Stories about mental health

The ‘victim card’: why Pakistan remains a dangerous country for women

The rise of the #MeToo movement not only broke barriers internationally, it also created waves within Pakistan and encouraged women to speak up against their predators and abusers. Today, Pakistanis are more ‘woke’ than they have ever been. Gone are the days when women-centric issues were ridiculously hushed in the name of preserving ‘honour’. The concepts of ‘patriarchy’, ‘misogyny’ and ‘consent’ have finally made their way through to being publicly discussed, questioned and rebuked. However, things are nowhere near good enough yet. Pakistan is just awakening to the seriousness of harassment and abuse and how often this leads to rape, murder ...

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The abyss where humanity comes to die

Lately I have found myself wondering whether the plethora of problems compounding Pakistan are a recent phenomenon or whether these ever present issues have just now been pushed into the spotlight due to social media. Courtesy of these online platforms, one almost feels that we are now living in a dystopian future. Global warming is on the rise, the economy is in shambles and worst of all, the collective conscience of the country seems to be in peril. Sexual harassment, rape and torture of women and children has now become so commonplace that it hardly even gets a mention on ...

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“He has a girlfriend”: When I unknowingly became the ‘other woman’

We met at a friend’s party. I knew everyone there, so I was curious when a new person walked through the door. All of us talked, hung out and drank. He asked for my number so he could ‘make sure I got home safe’. He sent me a text the next day. That’s when we started talking. It was just friendly at first, and then started to get flirty. He was nice, studying medicine in the Caribbean, funny; it was all going well. We hung out a few times and it started to become something more than just friendship. I ...

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I’m sorry, but I do not blame Shakeela for drowning her baby

It was an ordinary Tuesday evening and I was putting my three-year-old to bed, praying that her fever does not relapse and that she feels well enough to go to school the next morning. As I watched her gently fall asleep, I felt guilty for scolding her earlier in the day. I love her dearly, of course, but I too am human and have not been sleeping particularly well since the past week because she has been sick. I planned on taking advantage of the Kashmir Day holiday to sleep in late, but her tantrums spoiled all such plans. I took a deep ...

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#TherapistDiaries: The dilemma of being in the closet in Pakistan

I was recently discussing with a patient about how in our culture we do not like to disappoint our parents and would put up with any unreasonable demands and rules just to escape an irrational guilt of hiding something from them or revealing our true selves. This overwhelming guilt or anxiety is experienced even in the most casual rules they set early on in our lives regarding food, friends, religion and so on. For instance, in our society, a 30-plus working adult would rarely challenge these irrational rules and if they do, they carry a great amount of guilt in ...

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Surviving suicide: My journey of grief and bipolar disorder

People most commonly associate suicide with depression, but it’s a misconception that a person can only feel suicidal when they are extremely sad. The first time I was ever suicidal, it was because I was depressed. For days, I drowned myself in tears, praying that either God would take my life or I work up the courage to take it myself. During the moments that I didn’t waste on prayers for death, I simply then switched gears and prayed for mania. I had never experienced mania before, but to my understanding, it was supposed to make me feel happy, energetic and most ...

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Easy way out: Stop blaming drugs, porn for Kasur’s child abuse cases and address the real reasons

Kasur, a city with a population of 3,454,996, has seen rising incidences of sexual violence, including child sexual abuse. This city has seen 700 cases of child sexual abuse in the last three years. Faces of little Zainab Ansari and the victims of the series of child sexual abuse scandal that involved at least 280 boys are still fresh in mind. The federal Ombudsman recently brushed many reasons under the carpet by using common buzzwords and only blamed drugs, pornography and prostitution for the increase in sexual violence against children. My contention is that the Ombudsman has taken an extremely narrow approach in understanding a complex, ...

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A trans daughter‘s letter to her family: Will you love the real me and not the man you want me to be?

Dear Abba and Maa, We live in the same house, but you have created a distance between us that leaves me feeling miles apart from you. Who generated this hatred in your heart? You can blame me for it if you wish, but I blame your fundamentalist understanding of religion and your rigid expectations of a gender role that I am unable to fulfil. Tell me, are these things more important to you than I am? I am a human being with flesh, blood and emotions. You are offering your love to imaginary abstractions, meanwhile I am left deprived of it. Abba, you ...

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Another life lost to depression and yet we don’t consider mental health a grave issue?

Mental health should now be the top priority of every person wanting to function fully and maintain a healthy life. However, most of the world does not take this need seriously, and Pakistan is no exception. The country at large remains unaware of the importance of sound mental health, and while certain campaigns do address such issues, they mainly cater to a particular class. Bullying, depression, anxiety, and hundreds of other psychological conditions aren’t taken seriously here, as people believe they will disappear on their own or by prayer, or else the person will be treated harshly or ...

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I lived with anorexia for 15 years, and no one could help me

I developed anorexia when I was 19. I was going through heartbreak and an existential crisis. I wanted to discover God and also rebel against my liberal background. I wanted to find a purpose for my meaningless existence, and a career on which I could stand on my own two feet. But my parents didn’t understand any of this. My father was too busy with work and I never really spoke to him; my mother was also too busy with her own life and could never understand me, while my brother was studying abroad and had his own life. While ...

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