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It Gets Better

By
Ammar Anwar
3rd Year MBBS

If you've ever had to go through the pain of living everyday with a heavy burden on your chest pressing hard and making sure you never breathe properly; never have a second where you feel liberated from all the stresses and tensions of every day life, friendships, studies, food, survival. If you've ever had to cry yourself to sleep at night and woken up in a puddle of your tears that you couldn't feel over the throbbing pain in your head that wouldn't let you get up and out of the bed. If you've ever felt like you could never get out of the bed, and you just lay there looking out the window as the sun rises and sets, people come and go, accomplish things, goals. And you can't get out of the bed. Not because you don't want to. Maybe some part of you does. But you can't. No matter how hard you try, you cannot go through the arduous task of... living. When you're at a point where living your life seems like an added task over a lot of other tasks. When breathing and smiling, doing normal things that we reflexively do, are no longer reflexes. They're burdens. They're insurmountable mountains that you feel like you're better off not trying to climb than trying to and failing it every single time. If you're outside with your friends, hanging out, having a fun time but your mind isn't there. It is on a race of its own. Running far away from the puny jokes and dramas of friendships. Running away from the gossip and fun and everything, because you can't do it. Can't pretend to be there with your friends and smile, if only for show.




When you're taken over by this overwhelming sense of despair. And you feel like there is no way out of it. When you feel like this is all your life is ever going to be and you're stuck in a cycle of trying and failing and falling back into the darkness. When you wake up one day, decide to finally mend your routine, shake things up, take a bath, put on your best clothes, your best smile and take on the day. And then over the course of the 'new-revived-me' day, something happens. A trigger. And you feel something snap inside your mind and all of a sudden you find yourself in your bed, crying yourself to sleep every night, again. Falling into the cycle again. The never ending, soul crushing saga that is depression.




If you could relate to the things I just said, and you suffer from depression, this is a read for you. I can't promise you things will magically be okay if you continue reading, I'm no fairy godmother, but what I can promise, is to make you feel at least a little bit better by the end of it. At least a little bit, if not a whole lot. 

For those who think depression is crying to sad songs. It isn't. It is the loss of all hope, the drainage of all energy from every single fiber of your existence. You can be doing the thing you love the most and hate it. You can be in the company of a person you love the most, and hate it. When the things you love become the things you despise. When you're stuck in an endless cycle of doing everything to make yourself feel better and not accomplishing anything. When you can't get out of bed in the morning even though that lecture you shouldn't miss has probably started and is over by now. You feel like you should just end it all, burn everything, because you cannot handle it anymore. Any speck of effort left in you has died out and there is no way out from the mess that is your life. But there's some part of you that is scared to go down that route. What about your family. Your friends. Your career. Everything you cared about. It will all be for nothing if you kill yourself. And you'd be correct, it will all go to waste. So before thinking about it, stop. Breathe. Try to relax and calm yourself, and give it some time. Time can change a lot of things, and the worst decisions made are those that are impulsive. Suicide is seldom planned. It is the most impulsive decision you can make especially when you're emotionally distressed. So taking a breath and giving it some time can really help you.




Resisting the urge to take your life when there is nothing but darkness might be the single hardest task of your entire life. It requires immense strength. And resolve. You will constantly fight a battle in your head, half of your head consumed by the darkness and the other half trying to remain sane despite the damage caused by the constant stress, anxiety, depression. But it is a fight worth fighting. But like everything, it does require time. And strength. And patience.




If you feel like you have depression, there are plenty of things you can do. You can lay in your bed and cry. Which is what most of the people do. And I did. Or you can try. Try to get out of the bed. Try to take a bath and wear your best clothes to college. Try to smile even though you can feel the tears filling up your eyes, try to remain calm as everyone looks at you, judging you for the countless things they've heard about you. But you know what? People don't matter. And that is the first realization you will have when you have built enough courage in your heart to take on your life head first. Live through the days, pretend to be okay. Even when you're not, and you know you're not. And I say this with experience, it is THE most arduous task you'll ever face. Pretending to smile, be happy, live even though you don't want to anymore. But pretend, until it comes true. 

Depression will never completely go away. That's a sentence that will get me killed by some of you, but hear me out. Depression is how you control it. Do you let it take over your mind? Do you shut it down and go on with your life? It all depends on you! There is no off switch to suddenly make yourself feel better once you've turned the depression off. There simply is no way to snap out of it. The thoughts will be at the back of your mind, but the work you put into tricking your kind that you're okay, will lead to yourself being actually okay. And that will reduce the thoughts, slowly getting you back to normal life. Don't think that it is too easy. It isn't. Don't think that it is impossible. It isn't. If you work hard enough, you can succeed at making yourself better. 

If your think you can't do it alone, don't. Ask for help. Contact your family. Confide in them. Contact your best friend. Tell him all that is on your mind. It will help. Still doesn't? Do not hesitate to ask for professional help. What do you do when you've got abdominal pain that doesn't go away no matter what you try? You go to a doctor. You tell him what's wrong with you, and he makes you feel better. Do not hesitate to go to a good Psychiatrist when you feel like you've sunk too deep. When you feel like nothing is working anymore. He's a doctor, he will listen to you, he will tell you what to do. Will you be judged for it when you speak it out loud? Probably. But isn't your mental health more important than what people think? Screw people! Focus on your mental health, counseling helps too. A person will listen to you, you can vent out and they try to understand you, Trace where the behaviour is coming from, and then work out with you the strategies to make yourself feel better. 



If you're at the edge right now, Breathe. Do what I said. In the meanwhile, do what you like. Maybe watch the TV show or season you loved and lost touch with ever since the depression got worse. Maybe eat the comfort food you love. Order that cheesy burger you love that will make you forget about everything for a while. Go for a run with your earphones. Clear your most played. Listen to upbeat, workout songs while you burn the calories and the depression away. And when you come back, you'll feel a lot better than you did before. And then, Breathe. Take a moment to thank yourself for having enough patience to go through the pain unscathed. And for giving yourself enough time. 

If you know someone who is suffering, don't let them suffer alone. Share their pain, ask them what's wrong. Make them feel better. It will be your impulse that will lead you to shut that person out of your life because you fear their depression will eat you up. But don't. Don't be that person. And choose to help him instead. Maybe he's your friend. Maybe a family member. Maybe your enemy. But it doesn't matter. Someone is suffering and you should do your part. Don't tell him that it isn't real, don't tell him that it happens to everyone, because he is in a place where he can't understand you, no matter what. What you'll require to help someone is patience, and a lot of it. A person suffering will push anyone away, but stay steady and don't refuse to help them. It will take time, but it will be okay, your broken relationship will heal, and everything will be normal, just because of your willingness to empathize and try. 




Before this blog turns into a full length novel and then a trilogy based on that novel, I think I should end with something that might sound like inspirational bullshit to you, but may possibly help you at some point. Time is not the biggest healer, but it is necessary. Time doesn't magically make things better, but it is needed for you to try to make things better. Give it time, don't rush into anything you might regret later, and you will find things slowly starting to fall in perspective. Let your inner pain manifest as writing, art, whatever. Just give it a channel, don't let it get you down. Eventually, it gets easier. Moving through life, restoring your goals and taking control of your life, it all gets easier. Give it time.




Best of luck. And don't hesitate to contact me if you can't contact anyone else. I will be more than happy to help. 

Also register yourself with Zain Haq Counselling Programme, an initiative by Romesa Qaiser Khan to help all who suffer in silence. Details below.


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