I had been tracking the pandemic since its inception in China. The news brought details of what was happening in China and then later in the US.
I knew it would come to India. It was like an impending crisis, a bomb going tik-tok ready to explode on us any time. Despite tracking it closely, when it happened I was scared, distressed. It contributed to the troubling anxiety I already had.
The year 2019 was a particularly difficult year for me. I realized that I had been suffering from anxiety for several years now. In addition, I suffered from a condition that intensifies every other condition a person can have – loneliness. It amplified my anxiety. All old sores came alive.
There was crying for days on end, for reasons I did not even remember by the end of it. Lying in bed day and night, glued to the gadgets as if I was born with them. At nights, I slept holding on to the pillow or the bed even, so that I do not jump out the balcony.
By the end of the year, I was only getting myself together when the pandemic hit. My anxious mind started wandering again. There was a deafening silence everywhere, from which there was no escape. It was as if the emptiness in my mind manifested itself in a real, physical form. It was 2019 on repeat. My inner numbness became even worse when my mother was detected positive for COVID-19.
My mother is a health worker. She had been working with COVID patients since March 2020. She, like other health workers, knew that contracting the disease was a possibility. I, on the other hand, was not ready for it. I was aware of it but not ready.
The day of her admission to the COVID ward was one of the worst days of my life. Only till the next day. Her doctor informed us that her condition was critical. She was going to need all those medicines and treatments I had been reading about in the newspapers – Remdisivir, Tocilizumab, plasma therapy, and more.
For 10 days, she fought in there. And I fought with my mind out here. It played all sorts of tricks. But I tried to remain strong and optimistic for my mother. I gave her strength even when mine seemed diminishing. My mother won her battle, came out strong. My mind lay at ease. She was going to be on medication for 3 months. However, she was going to be okay.
At home, I saw her battling with her own anxiety and insomnia. But all through that, she smiled. She pushed back her demons. That gave me the strength to push mine.