India batter Veda Krishnamurthy lost her mother and sister in a span of two weeks due to Covid-19. Nine members of the cricketer's family battled the virus. "I'm a big believer in what destiny holds for you, but I really hoped that my sister would come back home. When she didn't, I was completely destroyed. All of us were broken to pieces," Veda told ESPNcricinfo in a lengthy post detailing her trauma.
"...I still had to put up a brave face for the rest of the family. What I had to do in those testing couple of weeks was learn to tune myself out of my grief. But it keeps coming back to haunt you," she said.
Speaking about the mental aspect of dealing with a health crisis and the ensuing tragedy of such a magnitude, Veda said her mother and sister also suffered from anxiety while battling the illness.
"Mental strength is important. My oldest sister, Vatsala, had panic attacks before she passed away from COVID," the 28-year-old said.
"My mom might also have panicked, because the night before she died of the virus, in my home town, Kadur, about 230 km north-west of Bangalore, she learned that everybody else in the family had tested positive, including the kids. I don't know, but maybe that affected her," she said.
Veda revealed that she has dealt with mental health issues of her own in the past and called for a structured support system for those in need. "A lot of people who are playing cricket currently know what mental health is, but it is also important to accept that if the system is not doing anything to offer you mental-health assistance, you can and must find the support for yourself if you can afford it.
"I've had mental health issues and I've sought support to resolve them myself."
Veda, who has played 48 ODIs and 76 T20 Internationals, was excluded from the Indian squad for this month's tour of England, where the team is scheduled to play one Test, three ODIs and as many Twenty20 matches.
The BCCI had drawn flak from several quarters for not keeping in touch with the bereaved player after which Veda received a phone call from Board secretary Jay Shah. "I'm not upset with people who didn't call me or message me. I thank everyone who checked on me.
"I did get a call from the BCCI secretary, which I didn't expect, to be honest. He said when he is in Bangalore, he will visit me," she said.
(With inputs from PTI)