Tuesday, October 12, 2010

His Dark Victory Over My Own

When I was 14 years old I was told by my school counsellor that I may be suffering from clinical depression.

After many ups and downs, I figured out over the years that I was not suffering from depression, but bipolar disorder. In terms of coping mechanisms and medication I must take that actually work and make me feel like a functioning human being, all of this makes sense. I have/had a psychiatrist back in Saudi (a strange, unlikeable fellow) but I have already talked about that in a previous, albeit messily written post.

Back at that awkward age, when I was told I had depression, I allowed myself to sink into that identity. I became the depressed girl who was on medication that didn't work. It became hard to deal with me. Everything I did wrong was because I was depressed and I let it become my reason for everything happening in my life. I kept it a "secret" but told some of my friends and let them know, so when I was in a particularly bad mood, they'd have my condition to blame. I'd have my condition to blame, rather.

How long could I have let that kind of attitude go on? Sadly, about 6 years. I went to undergrad with that mindset - that I was practically invincible because of depression, that it would be my excuse for all of my pitfalls. Even when the diagnosis was switched to bipolar, I let it drag me down. I honestly did not feel the need to fight against my condition. I became engulfed in helplessness. Because of my lack of desire to go against all odds, I went with, no, swam with the flow of depression's tide. It gave me bad grades, a terrible attendance record, and disappointment in me from people who thought I could do much better.

What a miserable, pathetic few years of my life. I still am bipolar, I still deal with the consequences, but I cannot let myself become the bitchy, angsty, immature brat I was before.

I was made to revisit my past and my previous diagnosis when I was face to face with a beloved family member who is currently dealing with depression. This man, once full of life, is now possessed by a failing memory and a hatred of his age. It hurts me so much to see him. However, I noticed that despite his feelings he still fulfills his duty as a grandfather, father, and husband without fail. He takes care of his wife and makes me believe all over again in everlasting, true love. He makes us laugh with his hilarious manipulation of our Mauritian Creole. He keeps us company with his stories of generations past. Although we are all concerned about his well-being, and it has brought many tears to my eyes to see the frustration on his face, he is doing all the fighting I couldn't be bothered to do; that I was too busy being self-pitying to do. While I lurked in the darkness of my room, he is struggling at completing his routines - routines he is still managing to keep even though it is becoming more and more difficult. He might have his moments, but he keeps moving on.

I am so proud of him. I have always looked up to him my whole life and admired the many amazing things that he has done throughout the years, whether on his own or with his wife, another wonderful person. He is doing what I was too scared to do back as a teenager. I became a victim by my own behaviour while he is not letting himself become too much of a victim. Though he is so obviously affected by the physical changes he is going through against his will, he is still alive while having some life taken from him. For 6 years, I was a zombie by choice.

Right now, all I have been thinking about is this wonderful man. He is as inspiring to me now as he always has been before. Mo Yab, personn pa kapav sanz twa. To bien tro fort. Extra pli fort ki mwa mem so mwa mo pli zenn. Vrai mem, to leker bien pli zenn ki mo leker.* I only dream I can be as good and as fort as you.

*My Yab, no one can change you. You are too strong. Much stronger than me even if I am younger than you. Really, your heart is much younger than mine.


  1. Thank you for posting this, Khadeja. It really hits close to home, especially when you said "It became hard to deal with me" in that first section.

  2. Thank you for admitting that it related to you. A realisation like this really isn't easy to deal with for anyone. We have to accept and deal with our past, present, and possible future selves. I am glad that you appreciate what I have written today.

  3. You've brought up a cluster of important issues as usual, but what especially resonates with me are your thoughts on mental health labels. I think it's important to remember that they can be empowering, especially when you're first diagnosed - when you realise that there is a name for your pattern of suffering, that you are not alone in it, and that there are documented ways (or at least, documented suggestions) for coping with it. Trouble arises when labels outlive that usefulness and (as you point out) become a scapegoat that cuts us off from actually dealing with our problems. We come to treat the physiological/mood effects as the problems, rather than the bad situations that have led to their development. In that, I think, lies the frustration that a lot of people have with medications and such; while medications have their uses, it is only to the extent that they help with symptoms since they do not address actual causes. (Unless the actual cause of the problem is inherently physical - but that's not the kind of situation you're talking about here.)

    But as far as I know what's going on with you these days, I think you're doing a great job of turning that around! You are certainly doing wonders with this blog, where you confront many issues that really need to be addressed - even just by bringing them out of hiding. And it helps not only you, but others who have been in situations that resonate with what you describe. (I can say, for myself at least, that reading this blog brings healing; I certainly hope that you find a sense of healing in writing it!) :)

  4. First time reader, first time commenter.

    I know we haven't spoken on yonks, but a quick recap of my best memories of you was a. tango-ing in the MPH, b. Burn Baby Burn - Ash.

    Pretty random but i'm sure [i hope] this will make you smile

  5. Thanks to you both, Raya and Vyk. Vyk, you did indeed make me smile because you reminded me of the awesome parts of my past. I forgot completely about the tangoing until you mentioned it, now I can totally picture it! So much fun!

    Raya, I am so happy that you find healing because I know I use writing to patch up the pieces of my own life. I hope I can keep on doing it, and keep on making you feel like this is as worth reading as it is worth writing.


  6. I wish to share my two cents (even thought it's not much). You shouldn't be too hard on yourself when thinking back, you were young and we've all gone through the stage of wallowing in our own self-pity and angst (I remember doing that REALLY well). We all do things we regret, but I think you should give yourself some credit as well, since you've realized all of these things and that's just one more step forward (to becoming a better person)! The way I see this, is how you've turned a weakness into a strength, which is something admirable in itself. You should be proud.

    I feel that I'm doing a poor job expressing myself. I didn't know you that well, back then, but enough to know that you're a strong person!


  7. Thank you so much, JL, for commenting and your thoughtful and kind words, and sorry for taking so much time to respond to you! Just...thank you.