This blog started out as somewhere for me to write to the kids. Over time, as the idea of raising them gets continually more complex and perplexing, I’ve come to see it as somewhere I can explain our reasoning to them, help them understand the decisions we’re making because it’s their lives we’re ultimately shaping, and yes, understand me a little too, maybe. As a result, there’s no cohesion to the content anymore and much as it annoys me every time I look at it, the intention to change it’s layout, separate into categories and make it easy to connect those hastily written, free-flow thought posts seems to always be trumped by the desire to simply write. Often, when talking doesn’t cut it, or it’s complex to do on the phone, it’s easier to communicate in writing and it makes sense to do that online when the people I’d personalise it all with are all many miles from our quiet Iznik home, but with so many ways to communicate this brings me to the hows and wheres of sharing what we share.
I’m currently on a Facebook sabbatical. So much information, too many people, tens of connections combining in one place felt draining and tiring. That said, I miss the interaction of nothingness, of sharing those snapshots – even if not understood – and seeing others snapshots, too. This, combined with a feeling triggered by a trip to the beach, led me to making Instagram a female-only space. The liberation of the women’s only beach wasn’t the exposure of my skin (*ahem France* I rock a burkini far better than a bikini!) but the feeling of being among sisters in the purely gender-specific sense of the word. I could play with the kids without reminding them not to pull my scarf or worrying if my trouser legs were going to shift. Real life happens at home, and especially now we homeschool the boys, home is where we spend most of our time. I mother my kids best when I’m in my pjs and that’s not a very hijab friendly, nor flattering (!) look.
A female only space also gives me somewhere to wade into issues and conversations that might conflict with being a muslim woman/wife/mum (especially living in Turkey) were those conversations shared on a gender-inclusive space, or, as with Facebook, a forum with so many relationships colliding, or might draw comments or opinions I don’t appreciate or need from people not close enough to give them. This blog, like Instagram, feels like a safe place to talk, to be, to not self-censor my thoughts or indeed, me. That said, depression still feels almost a taboo subject. It’s a flaw we don’t want to expose. Though the logical, processing part of my brain tells me this isn’t true, the other part of my brain (the “off” part, maybe) has felt for a long time that these things are true; that I shouldn’t share about life with depression because, well, people might be uncomfortable with it, upset by it, concerned for me putting myself out there, or think less of me for opening up. But the truth is, unless we hide away from connecting at all, we’re all already out there anyway and by ignoring big elephants in the room we’re just hiding a part of ourselves. Not being open about how living with/’recovering’ from depression affects every other part of life, from my kids to religion to cooking, is for me no less an illusion than sharing hijab-only pictures on Instagram.
As the kids and I bop away to Katerina and the Waves while I pop my pill every morning (we’re cool like that), I think how irony often adds spice to life and it’s true, just as flaws are only flaws if you see them that way. It’s important that my kids know that being depressed doesn’t mean I’m unhappy right now; that needing tablets doesn’t mean I’m falling apart. Quite the opposite, in fact. The stability the pills give allow me to identify emotions, make sense of the feelings (most of the time), and that gives me the freedom to be present and really feel. That’s a gift alhamdulillah. To be able to see and feel how much happiness these boys, this man, and yes, this life bring, is a gift. The fact I need tablets to see that doesn’t make it any less real or sustainable. One day, the pill box will be empty and I won’t need a refill but until then, to help that path, the hard stuff needs to be allowed out instead of suppressed, straining just under the surface. So, not that I was doing a good job of hiding it anyway, it’s not hidden anymore and I already feel lighter for that. (Feel free to unfollow if you need to, though I hope you’ll bear with me a while.)