Stories about therapy

#TherapistDiaries: Do you think you’re in an abusive marriage?

Her family thought that “she liked being abused by her spouse”. In fact, those were the actual words of her own mother. Her friends and co-workers thought the same. She kept on going back to the husband who embarrassed her in front of people over her appearance and body weight. She kept going back to the husband who used to beat her black and blue, and she had to go to work with bruises on her face. Eventually, he made her leave her job too and the abuse stopped for a while, only to trigger the worst physical and sexual abuse phase ...

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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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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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Counselling survivors of rape: “Who will marry me if I’m not a virgin?”

It’s not easy to live life after being robbed of your sense of safety. The pain is multiplied when it reminds you of the helplessness you experienced. You cannot tell apart the physical hurt from the emotional and no amount of reassurance is enough when you know that no one can empathise with what you have been through. You find no comfort in their concern and the shoulders offered to lean on can never be enough. You’re startled by the touch of even your loved ones and it takes a great deal of time to remember that touch was ...

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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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Like father, like son: The abusive and helpless sons of battered mothers

She was in her 90s and her sons had brought her in to get treatment for her depression. As her life unfolded with each therapy session, I got accustomed to her life of long-term abuse at the hands of her husband and in-laws. This was all she could talk about. As we further progressed in therapy, she narrated how her sons were terrified of watching her suffer abuse at the hands of their father. One of her sons was scarred for life with severe anger management issues, while the other had a deep sense of inferiority complex despite accomplishing so much ...

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My best friend committed suicide – they advised him to ‘pray’ the depression away

These last few days have been particularly rough. They have been rough because one of my dearest childhood friends committed suicide, and not on account of a drug-based overdose or a road traffic accident (two of the most common causes of young adult mortality in our country). No. My friend shot himself. Before you go on to think perhaps a serious religious intervention could have saved his life, please halt your train of misguided, impulsive, ‘fatwa’ styled reasoning. Don’t even go there. Because my friend was probably one of the most religiously devout persons I have ever come across. He prayed five times ...

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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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Does going to a psychologist mean that one is “crazy” or “weak”?

Whenever I tell someone I am a psychologist, I usually get one of two responses: “Can you tell what I’m thinking right now?” “You must be pretty crazy to deal with so many crazies!” I recently went to get my driving license renewed, and when I was called in for a medical evaluation, the assistant asked me for some personal information, including my profession. When I told him I am a psychologist, he suddenly paused and asked, “Kya main aapko pagal lagta hoon? Mere dost mujhe pagal kehte hain.” (Do I look crazy to you? My friends call me crazy.) This was an amusing, but not ...

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I’m a clinical psychologist and loved watching Dear Zindagi

There are times in everyone’s life that they experience a moment so vividly, that everything falls into place. Sometimes movies can do to that too; Dear Zindagi did just that. I’m not the kind of person to stay up late at night and watch movie after movie, but once I started Dear Zindagi, I couldn’t stop. I don’t intend to give away any spoilers but, to sum it up; the acting is superb, the writers have done their homework well, the frames are dreamy but the real catch is the message the movie gives out and how it gives it. Every time we ...

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