She Slays: Crippling anxiety in her youth inspired Aakanksha to become a mental health advocate

Living with anxiety is no easy feat. This is how Aakanksha fought that devil after years of struggle and started her own mental health organisation.
how to deal with anxiety
Meet Aakanksha Kapoor, a mental health advocate.
Reader Submission Updated: 10 May 2021, 12:34 pm IST
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Reader Submission 

My name is Aakanksha Kapoor and I am from New Delhi. I currently run an organisation called Minds At Play that addresses stress, anxiety, and depression amongst Indian youth. I am a mental health advocate and today I want to share with you my tryst with anxiety. 

Brought up in a loving and close-knit family, my childhood was like a dream. I grew up as this ambitious and extroverted girl who would not give up on a dream, until it was fulfilled. As fate would have it, I also made it to one of the top colleges in the country. But as they, nothing lasts forever-things didn’t turn out far too well for me.

All of a sudden, the world seemed like an unbearable place to be in…
I found it hard to mingle with new people and get used to the diverse culture at college. Being at school was easy because everyone knew everyone and things seemed definite. But here, the possibilities were endless and there was far too much freedom than I could fathom. 

Even though I was an outspoken person, an internal tumult was increasing with time. I found it hard to confide in people and trust them with my feelings. This perpetual feeling of distrust also led to extreme anger issues.

Aakanksha Kapoor, a marathon runner.

With this unaddressed problem, I survived three years of college and then moved to New York-another new territory-for my further studies. This only made my condition worse. I realized in the initial months itself that whatever I was going through wasn’t healthy. I used to feel angry all the time, experience extreme mood swings and would end up feeling lonely and helpless.

There is this one particular day that I cannot forget. I was going back home and lost my way. I couldn’t reach out for help or connect with any of my friends. This filled me with so much anxiety and frustration that I started throwing things around without even realizing what I was doing or where I was. This was the loneliest moment I’ve ever had in my life. 

Coming back to India…
When my work visa expired, I moved back to India and started working in the fashion industry. Till now, I hadn’t addressed my issues properly and was still struggling within. Somewhere between the workload of my career and a chaotic state of mind, I lost my grandmother. 

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Even though it was a natural death considering her old age, it really bothered me to see someone I was so close with leaving me forever. This added to my fears regarding people and the bond I share with them. I didn’t have a lot of people whom I could trust and to lose the ones who were close was a nightmare. 

With great courage, in 2013 I finally took the decision to come out of my shell and seek help. Even though my general temper started getting better, something or the other felt amiss. After a lot of search, I confided in a therapist who I saw for the next two years. And life got better…

It is important for us to address our internal struggles
I understand the pain and suffering that young minds have to go through because I have gone through it myself. This is the only reason I started Minds At Play. I have learnt that even though it might seem difficult to come out and accept your issues, it is very important to do so because there are chances that your piled up emotions can come out in extreme forms like anger and harm your personal relationships.

Aakanksha Kapoor at Minds At Play.

It is very crucial to speak to trusted people about your problems and understand that whatever is happening to you is very natural and can happen to anyone. In this way, taking care of your mental health becomes an important necessity. And you must do it! 

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