A week ago, my therapist advised that I seek a psychiatrist who might put me on sedatives and medications to help adjust my mood. I wanted to ask her not to take me in that direction; What would I do if Lebanon suddenly runs out of the medication? I might feel better after taking them on a regular basis, but then how would I save my “stable” self from the wave of collective depression that is hitting us all? Is the situation now more convenient for me?
I have long debated with myself before sharing my thoughts with others, but I also always wanted to count mental and physical disorders as equally important. Just like we share a certain physical condition with neighbors, relatives, and loved ones, I am going to share with them the fact that I am in a bad mental state. Why not..?
I am not alone
Why don't we share stories of our struggles publicly when we know that every person in Lebanon suffers today?
I sit alone in a bar in downtown Beirut, writing whatever my mind unleashes tonight, amidst a large crowd and a lot of noise. Some friends asked me to join them for the night, but I chose to hide behind my depression once again, as I am unable to hang out with friends nor sit alone in my room. Perhaps feeling the commotion around me despite my solitude, helps me know that I am neither alone nor obliged to explain. Perhaps I also know that everyone is just like me; we are all suffocating, yet up all night to seek a miserable time masked by happy photos, empty glasses, and loud music.
I'm afraid of publishing this article
I write this letter to myself. I know that I will read it again, afraid that someone else will also read and expose the fake happiness I experience while I’m busy with my friends’ news that distract me from everything that’s happening, or as I work or exercise… until tiny discussions bring me back “by mistake” to reality: the miserable situation we are all enduring.
I know that as I read this again, I might not recognize myself, for I want to hide away from these emotions and make them vanish. I hate this side of me and I don’t want it in my life. I hate myself in this turbulent state and I hate that I cannot love, write, create, and sing despite the pressing urge I have to do so.
I want to hide this part of me. I do not know it and can't stand it. Very few people know it anyway. But I feel that we all want to disappear, together, as if we are waiting for something magical to suddenly get us out of this dark vortex –literally– and save us.
I am helpless, but celebrating my small victories
I think of changing my house, my work, or the country I live in. I think of this country that betrays us every day and robs us of our ability to discover, identify, and develop ourselves. My friend is sad like me. My other friend is as well, but he lives in a whirlpool of denial, as if nothing happened. I know I am not forced to explain to everyone how important mental health is, but it is all I see. Excuse me, but I am helpless and unable. I am unable to answer the phone or explain my psychological barriers to the guy who likes me and is also troubled like me. I am unable to dismantle or connect my thoughts, I'm unable to enjoy a night out with friends, listen to their conversations, and share what I feel. I'm unable to function by all means.
I think of changing my house, my work, or the country I live in. I think of this country that betrays us every day and robs us of our ability to discover, get to know, and develop ourselves. My friend is as sad as I am. My other friends are as well
Somehow, my endurance surprises me everyday. I celebrate it alone with every silly success, with every article I write, every time I wake up, or every happy moment I struggle to hold on to.
Survivors' guilt: survive if you can
My therapist has a specific diagnosis in mind, so I relax a little. I feel that it makes sense: It explains my high productivity despite everything I am feeling, and eases the burden of my uncertainty. I know that, as usual, I will get used to the situation no matter how bad it is, but my country will throw all my efforts away whenever it wishes to. It will contribute to saddening my friends, pushing those by my side away, distracting my mother, and making things difficult for all of us.
Perhaps it is better if I forget everyone else for a moment and give myself time to understand my breakdown on my own: that is, my inability to move or expect a lot from myself as we all drown in this vortex. Perhaps, I should ignore the guilt I feel towards those sitting near me at the bar, indifferent to their tragedies that are similar to mine.
Gibran Khalil Gibran says, “Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost.” I say to him, and to his admirers - I apologize for correcting the quote as per my miserable viewpoint - “Between depression and anxiety, so many words are lost.”
Words are lost as we try to dismantle what we and others feel. We become semi-dead, while our sense of survivors’ guilt worsens upon every crisis, and every explosion, without knowing that there are no survivors in this scenario: survive if you can.
The confrontation: A different type of resistance
I never wanted to share my story with anyone, because, ever since I was young, I have trained myself to hide my problems and real obsessions from everyone else. I have always chosen to resist and try again. However, and despite the unfinished writings piling up on my laptop, I choose today to write and share my “defeat”. Perhaps I did not want to succumb to sedatives because they whisper in my ear: defeat.
Yet today I choose to be defeated: not answering the phone, or justifying my absence to friends, or explaining my sudden happiness. I choose to try sedatives without feeling guilty. I choose true confrontation instead of resistance, in order to add “survival” to my list of small victories.
Yet today I choose to be defeated: not answer the phone, or justify my absence to friends, or explain my sudden happiness. I choose to try sedatives without feeling guilty. I choose true confrontation instead of resistance, and add “survival” to my list of small victories
I choose to write in the bar full of people puzzled by my sudden depression. I look at them and hide my wide smile, as if I am confronting them for one time. I continue writing, because writing is my only way to check in on myself. I write while completely unconcerned with having a beautiful, impressive, coherent, or grammatically correct style. I write and share widely on social media, while it is hard for me to contact one friend when things get worse. I write and share out of fear of being defeated by despair and losing the ability to speak someday.