Updated: Aug 26, 2019
Note: This is a story submitted by a listener named Neelam. Aside from any grammar or punctuation, it has been left as is. We thank her for sharing her bravery.
One of my earliest memories centers around my inebriated, angered father breaking every plate, cup, and bowl in our house as my mother, brother, and my three year old self sat on the floor in the corner of the room in silence. “Be careful,” my mom told me as I made my way through the broken glass to pick up a medicine cup after my father had destroyed all our dishes and left. Another early memory involves me laying on top of my brother in an attempt to stop my father from beating him. I also have a memory where my frightened mother repeatedly told me to whisper so I wouldn’t wake up my dad, moments before he came out of his room with a jagged, broken hanger threatening to hit me.
Most of my childhood involved around memories such as these.
There are even stories that never became memories; I recently heard that my father once gave my mother a black eye and she lied to all her co-workers and told them she sustained the injury when she accidentally hit herself in the eye with a broom while sweeping the house, a laughable, unrealistic lie.
The violence that plagued our household altered us all in very different ways. My mother adopted a stoic life philosophy, detaching herself from her husband and her emotions by building multiple layers of wall around her heart. My brother dealt and continues to deal with his childhood memories through anger.
Then, there was me.
I found myself severely depressed during high school, as I fell deeper and deeper into a vacant, black hole that seemed to chew me up and spit me out. I frequently cried myself to sleep and spend long periods of time in the bathroom crying as well. I lost interest in my favorite activities. I ate away my feelings and gained fifty pounds. I thought about suicide on multiple occasions. Mental health and feelings were never discussed in my household, so I kept my pain to myself. Fortunately, I was able to surround myself with friends who loved me and bury myself in projects that I was passionate about enough to crawl out of that vacant, black hole on my own. Although I’ve recovered drastically, I still have sporadic days where I feel emotionally exhausted and frail, but I know now that I can turn to my loved ones and share my thoughts and feelings. I’ve also discovered the wonder that is therapy. My biggest discovery though has been that one can take the anger, the sadness, the bad memories and fuel that energy to make something beautiful out of his or her life. I’m currently finishing up medical school and plan to pursue a career in psychiatry so that I can one day help individuals who have experiences similar to my own.
To anyone hearing this story who can relate, know that it gets better, that it’s not your fault, that it’s okay to ask for help, and above all else, that you are loved.