I faced death of both my parents and divorce

I had a very good start in Life. Once I finished my undergraduate degree, I had a job pretty much instantly. I was very successful in my job as a teacher, I got scholarship to study in the US. I did a Masters while teaching. I had a fantastic career going on.

Then I decided to get married. I originally came from Egypt, so I was getting old for the kind of age when girls get married off. I didn’t want my parents to feel like they were sorry for me. I’m their only child they couldn’t have anymore. Things deteriorated when I go married.

I lost both my parents to cancer. As their only daughter, I had to look after them but during that time, my marriage broke apart. I didn’t want to tell my parents, as I didn’t want them to worry about me while they faced cancer.

I faced the death of both my parents and my divorce at the same time, alone. I went through depression for three years. I was heavily medicated to the point where I was numb. No medication can make things better, I realise now. All medication does is to ease the pain you are going through, it was making me numb. The first time I cried after I stopped the medication. I was happy, because I was able to cry. I couldn’t even do that on medication.

I was double the size I am now, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t go up the stairs, I couldn’t get out of my room. Sometimes I would feel discouraged to even go to the toilet. I was basically dying slowly.

I was looking at myself as pathetic, as a failure, as somebody who has nothing to live for, expect my daughter. She was my motivation for me to turn my life around. I didn’t want to be that mother figure I was becoming. My daughter was getting to the age where she could understand what’s going on and I liked at myself and knew I was not a fit mother if I carried on. She didn’t deserve to be an orphan if something happened to me.

I did anything I could to find that will to hang on to life again. But I eventually decided to get back into education and did a second Masters in education, leadership and management. I’m now doing my PhD.

But here, the issue of being a student parent become prevalent. We are not allowed to have accommodation on campus and we don’t get any kind of support to get accommodation off campus. This meant I has to be homeless for some time. I had a child, too. It wrecked my nerves. I thought of myself as a failure again, to put my daughter and myself in this position, I questioned everything, did I really have to get back into education? Why couldn’t I just have any job? Why did I hold on to the dream of going back to where I used to be?

But when you keep at it, eventually the obstacles will start to give in. if I can overcome all of that yeah, I will get out of it. And here I am. It did teach me a lot of things. I discovered how strong I am. Why did I break down so bad? I just didn’t discover the strength it was there but for some reason I thought I was unable to do anything up until a certain point. I’m pretty ok now. I can laugh about it, even.

I know there will be a time when you think all the doors are closed. I’ve been there. But, eventually, a door will open when you least expect it. You just have to accept the person you become in order to change things. When you hit rock bottom the good news is the only way is up. You just need to try.

This inspiring story was taken from ‘Speechless’, Roehampton university students project on getting students talking.