I am Kiran, a 35 year old doctor, a responsible wife, a caring daughter-in-law and mother of a very lovely girl. Until the pandemic hit last year, I was like a superwoman performing all my duties perfectly. I was so confident, smart, wise and organized that I was sure to handle any hurdle in my life very resiliently. But I didn’t know that time, one storm was waiting for me to devastate my life completely inside out.
I remember that day around the 2nd week of March. As slowly Covid-19 started to spread in India. I stay in Pune which is one of the metro cities in India. Masks were introduced recently to society as a safety norm from Covid. I just visited the market and grocery store as usual and was observing if the so-called pandemic Covid 19 really entered the city. Some people started wearing masks for safety, I was still skeptical whether really Covid is going to be that serious a matter. It was the first time, a flight of fear went through me leaving me extremely worried about my loved ones health.
Soon in 2 weeks, Covid almost settled in several cities in almost all states. India announced a lockdown to break the covid chain. Day by day my fear and worry started increasing about the health of family members. My husband is well known doctor and works in a reputed hospital in Pune. He had been assigned the responsibility of Covid Care center in the hospital. In spite of being a doctor, I have closed my clinic since March end for safety purposes. The monster of anxiety inside me defeated a doctor in me. My husband became very much concerned for our safety as he was handling Covid patients daily. Hence he decided to stay near the hospital and will visit us seldom. After my husband moved out, I became more anxious, restless and irritable due to excess worrying. Newspaper and TV coverage of Covid news darkened my anxiety shade badly. Though something disturbing was spreading inside me I was able to do my daily functioning properly.
At the end of April finally the monster snatched me completely. My very close friend’s husband, who was also a doctor (just 51 years old), was admitted to hospital due to Covid. In a week time his health degraded and they shifted him on a ventilator. Within the next 4 days he passed away.
It was a big shock and triggered the storm in my life. This incident increased my fear and worry tremendously. I was persistently restless ,worried and irritated. My overprotectiveness and too much sensitivity towards safety measures started troubling my family. I keep on visualising that something bad is happening to my family. I used to be in action mode all the time thinking about what would I do if any mishap occurs? These thoughts were draining all my energy. Sometimes I burst out and start crying due to uncontrollable fear. It affected my food intake and sleep very badly. I couldn’t sleep at night and keep on checking if all family members are OK and breathing normally. It hampered my daily functioning. Not being able to do my duties and responsibilities on time had again increased my guilt, worry and stress. In 2 month’s time I reduced my weight by 15kg. I started looking like a chronically ill patient. Until now I started to recognise that my inner condition is not all well. I never told my husband anything about my internal battle.
After 2 months, in June my husband visited us. He noticed the changes in me and consulted a psychologist. Online counselling sessions started for me. My psychologist examined me and declared that I’m struggling with severe anxiety. Initially I was resistant towards therapy but later on it improved my mood. With her medication my intense fear somewhat relieved. My therapist was very understanding, caring and supportive. I could share everything with her and I was sure that she could understand all my feelings and emotions. She was the only witness of my fight with myself. I remember the day, it was my 11th therapy session. After that session at some point of time I felt like I met my older version again, the same Kiran who was confident, firm ,happy and lively. That was a eureka moment for me. I discovered myself again. I was so happy. After 16 therapy sessions in 2.5 months time I recovered 95 percent of my anxiety. She also taught me some easy handy relaxation techniques if at all if I face any threat. I feel like my therapist has come as an angel in my life to remove the darkness and give me rebirth.
Obviously I started functioning with my same usual speed and smile. Later on I opened my clinic and started treating even Covid patients. I won my most difficult battle of life and ready to face anything with the same resilience. I felt the need to share my experiences with others who might be going through such gray phases during a pandemic. I started writing blogs about mental health awareness, different psychological disorders , respective treatments available and pointers for help. Also started arranging mental health professional’s informative online workshops and webinars for needy people. Our group of doctors started a helpline for people in distress during the 2nd wave of Covid. This helpline supported many people in their struggle to meet life again. In short, my struggle and success story is now giving a Kiran (ray of hope) to all those who are going through the same darkness as mine.
The author of above story is Ms. Shraddha Maindale Deshmukh who recently completed her M.A. in Clinical Psychology (August 2021) from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Pune (India). During MA degree, she worked on research study on topic “Study of Parenting styles and Resilience among Adolescents.” She also worked for “Manomitra” helpline for Covid 19 patients during May 2021 to July 2021. She also holds Bachelor of Engineer degree in Computer Science (2002) from Shivaji University, Kolhapur (India).
Due to immense interest and passion in Psychology, she chose to pursue Clinical Psychology and is looking to work in mental health awareness field.