Interview with Zahra Zuhair

Why did you write this poem Zahra?

I was battling depression from dealing with a personal experience; a loss of sorts. In the process, I lost myself and if it wasn’t for my family, my friends and my faith in God, I probably would not have come out of it. During the time, I contemplated suicide almost regularly, and often found myself alone in my room for hours lost in dark thoughts. This went on for a few months, which doesn’t seem like much in a whole stretch of life, but can feel like eons to one experiencing it. And so I wrote this poem at a time when I had started mentally healing myself and the poem is one of acceptance to me.

Acceptance of what?

Acceptance that suicide will never be an option for me because it can never be because of my faith, an understanding of why this is significant to me in the larger scheme of things, and a hope that my life can offer to others what I cannot share in death. In accepting this, I found myself moving on from wishing death upon me – and one wishes death not for the sake of dying, but for the escape that it brings. I found comfort in teaching myself to manage suicidal thoughts by assigning them a dream like role in my mind. This forced me to accept that it can only be a dream and never a reality, much like the experience itself that I was recovering from. I would not say that this a solution for everyone, or that it was an easy thing to do, but it worked for me (not always but most times) and when one is mentally ready, it might work for them too.

Did you write it for yourself, or for someone else?

I wrote this poem for myself and I go back to it every now and then as though it were a portal to the dream I speak of, but I share it for others who are going through the same in this dark and murky world. Dealing with suicide brings many challenges, and only one of them is the battle one fights with or against oneself; only one of these challenges revolves around oneself. And this should not be the case for it a great battle. People around you can make it hard by judging you for being selfish, for not giving you enough space, for calling you weak but there is great selflessness in taking time to heal yourself before the world can have you, and there is great strength and courage in accepting your fate and allowing yourself to embrace and live your emotions, for this will allow you to face them, and to overcome them, you must face them. This also allows you to explore them, and from the exploration of your emotions, you discover yourself and perhaps your art, as is the case with me.

How do these thoughts of suicide and self-harm conflict with your culture?

In my culture, we do not talk about issues like this – depression, suicide and so on. Therefore, speaking about this openly is a big deal and done at the risk of scrutiny from, and gossip by, the members of my community. It is a sad fact that people tend to take for entertainment what should be empathized with or outcast what should not be suffered in silence. Being aware of this, I think it is important that some of us take it upon ourselves to be open about it in every way, even if it considered an act of rebellion, something unnecessary by those in our community. Here, I take that step. We need rebels for sure to make people realize that contemplating suicide isn’t what makes you a rebel. It makes you human. Talking about it makes you a rebel, and there are great implications in such an act for our future.

CLICK HERE to read a little more about Zahra and to contact her.


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