It could happen to you…

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Did you notice this picture that I am holding? Well, this isn’t a picture of Hiba. But this is a picture of me, Innie. Just at 8 months. When I found this picture, three thoughts came into my mind.

First, I questioned why my parents never advised me of the turbulent journey that lies ahead.

Second, I wished that I was shown my destiny from the minute I was born.

Third, how am I not a model? (jokes aside) You see, when we are brought up into this world we have always believed that we would be carefree and happy. But you would never know when the darkness will come and consume you. When the darkness begins to surround you, you begin to become helpless. You suddenly forget how to breathe. You feel like you have lost connection with your own body, but you can feel your heart racing in your chest. Tears start to stream down your face. Then after, you are left with the crippling sound of silence. Days come by but the darkness never leaves. The only way you can push through is by hiding all these emotions behind a smile. You begin to alienate yourself from your friends and family.

Then you are left with two options: seeking help or committing suicide.

Does this feeling seem familiar to you? Well, if it does, I am here to re-assure you that you are not alone.

According to the Blackdog Institute, one in five Australians aged between 16 and 85 will be diagnosed with a mental illness. The most common mental illnesses that are experienced within this age group is depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorder. Often these three types of mental illness occur at the same time. For instance, an individual who has been diagnosed with depression might use illicit drugs or alcohol in attempts to self-medicate themselves. Sadly, depression, anxiety and substance abuse is worsened if treatment is not sought. Sufferers would delay or avoid seeking help because of the stigma associated with mental illness.

Unfortunately, in extreme instances, sufferers would engage in self-harm or commit suicide as a way to overcome the burden of mental illness. Every day, at least 1 in 6 Australians die from suicide. Over 60,000 people a year will attempt to take their own life. Moreover, suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged between 15-24. Men are at the greatest risk of committing suicide due to stoicism. Groups including Indigenous Australians, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people and children are also at high risk.

Writing this post has been challenging. Especially because most sufferers find the issue of mental illness highly contentious. Having been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Clinical Depression and Bipolar disorder for 5 years, I have been subjected to all kinds of verbal abuse just simply because of ‘feeling’. I have been told to stop over-reacting when experiencing a manic episode. I have been told to pray because the ‘devil’ has infiltrated my psyche. Most of all, the most insulting comment I have ever received is to ‘get over yourself’. The thing is, I can not exactly get over this illness. It will always be apart of me. To some, being diagnosed with a mental illness has been daunting. However, to me, my diagnosis has been a blessing.

Earlier this year, I was admitted to the psychiatric ward at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. I can recall my mothers pained expression when she saw me stretched on the hospital bed. I remember the nurses coming into my room checking my blood and heart rate. I can also remember the social worker probing me with questions. He asked, ‘what made you want to commit suicide’. I told him that I was sick with the situation that I was in. I remember crying to him telling him that ending my life would release the burden I had placed on my parents, extended family, friends and my boyfriend. I just thought that life would be better off without me. The hardest thing was when my social worker had to re-iterate my circumstance to my mother. At that point in my life, I thought that I had let everyone down. I began to think that no-one would love me or appreciate my existence.

At 3 A.M., I remember my psychiatrist coming into my room and performing a psych evaluation on me. I have never questioned the reliability of the system until that very moment. For a psychiatrist, he was a demeaning, highly-tempered and un-empathetic. He told me that the reason I wanted to end my life is because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. Tears started to stream down my face. I thought to myself how can a professional psycho-analyse me in such a narcissist way. At that very moment, as I ingested the Valium tablet, I had never felt alone in my life.

The next day, I wanted to take another stab at life. I wanted to prove my psychiatrist wrong. I decided to come up with a list of goals that I wanted to achieve this year. Some of the goals that I have come up with were highly pretentious but I didn’t care. The goals that I had wanted to achieve was to never skip a class (I already broke that within the first week of uni), never drop a subject, maintain a healthy lifestyle, meet new people, be extremely ‘hot’ (I already know I am), get a part-time job and most importantly be happy.

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Its been 2 months since I was admitted and I have never been more proud of myself. I taught myself the art of perseverance. I trained my mind to engage in positive self-talk. Even though I still tend to skip classes, I have achieved and discovered a lot from this experience. I have also realised how strong I am as an individual. I am happy to report that I have managed to not drop a course, I have maintained a healthy lifestyle and unconsciously I have become a more mindful and happy human being.

As I conclude, I would like to remind every single one of you that you can overcome any situation life throws at you. You have the potential to achieve your dreams in life. Most importantly, things will get better, I promise you.

In typical Hiba fashion,
Keep Smiling! 🙂

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