Diary entry #62 by the tales of the sisterhood
“It’s a quiet evening. A cool breeze blows through my bedroom window, the curtains swaying gently. I can hear a cricket in the distance. Next to me, the rhythmic breathing of a tiny human tickles my arm. And to think how far I’ve come….
Three years back:
Failed engagements and lots of duas later, a samoosa run actually proved fruitful. My dad loved him. I was ecstatic. Alhamdulillah, less than 6 months later we were married.
My name is Layla. I’m young, ambitious, beautiful, elegant and intelligent. I don’t just say it. I actually feel it. I’m confident and downright happy, the happiest I’ve been in years. I’ve just gotten married to Aslam, the man of my dreams. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a man – best part is, he loves me to bits.
Life was good.
It was better than good. Aslam was encouraging, loving, gentle. He was soft hearted and very caring. We travelled together, played games, watched a thousand series plus one, we finished each others sentences, and we had a connection I’ve never felt with anyone before.
A month into marriage, I found out I was expecting. Despite being happy, I was scared, so scared. But as time went on, I grew to like the idea. Afterall, I was having a child with my best friend. How could this not be perfect?
And so two became three. Gazing at the tiny, sticky bundle on my chest, my heart instantly surged with love. I was going to be the best mother ever. I knew it. There would be no baby luckier than mine.
Returning home, I can now admit that life was not the way I’d imagined it. Day after day, I felt lonelier. I felt misunderstood. And my best friend… he became so distant. We hardly talked anymore, and when we did it was mostly about this new baby.
A dark cloud covered me. I was alone in this. I hadn’t left the house in months. My husband left to start a job elsewhere and I silently returned to my mum’s home for the time being while he found us a suitable place, and I was left trying to raise my child. It was one Sunday afternoon that my mom found me sobbing in my room.
“Layla, I think you should go and see a doctor”, she said. Naturally, I was adamant there was nothing wrong and that I was just having a hectic day. I loved my child. I would never regret him.
And so the months went by. I returned back to my husband’s home. But the dark cloud never left. Discussions turned into arguments. And arguments into banged doors and silence for days. And in the middle of all of this, our beautiful, innocent child grew.
As the months went by, I felt the world closing in. Although I loved my child, I felt absolutely no connection. I hated the thought of having to look after him for another X amount of years. I was in a cage, with no door. I hated myself. And I hated that I could not be that mother that I was determined I’d be.
Somewhere in between all of this, the thought of ending the pain in my heart became appealing. And so, the suicidal thoughts began. I pushed them aside. They felt like they meant nothing. I’d never do that, I told myself. I would never let things get so bad that I’d want out.
At this point I reached out. I reached out to my husband who told me that it was naa shukr, ungratefulness to even think of regretting my child. I reached out to a friend – she was straightforward that Allah will never forgive me if I end my life. I reached out to ulema – who all said to me that there is something wrong in my deen for me to feel this way. Naturally, this was and maybe still is a norm among ulema as mental health to most is an attitude.
Slowly, it felt like I was losing that connection too. All I wanted was to stop feeling. And before I realised it, I was planning my own death. I would look at a ledge and think of jumping, but the thought of my child on my arm would stop me. Every single time.
Then one night, after crying my heart out, I scrolled through my contact list. There was nobody I could speak to. I looked at my child and at my husband. I genuinely felt that I’m not good enough and I quietly went to the next room. I closed the door and tied a scarf around the light, wrapping it tight around my neck. In that moment, everything felt right. It was like an imaginary voice urging me to be free. I closed my eyes and kicked.
I don’t remember much thereafter, besides my husband holding me and sobbing. I remember hearing my child screaming, but it all feeling like a daze. In those few minutes my baby had woken up and looked for his mommy. And naturally, his cries woke his dad up.
Allah knows best, had it been a minute or two longer, what the outcome would be. My husband took me to a doctor. My doctor sent me to a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with severe post natal depression bordering on psychosis.
It’s been a while on medication now. I am happy. All praise is to Allah. I do feel a connection with my kids. And I do know my husband cares. I know I’m not alone. I have since had another child. And I am doing every bit that I missed out on with the first.
This is a message to the new mothers put there. Please don’t leave it to get to the point I did. Seek help. Depression is real. It IS normal.
Leaving it to go away only makes it worse.
And to the sisters out there – be supportive. You have no idea what someone may be going through. Remind them rather of Allah’s mercy before dooming them to destruction.
And lastly, don’t disregard post natal depression if you haven’t been through it. Even more so, if you’re a man.
I pray that Allah makes it easy for all moms out there. Aameen.”
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Diary entry #62 by the tales of the sisterhood