These are exhilarating times. These are the darkest of times. With the country plunged into an abyss of people baying for blood, right wing extremists asking for war, saner and more peaceful voices are being drained. My inbox is flooded with people reaching out for help, saying how anxious they are feeling, and where are we really headed? And this is why I always speak about mental health being so influenced with the environment we live it, the economic and political situation, and the trauma informed approach. Rarely is it as simple as a chemical imbalance in the brain, the oft mentioned statement from several psychiatrists even today when they simply want you to pop another pill.
It is crucial in these times, therefore, to consider that mental health and distress stems often may stem from psychosocial conditions. And that is why, as my recent piece in Mad in Asia Pacific states, it is important to stop using the term mental illness, which implies a problem with the affected person, and using the term ‘psychosocial disability or distress’ which puts the onus on society to change. Bhor is at the forefront of driving this change, be it through our work in peer support, our Listening Circles which are growing all over Delhi NCR and even in Bangalore, our speaking out about trauma in recently featured television programs, like this one on India Today TV. We are going to be exploring this more in our upcoming festival, Project Reclamation, in Delhi in September 2019 and the team and I are busy working hard at putting this festival together. For more details, check out our website now!
In other Bhor news, the organisation is thriving and growing with our ever increasing team of interns and the people we continue to impact on a daily basis. Recently, I got certified to deliver interventions in prisons for voice hearers (also known more commonly to you as people living with schizophrenia). I am already doing this work here in the UK but am so looking forward to starting interventions in India. I am finally in a conversation with a poet living in Bangalore and so this work may start soon as well. I couldn’t be happier as this has been one of the mandates of Bhor from its inception in 2016, to work on creating groups in mental institutions, hospitals and prisons.
Another exciting retreat I am leading is coming up in Delhi NCR. It is a therapeutic writing retreat. I am so delighted to be offering this as a first of many such retreats and workshops and this follows the therapeutic writing model popularised by James Pennebaker. Bhor is also in conversation with Komal Mathur, a transactional analysis specialist and we are looking at offering a workshop on Transactional Analysis in April in Mehrauli, Delhi. Big and small things happen every day, and these are truly exciting times.
I leave you with this thought that in the darkest of times, poetry and art continue to offer hope. Go to an art exhibit. Watch a film. Create something. Read something. And the world will continue to spin, however shaky and rocky. Another dawn will lighten the sky. Flowers will still smell as sweet. And we shall all overcome.
With my warmest regards, solidarity and hope for better times,
by Malini Bhattacharya
When I was four, my mother took me with her on a brief family vacation by the sea; my father didn’t go with us. I remember staying at a holiday home of sorts with the aunts and uncles and grandparents, where you could cook your own food from fresh produce you bought, and fry fish - the men who caught them sold them at the long strip of market lining the beach - in the narrow kitchen. We ate watermelon, which I didn’t like, and drank coconut water, which I did.
On the first afternoon we went to look at the sea. My mother wore a kurta and loose cotton pants; she didn’t look like my mother at all. She must have been just past thirty then, still slender, and still hopeful. She held my hand and led me into the water.
This was January, and the sand underneath my feet had been cool - someone must have made sure I had taken my shoes off. Once or twice I stepped over rounded pebbles smooth as glass, on pieces of shell. I counted brash red crabs and starfish. The grainy beach welcomed my weight on it, hollowing out in shallow size four cubbies where I had walked happily on my way toward the sea.
I trailed after my mother. Her feet were in the water first, and I when I touched the saltwater it made a ring of foam around my ankles. It was like ice and fire. It was like a thin blade leaping in circles on my skin. It was like jumping off a short flight of stairs you had underestimated the height of.
And the seafloor shifted under my curled-in toes and my pressed-down heels; my mother waded a few feet further in, freeing my hand, and for a moment I stood alone and screamed for the strange movement to stop. It didn’t. The water was impossibly thick, impossibly heavy; the surf blinding. The wet sand I could see through a green and violet haze was uncannily mobile, as if it had its own life and belonged everywhere except below my stricken naked feet. Fear made me stupid and inert. I wanted good, firm earth to stand on.
Someone - not my mother - came and picked me up. The adults joked about my foolish fright for weeks afterwards. Always they marveled at how I had been afraid of water (I hadn’t been, the queer stirring of sand under my feet had unnerved me), when I hadn’t been scared of darkness, spiders, or needles before.
I didn’t think about it then, but I did years afterwards, and I found that the things I have been afraid of haven’t really been things at all, but people. This seems to be true for as far back as I can remember. The child-sized forceps in my dentist’s grip did not freak me out, but the man - he had a wide, thin mouth and tufts of combed back hair, and no eyebrows at all - and his expression of concentration and preparedness, did. The smell of disinfectant and gummy ointment he alone carried in my small world I associated with pain and helplessness; I hated that smell and I was petrified through each routine visit.
I was afraid also of the man of indeterminate age who lived in my grandparents’ neighborhood. I had only ever seen him in maroon pyjamas slightly too short for him, and what looked like an outdoor shirt faded from years of use and washing. He would walk down the street to where a line of shops sold cigarettes and tea - I would follow his brief journey from an upstairs window - and return, sometimes smoking, sometimes not. There wasn’t anything in particular in his manner or look that might suggest some disturbing eccentricity, some irregularity in perception or thought, except an unaccountable air of remoteness - something I found perplexing then, and was wary of. He was there on the street and among the people at the crossroad without being there. He wasn’t like other grownups I knew, who all followed the news, watched television after work, did housework, and sometimes went shopping or to the movies. What he might do instead I could not imagine. He lived, I believed, in a world of his own where the things that were important to my parents and aunts and cousins were possibly of little consequence, and other intricate rules had great value. I thought in this way because his life did not resemble the adult lives I was familiar with, also because he seemed to not know, or care, this difference existed.
He must have had a psychotic condition, I think now. I hear he has been dead at least a decade, and that he died of natural causes. I return to that old neighborhood at least once a month, and I have never heard talk of this man having been mentally ill, much less of his being treated.
The ragpicker woman in her seventies terrified me for years, without ceasing for a moment to be a ragpicker. Only she talked fluently and audibly as she moved from dumpster to dumpster, picking bottles and scrap metal and discarding bags of leftover food, to a person invisible to the rest of us, whose name was Chanu. This woman consulted with Chanu about groceries needed at home and the price of fresh fish, and complained to them that children these days learn little respect and make fun of the rent, discolored white sarees she wore.
And later, I stopped being afraid when I saw or heard of people - strangers, usually - who talked to someone only they could see, who slept during the day and stayed up all night doing crafts or writing lines of poetry in unrecognizable languages, who did not bathe or clean their teeth often. I remember a woman in a grubby tunic at the intersection near our home, gesticulating violently to make a stream of cars stop and then go. Another younger girl under the municipality tap wearing nothing at all and delightedly rubbing a cake of hard soap on her limbs as the public gathered around, watching. A man who must have been over retirement age shaking his hips to a Bollywood number at a prominent Calcutta crossroad. The mother of my childhood friend running away from her second floor bedroom to look for her child who had died years ago, when he was six. My own half-brother running into massive debt from obsessive compulsive overspending and being beaten up by a creditor less than a mile away from where we lived.
I was no longer afraid because I knew none of this was quite aberrant, or intended to threaten order, predictability, or custom. In the worlds of each of these people, where I could have no part, their every act, gesture, and motive made an exquisite sense. Who was I to pronounce judgment on their atypicalness? I had read Freud and Foucault. I was feminist. I took lithium tablets every night, and would need to take them as long as I lived, because I was also bipolar. Like Sylvia Plath, I would think, or Virginia Woolf. I took comfort from knowing about the bipolarity of artists I loved. Van Gogh. Vivien Leigh. Amy Winehouse.
My father was bipolar too, but his diagnosis happened only a few months before he died, and my mother has had chronic depression since. My best friend refuses to take her alcoholic and often violent husband to therapy. Another went on antidepressants when her marriage fell apart, and she’s still on them. At least a dozen people I know are on medication alone, and many, many more in therapy. In some circles I hesitantly weave in and out of, nearly every person I meet has had a brush with mental illness, and has had to invest money, time and great emotional labor to find ways of coping that let them go out and make a living, make art, live well.
I once worked for a nonprofit that did rehabilitation planning for sex trafficking survivors. One of the things I had to do was write about their advocacy work, and to do this I sometimes sat in on their planning meetings. Often their trauma would come up in conversation. They had insomnia and flashbacks. They were always tired. They folded themselves into tight private worlds where nobody else was allowed to enter. Every one of those girls showed symptoms of clinical depression; some had PTSD. Not one of them could access the therapy that could have meant change. Mental health problems are everywhere, even as the solutions to those problems slip further and further away from the people who need them.
Which is connected to the problem of poverty in all the unsurprising ways, and just as divorced from it. My partner’s stolidly middle-class family has been in denial of his borderline personality traits for over a decade. They did not notice his bulimia or his bouts of suicidal feelings, or his attempt to kill himself. By the time his care process was organized, he had lost friends, relationships, and at least one job to the disorder.
My friend’s father-in-law hung himself a week after moving into a new home; he had rejected treatment for two decades. A girl I went to school with would steal erasers and pencil sharpeners and nylon coin purses when we were in school. She stole money when we were older and spent it on things her family might not have approved of - lacy lingerie, hair styling, cigarettes. She was shamed, and I was among the people who humiliated her, but I didn’t think then that she might need to get help. I know a person whose universe crumbles if he does not spend a certain chunk of his day at a fixed coffee shop, sitting always at the same table, and drinking a shot of espresso over ice and with a drop of lime juice.
Not one of these are people who stand apart in crowds. The world must have moved a little, because I don’t see anyone trying to lock them up in closets, hide them away from the world. I see passionate campaigning for mental health awareness and nuanced persuasion, mostly led by young people, to show how getting help for depression or schizophrenia is about the same as going to see the doctor for an ailment of the digestive system. I see friends of friends beginning to talk about their problems, of their days of staying in bed and hating their bodies and the mad rushes of panic they weren’t able to attribute to happenings in the lives they are used to.
I find denial lifting, conversation sparking around the stories of people who live with mental health conditions. I discover reasons almost everyday to keep the faith. A universe is moving.
by Vanshika Saikia
With editorial support by Garima Agarwal
Mental health has grabbed the world’s attention. As the world is moving
towards addressing the relevance and the need to have a good mental
health, India is coming to terms with the necessity to assess the mental
health status of its people at the grass root level.
The National Mental Health Survey of India conducted in 2015-16 shows
some alarming results. Its prevalence was highest in urban metropolitan
areas of India, with disorders like schizophrenia and other psychosis,
mood disorders, and neurotic and stress related disorders occurring
considerably high. The survey even brought to light a high suicidal risk
amongst the country’s population, especially the productive age group
as showing the most critical signs.
There seems to be major treatment gap in both the urban and the rural
sectors for all mental health problems, as it exists across different
sections of the society. It seems that those who were diagnosed were
either not able to access appropriate mental health treatment or didn’t
seek treatment at all.
Mental health issues have a major impact on people’s life, in all aspects
– be it career and work efficiency, physical health or one’s relationships
with family, friends and co-workers – all of these see negative
implications. Treatment for these various problems can be costly –
hence many can’t get treatments. People coming from households with
lesser income, less accessibility to education and limited employment
opportunities face a greater vulnerability to various mental disorders,
due to the socio-economic factors that impact one’s health overall.
There is a lack of general awareness about mental health problems,
even amongst the educated public. Healthcare systems, it seems, do not
give adequate importance to mental health issues as they do with other
physical ailments. And when people don’t know about mental health
problems, it comes naturally to them to equate it with concepts they do
know – like ‘becoming crazy’, ‘demon/spirit possession’, etc. Otherwise,
people tend to fear the unknown – hence pushing the people with such
problems away or putting them in institutions like asylums and silos that
do not address these issues the right way.
The way the society views mental health problems still show signs of
stigma and discrimination attached to it. Surveys show how a large
chunk of the Indian society fear people with mental health problems, and
many describe people with such issues using words of stigma like
‘crazy’, ‘possessed’, ‘haunted’ etc. In many rural areas of the country,
various traditional as well as modern healers can be found in the rural
context, offering their expertise in ways to deal with mental illnesses.
Although there are some modern doctors, the relationship between the
people of the communities and the vaids, mantarwadis etc seem to be
much stronger. These practitioners practice astrology, indigenous
systems of medicine, or act as mediums between spirits from the other
world, whom they suspect infect people, hence causing mental illnesses.
The biggest challenge then when it comes to mental health issues is the
sensitisation of the public, making people aware. The ignorance of the
people, their misconceptions and the ambiguity of the knowledge
presented to them, is an important issue. This entails people
understanding that the seriousness of a mental ailment is the same or
equivalent to that of any other physical ailment. Some people wrongfully
believe that mental health issues are caused by the person themselves,
it is their own responsibility, their own fault. The idea that people dealing
with mental health issues need to be kept separate, because they are
‘mad’ and must not ‘contaminate’ others, is another such belief. These
beliefs have to be tackled and corrected, and this can only be done
when the people get to know more about mental health.
On the other extreme, terms like ‘depression’ and ‘suicide’ are being
used lightly amongst the media and the public, with no or little regard to
the actual serious meaning and connotation these terms suggest.
People have be sensitive to these terms, and not try to normalise mental
disorders, for these are issues that are important that need to be
Along with this, the limited availability, accessibility and affordability of
treatment are big players in the persistence of mental health problems in
the both the rural and the urban scenario. The popular conception that
people who are dealing with some mental sickness may be ‘possessed’
or ‘contaminated by an evil spirit or individual’, along with the kind of
blind faith that the rural society has in their faith healers and traditional
doctors, all add on to the misconceptions about and around mental
health. Furthermore, they may not welcome professional doctors and
practitioners, and even if accept their help, may not be able to, or be
unwilling to invest so much into mental health.
The brunt of it all is faced by the person who is suffering. Not only do
they face the stigma in the society, but also the neglect and
marginalisation make it very difficult for them and their family to live as
equals in the community. They are victim to the prejudices and negative
attitudes, social discrimination, and are deprived of opportunities as well.
The responsibility lies with the government as well as with other key
players, such as non-governmental organisations, and the youth.
Implementation of government projects like the National Mental Health
Programme, National Mental Health Policy (2014), Mental Health Bill
(2016) as well as remarkable judicial directives by the NHRC has seen
new significant progress towards the right direction. Along with this, new
groups have come up in the recent times adamant to start a dialogue
about these stigmatised topics and bring them out in the open.
As these conditions affect everybody, across age groups, it becomes a
requirement for everybody to be aware and spread awareness about this
critical subject. There has been significant improvement, as these new
groups are coming together to give each other hope and strength,
normalising talking about suicide, depression and anxiety as equivalents
to any other ailments someone might be suffering from, and not
something that should elicit shame or guilt.
As someone who has observed people around me going through tough
times, the growing need to address mental health concerns comes very
close to home. It is not limited to any group, the belief that ‘the
youngsters or the youth have it easier’ is highly deceptive. Everybody is
plagued by mental health issues in some way or the other, and whilst
some find it comfortable to voice their problems to the world, many find it
difficult to come out and ask for help. The world around us is always
changing, and with changing problems that we face, the need to be
mentally healthy along with being physiologically strong, comes into the
picture. That there remain some who still feel intimidated by the stigma
and the judgements that come with mental issues, makes me profoundly
sad. We need to come together in a way that is inclusive and accepting
of one and all, taking into account the needs and problems of every
After all, this is the comforting sentiment for every person suffering from
mental illness: they are not alone. When they suffer, the world suffers
with them – they are never alone. And it is up to each one of us to work
to give them hope.
Vanshika Saikia of Bhor interviewed Megha Saklani, Consultant Counselling Psychologist at Karma Centre for Counselling and Wellbeing. Editorial support: Garima Agrawal
Working as a caregiver for people who are dealing with mental health issues can be a challenging, yet fruitful task. To go deeper into their experiences, we interviewed Megha Saklani, a consultant counselling psychologist at Karma Centre for Counselling and Wellbeing.
1. Can you describe the work of your organisation and your role in it?
I work at Karma Centre for Counselling and Wellbeing, and our work is varied. We are Delhi’s first queer-friendly organisation. We do queer counselling, counselling for HIV or STDs as well, we have internships for both professionals and students. We have a team of three psychologists – two counselling psychologists and one clinical psychologist. We also give counselling for anxiety, depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, mood and personality disorders, so all sorts of counselling and therapy is given.
I am working as a counselling psychologist with Karma, so I see my own clients and conduct workshops.
2. In your experience what has been the attitude of people who have been dealing with mental health issues, in terms of accepting their problems or treatment meted out to them?
It depends on the demographic of the place the person is coming from. We get a lot of clients from the cream layer, of the socio-economic status which is the privileged section of the city. But even within that segment, people are worried about their anonymity, how they don’t want to be associated with seeking mental health care, or even accepting that they have certain mental health problems to start with. Even for them, it takes the person time to accept their problems. This could also be due to the whole stigma or the taboo that is attached with mental health problems.
It takes the person time to not let their mental health problem define their identity, and a lot of people find it difficult even to confide in their partners or their immediate family as well that they are coming in for therapy. They feel that their family would stop them from coming in.
Attitude barriers also exist – the young adult patients that we get are still dependent on their family for financial aid, they remain worried about informing their families because their families would either not be very accepting or they would discourage them by saying that it’s just a money-making agenda and there is no such thing as counselling.
3. Do you think the stigma that is attached to mental health issues is as prominent as it always was, or do you think that it is changing?
If I compare it to when I just started out in the field, around five years back I saw more stigma than now. The stigma has reduced a bit it seems, but there is still a long way to go.
Especially for the queer community, a lot of parents would come to us saying that they need treatment to change the sexual orientation of their child. Furthermore, the whole idea that depression is somebody’s fault, or that depression is by choice, or it’s just laziness, all of these are popular misconceptions.
4. What according to you is the biggest challenge that people face when they are dealing with any mental health problems?
I think the biggest challenge, even in a city like Delhi, is insufficient accessibility of mental health professionals. It seems that the professionals which are available to people are not very credible, or perhaps people don’t really understand what kind of professional help they should seek. They don’t know whether they should consult a counselling psychologist, a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist. So, this lack of awareness and a lack of accessibility in terms of finding the right therapist or psychiatrist for yourself, the challenge of accepting the problem and finding support – from their community or family or, even their workspace, all are challenges one faces.
Having said that, there is support pouring in from families and workspace, for some people who come to us. For example, some people get an off day in a week from their workspace to go get therapy. But that’s for a very small population that we see.
5. As a caregiver, how has your experience been working in this field?
A very interesting, and a difficult question to answer. There are days when we go back home, feeling very fulfilled, with a sense of contentment. But there are also days when we are extremely emotionally drained. It’s upsetting and frustrating when the person’s progress isn’t as predicted, or if something unpredictable happens, something which we didn’t anticipate in our therapeutic plan, that hampers progress. But there are also days where the client shows a lot of progress, and in a short span of time, we see their symptoms receding, they’re doing better, their functionality is better. So, it’s a mixed bunch of feelings.
6. Do you think the mental health scenario in India is not as good as compared to other developed countries?
I do feel that the need for mental health professionals is more in India as compared to other developed countries. However, when it comes to employment and work for mental health professionals in India, the scope is less as compared to other developed countries. There is more awareness, more understanding of mental health there.
The Western countries or other developed countries also have stigma attached to mental health issues. But in India, probably due to the cultural, psycho-social factors, the notions that people are possessed, or they are at fault, or there is an evil spirit etc. are prevalent. These all remain to be hindrances to the progress of the mental health scenario in our country.
It’s been 14 years since you left. Even for a 5-year-old I have a very vivid memory of that day. We were supposed to go to McDonald’s for a quick bite. We stepped out and as dad was about to lock the door, the phone rang. It hasn’t been the same ever since.
I consider myself fortunate to have known you, even if briefly. The other kids in the family don’t even know you, except Bhaiya, and a little part of me shall always be jealous of him for having known you for longer than I did.
The few memories I have of you are teaching me how to pray, carefully correcting me as I enunciated the Gayartri Mantra, sitting on your lap while you drove, and quietly letting me hold the steering wheel when no one was watching, and my making those long calls through army exchange to complain about how mom was giving me a hard time.
When I think of you, I don’t miss you, I feel this sudden ache of missing something huge, that no matter how perfect life gets, there will always be something amiss.
Tall, handsome, charismatic, highly opinionated, standing up for right and never afraid to call out what is wrong, but most importantly, your “fierce josh” for the country are some things that led you to go fight in The Kargil, despite being out line of your duty. It was only when you came home unscathed that we knew.
Years later, when they said that the chopper went missing, everybody wept. I didn’t, I knew you’d come back, Arjun Mamu was the one adult in the family who always kept his promises. Three harrowing days later when you didn’t turn up with that huge smile of yours, I asked your mother. She said God only picks up the most beautiful flowers for His garden.
You loved flying, almost belonged to the sky. Nothing or nobody could stop you. The morning of the last flight you were sick, you weren’t even supposed to fly, just a last-minute emergency. Your mom begged you not to go. But the love for your motherland surpassed the love for your mother.
People say you were a brave hero, but I think your mother was the bravest of all.
Sometimes I still wonder if you’re out there finding us, captured somewhere across the border but alive. I have dreams of you coming back home, bruised but happy. I can’t help but wonder how beautifully different life would have been if you were still here. You were the string that tied our family together, life of any party, hero of the kids in the house, the most adored son and the most dependable brother.
I bet you’d have a made a great father too, if your son hadn’t lost you at 3 months. He must be about 14 now, but none of us ever met him. But a few years ago, in the newspapers somewhere, they said he wanted to become a pilot just like you.
By Pooja Singh
Friends’ Corner, the Counselling Cell of Hindu College, University of Delhi is a society that focuses on issues related to Mental Health in the college setting. The society has organised several events, with some sessions directed at increasing interaction between students to foster a friendly and relaxing college environment, and some events expressly organised with the aim of imparting selective skills to students.
Here’s a glimpse of what college students are doing whilst working towards the cause:
PEER COUNSELLING: In an attempt to sensitize the students about the need for appropriate response towards their peers going through challenging situations, Friends’ Corner organised Peer Counselling sessions where the college counsellor advised students about the fundamentals of counselling and approaches that one should adopt if they encounter such situations.
KNOWLEDGE SESSIONS: A student – to – student activity, Knowledge Sessions is an initiative by Friends’ Corner under which students discuss about multiple issues and concepts such as hypersensitivity and hyper vigilance. This is aimed at gaining more knowledge about topics relevant to mental health.
SUICIDE AWARENESS DAY: It was organised on 10 December 2018. Suicide is one of the most morally debated topics and a major concern and therefore this event helped sensitize the students about the issue and spread awareness about it.
PERSONA: This is a series of events organised by the society aimed at helping student understand their identities better. The kind of activities change with every edition of the event, all aimed to bring a consciousness among the students about the social and emotional confrontation of our day to day life and healthy ways of coping with the same.
MENTAL HEALTH SUMMIT: Educational and entertaining – this is a one of a kind event in the University of Delhi, that promotes the cause of mental health awareness through fun and interactive means, precisely to attract the young minds of college students. Through this Summit, students learn to recognize mental health issues as important and see them as any other illness that can be treated, thereby removing the stigma around it. Further, we want to this to be an opportunity for students to speak their minds out, interact with new people and engage in discourse, hence making them more aware and confident.
Mental health issues are pushed to the backburner and enough attention is not paid to them. There are many misconceptions and taboos attached with issues like depression and suicide, which act as impediments preventing a much needed public discourse about the same. Collectives like Friends’ Corner therefore aim to contribute in whatever capacity they can to build an environment which facilitates a culture of dialogue on such issues of importance.
Why do you hurt every time I try to push myself? You know I need to to succeed in today's world... Why do you get in my way?
The body is our barometer. It tells us things but the mind gets in the way. Simple things, it tells you when you’re hungry, thirsty.. And you listen. But so many more, like a gut feeling that you may be in a dangerous situation, goosebumps when you’re in love, and more. Maybe your body hurting when you push yourself too hard is it’s way of telling you to slow down, to make time to nourish the body, to eat better, to sleep better. Your body knows what can happen if the scale is tipped and you slide into delicious mania. Today’s world is anyway created with capitalistic reward systems of celebrating only success and only one way to get ahead. The roads to happiness may lie elsewhere. Success may be created differently, a little slower.
My advice (and the advice of your body) is to slow down, listen to the body, acknowledge it’s pain and warnings, and hence, get ahead in the way that is right for you! We are all different and it is time to celebrate that, rather than competing with the rest of the world.
We have become so harsh on ourselves, and specifically on our bodies. Let’s take away some of the internal shaming and move towards body positivity by writing a letter to our own body at email@example.com with ‘Dear Body’ in the subject. Or ask a question to Bhor Amma on a subject related to body positivity, mental health, self harm, sexuality or anything at all!
F I S H I N G
by Priyanka Kapoor
There is a certain group of unknown creatures
that sit fishing
over my heart,
These are my mind.
I wheel out my supermarket trolley
and ask them
‘what are we feeling today?’
and when empty,
They dive in and appear inside the nerves of my forehead.
My mother says
‘it is because you are not drinking enough water’
and it must be true
for the pond where they fish
has terrors inside
and we must not let it dry up.
F O U N D I N T R A N S L A T I O N
by Priyanka Kapoor
There comes a time
When a burning man comes knocking at your door
And children start to smoke in motherly parks
Men too cry to themselves,
There, there comes a time
Of the pain solidifying like an entity in your heart,
A chewing gum they told you not to swallow.
There, there comes a time.
Of lending something
To wounded men.
I lend you
My ability to nude
the labels they have put on men
I lend you silence
to sit by the restroom doors
Turning blades into pens.
Submit poetry and creative writing to this section by emailing us an idea/pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Niteesh
I am a depression survivor, and my brother too has mental health issues. I have been searching for a space where I could talk about my experiences and my journey. Because there is so much stigma around mental health problems, people actually deny existence of mental health problems.
Most of the people , to whom, I opened about my mental health issues blamed me and told me that I am just giving excuses. I desperately needed a space where I could go, speak about what I’m going through, and not be judged. Fortunately, I came to know about The Listening Circle organised by Bhor Foundation, through Facebook.
Attending these circles allowed me to listen to stories of others and their battles. I felt that I am not alone in my journey and others have gone through these experiences as well. Experiences and wisdom shared by Namarita and Priya were very helpful. They try to create a safe space where everyone could put their thoughts out there, feel a sense of belongingness, and relax. I am always looking forward for more.
By Annvee Suri
A Theory of Mind show telecasted on India Today TV on the 5th and 6th of January, 2019 featured the Bhor team, including Jhilmil Breckenridge, Namarita Kathait, Zain Khan and Priya Kanodia. In addition, and more meaningful, were the voices of the people who we are impacting with The Listening Circle, our peer support group that meets several times a month in Delhi and Bangalore.
The discussion on mental health aimed at removing the stigma around mental health. Everyone's journey being talked about inspires numerous other individuals dealing with mental health issues such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, to come out of their shells and talk about it in order to deal effectively with it. At the same, it guides us to create better relationships with ourselves and others.
In case you missed, you can watch it on Youtube. Here's the link-
Issue Two Editorial Team: Vanshika Saikia, Garima Agarwal, Priyanka Kapoor, Zain Khan, Jhilmil Breckenridge
By Garima Agarwal
I am a part of the first English speaking generation of my family. Being the first is an experience of being teared up between wanting to know more about your roots and detaching from them to attain a new something. And this stretch is long enough to make you not be even able to touch either ends. At this point of time, I neither know my native language Hindi, nor am I perfect or fluent at English. I wonder what kind of a language I am using, what legacy I am going to pass and which language I should call mine.
The last time I checked the utilisation of language, it was communication. I don't know when, how, why we gave status symbols to something as basic as language, our way of thinking about and understanding the world.
I am reminded of these gaps when my dad asks me to edit his mails written in perfectly sweet incorrectly typed English, or my mum gives me that 'Did I say it correctly?' look when she frames a whole sentence in english by herself, smiling.
Language being something which connects me to everything around me and within me, I ask, on this spectrum between English and Hindi, Garima, where do you stand and which way do you choose to go, and why?
By Garima Agarwal
It took me a while (a month or so to be honest) to decide that I wanted a fringe, and that too cutting them myself was necessary. I spent hours watching videos on YouTube which read 'How to cut your bangs at home.' I have always been very conscious of my hair, my body, my teeth, how I look. But in the race to defy beauty standards, I stopped taking care of my own body. I stopped experimenting and thinking of new ways, I just took up this ‘I don’t care how I look attitude’ as a result, and started believing that ‘dressing up’ or any other thing can never be a source of happiness or satisfaction.
As a person who avoids changes and fears judgement (especially those related to how I look), I feared experimenting with my hair. Though I was always secretly wanted to, I just didn't have it in me to make the bold.
The last couple hours before cutting it were full of intense debate within myself, should I do it, what if it looks bad, what will mumma papa say (yes, they didn't know), how will others react?
I know it's 'just' cutting a fringe. But it means much more than that to me. It reminds me that I am capable of taking risks, even the smallest of them, however ugly or beautiful they turn out to be.