The Year It Hit…

It was in high school — year 10, a year before my GCSE’s, when it hit.

And it hit hard.

I don’t remember the exact cause of it. I had been studying in the school for 4 years, had good friends, things at home were fine, and most importantly, I was a practicing Muslim girl. I prayed, I fasted, I contemplated, I thanked Allah, I attended classes and reminders, memorised Qur’an and volunteered at the local Islamic centre.

Yet, it still hit.

In fact, I can’t remember a year where my Salaah was so focused and my heart was more connected to Allah than in that year.

Yet, it still consumed me.

I would sit it in class and feel the sudden urge to withdraw. Something was eating me up inside and I couldn’t put a finger to it. Most of the time, I would go sit outside, or in the first aid room, and cry. I felt lonely though people were around me. I felt sadness though there were so may reasons to be happy. I felt insecure though I knew He was keeping safe. I felt an outcast though I was loved by all — family and friends.

Yet, for some reason my heart was unsettled. I felt I wasn’t worth it. I felt a failure. That I was doing something wrong. I felt scared, anxious, worried at the most inconvenient of times. It’s as though darkness surrounded me from above me, below me and all around me. Yet, I could see the light. The sun it rised every morning, the birds they chirped and sang just before dawn. I could see light, just couldn’t feel it.

I’d go home to my loving family unable to feel their love or warmth. I wanted to so badly. But I felt the entire world was against me. There was nowhere I felt secure.

And that’s the thing about when it hits. It doesn’t come with a warning. Nor does it hit only those who have no faith. Yes, it can target even the practicing Muslim.

Today, this is the message I want to share with those who feel or have ever felt this way. Those who, are strong, practicing Muslims, yet suffer from what is labeled today as, ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety.’

It will be okay.

I finally snapped out of this phase after a long year struggle. Finally, I felt alive, energy filled me and passion entered my heart. I felt happy. I could actually see the sunshine and at the same time feel amazing basking under its warm rays.

2 years later, I decided to write my book. They say, the harder you fall, the stronger you rise. And so that’s what I did. That’s what He granted me the ability to do. I began to appreciate every moment I felt happiness or warmth or love or security. It was incredible. To feel appreciation for the smallest gifts in life. If I hadn’t gone through the dark phase, there was no way I would appreciate light and ease the way I do today.

To all those who are going through a bout of darkness or are in the midst of the storm of depression, anxiety or distress. It’s not your fault. Everyone is tested in different ways, some are tested with physical illness, others with wealth, children or money, and some, with mental illness, which what depression is. Just as the body gets sick from time to time, so does the mind. For some, it hits because of external factors. Due to an experience they went through in life, or a trauma they witnessed or the environment they in, and for some, its genetic. Their brain works differently; there is a chemical imbalance.

But just like any test in life, it requires Sabr. Patience. Control.

I know it’s not easy. It’s not easy to be patient when your brain doesn’t feel like getting out of bed. When everything is weighing heavy on your heart. When you’ve cried far too much. When you feel drained, overwhelmed, numb and scared. It’s not easy.

But always speak to someone. Don’t bottle in. However dark your feelings and thoughts are confide in someone. Firstly, know that Allah is there to hear your every call, so ask Him. And secondly, the people around you are gifts from Him. He has sent them to support you so don’t push away the one who wants to reach out a hand.

And when it hits and you feel too drained to do anything. Listen to His words. That requires little effort on your part. You just need to listen, reflect, have faith, be consoled by the words of Allah. And trust me when I say it is one of the best antidotes.

To every depressed or distressed soul, you’re not alone! Nor do you need to go through it alone. It is completely possible for you to be Muslim, practising and still feel looming sadness or dread. It doesn’t make you a failure. Rather, it says a lot about your ability and strength. The thing about depression or any other mental illness is is that it tries to paralyse you. Chain you. Hold you down. Trample you. Don’t let it. Keep moving. Even if you’re not feeling it, even if you don’t want to speak to anyone. Do it. Doing something is better than not doing anything at all. So keep moving.

And remember, “Allah does not burden a person beyond their scope.”

May Allah heal all the wounds of those who bleed outside for the world to see, as well as those that bleed only on the inside, and no one sees. May He grant light and serenity to every heart that has been engulfed with darkness. ❤

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