“May I come in, ma’am?”, I asked, standing at the door of the senior doctor’s cabin.
“Sure”, She replied.
I stood there near the table, a 4 inches thick file of my medical reports clutched under my arm while patiently waiting for her to take her eyes off the phone and look at me.
“Can’t you see the stool there?”, She finally looked up at me and let out the words in frustration.
I dragged the wooden stool and sat myself down.
“Ma’am I suffer from Fibromyalgia, in which I hope you know there are more symptoms than you can count on your fingers.”, I had her attention now!
“I have recently stopped wearing bras altogether because my breasts have become too painfully tender. I fear if there is something grave about it. Can you examine and tell me if there is anything to worry about?” I respectfully asked.
“Why are you looking so pale, girl?”, She asked and examined my eyes in the way doctors usually do.
I said nothing in reply, after which she touched the skin of both my breasts, very gently.
The gentlest touch got me teary eyed, she saw me wincing in pain and said a word I will never forget in my life.
The word was ‘Bechari’.
She probably felt bad for the fact that I was in too much pain.
A ‘bechari’ or not, I don’t know but I know one thing for sure.
That I had my 3rd full blown anxiety attack yesterday, a few hours before the doctor’s appointment!
I know you are probably wondering what it is like to have an anxiety attack, why did it choose me of all, what caused the attack and how long did it remain, why am I even talking about it here, is it that important?
I am gonna try to answer all of that through a story. My real life story. It’s extremely emotional and hard for me to put it down here for you but I am going to do it anyway. Because, it’s important that you know. Every one of you who is reading this, grab a chair, lie down or sit if you can, and let me tell you the story of five year old Aditi!
She was the 4th born girl baby in a middle class family who wanted a boy, either them or her grandparents, it was someone who wished for a boy and out came a chubby little girl who grew up to be the apple of her parents’ eyes.
She started going to school with kids her age and things were fine until one day at the age of five, a family relative, an uncle pushed her in a dark room, sat her in his lap, made her hold his penis tightly and rubbed her tiny vagina vigorously, all while she was trying to scream in a voice mumbled by the uncle’s fat hand pressing tightly against her mouth.
It continued to happen everytime the uncle visited her town.
Later she was sexually abused at the age of 8, 12, 14 & 19 by different people at different instances but she kept mum. She hated it, she cried several times, opposed, with all her might but never knew how to tell about it to her forever busy parents or even the fact that it was an important thing to be shared, was a doubt in her head, she dared not tell anyone.
She used to wet herself while in sleep every night, she was given a tiny mattress and a sheet to sleep on the floor and every morning, her alarm to wake up was the act of physical abuse by her mom and sisters.
She was ordered to clean the floor, lay the mattress out in the sun to dry and was locked and left alone in the dark room for hours, crying, banging the door & apologizing as a punishment of the habit she had no control over.
This continued for 14 long years. By when, she had already dedicated herself to helping her mother and father in chores, burnt midnight oils to prove herself best at school and never ever spoke back to any of her abusers.
She was trying to become a daughter worthy of any love!
You see, the bed wetting habit of hers that everyone so hated, the abuse she received in various forms made her believe that she is a useless kid and she deserves all of that.
The ways in which men touched her, ways in which her siblings abused her verbally and physically, she told herself that she deserved all of that.
‘Study, be the best at school and your family will start loving you.’, this was her mantra for life.
And study, she did to the best of her abilities.
AIR (Gen)- 3646 in JEE, Mains
AIR(Gen)- 7kish in JEE, Advance
And all that in the first attempt, ain’t bad right?
It wasn’t enough for her ambitious parents. They urged her to prepare another year to get into an IIT or fake produce a caste certificate, upon declining which she again suffered at her family’s and relative’s hand, for being too outspoken & a disobedient child.
But, things aren’t even close to bad yet!
At the age of 19 when I first started experiencing unbearable pain in every inch of my body, for three continuous years, I was molested and told I had nothing. The pain was apparently a story I, a topper hitherto, had cooked up to not study or probably I was having an affair with some boy.
It was a simple and concise story that my family, friends, and doctors had woven as an explanation to the pain and agony I was living in.
Had this been the only thing that happened with me, I think I would have pretty much learnt to live with it later when it was diagnosed as fibromyalgia, the 6th most painful disease in the world.
But, since the day she was first taken to a hospital’s emergency ward in an ambulance late at night, a little more than five years ago with complaints of extreme pain, started a journey that’s hard to express in words.
It contains nothing but trauma of every kind!
At the hands of the elder and younger family members, doctors, friends, professors and baba(s) of the world whom she was taken to for help, she was again abused physically, mentally and emotionally repeatedly for almost 4 years and she kept taking that because remember, she always thought she was a kid, unworthy of love?
(I have discussed it partially with close people in my life and here on the blog but most part of the events that caused the trauma are in my heart, known only to me, because I still lack the courage to let it out!)
Now, anxiety as a symptom is, you feeling restless and going numb sometimes because of the fear of anticipation. It can be very hard too but it’s temporary and you have some degree of control over it.
But, anxiety as a disorder is when at the slightest experience of any extreme emotion, your heart starts racing as if it will explode, you can hardly breathe, you cry and you feel very low in energy, not even enough for you to stand and walk. ( Exactly the way you have seen some people act in sitcoms and movies before they call 911)
It stays for anything between a few hours to a few days.
It all started around 8 months ago from today when I found myself sitting and crying for no reason at all. I saw that I couldn’t meditate any longer because there was some darkness inside me that was haunting me. I hinted towards it to my therapist, friends and family but everyone shrugged it off by telling me that I was creating a mountain out of a molehill.
Fast forward a few months and I had my first anxiety attack, I did not think I will survive, my heart was inches close to exploding and I was numb, expressionless, in tears, not being able to breathe, but thanks to my roommate who helped me all the while I was fighting for my life.
Yesterday was only the 3rd attack.
The interesting thing to note is that it’s triggered at the slightest too much of any emotion, too happy, too excited, too sad, too thoughtful? An anxiety attack is on its way!
Why is it caused?
Anxiety disorder is caused when you have been through any kind of trauma in your life. It’s a way of our body to tell us that it’s enough, tell us that it can’t take the abuse anymore. To tell us that it’s weak and fragile and sensitive to the slightest degree of trigger in the form of a rebuke by someone, a mean comment, a happy get together, an act of bully, anything human in a nutshell!
It’s a lifelong disorder that has to be managed by learning coping mechanisms and sitting with your therapist for multiple sessions. It can not be reversed, like fibromyalgia, you will have to live with it.
Yesterday night, I was not just trying to calm my racing heart. I was also sobbing at the fact that I will have to live with another demon all my life. I was aching at the unjust fact that it was me who went through all that trauma and yet it’s not the oppressors who have anxiety disorder, it’s me the oppressed.
“Noone has hurt you intentionally Aditi, I know it’s not fair that you have to go through so much but all that they were trying to do is help you in the way they knew best. Please try and forgive them for it. Forgive and let go.”, My therapist told me in my last session with her. And she gave me another couple months to think about it.
If only she knew that having anxiety disorder & fibromyalgia was not something I chose for myself.
If only she knew that how my body will choose to react at a later point, to the trauma and physical abuse wasn’t in my control.
If only I was understood when I screamed to the world that something is wrong with my body.
If only that doctor would have asked my permission before trying to slide his hands down my top.
If only I was taken to a doctor when I used to wet my bed as a child.
If only my family believed in me when I told them I am in pain.
If only I was not thought to be possessed by spirits.
If only, men asked for my consent before doing things to me.
If only my friends never doubted when I told them I am in pain.
If only my parents loved me enough to assure me that I was a child worthy of love, no matter what.
If only my family members accompanied me to doctors and tried to understand my disease.
If only my professors hadn’t told me to stop making excuses for not attending classes.
If only the world understood that every human being carries a tiny heart which aches when you treat them in any way other than with love and kindness.
But, you see none of that happened, and I am still in the grips of the anxiety attack that started yesterday.
I am learning to live with the two demons inside my body and numerous, outside in the form of people who aren’t kind and gentle and who don’t know that a person can look perfectly normal and simultaneously be dying on the inside!
I am almost in tears, I don’t know how to conclude this except that let’s try and be more sensible human beings.
Let’s not make another Aditi suffer because you did not know better.
Let’s believe in each other, more.
Let’s spread love and compassion with our tiny acts and speeches.
Let’s remember that noone fakes an illness or a disease.
Let’s just stop being morons.
And yes, I do yoga and meditation atleast 4 times a week and No, it’s not the cure for my conditions.
Strength and Love 💙
Comment down if you felt anything while reading it. If you really liked it, you can also contribute for my medical expenses by buying me a coffee through the yellow button down below.