Trigger Warning: Suicidality and Suicide Attempt.
The day following my return to the United States I had a speaking event at a High School competition. The students were great, and I felt that they were actually getting the point to my "Mental Health in Islam" talk. They seemed interested, invested even, and asked amazing questions. It was both refreshing and inspiring.
Afterwards, I met up with one of my sisters. We had a great conversation, talked about my trip, her past few months, shared our struggles, and supported one another. We ate at this lovely organic vegetarian place by MIT, with amazing smoothies. I dropped her off, and found myself in the parking lot of a CVS an hour later.
I remember the drive back, vaguely. I remember the low, coming out of no where. I remember the pain and the realization that this was it.
I don't remember how I got there, or how I drove safely the rest of the way but I found myself at that CVS, purchasing more pills than I've owned in my life, and walking back out in a zombie like state.
My roommate stirred as I walked through the door, as he had been sleeping on the couch, but I don't remember if words were exchanged. I took the pills, and wrote a peaceful journal entry. I took a shower, prayed, and went to bed. For the first time in months, I did not set up an alarm.
I could feel myself waking up sometime the next day, and I knew it did not work. It was an instant and I was out again, at peace. I woke up 24 hours later, desperately in need of some Butter Chicken.
I moved in slow motion, found an Indian restaurant, but unfortunately the closest thing they had was Chicken Tikka Masala. Not the same!
This was not my first attempt at suicide, and it may not be my last, but it was the first time in months that I had slept well.
The title of this post is slightly misleading, it really shouldn't be fearing happiness, but fearing loss of happiness. Today, I met with a friend and the conversation came up. This friend was the first I've ever told about any attempt. We started dissecting what actually happened. What was I dissociating?
My friend proposed that it must have been the release I was waiting for after seven weeks of pain building up, during my trip, along with the trauma I incurred upon returning to the US. This was true.
After meeting with my friend and driving another hour to my house the same feelings cascaded through me. The answer hit me. I did not take those pills because I had enough of everything society was throwing my way; I took those pills because I knew that I could never hold onto the good moments. I can have the best of times, and the best of people around me, but in an instant it can all be gone due to systemic oppression.
Of course, I can't discount my PTSD, and other Mental Illness that have made life incredibly difficult for months. I can not ignore being at a 7 on the suicidality scale, regardless of the good day. But the instability provided by a Trump Presidency was enough to push me over the edge. That, mixed everything else equaled to a couple dozen pills.
Since then, I've had some time to heal and reflect on what was actually happening, and I've realized that life isn't about controlling every moment, and ensuring that you hold onto each moment at all costs. The world, and us, are ever changing, and we don't have control over them. This is natural, as it should be. However, there's a drastic difference between the way nature was always meant to be, and the control lost to us through systemic oppression. There's a difference between a hurricane tearing your home apart and a bomb taking it. There's a difference between being beat to death by any abusive spouse, and dying from cancer. There's a difference.
The control I'm talking about is the control lost due to systemic oppression, control that's never meant to be lost. You see, my instability is not due to my inability to select a home. My instability is due to a world ruled by imperialism; imperialism that had taken my home years before I was born. It is Xenophobia and Islamophobia dictating where I can and can't live, and for how long. It is White Supremacy reminding me every day that I am here because I am 'allowed' to be, not because it is my human right. It is Ableism... Ah, you get the point. This oppression is unnatural and should not be ignored and accepted.
This is instability is caused by continuous social injustice, but it does not change the fact that I deserve all the wellness the world has to offer. We all do. This instability is another form of oppression, and I will continue resisting it. I will resist and I will find my way to wellness despite the odds stacked against me.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Founder and Executive Director of Life in My Days, Inc. He is the co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Novelist. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.