Stories about mental illness

With gradual ticks of the clock, I lost my wife but not her present

Many years later when I was content with my life and mending my way to an ultimate slow pacing end of life, I didn’t realise that my wife was mending hers to an early birth. Strange as it may sound, all too covered in memories of the past and recollections of the harsh realities and blissful events, this was my life now. My life and hers entangled so much that whatever she felt, I endured. She kept on reliving her past, while still existing in the present, and I kept on imagining what would happen when she’d stop. Sarah, my ...

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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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Depression is not an ‘abnormality’

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society changed my life forever. Before the movie, I had no idea what I wanted do with my life. Some days I wanted to be a doctor, on others I’d aspire for whichever career was my elder sister’s favourite at the time. But as the credits rolled in at the end of the film; I knew I wanted to be ‘Mr Keating’ and connect with people the way Williams’ character had. I wanted to teach and perhaps be able to influence my students’ lives the way Williams had done in the movie. Without realising it, across oceans and ...

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Stop ridiculing the mentally ill

Individuals with mental health disorders are often the victims of violence and there is wide-spread discrimination directed towards them, whether by intent, ignorance or insensitivity. They are often the victim of jokes or are ridiculed for their behaviour. This attitude can make life difficult for them and present major obstacles to recovery. It is hard for them to find stable employment, living arrangements and relationships because of diminished self-esteem and weak social support. I came across two instances recently of major discrimination against people with mental health disabilities in Pakistan. In the first instance, a TV host, on a recent Ramazan ...

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Lahore’s Dar-ul-Sukun, now an institute of torture and abuse

If one begins to think about welfare institutions in Pakistan, Dar-ul-Sukun definitely comes to mind. It is located within the premises of the Punjab Welfare Society, Lahore. It houses psychiatric patients, both male and female, in separate wards. Most of the residents living there have been forsaken by their families. In some cases, monetary support is the only sign of love that the families exhibit; in other cases, brief visits are made to quell the guilt-inducing inner voice. The residents of Dar-ul-Sukun live their lives haunted by the memories of their past, which are both bitter and sweet. Their present is different though. It ...

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I’m not bipolar, I’m not manic, I’m not depressed – I’m not!

A big hello to my fans and haters – it’s been a while! Unlike my usual cutting-edge rants and raves, I’ve dedicated this post to an issue I am familiar with: hypomania, with a healthy dose of generalised anxiety that has come to dominate my life – and yes, maybe that explains why my blogs are just so amazing. I’ve been to over 10 psychiatrists and counsellors over the years and having been diagnosed with everything from clinical depression to schizoaffective disorder to Bipolar II and more (boo doctors). I’ve really just come to live with who I am without the ...

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Batman shooter: Mentally ill, not a terrorist

If you are a Muslim, or have Muslim friends, chances are that you’ve seen the gem above doing the rounds on social media websites like Facebook, where the caption states that had Holmes been a Muslim, he would have automatically been labelled a terrorist by the American media. Heck, you only have to visit video coverage of Holmes’ violent shooting spree on YouTube, or read the news reports on websites like CNN, to find random comments from outraged Muslims asking why he wasn’t labelled a ‘terrorist’. But let’s just backtrack a little, in case ...

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Unwillingly obsessed

Amir* is an A’ Level student. Today is the 24th of the month and also his birthday. He has turned 18 today but does not remember the last time he was happy and not aggravated by someone or something. It’s not his fault that he is black and blue but people do not recognise this. He is active and healthy around people but also absent at the same time – internally absent. He refers to his ‘problem’ as the ‘black dog’. His family is getting ready to celebrate his birthday, but Amir has confined himself to his room. He is checking the floor, ...

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Who you calling crazy?

Imagine being paralysed to a point that living your day to day life becomes a constant struggle and challenge. Imagine that a simple task that you do on any given day becomes an obstacle and causes great anxiety. No, I am not referring to being physically paralysed or having a physical impairment but rather the crippling impact of dealing with serious mental health problems. I find it difficult to speak so openly about this issue as someone very dear to me has been struggling with bipolar disorder and a severe form of anxiety since I was relatively young. This someone happens ...

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