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Football captain Hajra Khan opens up about depression

January 13, 2019
 

Photo: Facebook/Hajra Khan

Hajra Khan bravely opened up about her battle with clinical depression and high-functioning anxiety in a series of tweets on Sunday morning. The captain of the Pakistan women’s football team urged people with mental health struggles to start speaking about their problems as well.

Good morning Twitter! Ever since I have come out about my mental illness publicly, I have received immense love and support. For those who missed it, I suffer from clinical depression and high functioning anxiety; and I am not afraid to share my story. THREAD

“One stigmatized belief is that a mental health struggle is a sign of weakness. This conflicts with the idea of an athlete as an example of someone who is in optimal health. But I have been in therapy for one year now and am being treated by [a doctor],” she wrote.

“How much you are struggling or how overwhelming your symptoms may feel, you are never alone and you are worthy and deserving of help,” she said. “I am tasked with the need to balance my personal and professional life. Therefore, just as anyone else, athletes are susceptible to a variety of mental health struggles.”

People make many mistakes out of fear, Hajra remarked, adding that many people don’t realise that there is something wrong with them and end up hurting others unintentionally. “As a consequence, they accuse you of many bad things that are caused by the illness you couldn’t really control.”

She spoke about some of her symptoms of depression, including dissociation, apathy, exhaustion, lack of motivation and feeling numb, to uncloak the misunderstanding that leads to the creation of “shame and stigma”. The “awful combo” of lack of concentration, exhaustion and apathy makes your brain stay in ‘the dial-up tone phase’ for extended periods of time, Hajra further said.

Dissociation is being consumed (by depression) that you are no longer yourself. “It begins to feel like you’re first person in a video game or movie. You have no emotional connection to reality because you’re not there. Literally just existing feels impossible,” she added.

There are times when she felt like she is living in a dream sequence. “I can see and take my surroundings in, yet I don’t feel a part of it. So many people, but at that moment, they mean very little.” The symptoms of depression often have a way of infiltrating everything, from smallest, most unsuspecting details of life, to biggest, most significant aspects of life, she said. “Trying to explain this often feels like trying to hold onto water.”

She remarked that her mission for mental health advocacy is a “higher calling” than any sporting achievement.

 
 
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