I haven’t written in a while and a lot of it is because I’ve been struggling. A little over a month ago, I moved from London to Lahore, Pakistan. On the one hand I was happy to be closer to my family, those who do love and cherish me; on the other hand, I was also a step closer to everything that broke the hinges in my life. I look around and see how happy people are, how those who were my friends moved on, have complete new lives that do not include me. It’s a strange feeling knowing that after 2 years you’re the only one who’s been set back, who needs to start from scratch, people have gotten divorced and remarried, people have suffered close deaths and survived, people have been penny broke and come out with their heads high. I don’t believe in miracles, I don’t believe that everyone gets what they deserve, I most certainly don’t believe that if you do good, your life will make sense again. I read somewhere recently that the worst mistake one could make is to assume that everyone has a heart like yours; nothing could be truer.
The wonderful (read: not) thing about Pakistan is the societal support you get, the immense feeling of pride that blossoms within you when people all around you constantly make you feel smaller than you are, make you feel uglier, unsuccessful and second class because of your marital status. I don’t think I ever realised how old 27 was until I got back, with everyone around suddenly pushing marriage proposals, or worse, the idea that there were no ‘suitable boys’ left because I was no longer of acceptable age. The concept of the leftover women in China is no different than it is in this part of the world. To be constantly defined by someone by your side is demeaning and heart shattering; the unsaid words are the worst, that’s when you start believing that yourself too. I do too, I am no longer the girl I used to be, rather I’m a shell of a person with no self-esteem and no concept of what my worth to another person might be. Throw in a little anxiety and bam, you have depression in a way you’ve never experienced before. I’ve lost so many people, one or two who meant the stars and the moon to me, but more than that I’ve lost myself.
As with everyone, there are good days and bad, but sometimes you have a relatively good moment followed by an intense slump. You might have thought of something, most likely something irrational and unreasonable, but that notion takes birth in your mind and grows into a ginormous octopus with its legs spreading all over your tiny brain. I’m a smart girl I think, a part of me stares at my academic accolades to remind me of that, but the heart is an illogical mess that is inexplicable. You might want something that you know triggers every miserable feeling throughout your body yet you yearn for it or fly towards it as a moth does near light knowing you will not come out unscathed. Did you know heart ache is a real phenomenon? Did you know that sometimes you genuinely dig the palm of your hand over your chest to dull that soul sucking pain that is emanating from your heart? Trust me, neither did I. I’ve been through hell before, I’ve had days where I was on medication to stabilise my heart beat and ease mt anxiety, but this feeling, of feeling paralysed because your mind never shuts down is new to me too.
Mild anxiety and depression keep you from sleeping, they keep you from relaxing, they keep you from functioning. Tiny things help, writing, listening to music, talking to a close friend, small silly things do help, it’s all about finding what will work for you. The worst thing someone can do to you is force you to see someone professional, please don’t do that. In Pakistan you have such a dichotomy of people, there will be a brand of people who will constantly tell you it’s all in your head, and then there will be an entire clique of individuals who will project their personal experiences on you and constantly tell you they’ll make an appointment with a therapist for you, etc. I repeat, please don’t do that. As long as your loved one isn’t suicidal, I assure you they know how deep they’re falling, stop pushing them based on what you think is right for them because the only thing that will happen is that they’ll stop talking to you and that will only isolate them from themselves even further. Be there for them, listen to them, don’t tell them what they’re thinking or expecting is wrong, in all likelihood, they already know they’re wrong and they need to move on somehow, they only tell you because they need to vent, not go down a hard love route.
Be gentle, be there, be supportive and most importantly be their confidence.