“It’s ironic how I am learning about gender rights at 9 AM every Tuesday along with the muffled violent abuses being hurled at my mother accentuating my professor’s droning voice.”
“My family is very aggressive and I need campus to open. Every virtual class I attend, I have to leave midway because of some fight.”
“Virtual vivas and cold calls scare me. I will have to unmute myself and then my professors and classmates will hear my dad threatening my mother.”
Does the above sound familiar to you?
Has the pandemic brought about for you, not just a crashing economy, strange Covid-19 remedies but also an added frustration of navigating classes on Microsoft Teams while being trapped in a violent environment with abusive family members?
Do you feel a special dread towards the hashtag #stayhomestaysafe?
House of Horrors
In the initial days of the lockdown, The Childline India received more than 92,000 SOS calls from children seeking an escape from the violence they were being subjected to while quarantining.
Now, add any diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness to this dangerous combination, such as anxiety (you can read about it here), or BPD, among the many others, and we have what is now being considered the biggest mental health crisis ever.
For residential college students, having an escape in the form of their dorms for at least 8 months a year is akin to Harry Potter’s life. Harry had his peaceful (if you discount Voldemort hunting him down) time away from the Vernon family, in the company of his friends, with a space larger than the broom cupboard that he could call his own.
Even for other students, having potential access to mental health resources at their educational institutions is something they might not have now.
For students, having the opportunity to submerge themselves in quintessential school/college activities for 7 odd hours would be a welcome change, if the only thing they have to do after going back home is to be the mediator in their parents’ battles, or listen to how mental health illnesses are “an excuse for disobedience” or “a joke”.
While the first step (especially if there is a threat to life) is to try to reach out to the appropriate authorities if you don’t want to do that…you can try these 3 IMPORTANT MENTAL PEACE STRATEGIES (No, we are not talking about “self-care tips” involving facials and hot showers) that can help you tide over your classes during quarantine:
Get FREE virtual mental health care support
The pandemic has had catastrophic effects, however, if we were to trace one silver lining of this pandemic, it is that healthcare consultations have moved online. They have become the norm rather than the exception.
Other than government-backed helplines, there are many mental health services out there that you can tap into from the comfort of your room.
Some of these are at a minimal cost, while some are for free!
While finding the right therapist is a trial and error process, reaching out to an expert and unloading some of your thoughts on someone who is trained to help you find a solution/coping mechanism can be extremely beneficial. Here are a few:
- Banjara Academy
- This extremely useful crowdsourced list by The Alternate Story has a database of mental health professionals, their specialties, timings, mode of counselling, etc.
- This curated list of volunteer experts who are a part of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP) contains region-wise details of mental health professionals across the country.
Don’t hesitate to ask for ASSIGNMENT EXTENSIONS
I know, it sounds like futile advice, but given everything that is happening, professors and teachers are also going through a transformative, and possibly traumatic time too, and are likely to be lenient in these unprecedented times.
You do not have to tell them your whole life story if you do not want to but tell them enough that they can gauge that you are struggling to cope. Chances are they would be more than happy to make accommodations for you.
If the professor is someone you feel you can confide in, you can consider telling them the entire situation because they might just have super helpful advice!
In case your professor is insensitive towards your situation, you can try to get in touch with your academic deans.
Don’t be scared. More importantly, don’t feel ashamed. The situation at your house is not your fault or in your control, even though it might feel like it is.
Don’t feel like no one out there will understand. Just be honest. If you need an extension to avoid failing, let your professors know.
GROUNDING TECHNIQUES for when it gets too much
There will be times when your home environment may overwhelm you enough that you might experience strange sensations.
These could be trembling, eye twitching, or any other manifestation of panic, or even panic attacks. In such instances, you must try to ground yourself.
Grounding means trying to push away the overwhelming feelings and symptoms by forcing yourself to focus on your current environment.
The most popular technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. The aim is to encourage you to focus your 5 senses on specific things around you. In a nutshell, this is what you have to do:
Ground yourself in 5..4..3..2..1..
Sight — Try to spot 5 minuscule details around you. Once you do, either say it out loud or if you are talking to someone, describe it to them. How many tiles are on your wall? What is the pattern on your teddy’s bowtie? Is there a particular painting in your room that you find funny, and why?
Physical touch — Try to process the textures of 4 things around you. Is your carpet too rough or too soft? Does your study chair feel rickety? Does your necklace feel cold?
Hearing — Concentrate on 3 distant sounds. Maybe the traffic? Or that one hardworking guard who whistles every 2 minutes? What about the croaking of an insect in your balcony?
Smells — Activate your olfactory senses by smelling 2 items with a strong aroma. You can play with your different perfumes. If it has just rained, step out and take in that beautiful petrichor. If you have scented candles, and you are not shaking too much, give them a go!
Taste — When you are undergoing a panic response, you sometimes might feel nauseated. Depending on how you feel, you could try some strongly flavoured items. Salty, chips, sweet chocolate, or even gum..take your pick!
The point of all the above is simply to shift your focus from all that is happening in your house. Try to take in other details that will actively ground you to your surroundings.
Would you like more strategies?
Have any of the above worked for you?
Share your story in your comments, so that we can create a community of love and hope!