Mariam Mazhar, a recent AUC graduate, discussed in detail what it was like to go through an experience no one could relate to at one point. That was when her anxiety became a major detriment to her life, especially after the death of her father.
We called Mariam to discuss why she started out her blog, @anxious.writer on Instagram.
Furthermore, our conversation started with the discussion of how lonesome one could feel when they initially have no one to relate to, going through major emotional turbulences. In our case, anxiety was the theme of our conversation. Mariam stated to experience panic attacks at the age of 15. We got more in depth to know more about her story!
Ana I first started experiencing panic attacks at 15.
I didn’t know what they were.
I usually got these symptoms, i feel like i was gonna die.
We all thought it was something physical.
We ran tests, nothing showed up.
It was a trauma, after my dad died.
He was my source of self confidence. My source of security. He was everything to me…
He played a huge role in my life.
After my dad died, things were extremely different.
All my life I spoke to my dad.
No one understood that.
He got cancer and in a month, he died.
I had to deal with grief. I didn’t know how to.
The panic attacks hit me more frequently.
I went to a therapist during my time at AUC and she instantly diagnosed me.
I wanted to know myself better. I need to know myself better.
Why am I reacting the way I am reacting?!
It’s the reason why you need to go to therapy.
In therapy we have conversations. The talk with my therapist made me connect things I would have never thought of. Things In my childhood. Connecting patterns, and dots…
It opens up your mind and psych. You learn a lot about yourself from a very different perspective.
The moment I put a name on everything I felt, for all those years, I felt extremely relieved…
The point when you can put a title or a name on what you feel,
Is the moment you know that it’s not in your head,
You know that it’s real.
You aren’t alone..
The thing that hurts the most in the world, is that feeling something you believe no one else in the world feels.
I never expected to get better before therapy. I didn’t know otherwise.
Also, it’s never about the therapist, it’s always about the direction they take you in your psyche.
What you wouldn’t willingly look at.
I went to therapy for 2 times.
How Do You Think We Can Combat the Stigma Behind Mental Health in Egypt and The Middle East?
I think on a small scale; everyone needs to be open about their own mental issues.
On a very small scale, if I speak about it and you write about it.
It never works that way when you do a big campaign.
It has to be personal.
People sharing their stories,
People forming support groups, etc.
For example if I have followers, when I say that I get anxiety, people will understand that the stigma will be neutralized.
That’s why it’s been getting much better.
The more people who have influence are open about their experiences… that’s what going to break the stigma.
How Have You Overcome Your Mental Health Problems in the Past. Do You Use Any Strategies Worth Sharing?
I think opening up to a therapist was the biggest ways I did that.
You have to at some point accept and listen to a professional
Benzabaly, that’s what I had the most trouble achieving.
I began to understand that anxiety isn’t fighting you..
It’s really your own body is trying to protect you.
You need to build this perspective.
You have to understand your body is trying to protect you, even if it doesn’t feel this way..
Sometimes your thoughts say other-wise.
Trying to build that mentality will help be much helpful.
Akbar moshkila f hayaty was that everytime i get a panic attack my mum would keep asking me how i feel, hassa b eih hassa b eih and that made it worse. No one knows any better really.
But i knew i had to fight myself to take the time to explain to her.
Putting the effort to open up.. Again, No one honestly don’t know how to deal with it.
I must say that those who love you will know how to help you the way you need it once you build the strength to explain to them what you feel, and that will allow them to help you not the way they think they need to.
We can’t blame anyone for not knowing how to deal with something, as a society we are ignorant about.
The last thing that helped me overcome my anxiety is that a faculty advisor at AUC made a special issue on mental health after writing about my experiences. On the other hand I kept on writing articles on the anxious writer.
It makes me feel so much better that sometimes someone understands what you I’m feeling.
Every time I get a comment of someone saying much they relate, it really touches me.
I sometimes get “We really respect your power to write about your personal emotion.
The reward of seeing how much it impacts people. When people see therapists because you pour your heart out.”
When a girl having a panic attack sends me a message and I sent her back a reply telling her how to breath etc, and he next day she messages you saying how much it helped…
There’s nothing that feels like that..
Finally, What Message Would You Say to Someone Experiencing Severe Emotional Turbulences in Egypt ya Mariam? Advice/Tips?
Developing a support group and therapy.
If there is anything at all that acts as a mechanism to express your feeling, do it.
I express everything though writing. The thing that acts as an outlet for you: utilize it!
Everyone has that, whether they know it or not. You must figure it out.
For me it’s not sport, for example, it’s writing.
I’d recommend keeping on trying different activities until you find what makes you able to express yourself entirely.
On a personal note, as Ally Salama, on behalf of Break The Silence Egypt, we’d like to thank Mariam for her personal contribution to a cause we believe is now in need more than ever.
Please let us know who you would like us interview next in our BreakTheSilence Interview series!
For inquiries, you can reach us at [email protected].