“You can come out of this. You don’t need to do exactly what your mind says”, my father yells to me.
My mother closes doors and takes us inside the Kitchen room so that the neighbours remain unaware of happenings at my home. Being a girl could damage my prospects as she had thought.
“No, I cannot. If not this, it will only be my death”, I scream.
Their (my parents) faces turn grim, then sad, then tears roll down their cheeks as they look at my helplessness while my siblings stand clueless. They gave me a night-long time, in the end, to arrive at a decision.
The next morning, I ask them to take me to a Psychiatrist as my mind had completely stopped helping me in any way.
This was the darkest night I have ever witnessed in my whole life. The night too long, too suffocating, and too scary to survive. It took months of hiding and pretending to reach this night after all. Hiding what I was going through inside my head and pretending that everything was just so cool with me.
The next day my parents and I reach the Hospital (best suggested by my dad’s friend) as we had booked an appointment. This was my first ever encounter with something that had much to do with my mind and least with my body. We wait till my turn comes as I was dying a thousand deaths in my mind. I thought that this treatment was not going to change anything in me while my mind was totally chaotic and flooded with ‘suicidal thoughts’.
I still remember that energetic lady Psychiatrist and her gracious smile in detail, before she gently asked my intro and things that led me to a ‘Mental Hospital’. This was my first ever experience of sharing all my personal events, thoughts, and decisions before someone. I’ve always been a very shy and reserved being in person. A bright student that always led others in good grades. An all-rounder in and outside school & college. A person always admired by family and society alike. The leader that commands her following well. The ‘stubborn’ that gets what she wants somehow.
I explained to the lady doctor how my mind just not helping me do anything but only die. I explained to her the event that slowly consumed myself inside me. I explained my threshold point when I lost the battle within and called it quits. I broke into tears in the end, and the doctor said “Relax. This is not love. You are going to get better. I promise you on this”.
“What? is that not?” I ask her right back.
“You can take my words for granted”, she confirms.
This was the first time when someone countered my firmly held narrative. I had a huge sigh of relief the moment she assured me that it was just my mind and nothing as such. Then she introduces me with a word in Psychiatry and explains to me how it has ruined my life so far. She said that I am a ‘Perfectionist’ and I tend to become ‘Goddess of Gods’ in her language precisely. She wrote down my case as ‘Major Depressive Disorder’ (also known as ‘Clinical Depression’).
“This is J.K Rowling moment of my life”, I said to myself.
The doctor admitted me to the emergency ward and asked to stay for three days so they could understand my case effectively. It was my first day in a Mental Ward and every other Patient on floor was strange and weird. I was feeling a little happier because my case is being addressed. It took them an aptitude test, a q & a session, and a Mental scanning to get at my personality and mental condition. My high-score this time in the latter one was not a good thing as it was the case with the former two.
I fainted for a few minutes after I was injected. I was told that I am being kept in ‘observance’ after being injected with ‘tranquilizers’. Tranquilizers are one of the types in ‘Psychotropic drugs’. The doctor checked my condition later in the evening. She said that I had a scope of ‘recovering’ faster as the ‘anxiety’ on my face had reduced tremendously in comparison to what it was in the morning that day.
I asked the doctors to haste in my discharge from the hospital as I had to return to Delhi, where I was pursuing my coaching for some entrance exams. After three days, the Doctor discharges me with the ‘drug-prescriptions’ and the next date of my therapy. The following few days later, I returned to Delhi.
I presumed my coaching classes and studies, but I completely failed to ‘normalize’ my mind and started experiencing ‘vicious cycles of anxiety’ due to my ‘perfectionist’ traits. This only increased me in my ‘depression’ levels. I failed to understand my thought patterns and always felt in dire need of a Doctor and her medical ‘intervention’. I did not give my exams that year as I had a feeling that my preparation was not enough to tackle the exams. The regret that I wasted a year in my life was too deep to contain and as result to which I started having suicidal thoughts again!
I returned home with a ‘failure’ tag for the first time. I hid in my home for weeks as I could not face the society. I felt that I had failed my middle-class family and wasted their precious savings on nothing. I was still struggling with the previous-gotten ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’. And this only added to that.
The government announces scholarship exams to select the deserving candidates to free-sponsor coaching that I mentioned before and I found a good chance to prove my worth. I decided to give the scholarship exam and there was zero preparation. It consisted of a written-round and an interview-round. I managed to be in the top three amongst one-thousand students that had appeared. Being in the top three, I got to pursue coaching at country’s best institute in Delhi. Delhi had always been my dream like before. Yes, this is another proof of my caliber.
I was determined to bag best for myself. To end up landing in the position I desire for. But life played out its own. I kept repeating the same mistakes and these ‘mistakes’ triggered the same thoughts and these thoughts led me to the same end. Yes, I failed for the second time too. Yes, the result was another ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ in addition to the existing one.
This time, it was to have the worst of consequences. My parents felt that ‘medical treatment’ is not helping in any way and that I am only making excuses. They hid tablets that I was addicted to (quite common case in psychotropic-drugs). I started having issues with my parents after they stopped being tolerant of me like before. I was stopped from going to my ‘therapy sessions’. My mental condition started deteriorating furthermore.
I was interested in nothing in this whole damn world. I started sleeping excessively or not sleeping at all. Either case, I was laying on the bed most of the time. I still can feel the ‘mountainous’ burden that I had felt on me. I had to gather each ounce of energy in me even to do something as little as getting myself up the couch. I had drastically reduced my weight. My skin had turned pale and my eyes went deep.
I hit the point where I completely gave up on myself and my dreams. I could no longer find meaning in existence. The ‘existential crisis’ as they say in Psychology. Each passing moment was more disastrous than the previous one. I somehow used to make it up to a day. I had needed help from my parents but I was rejected each time I asked. They had stopped believing in ‘Psychiatry’ or ‘medical-aid’ after all.
But deep inside me, I wanted to live somehow. I wanted to survive somehow. The truth that ‘life is only granted once’ had a strong holding on my mind. The question that ‘what after death?’ was living me somehow.
I tried reaching out to people that could help me. I cried out to my friends explaining how bad my life has become. I reached out to ‘mental-health’ leads on social media platforms whom I did not know in person at all. I even phone called suicide helplines and spoke for hours when I felt at the lowest. I spent countless nights battling myself with my mind. I have felt that I’m hearing my mind making huge noises out and loud. I used to tightly cover my ears with pillows to avoid that feeling. I still have the habit of pillows covering my ears while sleeping.
One night I decided to end all of this and try the thing that was striking my mind often. The thing that my close friend was always suggesting. “why don’t you just go out and start working whatever job it is“, she used to say. I thought to give heed to this call and end ‘procrastinating’ at once. The phenomenon which perfectionists always find themselves stuck in. I had known that my parents would not permit me to work outside our city due to my ‘depressed’ condition. So I lied that I am going to go on a holiday break that would make me feel better.
That decision was to change my life for the better. You may even call it best. The first job I went for was poles-apart to my stream. It belonged to Stock Brokering (Commerce) while my specialization was in Engineering (Science). I had prepared for interview questions by referring to the concepts of Stock Brokering in a brief duration of my journey, which spanned 4 hours from my city.
There were three rounds of interviews after a written aptitude test in the beginning. The interview with Chief of Client Relations over phone-call (because he was abroad for a work-related reason) being the final and deciding one. The board selected me among a few others that had attended the interview with me that day. Fact that I left those few who came from Commerce background with some being MBA graduates thrilled me. All thanks to my communication skills.
The main reason I decided to work outside was that I could get to consult the best Psychiatrist of the city and there will be no need to seek permission from my parents, that had completely given up on treatment and medicines. Still, the best part is that I can payout from my own purse. I remember I consulted 2-3 other Psychiatrists before I went to the best one. This best one is Dr. Ravi that operates in H.M.T Layout, Bangalore.
I had learned about him on the social media site of Quora and had thought best to give a try. He was an atheist by belief while I was religious in practice. I was more worried than I had ever been with any Psychiatrist while narrating my condition to him. I can still remember his calm yet stern posture. I explain to him my past and the present while he looked focused on my narrating.
“You have got the most beautiful smile. I don’t believe if there is any God. But if there is one, then you are truly gifted”, he quipped with a smile after I ended my narrating.
Not knowing how to respond to the sudden compliment from a stern and renowned Doctor that I am meeting for the first time, I only smiled at him. Later he introduced me to the ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy‘ and ‘Distortional Thinking Patterns’, which were to change my mind for the better and the life in larger. The unique thing to his treatment was that it had less to do with ‘Medical drugs’ and more to do with my thoughts and beliefs. It was not as easy and as fast too, but I was patient this time. Thanks to his words that still are etched on my mind.
“You should not hurry in matters of the mind. It has to go through what it has to”, he had remarked to my complaints of not getting recovered faster. His first advice that I should always strive to accept things as they are and the fact that acceptance makes the first step to solution remains the best of techniques I imbibed so far.
He destroyed some of my worst fears and thoughts through his plain-simple words and some through shedding light on lived experiences. He taught me to keep the ‘Journal’ and to ‘record’ my thoughts in writing so that I could sort out the solution in face of confusion.
After I developed half the ‘confidence’ and half the ‘hope’ I had lost, I stopped consulting him. I ‘recovered’ more than I had expected and became ‘normal’ in a matter of few months. The books I read during this phase played their own great role too. Among which ‘Man’s Search For Meaning by Dr. Viktor E Frankl’ and ‘The Perfectionism Workbook by Taylor Newendorp’ are the top two impactive reads. The Books helped me build innovative ways to address my inner issues. I also discovered that some solutions are just placed in your surroundings and learning from things around you will serve you better and faster.
I realized that my parents have always given their best and it was me that had mistaken them. They have even stayed with me while I was in Delhi just to make sure that I don’t feel lonely. ‘I deal with many parents bringing their kids here and I can say that your parents make the progressive set of them’ my Psychiatrist had remarked once. Infact I wouldn’t be here if not for their unrelented efforts and support to see me doing good one day.
Speaking of my friends, they played their best part and I truely don’t know ways to pay them back for putting up so perfectly with me. For always showing up when I needed them the most. For having helped me with all they posessed. Fact that I wanted to ‘live’ and somehow ‘survive’ the worst helped me hugely.
It took all drops of my blood, all inches of my nerves, and all ounces of my energy to stand up to myself again. If anything I have to say at this point is that all of it was only worth it.
As I end penning down this little embarrassing personal-saga, I feel that I should also share about the ‘love’ part I mentioned before. The one that pushed me into the darkest of wells ever. The one that is the heart of this saga and central to this whole experience. And here is what it is.
This handsome lad proposes me just in the final sem of my grad years and I felt that he came right out of my fairy-tale land inside of my head. A well-mannered, kind-hearted, and rarely found as I had described to my father. As I have mentioned much of first time’s, this was also my first time. The first time it happened to me that I felt I have fallen for someone head over heels and only he could be my life-partner. Everything was just too ‘perfect’ until he said that he wanted the marriage immediately. I rejected right away of course. I went ahead with my dreams in Delhi only to have a huge heart-break after learning about his marriage with another girl and the rest is the saga I narrated now.
It may sound oddest but trust me when I say that there was nothing as there will be in every love story. We have had exchanged very few text messages, did 3-4 phone calls (even that were to convey his straight-away proposal) and only have met once (at 6 feet distance in between) to discuss and decide on the table.
Yes, this was absolutely ‘silliest ever thing’ on my part as my doctors, family, and friends always said to me, which I only used to refuse. Because I had deeply held ‘love is pure, love is eternal, as once it happens, it forever stays’ kind of fantasy-beliefs of my childish and stubborn heart on high. All thanks to the epic love-stories, popular love-books, and block-buster romantic movies that I had grown up believing in for giving such a hard time. haha!
There is much to say what went behind the above journey. Depression meaning stuck over the past helplessly and Anxiety meaning worrying too much about everything coming ahead. Both are definitely disabling and not easy to deal with and defeat finally. At worse, they eventually had took me into the hell of ‘existential crisis’ where people feel no meaning to existence. Kicking off ‘existential crisis’ and re-discovering the meaning in life is not an easy thing. My inner world, the way this complex world operates and the way I see life were all the parties at play. But once you succeed at it, you will know no failure again. This essay does document my journey but only in it’s skeletal structure. The flesh and blood is always essential to make it complete. I want to write for you, that as well, in breif. But let that be a story for another beautiful day.
Personally, if you are someone that is living in hell each day. That is constantly battling with oneself and failing each time. That doesn’t know how to make life anymore. That is struggling to understand whatever. That feels worthless all the time. That is uncertain of anything turning good someday somewhere. Let me to tell you that you’re not alone. Many have been there and many will be there. Seek help through crying to the God. Hang on till you discover hope. Endure till the relief arrives. Consult a Psychiatrist or Psychologist if it’s needed, unapologetically. Reach out to whom ever that you feel can help you out, unhesitatingly. Be more courageous and daring than you ever were. Try every single thing that ever interested you even if it did for just once. Treat yourself for every smallest of accomplishments. Love yourself, caress yourself and be with yourself each single second. If not for the world or anyone, do it for yourself, for you are only You!
“Today you are You.
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is you’re than You”
– Dr. Seuss
Lastly but most importantly,
It is always and always the Almighty Allah and Islam that helped me in wading through this hella experience. I thank Allah for what I am today. For He has helped me, saved me and loved me in the ways most unpredictable.