Life may never be the same again, at least not till an effective vaccine is discovered. The pandemic has tested our lives in multiple ways. Enough has been spoken about the job losses, salary cuts, restrictions on social outings and working from home. What happens when your coping mechanisms fail? It is human to feel a sense of hopelessness, loss and defeat when the wind is against us. That’s why the report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on people having pandemic meltdowns is alarming but should really not come as a surprise.
Hollywood actress Naomi Watts’s epic meltdown is a prime example of how even wealthy stars are prone to losing it really badly. In her case, being home alone and having to deal with her dishwasher, printer and vacuum cleaner all breaking down on the same day saw the 51-year-old lady scream hysterically and fling her head backwards in frustrated rage. The video uploaded by her went viral and instantly earned her sympathy as many could perhaps relate to this situation.
“The mental repercussions of the pandemic are being felt the world over, including in India,” points out Shumita Kakkar, founder and CEO of United We Care. “Millions of people have been rendered jobless with a much larger number experiencing a drop in earnings and financial uncertainties. The prolonged lockdown and continuing restrictions have caused a lot of stress and depression as well. As people are staying and working from home predominantly, the meltdown is impacting the overall environment and causing stress in relationships,” she adds.
Thirty-nine-year-old, Mitul Soni’s world crashed along with the lockdown. He had a flourishing jewellery business in Mumbai. “When the lockdown was lifted in July, the gold prices surged from `42,000 to `60,000. Obviously, the huge price gap led to a market crash and made it difficult to physically buy gold. People had no money to invest in jewellery and my business took a drastic hit. There were no orders and I was taking care of my wife and three-year-old and my parents, all on my savings… There were bills and EMIs to pay and all this stress mentally drained me out. I just completely broke down. For two months, I found myself sinking and having meltdowns. But my family supported me and one day I found the strength to change tracks. I got into the bike accessories business with the help of a friend who was doing the same and helped get my work life back on track,” he reveals.
Benefit from a meltdown
Mitul’s case corroborates the WSJ report, which states that meltdowns are good as they help you to get rid of negative energy once you release all emotion. Dr Mallika Patri, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist emphasises on how being in touch with one’s feelings and thoughts is certainly important. “In times of crisis, it is not unnatural to have a meltdown. Recognising a meltdown and recovering from it is the key. A good cry, screaming into a pillow, a quarrel with friends or family over a small trigger, shouting at someone who cuts across you on the road or having a sleepless night over finances are okay. As long as they are infrequent, seen as contextual and attempts are made to restore emotional and inter-personal stability,” she reveals.
With more people having breakdowns, what kind of impact do these collective meltdowns have on society as a whole? Sociologist Kalavathy P. has an optimistic approach to the current scenario. She states,” All societies go through social change; very often, it’s natural and it is inevitable sometimes. “Both revolution and reform are end results of social change. While reforms occur at a very slower pace, revolution occurs at a rapid pace. During this frame of time, there is lot of scope for deviance questioning or conflicting with the existing patterns or models of goal achievement.”