MHAW: 2 years and a lifetime ago

Published 15th May 2019

Jad is a tailor who has a passion for sewing . He is also known in his neighborhood in Aleppo for his beautifully tailored wedding dresses.

Jad never imagined that he would have to leave Syria, his dear homeland. But after his house was bombed, he had to escape to save his family. Jad had to leave behind the life he built there and flee to Lebanon. He wished he could tailor his life events, regardless of the atrocity around him.

He first settled in the south of Lebanon, as he felt there would be better opportunities there. As the days went by, Jad realized that it wouldn’t be as easy as he had imagined. The dream of restarting his life quickly turned into a nightmare.

He was badly treated at work and some people took advantage of him only because he was a refugee. Jad was no longer able to be the dad, the husband and the tailor he was before fleeing. He felt he had lost his dignity.

Each day, Jad made a wish: to fall asleep and never wake up again.

His situation convinced him that he was controlled by demons, that he was “crazy”. He felt like he was a visitor in his own house, his dark thoughts controlling and conspiring against him.

In Syria, Jad used to tailor white dresses and he loved happy moments, but he now felt that he was preparing his own funeral. He tried to commit suicide, and his wife was able save him just by instants. She sought help from his parents who were living in the Bekaa valley, who asked them to move and live with them.

Jad was no longer able to work. His thoughts weighed so heavily on his conscience that he could hardly breathe.

When he arrived to the Bekaa, he was a stranger to himself, wandering in unknown roads. Those places had no name nor meaning for him.

cc: Olivier Papegnies

His family decided to take him to a neurologist, who prescribed him medications that only worsened his condition. Everyone was worried about him, until a neighbour referred him to one of the Primary Healthcare Centers where Doctors of the World operates.

The neighbour knew that Jad needed mental health support, as he had had a similar need himself.

Mental health was a blurry term for Jad and his family. In their belief, a man should always be mentally strong. However, they were ready to do anything to make him feel better.

When he arrived at the centre a Doctors of the World case manager, Reem, listened to his story. She quickly referred him to our psychotherapist, as it was clear that Jad needed urgent support. He was diagnosed with severe depression and was given information about the condition and treatment options.

He was then referred to a psychiatrist who advised him to go to hospital for intensive support. Jad stayed there for ten days receiving quality care.

After finishing this part of the treatment, he went back home, where he would continue to be supported by the case manager and the psychiatrist. He now started to remember who he was. He remembered that he was Jad, who loved living.

Reem visited him several times to make sure Jad knew what was happening and helped him get back on track with his family. Jad’s own words ,“I want a better life”, illustrated what kept him going forward.

His wife and children played a crucial role in lifting his spirit as they stood strongly next to him. Little by little, the roads of Bekaa started to have their own identity, and his growing hope made the days less blurry. Jad now understood the importance of taking care of his mental health, he said:

“I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel… My faith grew stronger, I became free with my own thoughts. Having someone showing me what I am going through, helping me find ways to see differently, and listening to me without labeling me, helped me breathe again… two years has passed since this dark period ended… and it feels like two years and a lifetime ago…”

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