My anxiety and grief management journal
By Navya Chelluboyina, University Innovation Fellow from Kakinada Institute of Engineering and Technology
Editor’s note: This article mentions suicide
This article was featured in the Perspectives section of the latest edition of the journal, Change Forward, published by the University Innovation Fellows program. Read the journal online here.
Working from home, lockdown did not affect me much as an employee of a multinational corporation. Life remained undisturbed even after relocation of work location. Piles of targets to meet daily along with home routine kept me busy for months after lockdown was imposed.
Everything was in flow! I lost track of days that went by without talking to a special close person in my life. I kept on postponing my thought of giving her a phone call to have a small chat. One day when I did, I received the news that she quit her life (suicide). I denied the very fact that she no longer existed. I believed it wasn’t true yet I was afraid to ask for the truth one more time and chose to stay in denial not for minutes or days but for months.
“Little did I know I had high functioning anxiety. When I went to little family gatherings, my whole body shivered with fear out of nowhere.”
I shut myself behind my room door from everything that connected me to the outside world. I resigned from the company I had then worked in. I cut off communication with everyone. I completely isolated myself.
Little did I know I had high functioning anxiety. When I went to little family gatherings, my whole body shivered with fear out of nowhere. I was able to reach out to one or two friends who kept on saying “try to stay calm” while my whole consciousness shifted into my brain, bouncing side to side with sharp unfocused consciousness, going blind to the physical world around me. I made instant judgments that everything and everyone around me were having bad intentions about me. I used unhealthy distractions just so that I didn’t need to feel the pain and suffering. That temporary dopamine kept me happy for a small period of time only. So I got used to that temporary happiness more and more.
I wished it never happened and rethought every possible situation.“I should have done that,” “ I wish I knew,” “ Where did I go wrong,” “did I ignore or haven’t been supportive,” “only if I had the chance.” This loop of self-worth questioning kept on rolling inside my head for several days, draining me physically and mentally, and at the end making it another non-productive day.
The whole grief process and unhealthy choices disrupted my overall emotional health and cognitive thinking. All I could think of was bad outcomes, and focusing on career growth has become the most difficult and impossible thing.
“I kept on collecting coping mechanisms and focused on only one thing: consistency in showing up for myself every day.”
There was a day I got tired of all the suffering and begged for help. I felt being dragged down more as the choices I made haven’t been healthy so the very point of giving a start to change has become the toughest thing to conquer. The first thing I cried out loud and many times was, “I don’t want to suffer anymore! Let go of this pain.”
I observed that saying this out repetitively for a moment some heavy load was removed. I was desperate to change and I started exploring grief coping mechanisms. I kept on collecting coping mechanisms and focused on only one thing: consistency in showing up for myself every day.
In April of this year, I happened to see a call for articles for this journal. I read through all the articles in last year’s journal, inspecting the range of topics presented. I felt a connection with “Daring to Dream Bigger,” by Maria Romina Dominzain de Leon of the Universidad de Montevideo. She described a few meditation techniques which I decided to include in my routine. In her article, she carefully chose words for deeper understanding. From this, I acquired valuable information to self-regulate my emotions. Her article about herself gave me ignition, and from that point of time, I was led in a different path of thinking and attitude towards life.
I wondered — if she influenced this much change in my personal life into a smoother way of living just by her article with only words, perhaps I could also influence people by sharing my journey with anxiety and grief.
“Through this process I promised myself that I would hold on and not give up to the darkness made by my mind. I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I believe that you can accomplish the same.”
With that in mind, I would like to share my coping mechanisms:
- My emergency tool to ground myself is “Mindful Breathing.” Yes! It is the most effective solution: 2 short inhales – Hold air inside lungs for at least 3 seconds, exhale through the mouth and then repeat 3x times.
- Self grooming to stay away from negative thoughts.
- Increasing physical activity mainly outdoors to deal with my crowd fear (rope jumping, running, going on dates alone).
- Preparing my diet meals.
- Maintaining a journal to keep check on my emotional health. Writing every thought that makes me feel blocked.
- Most importantly, meditating daily as simple as focusing on air flow while inhaling and exhaling (2-10 minutes)
It can be hard to ask for help when you need it the most. I hope that this journal on my anxiety and grief management, and these coping mechanisms, can help you as well. Through this process I promised myself that I would hold on and not give up to the darkness made by my mind. I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I believe that you can accomplish the same.