“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”
Anusha, a 29-year-old PhD Scholar, spent most of her PhD days in a constant battle against stress and anxiety. Her mental struggles reached a peak when she realised that her research was not headed in the right direction.
Anusha recalls how this was one of the most tremulous periods in her life. She says that she was disturbed to the point where she could not sleep and began to take her frustrations out on other people. Even worse, she began experiencing panic attacks.
I would get panic attacks whenever I had to meet my supervisor. I would not be able to breathe, I would get a tight feeling in my chest, and my heart would beat fast.
Her supervisor’s dominating personality triggered these panic attacks.
“He would shout at me, and make demands saying I want this done by tomorrow, and he used to make me feel guilty for (everything) anything.”
Because of this, Anusha began to question her self-worth. She began to feel as if she were useless for not being assertive with her supervisor. Growing up always doubting her self-worth even as a child, Anusha found that her self-esteem was at an all-time low at this point in her life. This, unfortunately, led to some suicidal thoughts.
“I wouldn’t say I had low self-esteem, I would say I had no self-esteem left within me at all. I used to tell my close friends – why should I live a life like this?”
At this point, when Anusha believed that she could not take it anymore, she found hope again.
“I knew that my anxiety was becoming too much to handle. I was unable to sleep properly, and because of the lack of sleep, my migraines would get worse. It was a vicious cycle. This is when I decided to seek therapy”
The first counsellor she consulted was her college counsellor, who helped her through her problems for several months. Time passed and soon, Anusha had to change her lab and her supervisor as well. Things seemed to be going fine for a while. But her problems slowly crept back into her life.
“Even my second supervisor was very bossy and domineering.”
This is when Anusha finally decided to seek help from YourDOST Experts. But it was not easy in the beginning.
“In the beginning, I expected a change to happen overnight. And I was also very irritated with my Expert because of all the questions she was asking me.”
Anusha even began to question whether counselling would really help her or not.
Sometimes I would feel better after therapy, but oftentimes, I would find that my mind would go back to the same thinking pattern. This is why I used to keep asking my therapist, will I really get better?
However, after she consulted several experts on the platform, and began reading up on mental health herself, she realised that the process of change takes time.
“Whenever I was facing a problem, I would just go to YourDOST and chat with whoever was available. But the one Expert who really made a difference in my life was Yukti Rastogi”
Yukti Rastogi, a Clinical Psychologist with YourDOST, used CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) on Anusha to great effect.
After I began practising CBT, I started seeing results. Earlier, whenever I faced any problem, I would go to a therapist. I was not able to solve any problem on my own. But CBT taught me how to solve my problems, and how to adjust my thinking patterns
CBT helped Anusha recognise that her problems were all stemming from her thoughts, not the situations around her.
I realised that my emotions were being triggered by my negative thoughts, not the events. And I also realised that my thoughts are under my control, but the events are not
One of the most effective techniques that helped Anusha come to this realisation was maintaining a Thought Journal, where she would regularly make a note of all of her negative thoughts. This Journal helped her identify her triggers, and replace unhelpful thinking with helpful thinking. Anusha’s Expert also taught her how to put the right questions to herself, to find the right answers to the problems that she was facing. All of these techniques helped Anusha get back on her feet.
“Now I feel more confident that I can solve my problems whenever they come up. With the help of these techniques, whatever I face, whether it is stress, anxiety, or depression, I know in my mind that I’ll be able to manage it.”
Anusha has even changed her ways of thinking.
“Earlier I used to think that I can’t take this anymore, and would feel overwhelmed. But now I realise that I can take it, this will also pass with time. I have even begun to feel gratitude for the life I am now leading.”
Now, Anusha has her own advice to give her fellow PhD scholars. To those people who bury their stresses and anxieties in binge-watching or binge-eating, she advises them to take up therapy.
Burying your problems will not help you in the long run, because someday or the other, you have to face them. I would advise everyone to reach out to a counsellor.
But she also warns everyone that the process of self-change and improvement is a life-long journey.
“A lot of people want a magic formula to rewire their brain overnight. But the process of change does not work that way. It’s a journey with no destination and may take several years to happen. So I always tell people to give it time.”
With this piece of advice, Anusha leaves us with some very heartwarming words.
If YourDOST was not there, I don’t know how I would have handled it. Usually, counselling is a very time-consuming process, but with YourDOST, everything is just a click away. And I have found that the therapists are amazing and compassionate people. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Are you someone who has gone through a difficult phase and emerged stronger and better, with some professional help? Share your story with us to encourage thousands of others who might be struggling. Click here to submit your story.