The morning of 5th August, 2019 brought an unknown trauma to Kashmir. Every Kashmiri slept peacefully the night before however woke up in a shock.
Lockdown is not new to Kashmir but the understanding of Psychological impact is. Over the globe due to Covid 19 Lockdown Mental Health Stress of children/adolescents has increased immensely. People have a sense of fear/anxiety/trauma/separation. Not only are people affected by the deadly disease but everyone around them including the professionals suffer from Mental Stress and trauma.
According to research during the pandemic, depression has increased by 50% irrespective of age or gender.
Kashmir has been under lockdown/curfew since years and has been facing Mental Health issues for decades now. Being a witness to the struggle of a normal livelihood in Kashmir, it is evident to describe Covid 19 as a disaster to the mental health of Kashmiris. The patients fighting Covid 19 in Kashmir are not scared of losing their lives but they fear the treatment and lack of resources in the hospitals.
They are anxious about who will pay their loans which are pending for years due to the ongoing condition of Kashmir. Covid 19 has made people realize their true relations and betrayals. This disease has ripped off the humanity from people, I have witnessed parents refusing to bury their child and vice versa.
When a patient receives their report of being Covid positive they stop breathing in peace even if it’s for some time. Psychologically the whole globe has been impacted by Covid 19 and its terrible stories. However we have a number of successful stories of survivals which are less focused upon by the media and the population.
Covid 19 is an unsolved mystery for the people of the world just like the sudden chaotic lockdown of 5th August for the people of Kashmir. More than covid 19 people are suffering from Depression/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Obsessive Compulsive Disorder/Behavioural and Emotional Disorder/Bipolar Affective Disorder/Anxiety/Body Dysmorphic Disorder/Psychotropic Drugs Addiction/Substance Abuse/Eating Disorder/Insomnia/Identity Crises/Post-Pre Natal Depression/Self Harm/Suicide/Trust Issues/Schizophrenia but we are that society where we do not have a proper awareness and no proper treatment of these grave concerns. We need to address the above mentioned issues because we do not have a vaccine for these issues unlike Covid19.
A Covid19 survivor who happened to be my counselee says, “I used to be under constant fear and sleepless nights witnessing the deaths around me almost every day. “More than the fear of death it was the consequences that my family might had to face if I am dead. My old parents don’t have any elder child to take care of them.”
“I was worried about the conspiracies hatched by my paternal relatives who had an eye on my father’s property from the very beginning. But then besides all the negative thoughts there was a ray of hope that grew stronger each time I would see a patient being treated well and going home and eventually I too recovered and with Almighty Allah’s grace I am fine today.”
The survivors of Covid 19 might be unaware of their state of mind. They went through a deadly disease which drained them physically and mentally. Like the lack of facility and improper methods lead to the hike in any disease, I fear that the mental health issues in Kashmir will turn out to be deadly if left unaddressed.
Ms Laila Qureshi is a Kashmiri, Psychologist and Mental Health Counsellor.