There have been times when Ramadan has broken me and saved me all at the same time
Years where it has been exciting and years where it was just manageable
this is simply a follow up from a post I wrote at the beginning of Ramadan when I spoke about Muslims to be kind to themselves and not feel the pressure when it comes to their mental health issues. I had many kinds of responses in the comments and in private conversation.
At the height of my depression I refused to fast and stayed away from everyone at home. My mind was like jelly and I lost resistance to hold on in that year. I remember this month clearly feeling isolated.
Ridden with guilt and shame, something we engraved into our veins, and this constant feeling of low.
What was more embarrassing was my 80-year-old nan kept all them. Fasts and I used to feel this sense of weakness and a weird sense of betrayal within myself that used to prevent me from sleeping at night. so much was happening that year and I was screaming out for help but when you are a perceived as this strong feisty woman the last thing you want to be seen is as weak, because showing emotions is taught to us as a sign of weakness or not having it together.
I couldn't fast that year and in a way I refused to adhere to any religious views. of course, my imam was low, that’s what darkness does to you, it strips you off your faith, there is no hope and every day you are contemplating whether or not your existence is needed on this planet. I didn’t want to commit to Ramadan and that year I was already living in hell in my thoughts and body. I woke up feeling like crap every single morning and the things that kept me going was coffee, my gym workouts and the one meal a day I was able to eat. I was already heightened with anger, deep rooted dormant anger that surfaced, I realised it was suppressed emotions that had me feeling lost and confused with a career changes, not married and feeling like the biggest ever disappointment to my parents.
I carried a lot of burden with past mistakes I made. The sins I had committed and what others thought of me and how I showed up in the world. I was also tired of showing up as this strong woman and being identified as a boxer and how that came with a different perception from men, both good and bad. I was tired of not knowing who I was that year and I definitely was tired of having society and culture create an identity that did not suit me. I found it hard to express emotions, I was longing to be understood and that year I was just dragging a body around with a fragile mind and empty soul.
in the Muslim community as a collective we find it very hard to speak about topics that actually matter. Some Muslims are the ones who make it bad for those who are emotionally struggling. There is nothing in place such as therapy or a support group that one can turn to if they needed to.
Depression is in fact a real issue that has killed and the person struggling does not need to hear, you are going to hell or Allah is watching when they do something against the grain. To be honest I didn't know how to help myself let alone rely on faith, God was the last thing I wanted to resort to because I was blaming god for putting me through this pain and suffering, after all If god loved his soldiers why would he make us suffer?
The year after that Ramadan came and again, I was apprehensive, however that year was different. I had healed from my darkness and this time as I came back home to myself the other side of Ramadan was, I needed to fast and rely on this solely to hold on to parts of me that had weakened.
Fasting does something to you which I can't explain. It is the ultimate training ground that separates the weak minds to the strong. It is a sense of discipline and control and every emotion rolled into one
That year I was better I fasted and cried a lot too as I wanted to be a good Muslim and wanted to be a good human but I needed it to fix my broken heart.
My soul was cleansing and this time I knew for some reason God was with me as I put my head and stayed in sujood longer than anticipated.
Crying is something I didn’t know how to do until I learnt how to cry from the pits of my soul.
So, here is the thing, we are born into Islam knowing about the people of past. How great the Prophet (pbuh) was? How true the sahabahs were, how dedicated the companions were to Islam as they fought to spread the message of Allah.
They are viewed as perfect not fallible but in reality, they were infallible.
Historical figures set the best of the standards for us now, but it creates the illusion that we have to be like them which for some of us can be a set up for failure.
Truth is they were human beings and the companions of the past made mistakes too, whether it was small or big doesn't mean we neglect their greatness, this is a learning curve and our main job is to follow in their steps to be as great as them but also understand we have to be merciful to mankind.
when I read that the prophet too had gone through dark times it eased my mind to think someone so great also fought mental issues. It meant I was not alone and neither are you !!!
May we all journey well this Ramadan
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