Yes, it is tough, but you are tougher.

"I know ,

For me this pain won't go away

I'll keep dying inside until there's nothing left.

If this is who I really am, I don't want to live.

Why is it hard ? It hurts so much".

This used to be my everyday rant on my diary when I was completely unaware of my emotions.

I always felt that something's missing even though I had great friends and family. There was some unknown, unresolved issue inside, which I kept brushing it off by calling them normal "mood swings". But the feeling of being suffocated within my own body never went away. There was battle going on inside my head apparently for no reason. Some days it felt like living under piles and piles of dirt and not knowing how to climb up and come out of it. Some days it felt like I am that pile of dirt and most of the days it felt absolutely empty and nothing. I could still see flesh and bones in front of the mirror but there was no life reflecting back from it.

Eventually I even stopped eating because of my weird theory that how can I eat If I'm not happy within myself. I thought I don't deserve to be happy and this gradually lead to losing almost 20 pounds of weight.

I knew I have to do something about my wellbeing but the truth was I didn't care. It didn't matter to me and in fact nothing mattered anymore. I was alive and that was more than enough. I used to randomly go to Connaught Place for mental peace and just walk and walk and walk aimlessly. My mantra was to physically exhaust myself when I'm mentally tired, as that helps in numbing the brain.

But then it started hurting more and more and all these temporary fixations stopped working. My head started hurting so much that I wanted to scream and tell someone that no it's not alright from a long time and if you could just save me from this drama that would be a huge relief.

Everyday I wondered, if this is who I really am -a broken person- an empty soul- then what's the point of anything. I lost the ability to pretend that everything's fine. I was so frustrated that I used to romanticize the idea of dying and reaching out for help was out of the options because I didn't know what to talk about. The most important reason for not reaching out was also the very fact that I never treated myself with enough respect to actually accept that there's something wrong here and that I might need help. I thought maybe it's just an "imaginary" emotion.

Gradually the hatred grew and soon, I hated every part of my body. Everything which I thought made me who I am, seemed unreasonable to me. Like Chess which ,for me was once an escape from this world became just another sport. Physics, which used to give me happiness became just another subject.

Eventually I had my "enough is enough" moment when I realized that writing suicide letters every now and then doesn't seem like a normal thing to do and frankly it became tiring to hate myself every single day.

So now comes the seeking out for help journey.

I connected with few therapists and that's how the process of enlightenment started. They tried to understand how I function instead of trying to fix myself. They not only understood the pain but also validated my emotions and that was all I needed at that time. Sometimes I got angry because I didn't see any improvement but then I realized that this is not a shallow quick fix and that it is a long process. They made me realize the importance of validating my emotions which I stopped doing ever since my brain started working.

I'm not going to end this article with some pseudo happy ending . I don't like to sugarcoat things so the truth is , it didn't end. I still have bad days and the struggle to get out of bed is real at times. But all I can say is now I'm more self aware and I know what works for me and what not. For me, giving my emotions the validation they deserve and not undermine them helps. I know that setting up long term goals freak me out so I don't scratch my head and feel terrible not knowing about it. I've decide not to read too much about mental illnesses as it triggers me.

I now feel grateful of the things I love and give me joy like music( Check out Novo Amor, you won't regret it :-P) , long walks and my friends who accepted me the way I was and didn't remind me that I'm being annoying(which I was). They reminded me that I am brave even when I barely got out of bed.

So, the biggest takeaway from this phase would be - No one can probably understand your struggle but you do get to choose the people who "wants" to get it. They might not know how to help you but know that they really want to. They might be your friends , family or your partner. YOU matter to them! Maybe right now it is tough, but I just want you to look in the mirror and scream that you are TOUGHER.

So, please reach out for help even if it means talking anonymously about it online. Because sometimes even just randomly venting out feels like a huge relief. And to those who think their loved ones are struggling, do not wait for them to reach out to you, instead reach in. Show them your love in your own little ways and just let them know that they are loved because nobody deserves to go through a health challenge alone.

-Riya kothari.

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