Stories about mental health

Why we should not ‘force’ our children to watch the ritual of qurbani

Children from the entire area had gathered on the roadside, nearby a lavish bungalow in our community. A sacrifice was about to be offered in the name of God. I looked at their faces: frantic, joyous, excited, confused and clueless. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many of these kids have an idea about what was going to happen? By the look of it, it seemed that they were surrounding the giant camel and the butcher merely for the thrill. Thrill is an interesting emotion if you put it in the context of the Abrahamic sacrifice. Because seeking thrill is not the purpose of this religious ...

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292 mass shootings in 220 days – is gun violence the new normal in the US?

Given the frequency at which mass shootings take place in the United States (US), one might think that it is a normal phenomenon. But there is nothing normal about a person opening fire in a crowded location. If there is ever a scenario that most closely resembles judgement day, this is probably it, evidenced by the gut-wrenching videos of these shootings that emerge online. Such incidents wreak havoc on a nation’s psyche, making individuals fearful of going to public places, including schools, malls and places of worship. This past week saw two shooting incidents, yet again, in the US. A shooter ...

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#TherapistDiaries: What schizophrenia is – and isn’t

If you start seeing, hearing and feeling things which nobody else can, you are either going to be tagged as having a ghostly experience or be labelled as a dangerous and ‘crazy’ person. And the problem with both of these titles is that they are incredibly dehumanising. As a child, I would see people on the streets and in shrines with no sense of their surroundings. They would stare at you endlessly, talk gibberish, stay in extremely hard-to-maintain postures for long hours and scream at things you could not see. They fought with invisible beings and tried to shut ...

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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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