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How a teenager did not let anxiety beat him

How counselling changed a teenage boy's perspective towards life

The Karate game is about to start in ten minutes

Competitors dressed in white getting ready for the fight

Ayush is remembering all the last-minute tricks for the big event

But then, something happens and he stops in his tracks

There is a sudden pang in his chest, like someone punched his gut hard. He felt a sudden gush of air that wanted to escape from his throat. He tried to calm himself, but to no avail. The feeling of uneasiness lingered on till it became unbearable. Suddenly, he felt that the air is knocked out of his lungs as he threw up on the spot.

A blanket of embarrassment covered his aura, but he could not control the urges of his flesh. Another sudden gush, another sudden pang in his chest and another punch on the gut!

“Enough is enough,” said Ayush in a subdued yet determined one. His parents came to his recue and they decided to meet a therapist to help them get out of the situation.

Meet the therapist

It was not long into the conversation with Somya that Ayush described how the uneasy feelings entered his life a couple of months ago, when it was the most active and how it controlled him. He described that he felt scared of feeling those emotions. He also mentioned that these vomits were interfering with his life in achieving goals.

They decided to use a technique called “externalisation.” It focuses on the idea that the person is separate from the problem. Using this method of separating these feelings from Ayush’s life, they came to the understanding that Ayush is not an anxious person and that the problem does not define him. He thought of an image of a humorous policeman in his underpants who would whistle and wave every time he felt a wave of nausea.

In about two weeks, Ayush received a letter from his therapist that not only uplifted his mood, but also injected a fresh wave of confidence up his sleeve. It said, “Dear Ayush, I enjoy talking to you. Your parents describe you as a bright boy. You get overwhelmed by the nervous feeling but now you have the funny policeman at your service. Also your skills and imagination help you in warding off these unpleasant feelings.

Looking forward to meeting you again.

Good luck with fighting, Somya.” 

With replenished hope, Ayush started preparations for a chess tournament and exams.

Celebrating small victories

The chess tournament is about to begin in five minutes

Competitors are dressed in white and black ready to fight each other

Ayush braces himself for the attack

In a sudden flash of movement, he blacked out

He opened his eyes to see the warming smile of Somya. Minutes into the conversation, a key revelation was made. Ayush did not vomit before the tournament even though he failed to compete. According to Somya, that was a victory. Digging deeper into Ayush’s thought process, he explained that he used the image of the funny policeman to ward off nausea. He remembered the times he had been a winner in the past. He also remembered his mom telling him to focus on overcoming the fear of losing. He realised these skills, which helped him beat nausea and anxiety.

Building on the alternate narrative that focused on his skills to ward off uneasy feelings, Ayush started looking at himself with a renewed sense of self. After 6 sessions over a period of 6 weeks, he saw himself as a brave boy who is capable of winning. He went on to give his exams with the knowledge that the funny policeman is always at his service to eliminate any unpleasant feelings that came in the way of his achieving success.

If you are feeling anxious before giving exams, you click on Ask Us - Depression and Anxiety and read questions & answers with expert advice. Moreover, if you have a query, write at expert@teentalkindia.com.

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Architect turned artist Snehal Patil helps people reduce anxiety by art

Bombay Drawing Room, a Mumbai-based group headed by Patil aims to alleviate stress by conducting painting parties
Nishtha JunejaTeentalkindia Content Writer

For almost two hours in the balmy Sunday afternoon, I forgot about the anxieties of everyday life. Taking a knife and making strokes on the empty canvas brushed away my worries one after the other. Painting kept me engrossed. When the final piece was ready, it felt calming, all thanks to a painting party organised by Patil.

Just before we put on our aprons, Patil made sure that she is not expecting a masterpiece. She also told us not to compare our work with anybody else. “Each creates their own piece of art, as each person is unique in their own way.” Hearing this proved to be a catalyst for many to erase a couple of tensed lines from their forehead. In the promise of not being judged and the excitement of creating something new, we all began.     

An architect by profession, but a self-taught artist by choice, Patil chanced upon the idea of conducting a painting party in 2015 when she invited some friends over for dinner. Along with good food and music, they all painted. Subsequently, Bombay Drawing Room was founded with the thought that art is for all.

Patil recalls having a love of art all through her life. “It is an outlet for expressing buried tension,” she says. Now, apart from conducting painting parties at restaurants and bars, she also takes sessions at corporates and private events.


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Disclaimer: TeentalkIndia does not offer emergency services and is not a crisis intervention centre, if you or someone you know is experiencing acute distress or is suicidal/self harming, please contact the nearest hospital or emergency/crisis management services or helplines.