“The ride was therapy for me as much as it was for others”
By riding a bike across the country, Sana Iqbal, who once suffered from depression, is now spreading awareness on how to deal with it
Iwould’ve always been a bold person, but then I had my own set of fears, thanks to the news. I used to be a person who
think if I’m going out at 2 am, I would end up getting raped. Wherever I went, I had this fear. I used to work for a BPO at that time; I used to drive down and I needed to have tinted glasses. From that person, I went to being someone who sat on a bike and said hey, look here’s a woman on the road!
Questioning morals and motherhood
I was a person who had my set of ideas about a perfect life and perfect married life. But unfortunately, when things started going out of hand, it became impossible for me to accept what was coming my way. When my marriage started falling apart (I’m not divorced), I didn’t know what to control or how. There was a lot of distance which was created between my husband and me. People would say things would get better once we had a baby, but they got worse. I had so many questions, social pressure, and self-created anxieties. I just could not see a ray of hope.
When everyone around me became a mother, their lives changed; their whole lives became about their children. But when my son was born, I could not feel that. I was stressed mentally, completely, and just could not feel emotions for my own child. I would question my own morals and motherhood, and I could not talk about it to anyone. Once in a while, when I tried talking about it, people would lecture me instead of understanding what I was feeling and going through.
I come from a very educated family, but not even once did it click, that it was depression. I reached a saturation point, and was unable to sleep or do anything. That’s when I decided I wanted to end my life. I wanted to die in an accident. I got my bike back and made a foolproof plan. I was on the highway, and waiting for it to happen painlessly. As I started moving out of Hyderabad, I saw a small child waving at me with immense joy. I started noticing a lot of things. When it was raining, I stopped at a dhaba and the man there wanted to take a picture of me and show it to his daughter, because he thought it would motivate her and he wanted her to be like me. The goodness of people on the way took me out of my feeling of neglect and helplessness.
The ride to recovery
When I returned, I came home happy, and with a new perspective on life. My mother was ecstatic to see me like that. But in close to 10 days, I started getting back into the same old zone of constantly trying to reach out to my husband. But this time I realised I was falling into this again. So, I did some self-counselling and that’s when I thought of the idea of the ride. I enjoy interacting with people, helping people. I’ve been a motivational trainer. I gathered my experiences and decided to put my psychology education to use. And by helping people I ended up helping myself. The ride across cities to spread awareness about suicide and depression was therapy for me as much as it was for other people.
It’s important to look at yourself as a third person, that’s when you see a better picture of yourself. I would often ask my students, do you ever see your old pictures, in their own homes or on Facebook memories. Most times I would get the same reaction, “Yuck, I didn’t look good, now I’m better.” If you ask yourself how you felt when you uploaded that picture, it will make you happy. After some time, you look at yourself as a third, different person, and you’re in a better position to assess yourself. You have then a point of focus and nobody can stop you.
Sana Iqbal, 29, from Hyderabad, journeyed solo across the country conducting sessions on tackling issues related to depression and suicide on her Royal Enfield, talking about everything from acne to complex relationships, careers, marriages, depression and suicide. She is simultaneously pursuing a masters in psychology and does corporate training sessions on behavioural skills.
Photographs by SAEED GHAZI