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As I think about what being Indian means to me, it has shifted over time; it started with a lot of insecurity but as I’ve strayed from that mindset. Particularly, Bharatnatyam helped me find beauty in our culture. 

Starting in 7th grade I began to feel an onset of depression. In 9th grade, I remember telling my mom that I'm struggling with this, but she was more concerned about what others would think and its impacts on my future. During this time, I depended heavily on my boyfriend. After we broke up, my mindset changed: “Exude positivity”. I adapted lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and vegetarianism, but with that came skipping meals. I continued these practices into my freshman year of college.

At this point, I felt as though I couldn’t share anything with my parents regarding my mental health. I was already receiving judgment from others in the community for straying from S.T.E.M fields. Freshman year went by without any homesickness or loneliness. I became more involved with other activities yet, the Indian community offered a separation that allowed me to enjoy my culture and still be myself. It would’ve been helpful to hear how others in the Indian community have dealt with mental health with their families and careers.

Struggling with depression again sophomore year, my boyfriend pushed me to seek help. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. Boynton charged a couple hundred dollars; my parents told me to cancel my next appointment. “I don't think therapy works.” They’ve always been supportive, yet they didn’t seem to get the complexities of mental health.

By spring of junior year, I was struggling to even get out of bed because of my anxiety. I texted my parents, “I'm sorry but I need to go to therapy, I cannot function.” Their response was, “We support your decision.” Being transparent with my parents and receiving the right help has been so different than I expected. I don’t think I would be where I am without the battles that I’ve had and without advocating for myself like I did. 

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