Stories about illness

Always remember

“What’s my name?” “My beti.” “But what is it, really?” “My pyaari beti.” “Do you remember me?” I can almost hear you reply – only vaguely.   I watch you every day, In that same seat that you always occupy – With the sun glinting off your bald head. I watch as first you give up your laughter, Then your listening, Then your talking, Then yourself.   As I sit across the room, And become heavier and stronger, I watch you become weaker and smaller. I watch your appetite shrink, And the only food you truly want Is kept away from you, near the sink. It’s meant to protect your health, To ensure you don’t get confusions or even possible delusions.   Delusions of ...

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‘You’re so bipolar’: Mental illness is not a joke

In an age where obtaining information is as simple as typing a few letters in a search bar and pressing enter, it’s disconcerting to witness the extent of disillusionment when one realises we’re so uneducated in matters of great importance. Mental illness is one of those things. We may live in the 21st century. We may live in a world where automobiles can drive themselves. Yet, as far as mental illnesses go, we may very well be back in the 17th century. The extent to which people are unaware about mental illness is so pervasive, that those who are informed of it are ...

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Why should non-Muslims bear the brunt of your compulsion to fast in Ramazan?

How many times have you gone for a dinner to a restaurant and then told the management to get rid of the beggars outside looking in through the window? If not that, then how many times have you gone to buy a kebab roll with a hungry child staring at you? How many times did you react in an irritating manner saying, “It’s hard to even buy a roll now without them bothering me!” Let’s dial it down even more, how many times have you eaten something knowing very well that there are people right outside the restaurant who can’t even ...

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Busting myths on World Mental Health Day 2014

Every year on October 10th, people all over the world commemorate World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of mental illnesses and to support efforts for their treatments. Psychiatry, the branch of medicine which deals with mental illness, hasn’t developed much in Pakistan; the treatment and support for people suffering from mental health issues are almost non-existent. Since there are various myths about mental illnesses that cause major road blocks in their treatments, I will take this opportunity to debunk some of those myths. Psychiatric illnesses are the result of some evil activity It is a common phenomenon to pass moral judgments about psychiatric ...

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Having the thalassemia gene does not make you less marriageable

It’s not easy being a father when you know your child has a critical illness. I still remember the words of a thalassemia patient’s father when we were in search of a blood donor for his son, “Doctor Sahiba, log to meri shakal dekh ker hi munh pher lete hein ke phir aagaya hamara khoon nikalwane.” (Doctor, now when people look at me, they turn away, thinking that I’m back again to ask for blood.) It’s the same story with Ahsan, a four-year-old child diagnosed with thalassemia at the age of six months. His treatment initially began with blood transfusions every three months which ...

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Borderline Personality Disorder: ‘‘Every time I get angry or sad, I cut myself with a blade’’

‘‘Every time I get angry or sad I cut myself with a blade. The pain and sight of blood helps me to calm down.’’ A 20-year-old patent told me this in a psychiatric emergency room while showing me her forearm which had multiple superficial cuts. “Every time I feel numb from stress or emotional pain, I cut or burn myself. It’s not with the intent to die but it gives me certain pleasure.” She kept explaining it to me without any emotion on her face. “Life is like walking on egg shells for me, I mess up at every level. I have severe ...

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When a loved one dies

How do people cope with death and loss of a loved one? Dumbledore’s response to this, ‘To the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure,’ This was interesting because truly, how people cope with death does appear to depend largely on the mind of the person (or persons) involved.  More specifically it depends on the individual’s answer to the question; which is the final frontier, life after death, or the act of dying itself? In other words, does life go on after dying, or does it all end with death itself. Tina may not have succumbed to her disease had ...

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Living with Misophonia

‘What’s that awful ticking noise?’ ‘Who’s tapping their feet on the floor?’ ‘Why can’t people eat without making that annoying chomping sound?’ ‘You sip your tea, you don’t slurp it.’ ‘Make it stop. Make it STOP!’ ‘I’ll punch that person so hard. I’ll kill him.’ ‘I need to run. Run. Now!’ Too intense for you? Well, this is what a person suffering from Misophonia is thinking nearly all the time. The question arises, but why? And what is this disease? Misophonia is a neurological disorder, in which a person feels anxiety, and even rage in response to certain sounds, which may be loud or soft, and are very common. It is also termed ...

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Mandela without you, Africa will not be Africa

The world watches with bated breath as Nelson Mandela or Madiba, as he is fondly called, battles against his illness. The great leader redefined courage and freedom, proving that persistent effort is the best weapon to ‘conquer that fear’ of failure that often keeps us from achieving our goals. The fact that Mandela survived 27 years in prison before claiming his greatest political victory is awe-inspiring. Who would have ever imagined that a herd boy from a village on the banks of the Mbashe River would one day change forever the course of his entire nation? Indeed, legends like Mandela are not ...

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Terrorist attack on Quaid’s residency

Being a History student, it came as sad news to me that Pakistan’s founding father’s residence was attacked on June 15 in Ziarat where, amongst other things, his personal belongings were all destroyed. Ziarat is popular for its natural beauty and for being Quaid’s last abode during his days of illness. It came as no surprise to me as many started raising questions regarding his stay in Ziarat at the time. Despite the unavailability of doctors and lack of medical facilities in this region, he was shifted there and while being brought back to Karachi, his health deteriorated and ...

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