The coronavirus outbreak has brought the entire world to its knees. Six months into the global pandemic, a vaccine is still pending and drugs are a hit and miss. The deadly virus has infected over 10 million people worldwide and claimed over 5 lakh lives so far. While some countries have managed to flatten the curve, the number of cases in India is nowhere close to peaking yet.
To make matters worse, the pandemic has triggered a mental health crisis. The paranoia around contacting the virus, the loneliness from social isolation as well as the anxiety of the unknown if you do contract the virus--are all factors that are worsening mental health issues in individuals.
Mehar Bhagat, a 25-year-old dietician and holistic wellness coach from Delhi, contacted the virus without having left her home. In an interview with POPxo, she shares her personal experience about battling the virus, how she kept her mental health in check and a heartening message for COVID-19 patients across the globe.
If Mehar's case isn't a cautionary tale about how easy it is to contract the virus, we don't know what is. You might think only a person who's been out and about has chances of catching COVID-19, but Mehar got it without stepping outside. How did this happen? "I contracted the virus from my domestic help. She lives with us and we took every possible precaution, but she was sharing a common washroom with someone else who worked in the building. Since I was in close contact with her, the virus easily got transmitted to me," she explained in a video she uploaded to YouTube, in which she shared minute details about her experience.
It all began when one day she felt a metallic taste in her mouth and immediately knew something was wrong. "That day itself, I gave up all my common responsibilities in the house, like cooking. I separated my utensils and made sure I wore a mask if anyone entered my room," she explained in her video.
The next day, she woke up with intense body ache and felt like she had a fever (she didn't have a thermometer at the time). "I've had a fever before, and this wasn't like it. So I completely isolated myself and told my family members to not enter my room." When she finally managed to get a thermometer, she found out that her temperature was 101 degrees Celcius. "I was also feeling strangely deranged like I couldn't think clearly. When people would speak to me, I had a hard time registering what they said. I also lost 3 kgs in 3 days," she added.
To learn more about Mehar's experience with the virus, watch her videos below. However, it is important to remember that if you're experiencing symptoms you should contact your doctor. Please don't self-diagnose or self-medicate!
The toughest part about dealing with an illness like COVID-19 is the uncertainty around your recovery because the virus has no cure. This uncertainty tends to take a toll on your mental health. Besides that, patients also worry about infecting their family, further stressing them out. The family of the patient also undergoes a great deal of stress because there's no way they can physically help the patient.
So how did this affect Mehar? "I was not anxious when I found out I had COVID because most of my symptoms had subsided by the time I got my results. I was only worried about my mom’s health since she had been in contact with me before I fell ill. I had days where I did break down and that was mainly due to overthinking this entire situation and having to be separated from my family," she said.
To cope with the overthinking and social isolation, Mehar focussed on appreciating the things her privilege could afford her. "I made sure to express my gratitude every day for the food on my plate, for the roof over my head & for my loved ones. I made it a point to talk to my friends & family every day so that even when I’m physically isolated I didn’t feel mentally isolated," she added. She also said that staying away from the news and media was helpful because she didn't want that negativity to affect her recovery.
Besides her own health, Mehar also reassured her anxious mother by reminding her that she was extremely lucky to be a mild case and have the option to isolate at home. "I tried my best to make it look like I’m doing okay and that this is just flu that will go away soon. I monitored my symptoms like fever to update her & my doctor so they can know that I’m doing good and I’m recovering," she said.
Mehar had been watching a lot of videos of people's personal experiences with the virus to keep herself educated. After she tested positive, she continued to watch them to keep track of new symptoms, but found that not many people from India had shared their personal experiences.
"I had to figure out a lot of things on my own which was honestly a task in itself. I (decided to) make the video with an intent to identify certain symptoms, to help understand the process of testing and most importantly isolating as soon as possible to prevent the further spread of this disease."
However, Mehar wasn't prepared for such an overwhelming response. "I got 1000+ messages thanking me a few days later from people who had isolated themselves early and had later tested positive, and also from people who did not know that recovery is possible at home (depending on state rules)."
Mehar tried her best to respond to each and every one of them personally. "Seeing how personal experiences and information can create such a positive impact, I want to continue this and create content that can help people focus on their health and wellness."
After going through the difficult experience of contracting and recovering from the virus, Mehar says she empathises with anyone who had to suffer a similar experience or is working on the frontlines to fight it.
"My heart goes out to everyone going through this--our doctors, policemen, government officials, people who are hospitalised, people in home isolation and anyone in this situation. This disease is not just affecting people physically but mentally as well. The fear and anxiety have taken over people and it breaks my heart. I truly hope this (pandemic) gets over soon and we all can learn from our experiences and emerge as better humans who look out for each other."
Kudos to Mehar for making a full recovery and trying to remain positive the whole time. We're sure her videos must have been informational for people who are going through a similar experience.
Featured Image: Instagram