A survivor herself, Priyal always wanted to lend a helping hand to people who needed the much-needed attention and special care to help them overcome their distress and live normal life. Her decision to be a special educator came with her experience of being on the other side of the table, and it was certainly not easy.
At the tender age of 11, Priyal realized that she was being brought up by her aunt and that her mother had passed away when she was only six months old. It was difficult for Priyal to accept that reality; too shocked, Priyal could not speak to anyone about this and decided to keep it as her very own secret. This was one of the first instances where she began bundling up her feelings and not opening up to anyone else. She kept this within herself for close to five years until she finally had the courage to ask her aunt about it. Her aunt did not tell her anything and Priyal was not keen to speak about this to anyone else in the family. Till today, she doesn’t know what happened to her mother.
While she was trying to cope with this drastic news, at school, she was being bullied for her skin tone. The constant nagging and smirks were not something she could bear. The bullying continued and she decided to move with her father, stepmother, and stepbrother. Things were not easy there as she was treated differently. Unfortunately, her father too did not speak to her at home, and everyone only had basic conversations with her. This indifference continued for three long years. Priyal began wondering why no one loved her and slowly slipped into depression. An otherwise brilliant student, her grades went down, but Priyal was unable to figure out the reason for her underperformance in academics.
When support came in
After schooling, she started going to college, but she kept her classmates and roommates at a distance. She was aloof and always preferred to be herself; she even had thoughts of causing self-harm. But her aloofness and silent cries did not go unnoticed. Her roommates at the hostel encouraged her to open up, and her cousin to whom she still goes for advice instilled the much-needed confidence she needed. In Priyal’s own words, “My sister told me that if I want to do my best in studies, I need to have a hold on my emotions. I need to ensure that no one’s comments hurt me or hamper my mental state. She told me that I need to focus on my future career if I want to be independent and live life on my own terms.”
Inspired by the support and love she was receiving, she then decided to turn her life around. Taking control of herself and building her mental fortitude, Priyal started getting better mentally as well as academically. “Those words by my sister changed my life and I still take advice from her for anything. Also, if my friends hadn’t supported me at that point in time, I wouldn’t be here today.” Priyal said.
During this time, Priyal came to know that one of her cousins was diagnosed with autism. She decided to not contemplate any further and began her search to build a career in counseling. She completed her Integrated B.Com, B.Ed Special Education, and a Master in Learning Disability. Currently, she is also planning to pursue an MA in Counseling.
Today, Priyal is helping special students at OIS, Gurugram as well as guiding other students at the school who need her support. She is currently a special educator and looking after two special children at the school, apart from these, she also conducts mental health sessions with other students. “My relationship with my stepmother as well as my brother has improved. I am proud of where I have reached and how I have achieved success today,” Priyal said. She looks forward to supporting and being there for anyone who needs someone to listen, helps them overcome their distress, and just be there for them.