Mental Illness: A taboo for the ages

Observing something and experiencing it are two utterly different events. The person going through the adverse circumstances will look at the world from a different perspective. I know everyone talks about depression, anxiety, panic attacks; in short, “Mental Illness”, but no one takes it as seriously as physiological illness. Have we ever thought why it is so?

I know my words will not change someone’s life but yes, these words will change your minds towards the ones who are mentally ill and need support instead of judgment. Let me reiterate, support; do not pass judgment.

When depression is winning, I am losing. My sense of self no longer exists. I am nothing. I want to be what you wanted me to be. I want to be the good girl, the smart girl, the strong girl. But I am not. I am a mess, a disaster. I am nothing. In my mind I scream, “Please, see that I am trying . But you fail to realize, for you lack the ability to do so. Since I am not the girl you want to see, I mean nothing to you. You don’t notice me at all.”

When you’re depressed you feel just as you are fighting a battle against yourself. A lot of times, you also feel like you are at a war with other people when they make jokes or comments on you. The bomb explodes when someone sends you an article on “how to consciously stay happy.” You feel like no one wants you around as if you do not belong. Mental illness makes you feel utterly alone. You feel like a mime in an inescapable invisible box. The pain does not resemble a physiological illness, but it is something much deeper in nature, and the sorrow and burdens hold on to you, sometimes for years.

You live like that, stranded in a constant cycle. You feel you will never get better if you won’t try harder. You do not feel tired, but at the same time, you also do not have any energy. You wish to stand in a hailstorm and feel the icy water crash against your skin. You wish to jump into an ice-cold pool and feel the shock of the water. You wish to stand in front of a fireplace and have the warmth fill you and make you feel safe. Somehow despite wishing it to be so, you cannot feel any of these things. Of course, it takes in a lot of effort to get better, but it also takes a long time for some people.

From this long list, absolute emptiness is obvious. To tell the truth, it feels like you are not even alive anymore. In those periods, it seems as if you could stroll the empty street, get hit by a car, and still feel nothing. But even if you wish, you could not do it, because what would be the point?

To me, this odd emptiness is worse than sadness and pain. I would rather endure every feeling in the world rather than having this absence of the feelings. Even in the moments of the worst emotional pain, I never wish for this numbness to return. Yet, it does come back without any warning, and clouds my life. For those of you, who have never felt this, please understand it is not that I do not care. It is not that I do not want to feel. At this moment, I just do not know how to be better. Very painful moments encompass this journey of betterment. These moments are going to shatter you. Along the way, people are going to offer you those so-called “helping hands.” These people will not stay long and leave you the very next second. You will exist by yourself.

So, better look after yourself and your mind. It is important. You are human. It is okay to struggle. People are going to tell you every single day to ‘get over it’ because that is the only thing they can do – tell. But they do not know what it is like to be in your head for they have never walked in your shoes. If you’re reading this, I want to tell you, keep going no matter what happens. Never let people and circumstances upset you. Discard expectations. Nobody knows what you have been through, absolutely no one. Except for the Almighty. Turn to Him. Forget the world. The world will hurt you and upset you. But trust me, once you’re down there in “sujood” and you let your tears out, and touch the ground, that peace beats everything! You forget everything. For you know that Allah is listening. Although He knows everything, He is still listening; He wants you to speak, so cry your heart out. And when you do that, it is the most beautiful feeling in the world. I swear! You will continue to suffer if you behave emotionally towards every situation. Keep silent because no one understands your pain and your reasons for becoming who you are. Stay away from people who twist their words and prove you the ugly one somehow. If you have complete faith in Almighty, then leave everything on Him. He will not leave you alone, He sees your struggles, and He knows how hard you are trying. He will not burden you more than you can bear.

Also, reach out to your friends, relatives, or anyone close suffering from mental illness, before it is too late.  Give them a helping hand, be with them as much as you can. Listen to them, cry with them, the least you can do is understand them. It can change the world for them. Trust me.

Whoever is reading this, I pray that one day you do not have to pretend to be happy anymore. All those who are still confused and stressed, I pray that you find your purpose and no longer feel  alone and slowly drowning in the ocean. I hope that someone brings light and joy into your darkest days. Ameen!

Blessings upon us all.

Writer: Amna Ijaz,a Former Central Park Medical College student

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