Monday, April 9, 2012

My name is Sahiba, and I suffer from depression

My name is Sahiba, and I suffer from severe suicidal depression and anxiety.

It’s taken me 15 years to say those words out loud, in front of everyone. 

I know that depression is an illness, no more my fault than if I have the flu. And yet, during an intense episode, the agonizing guilt and shame associated with the disease is crippling. 

Maybe it is this shame that makes it so difficult to reach out for help. Or accept help even when freely offered by those who love me. 

Now that I’ve finally started talking about it, I find that the floodgates are opening. I have so much to say about depression - how it played with my fibromyalgia & pain, how it eroded my confidence & self-esteem, and how it is finally leading to self-acceptance and self-discovery. I think I’m going to need a few posts to deal with it all.

The worst thing about depression is how it fools you into believing that you are the illness. It’s like someone has taken over your mind, your body, your very thoughts, and you have no control left over any of these. You are a prisoner within yourself.

Over the years, despite the CFS & fibromyalgia, I have prided myself on staying positive and fighting for the best possible life I could have. But when the depression attacks, it strikes at my very motivation for wanting to recover. “Why do I deserve to draw another breath?” How do you answer that question?

While I have had suicidal episodes over the years, the one that I’m now getting over was possibly one of the worst. Anyone who knows clinical depression will understand that it can take many forms. For me, it’s always been predominantly guilt. But for the first time in my life, anger took over. Suddenly all the internal self-blame became externalized and I couldn’t understand why I abruptly stopped connecting with people. 

I had always been such a patient, caring person. Hadn’t I? Or had I always been this selfish, anxious, bitter person I now felt like? Some days the anxiety was so much that I would spend hours lying trembling and crying on the floor with a knife in my hand, trying desperately to find a reason not to cut my wrist.

The only thing that got me through this time was my husband. In retrospect, this was not fair to him. If I had had the courage to share my illness with more people, the burden on him would have been reduced. I think we both hit rock bottom those days, but we made it through somehow...knock on wood :)

I also wanted to say that though my friends may not have been aware of what was happening with me, it soon became very clear to me who my real friends were. There were some who didn’t have any trouble forgetting about the years of interaction they had had with me. But there were others who may not have understood what was happening with me, but were willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and their support.  And that was all I really needed. Thank you.


  1. Thank you so much for having the courage to write this post. My closest friend is currently going through a period of severe depression and crippling anxiety. She has always had some depression (it runs in her family), but since her diagnosis with MS last year and subsequent treatment, she has gone through horrible periods of depression, anxiety, and even one very scary manic episode (her first ever).

    It has been frightening to me and her other friends and family. we are trying our best to help but don't always know how.

    Your post helped me to better understand what she is going through. I will continue to stand by her side. I wish there were some way I could bring her relief from this horrible battle.

    All my best to you and your husband and family and friends - and thank you for sharing your journey.


    Live with CFS

  2. Thank you for your comment Sue. It means a lot to me that you connected with the post.

    Now that I've started writing I do hope to be able to share more about the illness, and your comment has given me a little more confidence to do so :)

    All the best to you and to your friend. Sometimes the only thing you can do for someone with severe depression is to just be there and repeatedly let them know how important they are to you. It may feel like they're not listening, but somewhere it is giving them the strength to go on...

  3. Thank you for coming out of the shell. There are many people in this world who have depression but cannot express to others. It takes lot of courage to talk about yourself.I hope one day I might able to come out of the shell as you did.

    Take care and all the best to you and your husband.

  4. Sahiba, a very open post and well expressed.

    The WHO statistics say that depression affects 121 million worldwide. To be classified as having had a Major Depressive Episode (MDE), a person is required to fulfill five out of nine criteria including sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration. Most families and friends fail to recognize these symptoms and get the person the help that they need. Additionally, most people are unaware, but companies offer 2-3 free sessions with a therapist, where employees can talk in confidence.

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. Aww sweetheart..
    Firstly, a big tight hug.
    Secondly, I have tremendous respect for the amazing courage you have shown, and nothing but admiration for your husband, who has literally suffered the illnesses with you, and has really shown what unconditional love is all sickness and in health. Thank god for him everyday.
    I feel sad that you are away from what has been home and family back in delhi, and chd through all this.
    Hats off to your inner strength and your faith.
    Please remember that even though I am many thousands of miles away, you are often in my thoughts, and always in my prayers.
    Promise to meet when you are in delhi next, and maybe I'll have a crack at beating you at scrabble, finally!
    Another big hug xx

  6. I have HUGE respect for you for saying the things you said about your depression. You should hold your head high. I also have respect for your resilience in this battle. My wife has a chronic illness and I know some of what you go through. Thanks for spending the energy you use to write your blog. I know you have less of it to spend than most of us.

    LS, a friend of HB from LA/USC.

  7. Dear Sahiba,

    I am touched by your honesty. When people are in their hell hole they are always alone. It takes courage to look back, reflect, learn, forgive and move on. Great Job for not giving up but fighting through. I can not imagine what you have been through but offer my admiration at your courage.


  8. What a beautiful honest post about your struggles. Thank you for sharing, it's inspiring to hear how you have and haven't coped with it and also it's inspiring to remind people to hold onto their friends especially during the rough patches even if it is clear what's going on.


  9. Hi Sahiba!

    This is my first time at your site, found through another CFIDS/ME/fibro site. Coming upon this post took my breath away. I've had this illness for 37 years but thankfully, depression has rarely reared it's ugly head, for which I've always been thankful. The anxiety...oh my's truly awful when it hits...way beyond awful. But when my GP and another doctor told me they thought I was depressed - thankfully only two out of the countless doctors I've seen, and I say "thankfully" because that means the others understood what depression REALLY iis - I've been quite upset, not because of any stigma...I'm way past that!

    No, because the couple of times I had depression, what you describe is so close to what I felt and I never ever want to go there again. EVER!

    No, when they told me I was depressed, tried to convince me, I felt outraged because I know that my sadness is NOT anything like what you're feeling. It's lessening the word and world of "depression," the same way as anyone using the word "fatigue" cheapens the illness of ME and fibro.

    My heart goes out to you. I hope that you continue on your path toward better health in this area of your life, most especially, since it is such a sickening situation. I wish I had a better and stronger word for you than "sickening."

    Yes, with our blogs - by "our" I mean all of us who are going through these awful chronic illnesses - we can hopefully help each other, as you wrote in your "About Me" section. I'm delighted I found yours today! Everything was just so beautifully written! Please, I pray, you will regain your confidence and feelings of self-worth, as you wrote. You are such a brave woman to have opened up with your deepest fears and I applaud you.


  10. I feel so touched by all the supportive and caring comments on this post. Every time I feel low or depressed, I re-read this post and your comments and they give me the strength to keep fighting. Thank you all so much! I can't tell you how much this means to me.