Finding Comfort In Chaos

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I never thought I would write about this, but here I am trying to make some sense of it. This is going to be slightly long so stay with me.

Being in the medical field, I come across anxious and worried families of the patient all the time. A part of my job is to answer their questions, make them comfortable, ease them out to the best of my capacity. I didn’t give it much thought rather enough thought to the things they must be going through. Of course, I knew it wasn’t easy, but I naturally thought more about the patient and from a treatment point of view. And then one day, I received a phone call back in March,2018. A call that gave me the chills, gave me a different perspective and showed me what’s it like to be on the other side.

My mother had suffered a massive heart attack with multiple blockages and my fellow medical colleagues and Grey’s Anatomy fanatics will relate to this when I say we were way past the golden hour. I was away from home which made it more difficult but like my mother says by god’s grace everything went well. The first few weeks were critical, but as strong as our mothers are she fought right through it. And I told myself, the tough part is over, it was a bad phase, we will sail through it. 

Fast forward to the end of the year, both my grannies started showing similar symptoms as my mom, we rushed them for all the tests. Within a couple of days, they were both diagnosed with massive blockages and needed immediate intervention. They both got operated on the same day. One of them was badly affected and was bed ridden for a long time. It was a tough time for my family as we were juggling between them, sharing the day and night shifts and just seeing them in so much pain was very heartbreaking and overwhelming. It breaks my heart till date whenever I talk or even think about it.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, a few months later my grandfather suffered from a stroke, this was his third one and got the best of him. This was followed by my brother’s massive neurosurgery, a very near and dear one’s death to covid, my father’s severe pneumonia, mom’s second big surgery and my grandfather’s untimely demise a couple of months back. Last 3-4 years have been maddening and things are still settling down accompanied with personal and professional work life balance which has been very challenging. I have been fortunate and privileged to have family and friends who supported me throughout. I wouldn’t be able to get through it without them.

Caregiver’s Stress

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It was during this period that I experienced what we call ‘Caregivers stress’. Caregiver’s stress/burnout isn’t spoken about a lot, mostly because it is difficult to recognise,  but there are a lot of studies that discuss it at length. It’s defined as physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It often leads to development of compassion fatigue which is the stress, strain and the wariness that arises while caring for a person. Being a primary caregiver for most of my family members was not an easy task. My mom and I went through an emotional turmoil.

As majority of the medical decisions were made by me, thinking about the repercussions and bad outcomes made me anxious all the time. I was constantly overthinking and had panic attacks I would have a nervous breakdown and cry out loud sometimes. Feeling irritable, helpless, hopeless and getting angry so easily. It felt like I was slowly losing my mind and sanity. I am not writing this to impart knowledge or tell you how to deal with it. I am still figuring it out myself. But what I can tell you is that it’s okay to feel like that. Seeing your loved ones suffer is not easy. It’s okay to not be okay.

What I have learnt or rather still learning from my experience is that you need to identify it and put your needs first too. It is important to get out and indulge, be in a social environment. It is very difficult at first because the worrying never stops but it is one of the most important things and needs to be done.

Talking about it or writing it down helps too. It wasn’t easy for me to write this all down but the more I thought about it the more I realized how important it is to speak about it. Maybe it will help someone going through something similar, maybe it will just create an awareness. Acknowledging it is step one. Therapy sure did help too. On my tough days, I looked up to my younger brother who gives me so much strength and inspires me to do better each day. He encouraged me to take some time off for myself and always pushed me to move ahead.  My mom has been my anchor all this while and I am forever grateful for that.

Things have been slightly better than before; we are being hopeful and keeping the faith. This story is unfinished, there is so much still happening, and I am not waiting for a happy ending or for all my problems to disappear. At this moment, I am looking for anything good, big or small, that life has to offer.

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Headed For A Heartbreak

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There’s something so beautiful and alluring about love. Everyone talks about how it helps you grow and brings out the best in you. How it feels like to love and to be loved. And then people also talk about how it destroys you. The way it dismantles you and breaks you after it’s gone. They talk about scars and healing and forgiving and believing and of course, hope.

But what people don’t talk about is the hardship and distress you endure while sustaining it. The days when you don’t feel like you’re in love. The days when you want to give up on something or someone. The days when you feel so lost and restless that you cannot find your way back. The days you shut your eyes in anguish trying hard to not let go. The days when you just want to push the person away and breathe in the air around you. Just you. The times when you decide to put yourself first after pouring in all the efforts you could over months and years and how they were not reciprocated.

So you do. You let the person you thought the world of go away. You push them out even.

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People also don’t talk about the aftermath and the absolute destruction it causes. The way your world falls apart like a controlled explosion in the middle of a bustling city with no one to get hurt but yourself. People don’t talk about the days where you have to wake up and live each day knowing that you are the reason for your own doom. The moments when you wish you could turn back the time and do something different to have made it last.

You think about how you should’ve worn that stupid Christmas hairband with the reindeer horns that she was obsessed with. Or how you should’ve worn his favorite shade of lipstick.

People also don’t talk about how these little regrets are nothing but a trail of breadcrumbs which leads to the first house that both of you made with innocent love. There are pictures of you enjoying on your first day on the nightstand by the bed. The bed too, is left exactly the way it looked the first time you undressed in front of them and had more than a naked body for them to judge. The curtains are slightly open too and the window gazes straight into your soul, more bare than your body in front of them. The house is nothing but a mirage and you standing there is an image of you from your perfect past.

So what people don’t talk about, is how you take a sledgehammer and bring that house down and sit in the rubble, your crying face in your palm and wail till you can’t speak anymore. Cry till your voice gives away.

Then you stand up and find another person to build a home with, the sledgehammer still tucked under your shirt though.

Yes. That. Let’s talk about that.

Vaishnavi Arote & Janak Goswami

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You & I

In a parallel universe, I wake up next to you,

Feeling your breath on the nape of my neck;

Maybe in a parallel universe,

I don’t have to yearn for your presence.


In a parallel universe,

I don’t have to swirl my brain,

Into a labyrinth of already overthought thoughts to make that call.

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In a parallel universe, I go back in time, to the old town of Manali,

Sneak in to the terrace, listen to Elvis Presley’s , ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’ ,

While we slow dance under the blanket of stars,

Staring at your almond shaped brown eyes, your smile as bright as the sunshine,

The blush on your cheek, the moonlight shining on your forehead,

Your perfectly aligned teeth, I feel cursed with my oh-so vibrant memory!

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In a parallel universe,

I am not scared of my heart beating so wildly,

When I think about you.


In a parallel universe,

you and I don’t give up on each other.

Maybe in a parallel universe you don’t walk all over me and leave.

Maybe, just maybe in a parallel universe,

our love didn’t crumble under the weight of our egos.


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Of Anxiety And Uncertainty

 There are certain things in life that no college, book or internet can teach you. One needs to simply experience it.

                    A year ago, when I was lying in an ICU bed having a gut wrenching, muscle freezing feeling trying to explain the doctor that something is wrong with me and him looking at me with pity trying to tell me otherwise. That day I learnt that being on the other side of the table ain’t no fun. Despite being a very expressive person I was struggling to articulate what I was feeling. 

                   The things that I encountered may differ from person to person. Humans as we know are complex yet fascinating and there are going to be innumerable versions of their experiences. Mine takes me back to the anxiety attacks where I have cried frantically for hours, going berserk over the limitless thoughts running through my mind. I have felt so vulnerable at times when my mom looked at me helplessly wanting to help and me failing at explaining why I was feeling what I was feeling.

There is so much chaos in the head, you feel all the things and thoughts spiralling out of control and a scream at that time would almost feel cathartic.

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                    Then came the anti-anxiety pills. I share a love-hate relationship with them. They kept me company at most nights and soothed me but made me feel groggy and lethargic during the day. Anxiety is an emotion as strong as happiness or sorrow, it’s a feeling of constant state of despair. It’s not all in my head, you know?

                      Anxiety also seeks isolation. From being the first one to plan social events, I slowly began to be the first one to turn down those events. It didn’t happen overnight, it’s a process and a progressive one.

                      It also taught me that having a support system is comforting. No, it does not make it less painful but it helps you get through the pain. As much as I would like for it to go away, I now embrace it with the hope of it making me stronger and better. It is not a quick fix, I know, but it helps.

I have always been the kind to care too much, to give too much. Many think ‘Oh! That’s a wonderful thing to do, that’s the way to be’. But the most daunting thing about this kind of nature is feeling too much. Expecting people to understand and reciprocate in the same manner to you. And it is one of the common causes of an anxiety disorder.

No, I am not writing this as another motivational anecdote for people feeling or going through similar things. This is for those who are around the ones diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

The do’s and dont’s we all need to know. I am aware it is not the other person’s responsibility or duty to always be as understanding and patient. But there are a few things that are done completely wrong or said in the worst  possible manner that need to stop.

1. No, it’s not in their head and no it won’t just go away.

2. Please stop comparing similar situations from your life and telling them it happens to everyone. Remember, to each, their own.

3. They don’t need to listen to a solution, sometimes they only want to vent or cry. Give them their comfort. Give them their space while being with them alongside.

4. Ask them to seek professional help. They may be reluctant and will say no. Be patient, support them. 

5. It may seem like they’re worrying for no reason and it may sound very futile to you. Please don’t act like it really is.

6. Be kind. As they say,”Everyone is going through a journey you know nothing about, be kind.”

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There are some other things you can do to resolve clinical symptoms:

  • People with anxiety face clinical symptoms like fast heart rate known as palpitations, tightness in the chest, breathlessness and sometimes high blood pressure.
  • Deep breathing and yoga can go a really long way. Try to do it along with them, it gives them a sense of comfort and support.
  • Chamomile tea too can do wonders along with some meditative music (you’ll find a lot of these on YouTube).
  • There are various support groups and online forums that they could join, they can talk to people experiencing and going through similar situations without being judged.

Motivate them to take up some activities, cooking personally helps me a lot. I know a few others who read, write, paint. It is all about channelising the negative energy into a positive one.

Lastly, in this world full of hatred and chaos, be their calm.

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