Please Don’t Tell Me to Pray My Anxiety Away
I’ve been pretty much battling with anxiety and depression most of my life for various reasons. However, the reason I’ve realized that possibly made my mental health quite difficult to bare was the fact that my parents in the beginning weren’t all that supportive. I assumed because I was honest and upfront with them about my issues, it would be easier to overcome them. I definitely thought wrong.
My parents are practicing Muslims who believed my mental illness was just all in my head and if I was closer to God, it would all just go away. With them constantly telling me that at the age of 13, I had no idea how to even deal with these issues I had. I would read the Quran and pray as they suggested, but it just made me more angry at God because I felt like I wasn’t making any progress. I also felt immense pressure like I had to get better in order for my parents to be fulfilled in their faith. It was like I was a prisoner in my own thoughts and I wasn’t allowed to feel how I needed to feel.
Although they did take me to see some psychiatrists and therapists, the doctors I saw weren’t the best and my parents still refused to let the doctors prescribe me any medication. My parents kept arguing that if I just prayed more often and really believe in the scripture, I would be a lot better. That did not motivate me into getting better help or even keep seeking any help.
As things started to escalade in high school on to college, I fortunately found a support system of amazing friends that made me realize that everything I was feeling were valid. They also helped me build the courage to confront my parents about my mental health and really admit to them that I needed help.
After some blood, sweat and tears, my parents came to their senses and took me to a therapist that I ended up really enjoying. He helped me get down to the nitty gritty of my issues and made me feel so validated. It was extremely liberating to be able to express every emotion completely guilt free with no judgement. My therapist discussed with my parents the process in which would help me get better and that included me being on medication. Though with some hesitation, my parents ended up agreeing that that was the best plan for me.
Even though my parents, especially my dad still thinks having a strong faith is the best solution to mental illness, their open mind literally saved my life. Anxiety and depression is still something I have to battle everyday, but the patience and understanding of everyone around me has made it a lot easier.
Day by day, I motivate myself to take steps into getting out of my comfort zone in order to improve my mental health. I have also grown an appreciation for my parents’ patience. It is difficult to have lived a life in another country with a certain mindset then to raise a child who thinks the complete opposite. So, do take the time and thank those who have supported you in your journey to better mental health because it’s definitely not always the smoothest journey.
Putri Surya is currently a student at the University of Maryland studying Mass Communications while occasionally recording her podcast, Yellowtales.