What is a pandemic other than a vicious outbreak of a disease that kills mercilessly and indiscriminately? Is it a mirror that reflects the mistakes and the greed with which we live? Is it an opportunity for a new beginning? Or is it a reminder of how delicate life is, something which we easily forget until we cross paths with death? History has it that it’s a little bit of everything.
Every time our world has been hit by a pandemic, societies have capsized and lifestyles have changed. It has made us rethink life and death; re-evaluate our priorities and what’s important to us; and reimagine health in a whole new way.
Other than being a threat to life, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a breeding ground for mental and psychological issues. It doesn’t come as a surprise because when you have death roaming the streets, fear, stress, depression is what you get. But for a community that shies away from talking about mental health—mostly due to the stigma and at times due to the lack of knowledge—how do we deal with these pressing psychological issues?
Much like everyone else, I too have been affected by this pandemic. Not infected but affected due to the stress, the fear, the anxiety brought along by the wave of the virus. Usually an optimist, for the first time I felt like I was living a nightmare. The fear of contracting the virus, the endless worrying for my family and friends, and living in isolation for weeks that could easily turn into months—the nightmare seemed long and neverending.
Bottling up our fears and negative thoughts is something we all do, and so did I. Finding myself unable to focus on a job I love, I figured I must be getting lazy. But what finally made me sit up and take notice were the sudden shivers, weakness, pounding heart, and stomach ailments. They came unannounced just like the pandemic. It was only after consulting the doctor, I found it was anxiety crippling me one day at a time.
An anxiety disorder is not an intermittent feeling like event-based anxiety before an exam. This disorder stems from the bitter emotions you can’t control, which keep on growing if left unchecked. Anxiety and any mental issue for that matter can be treated by proper medication and supervision. But more than a doctor, you need awareness, acknowledgment, and knowledge to rise above the anxiety and stress, the offspring of the pandemic.
Here are some of the aspects I learned about mental health that helped me take control of my emotions and anxiety and made me calmer and stronger.
It can happen to anyone
Mental illness can happen to anyone—a simple yet powerful fact that I had heard about but never paid much attention to. Most of us are unaware of the most common mental health disorders such as anxiety, and believe that such mental and psychological concerns are rare and only “happen to others”. This is the biggest myth of all. According to a WHO report, 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
When you know you are not alone, the stigma around mental issues begins to disappear. Even our beloved celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Evans, Sophie Turner, and Prince Harry recently opened up about their struggles with mental illness—further emphasising on the fact that it can happen to anyone.