Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Depression

I just realized this morning I've never quite blogged about myself as much as I have blogged about what I study, research, etc. So, I thought today I would take the time to do that. Hello there, my name is Fahim Ferdous Promi and I suffer from bouts of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I slept fairly early last night, trying to distract myself from my thoughts and shutting my brain down so that I could relax but that turned out to be a mistake. Just like the very many days prior, I experienced recurring nightmares from the repressed negativity. Eventually, around at four in the morning, I woke up and could not go back to sleep. I kept writhing in bed for the next three hours but to no avail. I just could not let my mind let go of the bitterness.

I messaged a close friend for help but she was obviously asleep. She still hasn't woken up and probably won't be awake until much later in the afternoon. I'm wrestling with all these thoughts alone for now. I wish I had someone to talk to but I'm not comfortable with opening up to everyone. Speaking to her would help the most. Unfortunately, she is still sleeping. So, I decided to write this.

People misunderstand my depression. Most do. They think I'm depressed about my circumstances, how life is for me, my struggles, etc. It's always the same old advice telling me not to be frustrated about my hardships and difficulties or obstacles but that's not what I'm depressed about in the first place. If anything, I would be happy to tackle hardships. Why? Because of mother.

Mom was a strong, independent woman raising two children and supporting her family alone when dad barely paid attention to us. He was drowning in drug addiction and alcoholism with a severe anger management problem. Regardless, I doubt mom had what it takes to be a mother. I was always uncomfortable around her and terrified around father. Suffice to say, my relationship with my parents was cold and sore.

Mom always talked about the struggles in her life with some sort of masochistic glee, always belittling others of not being as worthy as her because they did not suffer enough as she did in life. She would compare herself to her sisters, to her own mother and to her children, always stating how much better she was than everyone because she struggled a lot in her life. This made me feel like somehow hardships are a good thing, pain is a good thing, because it gave you some sort of power, some sort of badge of honor to brag about how much better you are than everyone because of all you've been through. I would intentionally inflict self-harm with blades and lighters, dive headfirst into fights, deliberately get injured, all for the sake of being as good as mom with all her obstacles and struggles.

Struggles aren't what I'm depressed about! No, my depression stems from a long-enduring sense of self-hatred and lack of self-worth. A lot of it is a result of having the idea drilled into my head that I would never be as good as mom because she struggled a lot in her life. Oh yes, I would be nothing more than a spoiled, pampered prince unless I was baptized by pain and suffering. I had to suffer to be good enough. I could not be happy. I would have to bathe in misery. That is the only true way of being worthy in this world. I hated myself and I let that hate consume me.

The first few manifestations of my depression and self-loathing surfaced in 2005 when I was 13. I was in grade-7. Until then I was raised by my mom's younger sister since mom was an air-hostess and thus barely ever home. However, in 2004 my mom's sister left for Canada and mom cut down her weekly working hours by half meaning she spent more time at home than outside. And every moment she was home I was in fear. In fear of her next outburst over a misplaced flower vase, in fear of her next lecture about how much she suffered growing up in the village with a bedridden father, in fear of her next complaint about how I wasn't good enough because I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth unlike her. I was sick of her voice, even to this day I tremble in sheer anxiety when I hear it.

The thing about dad was, he was mostly out of it all the time. He was angry, always angry, and I feared him as a child but upon entering my early teen years I was no longer afraid. He would never lecture me, he would never willfully show up in my room to tell me off and say how I wasn't good enough, he would not compare himself to me and tell me how I wasn't worth him because I had not struggled enough in life, oh no, that wasn't him at all. Never. That was mom. All mom. With dad, I was merely detached from him and paid no heed. Mom was a different story.

You could avoid dad, just stay out of his way and don't talk to him, he would not harm you. Mom would go out of her way to find us and lecture was about the most frivolous and petty of things to make us feel bad about ourselves because, unlike her, we had a sheltered and comfortable upbringing whereas she underwent suffering and that gave her the right to compare herself to everyone and pass judgment on them because no-one struggled and suffered as much as her. Well, at least that's what she thought. I was too numb to care.

Every minute mom was inside the house, I stayed locked up in my room, always hiding out of her eyesight, steering clear of her presence at all times in fear of another lecture, another complaint. On days I felt the insurmountable urge to drive a wooden stake down her throat and bludgeon her face with my fists. Yes, I was angry. Very angry.

Anyways, I don't want to delve into the topic of the relationship between mom and I for long. It was bitter and remembering her now only makes me grit my teeth and sink my nails into my skin. I've had enough of that for this morning. What I want to focus on is my depression. My depression is a lack of self-worth and an overwhelming burden of self-hatred. If there ever was anyone I hated more than mother, it was myself.

I never saw myself as good enough and I still don't. I have no redeeming qualities, nothing of value. I'm worthless. I'm not smart or talented or knowledgeable, I have no skills, no virtue, nothing. I'm pathetic. And I hate myself. I wish to destroy myself but I can't. I am just so bitter and full of hatred, I cannot sleep in peace. Every fiber of my being hurts, I can't describe it. I'm just in pain. And I want it to stop. I feel trapped in a glass prison where no-one can hear me scream, all they have to do is turn around and see me but they don't and here I am hammering away at the walls of my enclosure to shatter the restrains but I can't. I feel claustrophobic. The sound of my voice muted. Please hear me!

I face recurring nightmares where I am screaming at the top of my lungs but nothing escapes the cord of my vocals, the sound of my voice blanketed and muffled behind something invisible. I thought I was over this. My initial years of battling depression lasted from 2005 to 2008 following which I finished my O-levels and focus on my A-levels. During then, in 2010, the illness returned but after a year it dissipated again. By 2011 I had finished AS and A2, had a job at Princeton, was surrounded by friends and all of that built a wall blocking away the negativity. The dam broke in 2012.

I was sent to the United States in August 2012, three weeks before school started. I had gotten accepted to Rutgers University. However, I wasn't ready. I never wanted to come here. I was scared. New country, new people, new life... but I didn't want to give up the old. I had everything in Bangladesh. I had a job and friends and my relationship with my family had gotten better, much better, throughout the years.

I had no reason to leave, except the fact that a college degree from an American University would be worth gold in Bangladesh and my mom could not pass up the opportunity because she had already taken the trouble to have me here in a hospital in Brooklyn so that I could have a blue passport.

I came in as a national student thanks to having been born in the US but for all intents and purposes I was an international. I hated it here. The people seemed rude and aloof, the bureaucracy was complicated, everything required copious amounts papers and signatures and I had no friends. I was terrified.

Being alone in an alien country was not fun. I had subleased an apartment on Hamilton in New Brunswick close to campus but didn't quite gel along with my roommates. The semester must have flown by but I was no cozier by the end of it. In fact, that's when things took a turn for worse. I became homeless.

I lost my home mid-January after my landlord informed me that my roommate had left and I would either have to pay for the whole room or leave as well. Before I could respond, he called me a few days later and told me I would have to leave anyway because he rented the whole house out to a group of friends. I picked up my stuff from there and moved them to a friend's dorm. I crashed there for two weeks. Then I had to leave. For the next few weeks and the entirety of the second semester I was all over town with no place to call home. It was a harrowing experience.

The details of whatever happened next is confidential but the gist of it is this: I was still homeless, I was facing financial crisis and I was lagging behind in school due to switching majors and not having a home plus multitudes of other stresses blockading the way. During this time, my depression resurfaced.

I had a very close friend. Well, not had, she is still here. Anyways, you get the point. I began to compare myself to her, subconsciously but I could not control it. She had a driver's license, I didn't and I still don't. I have my reasons for not having one. I could not get it from New York City because I did not live there even though my residency ID is from there since that's where I was born. To acquire a license from there I would have to live there for six months and take a pre-licensing course which would also cost me around $210. Did I ever tell you I was broke? Also, I couldn't live in NYC for six months, my school was in New Jersey and I could not get a license from New Jersey because I had no proof of residence there. I was homeless. Still am.

However, I guess it's not about the license as much as it is about my raging inferiority complex. I consider myself inferior to her in every regard and I hate it. I hate myself for it. I'll be graduating after her because of changing majors and taking time off from school due to financial reasons plus my debilitating illness. I attempted suicide four times and I've been hospitalized for it. I stayed at a psych ward almost all of summer 2014 because I repetitively tried to off myself. The dean of students realized this was an issue and told me to spend time with any family I have here instead of attending school. He told me I could return after I had healed and wasn't a danger to myself anymore.

Before this I had to take a term off too because of being homeless plus broke, too broke to pay for school. And even at this I compared myself to her, she is graduating before me because I'm lagging behind. She is a junior while I'm still a freshman credit-wise. She'll be a senior by the time I return to school. She is taking classes I wanted to take, she is doing assignments I wanted to do. She is always ahead of me in everything and I'll forever be inferior!

Yes, those are the thoughts inside my head. I'm ashamed of having them. I want to rid myself of them but they plague my subconscious. I can't liberate me. She knows of this. She tried to help. She told me that it wasn't my fault I didn't have a driver's license or that I am behind her in school. She reminded me I had a license in Bangladesh and I've driven before in the past. She told me the only way I could have been in the same class as her in school right now would be if school was absolutely free of cost. I had a financial crisis. And I was extremely sick, suicidal. And I'm not inferior to her. She even said I'm smarter than her but it's never enough. The thoughts always return, I try to fight them off, I supress them and they manifest as nightmares. I just cannot find peace. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

— Fahim Ferdous Promi


  1. Did I ever tell you you're awesome? And incredibly smart.
    I envy your level of smartness and productivity.
    Tumi joss.

  2. You are an achiever who has had to struggle just like many struggling artists and writers before they were recognised and acknowledged for their talent

  3. There’s no reason for you to hate yourself and think that you are worthless. In fact, I believe you will never be placed in a situation if you can’t handle it. I'm glad that despite the struggles your mother experienced, she remained strong. You are one of the reasons why she endured all the tribulations that happened in her life. In any way, thanks for sharing that, Fahim! Always stay positive. I wish you all the best!

    Natalie Lamb @ Good Life Therapy

    1. Thank you. However, my mother's intentions were different, as I know now.
      I do not wish to speak much about her but I would rather be distant from her.
      The one problem about her that I would like to point out is that she is often very judgmental.
      She believes that her struggles give her the right to judge others and look down on them.
      This does not only apply to me; she does this against anyone and everyone, I've observed.