“Today’s #SameHere🤙 Hero: Hafsa Malik (Only fitting on International Women’s Day, we’d choose to feature an incredibly strong woman, born in Pakistan, living in London, to share her inspiring story w our global community).
I was diagnosed with a chronic physical illness, endometriosis in 2016. However, after 2 laparoscopies to try to address the condition, the pain I was in still wasn’t going away. After the 3rd surgery, the pain actually got worse. This condition, & the failed treatments left me bed-bound & secluded due to the amount of pain I was in, but it also led me down a path of depression & severe anxiety.
Living this life of seclusion & pain was getting the best of me & I was unable to cope. It never hit me that I could be depressed or even suffering from anxiety until my husband, who was sympathetic & comforting, sat me down & told me that my constant mood swings were affecting him, as well as those arnd me. My husband & I talked & we decided that it was time for me to go back to my dad’s house; my husband knew I wasn’t coping well & the negative affect it was having on our marriage was beyond words. Perhaps me being at home w/ my dad & sisters would give me comforting motivation & allow me to recover & be in a much better place.
You know that saying “sometimes you have to get worse to get better,” that’s what happened w/ me. I became severely ill for 2 months after coming home. I was unable to walk, keep food down or even able to hold conversations. I felt like I was sinking further & further into a dark hole.
Anxiety & depression are 2 very different things but one word describes them perfectly for me & that would: be loneliness. I had not felt that alone EVER & although I had some of the most amazing ppl arnd me it was as if they were invisible & I was oblivious to their comforting words.
Looking back, my depression and anxiety were a constant black cloud hanging over me my whole life, but when the pain from my illness hit me, it was as if those 2 disorders went into overdrive. For the depression, I constantly felt like I was watching the world go by whilst I was at a stand still. Anxiety was a different matter all together though, & to be honest, I was unable to go out anywhere w/o suffering from severe panic attacks, & god forbid I was told we were going to a family gathering w/o prior warning, forget it; yes you read that correctly, even socialising w/ my family made me want to puke & cry all at the same time.
I have missed close family events because of my anxiety & my pain & that in turn has led me down a path of feeling completely secluded from my family as well as my close friends; regardless of my family’s motivating words to get out of the house & to surround myself w/ ppl, I was unable to. I don’t know why I felt like that, it was like a strong overwhelming fear that took a hold of me & all I wanted to do was to curl up under a rock & be left alone.
One day after having had enough of seeing his eldest daughter be a shadow of what she once was my dad came into my room, helped me out of the bed & despite my tears, held my hands (like you do to a child that is just learning to walk), & he helped me walk down the stairs & lay down on the sofa. The following wks after that, my dad & sisters made it into a routine. There were days where I just sat on the stairs completely giving up & crying, but I pushed through.
Walking down the stairs was just the first step. I started having my friends arnd the house & eventually even started going out w/ them. When my MH started getting better, the pain from the endometriosis actually started to improve. I began writing this blog (@ my insta name: beneath.her.veil) a bit more seriously than I did when I first started it. (Special thanks goes to my best friend Parveen who gave me a good kick to get started properly, & edits my blog posts, because I tend to forget that we are in fact humans). However I know I am not Wonder Woman & I still take it easy & get plenty of rest when I feel a bit too rundown.
After a lot of thought I finally uploaded my story on to my blog, my family & friends have been incredibly supportive as well as strangers, but I genuinely feel this stigma in the South Asian community (where I am from originally) about MH needs to change. I’ve been in the shadows for far too long & I’ve allowed this dark cloud to rule my life, BUT this year will be my year & if I can do my part to bring change I will. I hope that perhaps by me uploading my own journey it will help someone see that there is hope, so #SameHere🤙 ;).”