The current Covid19 situation is something that has made a lot of people realize the value of mental health. Staying locked down and the fear of catching the infection along with the anxiety of losing a job and meeting the expenses is way too much which we were not prepared for. Like everyone else, I too have a story to share. So, let us begin.
It all started in March 2020, when the city people were getting infected with the Corona Virus Disease and there were no positive cases in my nearby places. I was doing just fine, staying at home which I usually do. Since I work from home, I had my schedules fixed. Oh by the way I run a small company where we work with the rural women of Himachal Pradesh. The basic agenda of the company is to create work opportunities for rural women of our state. We deal with local and traditional handicrafts, herbal tea, and other traditional food items. Since I have to meet people in various places, I decided to stay in three different locations so that I can save on the hotel expenses. So, as I mentioned earlier, it started in March 2020. It was 18 of March and packed a few clothes and essential things when I left Shimla to Nahan, where my parents live.
I still have the bus ticket and I have kept it because that was quite an adventurous bus ride and it was the last time I was on a bus. The ticket is an important reminder of how my life changed in all these months. So, I was traveling because there was some travel to happen on the 19th of March. I consider it a jinx to tell people about my travel plans before I take the bus, so I called up my mother when I was halfway to my destination. She told me that the travel plan has canceled because of the situations related to the global pandemic caused by Corona Virus. Well. I was not as pissed as I should have been. My bus journey was fine until we had a flat tire. It was around 10 Km before the town and there was no help. We were stuck in the jungle and it quite late and dark in the night. There were no other female passengers on the bus and for a matter of fact, there were very few people. I have been in similar situations before, but it was scary because my phone battery was 1%.
I was in my parents’ home and I was doing fine. In a couple of days, Janta curfew was announced on 21 March. In order to honor our emergency workers, we did what our prime minister asked us to do, ring the bells, clap, and make music. It was a fun activity followed by the announcement of lockdown 1. That really made me anxious. It’s not that the place I was staying in wasn’t comfortable; however, I could see my work suffer. So I thought of beating the stress with some online fun quizzes, taking up photography challenge, online courses, and also installed games on my phone that I don’t usually do. Life was good for some time but the situations in Covid19 and the online updates related to it made me depressed. People in my state were tested positive. Soon the news of a particular religious minority in India having a gathering came into the surface and the whole country started talking about it. There was hate spread for them and people started blaming them for spreading the virus. It was difficult to cope with the internet with the flow of Corona Virus Disease updates so I switched to cooking. I learned a lot of new dishes and cooked for many days.
So, soon my birthday month came and each year I get some Birthday allowance from my parents that I use for traveling. I no more feel excited about celebrating my birthday however the birthday trip makes me happy. This year was different, I was bound to stay inside my room because of the conditions outside. However, we could go to the market on alternate days to buy the essential stuff, basically vegetables, fruits, and groceries. By now, the policies of our government had started making me upset because the daily wagers and the poor people were suffering. They were not prepared for the lockdowns and they had no money to buy groceries. My mother had raised my birthday allowance so I had double the money I used to have before. I thought of giving some food items to poor people, thinking at least someone will be happy on my birthday with a stomach full of food. So I went out wearing a mask, which was another challenge. I suffer from chronic sinus because of which I cannot breathe properly. Wearing a mask made it even more difficult. More than the breathing problem, I got my first panic attack during one of my visits to the market as the shopkeeper asked me if I want to click a picture with the poor people while I give them some food. I was in tears and my heartbeat was difficult to manage. I don’t think I ever wanted to click such pictures. It sounded quite an inhuman act to me. I also saw a lot of people not wearing a mask, so I made some and gave it to the people in need. It was tough for me to visit the market again as it reminded me of the panic attack I had. So, I still hesitate to go outside.
I thought of not celebrating my birthday, but it was after around a decade that I was at my parents’ place for my birthday, and I thought of not letting them feel that they produced the biggest disappointment of the century, so I cooked for them.
My mental health was not great, but it wasn’t that bad also. Also, the isolation and other rituals of the Covid19 were just normal things for us. My family is weird; it’s not like other people. Also, it wasn’t too difficult for us to cope with the new directions given by the WhatsApp University toppers on how to sanitize things; we have been doing that since forever. So, when people come to our place, we make sure to sanitize everything by the time they are gone. Yes, we do that. We get stuff from the market, keep it in quarantine for a day and then sanitize it properly, and then it can enter the home. We are not allowed to handshakes with people forget hugs, we see people as germs, we are that weird. So, we coped well with these things as we were already doing that, but it felt good because we were no weirder, it was the new normal and everyone else was doing it.
Soon, I developed the fear that my company was not making any sales. My business is getting nowhere and I had rents and bills to pay. It made me depressed again and with the pressure of Covid19 spreading everywhere it was a hard pill to swallow. I had no choice left so I thought of distracting me. For a couple of weeks, I dunked myself into making sketches and then I switched to writing and finished writing the much-awaited book, that I started writing almost a decade ago. While I was on it, my mother and brother fell sick. It was chickenpox. Handling household chores, writing, and draining my brain was a pile of stress that I had stuffed inside my brain already overflowing with emotions. It made me sleepless, restless and I was tired. Soon we lost some film stars and the internet went on the drive again. Everyone posted emotional messages and I wasn’t able to take this emotional breakdown.
It was my parents anniversary, I was dealing with a load of different forms of mental breakdown, but I decided to surprise them with a small house party and some handmade gifts. By then my depression from the past had already knocked my door. Since all these days I was away from my friends and there was so much that I wanted to share but couldn’t considering the wellbeing of their minds. I often visited social media for escape but it was already full of depressing nonsense. People were clearly showing the signs of FOMO and breaking the news. Everyone wanted to be the first one to set a trend and not for anything happy or positive but ll the bad things. In this phase, I had un-followed and blocked some accounts that made me hit a level of anxiety. I had to shut my company. Number one, it was making no sales, and I had to pay a lot of taxes and fees that made a big hole in my wallet.
There are different signs of being in depression. I tremble a lot, feel scared, scream often out of fear and I sleep a lot. My mental health was not good, and my financial condition was also doing worst. To add cherries to this cake, I accidentally broke my phone and I was clearly in no financial condition to afford another Apple phone. Somehow, I managed to fix it with cheap and copied parts but I lost all the beautiful memories with the lost data of my phone. In the meanwhile, an actor in India committed suicide because of depression. That was sad news but what followed afterward was more depressing. People started sharing pictures of his dead body, posting pictures of the dead actor with captions that they are available to those suffering from depression; all this was so pretentious that I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped using social media and told my best -friend that we should talk more. It was a positive sign and I felt better after a long time.
Soon, I got back with my work and sent the first order with whichever I could do and this also happened because of a dear friend. I am hopeful about the future but I still feel that it is going to come back.
Once you deal with depression, it hits you back again and again. Talking to friends helps for some time but it is important to take professional help from mental health experts. It’s been so long I haven’t been to any therapist; however, I would like to fix an appointment soon as handling depression is not an easy job.
Also, it is my request to people, not to take any big step before considering help. As I always say, It is OK, not to be OK. There are millions of us who are struggling to find mental peace and there are so many people who claim they want to help you, however, not everyone can deal with us. But we must find a confidant among us. Talking is not the solution to depression, but it surely makes us feel lighter. This is a tough time for everyone and for those already fighting toxic relationships depression, abuse of any kind are more likely to be affected with things going around, it is also the time to know who your real friend is. So, be patient, I won’t say do things that make you happy because I know it will temporarily make you feel fine, but you will be back to it as soon as you are bored with it, but why not filter things, people, and relationships in this tough phase? Why not encourage each other and uplift each other? Also, it is the time we must build boundaries for people and energies that claim they will be there for us, but in reality, they want to suck our energies by knowing our weak points. Let’s make some small goals, and try to achieve them. Let’s live in denial for some time and take a break from social media or anything that makes us anxious. If you have read it so far, please drop in a comment and encourage me, I want to be happy.