This is the 8th story for the Mental Illness Recovery Series. I want to thank Tori for sharing her story with us. Her life has been difficult, but I believe she is strong and will one day overcome her mental disorders, by gaining the freedom she longs for. This is her story:
Tori is from Bangladesh, but currently lives in New Jersey. Tori loves music, drawing and art. Her future goal is to move away from the nest, find a job and get married. Tori was diagnosed by a counselor and psychiatrist with depression and dissociative disorder, although her doctors did not quite understand her dissociation. Tori’s mental disorders stem from family and economic problems. Tori and her mother moved to the United States with her stepfather, whom she considers her dad. Because of this her family was not making much money and the financial burden created verbal and psychical fights between her parents. Tori said, “The fights began when I was 6 or 7. My parents argued about money and had a lot of problems. Some days I heard screaming at 1 am and it didn’t stop till 7am. It was scary, I was so scared that my mom was going to get divorced again. At this point all I thought about was my mom. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her, and she was all I had. Some nights the fights would get physical and I would try to come downstairs to make it stop. I tried but all I could do was cry.”
Tori had to deal with terrible symptoms such as, extreme fatigue, weight gain, social anxiety and frustration. This affected her daily to a great extent. Tori said, “My grades dropped, I slept a lot, I stopped talking to friends.” Tori wanted to disappear because even living was exhausting for her, but she did not want to kill herself. Her distraction was school and her friends, she said, “The thing that got me by was school. I LOVED school. Going to school made me forget all my troubles at home, also since I lived in an apartment complex I always came home, finished homework and played with all the other kids till the sun set.”
Tori’s depression skyrocketed during 8th grade because she had to move to another town leaving all her friends behind. She said, “The people there were different. I couldn’t relate to anyone and no one accepted me for my personality or for who I was. I just couldn’t find anyone who I was in-synch with.” This made Tori feel frustrated because school used to be fun for her and now it’s become a drag. When Tori got to high school she was able to make new friends, although it was extremely difficult for her because this meant a new type of hangout as in sleepovers, movies, and hanging out at the mall. Her parents never allowed her to go out with friends. She said, “This continued all throughout my life till end of high school. The older I got, the more I fought my parents to let me go places. All my friends would hang out and I never got to. I told myself that I didn’t need to socialize outside of school, and that I would be able to maintain my relationships with just being me at school.” Tori remembers having a folder full of birthday invitations she couldn’t go to.
Because of this Tori fell into deep depression. She slowly distanced herself from most of her friends keeping only one or two friends around. She no longer wanted to make people laugh, or relate to anyone. She constantly struggled to find peace with her lifestyle and by junior year Tori gained a lot of weight. At the age of 16 Tori really liked a boy, the two became close and talked every day on the phone, but one day he became distant broke off their friendship. This affected Tori because she didn’t have anyone else to relate to.
Tori’s parents obligated her to watch Bengali TV series with them. She hated watching it because most of the series were about how women in Bangladesh would get harassed, beaten or forced into marriage. One day, while Tori was watching TV with her parents she ‘snapped’. Tori said, “I was suddenly not in the room with my parents but in my head just thinking. I lost all awareness of my surroundings and was just day dreaming in my head. I got up and went to my room after the show ended, and I felt so numb, yet it felt like I had gained a new super power. An ability to leave my current environment, go somewhere else, into my head. I could ignore anything bad that would happen to me, and didn’t have to feel it. If my parents forced a situation on me, I could just be there, but not be there in my mind. I could sit in one place and think for hours and I would never get bored. Really I had lost all sense of awareness and the ability to feel the outside world.”
When Tori got into University, she had more freedom and a car to go to University with. It was at that moment when she realized how different she had become. Tori could not feel anything, she would move her hands and it felt like it wasn’t hers. Not only that, but even if she looked at herself in the mirror she could not recognize herself. So, Tori visited her university’s psychiatrist, took therapy and medication. It was an uphill battle for her, constantly going back and forth. Till one day while Tori was walking to visit a friend of hers, she realized how lonely she felt, and instantly she felt a burst of happiness to feel.
Although Tori, has not been able to feel things like she used to, she is not letting this situation bring her down. Currently her parents are putting stress on her because in the South Asian community, Tori is getting old and running out of time. Her parents want her to get married immediately otherwise no one will want her. A frame of mind which is typical of the south asian culture. At the moment Tori is working hard to find a stable job, so she can move out and get the freedom she wants.
What are your thoughts on her story? Any advice for her and others struggling with similar situations? Comment on the bottom of the page.
P.S. Would you like to share your recovery story? If so email me at email@example.com
Edited by Hamad Hussain