From Scotland to Pakistan, my journey to solitude

Published: August 19, 2015

As a Pakistani woman, I thought it was my duty to portray my land as a liberal progressive country.

An epiphany results in one deciding their goals in life. It dictates your thought-process in a way that it becomes your aim in life to achieve it. Hence, I had my epiphany while I watching a drama being shot in Scotland.

We all go through the phase where we believe certain actions might be the solutions to our problems. My aim in life was to live in the beautiful territory known as Scotland. The country brings with it allure and beauty in terms of nature, the magic of the landscape weaves into the minds of all the people who’ve visited this majestic piece of land on earth.

After working for a couple of years for an English newspaper, I had started applying for post-graduate programs. Finally, I received my acceptance from a university in Edinburgh, Scotland. I felt like all my prayers had been answered, as I was eagerly waiting for this. I believed Scotland would satisfy the craving for independence in me. However, I had forgotten that with every action comes a reaction. Scotland too had a price for me to pay.

While I was busy packing and preparing to bid adieu to Pakistan and set on this self-actualising journey, I bragged about the bigger picture that came with this opportunity, and that was travelling across Europe. But, I overlooked one vital fact, how long can I live away from my family?

I entered the university of my dreams and embraced the architectural beauty, in addition to the stunning scenic beauty this land has to offer. I had it all going for me. I mingled with people from different ethnicities and backgrounds, each presenting a flavour of their region, be it Estonia, America, China, Spain, Netherlands and Northern Ireland.

On the other hand, as a Pakistani woman, I thought it was my duty to portray my land as a liberal progressive country, unlike the strong misconceived notion in regards to women oppression.

During the day time, university life was surely exciting due to the variety of its classes and lectures; however, the evenings were torturous. Little did I know that the same burgers, pastas and pizzas that were once the permanent fixtures in my cravings would be replaced by homemade daal chawal, which I used to detest back home. I was homesick.

I was living in this beautiful place called Currie Vale in Edinburgh for three weeks. The commute from the bus stop to my place was quiet a long walk. It was awfully dark when I left, and equally dark when I arrived. The stress of adjusting to a land where you’re a complete stranger ends up taking a toll. I despised the long walks. I hated the darkness. I felt as if I live in a haunted house and the howling winds further strengthened my fear.

The leaves I imagined walking barefoot on were merely a figment of my imagination. I was drowned in my books and studies. All the beauty I was surrounded with did not move me, specifically not the way I had thought they would. None of this majestic beauty touched me. I was alone.

After graduation, I moved to London in sight of better opportunities. I worked in London for two years; I did have my share of fun there, but only on the weekdays. The loneliness and boredom did bounce back again on the weekends.

The feeling of loneliness was not only unbearable, but even highly daunting. It was high time for me to pack my bags and return to my homeland, Pakistan. I believed I would achieve my solace by returning to my family, or for that matter, starting my own family.

I decided t0 get married, as I felt this would put an end to my loneliness. I was wrong. Marriage was not the solution. In fact, this journey also has its share of ups and downs. I was suicidal and this agony is what brought me face to face with the harsh reality – depression. I was depressed.

I replaced this realisation with walking and exercising, which turned out to be a good decision. I made some really good friends in these morning walks. Writing became my medium to vent my inner feelings. Time heals the deepest wounds; it even cured my depression.

My two cents to the readers of this blog is that if any of you do feel the same emotion, do not think anti-depressants are the cure. Search for options that provide long-term solutions to your problems. Get busy, do something entertaining, anything that you enjoy, cut ties with toxic relations that brings negativity in your life, work towards achieving beauty inside-out, make your soul strong in order to face all the hardships that would come your way.

My journey of self-discovery has not been easy. It has been a bumpy ride of solitude, but the destination is what matters, and I achieved that. I found peace.

I hope that all of you reach your destinations too.

Bon Voyage!

Ishrat Ansari

Ishrat Ansari

The author works at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • RFD

    Excellent blog. Pretty bleak picture of depression and how the author
    tackled it. Best of wishes to her in her current and future endeavors.Recommend

  • anonymous

    but what if you start feeling like a burden upon the people in your surroundings? I am a university going student, in my last year. In my surroundings all I hear is marriage plus due to some early marriages in my family , my parents are worried for me. They want me to get married by all means. Its not that, they are forcing me… I want it willingly for I feel lonely. But then, that doesn’t mean I am turned into a ‘bakra’ available for qurbani. Every other day going infront of people, its ridiculous. It has been this way for quite a while and I am sick of it. Sometimes giving expectations to others while other times expecting from others. It is frustrating and I am not able to concentrate on anything. I am going in a state of depression because I can see my family seeing me more as a burden now. Not a burden financially but morally. I try not to upset myself and indulge myself in a healthy busy activity but then something happens again and I am back in that phase.Recommend

  • Shameem

    “Marriage was not the solution.” How you realized this without marrying. I believe a good partner and child are the best busyness and joy of life. Exercising and other activities are to be done side by side.Recommend

  • Zionism = EVIL

    Marriage is the exact opposite of a solution.Recommend

  • Pro Truth

    I tend to agree with writer, as I went on the same journey and had similar issues. In the end it differs, i had to overcome the homesickness and settle in London after studies. As woman she may not have to support a family but as man one has to, that may be the prime reason that made our journey different. Marriage may not be a solution but kids do make you smile and put life back in you.Recommend

  • abdul samad

    best wishes to Ishrat good blogRecommend

  • BaiG

    Going in front of others is difficult. Ask your parents that they should see the boy first then her.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Baig

    I suppose everyone has different experiences and solutions of achieving peace to such “cultural shock”, if I may term the reason behind this depression and loneliness. And, same was mine too.

    As a guy from middle-class background, my experience was different in its nature. More to it, I then moved to Dubai in search of job; after spending seven years in Scotland and England. Here, once again, the reasons for cultural shock or depression were different than those living in UK. Here, identity crisis and pursuit of originality was to be found with time. However, with time, all such problems heal and best of all this exposure is to have a strong character and personality in the end.

    Hope, you all have found peace too and achieved your goals and have overcome the price you had to pay for such amazing exposure, only if one looks at it positively.

  • feisul

    Others’ lawns always seem greener than your own. You want to see beautiful nature? Go to Maree and beyond: The Gulliyats, Chitral, Swat, Kaghan, Neelum, Gilgit, Bultistaan…

    I have visited several well known hot spots and cities of the world, before experiencing any of . Once I visited the places in Pakistan mentioned above, I realised heaven was actually right at my doorstep.Recommend

  • Farhad

    I think it’s expectations we put in things/people/places before facing them that make us unhappy and depressed. Moreover, in our society, people misunderstand others and the work they do. I mean when a person from a poor or middle class family gets education and job, other family members start expecting him to bring stars for them. Hence, the person becomes depressed vis-a-vis job realities and family’s expectations. I am just hinting to many people whom I met are the victims of this dilemma…Recommend

  • Mohd Farhan

    Only after 2 decades of agony did i found out that i am in agony of never ending sadness and others` lives are different and that what i normally feel is not the normal mood….. i am hardly 26 years old and have been in continuous struggle to get out of it lately but it does not seem to end! i wonder how can people get out of depression only through stupid and boring exercises!!! i have discovered so much about my self but still no end to pain seems to occur. i guess at the end, it is just destiny that decides what to do with a human being. no other thing mattersRecommend