This article was submitted to us by an anonymous student at NLU-O.
I really had to debate a lot with my inner voice if I was ready to share this story or not. However, on being of assured of anonymity, I choose to do so. Before joining NLUO, I happened to make a lot of utopian assumptions about this place and its people. As I look back, the first week in this place is probably the most carefree time I spent here. I didn’t know anyone at that point of time and so, I didn’t have any reason not to hate anyone. But, this honeymoon period was not mine for keeps. The more time I spent here, the more I understood about different facets of life. I am still stuck in this understanding phase.
Anyway, the reason I chose to write this article was not to sound bitter. I only want to point out that there’s a devil in all our lives. It comes in different shapes and sizes, but it does strike us all. The devil in my journey came in the form of Anxiety Neurosis. I want to bring this to your attention, because it affects far more people than you would think. It affects you in such a manner that you initially do not realize what’s wrong with you. You start to over analyze every aspect of your life, every meaningful conversation you have had with the others around you. But forget the feelings of panic and fear. Ignore the palpitations and insomnia. What impacts you the most from such an experience is the reactions from your peer group.
My brush with anxiety neurosis happened quite early during my stay in college. It lasted for around 8 months. The unfortunate part was that I did not realize that something had changed in my body language and expression. I started to get paranoid about everyone. I started to get extremely possessive. I started to ‘creep people out’. Texting and constant phone calls only made things harder for me. Even in social gatherings, the only conversation that I tried to have was that I had a lot of problems and that I wanted my friends to talk to me normally. Little did I realize that my presence was emanating extremely negative vibes and that my company had become mentally exhausting to them. Slowly, things deteriorated to such an extent that I began to fear that I had lost them. I was terrified to speak to them. Yet, my only desire was to speak to them. This darkness engulfed me to such an extent that I began to have suicidal thoughts. [No, I am not ashamed to admit it.]
Then, one fine day when I couldn’t take it any longer, I broke down over the phone while talking to my parents and left without informing most people. My parents were shocked to see my condition. Then, began the long talks at home. It did not occur to any one at that point of time that this could have something to do with a mental illness. They did try to talk me out of my supposedly funny notions, but to no avail. Only then, did they feel the need to get me looked up. After meeting a psychologist, it was then diagnosed that I was suffering from anxiety neurosis. The worst part about it is that a lot of Indians are not very comfortable with the idea of having mental disorders. To the ignoramuses, anyone suffering from a mental disorder is considered to be a mentally challenged person. This issue is not taken seriously enough, in our country. Stigmas prevail.
I began to take medication. I was extremely ashamed to share this information because I thought that people would not understand and treat me as an outcaste. To this day, my other family members remain blissfully unaware of it. When I finally began sharing it with a select few, it drew confused reactions (the kind of reactions that I had referred to earlier). Of course, none of us were equipped to deal with it. A recurrence of the panic attacks forced me to go to a new psychologist. The cycle continued. I must say that by then, my relations with most of my old friends had dwindled away (barring few exceptions).
One of the major issues which I acknowledge is selective sharing. That was something which I should have avoided. But, the most hurtful comment that I received from one of my batch mates was that I was totally faking it and that I was an attention seeker. (I agree with the latter though) This crushed me way beyond any rejection. But then, in such an uncharitable environment, I guess that was my reward for trying to explain. Pretty satisfying. Wasn’t it? In a hateful rage, I decided to cut off ties with most people and become a loner. To my utter bewilderment, people started to question me as to why I had stopped being a team player. Too many wrong questions would hardly be able to elicit the right response.
But, one fine day, I was able to stop myself from hating everyone around me. I still am not sure as to how this happened. I spend a lot of time questioning myself if mental disorders are voluntary or involuntary. I haven’t found an answer to that yet. With less Vitriol in my heart, I was slowly able to reduce my dosage and then eventually stop taking any of the medicines prescribed to me. I was on medication for quite some time of course, but I still don’t think that it was the medication that helped me get better. It was something from within. I guess the proverb that change comes from within is true.
I put in a lot of effort from then on in order to understand myself and be safe. But, I guess, people change with time too. It was pretty heartening to see that some of the people, on whom I had totally given up, were also willing to put in an effort. With that support, things eventually got much better for me.
You realize through experience that some nuts are extremely hard to crack. But, once cracked, there is a gem within. I still worry over a lot of unimportant things. I still tend to overthink and overanalyze. I still have sleepless nights because of anxiety. But, I’m confident that I can handle it better now. Whenever I get worked up, I try to remember all the positive and kind words that I was a recipient of. Also, I tend to go back and read all the warm messages assuring me that everything is all right and that I was well cared for. You may choose to call me neurotic, but this actually heartens me. After all that had happened, I realized that more than any medicine, I was able to overcome this neurosis only when I genuinely wanted to change it from deep within. Also, acceptance and affection are pretty good antidotes to this vitriol within your body. Some of you might be aware of this story. Those of you who aren’t, have got to come to terms with the fact that mental illnesses are rampant among students. So next time, you come across a person suffering from one, it wouldn’t hurt for you to give them a few kind words. It goes a long way. Trust me.
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