I was in a serious relationship for 2 years. Things were going very smoothly, but after our families met to discuss the marriage, he suddenly broke up with me. And I had no idea why. Then he suddenly announced his engagement to someone else. It was very difficult for me, as I really adored him.

Not long after that, I went for a drive with a friend and a cow came in front of the car and we crashed into a tree. I was thrown out of the car, but his head hit the steering wheel and he died on the spot. I was admitted to hospital for two and a half months, and in that time, nobody would answer me exactly when I asked what had happened to him. It was only when I got back that I found out he had died. And everyone was blaming me for his death. After that, I became a very silent person. I used to sit in my room with the lights off for hours.

Next, my parents arranged for me to get married. I only met my husband on my wedding day. Then, after three days, he went back to Australia and I had to stay with my in-laws for 10 months. They were very good people. They kept me as a daughter – but still without a husband, it was not a normal life. Then I came to Sydney.

My husband and I had talked together on calls. But it was very different when we had to live together. At first, we lived in a shared apartment with another couple in Harris Park, which meant we did not have any privacy except in our room. And slowly we realised that he was not up to my expectations and I was not up to his. We were fighting every day, and sometimes I wouldn’t speak to him for three or four days. It was really lonely for me when he went to work, and I used to just sit alone with my phone, staring at stupid things on Youtube. I used to hate myself so much I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.

I would often cry for around four to five hours at a single stretch, and one day I went to the doctor, and asked him why. He gave me a questionnaire, and after I finished, he told me I was in depression because of PTSD related to my accident.

I thought, ‘Oh my god, what is depression?’ because in India, depression doesn’t exist. For my parents, depression is something like the common cold, something where you talk to random people and it’s gone! If you say that you are mentally suffering, people will say ‘Oh, don't tell anyone’.

So the doctor helped me understand what depression was, and PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – and arranged for me to meet with a counsellor. In my first session, I actually did nothing but cry for one whole hour, but in my second session, I was much calmer and I told her everything that had happened.

One day, my husband and I had a fight and afterwards, I told everything about me – what I had suffered before marriage to him. And after that, he felt much more empathy towards me.

Sessions went by. My counsellor gave me many great strategies to improve my relationship and my relationship got a lot better. She played a very important role in my life and she really helped me to accept life as it is. Before, I was always asking myself ‘Why me?’.

After a few months, my husband and I went to live in the apartment of a friend who was away in India. This was the first time we lived alone, which really made a difference.

During that time, I started reading the books on my friend’s shelf. I read and read, nearly 40 books – Sherlock Holmes books, books on feminism, and especially spiritual books like the Bhagavad Gita. I had never read that much before. And because of the reading of the spiritual books especially, I started to feel a great peace. I learned to appreciate myself, to love myself at any cost, no matter what. At the same time, I started volunteering with the Smith Family, and doing a Diploma in Childcare. Slowly, things got into line in my life. Then a friend of mine told me about meditation and I met my mentor who I am now taking classes with. I would suggest for everyone to have this meditation practice, even if only for 10 minutes a day.

People in India think that you go abroad, and earn lot of money and your life is set, but this is not always the true story. I would really like to tell people that if they are suffering mentally, to not be afraid to seek help from a counsellor. If you talk to your GP, you can get some free sessions, and there are a lot of good people who are always ready to help you out.

They have such an important role in helping to make you the best you can be.

Akanksha
India
Arrived 2018

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