You may know Instagram mum Ateeqah Mazlan (@eeqa4president) for her popular, sassy social media feed. But did you know that she suffered from depression and had panic attacks? Here, she shares her story with Young Parents so others can learn from her experience.
“This topic took a while for me to write. Because I don’t want in any way to sound like I’m a professional at this.
“All that I’m sharing is more of a reflection for myself and in the hope that with what I went through, someone out there would find it useful or helpful in any way.
“I have always been very open in sharing anything about my life. I was diagnosed with early stage of depression and anxiety disorder.
“After going through therapy, I was able to identify the causes and started eliminating them.
Beyond my Instagram life
“Many were wondering how is it possible for me to fall into depression and anxiety, when my life is so “well-put” on social media. I have a son & a husband, a great and supportive family & a job in an awesome place.
“Some even went on to say that I was not being grateful, especially when my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for two years and now that we have a Son, I was not as happy as I should be.
“I was equally surprised and wondered how I could let depression and anxiety take over me.
“People don’t realise that there is more to what I post on social media. It’s not that I am lying about my life; I was also trying to get better by focusing on the beautiful parts.
“I came across many people who said to me that I was overly dramatic and that I needed to chill.
“I was very frustrated as I keep telling myself that too. I tend to be hard on myself and hearing it from other people didn’t make it any better.
“The panic attacks became more frequent within a year. One time, the attack turned into a seizure.
First panic attack
“The first one happened 6 months after I gave birth.
“I returned back to work and by the end of the first day, I was already having few suicidal thoughts. When I arrived back home, I was so upset that I suddenly felt overwhelmed whilst carrying Ezra.
“I quickly said I needed to rest first, passed my son to my mum and went inside my room. I tried to calm down, but I could already feel my whole body shaking internally and my eyes started tearing.
“I didn’t know what to do. I tried to Google for a number to a helpline but there were too many to choose from. I ended up calling the first number and told the person over the line that I was having difficulty trying to stay calm. She asked for my IC number and I freaked out. I hung up and crashed onto my bed.
Crying to be heard
“My fingers were curled in and I could not open my hands. I tried to call out my family, but my jaw was dropped and locked one side; it felt like I was about to have a stroke.
“I curled my entire arm and was crying to be heard. Luckily, my husband, mum and late grandfather were there to help me calm down.
“It was such a terrifying experience that I had quite a hard time just typing this. I could not imagine being in that state if I were alone with my son or worse, while I was carrying him.
Panic attacks are not normal
“Panic attacks makes your heart beat so fast that you can feel it vibrating through your entire body. Your muscles become tight and your airways become so narrow that you struggle to breathe.
“Your ears feel so hot that your eyes will get teary and it’s hard to open them. Your head feels heavier and you can’t control your mouth from choking and gagging. Sometimes, you get so scared that all you can think about is to end your life to be free from this.
“It is that serious. Sometimes it happened when I was just sitting down. My brain would just start to tell me that it’s coming, all my worries will start flooding in.
“So, I’d get edgy and agitated easily. I started to see things more negatively and forget to smile.
“I wouldn’t have the mood to even dress well. It was affecting my everyday life terribly, and more than that, it was affecting the people around me.
“It could be a piece of sad news. Or it could be nothing. My mind will slip into something that could potentially go wrong or that had already gone wrong and I start to imagine the worst that could happen.
“Not thinking about it is not a choice.
Time to quit
“I remember going to work crying and coming home crying, because work was piling. But what made it worse was that the brutal work environment. Many of us get bullied at work and suffered in silence.
“One Sunday night, I opened an e-mail and felt a panic attack coming. I watched my son sleeping soundly beside me, and I said to myself: “Stop. This is enough for me. Screw whatever work. I have a son who needs me now.”
“That was when I decided to quit.
Why I’m sharing this
“I visited a psychiatrist while I was in my previous job, took my medication and started to just focus on my son.
“I opened my own kids’ label so that I can still do what I love and be able to aid my husband financially and also still be there for my son physically.
“I can tell it to you now and not shed a tear or be ashamed of it, as I have finally found the strength and courage to share this. And I feel that with the number of followers I have, I need to share this, as I know there are people who are in my shoes or worse.
“I think everyone can prevent depression or anxiety. Even those who don’t have it can stop someone else from having it.
“We should all start to be nice to one another. Yes, you feel annoyed by someone, but does that entitle you to be mean to them? Are we really that self-absorbed in thinking that our ideas, rights or what we prefer matters that it’s ok to hurt someone else?
“Maybe we should all stop and think before we say things. I was guilty of it before, but after what I have experienced, it made me more aware of what comes out of my mouth. Yes, we are humans, but don’t we want to be better?
If you know someone going through depression
“Many don’t know how to handle having people with depression and anxiety. It is very hard to remain positive when the response you are getting is negative.
“I do appreciate my husband going through this with me. It was very emotional and he had to remain strong, not just for my son and I, but for himself, too.
“So, here is what you can do if you know someone who is experiencing one. You can start by giving them a hug or simply being nice. Guide them to be better by going for a nice walk or exercise. Or get them the proper help.
“Do not roll eyes or said that they are spiritually or mentally weak. The amount of strength to wake up each day and care for a newborn when you have suicidal thoughts is HUGE.
“Every day that they wake up, they prove that they are stronger. So, maybe highlight that to them instead. As petty as it may sound, it is the best time to make them feel extra loved and acknowledged.
“Next would be to not avoid them. Worst thing to do is to avoid them. I understand that the negative energy can be contagious, but so does positive energy. So, use your positive aura and send them your good vibes over. They need you.”
Photos: Ateeqah Mazlan