For the greater part of my teenage years, I found comfort in throwing up. I would throw up, then binge eat and then forcibly throw up again. I never realised what I was slipping into. In fact, for the longest time, it didn't strike me that there was something definitely not right about wanting to puke all the time.
And that's how I courted anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
Nothing mattered anymore -- friends, family, work. It's as if my head was tightly wrapped in a thick cloud that kept the rest of the world very far away. I was alone, with my obsession.
So there I was, socialising talking, reading, pretending nothing was wrong. At times, I had food all around me -- I would touch food, feel it, but only survive on lettuce and black coffee with Splenda, a sugar substitute. And when the urge to binge took over, it's as if I had no control over my limbs. I would grab all kinds of food and stuff myself helplessly. And guess what made me feel that I still had power over my body and my mind? Throwing up. That was my purge.
And then one day, the world crumbled around me. My twin sister came back to find me unconscious in my London flat. I was told that I lay curled up like a newborn on the blood-spattered wooden floor of my cosy little apartment that overlooked Selfridges.
The next thing I knew, I was trying to avoid the concerned stare of the genial-looking ER in the hospital. I squeezed my eyes shut and in my heart I knew I had to go back home to India.
I weighed 38kg and needed serious intervention. The only people who I knew would have me with my scars and demons were my family. So I ran back to them.
Psychological disorders like anorexia and bulimia (I suffered from a combination of both) make you your own worst enemy. However, with professional help, you come out of it and emerge a stronger, smarter human being.
What irks me, though, is that there is little sensitivity and sensitisation about mental health disorders. They are as life-threatening as cancer or AIDS. Your mental well-being is also crucial to deciding the quality of life you are living. Like you all know, severe depression leads people to end their own lives too.
My scars are reminders of how far I have come. It's a beautiful awaking where you learn to love yourself the way you are, appreciate those around you and see the real picture of how beautiful life is and some people are.
Moreover, every time I talk about my struggle, I feel as if someone is taking a little weight off my chest. It makes me feel free, empowered and happy.
This World Mental Health Day, give someone a hug, smile at a few more people. It costs nothing but you might just be making somebody's day.