Growing up in a small village is tough when you don’t fit in. I was already an outsider when I decided I wouldn’t go to church with my family, and that isolated me even more. School wasn’t much fun.
I moved to the big city for university. Looking back, I can see how I was harsh on myself — it felt like my exam results were the be-all and end-all. I did well in my first year but then I lost motivation so I started going to group psychotherapy in the hope that it would help me feel less lonely. Things got worse though, and at one point I thought somebody wanted to kill me. I tried to get treatment while I was studying but it was too much, so I went back home to my village. Between 2001 and 2008 I found myself in the hospital four or five times.
I’m so glad my psychiatrist told me about Susret. I like city life because it’s very diverse and dynamic — not monotonous, like in the village. I read a lot about chess and play it on the computer, and when I felt strong enough I joined a chess club where I met people who are about as obsessed as I am. I don’t feel nearly as lonely these days, and I even have my café that I go to all the time. It’s like my “Cheers” café, my second home — and I quite like the waitress, too.
I used to think I couldn’t do a physical job but being a cleaner is right up my alley — I like it when things are neat and tidy. I feel so much better these days — like I belong somewhere and I am connected to people. I feel like a captain on my ship, not just a passenger.