Confession # 1 My Battle With Depression
I love writing, and that love has evolved due to my fascination with the power of words. I believe it is a profound mistake to not think thoroughly before you speak. I have always noticed that people tend to use big words like ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’, forgetting that they could use, ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ instead. ‘If only you could understand the difference’, I often yell! Another word people tend to use very lightly is ‘Depressed’. When someone has a work problem, they say, “I’m depressed”. When someone fights with their spouse, “I’m depressed”. Whenever a child gets bad grades, the parents get depressed. But, do any of them understand what that word really means?
Well, I do, because I was diagnosed with depression at age16, and my parents will continue to argue with me for as long as we live for speaking about it publicly.
Ladies and gentlemen, my very own battle with depression …
I had extremely low self-esteem growing up, even though my parents did their utmost by raising me to be outgoing, confident and sure of myself. I think their only mistake (which they thankfully fixed later) was not paying attention to the crowd I hung out with, which had the most effect in how I turned out to be during my teen years. Bullying comes in various forms, and I can’t claim students in school hallways beat me up. However, I experienced a psychological form of bullying, which can be just as bad. My close circle at that time made sure I perceived myself as ugly, not good enough and a loser. They mocked everything I said and did, and so I started to gradually agree with them.
At this age, it is not an option to listen to your parents, because your friends will always know better and what’s best for you. I felt like I’d be totally lost if I got kicked out of that circle. What would I be without them and that constructive criticism of theirs that tore me down to pieces? I reached the point where I was ashamed of my parents and myself. I never thought any guy would ever be interested in me. Why would he anyway, when even I hated myself? The simple act of ordering food by phone or showing up to an event felt like mission impossible. The saddest part is that millions of kids around the globe go through the same crap everyday, and there’s only too little to be done about it. When my parents decided to step up and end this destructive friendship, I despised them, but not for long. I now think that it was one of the smartest and bravest decisions they ever made. Without their intervention, who knew when and how I could’ve survived all the abuse!
Fragile, insecure and miserable were the three words that described me best. I thought at the time that my life couldn’t get any worse, but boy, was I in for a surprise?
It was one sunny day, and I was playing with my dog in our balcony when a religious family member asked me,
‘How do you pray after playing with your dog like that’?
Me: I just do the regular ablution and pray
Family Member: You can’t do that. God won’t accept your prayers. You have to wash every part of your body that the dog touched seven times, and one of them using sand.
Me: But why?
Family Member: That’s the way it is. Also, did you know that angels never enter a house with a dog in it?
Family Member: Because it’s an impure animal that angels don’t like.
The result, another 4th word found its way to me and it was the only word that at the time described me best … Obsessed!
This is a mighty word … too mighty that several other words fall under it, Fragile, insecure, DEPRESSED, fanatical, possessed, consumed, … etc…I am not trying to accuse that relative of giving me obsessive-compulsive disorder, which I was also diagnosed with later. But, he definitely triggered it by giving me my first obsession, which was making sure I was pure, so God would accept my prayers. And no, Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not worrying whether you locked your car or house, or the fear of germs and microbes. It has so many forms and one person may have several obsessions and compulsions.
OCD is an anxiety disorder in the form of a plague of undesirable, annoying and repeated thoughts, feelings and ideas (obsessions) that urge you to do irrational behaviors (Compulsions). People who suffer from that disease are perfectly aware that those thoughts are ridiculous, but the only way to stop them is by doing what they ask you to. There is no choice here, because if you decide to not listen, you start suffering from great anxiety. And when you do listen, the satisfaction is very temporary. Oh, and this is a never-ending process!
At first, it started with washing every part of my body 7 times with soap and Disinfectants (as a substitution for sand)! After a while, I realized that I’ve been spending 45 minutes in ablution five times a day! I’d get out of the bathroom crying in frustration every time. I used toilet paper to open doors because my parents must’ve touched the doorknobs and so the doorknobs are now impure, because they must’ve touched the dog at some point!
I had certain clothes for praying. I finished a bar of soap every day. My hands in particular had peeled off due to excessive scrubbing! My family and friends tried to talk me out of the growing insanity using common sense, assuring me that God loves me and will accept my prayers no matter what! Little did they know, that common sense was not so common to me. I was suffering badly and it was overwhelming dealing with all the guilt. I was the reason there are no angels in our house after all. I brought the dog, which I love to death and refused to let him go.
I started fearing for the lives of my parents and obsessed about all the terror that would fall upon me in case I lost them, so I’d wake up shaking in the middle of the night, running to their bedroom to check their breaths. I would say prayers out loud, especially when I’m in the middle of a conversation with someone, because my parents will die if I don’t. I started loathing my life and falling in a very deep dark place. I cried all the time for no reason whatsoever, then I started having all those thoughts of hurting and/or killing myself.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for my parents. They told me I needed professional help, because I was only getting worse and they weren’t going to watch me destroy myself. My psychiatrist diagnosed me with depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But my parents didn’t like what they heard, so they took me to another psychiatrist who also diagnosed me with depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I was prescribed with one medication and I will never forget how my psychiatrist smiled at me and said, ‘don’t worry sweetie. You’ll be just fine’. The obsessions miraculously vanished and I finally stopped acting out of control. I continued to pray normally and I was “me” again.
Looking back on it, it felt like some devil had taken over my life and was in complete control of it. It was such a relief to everyone who loved me. But a few years later, I got used to being a normal person and loved that feeling. It unfortunately made me forget what it was like to be obsessive and what it was like to feel wretched. Most of OCD patients seem to have fallen in that same trap … it was one hell of a trap, one that almost cost me my life!