After I open my eyes, it takes at least a full hour for me to muster the strength to get up. And the only reason is because I have to make duhr. Which I pray an hour late.
Other than maghrib and fajr, I’m always late with the other salawat. Not because of procrastination. Everytime I look at the clock, I unconsciously measure the time left till the next salaah. But once it’s time, it’s like the nerve impulses from the brain to my limbs are crawling at the speed of a snail.
‘Mental’ disorders aren’t confined to the realm of the abstract and vague. When I dissociate for long, my ignored emotions mutate into physical pain – to get my attention. Migraine, or my fibromyalgia flares up. I often take strong pain killers for the heavy emotional pain I get at times.
And I don’t even want to contemplate how life would be like if I wasn’t on my antidepressants. Just before I got started on antidepressants, I became partially paralyzed. Alxamdulillaah it was temporary, but for 3 months I had all the classical symptoms of MS , which the doctors strongly suspected I had.
I remember I resigned myself to a fate of being in a wheelchair within ten years, with a shrug. I’ve survived by switching off my feelings, to horrible results.
Alxamdulillaah it turned out it wasn’t MS, but a case of really bad fibromyalgia and clusters of psychological injuries.
I had a dream a few months ago. I was hanging off an edge and below me awaited a certain death if I let go.I couldn’t even see the bottom of the pit, that’s how deep it was. I had been holding on for an hour; my arms were getting tired and my hands were struggling to retain the grip. Inside a turmoil broke out; my will to hold on to the rope was waning because I saw no end to this situation. I was considering just letting go and getting it over and done with. But then I remembered Allaah, and I begged Him to aid me. And I started to recite Qur’aan to distract myself from the panic and pain.
Suddenly, I saw solid ground just a few feet beneath me, safe enough for me to jump.
The prayers are like a wedge in the door to my soul; if I give up on them, I give up on my soul. It goes downhill pretty fast once you lose your footing.
I had another dream that same night ;
I met my self-actualized self who was ten years older than me. So basically my future self. She was glorious and elegant and whole. Nothing like me.
She told me that my struggles would make me and shape me into the person *she*is. I just got to tackle them and not be scared.
The darkness envelopes me but I focus on the light that shows the step ahead of me. That’s enough for me. That’s enough to ground myself in. Self-compassion. I let myself be weak and lethargic. It’s alright. Some days I celebrate that I could stay grounded enough to pray. The victories of those days mean more to me than the days in which I go out and meet people and cook and clean. Most battles go by unnoticed by others. So it’s very important that I keep the score and be immensely grateful for every little nudge forward.
What I focus on is staying grounded when the tsunamis of emotional pain washes over me. It doesn’t matter how much I do when I’m all happy and energetic if I keep getting swept away by unpredictable tsunamis. Being grounded is being balanced.
And I’m very happy with my life. I really am. Allaah has shown me a lot of secrets and insights of life through the lens carved out by pain. The pain drilled a hole into my soul through to the universe. And wallaahi, I would endure all the pain in the world just to continue to experience what I do. That’s why I don’t resist the pain. I don’t feel entitled to ‘good’ feelings by default.
In the countless times during the day I’m on the verge of breaking down or crashing, I give my burden to Allaah. I often make this ducaa
Allaahumma laa sahla illaa ma jacaltahu sahla wa anta tajcalul xazna ida shi’ta sahla
O Allaah there’s nothing that’s easy but that which You make easy and You make the difficult – if You will – easy.
I was never meant to carry this burden alone. Self-compassion is understanding that Ar-Rafeeq – the Most Kind – is here to heal, to help, to guide.
It’s also important to not use Allaah’s aid as a crutch by which you avoid facing your pain by replacing your personality and thoughts with ‘textbook’ Islaam . This is a phenomena called spiritual bypass than many fall into.
Nah. You gotto take that step, and Allaah will secure your footing. That’s the Sunnah of Allaah – to help you as long as you’re helping yourself.
Anyway, I thought to share some of my experiences. I don’t do it much because I don’t like to think about everything I’ve been through and what I still go through. But it’s important that I open a window for those who are going through something similar or have a loved one who is going through something similar.
The focus of this wasn’t to ‘fix’ mental disorders by relying on Allaah. It’s not as simple as that. It took me years to get to the mindset I have today. The important thing is to be gentle on yourself, and always focus on what you *can* do. And to talk to Allaah, even if it’s silently in your heart. The focus isn’t to get rid of pain, but to find the calm inside the pain. Always.