Dear Ma, It's Time To Tell You About My Illness

I came so close to ending my life, but thoughts of you kept me going.

Dear Ma,

I miss you!

Between waking up late and rushing to the office in the morning, between shopping for clothes and paying electricity bills, and between drinking wine at a rooftop cafe in the evening, and almost burning the pot of rice at the end of the day, your little girl has grown up. To the outside world, I'm an adult, independent woman, and I love this status of mine. I don't know how much justice I've been able to do to it, but every day I try my best, and I want to try harder each time I fail.

And I'm sorry!

I'm sorry for missing your calls, for getting angry when you text me during a meeting to ask whether I have had my lunch or not, and for asking whether I have reached back home safely. I'm sorry for repeatedly asking you to understand that I'm fine, and that I can take care of myself. I know, at the end of the day, you're the one who cares. You're the one who still waits for me, and won't eat till I have messaged that I've had my food, even though we're thousands of miles away from each other. And you're the one who still understands how awful I'm feeling just from my "Hello" over the phone.

I didn't tell you because I thought you wouldn't understand. I didn't understand it myself.

And, I'm sorry for not telling you about the illness I've been fighting for the last decade or so, on my own.

Mumma, I have depression and anxiety disorder. And I'm currently under medication.

Please don't get upset. For the last 10 years, I've been wanting to tell you. I just didn't know how.

How could I tell you that in the morning, when I wake up, I feel terribly alone, and I don't want to face the world? How could you possibly understand that the emptiness I feel inside me just refuses to go away? And how could you not worry if you knew that the only feeling that comes to my mind when I see myself in the mirror is failure?

I didn't tell you because I thought you wouldn't understand. I didn't understand it myself. But I'm telling you now because Mumma, it's not your fault. It's not mine either. It is an illness which started to emerge when Babu passed away. If I had told you then, maybe it wouldn't have gotten so bad.

I've been trying to fight it long and hard. But last to last year Mumma, I had a breakdown. I couldn't take it anymore. I had lost the will to live. And one night, out of desperation, I came so close to doing the unthinkable... I took sleeping pills, lots and lots of them, and I was ready to gulp them down with water.

But I didn't. And it's only because of you.

That moment, when a bottle of water was between me and eternal silence, I remembered your face. Your worried, flushed face, back from when I was 7. I had broken my knee, and was howling for help. You came running down the stairs, took me in your arms, and rushed me to the doctor. I remember all the way how you kept whispering in my ears that I shouldn't be afraid, and you're always going to be with me, to take care of me.

And you kept your promise. Mumma, on that cold and lonely winter night in Delhi, you were there with me. You were the reason I threw out those horrid pills and the bottle of water, and decided that I need medical help.

It is an illness, Mumma, one that few recognise exists, but plenty suffer from. However, there is a cure. And I'm in search of it.

By now, you must be worried sick, and probably packing your bags to come and stay with me. But Mumma, don't worry! Your little girl doesn't give up that easily.

In the last year alone, I have had numerous breakdowns and panic attacks. I've howled silently and wished desperately for the pain to go away. I've cried and cried. But do you know what kept me going?

Remember, three years ago when I had come back from the hospital after my operation? I remember you feeding me with my your hands (which even at the age of 27 I love because food always tastes better when you feed me), and then smiled at me and said, "I'm so glad you're home. Now nothing can stop you from getting better."

Mumma, I AM getting better. I have met some wonderful people who try their best to make me smile, and make sure that I have my medicines on time. Please don't think otherwise. These medicines help me, like all medicines are supposed to.

It is an illness, Mumma, one that few recognise exists, but plenty suffer from. However, there is a cure. And I'm in search of it. I'm not going to lie. It's not easy. There have plenty of times when I wondered, "Why me?" But unlike everything else in this world, diseases and illnesses don't discriminate. You suffer, you take help, and you get better. That's the only way.

The reason that I decided to write to you today is because Mumma you need to know. But also, you need to stop worrying! Your little girl has indeed grown up. And she can take on the whole world if need be, if only she has her mumma by her side.

I love you, Ma! Forever and always.

With love and lots of hope indeed,

Your little girl,


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