“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

India Today - - COVER STORY - As told to As­mita Bak­shi

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.

Sat­u­ra­tion point

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.

Chang­ing per­spec­tive

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

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