From Distressed to De-Stressed: This is Tanmay’s Inspiring Journey

7 minutes

Tanmay's story of overcming stress as a doctorate scholar

“The fact of PhD life in India is that everyone likes to guide or say something regarding our work. But nobody would really care and bother to ask a PhD scholar how their mental state has been?”

The words coming from 29-year-old Tanmay were not only concerning but alarming, too. Born and brought up in North Bengal, Tanmay is a person who loves to go the extra mile and be perfect with any work he gets his hands on.

Tanmay is a full-time PhD scholar at prestigious IIT and he loves the campus! Tanmay also likes to cook in his free time and adores painting as well. When the Covid-19 pandemic was emerging in India, IIT higher management announced that the students needed to evacuate the campus within a two-days notice. Since Tanmay is a doctoral researcher, he along with a couple more people, decided to stay back at the campus during the second wave of the Pandemic. But then one day, he was asked to evacuate the campus along with others as soon as possible, and Tanmay’s life was flipped upside down. In his own words, “These were the eight very crucial months I might never get back.”

2020 was the last year of fellowship for Tanmay, he had made plans and had the vision to do many things right after the scholarship, but since he was asked to move back to his hometown, he suddenly felt the drop in his motivation.

“I had a lot of work pending. I needed to go back to the campus to finish my work. At that time the pressure was high to support my family members. So if I can’t finish everything in time, I might be in a bad situation.” 

The first few days at home were pure bliss for Tanmay, but as the lockdown was announced, he started getting anxious about the completion date of his thesis. The curiosity that fueled Tanmay all these years was drastically dropped and he did not know what to motivate himself again.

Tanmay started observing behavioural changes in himself, as he began to distance himself and complained about always feeling stressed out.

“What can I say? I was in a mess! I could neither confront my parents nor comfort them.”

Tanmay started observing behavioural changes in himself, as he began to distance himself and complained about always feeling stressed out. With work not progressing and questions left unanswered, Tanmay started lashing out at his parents too, if they came up to him with any doubts. He was upset as he couldn’t make his parents understand his situation but were also adamant to not suffer like this. As the last resort, Tanmay started talking to his friends and told them about the persisting issue. With great support from his friends, Tanmay felt good about the situation, but sadly, that did not last for long.

“Many weeks ago, I had searched for YourDOST from IIT mails. I even read a couple of articles and blogs on the website but never thought of reaching out for help or guidance. This looked like the right time to me to give counseling a try.”

Tanmay was excited to start his counseling journey but hesitated a little to inform his parents, as he believed that his parents would disapprove of such. So, he decided to go ahead without any other support and chose the chat option of counseling. Tanmay mainly wanted to work on his anger management and lashing out issues, along with controlling anxiety. He got connected with Ms Madhura Saha from the YourDOST counselor team and kick-started his journey!

Madhura suggested to Tanmay to adapt ‘box breathing’ technique to manage his anger or stress.

With finally being able to discuss his problems openly and without being judged, Tanmay had a great first session with Madhura, where he discussed everything that’s been troubling him. The way Ms Madhura encouraged him to open up and not feeling any guilt, Tanmay understood how much he had been bottling up inside.

“I was asked to write my problems down and in the next session, Madhura and I used to discuss those. I have now learned how I can control my outbursts and frustrations.”

Madhura suggested to Tanmay to adapt the ‘box breathing’ technique to manage his anger or stress, and to Tanmay’s surprise, the method actually worked for him! He continues to do it even now.

Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths. It can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever.

As the sessions went by, Tanmay was amused to see how he has space now where he can vent out, without getting judged and even mentioned, “I look forward to the sessions every week!” Tanmay now looks at his issues in a different, more positive way and almost always finds a solution to it by himself.

“I thought counseling was a place to find solutions, but in reality, it is the space for me to safely release my thoughts and be at peace.”

Tanmay now takes each day, slowly and steadily. He still feels the road is long, but now, he is more confident than ever! He has been able to manage his anger as well. At most times, he still gets frustrated but now is able to identify his triggers and work towards minimising them. 
Doctorate community is the most neglected community in the current time. Not many people choose to hear out and support.

With the help from Ms Madhura and YourDOST, Tanmay now believes in himself and trusts the process, rather than getting anxious. He likes to give himself 3.5 stars out of 5 in terms of improvement and calls the counseling process a ‘safe space’.

When asked about Tanmay’s views on his counselor, Ms Madhura, he replied –

“Mirror can only show you the outer face of yours. But the inside of yours will only a few people know. The good parts and the bad ones. Madhura acted like a mirror for me. She showed me my true potential and also educated me on my shortcomings.”

Truly, Tanmay has been a true mental health warrior! He advised everyone to trust the process of counseling, as the reflection of it takes time; unlike a medicine like paracetamol!

Tanmay has a special message from all the PhD scholars in the country right now –

“Doctorate community is the most neglected community in the current time. Not many people choose to hear out and support. If I am one person complaining about these issues, I’m sure a lot of others will also have a similar issue. This is the time we all unite and fight against the stigma.”

From all of us at YourDOST, Wish you all the best for the PhD journey, Tanmay. You have been a true exemplar of a mature, calm, and dedicated individual!

Tanmay’s Warrior Tips:
1. No need to hide anything from the counselor. The more they get to know you, the better!

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.

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