I was happy to be going on regular home leave, mainly because I was able see my parents and siblings. I had been away from home for about eight months. There was an individual from my local area who I had problems with when I first fell ill, one day while I was in front of the mosque he called his son and they both attacked me as revenge. Then they called the police and blamed me for the whole incident.
Once people find out you have mental health problems they are quick to point fingers and blame you even if you are not at fault. This is due to the stigma attached to mental illness and the stereotypes of ill people being violent, erratic and irrational. Even Hollywood promotes these stereotypes with movie like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
The police didn’t do anything but requested that I should stay away from the mosque. After the incident I stopped going on home leave and would stay in my room a lot. I began to read even more, and would finish a book every few days.
My routine became erratic, I would stay up most of the night reading books and sleep till the afternoon. At this point K was admitted onto the ward, she was a Muslim convert who loved talking about Islam; she suffered from high and low moods and had suicidal thoughts. We used to sit with the other patients and discuss religion and politics. I also met D who was a great artist and could draw caricatures. He drew one of me, I was impressed.
Every weekend we ordered pizzas, curries and kebabs. My favourite Indian curries are Jalfrezi and Madras curries although my mum’s curry is definitely the best. I put on more weight during this period. I felt unmotivated and didn’t feel like doing anything.
My new social worker would take me out once a week and we would go to takeaways and walks and to the library. I learned how to make cheese and onion pies from her. The nursing staff tried their best to encourage me but I was negative and depressed.
I got to know M who used to stay awake all night and sleep all day. He had a unique dress sense and would walk around in a suit and tie. I fasted throughout the month of Ramadhan during which, my brother brought food for me every day.
I met some interesting people at this time but I was actually going through depression. I felt powerless and life had no joy in it and I had no energy. Books helped me to get through this dark period and I would pray occasionally too. Have you faced depression? If so, how did you cope?