The Script’s ‘Hall of Fame’ bursting in my ears through the earphones, I rush past houses at 8pm on a cold December night. Not an excellent runner, neither one with great stamina, I continue to run every night and perform a limited number of yoga routines in the morning. All I wish to achieve here is a little bit of mental clarity and peace. And a fitter body is just an added bonus.
I left for the United States after school to begin my higher education in the fields of Psychology and Neuroscience. I had an amazing first year in the state of California where I made a number of new friends, got two part time jobs, participated in a number of events and built an amazing student life for myself. But, I also let go of my health, which led to a gain in my weight and a loss in my self-confidence. I didn’t really think too much about my physical appearance until I came back to India where my being ‘obese’ became a subject of conversation with everyone I knew. When I returned to the US after my summer, I fell ill. Migraines, homesickness, depressive traits and low confidence got the better of me and I took the first flight back home.
I realized my “sanity” is linked to my body in the fall of 2014.
This was one of the hardest times for me. I dropped out of college in the US and I was now back home – physically fighting recurring migraines and emotionally fighting depression along with the tag of being a dropout. I tried medication and then refused to take it after an entire groggy month. I realized if I had to get back to my old self, it was going to be on my terms and through techniques that would work for me.
I decided to work on my body – a root of my low self-esteem. Yoga, eating healthy and talking about my positive physical attributes to myself, really paid off. But it just wasn’t enough.
One night, I went on a walk to gain some focus and clarity. As I walked, my steps quickened and I found myself running. I ran in an attempt to run away from all the negativity that was bursting through my head. I ran to leave it all behind. Ten minutes later I found myself out of breath, a little sweaty. But I was alive with endorphins. The endorphins gave me the escape I needed, removing the negativity and instilling the motivation and hope required to start fresh.
Six months later and eleven kgs lighter, I am physically still a college dropout waiting for my new college to start but mentally, I am renewed.
Growing out of depression, embracing the ‘college dropout’ tag and ready to start school at one of the nation’s most promising liberal arts college, I feel ready to take on the world. These were some of the hardest and most self-challenging months I had ever faced but with family support and the help of my newfound love for physical activity, I grew up.
Next week as I celebrate the completion of my second decade on the planet, I have learnt the most important lessons of teenage years. I learnt to love myself, inside out and learnt to not just appreciate myself physically but appreciate and respect my mind and its strength. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t taken my Health (both physical and mental) into my own hands and worked to become the person I had always hoped to be but couldn’t find the strength to become.
Our personal challenges are unique to us but the path to conquer them is same for all – one that requires determination which itself requires a lot mental fitness. And how we achieve that fitness is upto us – for me it was through physical health.
Sanjivini is a people’s person. She loves wilderness, working out and just any kind of physical activity. Her passion to help others gives motive to her efforts in creating mental health awareness.