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The Dark Inside Due To My In-Laws Hasn’t Gone Away, But I Have Conquered It For Today

Posted: September 12, 2020

According to them, I cooked bad food, I was trying to poison them with too much salt, I had a vicious tongue, my parents had no idea about bringing up a girl, and so on.   

Trigger alert: Has descriptions of depression and suicidal tendencies, and could be triggering for a survivor.

Like most foolish young women excited about the prospect of getting married, I also went through the whole drama of feeling bashful and hopeful about my rosy future.   

The disillusionment and breakdown started way back in 2008.

I was recently married then, but instead of a dopamine high, I found myself mostly distraught and distressed. Having never been ‘brought up’ to become a ‘cultured daughter-in-law’ and a woman who was expected to effortlessly juggle a patriarchal household and office work, I found it very stressful to adjust into the new relationship and the constant domestic challenges.

I was ambitious and wanted to achieve a lot at work. To do that effectively, it was imperative to have a peaceful home front. It was not to be.

Trouble with in-laws as a newly married woman

About 2 weeks into my marriage, my husband was fired for not accepting a night shift and a steep pay cut. We grinned and decided to bear with this shock. In a week or so, his parents started asking for rent from us. I was beyond shocked but my husband just shrugged.

I felt the aftermath of this incident on every aspect of my marital life. It never ended. According to them, I cooked bad food, I was trying to poison them with too much salt, I had a vicious tongue, my parents had no idea about bringing up a girl, and so on.       

A month later, I tried to cut short my life. That was when I turned to Google to find out the least painful way of killing oneself.

I decided cutting one’s veins was the easier way. I just ended up injuring my wrists and getting an earful on how I had disgraced the family’s “good name”.

The constant jabs pushed me into an endless abyss of self-doubt and self-loathing. I believed every word they threw at me. On top of that, the constant taunts about my upbringing and my parents made me slip into deeper depression. I did not want to pull my parents into the mess and I had no idea how to extricate myself out of it. The viciousness of it all started consuming me.

Slipping into the abyss 

Slowly, I just allowed myself to slip into it. I knew they were getting under my skin, but I had just no energy or interest to fight back. I gave up. I had a small but fiercely possessive group of friends. At that time, I was awash with guilt and worthlessness and never trusted anyone with my worries. They might have helped in coping but I just didn’t trust them.   

Every day, for almost a month, I tried to kill myself. Every night, after the taunts ended, after they went off to sleep, I would cry my heart out and try to do it. The small knife and me. Locked up in the bathroom. I struggled against my parents’ upbringing and my own survival instinct. I just could not bring myself to put more pressure on the wrist. The cuts were never deep enough, just deep red gashes that took a long time to heal.

Support from my husband 

My relation with my new husband was cordial and we were yet to become friends even. He was not mature enough to understand how to balance the two roles – that of a husband and a son. He almost got 100 on 100 as a son but not even 50 on 100 as a husband. And most of the time, he had absolutely no idea about the trauma I was undergoing.

After two years, when one of my friends suggested that I speak to my husband, I decided to involve him. The day I revealed it all, he sat back, stunned. He had never imagined his family being capable of such behaviour.

That same night, there was a huge showdown. He said he was a man of principles, and claimed that he was unaware of the hatred his parents had been throwing at me.

Of course, I took it with a pinch of salt. I knew he was also trying to walk a tightrope. I gave him that leeway, to make things right. A decision to talk and bring out the hatred out in the open without worrying about the whole ‘what will the neighbours say’ or ‘family’s false honour’, gave me and my  marriage a new lease of life.

At that moment, when I turned it around, all that hatred, all that internalized trauma into something positive just by flipping the card on them, my oppressors.

We decided to move out and started living separately. The financial strain was extreme, there were days I would wonder if my bad days would ever end? I did consider letting it all go and just ending the torture. Was it worth it, I would wonder? The husband was struggling with the recession, I was hanging on to a terrible job. The salary was not even enough to cover our living expenses. My parents had extended some help but we refused. His parents just threw some taunts at me saying I had plucked a prince and thrown him on the roads, making me more depressed.

A nearly fatal relapse into depression

That’s when I kind of succeeded in almost killing myself.

I remember the date clearly, December 21, 2012. It was around 2:00 a.m. The blackness inside my head had kept me awake for 3 days in a row. I knew it had to end that day. I could not take the despair anymore. I saw the sleeping and fatigued face of the man who had faced so much to support me. Something went off inside me and I locked myself in the bathroom.

This time, I knew it was ‘the moment’. I slashed the skin neatly, letting the blood ooze out. The pain was unbearable. As my consciousness begin to slip, I heard my husband stir and call out. I kept still in that dark bathroom. After that I don’t remember much.

When I opened my eyes, I saw him, my worried parents and my in-laws. They looked angry. I braced for an attack. None came.

Change for the better, one step at a time

Life somehow changed after that. Something changed. I don’t know what.

My husband told me that he had felt very restless that night and had not been able to sleep at all. Around 2:30, he woke up to check on me, wondering why I had not yet returned. He had found me unconscious, pulse weakening due to extreme blood loss, and rushed me to the hospital.  

The in-laws didn’t utter a word, my parents understood my pain, and the man who had somehow pulled me out helped me fight all this inky blackness.

It has been years since that incident. I still get lost sometimes in my head, but each time, I just keep the faces of my people in my mind. The darkness recedes. But, I know it has not gone away. It is there, somewhere. But, today I have conquered it. Tomorrow is another day.

This is my personal story of how I fought my demons and survived. I received a lot of help from my family and friends who pulled me out of that abyss. It is not a one-stop solution. It is a struggle, every day to make life meaningful. To give back. Hang in there! This too shall pass.

World Suicide Prevention Day

While death by suicide is a tragic thing to happen and one possible way depression can go, for every person who attempts or even dies of suicide, there are many who suffer depression, but somehow don’t go that route. Why and how does this happen? What is it that helps them take that positive bend, or prevents them from taking the negative bend?

10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. We have for you 3 personal positive stories of women who have come back from the brink, on the 10th (Link), 11th, and 12th of September. 

If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call. 
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080–25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001

Image source: shutterstock

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Book reviewer | Author of 'Once Upon a Reunion'

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