My story is about acceptance; about me coming-to-term with my mental health condition.
It is given. When life threw you lemon, you got beaten by it; stupefied at first. It scarred you. It left you with a lesson, and a lesson and another lesson until you got a grip and managed to turn the lemon into a sweet lemonade.
I have made a lot of mistakes from my manic episodes and depression this time around. I read too much, became so overwhelmed with all the information I got and succumbed deeper into depression. Real story.
When I first knew I had bipolar disorder – a mental illness late 2015, I naively wanted to advocate for the illness. How naive and gullible I was. But I genuinely wanted to reach out and strengthen my support system. Because I knew then, deep down, the inner-demons I discovered were a threat to my existence, to my sanity. I made a confession on Facebook. Alhamdulillah. I received a lot of comfort and acceptance from almost all of my family and friends – to my surprise, some even sent me a private message and informed me about their struggle with depression and other mental illness. And people started coming out with their own struggles. Somehow at that time, they were comfortable and able to talk about mental illness with ease in social media platform and others were being so receptive and supportive.
Two days after, I went into manic episode as a result of Prozac not suitable for me.
The cycle began, again.
I took Olanzapine, an anti-psychotic med to control my mania.
Then I did something stupid. I started labelling myself, instilled the stigma inside my head. I did those things to my own self. I have no self control. I simply gave up.
I started questioning everything. I had passive suicidal thoughts – though I didn’t execute any suicidal attempt, but I did have suicidal thoughts. That life will be easier if I was dead. Like I knew how life would be after I die.
I knew nothing.
I read too much about bipolar, I wanted to understand my conditions, and I ended up over-diagnosing my own self.
What was wrong with me?
I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. And I did what I presumed I had to do.
And it did more damage than good.
My psychiatrist again and again advised me not to read too much on bipolar and self-labelling my own self. I stopped reading though I was already in deep depression.
But, I was in a high-functioning depressive state. I can go to work, do the whole routine. But only a minimal level. I did everything almost enough. Barely living. Just surviving each day without looking forward for anything in the future.
Family and friends tried to cheer me up, lend me a shoulder. Nothing penetrated.
I was just so lost. I strayed away from God.
That was my biggest mistake.
I refused to accept what Allah has decreed for me. I couldn’t understand why Allah did this to me. Why Allah tested me this hard. I started questioning and basically got myself lost, clouded with meaningless thoughts and logics in my head.
With my personality traits, I took things very hard. I am always too hard on myself, on anything. Especially failure.
I started to train my head and called myself a failure. Without even fighting. Without even trying to get back up.
And then, while all of these happened, my beloved father passed away due to heart failure.
Astaghfirullah al azim. Somehow, I know deep inside Satan was rejoiced with my progress.
If seeing with raw eyes, you will definitely classify me as a sinner. I have let Allah down. But somehow, I think – and I pray that I am right, we need to get lost to be found. And the sweetest part of all, to be found by Allah. That is the greatest gift Allah could ever give to His servants.
And I feel so blessed that Allah, time and again, found me.
It all started with callous tweet and, what’s with Malaysia seems to embrace mental illness in the wrong way. I was so fed-up with social media.
I had my emotional breakdown. I cried my heart out, bawling about how I lied to everyone, even to my own self; how I needed my father to help me get through this; how I couldn’t accept that my father had left me for good – and I am all alone to beat these demons inside of me.
I had a conversation with my uncle, somehow I felt relieved because the cat was out of the bag. My uncle mentioned that I tend to guard my self up and refuse to let people in; I deal things on my own. I should let people in – especially my mother, so that I won’t be alone dealing with my recovery. I wish I knew how. And I should learn to know how.
With my late father, he did everything on his own for me. I didn’t have to say anything. For all I knew, he would be checking me every evening after work, supplied me with relevant supplement pills, did everything he could for me. I was his priority. Of course I was. I was his daughter. However, I shouldn’t expect the same from others. Who did I think I was? How credulous.
Then I went for impromptu appointment with my psychiatrist. She was quite frustrated with my then-condition and the reason behind it.
And slowly things started to fall into place.
I took into consideration almost all what my uncle and psychiatrist said. I read something else, discovering the other important sides of me. And somehow, I started to shift my focus on rediscovering myself, instead of focusing on my condition.
It was the right thing to do. Of course.
I wanted to start by decluttering my room, recreating my bedroom as my happy place – which is my biggest project for my thirtieth birthday; reading motivational articles, reading about my personality traits (INFP and Highly Sensitive Person), communicating better with my mum, and most importantly, buried the hatchet and started accepting that “it happened”.
The reasons behind what Allah has decreed are for only Him to know – for He will reveal to me as He wishes otherwise; and He knows that I can get through this.
Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Qur,an, 2:286)
So I came to acceptance that it happened and there is nothing else I could do, except for putting my full faith in Allah and start restructuring my life; and live my life to the fullest.
After all, as a believer,
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?”
I think we should cut ourselves some slack, give us some space to make mistakes. Every single human being on this earth should be given the space to make mistakes in order understand the decrees better, to understand themselves better, to better themselves.
“It’s natural for us to stumble, lose hope & get impatient during trials. But if we remember He’s in control, we’ll see the hidden blessings.”
Those were not my words. Those were from Mufti Menk’s twitter. So, yeah, I didn’t make my opinion baseless.
Ergo, I stopped wanting to be an advocate for mental health. What I wanted to do instead is to help, to support these people who suffered from mental condition. I don’t really like where the campaign is heading in Malaysia right now (in my opinion). Instead of creating awareness, some people are fighting about who has it worst, everyone has depression at some point in their life, you are being delusional etc. Nope. That is not my cause, my conviction. What I know is people dealing with mental illness does not need validation from everyone, just a strong support system to guide them through their recovery journey. That is it. To accept that it happened and start carving the journey, the road to recovery.
What others think is less important – not important, though it is very hard to deny them. But what is more important is YOU. No one else. I’ve been there many times, I’ve done these many times and I know it is hard to accept your mental condition. It took me almost three years.
Do whatever you can to survive. If it comes to the extent of lying that you could get better, LIE. That could be your start. Whichever way, start something; start somewhere. I still find it hard to believe; to grasp – but there is something life has to offer, something Allah has to offer. Live in the moment. Anticipate life.
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