How I learned to speak up
Story by: Jayashree
I might just be a perfect example of the father complex. I was a teenager when my older sister fell in love with someone from a different caste. That's when I witnessed my father transform into a man that I could have never imagined. I was too young to have been exposed to events that would compromise my mental health.
My father questioned our worth as 'dignified women' daily. He stopped me from attending dance lessons because he didn't see why it would help after I got married, I was called a prostitute for hanging out with my male friends. His words were demeaning. It only made me fearful and asocial. And that's how I grew up, never understanding my worth, with no sense of self-love.
I was at school one day when a cousin called me to take me home. I was confused, why she wanted to accompany me. It was very unlike her. It was when I got home that I realized my mother attempted to commit suicide. The mental and emotional baggage of her marriage led her to try taking her own life.
I got my periods for the first time amidst the constant family tension. Understanding matters of my body was very difficult for me. I had an uncle who would touch me inappropriately but I often overlooked it with the mindset that I was overthinking. It was supposed to be a time where my parents should have sat us down to educate us about our bodies, however, we were busy with matters of our 'caste' and how we could get my sister out of the relationship she was in.
Once, my father took me and my other older sister to his native place and told us we couldn't go back to our mother. It was not what I wanted. My relatives told me I have to 'adjust'. But I couldn't bear it anymore. I wanted to take a decision to end all of it.
I was probably 17 when my parents separated. Those few years were all about court cases, lawyers and relatives paying us visits. As I got older, I had a boyfriend and the oldest sister who was in love got married. My father did not attend the marriage and I hated not having a father's presence on an occasion like that.
I did everything to break the chain of complexes that weighed me down. Things did not get better for me as I continued to survive with the buried inferiority complex, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts which were evident signs of a highly deteriorated mental health I struggled opening up about with anyone. Eventually, I wanted to be left alone. This affected my romantic relationship, my friends and all close-knit bonds in my life leaving stubborn scars.
In 2017 I decided to reach out for help. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. However, I was shut down by many who claimed that mental illness was a myth. I decided to take matters into my own hands for a change. I'm not sure if I have been able to rebuild my shattered bonds yet but it has definitely changed me into someone who reminds people that mental health is wealth.
Now, I’m an advocate for mental health and abuse. I have a voice and I tell my story out loud because someone out there will connect and understand how telling your story doesn't always have to be magical or romanticized to be inspirational. After all, life doesn't always come with a cherry on top.