused! I was giving my all- Love , Sex, Money and what not.?

Doing his laundry , his assignments, work excels and everything I can. And I believed it’s the duty of a good girlfriend. Still I was lacking something.

He replied to my Love texts in a rough way saying “it’s your problem that you love me so much, did I ask you.?” And he started comparing me with his endless list of ex girlfriends. I was heartbroken but still did all my so called duties.

Our days were filled with arguments and I sobbed all nights wondering where I went wrong. Our changes were noticeable and my near and dear ones started questioning my dark circles.

I was unable to listen to those who watched me struggle and spent 3 years doing everything I could to try to force a man to love me, and in the process I forgot how to love myself.

For 3 years I chased. I begged. I cried. Nothing seemed to work. He would come around when he wanted sex but would push me away when he got his fix. It was a never ending cycle of depression and humiliation.

I became insomniac- Never touched my pen to write my heart out, never said a word to my parents.

The sex once we enjoyed become a nightmare for me. He was so addicted to porn and wanted to experiment everything he saw on the screen- I pray to almighty that he should climax soon- I wasn’t able to take the tight slaps anymore and he wasn’t ready to stop it as my tears is what helped him to reach an orgasm- He wanted me to tell endless imaginary stories about how I made out with my boss, brother, his friends etc in order to get pleasure .

Still, I couldn’t stop loving him. I was afraid that if I did he would forget me. For 3 years I lived in fear of losing someone I deeply loved but never really had in the first place.

I slaughtered my dignity with my crazy behaviour, and I still couldn’t understand why he would treat me with such little care. But how could he not? I treated myself with so little love and respect, why would he treat me any different?

I tried to kill myself, tried to run away from the place – My friends were there to save me.

And slowly, I was able to move on. Then months later he told me he loved me. He wanted a second chance, he wanted to be a better man- he wanted me back.

But I already read the book- I knew how the story ends!

I chased a man who never really loved me because I was emotionally sick.

I think the hardest part of this three-year ordeal was accepting that my perspective of reality was just a fantasy I had created in my mind. It was hard to come to terms with the reality that he is less than perfect.

Part of me hates myself for holding on for so long. I could have saved myself years of heartache and gallons of tears if I had just accepted that I couldn’t make him love me. Instead, I spent years questioning over and over why he couldn’t.

Loving someone who doesn’t love us back, or even worse, someone who loves someone else, is the most painful thing in the world. But the most important thing we can do for ourselves is accept that certain things are beyond our control and take responsibility for the things that are.

We need to listen to that inner voice that tells us we deserve to be loved. And we need to accept that some people will never love us, no matter what we do.

Writer :

Aadhira : Just a small town girl trapped in a big town. Amature at everything. I live for the moments you can’t put into words, and few things transcend a cup of coffee and someone to share it with.
Hotelier by profession. Still living the quarter life crisis.

What is the procedure for Abortion?

In Indian Medical Termination of Pregnancy is legal under certain conditions. It is important for us understand the procedure for abortion.

 

For abortion or also known as Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP), the woman needs to fill a consent form called ‘Form C’.  Only the consent of the women is required for performing the medical termination.

The woman is provided with a medicine kit containing mifepristone and misoprostol.  These medicines are best helpful in first 12 weeks (1st Trimester of abortion).

The doctor properly explains how to utilise these medicines as it is important to take these medicines in a proper way and under the doctor’s guidance

miso-and-mife

Procedure:

  • Day 1:One 200 mg tablet of Mifepristone is taken
  • Day 3 (between 24 to 48 hours):Misoprostol pills of 200 mcg each (total of 800 mcg) are given orally or vaginally.
  • Day 14 – 15:Person returns for a post-treatment examination to affirm that a complete end of pregnancy has happened.

The doctor would recommend to come back for an ultrasound check up after 15 days. Then get an ultrasound (abdomen) done because it is important to find out if the abortion is completed and women is safe.

These medicines don’t have any side effects but should be always taken under the doctor’s guidance.  It is always better to see if the clinic has displayed the certificate for medical termination practice. One needs to be careful from quacks or unregistered doctors.

Privacy and sexual health at Digital Citizen Summit

Hidden Pockets discussing Privacy with regard to sexual health at Digital Citizen Summit

We were present at Digital Citizen Summit organised by Digital Empowerment Foundation on 1st and 2nd November, 2018.

 

It was a great experience to discuss the role of privacy in our work on sexual and reproductive health and how do we work with other open source communities like Free Software Movement of Karnataka to build this further.

#OpenPockets : Conversations with young people on sexual well being

In 2018 , Hidden Pockets is conducting events in Bangalore with service providers with an aim to bring an audience of young people to the service providers and have open conversations around issue of health and young people. We call it the #OpenPockets.

A place where we come and talk about our sexual well-being and at the same time get a chance to talk about some of the myths and fears we have around sexual health.

a purse with things spilling over.

It is a great chance to meet counsellors and doctor and have some conversations with them to demystify some of the doubts we have around sexual well-being.

Coffee with Kamala Das: Right to pleasure for Indian women?

Soulful conversation 

One of my friend recommended me to be a part of a discussion which was about the exploring of sexuality, by reading of Kamala Das’s poem ‘An introduction’. She told me that it was to be held in Atta Gallata, Koramangala. I really didn’t know if I should go or not. I mean I was too confused but later on I made up my mind to go and be part of the discussion.

In case you are wondering, why did I go there or what made me go there . To be honest I didn’t go there because I am a feminist. I went there for poetry. I mean poetry is said to be something that moves our souls beyond this world and helps us to connect overselves with the cosmos. I am a huge fan of poetry. I love reading and writing poetry. I often sit in my balcony, sipping coffee and I write or rather I should say I spill  the ink. Poetry, for me its magic. It’s a living, breathing presence in my life. People often tell me that I write well. To be precise I write a lot of Urdu poetry. It carries huge amount of value . It’s deep, sheer and perfect. And rightly so.   But I panic a lot . I have social an anxiety so I don’t have the nerves to face the stage or be a part of any discussion.

 

When I came to know about the fact that Hidden pockets is organising a program about poetry, and its about Kamala Das. I was really happy to hear about it  but as soon as I came to know that it is not just a session but a discussion and each one of us have to speak and talk, I was really anxious. I mean I wanted to go but then the fear of facing the audience made me worried. 

Somehow I made my mind and went there. To be frank enough to say, I was little shivering as I sat under the spotlight. I didn’t know what to do though I was familiar with the poem ‘An introduction’. I mean it’s one of my favourite poems. After a while people came and one by one all the empty chairs were filled. People who were unknown to me, totally strangers. I became nervous, yet again. I told the organizers beforehand that ‘i am going to talk less ‘ and they were approachable enough . 

 

Kamala Das : An Introduction 

“Then … I wore a shirt and my
Brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants. Fit in. Oh,
Belong, cried the categorizers. Don’t sit..”

 

So here it started. We all introduced ourselves. Some of them sang, which was an ice breaker for the discussion. Everyone had that broad smile on their faces. And once we started of with the poem, I was the one who started to put give opinions and  interpretation on the opening stanza or lines. I was actually moved by the lines she has mentioned in her poem. It’s so good. Shamelessly she is talking about sexuality and things which are a taboo in our society. My opinion was that why not? Why not to be fearless enough to love someone we want to. Why not to have sex or feel the pleasure even before marriage. Why not to wear crop tops and walk in the deserted or even the crowded streets. Why?

  One by one everyone read the different stanzas of the same poem. Many different interpretations came, there was no right and wrong. Everyone was putting their words and pouring out their thoughts without any fear. 

I was surprised, not only I was speaking but I was fully indulged in the discussion. I mean i spoke a lot. Gradually my fear became my strength. I no longer was a weak or other sex but felt equal to other gender too or maybe same gender but with lot of energy and enthusiasm. I  was full of zest and full of energy too The session turned out to be a “Soulful Conversation” for me.

Kamala Das and her poetry was a living breathing presence for me at that time . We all spoke about exposing our sexualities, we discussed orgasm, what is it to be a woman and what not. It was so great to be part of such discussion. I don’t think I have ever had such good time with people whom I don’t even know. And I’m glad that they didn’t judge me were listening to what I was saying . I feel that talking about anything or everything in front of unknown crowd or strangers is better. I mean I don’t know about others much, but I  comfortable enough to open up before strangers other than the people I know.

Some people who were familiar with Malayalam language, read out the original text by Kamala Das. As the discussion ended. We all just like a new family, spoke to each other. One on one . Shook hands, laughed, smiled. To keep up with the funky trend we also took a selfie. 

I’m sure I ain’t going to forget this discussion ever in my life. I am looking forward for such discussions more and more . 

Hidden pockets gave me a gift ‘ To Face My Fear’ and I will always cherish this gift ! Thanks Jasmine, Aisha, Sekulu and Aren.

-Nashafa Firdous Mir : I am a very moody and choosy kind of person. I am a weirdo and hardly I am comfortable enough to indulge into a discussion but this discussion was so good that I didn’t even feel uncomfortable for once.

 

Photo and video courtesy : Kiran Sopanam and Shikhil.

Sexuality Education Workshop in Kannada – Mysore

Our day began as early as 5:30 am on a Sunday when Charu picked us- Jasmine, Kiran and Aruna up. Jasmine had earlier insisted that we bring Kiran along since the presence of a man changes the way young boys listen and respond to a session, especially facilitated by women. I have learnt this to be true myself.

We landed up in Mysore where Chaitra and Mangala guided us into the community where Buguri is situated. The amount of space there for children amazed an urban space person like me which allowed me to look more into how spaces and behaviours, especially of children are so intertwined. Buguri Mysore is a tiny space and decorated very beautifully with art works made by the children. The atmosphere felt extremely warm and inviting.

There were about 15 children in the age group of 9-16 years and their curious younger siblings peeping from the window, who were ready for the workshop to begin. They were clearly prepared earlier for the session, seeming very eager and some, having skipped their breakfast. The 4 of us had squeezed ourselves between the children along with Chaitra and Mangala. Jasmine had already begun asking their names and it amazed me how in 10 minutes she had managed to remember most of them! She was also asking them who their favourite actor and actress were, later corrected by the children to ‘heroin’. At this point is when I realised that the session had already begun. Seemingly effortless and quietly warming up the children. The idea seemed to get the children to speak. The following questions were about make-up, what makes an actor ‘average’, beauty parlours, bullying and love. The role of gender and the opinions of the boys and girls were addressed subtly and with very minimal judgement. Jasmine was also careful not to ‘correct’ what politically may seem as ‘wrong’ answers.
The girls seemed to share very similar ideologies on these topics bordering feminism. Their responses and standpoints being very mature for their age. While the boys, had very mixed responses from- girls as bullies cannot be given a second chance, boys can be; boys should say no to dowry; boys don’t wear make-up because they aren’t girls. And interestingly, there were moments of exchange between the boys who answered differently trying to get one to see the other’s point of view. And this happened very conversationally.

Audio Podcasts as a tool

 

These discussions were combined with the playing of 2 podcasts made by Hidden Pockets followed by a discussion of the same. One podcast was on bullying in a school discussed between two friends that was later escalated to the faculty who handled it in the school assembly without outing the bully. The discussion followed with the children stating how important it is to address an issue in a more general sense in a school space rather than picking out the child at fault resulting in their embarrassment.

The second podcast was on growing up through an introduction to menstruation explained by a mother to her daughter with the growth of a tree as a metaphor. It also addressed changes in the body of teenagers and reassuring that changes are normal. The children reacted by discussing how some of them and their older siblings now have pimples.

This on one hand, with the verbally strong, there were some children who were very shy. Jasmine opened out to them an option of writing down their thoughts and queries without a need to mention their names. This was more than welcome in the group.

This time they took to write also meant that some would sneak out for a quick snack!
Soon after, Chaitra began to read the questions and I was wondering what this session had spiraled out into. The answers would definitely mean another session! The children were eager to know more on a range of subjects- child marriage, menstruation, friendships and medical help. Jasmine patiently responded to them all also keeping in mind to be sensitive while addressing the group as some content may not be suitable for the 9-10 year olds in the group, to be spoken explicitly.

We ended the workshop very warmly with Chaitra and Mangala handing us crepe paper flowers made by the children with their name tags on. As like one child said “Preeti manassinda barbeku” (“Love should come from the heart”), we left with hungry tummies and love in our hearts.

About Buguri:
Buguri (‘Spinning top’ in Kannada) is a community library for the children of the waste collectors currently in 4 locations in Karnataka- Banashankari and Hebbal in Bangalore, Mysore and Tumkur. Buguri is a Hasiru Dala (‘Green Force’ in Kannada) initiative, an organisation based out of Bangalore that works for the welfare of the informal waste collectors in Karnataka.
Buguri runs with a primary aim to work with the children in the age group of 6 to 16 years, in the waster collector’s community through books. The idea was to introduce a no-fee and a fun library space as a means to open them up to the magic of books and explore the empowerment it gives to young and fresh minds.

 

Author : Aruna

Image Courtesy : Kiran Sopanam.

Where to find abortion clinics in North East? Kohima!

What do you expect when you’re about to visit a Family Planning Association of India clinic for the first time. You don’t know what to expect. I was at home, visiting one of cities of North East, trying to figure out if I could  find a good health clinic.

I took a bus from BOC point and headed to main town. From there, I got out of the bus and started walking as the traffic jam was massive. It wasn’t much of a challenge finding the clinic as I was initially given the address from which I clearly remember the name of the colony it stood in- Daklane. And as I reached the colony, the first person I met, I asked where Reproductive Health and Family Planning clinic is and he directed me perfectly and I didn’t need to ask anyone again on my way.

 

The moment I reached the clinic, I stretched my neck as it stood at a peak, and realized just how normal the clinic was and how though I’ve been to the colony many times I never really saw this yellow structure with huge billboards on Reproductive Health and Family Planning.

As I climbed up the stairs and entered, I was greeted by the head, who then took me to his office and after a brief conversation, introduced me to his team who will tell me about the clinic and answer my queries. It didn’t feel like I was in an alien place and though it was my first time I felt familiar with it.

The team took me through the process of the clinic right;

Registration,
Immunization (for children),
Counselling,
OPD and so on.

I was told they get about 250 patients coming in every month from all age groups. The number however used to be higher but because of the change in the consulting doctor who was liked by many and with whom many found comfort, had to take leave for further studies. He had a great rapport with the patients and was always the preferred one. Two doctors are currently in chair, one a male and the other a female. They take turns and are available through Monday to Friday. They have also through time have gained trust of patients and the number of visiting patients are increasing.

The clinic follows a No Refusal Policy.

Where though most treatments are FREE, for the few where fees are imposed is also not considered mandatory and if a patient is unable to pay, he or she is relieved from having to pay at all. The fee for MVA which is for safe abortion is two thousand rupees, covering all expenses like meds, procedure, full doses required. Again, even if the patient is unable to pay they will still treat her without payment.

They provide free contraceptives, and also conduct other long term procedures like coppertine, sterilization (both female and male).

The clinic not only receives patient from Kohima but all over Nagaland. Doctors from other districts and villages refer them to the clinic. Even government hospitals like Naga Hospital, Kohima refers patients to the clinic. Apart from these, they also provide Hepatitis B and C services. The clinic also have a good amount of HIV and IDU patients. Apart from such in house treatments, they also cater to an adolescents program called Adolescents Education Program, where they visit government schools and less privileged private schools, and hold comprehensive sexuality program. They conduct events and programs in order to share information on the same and create awareness. They also hold monthly musical program called Top Acts on every 4th Saturday in order to create a positive space for the same. The day I visited the clinic, an abortion was underway. It was the first time in my life that I stood next to a room where an abortion was underway. And rather than feeling anything else, I only worried if the patient is doing okay. And hoped she’d be fit both physically and mentally soon.

 

As I took my leave and was on my way out a young girl working there offered me tea, and as I came out of the clinic, it was just a normal day again. The clinic has two exits and entrances making it easier for patients to take whichever is best directed to their house or bus/taxi station. Just a couple of minutes of walk away is the bus stop and taxi station.

 

Writer : Sekulu Nyekha

Can a minor girl get an abortion in India?

Things that minors should keep in mind : 

A minor girl is someone who is below the age of 18 years old.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971, a minor girl needs written permission from her guardian to get an abortion

The MTP Act defines guardian as a person “having the care” of the minor person. Thus an adult, someone over 18 years of age who accompanies a minor girl to a clinic would be De facto guardian and could consent to an abortion on the girl’s behalf.

Things that providers should keep in mind: 

If the girl’s age and/or marital status are uncertain, the providers can proceed with the termination of pregnancy in line with the provisions of the MTP Act after maintaining complete and detailed records of the case.

It is advised to report the pregnancy as per the legal requirement under  Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 and allow the authorities to decide what actions to take.