Written by Hafsa Moolla
May is mental health month and i know i am not the only person who needs to be reminded that it’s okay that i’m not feeling okay right now. this period we’re in has taught me that there is a lot i have shoved deep down. i thought that i had ‘gotten over’ these battles but i have realised that i was just distracted from them by having a busy schedule. without having places to go to and being sucked into that ever-moving way of life, i have fallen into these scary cycles. these cycles where find myself forgetting to breathe and succumbing to the loud thoughts in my mind.
with Ramadan here, i also know that i am not the only person who feels somewhat guilty for feeling low in ramadan. the toxic stigma we see within our family and homes, our friendships, and circles and even within ourselves, makes us feel even worse when we are dealing with our mental battles. with that being said, we need to normalise that it’s okay to feel low as a Muslim, and that the struggles we face are not a godsent punishment.
recently, i’ve been using my time to learn more about the mercy of Allah, and it’s been helping me deal with these dips in my mental health. i hope they benefit you too:
– when you pray for others, Allah sends down an angel to say: ‘Aameen and for you as well.’ so when you pray for your friends who are also going through mental health battles, with the mercy of Allah, angels will pray for you too. (from Omar Suleiman’s Angel Series on Youtube)
– when loneliness hits, it can come in waves and be hard to deal with. i read in the book, Secrets of Divine Love, that: ‘God sees the black ant on a black stone in the darkest night, so how could He not see the pain of a faithful seeker?’ when i read those words, they struck a chord within me because many times when we are going through our battles, we can feel so alone, unseen and unheard. but Allah, He is All-Seeing and All-Hearing – he knows the pain you are going through, the anxiety you are experiencing, and the trauma you are healing from.
– i also read these heart-warming words in the same book: ‘eighty times a minute, God knocks at the doors of your chest, to remind you that He has never left.’ different words speak to people in different ways, and that’s the beautiful thing about language and how we use it. when i read this, it spoke to me in two ways:
1. like in the previous point, it reminded me that Allah is always there, that He never leaves, that He is Ever-Living and will not die, and that He is near.
2. each time your heart beats, it is a gift from God, to remind you that He wants you here- that He wants you alive. to people out there who may be suffering from suicidal thoughts, i hope these words remind you of that, like they did for me.
however, as strong as our faith can be, with our complexities, our wounds, and our fears, we may need to find and experience Allah’s mercy in other ways:
– have mercy on yourself and give yourself a break. you don’t always have to have it together.
– seek help from a trusted friend, family member – it’s okay to seek comfort from someone other than God. sometimes, we need more than someone to listen, we need hugs, we need someone to wipe our tears, we need words of reassurance – because we are human.
– seek help and advice from a professional (counsellors, therapists and crisis hotlines). Muslims should feel comfortable with seeking help from professionals when we are struggling. to those who need to hear this: your feelings are valid, you’re not weak and you’re not falling short of faith. here are some services for those that need it:
– Muslim Youth Helpline 0808 808 2008 (4-10pm)
– Samaritans 116 123 (24 hours)
– CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) 0800 585 858 (5pm-midnight)
– Mind 0300 123 3393 (weekdays 9am-6pm)
– Inspirited Minds https://inspiritedminds.org.uk/about-us/our-support/
– Young Minds UK 0808 802 5544
– Beat 0808 801 0677 (adults) 0808 801 0711 (under-18s)
– with all the added anxiety we are experiencing during these unprecedented times, many of us are finding it hard to cope with anxiety. doing yoga can really help you reconnect with yourself and your breathing. check out Nabila Qureshi’s post: How Breathing Changed My Prayer
– sometimes we need to release that pain, that anxiety, that tension. we need a catharsis. for me, that’s writing, so when i need to, i just spill it all over the page. sometimes, it also helps me reach a sense of closure i know i will never find elsewhere. other people may express themselves in other ways, through painting, music, singing, dancing or a sport. try it out, it can help more than you expect.
lastly, i wanted to share a poem that i’d written during a difficult time. it merges the topics of both mental health and faith. i hope it resonates with you:
‘i heard descriptions of the pearly gates,
behind which eternal happiness awaits,
behind which i find the reason i hold on so tight,
when i feel like i can no longer fight the fight,
when my hands are dripping in blood,
and i’m losing my grip,
when the hope i once grasped is about to slip,
when my mind becomes a place i no longer know,
when all i want to do is just let go,
it is Jannah that reminds me to hold on, to stay strong,
to make a right from every wrong,
because indeed He has said ‘with every hardship there is ease,’
that after all these battles, you will find peace,
so, i ask you ya Rabb, shower me with your love,
shower me in your mercy for all that i’ve done,
ya Rabb, help me hold on tight,
purify me with the tears from battles that i fight,
ya Rabb, bring compassion to my soul,
pour love through my veins so my being may be whole,
ya Rabb, place gratitude in my heart,
for every blessing, every mistake, every fresh start,
ya Rabb, bring me closer to home,
for only through your remembrance will i remember i am not alone,
ya Rabb, guide me towards the pearly gates
behind which eternal happiness awaits.’
Featured photography by Nadeem Ghafur @nadeemghafur
Thank you Hafsa, for sharing such valuable and resonating reflections, and a truly beautiful poem.