Stories about mental illness

Capital punishment and the cracks in Pakistan’s judicial system

Up until very recently, Pakistan had the world’s largest population on death row. China has since taken over this dubious honour, but Pakistan remains second in line with the United States trailing closely behind. Right now, in Pakistan, a whopping 6000 people are awaiting execution. The question then becomes: Who are we hanging? And why? If a recent article in The Economist is anything to go by, the answer is that Pakistan is hanging far too many innocent people. Of course, this injustice and incompetence are not exclusive to our country. For example, in the United States, where I currently live, the ...

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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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#TherapistDiaries: “I feel nothing for my baby” – the conception of postpartum depression

Most of the world celebrated Mother’s Day last week, and this marked yet another year where we overlooked one of the most important factors associated with motherhood: postpartum depression (PPD). For many women, all the labour and sacrifice that goes into creating a child is often not compensated by the birth of said child. Some sacrifices just don’t end with giving birth, and so is the case with this suffering. It is easy to assume that all women fall into the same category when it comes to tolerance to pain, recovering from childbirth and adjusting to daily life with a ...

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Haiwan: When will our dramas stop misrepresenting rape and child abuse?

While highlighting social taboos and evils through local dramas is a bold initiative that our entertainment industry has been taking for around two years now, it doesn’t always hit the mark. At times, our serials normalise things that ought not to be, sometimes in the wake of ratings and sometimes because the makers want to portray situations as close to reality as possible. Recently, the much-hyped drama serial Haiwan, that kicked off the trend of #MyChildMyResponsibility on social media, concluded on a deeply unsatisfactory note. A drama that was meant to give a strong message of protecting children from the predators that ...

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The year of Zainab: Pakistan was jolted awake by the abuse of its children, but is that enough?

She stood by the footpath, her shoulders slouched because of the heavy bag she was carrying. I was waiting at the traffic signal in my car and something about her caught my attention. She was a fine kid, probably 10 or 11-years-old, and was coming from the school adjacent to where my car was stopped. She had two pigtails tied with blue ribbons, and yet her face was very tense. It had an unpleasant, don’t-mess-with-me expression, while her body language could best be described as stiff. Every woman reading this knows the expression, because it never goes away. We are taught to ...

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They said I was a paedophile, a prostitute, sick in the head, all because I loved a younger man

I was in the 10th grade when a friend of mine told us that she was in love with this guy who was a trainee pilot and was six years older than her. Quite frankly, it did not strike me as anything unusual since my own parents have an age gap of around eight years between them. And if anything, such age differences are deemed desirable by our society at large. I was also fully aware that my friend was mature and knew what she was doing. At no point in that conversation were the intentions of the guy doubted. ...

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Sanju’s triumph over his addiction should be celebrated, not trivialised

Addiction is a person’s psychological difficulty in the consumption of food, pornography and drugs or substances, among many other things. There are multiple theories to explain why people get addicted and the most plausible one is that addictive behaviours are a combination of heredity and the environment. That’s the reason that many people never get addicted or dependent on drugs and substances despite trying all kinds of stuff multiple times, while others get hooked to these merely in the first few interactions. Being a therapist, I have seen people and families facing all kinds of stigma for having any psychological ...

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Being bipolar in Pakistan has not been easy, especially when people call you “pagal”

The squeaky voice of a trolley passing by woke me up. I was on a hospital bed. I slowly tried to get up while still trying to remember what brought me here. I was alone in the room, and the bed next to mine was neatly made up, with fruits and snacks lined up on the edge of the wall. ‘I had to be somewhere really important’ was all that I could remember. But where exactly? Nowhere! It was all just an illusion, a very dangerous one. I later learned that I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or maybe it was ...

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The Alienist might not be the greatest show ever, but it is definitely worth a watch!

My love for a crime thriller with a period setting should not be a surprise to anyone anymore. So when the adaptation of Caleb Carr’s 1994 bestseller The Alienist was announced, I was already sold. The deliciously macabre period caper is set in the 1890s and can be considered as the grim American version of the classic Sherlock Holmes, with Dr Laszlo Kreizler playing the titular character. For the uninitiated, the title refers to the 19thcentury belief that people suffering from mental illnesses were alienated from their true natures and the experts studying them were known as such. Or in ...

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Zainab Kay Qatil: Capitalising on the rape of a child in the name of raising awareness?

Four months ago, the news of Zainab Ansari’s rape and murder surfaced. The entire nation, our neighbouring country and international celebrities spoke out against child sexual abuse, especially showing sympathy for Zainab and her parents. There were several protests held all over the country in order to urge law and policy makers to bring the perpetrator of this act to justice; some even called for public execution. Feminist men and women alike organised vigils for the 7-year-old rape and murder victim, hoping that their prayers would bring her soul some peace. Even though the alleged perpetrator was sentenced to capital ...

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