The Seven Vows

First Vow
My mind was an area of conflict
In an entire decade of marriage
All he offered me was a land –
Mud-cracked, parched;
Full of wild weeds with life-splitting thorns
Everything I did was a question
With open ended arguments
Conclusion-less thesis

It broke me a bit

Second Vow
The noise grew in silence
And the silence settled comfortably
In my chest
Like a withered flower
He never raised his hand
But his pitch hit the threshold of my ears
My heart raced like a new lover
And the tears flowed like unlocked rivers

It broke me a bit more

Third Vow
I cried too much for everything
Mom said I always inclined towards sadness
Like a mango tree in April
With a womb full of fruits
Almost bent to kiss the earth
But how can sadness be a longing?
I too dreamt of starry nights, candle-lit dinners
And a I-can’t- live-without- utexts
Once in a while

It broke me as always

Fourth Vow
Then when I gave up on talking
Packed my expectations and threw them from the fifth floor
Burnt the smiles while the chimney
Sucked away the leftover energy

You named it an ailment

Fifth Vow
People said I was incapable of loving my daughter anymore
That I always sought solitude
But who knew of my howling heart
While you hurled at me your screams, yells
That was thrown as easy as a dart
But settled like greasy dust
Who knew of the ridicule that you gifted me
At every anniversary
Of the reminders of my incapability
To please you that you posted so frequently
As telegrams of distress

Sixth Vow
You chuckled while I struggled to find myself
You failed to see the minutes, the hours and the days
When I tried to fight back the lurking shadows
In my living room
Fight them hard until they wounded me enough
To surrender

Seventh Vow
Now I am too broken to be fixed
The demons have me by my head
They slay me in bits, nerve by nerve
I spot them in colours, in skies, in eyes, in butterflies
I guess this weariness isn’t a guest anymore
Or is it another act of permanence
Of beloved hallucination


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Poornima Laxmeshwar

Poornima is a Freelance content writer, Academic and Research writer and Proofreader based in Bangalore.

She has written this poem to speak of the verbal abuse, so common in many marriages, that can often lead to mental health issues.

What I Look For? by Kabir Deb

I claim what should not be claimed,
I claim darkness to see the fireflies and the stars,
I claim the serpents to love them more than the hatred they get from others,
I claim a mortal to live with sacrifice and hope,
I claim the winter to see the dead tries rising up with more strength,
I claim a wound to realise the weakness I have got,
I claim death of man/womankind to make the earth live in peace,
I claim sadness to measure the depth of the grief,
I claim fantasies to be in a fiction with a woman wearing a chiffon gown,
With soft steps and two drowsy eyes filled with the syrup of fairies,
I claim the curse of love more than the potion of power,
I claim the woman from the fiction to be in your serene beauty,
When you arrive I see you inside the seductive literary woman,
The watch keeps rolling over to unite at a place where I feel,
You must be wondering what, right?
It is the feeling which I usually trespass, even when I lie deep in the unconscious mind,
The feeling of loving you more than the woman,
The feeling of loving the negativity of the fiction,
To gather the courage of diving inside her lust,
And seek you with all the peace and fight loving each other.

©Kabir Deb

Continue reading “What I Look For? by Kabir Deb”

Embrace Yourself — Depression and it’s Continuous Struggle

Having struggled with depression for half of my lifetime, I identify so much with what Rich Larson said recently on Chris Cornell’s suicide.

In my journey to win over depression I have lived through some extremely dark times. Depression sucked me into some very dark pits but my belief in myself and the Universe (yes faith has a very important place in my life, perhaps it is the axis my life revolves on) brought me out into the light, each time.

Continue reading “Embrace Yourself — Depression and it’s Continuous Struggle”

From Internalising Stigmas To Transcending Mental Illness

Last Saturday, I and Jhilmil met at Vimhans. As part of Bhor poetry project, we were there to assess whether Vimhans, a well-known hospital that also had a mental OPD, in reality, could possibly be a habitat to invite poetry as part of mental therapy sessions. 

We tried contacting the director of Vimhans. Jhilmil had tried calling him before, but all she received was an out-of-office mail. Many of you may know since it’s out there in her biopic- Vimhans had been one of the mental institutions where Jhilmil was forcibly and wrongfully diagnosed as bipolar.

Vimhans had changed in last seven years. Jhilmil pointed out how it had been beautified.

An institution decorated with green climbers on white walls, a glass tunnel passage, a green garden with an open gym and a retro styled stairs going upstairs towards the terrace cafeteria. Such a beautiful structure containing people, suffering in the dark, getting treated,  medicated to get ‘better’ ? But all that inside that beautiful structure of a building.

I was actually excited to find that Vimhans actually supported different kinds of therapies; as from what I have heard, according to popular opinion, psychiatry didn’t quite harmonise with psychotherapy. The good news was that we got phone numbers of therapists who conducted such art therapies for mental patients and differently abled kids. I also appreciated the level of transparency at Vimhans.

Siddharth Ashvin Shah spoke about social stigmas around mental health

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From Vimhans, Jhilmil drove to the beautiful and oldest colony of Nizamuddin West, Delhi. It was an event organised by one of her friend where Siddharth Ashvin Shah, a well-known trauma recovery/stress management preventive physician who also taught psychosocial resilience was a guest speaker.

The topic was fighting social stigmas around mental health. He moved out the cliched talks of social stigmas.Very profoundly, he spoke of another kind of stigma that a sufferer could internalise. A sufferer at a point, himself/herself could start believing and living the very stigma society may wrongfully accuse him/her.

Accepting there is a problem is the first thing to destroy the stigma

It’s hard for the ‘can-do’ people to accept that some things they have done all their life have now become physically and mentally hard. Society tells them, ‘Yes, you have done this before, you can do this again.’

But the very idea of a mental illness is that it makes the simplest and most ordinary things hard in life. For someone suffering from depression, it’s hard to even get out of the bed the next morning.

If it’s hard for us to accept mental illness in ourselves, then I don’t think anyone else can make the society accept us with it.

Jhilmil, a spokesperson of anti-pharma, pointed out how in many cases, other ways of healing like therapies, exercise, love, acceptance and art can help in transcending the very illness one is fighting with.

Transcending the illness

However, each individual, each mind is suffering differently and perhaps, we need all help to feel better. Sometimes, medicines and a listening ear of a therapist may help you heal, or sometimes, you will need other ways to get better.

There is a need for balance, where both mind and body need to be healed. And at times, medicines only heal a part of your mind causing a lot of stress and side-effects on the body. Social stigmas stop us from taking all the help we can.

One thing most people who attended the event agreed on was-

Talking. Talk about it. Build your support group. Don’t keep it to yourself. Accept it and share it with the trusted ones. Hold hands and heal each other.

Poetry can heal the psychic wounds

Breathing is poetry of the body and poetry is breathing.

An article on Spirituality & Health explains how breathing is close to poetry, which in turn is the sign of wellbeing.

As we sit for pranayama ( breathing exercise), we develop a rhythm known as Kumbaka. It is those subtle moments between inhale and exhale and vice-versa. Closing our eyes, we will feel these natural pauses between the cycles.

Now, as you inhale and exhale, read this poem –

As you read poetry aloud

do it so that you are breathing

comfortably.

Let the sense of the poetry emerge

             from your response to the rhythms

                          and tonal variations of the sound

                                     as well as the meaning of the words.
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Robert Carroll, a therapist and psychologist, connects poetry with breathing. Poetry is a form of punctuation and line breaks. When we speak out loud, we pause for a breath.

Poetry is a world of metaphors. A canvas of memories and repressed emotions. Many therapists agree that poetry has healing properties and poetry therapy can help various disorders such as schizophrenia, acute psychosis, depression, prisoners, sexually abused children, terminally ill children, suicide survivors and more.

Continue reading “Poetry can heal the psychic wounds”

A Moving Video on Mental Health Got Lit On Social Media!

 

Jhilmil Breckenridge’s introductory video before the launch of the trust on 15 Oct, received unexpected amount of views and shares. Unexpectedly getting more than 100 views on Facebook, the video was well shared and viewed on Twitter as well. Such a simple introductory video that describes the issue of mental health touched a  lot of people.

It was a motivational moment for us to believe we are on the right path.

Enjoy the Video! ©Jhilmil Breckenridge

 

 

 

Treatment

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Art: Puberty by Edvard Munch, 1894

 

 

that was treatment
those hands crawling on your body
the poison injected
as you are stripped
dragged along the corridor,
the faint smell of formaldehyde
and phenyl

 

that was treatment
the laughing of nurses
the condescension of doctors
the asking of the same questions
everyday
until you utter the words they want to hear

 

that was treatment
that was treatment
that was treatment

 

in a hospital with walled windows
in a hospital with more guards
than doctors
that was treatment

 

the waking up
to odours of stale food
the laughter of guards
the ringing of their cellphones
in your cell
that was treatment

 

befriending of rajan, tour guide from ajmer
who spoke of love, loss and longing,
drooling, his feet in shackles,
his eyes telling me a hundred stories
that was treatment

 

taking a mother from her sons,
that was treatment

 

and when they strip every last bit of human dignity
along with your clothes, the skin on your bones,
the laughter in your eyes, and the sun upon your tongue
they walk with their heads held high
they are doctors, you see
treatment is the name of the game
and that was treatment

 

–© Jhilmil Breckenridge, October 10, 2016

Jhilmil is a poet, writer and activist who was incarcerated twice in India, in 2007 and 2012.

The Outsiders – Celebrating World Mental Health Day

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World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2016

The world over, rallies, parades, events are organised to help sensitize the world to become more compassionate, to help eradicate stigma, and to make people feel their voices matter, that they are not alone.

In collaboration with The Loud Whispers Project under the aegis of The Zine, Bhor Foundation aims to create a multi-city event, discussing, exploring, and brainstorming possible roadmaps for the future. At the present, multi-city events are planned at Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi, but we are aiming for a few others.

In addition, there will be an online event on the same day, through Google Hangouts.

Venue

In New Delhi, we will observe this day on Saturday, October 15, 2016 , 6pm to 8pm, at Cercles, T-2 Back Lane Deer Park, Hauz Khas.

Event Details 

Grafitti Wall encouraging people to scribble-sketch, make art, make their voices felt.
Open Mic Poetry
Panel Discussion

To join us at the event please fill the form below-

 

 

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Contact Details –

Delhi Contact: Jhilmil: jhilmilbreckenridge@gmail.com

Pune Contact: Reshma: sat.yugasandhi@gmail.com

Bangalore Contact: Meghna: gulatimeghna53@gmail.com

 

For more event details, stay updated via our Facebook Page