In a state where nothing is certain, flying across continents may not be the best idea. But the journey from Britain to India, for me, was filled with questions and the hardest one yet, was, “Will I come back?” When you see everyone taking care of you, trying to make you alright, somehow you lose the drive to get better. You feel like that they are investing in a lost cause. In this case, I was the lost cause.
I was stuck between assignments and the voices in my head. In fact, I was all but ready to quit on my degree, just go back home and climb under a blanket. But that would have been a choice I’d never forgive myself for. It was at that moment I realised how life can change in three days, from the hospital to the university, asking for permission to leave, for the time being, people visiting me and extending help, some of whom I don’t even remember what they were saying in that state. I was lost in my head and couldn’t get out.
The journey from England to India was fraught with confusion. My mother wanted to come to England, not knowing and obviously thinking that the worst had happened. But I wanted to return back to my country, where I felt safe, cared for. Calling for an ambulance meant my situation had to be such that in two minutes I would be dead. When they told me on the phone, my situation wasn’t ‘life-threatening’, I could only think, “If they only knew.” I broke down, feeling as if nobody took it seriously and why should they? These were my problems, not theirs. And everybody assumed it was the assignments.
What is ‘life-threatening’, will a doctor attend to my dead body, had I had to be dead for them to pay attention? The fact that I had attempted and wanted to attempt to take my life didn’t matter. I could talk therefore, I was alive and not important. Moreover, I was from another country, here on a visa. At the emergency ward surrounded by ill people, the wait was seven hours, and the physical and mental stress mounted. Watching people crying, fighting with cops, puking, it was another one of those psychedelic dreams, like the ones I’d constantly been having. I felt claustrophobic, even more, depressed and added to it immensely terrified with no way to show it. I needed help and they postponed my help because I was not as important. I guess I was not and will never be.
But I had been searching for an escape for the longest time and this was nothing out of the blue. Over the months despite my love for London, my situation grew worse while my grades said differently. I put up a facade, went out even when I didn’t feel I could move a limb and depression found me in every corner, wherever I looked I saw darkness. There was something sinister about the way my depression had stalked me, giving me false confidences and hiding from plain sight. And somewhere I knew it was going to happen. That’s when I knew I had to leave.
But going back to India, almost felt like giving up, and no matter what anyone said it still felt like it did. My flight got delayed, and everyone at the airport felt like they were sorted. Maybe that’s how depression makes you feel as if everyone is ok. As if everybody has it figured out. And somewhere rationality had been gagged which was trying to tell me that everybody has it tough. I crumbled inside as I got on to the flight, knowing that returning would mean returning to these memories. I was stuck between the two countries up in the sky flying over Istanbul when I felt myself swallow my doubts.
I had a made an escape when I felt there was no way out. I tried to watch Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge on the flight and watched as Shah Rukh Khan reminded me, “Bade bade deshon main aisi choti choti baatein….hoti rehti hai“ ( In big countries, little little things like this keep happening) I couldn’t help but smile, paused the movie and went to the washroom to cry so as not to disturb the nine-year-old fast asleep beside me, my companion. And his words rang in my head like bells at a temple. I steeeld myself for the rest of the 7 hours that, in London, I just found a glitch and I was going back to fix that glitch.
When I landed in India I felt relief like I hadn’t before, there’s a security you get from your own land, from your own country. Where you are not an outsider. To see my sister at the top of the elevator gave me more strength, it was a long flight, mentally and physically and despite the delays, both technical and emotional I’d made it back home where it began and presumably where my illness will end. This journey might have been the most important in my life so far. And one day I will go back, but now I can’t even think about it.