Ten years later

Since I came to the United States, in January 2002, I have never been home. It has been 10 years since then. One week from today I will be travelling to Jordan. Lots of speculation has risen because I have not seen my parents all this time. I was told that I have a heart built from iron. That is, lifeless heart. I was reminded many times the effect of such thing on my parents as if I am a cruel person. When both Americans and Arabs hear that I haven’t been home for ten years the look on their faces is something I can no longer take. There is no sympathy but only dislike of my inhumane behavior.

In Jordan, people suspect that I like the life in the United States. Some believe I am married  and waiting to get my green card to be able to travel to Jordan. Others, think I am working and also waiting for my paperwork.

There are many reasons that prevented me from visiting Jordan but none of the above is true. No one knows that I had depression and mine was not the six month long one. Some doctors call my depression Chronic or Major Depressive, Recurrent. I will talk about it later.

Depression is only one of many problems that prevented me from traveling. Unfortunately, for many people depression is like a paper cut. It may hurt a little bit but people will tell you to stop whining and get over it. Depression means nothing to others. Especially if these people are Arabs.

I have been among many very educated Arabs who brag how Muslims unlike people in Western Civilization can’t get depressed because they have faith. Depression is for losers, right?

A prominent American Medical Doctor said that some depressed patients would rather have any other type of illness (he mentioned cancer) because it is the only way people will sympathize with them. In Jordan, there are videos on YouTube showing the crowds shouting for the girl who wants to jump from a building to jump and in another video the students surrounding a female student dare her to kill herself with the knife she is holding. This is how much Jordanians understand depression and how much they care for depressed people. It is a subject I have always wanted to talk about in detail. Experiencing what depressed people go through makes me a fit to write everything about it and hopefully change the minds and hearts of people about how they feel about it. So, hopefully soon I can explain more about this under alarmed disease.

Anyway, the good news is that I am way better now. I regained control of my life. And for this reason I took two decisive decisions in 2012 after I hit rock bottom in 2011. The first one, was changing my academic advisor after seven years and the second one is visiting Jordan against all odds that I may never be able to come back and finish my PhD. There is no standard when it comes to issuing visas to students. It depends entirely on the mood and personality of the person you are interviewing. Some PhD students were denied entry to the United States for no reason even when all their paperwork is complete. But for some reason I am very optimistic. As much as I like to finish my PhD add to that the ten years I spent in the US I no longer tie my future to living in the USA and a PhD degree. If it didn’t happen then it is fine and if it happens then it is very good.

I have never been happier. I could have lived unhappy for more years to come or take a risk. I decided to take control of my life after three years of living aimlessly.

For my American readers, wait for very beautiful pictures from the land of the prophets; Jordan.


33 thoughts on “Ten years later

  1. مشاعر مختلطه تولدت عندي

    شهقه كبيره بعد معرفه انك الك عشر سنين مش زاير الاردن

    خجل كبير من نفسي بعد قراءة الفقره التانيه :$

    صديقي، بتمنالك زياره ممتعه و اوقات ولا اجمل تقضيها مع الاهل و الاحباب و ان شاء الله ربنا بيسرلك الخير ،، توكل على الله و ربنا بكتبلك الخير باذنه

    توصل بالسلامه و كتر من الصور لانا احنا كمان بانتظار الصور

    يلا بركي دليتنا على اماكن نزورها 🙂

    1. Thanks, Whisper!
      You don’t need to feel embarrassed no one knew about this before 🙂
      Yes, there are many places I want to visit and take pictures of.

  2. Wow Jaraad! 🙂
    (my 1st reaction)
    Thanks 4 letting us enter such aspect of YOU!
    U have slightly tapped into the long period u spend at the states w/o a visit back home but never went into detail, never.
    The 2 examples are (of so many!) , it`s a shame, really.
    I`m so happy that u are in comfort/peace with yrself, it really shows from yr words esp.;y when u say that even if u r denied the visa u r okay with it.
    I hope the visit brings the best toward u.

    تروح و تزور و تتفرج على 10 سنين غياب من الأردن و ترجع بالسلامة يااااااااااااا رب
    و تاخذ شهادة الدكتوراه و من تلك المرحلة إلى أبواب خيّرة يا رب
    بكل منحى من مناحي هالدنيا العجيبة

  3. I’m more than happy for you, 10 years is a very long time.
    ( Irbid ra7 tnwer) and you will notice some major changes, we have 2 malls now! how about that? and people are getting poorer and crazier. 🙂
    you might get the chance to be in one of the weekly demonstrations and get arrested and… you know the rest, it’s an experience you don’t wanna miss 🙂

    mmm, depression. what can I say about that? that we all liars and lived in stress and hit rock bottom even more than once? but you probably know that already.
    no one can make you happier more than yourself, right? just do whatever the best for yourself.

    So, we’re expecting picture Jordan now?
    P.S. pick some warm clothes, it seems that it will be a rough winter this year.

    1. Irbid mnawreh be ahelha 🙂 Thank you!
      la demonstration wala ya7zanon 🙂 I just want to see my family.
      Ahel Irbid majaneen men qabel 10 sneen shloon hassa 🙂 Allah yustor.
      Thanks for the tip. I know it is going to be freezing there.
      Yup Picture Jordan is soon 🙂

  4. Yay! I’m happy you are going home! I do hope you will return, but we’ll see what God has in store. Thank you for being so honest and open about your depression. I think it’s wonderful that you are willing to talk about it, and I hope we can be here to support you as you delve more into talking about it, and continue to improve. You never know how many others are going through this, but are too ashamed to speak out, to reach out for help because they feel no one understands and they are alone, and will be judged not spiritual enough or whatever! You may be helping others who have not had the courage to seek help.

    I’m so glad to have you as a friend, and I wish you wonderful days in Jordan! Do keep in touch!

    Beddi bas salamtak! (Forgive me if I used this in a wrong way.) 🙂

    1. Thank you, Susanne!
      It took me three years before admitting that I need to seek professional help. I was going through a tough time without knowing what exactly is happening to me. Only after I read some books scientific articles that I knew it called depression. Many people are going through such thing without knowing and as you mentioned are embarrassed to admit it. And there is also a worse factor which is how admitting such thing is going to affect someone’s profession. Even in America people are not educated about depression.

      I will keep in touch of course.

      “Beddi bas salamtak!” Perfectly said! 🙂 I appreciate it.

  5. Is your passport still valid or needs renewal? expect a lot of “routine” and be ready to inhale lots of second hand smoke. That is a depressing thought.

  6. As-salamu Alaykum,
    I think part of the problem is that the word “depression” has a dual meaning. We use it in everyday life for trivial matters–e.g., “I ate so much over the holidays that I can’t fit into my favorite jeans this week…I’m so depressed.” In fact, depression (the real one) is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and the severity of it can vary from person to person. It’s unfortunate that we do not have a separate name for it. I’m not sure I have ever experienced depression. If I have, it has been mild and almost always connected to hormonal changes that I did not understand when I was younger. Right now, though, someone close to me is experiencing a form of clinical depression. At one point, it was so severe that this person could not function normally from day to day. He was very much against the idea of doctors and medication but eventually had to see a doctor. After testing, the person found that he actually had some serious neurological issues he was not aware of and is now receiving treatment for that. The medication, which includes an antidepressant, has not solved all his issues but has made a very big difference in his life. All this happened in Jordan, by the way, where the stigma is huge. But fortunately there are good doctors here who understand and can help. If someone feels they are clinically depressed, I would urge them to see a doctor and share their concerns. Just make sure you are going to someone with a good reputation. Glad your situation is under control, and I hope you write about it in the future so that more people are educated about this complicated condition.

    1. Wa Alikum As-salam, Anonynous.
      Yes, your argument is very true. Clinical depression lost its meaning among people because we use the word “depression” to describe our temporary mood. Although we may mean we are “sad” not depressed.
      I am glad the person you know agreed to see a doctor. What many people don’t know is that losing concentration and other related symptoms are due to depression. When I finally admitted that I should seek professional help I went to the counseling center on our campus but we found that I need medication as well. Antidepressant medication cured me by the well of Allah.
      Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

  7. Salam Jaraad,

    You’re a nice person. Of course muslims can get sad too: Prophet Jacob [Quran 12:84], Prophet Muhammad [Quran 18:6], the virgin Mary [Quran 19:22-23]. Mary said “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” But with every difficulty, there is relief. [Quran 94]

    If you wanna try this… Imagine yourself being enveloped by Allah’s Mercy, that you’re under His Care. Remember, you’re loved by the Most Merciful, and life in the hereafter is far superior. Insha Allah, your dream life will come true.

    BTW, wow… land of the Prophets. Sounds epic!

    1. Thank you, Brenda!
      I appreciate your comment and providing these verses from the Quran. I will look for them and read. For many Muslims reading the Quran bring peace to one’s mind.
      Thanks for the advice. And welcome to my blog 🙂

  8. تنسناش من الجميد
    اه يييي
    الجميد من الإردن
    لكان تنساناش من التراب الأمريكي

    توصل بالسلامه يامان

    1. You know what I have Jameed Karaky here 🙂
      Everyone is telling my I am going to gain weight when I am there. I am afraid this will be very true. My plan is to eat Kunafeh every day. Within the last ten years I ate it a couple of times only.

      1. كونااااااافااااه تايم
        لا مارح يزيد وزنك
        تنساش رح تظل تلف لف بالبلد وتحرق كالوريز هيك ببلاش هههههههه

  9. I’m sorry that people aren’t more understanding of the practical difficulties involved in you going home.

    While I’m happy that you’re able to travel home and see your family I really hope that you’re also able to come back and finish your degree. But more importantly I’m very glad that you’ve been able to get help for your depression and that you’re feeling better. I’ve never been depressed but I know several people who have depression and as rough as it is watching it from the outside I figure it must be a million times worse when you’re suffering from it.

    I’ll look forward to posts and pictures from Jordan for now!

    1. Thank you, Amber!
      I think many people who are suffering from depression feel alone because people don’t really understand why they do what they do sometimes. Having support from family and friends help a lot. Especially, if they understand how depression may affect the patient’s daily life and what he or she endures.

  10. عندي اقتراح
    شو رايك تكتب بوست يومي باهم الاحداث و الاكلات
    و بهيك احنا بنكون معك و بس ترجع بالسلامه يكون عندك ارشيف تقرأه و تتذكر الايام الحلوه

    ممكن تبدا بعد 3 ايام ببوست دسم و بعدها يصير يومي 🙂

    1. That is a great idea. I wish I can write on daily bases. It would be awesome to write what I ate, what places I visited and what I did every day.
      I am writing a post now of things I want to do when I am in Jordan 🙂

  11. I, too, struggle with depression. For me it makes holding down a job difficult. My family gets upset and thinks I’m lazy, even when I try to explain to them that it’s not that and the horrible panic attacks I get when I’m at work. I hope I can one day learn to live with my depression as you have. I hope that you continue to conquer this horrible thing.

  12. I am sorry to hear that. I have experienced panic attack. It paralyzed one from doing anything or thinking rationally. I would recommend going to the student health center at your university for help if you didn’t yet. Medication helped me a lot.
    I hope your family better understand your struggle because really feeling depressed without support makes things even worse.

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