Tag Archives: depression

Childless

A newly married thirty year old woman hanged herself because other women were taunting her for her inability to conceive. That was the headline of a story I heard on the radio. The story had me wondering why people choose to be so heartless at times. So the woman couldn’t conceive; how was that her fault? Maybe it was her husband who’s sterile. Or maybe God just had decided she wouldn’t have babies for His own sacred reasons.

Sometimes in life women find themselves faced with great obstacles that deny them the chance to ever give life to their own newborns, and in most cases it’s never deliberate. It’s usually a painful experience. Say a woman conceived and later realizes she can’t carry on with the pregnancy for whatever reasons, so she decides to get an abortion. I’ve said it before; I’m anti-abortion, but that doesn’t change the fact that this things happen. In the process, something goes wrong and the unfortunate woman has to undergo a hysterectomy.

How does one suppose that woman would feel when the doctor breaks it to them that they will lose their womb-the one thing that enables us to give life to young ones? A mistake they made drove them to that tragic culmination, and that means they will probably beat themselves up about it for the rest of their lives.

There are many reasons that prevent a woman from conceiving their own children, but one can bet that whatever it is, it hurts when a woman wants a baby and can’t get pregnant. It’s frustrating; it’s painful; it tops the list of women’s worst nightmares.

Last I checked, many women want to become mothers at a certain point in their lives, unless of course they are nuns and that automatically denies them that privilege. I bet that woman felt bad enough she couldn’t give her husband any children without anyone reminding her she couldn’t conceive.

“Do unto others what you would like others to do unto you.” That’s a phrase I learned in high school. We called it ‘the golden rule’. That brings me to the callous women who drove the poor thirty year old to suicide. How would they feel if they were the barren ones or couldn’t conceive and others kept throwing that in their face, ruthlessly? I imagine they would be none too pleased about it.

A great lesson I’ve learned in life is to never wait to experience something so I can understand how it feels. Life’s too short to experience everything; one should learn to feel others’ pain without necessary living through it. That said, we should embrace the gift of empathy. We should learn to walk miles in people’s shoes; then we’d realize if situations were reversed and we were the ones going through that same thing, it would be a heavier cross than we had imagined it to be. Empathy. That’s what we need to embrace; for the sake of humanity. If those women had been empathetic, a life would have been saved. If the thirty year old opted to take her own life because she couldn’t give life, then one sought of gets the impression that the issue really weighed heavily on her.

Instead of mocking her, the said women should have told her there were other options like IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization), surrogacy, adoption, etc… depending on the cause of her childlessness. They might have their own implications but they are options regardless, and the way I see it, they would have been better than her feeling desperate enough to hang herself.

The Fourth Commandment

the fourth commandment

Back in the day, when God used to communicate with His people through prophets, He gave Moses the laws inscribed on stone, commonly known as the Ten Commandments. On the top of Mount Sinai, He came down on a cloud of smoke in fire and spoke in thunder as He gave the laws. In my own understanding, the commandments are subject to people’s varying interpretations and as a result, people decipher them differently.

The commandment I particularly want to delve into at this point is the fourth commandment: Respect your father and mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you (Exodus 20:12). Notice He didn’t ask parents to respect their children? That’s how many people interpret it. But then, based on my own understanding, that brings me to another verse in the Bible: (Colossians 3: 21) Parents, do not irritate your children, or they will become discouraged.

That’s the thing about respect; it’s a two way thing. One can’t expect to disrespect someone and still expect that same person to respect them. As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I am not a mother yet, so most of my posts are written from a daughter’s perspective. Growing up, I had some dreadful moments where I just felt small; not by size, but because I felt my opinion on some issues wasn’t taken seriously. I often felt it was the, ‘I’m big, you’re small; I’m right you’re wrong’ patronizing attitude parents have towards their kids at times.

Maybe I’ll understand it when I get my own children, but until now I still don’t get it. In my opinion, everyone deserves respect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a homeless person, or a small baby. And being older doesn’t automatically mean one’s right. Sometimes parents feel like they’ve been around longer and for that they know how things work, but truth is sometimes children see things clearly, better than adults and for that they should also be heard. They may not always be right, but giving them a chance to share their opinion makes them feel valued and respected.

During one of my dark pubescent phases, I argued with my parents about everything; at some point I even contemplated running away from home, until a quick look into the future showed me I would screw up the rest of my life if I carried on with my plan. I decided that would be a foolish move so I scratched it. However, the misunderstandings didn’t stop there; they continued because the root cause hadn’t been addressed. It’s during that time that I suffered from some stress-related illnesses; depression and all.

At some point I got tired of all the fighting, and just decided to stop arguing, even if every part of me was itching to say something. I don’t feel my parents changed at all; they still look at things the same way they did back then. Sometimes I feel I grew up; that’s why I lost the urge to always fight back.

The other day my big sister was having a tête-à tête with dad. She asked him to look back and picture himself at the age she is now, and to remember how he wanted to be treated at the time. That, she told him, would help him know how to treat us. It would stop him from treating us like kids, just because he’s older than us.

When all’s said and done, I believe parents should also respect their children. Just because they’re younger than them doesn’t mean they’re indisputably wrong. And if a parent wants their child (ren) to respect them, the best thing would be to show them how; by respecting them back. Foster mutual parent-child (ren) respect because if it’s one-sided it won’t last long; it won’t be long before the child gets tired of always being the one to give.

Something I learnt when I was still a kid was that one doesn’t ask for respect, they earn it. It just happens that sometimes grown- ups do some shoddy things yet expect kids to still accord them the respect they deserve as adults. It doesn’t work like that. If parents or adults want children to respect them, they must carry themselves in a respectable manner.

However one chooses to look at it, God did ask children to respect their parents, but the same parents have a duty to help their kids live by that fourth commandment.

I got nothing I asked for

I asked God for strength, that I may achieve;

I was made weak, that I may learn to humbly obey.

I asked for health, that I may do great things;

I was given infirmity, that I may do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;

I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I may have the praise of man;

I was given weakness that I may feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;

I was given life, that I may enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I hoped for.

Almost despite myself, my unspoken

prayers were answered.

I am among all men, most richly blessed.

(This is the Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier).

Many people get discouraged when they spend hours praying, only to end up feeling like God didn’t grant them their wishes. The words above voice the thoughts of many, only that in our finite thinking, we only think, ‘I asked for… but I was given…’ We fail to see the importance of what we have.

You may be feeling burdened right now, but everytime you will yourself to pray you feel like there would be no point of praying because you still won’t get what you pray for. Don’t be discouraged.

For the longest time now, I’ve been praying, asking God to take my anxiety away. It makes my life feel difficult. In a previous post, I’ve talked about how I suffered from an incessant headache for close to two years. Every day I woke up, I would ask God to take the pain away, but it’s only after a relatively long time that it stopped. I would go to bed, hoping the pain would be gone the next day, but that was difficult because I couldn’t even sleep. I stayed up all night, watching the minutes tick away.

My mom watched helplessly as I cried, unable to bear the pain. I had already been to hospital, but I was still in pain. The medicine wasn’t doing me much good, not because it wasn’t effective, but because I couldn’t stop myself from worrying; there were unbearable thoughts running through my head that I couldn’t quite contain.

The cure had to come from within.

One night, my big sister came and sat on my bed. Her eyes were awash with concern, but her voice was harsh. “Is this how you want to spend each day for the rest of your life? You have to fight it.”  

Her words gave me a lot to think about. That wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. In her tough love, I found my strength. I willed myself to stop worrying; to push the anxious thoughts out of my head. The pain didn’t go away immediately, but eventually it did. The anxiety, which caused the incessant headache in the first place, didn’t go away, but with God’s help, I found the strength to manage it. Occasionally I do fall into bouts of depression but as I said, anxiety is something I struggle with.

Lately I’m trying to look at things through the eyes of faith; it’s the only way even the bizarre can make perfect sense. So now I don’t ask God to take the anxiety away, because I would love to believe He lets me struggle with it for a reason. Instead I ask Him to help me deal with it in a way that pleases Him.

 embracing challenges

Happiness: Taming Expectations

Happiness

Happiness is relative; that’s what a friend commented on one of my posts. I agree with him, happiness is indeed relative. I usually find myself sulking because I didn’t accomplish something. Now thing is, expectations change constantly; people evolve, their thinking evolves, goals change…that’s life. Sometimes we have to rely on others to achieve some things, and speaking from experience, it could be devastating when the person(s) you’re relying on bails.

I have learned that to be truly happy, I need to tame my expectations; not to rely too much on others. If I expect less, I’ll only have slim chances of getting disappointed.

Then there’s the other issue of feeling constantly disappointed because things are not just going the way I expect them to. Most people have all their goals set right from the start. When I was in high school for instance, I had envisioned what my life would be like…but has it turned out exactly as I’d expected (so far)? Not quite.

Normally this would be a good excuse for me to get disappointed, but slowly I’m realizing one thing; if I wait to achieve all my goals so I can be happy, I could end up miserable and chronically depressed. When I was young and seemingly naïve, I thought success was the key to happiness; but now I know it’s the other way round. Happiness is the key to success; because personally, I realized I’m much more productive when I’m happy.

If you ask me, happiness is a state of mind; for one to be truly happy, they just need to will it. They just need to want to be happy even when they feel there’s so much they need to accomplish. I have met some really optimistic people; those who seem happy from Sunday to Sunday. Normally when I get less marks than I had anticipated in an exam, I feel like someone zapped the joy out of me, so that all my thoughts revolve around my temporary failure and I get all stressed up…but then, maybe that has something to do with my high proneness to depression.

When I’m feeling a little bit under the weather, I’ll be all blue, feeling like the sun refused to come out from behind the ‘dark clouds’…then I have this friend who will be all happy even when I feel like whatever she’s going through would be enough to sink a ship. It all comes down to one thing, how much one craves happiness; it is elusive, but if one takes things as they are; trying to see past their sorrows, taking one day at a time, they’ll be less anxious and ultimately happy.

Sometimes when I’m down I’ll be like, “Today I’ll be happy no matter what.” It doesn’t always work, but it strengthens my will to be happy when things aren’t working out fine.

Damaged

depressed

Ever since I was seven, I’ve been watching my parents fight; I would wish it wasn’t that way but unfortunately it is. One thing I’ve gathered over the years is that parents should settle their ‘beef’ away from the children. If I’m anything to go by, parents should never fight in front of their kids. It’s just destructive; it messes a kid up on so many levels. That’s a vital lesson I’ve learned.

When I was nine-by then I had gotten used to seeing my parents fight; it felt normal- I got caught up in one of my parent’s wrangles. I don’t remember how it started, all I remember is finding myself in my parents’ bedroom; I had heard mom shouting. When I walked into their bedroom, I was horrified to find mom pinned down on the bed beneath dad. He was hurting her.

Instinctively, I rushed in and started pulling on dad’s pants. My hands were tiny at the time, so I just got hold of one leg. Furious, he kicked hard and I staggered a few steps back, falling on my bum. I don’t remember getting hurt; I was reeling from the shock of seeing mom calling for help. That was all my mind could register; mom needed help, and I couldn’t help. So together with my sisters, we started wailing, asking him to let her go.

I don’t remember how long he went on, or when he stopped. The next morning, I was still distraught from watching the scathing scene. I felt like a lifeless zombie as I walked on the school corridors. That day I talked to my class teacher about it. I just couldn’t take it anymore; I had to tell someone. I can’t quite remember what she told me but I remember feeling relieved.

Since then I have witnessed so many similar scenarios, but that one refused to go away completely. It torments me; I guess because it was the first time I saw mom so helpless.

Unconsciously, as I watched them over the years, I started building my defense; even when I didn’t jump in to help I’d start contemplating the best counter attack; if someone said something nasty, the best thing was to lash back. If someone hit, hitting back would happen almost naturally. It all happened in my head and as it turns out I’m really good at visualizing stuff; that’s how I learn most of the practical things.

When I learnt how to belly dance for instance, I just watched my big siz doing it, visualized it when I was in bed at night, the next morning when I got out of bed I just tried moving my hips and voilà, I was doing it like Shakira; it just took a little practice to smooth out the rough edges. That’s how it was as I watched mom and dad fight, hurling expletives at each other; it is those same obscenities I would hurl at other kids whenever I found myself in some altercation. Coming from a kid, the words were X-rated.

Naturally I have a quiet demeanor; most of my extended family only know my calm and composed side, because I always prefer to take the high road even when I feel they’re driving me nuts. The upside is I sleep comfortably at night, without any guilt troubling my conscience…and for that peace of mind, I always opt to walk away from heated scenes. It does get unbearable sometimes and inevitably I lush out, but nowadays such moments are rare.

The longest time I stayed home was after leaving high school. Normally I’d just be home for a few weeks on holidays but at that time, I didn’t have the option of taking a break from all the drama while away in boarding school; I hated life there but it did break the monotony of watching my parents fight. Watching them at it, tempers flaring, constantly brought back the violent side I had tried so hard to bury while in high school. Worse still, as I watched them go on and on about matters I wished they’d deal with out of my sight, I started building my defense again, countering them in my head.

At the time, mom’s regular run-ins with dad also made her snappy; her words were ever clipped and she just felt cold. I wrote a lot at that time, because I realized it felt therapeutic. Sometimes I would just cry it out. I grew tense from all the madness; I didn’t want to say/do anything I would regret, so I held it all in.

I fell into my first bout of depression at that time; I didn’t know what it was then. I just felt miserable; like life had lost its meaning. Everytime they started fighting I would get muscle spasms from all the anxiety. I ended up getting medical treatment for it, after developing an incessant headache and insomnia, which stayed with me for one and a half years.

After recovering, that’s when I realized I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. If they decided to fight, I would just watch impassively. Going with barely any sleep for close to two years had taught me a tough lesson. I wasn’t going to live their life anymore. That was one of the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life. I reset my thoughts and focused them on the positive things in my life, and to date, that’s how I deal with it.

My baby siz however, hasn’t mastered the strength to be indifferent; so everytime she hears people-even outsiders-talking with their voices raised, even when they’re not necessarily fighting, she stiffens with fear, her heartbeat rapid. If she’s asleep, she’ll suddenly wake with a violent jerk, perturbed by the noise. I sympathize with her a lot. I don’t like to hold my parents responsible for it, but as much as I hate to admit it, this could have been avoided.

I couldn’t do much to change that part of my life, but I know one thing for sure, I wouldn’t want my kids to go through that…no one should. Parents should remember kids rarely forget; they could block it out, but most of the time the memories haunt them into adulthood. It is damaging. I feel damaged.

I’ve grown up with so much violence around me, I’ve become naturally defensive. Even when I walk away, I do it consciously, fighting all the urge to lash out. Sometimes it is difficult to hold back, especially when it’s a recurrent issue; when one keeps pushing all the wrong buttons because they don’t see me snapping. In such instances I just let it out.

I hate it when I do it, but sometimes it’s just inevitable; one can only take so much. I wouldn’t want to subject anyone to the life I’ve lived, so every day I strive to find the peaceful way out when faced with a challenge. As it is, I feel damaged, but I already resolved to make different choices…to ‘make love’ not war.

My peace-deprived childhood makes me crave serenity so intensely; that’s my ray of hope; that after all, I won’t be extending the emotional turmoil from my past into my future, God willing.