You're Not Alone

My name is Tooba Arshad and I am ready to be seen.

A bit of a background here… I am a business consultant who recently started her own company with an amazing team. I am also a writer who may or may not have written a couple of novels and who is obsessed with poetry. And most importantly, I am a strong advocate for mental health. 

See, my life is perfect. I was the child genius, the kid in class that everyone would hate. I started working when I was 14, I have diverse experience, I have diverse interests, I am analytic, I am strong-minded, I am someone that you go to if you need something fixed, I am someone who plans things, I have been called a leader on so many occasions, and it is true, I have accomplished a whole lot in less time maybe. And I am thankful for every opportunity and every person that I met along the way. It’s great!

People ask me, obviously, they ask me what I have planned for the next 5 or 10 years, and they are expecting some amazing response about how driven I am about my career and everything. And that’s true for the most part. See, the thing is, most of the time, I am just struggling to get through the day. My life has been tough, and thanks to the fact that I am a very “very” private person growing up in a very superficial world, only a handful of people know about it. So, what I am about to do next, believe me when I say this, this took a whole lot of guts.

I have a condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia which means that my heart beats at a faster rate than normal. I have been sick because of it for as long as I can remember. Most of the time, it’s difficult for me to breathe and I get nosebleeds and I feel like my heart is beating out of my chest. And my hands shake, and I kinda have lost my grip somehow in my left hand, because of it maybe, I don’t know. I have been on medication for it since I was a child.

Apart from that, I have another condition called Bipolar Disorder which is a mental illness characterized by the fact that I go through a lot of ups and downs in life, whether it’s related to moods, whether it’s related to energy levels, whether it’s related to how much activity I can do. And my symptoms have been, what I have been told, they are very intense, very severe, and a lot of those are previously unheard of. So, yay me. I started medications for that a couple of years back, and it’s going okay. 

It’s worthwhile to note here that I don’t work well with a lot of medication and only a couple of those work on me, they don’t create a whole lot of side effects that you cannot ignore. So, the medication that is currently keeping me sane is also damaging the rest of my organs. My liver is currently at a risk and I’m on supplements to try to stabilize it for as long as I can, however much I can. I cannot let go of the drug that’s actually causing the problem, blah blah blah. The point is, the liver thing is causing a whole lot of symptoms, of course. I’m nauseated all the time, I can barely eat, I throw up a lot, I have very sensitive skin, and I have recently developed a severe vitamin D deficiency which means that my bones, I have difficulty putting pressure on my bones, so I am almost always in a lot of bone and muscle pain. And I have been having a lot of difficulty…walking or doing other normal activities.

[ Addressing someone off camera ] Is that it? That’s it, right? It sounds bad.

I mean, it’s not that bad. There are good days and there are bad days. Good days make you forget that there are bad days, and bad days are well…bad days are just bad.

See, the point is, the society, the world that we live in, marks any sign of vulnerability as a weakness. I don’t see it that way. If you’re someone who’s going through shit and you’re putting in extra effort to try and be normal, salute! But why are you trying to be normal? What is normal even? Normal is overrated. We’re all fucked up, right?

[ Addressing someone off camera ] We are! We are all fucked up. 

My point is… it’s okay. It’s okay to need help, it’s okay to ask for help. It does not make you weak, it makes you stronger actually. It means that you have the courage to expose the realest parts of yourself to this very selfish world. And even if you don’t, that doesn’t make you a coward either. You speak up when you have to, you ask for help when you have to, but make sure you do. And whatever you do, you do at your own pace. No one’s deciding anything for you. You do you, man. But make sure of one thing. 

When you look in the mirror next time, you be proud of the person standing in front of you. Because no matter what life threw at you, you’re doing your best and that is enough. You are enough. To anyone who’s watching this, if you’re watching this and you’re going through something or you’re fighting a battle no one knows about, know this: you are not alone, you never were, and I seriously doubt you ever will be. You’re not alone. We are all struggling, we’re just really good at pretending. Really, really good.

On that note, I will see you all next week. Have a good week!

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Blog: You’re Not Alone