So, I was having a really, really normal day. Well, as normal as my days can be. I was on the couch, obviously with my phone in hand and scrolling down my feed when I bumped into this post. The post was made by an old schoolmate of mine called Dahlia El Sayegh. She posted pictures of herself that showed her body with scars all over it. She later revealed that the scars were self-inflicted.
El Sayegh added that she was overweight and wasn’t happy with her figure. She put a goal for herself, beat it, but it was still not enough. She still felt incomplete, unaccomplished.
“Depression is captivating, it takes your identity away. You don’t even recognize who you are anymore and you can’t blame people for getting upset that you changed because at this point you don’t like yourself very much either,” El Sayegh wrote on her post. “This is me. I didn’t choose this. This happened to me and I’m learning to deal with it in a country that has mental illness as a taboo. I’m done hiding.”
To say her post hit me really hard would be an understatement. I have never related to anything more in my life. Just like El Sayegh, I was overweight as well, but guess what? I actually did something about it. I focused on being healthy, and most importantly, I focused on myself. But little did I know, that it wouldn’t be enough. It wouldn’t protect me from my family members just casually calling me “fat” for no reason. Those same family members also try to force-feed me during family gatherings. Because calling someone fat is not bad enough, getting them to actually be fatter is more satisfying. Again, I know most people don’t realize the words they spew out of their mouths can hurt, but they do. Words aren’t like wind, they cannot wash all over you. They stick to you, and remind me what you are not. They destroy you.
Four months ago, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I kept it to myself. Only close family members knew because I was made to be ashamed of my mental illness; simply because of the country or region I live in. Society needs to start being open-minded, it needs to be there for people like me and El Sayegh, it needs to understand. Mental illness should not be a taboo.
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for hundreds of years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. I think wanting that is very morbid, but that’s what depression does to you. Do you think I want to feel like I will never amount to anything? Do you think I want to always be reminded by myself that I will never accomplish anything in my life? Do you think I want to stay up at ungodly hours of the night thinking why life just hurts so much? Do you think I want to have constant thoughts about suicide? No! Let me just tell you that I do not want to think about all of these things. I don’t want any of these things to maul at me and destroy me from the inside, but they do; and sometimes you can’t win.
We as a society need to change the way we talk about mental illness. We need to be more like Dahlia El Sayegh. I cannot thank her enough for giving me enough courage to come out and say that I suffer from depression, and I am not ashamed of it one bit. I want more people who suffer from mental illness to also acknowledge the fact that they do, and to always seek help. Don’t be ashamed. Never. Me, El Sayegh and countless of other people are here for you. We’re always going to be there for one another, and one day, society will be as well.