Until today, this moment still feels unreal, and it is hard for me to believe that I have come this far and achieved so many.

And here I am, in my convo attire, after 2 years of battling and trying to survive from depression and anxiety.
Here’s my story.

Back in 2017, I was officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). I remember the stress and tension that built up within me until I became depressed for more than 4 months. I remember the loudness occupying my head, telling me I am useless, I can’t survive, I am stupid, I am a disappointment, trash, incompetent and couldn’t even handle managing one final year project (FYP) for my studies.

I laughed and smiled yet I was in so much pain, I felt hurt and I was sad. My head told me that when I’m around people, everything warm and fuzzy that I felt was a lie and once I go back to my real life, my real feelings — how I am a disappointment and a failure, will come back to haunt me.

Back then I was not aware that I was depressed. I kept convincing myself that I didn’t do or try hard enough. I pushed myself till I realized something was wrong with me when I began thinking about harming myself. I remember my head telling me to bang my head to wall. I remember these voices giving me suicidal ideation – because I was so frustrated with myself. I hate myself so much.

It was at that moment that I realized I needed help — a professional help. I was then officially diagnosed with MDD. I was supposed to finish my final year project on May 2017, but I didn’t. I was supposed to be graduating on October 2017, but I didn’t. I couldn’t handle the stress of my FYP that I decided to take a semester off as I couldn’t continue with my studies at that time.

I used to regret the decision and thought that I was a failure.

But now I am grateful for what Allah had put me through. Because it is through this path, I learnt that I have strength within me to stand back up and save my own self, with Allah’s help.

It was not easy for me to come back to the real world stronger. But I am grateful that I chose to put my recovery as my priority. I learnt to pick up the shattered pieces of myself and I summoned the courage within me to face my biggest fear again: completing my degree.

It was one hell of a journey; one filled with tears, doubts and frustrations.
To be honest, looking back at the person I was back in 2017, when I was going through one of my depressed episode, I would have never imagined that this day – the day I finally finished all my courses and earned my degree- would come.

How I am able to be here today was never on my own effort alone.

It was because of my psychiatrist; whom I reached for professional help. My dear friends; who became my support system. My colleagues in IMAN; all who helped me build back my shattered self-esteem and shaped me to become someone with perseverance and taught me to embrace failures and challenge myself. And my family; whose du’as kept me afloat through all the storm and turbulence.

It was never my effort alone, and we don’t have to fight this battle (of depression and other mental health conditions) alone. I’ve learnt a lot through this ordeal, and I hope those who are struggling silently will remember this –

1. Failing doesn’t make us a failure. Failing is just a step towards success. When we fall, we acquire experience, we get to learn. It is a learning process. It’s just that we have to learn them the hard way. Like what Alfred Pennyworth said to Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight Trilogy; “And why do we fall, sir? So that we learn to pick ourselves up.”

2. Being afraid is normal. Learn to face it, and it’s okay if we take time to learn how to face our worst fear. We can’t run away from our fear, because it will always come back to haunt us. Running away from what we fear will only provide temporary relief, temporary numbness. It’s okay to be afraid, because fear is there to encourage us to prepare ourselves better.

3. It’s okay to feel down, sad, angry, or weak. Because those are what make us human. Even our prophets had their moments weakness and sadness, and Allah never hated them for it, never told them that they didn’t possess enough faith or they are just being dramatic. Allah didn’t blame any of His prophets for feeling weak and sad. So why are we blaming ourselves? It’s okay if we are feeling weak right now, for we will come back stronger again.

4. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help, be it from friends or family, or professional help. We reach out not because we are being dramatic or we seek attention – but because we know, it was never our journey all alone. Time will come when we need to learn to reach out for help, for support. And by reaching out, it means we are strong; strong enough to accept the fact that we need help and we are taking the first brave step towards that.

5. And most importantly, always prioritize your health, both mentally and physically. Seeking help for your mental condition is totally okay, it is not a sign of weak iman and never has been. When we are mentally stressed out, depressed or anxious, it’s not that our iman is decreasing or our bond with God is severed.

Think of it as a journey that God puts us through so that we learn to take care of His belonging (our mind & body), and to increase our iman to a level that He knows is best for us. Think of it as a sign that Allah wants us to take care of ourselves more 🙂

And lastly, I know, when depression hits us, each of us have our own path and stories; what works for me may not work for others.

But I want all of you who are struggling with depression, or anxiety, or other mental health conditions, to know that it was never an easy journey, but you will make it there someday. Stay strong, keep challenging your doubtful self, and never, ever forget to love yourself.

Those traumas, those panic attacks, those fears that made me doubt myself, alhamdulillah, I overcame and survived all that. And I want all of you, who are still struggling with your life, your fears and mental health, to know that time will come for you, when all the pain slowly subsides, and you will be the happiest person. For now,, hold on, and stay strong!

I dedicate this song, Growing Pain by Maria Mena, for you who are reading this;

“And just because it hurts, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it

And even if it stings, it’s just a temporary thing

And no one said that changing

Won’t cost you love, won’t make you cry

But it will all make sense, when the growing pain subsides.”

The storm shall pass, and this suffering too, shall pass, insyaAllah.

May Allah ease our journey till hereafter, amiin.

Syeraho,

Editor & Writer at Iman Publication.
Author of Projek Athena Book.