MyStory : “I Was Spending My Life In Terror, Every Few Hours Panic Attack Would Hit & Leave Me In Pieces”

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“It creeps in very silently. There is a very high chance that by the time you realize that there is something wrong with you, you will be covered in cold sweats with a heart rate of 140.”

After my dad passed away, 6 days after my 10th boards, I was packed and dispatched to Kota. The goal was to not let this loss get to me, and mess with the crucial years of my academics. A logical thing to do to a teenager, except that it doesn’t work. It just snoozed the alarm which was destined to go off any time in future. Ticking like a time bomb, it went off two years later. I wrote my 12th boards, gave my engineering entrance examinations, and absolutely messed up. I couldn’t clear any of the entrance exams I appeared for, and my board’s marks were not impressive as well. That meant only one thing, one more year in Kota. It felt like a sentence.

The first panic attack I got was in my hometown (Bhagalpur) itself. It was just a few days before leaving for Kota again for my repeaters’ year coaching. It was the middle of the night, and I woke up with cold sweats. My heart was pounding. The feeling was so terrible that I was convinced I was going to die. I was gasping for air. The feeling was similar to the one when you accidentally skip a step, the only difference being that it won’t go away and that there were no steps. It was completely random. I thought I was going into cardiac arrest, I tried jumping up and down, to enhance my blood flow. About 20 minutes later, the feeling started dimming down. I felt better again. I went back to sleep and forgot that anything ever happened.

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One month later, I got a panic attack again. This time it was in the middle of my class. In one of the classes, my teacher’s mic developed a technical snag and the sound started getting distorted. That single event was enough to trigger a massive panic attack. It may not seem like the most logical thing but that is how trigger works, any random thing can pull it off. I ran out of the classroom, without giving any explanation to my teacher. I kept pacing towards my PG accommodation. Thinking absolutely nothing, just trying not to pass out on the way. My vision was blurry. I was completely disoriented. I don’t remember how much time it took me to reach, but I remember just gulping down a lot of water when I got back. The feeling again subsided in some time.

This pattern repeated, and the frequency of panic attacks was now increasing. Now even when the attacks subsided, I didn’t feel so good. I was fully convinced that one of these days I am going to drop dead from one of these attacks. I tried talking to my mom about it, but what was I supposed to say? She herself was taking anti-depression pills. It would have been unfair to expect any sort of support from her. I couldn’t even explain my symptoms. I wasn’t sure what I was going through. I remember feeling completely alone. I used to go to a nearby park in the evening and weep for hours. I started doing all the things I always wanted to do before dying. I learnt to play snooker. I went to movies alone. I even went to a doctor, who wrongly diagnosed me of jaundice and even started treating me for it. My life was completely miserable. I was spending my life in terror. Every few hours a massive panic attack would hit and leave me in pieces. In addition to that, by this time I didn’t even know that these were panic attacks.

I finally decided to get my heart checked up. I went to the most expensive heart surgeon in town and told him my symptoms. I remember, he prescribed me 11 tests.  I sat in the sun outside the hospital the whole day waiting for my reports. The reports came and the doctor said I was completely healthy. Then he did something that completely changed the course of events. He referred me to the psychiatry department. The psychiatrist listened to my whole life’s story and finally explained what could have possibly gone wrong. I may not have realized it, but my subconscious mind had been in extreme pressure for the past two years.

With the demise of my father, I had assumed way too much superficial responsibility on myself, even for the things that were not even in my control. Add to that, the ‘pressure cooker’ lifestyle of Kota. It all burst out when I failed to clear any entrance exams. This sent my brain into a fight or flight mode (the same mode in which your brain goes into when a bull is chasing you. Only difference was that this bull was invisible).

The mere explanation of my symptoms pulled me out of the depression I had slipped into. I had a therapy session every 15 days. Some medications were prescribed too, which went on for the next one year. The panic attacks didn’t disappear overnight. I kept having them for months even after my diagnosis. But my battle with anxiety disorder taught me a lot of things. Things don’t scare me easily now. I developed an appreciation for my life which I never had before. I started respecting the health of my mind. I started protecting my mind in the same way I protect the rest of my body from injuries. I developed a mechanism to recognize information which would injure my mind. I started staying clear of toxic people. I started feeding on as much positivity as I can. I started taking risks. I started living my life for my own happiness before anyone else’s.

One thing I always advise people is that whenever you feel that there is something wrong with you, something as slight as an anxious sleepless night, go and talk to a doctor. Many people have ignored their mental well-being and have ended up killing themselves. Medications for your mental health is not a bad thing at all. Stay clear of people who ask you to “just take a walk in the park” to heal your mental disturbances. If you can’t heal pneumonia by taking a walk in the park, there is no way you can treat a mental medical condition by taking a walk in the park.

– Ankit Shrivastav

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote Is Distributing 40,000+ Meals Per Day In Mumbai During Covid-19 Lockdown

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Every global crisis affects every country in a different way depending on their socio-economic background. The COVID 19 pandemic hit India straight in its gut. After the lockdown daily wage workers and people who are underprivileged have been rendered out of their jobs. This has ultimately pushed them to an acute financial crisis so much so that even being able to afford two meals a day has become impossible. While we all wait for normalcy to bring us back our sanity, the financially disadvantaged people on the streets are fighting both the pandemic and hunger.

In a scenario like so, a number of social groups have come forward to help in whatever way they can. One of the worst hit cities is Mumbai, where 5 lakh migrant workers, the homeless and underprivileged residents of slums and chawls, waiting endlessly for normalcy to return., an initiative by is cooking food and delivering them to those in dire need, every single day.

“” that was launched in the city of Mumbai on March 29th, is one of its kind people-driven movements that has been running hall and hearty by the people coming from all across. It is that classic example of solidarity where people from all backgrounds, cultural and social has come together to ensure that every mouth is fed.

Brains behind KhaanaChahiye
Top : Pathik Muni, Ruben Mascarenhas. Below: Munaf Kapadia, Shishir Joshi

How does work

What’s different you ask? has built a capacity of preparing over a whopping 50000+ meals on a daily basis by activating the closed kitchens on several Mumbai routes. Pathik Muni, who has been particularly invested in the mission says, “ We crowdsource demand on hunger pockets and then map it to supply-side by activating closed kitchens. Our partner NGO “Project Mumbai” with reach to the relevant stake holders in Government departments helps us facilitate permissions to activate these closed Kitchens with a turn around of 24 hours. Parallelly we raise funds to map the demand.”

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Areas of food distribution in Mumbai

The food that is prepared is not just hygienic but also fits the calorie count that is sufficient for a person to get him through the day. Every meal consists of daal-rice, aloo-sabzi, chole rotis, veg pulav etc. has a volunteer-driven collective drive in various areas of Mumbai where people in large numbers have come forward to contribute in the many ways possible. So far the initiative has covered the Bandra to Dahisar route on Western Express Highway, Sion to CST and underprivileged pockets between Mankurd to Kurla on Eastern Express Highway, Juhu to Dahisar on Linking road, a cluster of 1100 labor camps near Mumbai Central and a part of Dharavi Slums.

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Food distribution areas  in Mumbai by

  1. To beggars & homeless
    • below the flyovers between Bandra to Dahisar on Western Express Highway,
    • between Juhu to Dahisar on Link road
    • below the flyovers between Ghatkopar to CST
    • under privileged pockets between Mankurd to Kurla.on Eastern Express Highway,
  2. To labour camps
    • a cluster of 1100 labour camp near Mumbai Central
    • a cluster of 3000 labour camp near Govandi
    • a cluster of 2000 labour camp near Mahul
    • a cluster of 750 labour camp in Colaba
  3. Parts of Dharavi Slums towards Cotton Green.
  4. Over 5000 meals in labour camps at various location identified and provided by the Assistant Commissioner,
  5. Serving food to over 5000 meals in Worli and Bandra on request of the local MLA and Corporator.

Immense demand of food in next 10 days

The intent of the movement is to continue the drive of feeding the needy in these difficult times at least until the lockdown is lifted by the government. However, as the days are proceeding, initiative has identified more and more hunger pockets as a result of which the demand for food is just rising since the time it started. To give a perspective of the recently emerged roadblock, Pathik says, “Nine days back, we started with 1200 meals and we are already catering a demand of 40,000+ as of today. We have corporate donors for most of our requirement, but as the demand for food is rising, we are now looking to feed 5000 people in next 10 days, which turns out to be 1,00,000 meals. Therefore we need to now raise a sum of Rs 25,00,000/- which is huge and we really need the support of more people.”

To raise the funds, initiative has come together with Efforts For Good and The Logical Indian to share this concern with our community members because as a citizen-driven movement, the initiative needs more and more people to come forward and a set a sum aside to keep the initiative going in its full glory so that there are no impediments coming in the way of feeding every mouth in these difficult times. Additionally, one can also contribute by sharing the word with friends and families. COVID 19 is difficult for all, the least we can do is to contribute so that the struggle to cope up with the pandemic does not add up to the struggle to cope up with hunger as well.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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