Poetry and Mental Health with Shlagha Borah

For Shlagha, words have always been a major part of her life and now, she has made it her motive to provide a safe space for mental health discussion with her initiative Pink Freud. This week, she talks about these two things which are close to her heart and also about keeping sane during these crazy times.

  1. When did you first develop your interest towards reading and writing and when did you find yourself inclining more towards poetry?

I started reading when I was around seven or eight, I don’t remember clearly. It all began with an Enid Blyton novel, and gradually my taste evolved over the years.

I wrote my first official short story in seventh grade, and to be honest, it sucked. But that’s how it began, and I started being more regular after my 10th boards. And then there was no looking back.

I actually didn’t even know I was so comfortable with poetry until my mother pointed it to me sometime last year, and since then, I’ve been focusing more on that, because I love how easy and natural the flow of poetry feels to me.

  • In the last few years, poetry has developed drastically with slam poetry becoming one of the most popular forms of expression. In such a scene, how do you make sure your poetry is above average and stands out? Is there anyone you feel particularly inspired by?

Honestly, I’m not a slam poet, and will probably never be. I tried my hand at it, but somehow, something didn’t click. I feel like slam poetry is more about the art of performing than the art of writing a poem itself. And I decided I’d rather focus on my writing, than trying to put my efforts into something I’m not interested in. However, I really enjoy watching performances of a lot of artists. I have many, but I want to mention Rabia Kapoor here, because I feel she’s so wonderful and people need to appreciate her more.

Also, I don’t know how to make my poetry stand out. I just write honestly, and people seem to like it, so I guess I’m blessed that way.

  • Apart from being a poet, you are also very passionate about mental health and are one of the founding members of Pink Freud. How did you develop that idea?

Pink Freud was basically developed over a phone call with Raktim (the other co-founder, and my very good friend). We felt the gap between the general public and mental health professionals, and felt like it was so important to address this, and lessen the gap in some way. Thus,  Pink Freud was born.

  •  Would you say art and mental health are connected? What role does art have to play in process of building one’s mental health?

100%  For me personally, any form of art feels like catharsis, whenever I’m going through a rough phase mentally, it really helps me to release my anger, and calm me down.

  • The pandemic, lockdown and quarantine has completely changed the everyday lives of people around the world. At this point, staying inside the four walls of the house has become quite challenging and has a big impact on the mental health of people; suicides are on the raise along with murders and crimes. What do you have to say about that?

It’s true. We were not prepared for something like this, and it’s only natural that people have been feeling this way. There’s no one-step solution to this, what works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa. But I believe the best we can do is, try and figure out the things that bring us joy, and above all, be kind to each other, because that’s the least we can do during such turbulent times.

  • Besides being passionate about poetry and mental health, is there anything else you are passionate about? Tell us more about what Shlagha likes to do on a not so busy day.

Oh I’m passionate about a looooot of things, haha.

And I prefer to keep myself buried with different kinds of work, because that’s how I cope up with my problems (quite unhealthy, but it is what it is). But over the top of my head, something that truly, truly makes me happy is taking care of my skin, makeup, and I’ve recently started my YouTube channel too, because I decided I really love making videos too! It’s still a small community, but whenever someone comes up to me saying they tried out my skincare recommendation, or they finally found someone talking about affordable beauty, it warms my heart so much.

  • What’s in store for you and where do you see yourself going with this next?

Well, I really don’t know. Right now, I’m working a full-time job and working on an extensive academic research, and I don’t know where I end up in the next couple of years. But I know that I want to be a full-time poet/ author, and I am and will be working towards it in the near future.

Thank you so much for doing this with me, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy!

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