Nirav (name changed), 21, is a BTech student at the prestigious IIT Roorkee. For the last 6 years, he has been battling anxiety and depression. Although he was not clinically diagnosed until quite recently, he always knew that something was amiss.
He also struggled with major self esteem issues and tells us how college was an intimidating experience for him. Once there, he experienced his next bout of depression.
“I was completely paralysed, my heart was racing and I just had this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.”
The COVID-19 induced lockdown made things worse for his mental health. He got into a difficult situation with his loved ones and it took a huge toll on his peace of mind. In fact so painful was this situation that he’s still not ready to talk about it. He found his motivation plunging too.
“I watch a lot of anime and one very common trope in those is the idea of never giving up and working hard on yourself. I always had the notion that even if I’m not good enough, I can still work hard and reach there. But it was so difficult for me to convince myself.”
The lack of a college environment made things really difficult for him. Nirav was cut off from everyone except for a few of his friends and he was slowly starting to feel suffocated in his own home.
I couldn’t study or work on any of my projects. I could see myself procrastinating but was unable to do anything about it. I felt very helpless.
He was also part of a college tech group which he had joined right before the pandemic. Therefore, he was still in the process of establishing a solid rapport with the other group members. The lockdown, however, put a distance between them as well. The club was a very integral part of his life and not being able to communicate with them was a huge blow for him. It further perpetuated his feelings of loneliness.
“I also experienced a loss of appetite. There was one point where I was very sick, yet could not eat anything. I was also unable to breathe from time to time.”
Add to this the fact that the effects of his condition spilled into his academics too.
I remember spending most of my time daydreaming with my book in front of me.
His moment of epiphany came in the form of an episode of a TV series where the protagonist, whom Nirav really looked up to, revealed that he goes for therapy. This is when he decided to give therapy a shot, signed up for YourDOST and almost instantaneously found his fit. Things started looking up for him when his therapist had to go away for a little bit, leaving Nirav a little disoriented. However, he did not give up and connected with another wonderful therapist, Ms. Madhura Saha. He has been under her care ever since.
Talking about his experience with his two therapists, Nirav points out a major distinction between the two.
“My first expert’s approach was a passive one. She was a great listener and offered some really helpful solutions but when I met Ms. Madhura, my life changed completely. She actively wanted to engage with all of my issues. So it was a very active discussion where every single question of hers made me want to start working on myself even more.”
Ms. Madhura also made him feel very comfortable and this is when he realised that this one was someone that he could trust completely. This automatically created that safe space for him.
The best thing about her was that she did not jump to conclusions or give me solutions but guided me to find my own answers.
She made Nirav read a bit about cognitive distortions. She also told him to write down his thoughts and categorize them as facts, opinions or irrational thoughts which really forced him to think a little deeper and question his biases.
Nirav proudly shares that he has seen some really positive changes within himself.
“I’m more grounded and have my own back for once. I finally decided to give myself the importance that I deserve. I’ve also established certain boundaries.”
In addition to this, he meditates regularly which helps him focus better. His anxiety still comes back from time to time, but he is now confident that he can fight it.
According to Nirav, people shy away from going to therapy because they are afraid to share their experiences with a stranger. And this is what he tells them –
Just try taking a few sessions before you come to any conclusion. Therapy helps you realize a lot of things about yourself and challenge a lot of notions that could be holding you back or stopping you from living your life to its full potential.
He believes in the power of listening and urges everyone to practice it.
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