In 2004 I was awaiting the birth of my twins’ when I got the news of my mum passing away. She was to visit me in the UK from my home country, Pakistan but had committed suicide.
I was devastated. One minute I was expecting to see her, and the next, she’s gone. The biggest hurt was that she had taken her own life. Neither my family back home nor I had picked any signs of her being in chronic depression. It was ironic that we have two health professionals in our family, both very well experienced and frontline workers. Maybe the people closest are easy to miss.
I couldn’t visit to pay my last respects at her funeral because of my family responsibilities. This hurt me further, and I slipped into depression. There were so many questions I wanted to ask mum. Why did she do this? Did I pressure her to come to the UK? Maybe she resented this. Was she unhappy where she was? Was something bothering her? How come my brothers and their wives had not noticed anything? I was so angry about the whole situation; the more I tried to reason with what’s and whys, the further my thoughts got entangled, causing me pain and upset.
I felt helpless.
Being a man started to feel like a curse. I was expected to have it all under control, but I so did not feel like this. Social and mental pressure was building up, and I gave in. I started getting counselling which gave me some relief and helped me manage my thoughts. I began to see that I was not alone in this struggle. Many men hide their true selves beneath the demeanour of machismo, digging their heels in.
I decided that enough was enough!
After completing my counselling sessions and gaining mental and emotional stability, I enrolled on a counselling course to be qualified to help others. I took on personal responsibility to be the man who doesn’t need to pretend to be something he isn’t. I decided to undo all my social and cultural conditioning and reprogramme myself to live a healthier, happier, and fulfilled life.
I became a qualified Emotional Intelligence (EI) coach, able to recognise where things aren’t right and how they can be corrected. Often we don’t need to do anything; EI teaches us acceptance and awareness and techniques to implement these. I have accepted my mum is gone and that it must have been painful for her. I have also accepted that for me personally, the incident was a wake-up call. Had this not happened, I would still be on the hamster wheel.
I am a proud father of three girls, and I use EI as a shield, cushion, and mentor to resolve and deal with situations. I also share my knowledge, learning and experiences with my clients so they can progress in any area of their lives using EI.
Emotional intelligence truly saved my sanity and continues to do so every single day.