I had always been a very simple and down-to-earth person. I was fairly easy-going in almost every situation. All that changed on the day when I lost my baby in the sixth month of pregnancy. Those six months had been the most exciting phase of my life, until that fateful morning when my water broke. The incessant bleeding was ominous of something terrible, and I knew it. I ended up getting hospitalized, with the absolutely heartbreaking news that my baby was no longer alive.

A few days later, the person that returned home was a completely different one. The fear and grief I felt is hard to put down in words. It seemed as if it wasn’t the baby that had died, but all my positivity and joy. However, the worst was yet to come.

I was soon diagnosed with thanatophobia – the fear of death. My behavior became erratic whenever I was seized by a panic attack. The doctor attributed this to the trauma that had taken over me on seeing the lifeless body of my ill-fated child. While everyone suggested me to see a psychiatrist, I was insistent on having another shot at becoming a mother, which effectively ruled out the possibility of taking any antidepressants.

That’s when I turned to what used to be one of my hobbies – reading. Those testing times had apparently forced me to turn my back on everything I enjoyed doing. However, for a person that had already lost so much, I couldn’t afford to lose anything else. That’s when I decided to start reading again. It actually helped – and faster than I had expected it to. In fact, for me, reading had become synonymous with meditation.

I read some of the best works of Chetan Bhagat, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Narayan Debnath, Anish Deb, Satyajit Ray, Sukumar Roy and many other eminent authors. Some of their stories made me realize that life just goes on. Everyone – without exception – has some difficulties in their lives. Focusing all our attention on them does nothing but deprive us of the chance to look at the great things that life has on offer. Moreover, a positive attitude is all it takes to vanquish the challenges that come our way.

Books immensely helped Sandipa Kanjilal in her quest to regain her footing in life

I feel that books have the power to activate our peace of mind. I don’t know if I have overcome my fear or not, but I know that I have become livelier now. In fact, I am now looking forward to working on my upcoming PhD project. Oh, and I never had to visit a shrink! Books proved to be much more effective than any counseling session or antidepressants would ever have been.

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