[Disclaimer: I am not a professional counselor and my experience here is being shared only as awareness and to dispel the stigma that surrounds mental illness in religious circles as well as some secular ones. It should not be taken as a cure, especially for more complicated cases; and professional help should be sought. I hope and pray that we as religious Muslims start to view the significant role of psychology in healing our hearts and minds, so that we can be healthier emotionally and spiritually and physically, and strive to earn the pleasure of Allah swt.]
I mentioned in the previous post that mine was a story that is too long to be penned down easily. And as I was writing that post, I knew there would be a follow-up; a part 2 to the story I was sharing. I imagined it to be as long and as expressive. Somehow, however, it was meant to be concise. I mentioned 6 points that helped me navigate the wire mesh of thoughts. Here are 6 more that I feel need to be mentioned that may help anyone who is going through anxiety, depression, a midlife crisis, or a difficult time after parenthood. I end with a 13th point, which, I feel was an underlying point throughout the time frame. It is the point I ended with in my last post, but here I emphasize it separately, and that is: falling in love with Allah swt all over again.
These points helped me and I hope they will continue to do so whenever I am faced with challenging times. And here I mention them as an addendum to the first 6 points:
7. You are not alone. For whatever reason, our generation, which is also known as the millennials, is faced with a myriad of scenarios that are starkingly different from previous generations. Globalization, massive sharing of ideologies, internet, technology resulting in impatience in our temperaments – whatever the reason, we are, as foretold by the Prophet (s) in a time where spiritually we are much weaker than ever. As a religious woman, you may feel that you alone are facing these war of thoughts and emotions. But when in the depths of an abyss, we need to remind ourselves that we are not alone. There are so many others being tested with this trial. But rejoice and do not despair.
8. Dua – I wrote about connecting to the Qur’an as the greatest source of comfort, and while reciting and memorizing and engaging intellectually with the Qur’an is like Allah swt Conversing with us, making dua to Him (calling out, supplicating) is us conversing to Him. And hence, it is of utmost importance in any struggle we face in this life. Dua is the remembrance of Allah, filled with our expression of need for Him. Just call out and ask Him. Seek out beautiful Sunnah duas and Qur’anic duas that the Prophets made that speak to your heart. The dua of Taif is the best supplication in times of hurt and pain. But if you can’t even do that, just call from the depths of your heart and ask Him to Help you. Just call out and pour your heart out to Him in sajdah.
9. Trusting that there is a hidden benefit in our trial. The thousand tiny bubbles of thought I mentioned in the last post, this is one of them. It is practical husn e zann about Allah swt… We need to practise it to experience the benefit.I mentioned doubts in the previous post, that made me hold on for dear life to the Qur’an- the words of our Lord – and it is Trust in Him that dispels doubts. It is the conscious ignoring and belittling of our own doubts that dispels our fears and anxieties, most of which are baseless, even according to psychological research.
10. Knowing that it will not last. Good times change to bad and bad times change to good. In the moment, we forget this. But this is the nature of the world. And in the depths of confusion, it helps to remember that this too shall pass.
11. Working on knowing the self. (This could also mean professional counseling or therapy from a trusted, capable individual, depending on the level of our anxiety and depression- as I mentioned in my previous post, this helps in thinking about where we are going wrong in our thinking process) I have also spoken about this in some of my Facebook posts recently. After marriage and motherhood, we sometimes have to rediscover ourselves. Who we are as a wife and a mother are significantly different than who we were when we were alone. So many times we hear people saying that if you are happy alone, you will never be lonely. But the truth is, most women who are like me will admit that they loved spending time alone when they were alone 🙂 And now it is a luxury. Now when they have no alone time they miss it. And they feel lonely because they feel they have lost themselves. And hence, I say, it is in this time that we need to rediscover ourselves. Rediscover the beauty of bonds. Rediscover the beauty of sharing our hearts out with people – with our dear and close ones. Sharing ourselves with others and being vulnerable. We may get hurt in the process, but we will learn a lot. Rediscovering ourselves in this phase also means realizing our lost passions. It means knowing our strengths and weaknesses. Once you have identified your strengths, work on putting those in use for the sake of Deen, for Allah swt. As for the weaknesses, strive in making them your strength. For me, this is an ongoing process. To passionately work for the Deen with the talents and gifts Allah swt has Blessed you with. And each of us is gifted. That is for us to discover.
12. Evaluate the state of your heart and strive to reach Equilibrium:
Forgive yourself and love yourself. We wish that Allah swt Forgives and Loves us – sometimes when we lose self respect due to whatever reason, we cannot forgive ourselves and being mortals and highly prone to error, our nafs or shaytan whispers to us that Allah swt will not Forgive us. It is deceit. A lie. If during our self discovery we realize we are prey to pride, then we have to let go of our ego. We have to tell ourselves that we are lowly. You are lowly, and yet Allah swt Loves you. So submit to that Magnificent Lord. If, on the other hand, we realize that we have lost self respect, then tell remind yourself that you are worthy of being loved. Allah swt Created you to love and be loved.
InshaAllah, the last point needs to be elaborated and I hope to do so in the future. Similar is the equilibrium we should strive to have between love and fear of Allah swt.
Allah swt Says:
Say, “Who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? Or who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who arranges [every] matter?” They will say, “Allah,” so say, “Then will you not fear Him?” (31) For that is Allah, your Lord, the Truth. And what can be beyond truth except error? So how then, are you averted? (32) (Surah Yunus)
But I believe, when we are going through anxiety attacks and depression, we may already be fearful of Him, but in a skewed way. I believe that at that point in time we are essentially distant from loving Allah swt. We may be remembering Him, but we are not remembering Him with love.
أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
“Only and only in the remembrance of Allah swt do hearts find rest.” (13:28)
There are so many ways of remembering Allah swt. But it is particularly remembrance with muhabba that brings peace. It is with love and mindfulness or being in the present moment, without the past and the future to distract us, that we can truly taste the sukoon (tranquility) of Allah swt’s Remembrance. It is falling in love with Allah swt again, just like we need to fall in love with our spouses again and again over the course of our lives, that takes us out of the abyss of hopelessness.
And hence, I make this my last underlying practise of anyone who is in depression
13. Fall in love with Allah swt again. Love Him, and tell yourself that He loves you.
Shaytan wishes us to think negatively about Allah swt. He wishes we overthink. Remind yourself that he, ar-rajeem, is the liar. Au’zu billahi min ash-shaytan irrajeem.
And Allah swt Spoke truly in His Qur’an. We are recipients of His Mercy and Love. Ar-Rahman, ar-Raheem.
May Allah SWT Guide each and everyone who reads this out of every dark time that they face into Light: pure and peaceful Truth. Ameen.