Have you ever self-harmed before? Cutting, burning, choking, starving, sitting on train tracks, etc. Have you done it and enjoyed what it felt like? Have you ever looked at those who do it and wondered, “Wow, they’re idiots for doing so. That’s weak.” Have you ever watched yourself bleed and smile thinking you deserve that pain you’re inflicting on yourself? Or, maybe, you felt what it’s like to never be good enough. Have you felt that? Have you felt that in a crowd of people who cherish your smile, your charm, your dimples, your laugh, but you still felt like you weren’t good enough? Have you ever been bullied for the way you used to look in the past, by the same people who fight over your attention now? No? Well, I have.
My name is Nisha Kalamdani. I was born in Flushing, Queens and currently reside in Woodbridge, New Jersey. To tell you a little bit about who I am, at the risk of sounding too full of myself, I am that girl everyone craves for. A lady with the confidence that will rip yours to shreds. The kind of lady that will never deal with the nonsense, but will take a bullet for the ones she loves. People see this happy girl who smiles all the time, without any care in the world. They see the type of family I have and the way I carry myself and consider me to be royalty, as if everything has been given to me. They see a model with a body they want to take advantage of, disregarding the mind that comes with it. In reality, there’s a dark truth behind that smile on my face. There is a dark truth to that beautiful smile. And while I am happy now, that wasn’t the case for most of my life.
It’s confusing, right? What could this beautiful girl possibly have gone through? What’s the dark side? That’s the thing, just because someone has the looks, just because they have the smile, just because they are working out and socializing, that doesn’t mean their life is easy. Mine definitely was never a walk in the park, even when I was growing up. My dark side? I went through depression. Yes, I’m sure a lot of people have gone through some type of it. For a lot of them it may have even happened in their teenage years. And while nobody should feel like this is something normal, because it’s not, mine was definitely not. For me, it started when I was seven years old. That’s right. Seven years old. “How can a seven-year-old ever go through depression?”, you may ask. Don’t forget. Each and every one of us has a different upbringing. We’ve all dealt with different things. Different events. Different times. Different results. That’s why we call it life. It’s a learning experience so that we become a greater us compared to who we were yesterday.
I was seven when I realized I was depressed. The cause of it was from the fact that my home life wasn’t good and my school life was worse. When you’re a child, it’s easy to feel intimidated from things. There’s always a place called home that’s supposed to make us feel safe, but I didn’t have that. In my home, I was scared to do anything wrong because I would bear the horror of the punishments. It was so bad that I had stuttering problems every time I felt nervous. I would shake continuously, feeling it in my bones, but I tried to tighten up just to bear the physical pain that was coming my way. I was always compared to the older, more perfect, child. That escalated to the point where my brother, who was my best friend, became my enemy in my eyes. I never went a day without being told how much of a mistake and a disappointment I was. “Why am I alive then?”, I used to ask myself. School had bullies that snatched me of whatever worth I had left, something that lasted until high school. I stopped wanting to do anything with my life. Yes, at the age of seven. All I wanted to do was sleep. I hated any activity my mom would put me in, whether it was dance or tennis. I began to lash out excessively; anger consuming me. I never felt rage like I did in those moments, and then I realized, at a certain point, that something was wrong with me. It’s hard, when you’re literally a child and your mind goes through very adult-like thoughts and processes. I learned at the age of only seven that I was mentally unstable. It was the start of my downfall, when my life hadn’t even begun yet.
It became deep to the point where I found myself at 10 years old with a needle, skin ripped, and blood dripping. It was the first time I had attempted suicide. I was really scared. I didn’t know what had happened, what I had done, or why I did it. I didn’t even know where I learned it from because I had never seen it. But one day, I was really low, I was bullied and I lashed out at them. I got in trouble for it and they didn’t. I got in trouble at home, and the whole time nobody cared to ask me what I felt. But I felt horrible. The kid had three other friends mock me in a corner about how disgusting and worthless I was. It was devastating. I had never felt more suffocated than I did in that moment. I remember crying as I was sewing a button on my shirt and I was thinking about the lectures and the slaps. How I can never focus on anything but being dramatic. That I need to stop being so stupid. Replaying how irrelevant I felt was. How irrelevant I was. I looked at the needle and bam. The next thing I knew I saw blood, a lot of it. I snapped out of it because I was scared of what my anger could do, I didn’t know the capabilities I had. It was the first time I blacked out and did something, not remembering that I did it, or how it happened.
I didn’t manage to get out of it because I was 12 when I did it again. And at that time I didn’t stop myself, I let myself become suicidal because I became addicted to the pain. I found myself passed out on the floor before. I felt myself blackout. Maybe there was a point I realized “Okay, I don’t want to die”, but that didn’t stop me. Self-harm lasted me years. I had come to the point where before I went to school I had to let out the anger and pain, and so a few slits through my skin. I came home, same thing. I had to release the pain and the anger and so as soon as I got home.. a few more. It became a sickening habit. And if I didn’t do it, I went crazy, I couldn’t deal with it. The pain was horrifying, but satisfying at the same time. That’s the thing about self-harm: It’s like “runner’s high”, the adrenaline rush someone gets after a workout. Just as powerful and just as addicting as an alcoholic with a bottle in their hand. I needed to punish myself for how inadequate I was. I needed a way to relieve the anger and stress. I was submerged into that dark cloud above me, and not only did it house in me, I housed in it.
I was 15 years old when I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to convince myself to stop, I had enough of feeling the way I was feeling. I knew it wasn’t healthy anymore. There was no way of hiding my scars, they had started to settle deep within and there was a point it wasn’t making me feel any better. That’s when I told myself I had to take that energy and put it into something that would make me feel better. I told myself it was the end of my self-harming days. From 15 until now, I can’t sit here and say that I didn’t hurt myself once. Because I did still hurt myself. I had a few relapses. I’m human, I was still going through depression. And it was a roller coaster ride every single time. Just when it had gotten better, bam, I sunk into it again. Through my rape, college, not knowing my direction in life, my recent breakup, countless money issues, etc. I have dealt with it. But the times I felt like I needed to injure myself I have always, to the best of my abilities, taken that energy somewhere else.
And so when I was 15 years old, I joined a dance school called Satrangi. All my energy went into that. It was happiness that I could actually feel within me. When I felt low again, I picked up another hobby. Makeup. I learned and I learned and I learned until I became great at it. When I felt it again, I picked up Dubsmash. Again? Well, I learned how to be a damn beast at the gym. Again? Learned how to cook some great meals. The hobbies that I have, I’ve excelled at them because I consumed ALL my energy into it. The same energy that could have been used negatively on my body, in my mind. So that way, every time I felt like I was going to fall I had things to go to that would keep me occupied, keep my mind occupied, let myself be at peace because I had a way of lashing out. But I did it in healthy ways. We’re like balloons. When there’s too much air pumped into us, we will explode. Especially because there’s no way of releasing it. But all I did was poke little holes so that I wouldn’t explode. It couldn’t be an option anymore. I wanted to be stronger, better, happier, and wiser.
Depression caused a lot for me. I finally started breaking out of it in the beginning of 2018 and nine months before I turned 25. I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t feel sad sometimes. I’d be lying if I said that everything in my life is perfect. It’s not perfect. Some things still remain the same, but one thing has changed. My mentality. I have spent my whole life being told I was inadequate. I’ve been told that I wouldn’t amount to much. When you’re told that and you’re pursuing a career that most people can’t comprehend, it becomes difficult. And let’s be honest, there are only a handful of people who understand the path of an aspiring actress. But I know what it feels like to let people decide what you are for you, and so enough was enough for me. I chose a career that took my insecurities and put it in front of the audience with a spotlight, and I told myself I had two options: I could either fail or fake confidence until it became real. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears were put into the person you see in those pictures and videos. A lot of growth. A lot of hell and back. Trying to heal myself broke the broken me even more, and even when I didn’t want to do it anymore I still fought through it. Why? Simply because I was tired of the feeling I had.
There’s a part of me that is scared of rejection, feeling inadequate, disappointing people, and feeling like I am a mistake again. All of that still haunts me from time to time. But the person I am today isn’t despite of all this, it’s because of it. I am confident now because I wasn’t before. I am happy now because I wasn’t before. I know what it feels like to be in the darkness, and I’ve had it for so long that I do everything to make sure I stay in the light. I actually learned how to take my roots and regrow them. And you can cut me as much as you want, but my roots can never be pulled out and killed. Because I’ve been through hell and back, and so at 25 years old I stand here and say “Well, I’ve been through it. I’ve survived it. There is nothing in this world I can’t handle, bring it on. Watch me slay.” It’s simply because I know who I am now. I know my self-worth. I can’t be broken by anybody because nobody else made me but me, that’s it. We all have different types of struggles. We tend to deal with them differently. We all may have a dark difficult past but that doesn’t define who we are today. It defines who it made us today. It defined the type of person I decided to become. The one who wouldn’t give up. Someone who will rise from their ashes. People ask me if I’d ever change the things I went through. They ask if I could have it different, would I? I never answered that, but now I will. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve been through. No matter how horrifying, how devastating it was, it made me who I am today. Going from a vulnerable girl that would cut herself, to a grown woman with ambition and passion to do what she loves to do. I am wiser because of it. I am more compassionate because of it. I am fierce because of it. Most of all, I went from hating myself in the rawest form to loving myself in the purest form. I’ve survived it. So now, I say this again: There is nothing in this world I can’t handle, bring it on. Watch me slay. Go out and slay, babe.
My name is Nisha Kalamdani and this is my Project Why.