The truth about my demon #WorldMentalHealthDay
Today is the World Mental Health Day and I think this is the best moment to tell you some of my truth. I write this not to patronize myself. I write this to tell everybody that I stand with mental health awareness and if any one of you suffer from mental health problem, I would like to know that you are not the only one.
Let's begin with few questions!
Am I depressed?
At the moment I am not depressed but I live with depression. I am never medically-diagnosed and I do not take medication, but it does not mean that my depression is not real. I can say that I live with mild depression.
How do you know if you are depressed?
I remembered it was December 2015. It had been 4 months after I was laid off from my previous agency. I didn't feel bad about it, because it gave me more time to concentrate on my personal projects, such as poetry, freelance-writing and at the end, being able to find a better job.
Although the process of acceptance didn't come easy. At most of the time, I felt lost. The job market was not doing well. I felt so obliged to my parents because I begun to be financially-dependent on them, although they said it was OK, but still I felt like I was a failure.
I remember I was in a hospital. From where I stood, there was a psychiatric clinic. I was there to for a post-surgery check (I had a large ovarian cyst removed from my womb) I remembered seeing the posters hung from the wall. They all displayed the characteristic of a depressed person.
Yes, I ticked everything from the list
Feeling irritated easily
Hopeless, cannot look into the future
Prone to fatigue
and it goes on...
Okay, there was no denying. I suffered from depression.
This was not the first time depression hit me. In 2014, I left my job (by my own choice) and came home. The transition of living independently and moving to home was overwhelming. I admitted I felt lost too that I didn't know where to begin.
I did believe that I moved to home for better reasons (and 2 years later, I prove it), but it is just that there were pressure that scrapped me out of my belief, confidence and faith. I couldn't think that it can get better. It was a very hard time too.
How does depression feel like?
You feel worthless and unconfident. You tend to blame yourself for almost everything you've done and decisions that you've made. You start to feel sorry for things that are not even related to you. That how low your self-esteem can go.
If my extrovert side cooperates, I can go out, meet friends as usual and masks my sadness a bit. But there are times, I do not want to see anyone and just lock myself behind the closed door.
What makes you depressed?
You can say I am an achiever, but not an over-the-top ambitious, achiever but I set my goals. I believe that life should be lived to the fullest. I fear of missing out on things too (FOMO sucks). So, when my goals aren't fulfilled, that triggers depression. However, it is not that simple. What caused my depressions is not only disappointment of not meeting my goals, but it is a cumulation of my experiences, certain expectations and upbringing.
Why don't you seek medical help?
As far as I know, none of my family suffers from a depression or a mental problem. It makes me reluctant to come out to my family. But one time, I did come forward to my mom and I asked her if I should need to seek professional help. She said I did not pray enough, no need to seek doctors. Doctors, she said, will overcharge me for treatment, pills and that I am just going to shame myself in front of other person. Again, she stresses that I need to pray.
But how can you pray when you feel spiritually disconnected? When you are depressed you are disconnected in many levels.
Once, my parents and I caught up in a big argument that left me crying so bad. I was hypervalenting in front of them. Let me tell you about the disadvantage of being raised by Asian parents is that when you are down/suffer/sad, they will not comfort you. Instead they will shout and shake you. It is indeed a tough love.
I remembered my mom asked me (as I cried), "Why are you making that face? That's a face of a depressed person." and then she advised me to istigfar and pray some more.
My family does not believe that I should be suffering from depression, because they have given me everything food, shelter, protection and more, which is true, but there is something unsettling still, because I feel like I am alone and without support.
How do you overcome your depression?
I don't fight my depression. I believe that everything is just temporary. I can be happy today, I can be sad tomorrow. You can have everything now, but there is a possibility that you will lose it the next day. Nothing in this world is temporary.
I try reach out my family and friends. None of them started as understanding but as the time goes by, they provided me with kind gestures. I learned to manage my expectation. It doesn't mean to stop dreaming, but I learn to move by my own pace. Some people might have done something faster or having much more, but I will get where I need to be soon.
I try to be calm and patient with myself. I do not resist. From there, I collect my pieces that includes my spiritual self. I recollect my faith. As a practicing muslim, I eventually pray to God. But I don't pray like, "O Lord, give me a scholarship to London, give me a handsome boyfriend. O Lord give me that 100k... etc" or things you secretly wish like what The Secret told us. Instead, I converse with Him. I ask him for strength. I ask him for guidance. I ask him to open doors that are meant for me. I ask him energy for me to pursue my dreams. I ask him for health.
I feel whole. I am not lonely anymore.
I have a depression, what should I do?
You can seek medical help. However, you can also follow simple activities that will help you to go through the days. For me, a simple cat video never fails. I write. I do sports, I prefer kick boxing. When I compare my days with and without sports, days with sports are one of my best days. You sweat, you feel refreshed and it trains your focus and concentration.
If you do not feel like doing all of that, watch some of your favorite movies, the one that distracts your mind. A movie of other worlds. Mine is the Harry Potter series.
You can always take a break by playing games. Becareful if it gets too addictive though, do everything in moderation. You are the only one who knows yourself and your limit.
Don't be afraid to speak about your depression. Do not sink and do not succumb it to yourself. Don't close yourself to everybody. I know this is the hardest part because you think the world may against you and everybody is so damn annoying. But, give your best to try. Everyone's approach may differ , but they all mean well.
Depression always have a strong effect to those who have terminal illness like cancer or survived a traumatic experience like an abuse or a terrible loss. If any of your family/friends suffer from this, be with them. If your friends are lightly depressed, just be with them anyway. Try to listen instead of encourage them to pursue your ideal concept of happiness. It won't work that way.
Remember to always have patience and kindness for yourself and others.
If you have any suicidal thoughts or any kind of mental problem that endanger your life, I really advise you to seek professional help.
All I can say everything is a blessing in disguise.
At the end of my word, I would like to let you know that each one of us is a fighter and I am with you.