Shanta (Nishi) Kanukollu, PhD (aka “Dr. K”) is a new member of LadyDrinks. As a licensed clinical psychologist with a background in Women’s Studies, she had an intellectual understanding of loss and grief when life got tough. But when she suffered her own moment, she decided to a no-holds barred, gritty and compelling article about it.
“The image of that fetus in my bathroom is something that is etched into my memory forever. I had told this child just the night before that if my bleeding was related to her being in some sort of pain, she needed to do what was best. I asked her not to stay in my body to provide me with some sort of temporary comfort if it meant more pain for her.”
Joya: Why was it important for you to write so transparently about your miscarriages?
Shanta: I certainly never thought I would write an article on miscarriage from my own perspective. But, given my background and my desire to end the silence around taboo topics in the South Asian community, I had to.
I want to start a dialogue in a community that feels it can’t talk about their bodies, families and mental health. Depression and anxiety are starting to get attention, which is awesome, but we need to move the needle on general psychological health.
Joya: What do you hope happens when people read this article?
Shanta: The more a community is informed and educated about pregnancy loss, the more comfort and compassion they can show for those experiencing grief. The more we stay silent about this topic or gloss over feelings by telling people in our community to “just pray” or “just be more positive,” the more women are not allowed to speak, share and mourn. Avoiding a topic out of discomfort or lack of information does not encourage healing or recovery either physically or mentally. Let us come together to be the best we can be for ourselves, for families silently enduring pain related to pregnancy loss and for the next generation, whether we have the privilege of meeting them or not.
Joya: While these experiences happen to women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, being South Asian American adds another layer to the coping and the grief. I’m glad you had the courage to talk about it. What are you most proud of in your career?
Shanta: For pushing myself to work with different kinds of people: Men and women in the criminal justice system. Trauma afflicted veterans at the VA Hospital from different countries with different needs. Today, I am in private practice. My company is called SNK Therapy, LLC and these experiences have helped me feel confident in seeing people from all kinds of backgrounds.
Joya: Who are the kinds of people you would like to meet today, within the LadyDrinks ranks and beyond?
Shanta: I’m hoping to meet people who are interested in mental health issues, social justice, the arts and generally people who have access to the community and would want to talk about DV and mental health.
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