I’d lost count of how many days it had been since I last slept. The constant anxiety and panic attacks had stolen all my serenity. As every part of my body ached, I had to dig deep to find even an ounce of energy to get me through this Tuesday. Yet something to look forward to was a weekly lunch with my best friend where my breakdowns had become the norm and even the waiters had grown accustomed to me crying. “Can you imagine doing this for the next 60 years?” he asked, watching me fall apart for the hundredth time. There it was like a ton of bricks, reality slapping me in the face. At the time I found it difficult to get through a day, how could I manage decades trapped in this life that I didn’t want, feeling as though my whole existence was a lie? I felt like I was sinking, chained down by the relentless anxiety, panic, and severe depression, my lifeline sat in that dreaded seven letter word - divorce. More than once I’d considered the escape that lay in a bottle of pills, but now I realised I needed to take a different path. One that would mean I had chosen to live. A decision that would shatter so many people.
A thousand questions ran through my head: Can I even admit to myself that my marriage is over? How can I break up a family? Where will I live? And the heaviest question of all: What will people think? The guilt was eating away at me. I knew what I had to do to save myself, but what about all the pain I was about to cause? I had it all – the house, the husband, the car, a great job – on paper I was living the perfect life. I had a constant smile plastered across my face and my social media profiles portrayed the perfect happy marriage, yet in reality I had never felt so alone. As a person who struggles with change on a small scale, I had to mentally prepare for every aspect of my life to be different.
The next 6 months were almost a blur. Whilst the internal guilt and external judgement was consuming me, I had to keep in mind that I was doing this to save myself. Being clinically depressed for years meant I knew I had so much work to do, if I was ever going to build up my self-esteem again. My therapist had become the most important person in my life – those 50 minutes every Wednesday in his office were my only solace. I usually spent most of it crying but each week the weight on my shoulders felt a little lighter. I started being able to speak to people about my divorce without completely breaking down and that was the first sign of healing. I didn’t know then that life still had plenty of happiness in store for me.
Since my divorce 4 years ago, I’ve experienced life in a way that I never thought possible. Some days I’ve spent a whole day in my pyjama’s watching Netflix, at other times I’ve adventured to far corners of the world, but through all of it I’ve managed to face my fears. Because the most important thing I’ve done is invest in me and my mental health, the things that I’d been neglecting for the first 30 years of my life. Four years ago, I was at my lowest point, severely depressed and ready to take my own life because it felt like I had no other option left. Instead I decided to live, and I sit here today so grateful for that decision. When life feels so hard that you think you can no longer hold on, always hold on, because a day will come where you no longer feel controlled by that darkness. You’ll feel the sun on your face and appreciate the warmth, you’ll hear the birds sing in the morning and remember how life can seem beautiful once again.
Being a divorced woman in the South Asian community is unfortunately still met with never-ending judgement and criticism. But why should divorce be viewed as a negative? My divorce showed me that when everything around me is falling apart, I have the strength within me not only to get through it, but to rebuild an even better life afterwards. I’ve lived through my darkest days and that’s a feat no amount of judgement will take away from me. The Asian community would have you believe that being a divorcee is a weakness. But they’re wrong. It’s your superpower.
Jigna is a full time Finance professional, however her passion lies in the world of beauty and fashion. Jigna started creating YouTube tutorials 6 years ago and has since moved on to producing styling videos on IGTV. She is an avid mental health awareness advocate having faced her own struggles for a number of years and feels passionately about raising awareness of this topic in the South Asian community which she pursues as a Time to Change champion for mental health charity Mind. For outfit inspiration and further discussions on being a divorcee, head over to her Instagram @jigna_madeup.