The first instance when I should have realized that I needed to consult a therapist was back in 2017. In the midst of a tough summer, I began encountering frequent bouts of nausea. It was a time when I realized that I might not make it to a university of my choice, or any place that I had applied to, to pursue my Master’s in literature. Perhaps, if I had chosen to seek help, I may have been able to deal with the exact situation in a better manner, when it reared its ugly head again two years later. But, then again, I knew nothing about seeking help for this, back then. Nor was anyone at home even remotely aware of what this was, that I was going through. It was just a poor reaction to results not going my way, was it not? The doctor labeled it jaundice, which a different doctor disproved 6 months later.
Fast forward to 2019 and I found myself in the very same position yet again. This time, it felt much worse. I could feel my heart erupt countless times, before the result of an entrance or interview was published. Each rejection took away what little love I had for myself. That’s how my family and I measure my worth, through academic success. I remember crying my eyes out at different Oyo rooms where I was staying awaiting the results of these interviews. I sunk into a very dark form of hopelessness. It was becoming increasingly difficult to be hopeful or make sense of what was happening. Not making it past a few interviews should not have been this big a deal. But, it was. What value did I have outside of these results? I had to keep trying, didn’t I? I had to keep writing these tests and attend these interviews with my mind constantly telling me that I don’t belong there, that I will never be good enough to make it to any of
I find myself unable to read books without the ghost of past failures hovering over me. I find it difficult to live in the present. There are either endless thoughts about “what could have been” or the “what next”. When I return to the present, it is only to blame myself for not being good enough. This, despite finally finding a place to pursue my research in Humanities. I was diagnosed with hypertension earlier this year, and the doctor believes that I need therapy to deal with stress. Stress that I had perhaps begun accumulating ever since I was taught to run this rat race of merit, as a kid. I cannot remember the last time I felt at peace with myself, a time where I was relaxed with who I was. The difference in reaction to the doctor prescribing a drug to keep my Blood Pressure and her prescribing therapy could not be more stark. My mother makes it a point to ask me every morning if I have taken my pill. The other thing on the prescription is best not spoken about. Her first response post this diagnosis was a criticism of my decision (ages ago) to do away with my faith in religion. Her argument is that, if I had joined my hands in prayer everyday, the stress that I feel would dissipate into nothingness. But, the word “therapy” is best not spoken about. Any talk about therapy is met with cold silence. I always wonder if I would have been able to choose therapy if I did not have the financial means to do so.