“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” -William James
At the tender age of 20, Rahat found herself struggling to adjust to her new life away from home, in college. The change was immense. From living a fast-paced urban life in Delhi to the rural landscape in Kurukshetra, Rahat found the shift extremely difficult to cope with.
“In Delhi I used to always keep going to malls, partying etc. but in Kurukshetra, all I saw were farmlands around me everywhere. This was a very difficult change for me.”
She also found that life was getting tougher since she was no longer the pampered kid that she had been at home and at school.
“When I was in school, I felt like I was on top of the world. I was the only artist there, and I won many international competitions. But when I got to college, I realized that everyone who entered college was the creme de la creme, and now you have to prove that you are the cherry.”
With the immense amount of competition that she was faced with, Rahat began pressurizing herself.
“I had somehow convinced myself that I was the last rank to enter my college, even though that was not the case. I knew that unless I scored really well, I wouldn’t be able to enrol in the subjects of my choice. Because of that, I kept pushing myself to work harder and harder.”
Rahat pushed her boundaries day in and day out. She recalls that for the tasks that her peers in college would take two hours to complete, she would put in five hours worth of work, just to improve herself. This, however, took a severe toll on her mental health.
“I remember this one of them when I had scored pretty low in an assignment, and I called up my father crying uncontrollably. I got very nasty thoughts in my head, things such as I want to end everything now. I told my father that I didn’t want to stay in college anymore and that I wanted to go back.”
Rahat then took a week off to go back home to her parents. However, her problems continued to persist, and her anxiety and frustrations made her cranky all the time.
“Whenever my parents would point out to me that I am being cranky, I would get irritated that I was working so hard, and yet they are commenting on such things.”
But Rahat finally realized that something was wrong with her and that she was not being herself.
“Drawing was something that I used to do to calm myself down. But now I was only doing it for the sake of assignments, and I saw that not only my thinking capacity but also my creativity was declining.”
Fortunately, however, Rahat got a one month break from college due to the CoViD-19 pandemic.
“I was very happy about going back home. This is when I thought I’ll take some time for myself, and I reached out to Experts on the YourDOST platform. I was initially hesitant to do this, but I thought that I should give myself a second chance.”
The behavioural changes that Rahat noticed within her was the main reason that she sought help. She had begun to turn to comfort food, and any other way to possibly escape her stresses and anxieties.
“If I ever had to work beyond midnight, I would get extremely anxious and begin sweating and everything. I realized that I was not the same person I was before.”
But her Expert on the YourDOST platform, Abhirami, helped Rahat find herself again. Noticing that Rahat was a creative person, Abhirami went about the counselling process in a creative way as well.
“She asked me to write down five things that I love about myself. In the beginning, this was very hard to do, but now, I have almost fifty things that I have written down about myself.”
Rahat also recalls how she used poems to express her feelings as well. Not only this, but she was able to bring her stresses and anxieties under control by applying the techniques that Abhirami taught her.
“She told me to divide things up into what is within my control and what is no. I then began to focus on those things which were within my control.”
All of these techniques continue to help Rahat even today. When she began experiencing pain in her right hand due to her extreme anxiety, she once again opened up the book in which she wrote all the things that she loved about herself.
“Being a creative person, I had written that I loved my hand. This pushed me to work on improving my hand, I did exercises and made it work. Now my hand is back to normal, and I have got my precision back as well.”Rahat notes how this type of journaling has paved the path of self-exploration and self-love. She is extremely grateful to her Expert for enabling her to take up such a journey for herself.
“My Expert was so patient and encouraging. Whenever I felt even the least bit uncomfortable, she would realize it and not force me to do anything I didn’t want to do.”
For Rahat, Abhirami became a friend whom she could count on.
“My Expert gave me the name “Rahat”, which means relief in Urdu. Whenever she called me that, it used to automatically calm me down, and provide me with a sense of relief. What she did for me was amazing”
Counseling gave Rahat a non-judgmental space in which she could work on her troubles. She recalls how her therapist patiently sat with her, helped her understand how to get better, and chatted with her compassionately whenever she could. This is why Rahat encourages everyone who is experiencing stress and anxiety to take up counselling as well.
“I know a lot of people are worried about their secrets being known by the counsellor. But unless you open up, you will never see a change. And the best part about the YourDOST platform is that you can choose exactly who you want to open up to.”
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