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Notes From the Pandemic: Suicide Survivors on Isolation & Reaching Out

Survivors of suicidal thoughts open up about their struggles with isolation, loss, and trauma in the pandemic.

Updated
Mind It
3 min read

Trigger warning: Discussions of suicide attempts, depression, self harm

(If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these numbers of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs)

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

"At that point I used to dream about being dead. I say dream because it made me feel calm...that is also when I knew I needed to seek help."
Arefa Bharmal

What happens to a person struggling with trauma and mental health issues when they are thrust into a near apocalyptic situation fraught with stress, loss, and isolation?

Stowed away in confined space for months on end, being faced with grief, depression, trauma, and the aftermath of past trauma proved to be the tipping point for many, enough to contemplate suicide.

Arefa, Abhishala, and Vatsala (name changed) know the struggle all too well.

But for these ladies, battling depression, trauma and thoughts of suicide has also been a journey of hope resilience, growth and hope.

Watch them share their stories.

Choosing Life: Reaching out & Seeking Help

"Trauma is not something that you can let go of, but it's something you can deal with.There is so much you can do. All you need to do is reach out for help. "
Arefa Bharmal

Arefa, Abhilasha and Vatsala want you to know that suicide is preventable, and there is more to life. It starts with reaching out and seeking help.

"I knew I was not alone. There were people who could help me. Even if my family couldn't, there were strangers who could help me."
Vatsala (name changed)

Vatsala struggled with depression and self harm quietly for months before she decided she needed to seek help.

It was not easy by any means. Her parents were unaware of her struggles and social stigma and the fear of being judged kept her from opening up to them.

She found hope and help in suicide prevention helplines who connected her to a therapist and led her by her hand on the road to recovery.

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Arefa and Abhilasha have their own stories of healing, and ways of coping.

"When I'm in that dark corner of my brain, I reach out to my friends, the ones I've made by sharing, who have similar struggles, because they understand exactly what I'm going through," says Abhilasha. "I also share my feelings and thoughts on social media."

Arefa does the same. "I speak about my journey on social media a lot. That is a kind of journaling for me, and it helps a lot."

But when she doesn't feel like she has anyone to speak to, she turns to music, books, podcast, and dance.

Therapy Can Help

All three of them swear by therapy.

"Therapy is great because you have a professional telling you how to process what you're feeling. A therapist can give you the skills and mindsets to cope with it.
Abhilasha Iyer

"Everyone needs to have a safe space where they can say whatever they want and vent out without the fear of being judged," adds Vatsala.

Fighting the demons of depression and self-doubt to choose life can be hard, but it's a battle worth fighting.

"You will feel so much more liberated when you know you've overcome so much in your lifeand felt like death is the answer to everything. You can get out of it. All you need to do is reach out for help."
Arefa Bharmal

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