Mental traffic



Flash fiction challenge:

Whenever I get too religious, as I have been this past Ramadan, I feel uneasy.
Does this mean I’m possessed by satan (all the worship frustrating him)? Pushing myself too much?
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me anymore. I feel myself stumbling between the rocks of rules and opinions and jagged edges of modern scientific thinking jutting out from nowhere, tripping me so that I fall and cut myself.
But it’s hard to say, yes thats it. Because sometimes it feels right to blow my brains out. Can’t trust that feeling. Just need to trust in God. And me.

100 words




Anyone who has suffered depression knows it sucks. Can’t trust the thoughts in your head. I experienced depression a few years ago (due to medication I was prescribed for an auto-immune disease I was diagnosed with – but that’s another story). Thankfully I no longer battle it. But I have come out of it with a better understanding of mental illness, and have become passionate about championing mental illness awareness, particularly depression and bi-polar disorders.

Depression still carries a stigma in some conservative societies, not always the religious ones, mind you. The worst advice I’ve seen handed out by some well-meaning people was to pray, get your rosary. Might work for the blues, but not for mental illness. On the other hand, doctors need to understand the role religion plays in peoples lives and not dismiss it totally. It needs to be taken into account when treating the individual.

My style today is inspired by Donna Tartt. Reading The Goldfinch I find her writing so complex. Similar to how I used to write long ago, before journalism taught me to simplify. But, and this is rare for me, I think I could read it again, if only to understand the complex phrasing a little better. Definitely recommend the book.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by the inspiring writer Rochelle. The challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less based on the prompt. This weeks photo prompt kindly provided by Ted Strutz. Click to view more flash fiction here.




43 thoughts on “Mental traffic

  1. I have understood from friends that Ramadan puts that extra weight on your shoulders… but soon it’s Eid… hope that the end will bring back some happier thoughts, and at least you can rejoice in the fact you don’t live here… Sunset is 8 minutes past 10 and sunrise at 2:30 AM…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh it definitely does. It’s challenging and you find strength and discipline you never knew you had. And I miss Ramadan when it’s gone. I can’t imagine fasting 20 hours, admire those who do, just sounds spectacular. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Dear Fatima,

    As one who has suffered from clinical depression, I know that blowing one’s brains out is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. When you’re in the midst of it it’s tough to remember. My religious friends sometimes blamed it on satan or my need to be the center of attention. I could go on.
    Lovely piece of writing. Our differences don’t keep us from being the same, do they?



    Liked by 4 people

    1. Rochelle, your comments here reminded me of the words of slain British MP Jo Cox. Last weekend, was the anniversary of her death and get togethers were held around the UK in her memory and to encourage community cohesion. She was outspoken in her belief that we have more in common than our differences. I hosted a get together on my blog and had people join me from around the world which was really lovely. I can feel quite isolated in Australia at times, although that also works to our advantage too. Here’s the link:
      xx Rowena

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Some really strong writing here. Loved – “I feel myself stumbling between the rocks of rules and opinions and jagged edges of modern scientific thinking jutting out from nowhere, tripping me so that I fall and cut myself.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There are at least some religious traditions that stigmatizes depression as “not having enough faith.” As Mahatma Gandhi once famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s the exact stigma I’m writing about. Ghandhi could have said the same of Muslims too. It only further isolates the depressed, which is dangerous. Thankfully many are learning that it is an illness and needs treatment and support.


  5. Fatima, your flash was well-written and thoughtout. A cry from the heart.
    I wanted to encourage you in your fight against depression, I live with a severe life threatening auto-immune disease. I once asked my doctor whether accupuncture would help. He was a rheumatologist and also practiced Chinese medicine so he was a good one to ask. He told me accupuncture would improve my general health. I didn’t pick up that tip when he told me. That improving my general health would help me fight a better fight even if it didn’t “fix” the disease. There a host of things which can help fight depression such as exercise, diet, meditation and even if they only take the edge off, that could be enough. It could shift you from that place of total despair and suicide to feeling rotten. It is a different way of thinking.
    For me, I have a walking program, diet where I try to eat more fresh fruit and veg. I withdraw during flu season to prevent potentially fatal lung infections.
    Personally, I find this approach quite empowering but it also gives us more responsibility over how we feel.
    Anyway, it’s really late and I’d better get to bed.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Rowena, Thank you for your thoughtful post. I’d only experience depression as a side effect of some medication I took for an incurable auto-immune disease I was diagnosed with. I was told there was no cure, only treatment that could make life live-able. The disease basically had the effect of causing physical disabilities. But six years after diagnosis, seeking my own healing along with doctors treatment, I’m in remission bearing only slight symptoms, what I call 5%. It is maintained with some medication (thankfully reduced now) and a strict regimen of sleep, eat well, exercise (4 times a week at the gym). You’re right about the alternative healing perhaps not being an actual cure, but can support the healing process. I attribute my near perfect health to this belief. (Some people cannot believe I’m ill, because I seem healthier than them.)

      In a way I’m glad it happened, because I’m physically stronger and fitter now despite it all. Because I do healthier things. And it gave me the focus I needed to pursue what is important to me. Like writing 😉

      Thankfully I no longer experience depression (or what seemed like bi-polar symptoms at the time, but could not be diagnosed due to the fact I was on medication that had mood altering effects). But it was enough to show me the suffering mental illness causes people. At least I could escape it, whereas others cannot. And I’ve become quite passionate about championing mental illness causes particularly, depression and bi-polar illnesses. Have a good nights sleep Rowena! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Fatima,
        That’s a coincidence about us both of us having an auto-immune disease. Mine is called dermatomyositis and the muscles attack themselves. It’s related to polymyositis, which more people have heard of. It also affects my lungs, skin and digestion. Fortunately, it’s in remission with only residual symptoms much of the time, although it’s winter here and the cough isn’t good.
        I’ve experienced some really dark times with this disease too, which despair has wrapped around me like a shroud when I’ve been so sick and yet being desperate to survive.
        That’s why I also try to encourage others and keep an eye out for people who are doing it tough. The blog is a great vehicle for that, especially as I’m not always out and about.
        Anyway, I’d better keep moving.
        Best wishes,

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A fortunate coincidence! It’s difficult to find people who can relate and difficult for others to understand. For me it is like an invisible illness as it’s not apparent to others. Good to hear you’re in remission, mostly. And I wish you best of health always.


  6. Very powerful, inone way enlightening as You’ve nailed the whirlwind thoughts so well.
    I was depressed several months after I finished chemo so got a taste of what it can be like. It was as if clouds rolled over — then after awhile rolled away again.
    The mind can be broken just like any other physical part of us but mental illness still has all that stigma to some folks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christine, I hope the chemo was successful. Thank you for sharing your experience with depression. It comes part and parcel with illness and treatments. I wish you the best of health always. And thank you for your wonderful comments on my post.


  7. I have to agree with Michael, what a great title.
    I have a son who seems to be battling depression. It is in its early stages so it is unclear whether it is just teenage angst or more.
    That said, religion, for me, weighs to heavy on many people

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it is depression it could have environmental causes that could be contributing. The only way to know for sure is to have it diagnosed. However, therapy helps everyone, with or without disorders. Wish you all the best. And I agree that religion can weigh heavily, when we lose sight of God. But that’s another long tale. Thanks for sharing your experiences. And thank you for the feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great title. Great hook to pull us in. Brilliant central sentence, that so many of us have highlighted. Great, and very humane conclusion. You’ve certainly made me a fan with this tale!
    I look forward to reading more of your work!

    Liked by 1 person

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