COVID-19 diary with Richa Rughani: The Making of Mind Over Molar

Coming towards the end of my COVID-19 diary series, this post is by Richa Rughani, founder of Mind Over Molar...

To say 2020 is a year of unprecedented events is an understatement. 

As a foundation dentist, I was finally at a point on the year where my clinical work was improving, I needed less time for appointments, I had identified and created a plan to improve in areas I needed to work and then... COVID 19. Suddenly everything was thrown off course and making sure we protected ourselves from this virus became the priority for all. Guidelines were being updated every day, sometimes a few times within the same day. For a long time, we were not clear as to what we could or couldn't do and without clear guidance we were pretty much left to our own devices. This left many dental professionals facing difficult ethical dilemmas surrounding what is in the best interest of the patient, the team, and wider society. Outside of work, we saw the entire world change in ways that were quite frankly scary: food shelves empty, people actively avoiding each other, hostile stares at anyone who coughed, and let's not forget - toilet roll becoming so precious it was not only rationed but actively protected by staff. Together, this was perfect recipe for anxiety and depression. With all of this focus on protecting our physical health, I found that my mental health was being neglected.

I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2016 but I know that I'd be suffering with it for much longer. Many things contributed to it, but most of all was living with ulcerative colitis from the age of 11. My experience of anxiety and depression has shown me that there are definitely ups and downs. I can go for many months without any feelings of anxiety or depression but then I can relapse, and this is usually due to difficult external factors. For the 6 months prior to lockdown, I was struggling with my mental health. I had anxiety and I found that there were days where my depression felt truly overwhelming. Though I was trying hard to find a balance and focus on improving my mental health, I knew that I needed more time to really be able get to the bottom of the causes of my anxiety and work through them.

In a strange way, lock down came at the perfect time for me. It gave me the space and time I needed to reflect, heal, and create habits that ensured I would be able to better take care of my mental health in the long run. Honestly - it was the best I've felt in years and I finally felt like I really did love and care for myself. I've always spoken very openly about my ulcerative colitis and so I wanted to share my mental health story. For a while I was terrified with the question: "... but what if people don't like me after I share my mental health story?" That question didn't last for long because I realised that I'd rather be rejected for who I am than liked for who I am not. So, I posted a short video on my personal Instagram sharing my experience with mental health. I really did not expect what happened next; I had at least 10 messages from dentists/DCPs/dental students who said they had been through the same experience but were always too scared to share it. I strongly believed that in order to lift stigmas, we have to get comfortable talking about uncomfortable things. Sadly, mental health problems are still difficult for many to talk to but I really wanted to contribute something to help change this. This is when Mind over Molar was born.

Mind over Molar took a lot of planning and thought. I decided I wanted the focus to be on the mind behind the mask with tips on improving mental health and wellbeing, recommendations, and to create a platform for others to share their stories too. It's been the best thing I have ever done and Mind over Molar has received so much more support than I could ever imagine, as well as creating so many opportunities for me to help serve others.

Never did I think that I a global pandemic would be part of my foundation training year, but nor did I think I would ever have the courage to not only open up about mental health, but also create a platform to help others with their journeys. If there's one good thing that's come from this experience it's been having the time to really explore how I feel and use that to help serve others. Please remember to always look after your mental health - you might not be able to see it but you definitely feel it. 

For more mental health and wellbeing info, please visit Mind Over Molar on Instagram!

Do you want to write an entry for this series? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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