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Anxiety during the Pandemic – A Personal Anecdote

I am 18 years old right now. In the lockdown, I started to feel very anxious, often I would cry and wouldn’t even know the reason why was I crying. I told my parents that I want to opt for Therapy. My parents have always been aware of mental health issues because my mom has had OCD and depression. They agreed and supported me. I went to the therapist, the same therapist who treated my mom. I told her about my issue and the required treatment began in September 2020. She suggested that I go to a psychiatrist too because she felt I needed more than just Therapy. The psychiatrist again was the same person who treated my mom. I got the required treatment and the required support. By January 2021, I began to heal and I came out stronger. Instead of victimizing my struggle with anxiety, I felt like a badass for smiling, talking, studying, and doing the same things that any other person would do, even with such turmoil in my head. I started to talk about my story on social media platforms because I knew that there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health even today.

When my first article got published, I received over 20 DMs on Instagram. Out of those 20 DMs, most of them told me that they had been suffering from anxiety too for a very long time and asked me for advice on how they can overcome their anxiety. What I could do at Max was to be there as a listener when they were in pain and just provide emotional support. I knew I couldn’t help them cure their anxiety, after all, I am not a professional therapist or psychologist. I suggested that they opt for therapy and take professional help. The replies that I got from most of them really saddened me. Almost all of them told me that professional help is not an option for them because their family does not believe in mental health issues. Some of them were way too afraid to tell their loved ones that they were suffering from a mental health issue because they thought that would really worry their family as mental health issues are considered such a big deal in various societies. Some of them said that they are way too young to take professional help on their own and will have to take help of the family. Some said Therapy or take any kind of professional help regarding mental health, is way too expensive for them. They told me about how they were in pain, how their chest would feel heavy, how their head would start to pain because of the anxiety they were feeling all day long, and how they wanted to just get rid of all the turmoil that was there in their heads.

Listening to the plight of all of these anxiety survivors who reached out to me, I felt, professional help regarding mental health is still a privilege/luxury. Why most people refused professional help for anxiety is because of two reasons. The first reason being the stigma surrounding mental health issues and the second reason is the lack of affordability of mental health aid resources. People are made to believe that mental health issues do not require professional help. We need to understand that our mind is a part of our body. If we seek help for typhoid fever, we can similarly seek help for mental health issues. This is the most important reason I decided to talk about my story because I wanted people to know that it’s normal. We can talk about anxiety and mental health illnesses just like we talk about any other disease or discomfort. Our mind is a part of our body. If the body needs help at times then so does the mind. Time for us to normalize mental health, break the stigma surrounding it, and make therapy a little more accessible and affordable for all. Therapy should no more be a privilege or a luxury. The least we can do to break the stigma and normalize these issues is by talking about them, reaching out to more and more people. Let’s do it! Be kind, be aware and make aware. High time we get over these taboos!

 Photo Credits: HuffPost UK

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