A Stream of Thoughts on Depression and Death

It’s 4.41pm when I begin writing this post.

Just today, I applied to 17 job postings to which I meet the minimum requirements and qualifications. 17 carefully crafted applications in one day. Each submission bringing a new hope and a different vision of how my life could be. Of the various possibilities of my grown up life.

Over the past few months, I decided that I should begin taking career-searching seriously. I mean, I had been running a business for over 2 years quite successfully and profitably. However, the past two months with the critical illness of my father, I have fallen into a depression.

This is the story of my great depression.

It’s only been two months since my father fell critically ill and my family went through the hell of his near-death experience that eventually lead to an amputation of his right leg. He had lost the left leg to diabetes 18 years ago, when I was eight years old. I still remember when my dad returned home from the hospital after his first amputation. I spent a whole week without looking at him. I was afraid of what I would see (or would not see). I remember him feeling hurt, but taking it slowly with me. Not my brother, though. My brother jumped right on my dad to hug and kiss him. One day, he asked me if I wanted to see it, and I was afraid, but said yes. He showed me the stitch marks and I asked him, “is that it?” I lost my fear. Truth is, that while he had been hospitalized for 3 months, I had convinced myself that he had died and that the father who had returned home was a robot that my mom ordered so that we wouldn’t have to feel so bad about my dad. I had nightmares of my father being a robot for weeks, or months.

Over the past months, I have fallen apart emotionally, psychologically. Waking up in the middle of the night yelling in panic because I had dreamt that I was in the surgery room while surgeons patiently and painstakingly amputated my father’s legs and rewired him back together. Like an automobile. Like the inner plumbing of your kitchen sink. Our bodies. They are nightmares. And doctors, their hands.

Four years ago, I vowed never to have an alcoholic drink again. I became Muslim and this was my big step. Three weeks ago, I had an entire bottle of cheap wine and cried myself to sleep. For those who aren’t regular wine drinkers, the sensation goes like this: you take a sip and get goosebumps all over your body. The hairs stick right up. After a few sips, the cheap wine begins to taste bitter; it never tastes sweet as it should. After many sips, you begin to feel numbness on your skin, hands and things move a bit slower. It’s like anesthesia running through your veins. My husband came home to a mumbling wife. It’s truly tragic to think about what I have become over the months. A depressive maniac who cries and yells from macabre nightmares.

I have another confession. This one is worse, but please just listen. This one made me cry for a long time. Two weeks ago, I decided to spend the day with my 15 month year old daughter, so I kept her from daycare. I went to the yarn store with her because I wanted to make her something warm for the approaching cold weather. It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I left her inside the car. I did. She grew quiet while driving and since I wasn’t used to having her with me during the week, I simply forgot her and left her in the car when I went shopping. My hairs are raised just remembering what I did–to remember that my daughter could potentially suffocate because my head is no longer clear. It’s a confession that I am deeply ashamed and disturbed by. At the store, I suddenly remembered that my baby was in the car, dropped the 6 packs of holiday-colored ribbons on the ground and ran out of the store screaming with tears in my eyes. When I found her she was sweating, but she was okay. Thank God. She was okay. I cried myself to sleep that night too and had more nightmares. My head is no longer clear. I love my daughter and am usually the best mother. But, this day, I failed.

I applied to 17 jobs today, because I need healthcare. My husband’s healthcare cannot be extended to us (for reasons I can’t go into now), and I need healthcare. I end up tossing myself in cold showers every time I get a fever as to avoid the hospital. Over the past 6 months, I have applied to over 80 jobs that I qualify for and nothing. Nothing to show for a Master’s degree and plenty of unpaid student loans. No way to pay those loans back without a steady job. Lenders won’t stop calling and I tell them the same story, “I am unemployed, cannot pay anything and that I wish I could.” I really wish I could pay my bills–it leaves me satisfied and I used to enjoy watching my credit score go up a few points each time I paid off any bill.

After my father’s amputation 1 month ago, I lost interest in my consulting business and just let it fall apart slowly. I get work every now and then, but mostly, I get a bunch of hagglers. My desperation stinks and they can smell it. What I used to charge Whole Foods value, I now charge at Walmart price. I hate being the Walmart of College Consulting. It’s pathetic.

I really need to know if we are going through a something like the 1930s Great Depression. There has to be an explanation why I cannot find employment with a Master’s degree. I remind myself that I am bilingual, fairly good looking (looks count), smart, have 3 degree all with honors, solid work experience, I have so many skills…I am a good catch. Yes, there must be another explanation about things that are beyond out control.

I bomb most interview. Never get the job. Yet, I am overqualified for any minimum wage job to get by until I find a good position. Most employers think that someone with a Master’s will demand a higher salary, so they simply never call. People without college degree, I think, tend to stay at their jobs for longer periods of time because they are perceived as less ambitious. I am not ambitious. I just need to be employed. I need healthcare.

It’s 4am and I am staring at my computer, rewriting this post, yet it all sounds like the same old thing.

Watching Chuck on Netflix.

I prayed today, but I didn’t feel anything. That anesthetic effect is taking over me, but I can still feel my husband toes on my toes. I measure his love by his efforts to intertwine his legs and toes with mine while he sleeps. This is the measurement of love. Of affection. Of marriage.

Hands are numb and it’s getting hard to type.

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3 thoughts on “A Stream of Thoughts on Depression and Death

  1. Hang in there ☺. My father has diabetes as well. Every time he gets tested nowadays, they tell him his kidneys are working less and less efficiently. We can’t help worrying about where this is all leading, but he’s going about his life and his worship, scoffing at our concern. Sometimes we think the worst is happening to our loved ones, but when they’re surrounded with family and friends, maybe they don’t always feel like the worst is happening to them. You’re definitely not a bad mother just from making a mistake. Every mother makes them, especially new mothers. Don’t feel too badly about it. In Brampton, Ontario, a man accidentally killed his infant by putting the baby’s car seat down on his driveway, forgetting it was there, and then backing his car over his child. Thank God nothing even close to that happened to your daughter. Keep being persistent at your job search and, insha Allah, you’ll find something. I have a BA in English and I’ve been a waitress, a bartender, a parking attendant, a subtitle editor, a scheduling assistant, a retail sales rep, and a retail store manager the last few years, only reducing my student loan by about half after being on the job market for 9 years. It’s tough, for sure. But I just turned 31 and it doesn’t feel as hard as it used to at 25. These are the challenges that make life interesting. My parents, when I lost a job a long time ago, told me all about how my father lost his job when I was young. His parents were living with him and my mother (and my brother and me) in a tiny apartment. My mother didn’t work. He was freaking out back then. But they laughed while they told me the story. After you’ve been through obstacles like these, you become strong, and nothing feels as scary anymore. Have faith in “truly where there is hardship there is also ease” (94:6). Keep trying to find work and taking care of yourself (so that you can be a comfort to your family), even if you feel like nothing’s working. I’m positive, insha Allah, that you’ll find your way through this sooner or later. And once you get through this, you’ll be changed in a way where you may never have to go through the exact same feeling again…because once you get through this, insha Allah, you’ll know (the next time) that you can handle it…

  2. Asalaamu Alaykum amiga mia, You and your family are in my duas. With every hardship comes ease, remembering that is what keeps me going. May your heart fill with light in order for you to feel better. May things progress for you positively. May you find your grounding. May you be compassionate with yourself. May the words in your mind be beautiful ones. May your soul feel light. Ameen.

  3. “I drink not from mere joy in wine nor to scoff at faith–no, only to forget myself for a moment, that only do I want of intoxication, that alone.”
    ~Omar Khayyam

    …may Allah make it easy for you sis…

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