Editor’s Note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for August, 2021 is Digital Realities. We invite submissions on the many layers of experiences from the virtual world throughout the month. If you’d like to contribute, kindly email your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
The digital world offers a way out for all of us as we feel stuck inside our homes during the pandemic. Digital platforms have been and continue to be a safe space for many people. They have given access to a lot of things that otherwise would have been impossible while being shut in our homes.
The isolation and inwardness has caused many of us to feel increasingly distressed and technological avenues have facilitated therapy throughout this difficult time.
One day in the recent past, I finally paid heed to the advice of my friend and decided to try therapy. I booked a session before I could change my mind. Therapy is not affordable to everyone, especially students, which it should be, while also making sure therapists are well compensated. So, I went for the most affordable option that I could find.
When the day finally arrived, I could feel the level of my anxiety rising. The session was supposed to happen over a call. Phone calls give me anxiety since forever, but the pandemic had made it much worse. Add in the anxiety of discussing your traumas to a stranger, and it felt like an insurmountable task.
The time finally came, and I spoke to the therapist over the phone call. It was just an introductory session. The therapist was really nice, I could feel that. However, I wasn’t able to put my thoughts into words at all, mumbling and sweating. On top of this, there were frequent network issues, she couldn’t hear me a lot of times. I couldn’t move around the house or speak loudly for the fear of being heard. I hadn’t informed anyone in my family about the therapy nor did I plan to. The session was completed amidst all these anxieties.
When it ended, all I could think of was how much better and less daunting it would have been if I could have done this in person. It took me a huge amount of courage to take a step towards therapy. However, I was sure that there was no way I would be able to handle this amount of anxiety again and probably wouldn’t try therapy until I could go in person.
I also understand how difficult it must be for therapists to provide online therapy. They face challenges within the digital space in terms of assessment and conduct of the sessions as well, I am sure. The intention of my write up here is not to disregard that, or to dissuade anyone who wants to try online therapy. What didn’t work for me, might work for you. I am just opening about about the fact that I am one of those people who prefers the physical presence of the therapist.
In-person therapy also provides a sense of physical safety that is important for people whose homes necessarily aren’t secure for them. I still have some amount of privacy at home, so I could at least give it a try, even though it did not work well for me. I realise that there are people who do not have their own space at home or even a few hours of privacy for self care.
Being shut-in due to the pandemic affects mental health, and not being able to have access to therapy adds to the problem. Privacy during the pandemic is not a privilege that everyone has.
Mental health still continues to be a taboo in India. We fail to understand the struggles of it, and ask people who suffer to just try harder to “shake it off“. Trying to educate people about therapy while also struggling with personal mental health is exhausting. A lot of us have no option but to keep our mental health battles private.
But the pandemic has taken away our sense of privacy with no option to go out or create our own safe spaces. A lot of people are stuck with their abusers at home. It not only deteriorates their mental health, but also keeps them away from getting any help.
While the digital world offers escape, especially when one has no possibility of physical escape, the fact remains that they are still present in the very physical space. This could be both a boon and a bane. It provides relief sometimes, because it can be accessed from almost anywhere. At the same time, it can make one feel more stuck in their triggering physical reality.
Also read: Everybody Should Go To Therapy
Featured Image Source: Ritika Banerjee for Feminism In India