Everyone talks about how emerging from a tragedy makes one stronger. A tragedy definitely changes one’s life in seemingly inconsequential ways but its a change that the person has to adapt to in order to live through the rest of the days of their lives.
The year 2009 would always be remembered as the year that tragedy struck my life. I had led a seemingly sheltered life up until that moment and the phone call that came at 7 am in the morning of the 6th of September is one I would never forget. It still gives me chills up and down my spine and palpitations to even think about that moment when everything in my life just came crashing down right in front of me.
The succeeding rush to the hospital and the hours that followed were one of the toughest hours of my life. The one thing I guess I did wrong was that I never let myself grieve as my body wanted to. I wanted to break down and cry, I wanted to just sit somewhere and let it all out. But, no, I had to be strong, I had to be the one whom he could turn to in his hour of need. I was never so grateful for Almighty God’s mercy until the moment I knew his eyesight had been spared, a miracle, the Pakistani doctor informed me because the electric spark could have totally blinded him for life.
Then came the most exhausting period of my life. Taking care of my husband when he was at his weakest. A time that tested my patience and the love that I have for him. A time during which I even managed to surprise myself. Because lets face it, I am the type of wife who wouldn’t win any awards for being domestic and neither am I the “proper” wifely material that is the expected norm in our society. But nevertheless, I managed to do what needed to be done, drove myself to the brink of enervation and back again, until almost 10 days passed without seeing the light of the day, holed up inside the room of the hospital before he was released after his surgery.
Soon afterwards started my own little nightmare from which I have been struggling until quite recently. Maybe because I didn’t grieve and maybe because of the stress I had been under, I found myself on the receiving end of panic attacks, which at first I didn’t even identify as anxiety and panic attack symptoms. It was scary that anything and everything could trigger a chain reaction that sent fear coursing through my body, that practically paralyzed me into non-action until a lot of willpower and praying on my part seemed to alleviate the symptoms. Regulating my sleep cycle and medication for a course of 3 days seemed to help until I returned back home where the symptoms escalated until I had to seek medical help once again.
I would forever be grateful to Dr. Azeez for not brushing aside my fears, for never belittling what I was feeling or going through during that time and being the doctor that I have always esteemed him to be and treating me for my symptoms rather than saying that it was all on my mind. Dealing with anxiety and panic is a life debilitating “illness”. Those who have never felt the fear of a panic attack would never understand what the person goes through and most of the time ridicule is what the person receives. I had my fair share of that as well, some from those who should have understood and stood by me when I was going through one of the most difficult periods of my life.
There were bad days and good days. Some days were so bad that it was a challenge to stay till the daily shift at work was up, battling with my nerves the whole time. A simple thing as the ring of the telephone could set me off and I had a hard time settling down once it set off the chain reaction. And then there were the days that everything seemed to sail smooth, when I could forget that a panic attack could be triggered the very next minute itself. Stress and disoriented sleep cycles seems to make things worse and since then I have always tried to regulate my sleep patterns, eat at regular intervals and even God forbid, exercise!
Exercise certainly helps a lot. And that is saying something since I am the kind of person who would rather not move an extra inch than that is necessary. But since I have discovered the wonders a brisk walk can do to my body and emotional wellbeing, I am a total convert and have been “preaching” the benefits of just that to friends who seem to have similar issues. Anxiety and panic attack syndrome is far too common in our society than anyone would like to think. Most of the time a person doesn’t even know what he or she is going through and I have come to be pretty good at identifying that in people and helping them out in anyway that I can.
Apart from exercise, praying and meditating does wonders. Knowing that you aren’t alone, knowing that you can turn to your Creator in the hour of need, that He would be there always regardless of whatever you are going through is a feeling that brings relief every single time. People who don’t believe in religion might scoff at the idea, but I take comfort from where I can and my religion is an area of comfort and strength in equal doses.
It will be 3 years to the date on September 2012 and I remain standing on my own two feet, though I get shaky every now and then. Tragedy did strike my life and I was a blubbering mess until very recently. But throughout I have never wavered from the need to see myself get better, to be able to live my life on my terms, not to be crippled with fear every time life throws an unexpected curveball my way.
Tragedy might not make you stronger in the sense everyone means it to be. But it does teach you that life is unexpected, to never lose hope and faith and to rely on people who will be there for you, no questions asked. And I believe through the tough and difficult times that I have weathered through, I have found those that I can count on and those that I can’t. I have found that somethings aren’t worth trying to change and to fit into your life. And that life as usual goes on and awaits you to walk its path as long as there lives a tomorrow.