COVID-19 Untold Stories: How the virus is taking a toll on families and mental health in Mumbai
Photo by BL Soni

My COVID-19 journey was a smooth ride. From getting tested and treated free of cost, to staying in one of the best quarantine facilities in Mumbai; I didn't have any complaints being confined for 14 days.

Despite being positive and looking forward to my recovery, I realised the process hampered me less physically and more mentally.

For starters, as I reached the quarantine facility, my pulse rate increased, leaving the volunteers in shock. For once, I thought I’d collapse right away. I wasn’t weak, but anxious, not knowing what I was about to face.

Not to mention, like any of you out there, I too had read and written about this pandemic. And despite coming across a golden opportunity of being treated hassle-free, reporting the on-ground reality, I was scared.

Once I tested positive, I was put in a ward with 20 other strangers. Men, women, children, all of us together under one roof. There was no discrimination here. But I feared for my belongings and sleeping in the midst of men, despite functioning CCTV cameras.

As the days went by, I learnt to live by compromising with the smallest things that seemed big to me. For instance not having hot water to have bath, or eating whatever was provided (I am a picky eater), or washing your own clothes and struggling to put them for drying (especially lingerie), the stay had transformed my attitude to some extent.

But if you thought this was difficult, I cannot even try to imagine the trauma faced by certain patients here.

A woman had lost her husband, not because of COVID-19, but due to the fear of testing positive. He died while being shifted to another hospital in an ambulance due to cardiac arrest.

There was another woman who had been quarantined eleven days after delivering a baby girl. She contracted the virus during her stay at the hospital. I watched her make a video call and cry all night as her baby longed for the mother’s touch.

A family of four including two kids were also quarantined here. Ironically the parents tested negative while the children tested positive. The folks were also given medications as they lived among other patients. It was painful to watch the kids cry as they struggled to cope within four walls.

Did I come home as a changed person? Yes. I could relate to those living inside the ‘Bigg Boss’ house or even prison. After being discharged, it took me two days to get used to my own house.

I still get dreams of being in quarantine and believe me they aren't pleasant.

In addition to all of this I had to face the stigma executed by my neighbours and relatives. Being alienated and treated as an outcast came as a bonus.

Overall, I can state that physically the COVID-19 virus for me was healable. However, the mental pain found its remedy in the positive messages and virtual concern I received from friends, colleagues and anonymous accounts on social media.

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