A few weeks ago, a sister emailed me asking for some advice about depression and how to gain strength in believing in Allah subhanahu wa taala. Every single person on this planet has their moments of being unhappy, depressed, stressed. This may be due to stress at work/studies or family or bullying or illness or feeling in pain. Changes to hormones such as menstruation, post-natal and during menopause can also affect the emotional and mental health. This article will summarise the difference between stress and depression, Islamic reminders, followed by a short interview with my friend Leyla Hyda who is a spokesperson of Inspirited Minds; a registered charity that helps with such conditions.
What is the difference between stress and depression?
Symptoms of having a low mood or being stressed are worry, low self-esteem, trouble sleeping, problem with memory/concentrating, anger and sadness. This can be resolved by improving one’s lifestyle such as doing exercise, eating healthily, resolving any disagreements, having more sleep, talking about it and going on short breaks.
Stress is good if it motivates and excels you but it is a bad sign if it weakens you!
Depression on the other hand is a continuous period of having a low mood and have additional symptoms such as no motivation in doing anything, difficult in making decisions, suicidal thoughts, disconnecting from others, eating more, restless, guilt-ridden and feeling hopeless. It can also occur during winter known as SAD and after giving childbirth known as postnatal depression.
Islam, Stress and Depression.
The Quran, the Book of Allah subhanahu wa taala contains many parables of the Prophets alayhuma salam who suffered and went through pain and sadness and these were the greatest of all humankind! So being sad is normal. It did not stop them from pursuing their purpose and missions. Allah subhanahu wa taala says:
‘He is the One who makes you laugh or cry.’ [53:44]
This is not to say that Allah wants to see you cry! But Allah tests those He loves and no one is burdened with difficulties they cannot bear! No treatments to cope can compare to the belief in Allah subhanahu wa taala! It is the greatest cure. Believing in Allah subhanahu wa taala gives one the ability to handle any situation. Big or small. Do not see how big your problem is. But see how big and strong Allah subhanahu wa taala is than the problem itself.
When one is depressed they feel helpless. One should embrace that they are not in control of the situation and that one should turn to the One who controls everything. We should pray and supplicate to the Almighty. We should cry to Him, speak to Him until your heart feels at ease. You will feel like a dying plant becoming green with water as it turns to Allah subhanahu wa taala.
See every negative situation in a positive and optimistic manner. It is easy said than done when you feel annoyed! Upset! But try your best. Keep yourselves focused and keep going. Know that Allah loves you and He is watching you. He is hearing and knows everything. But He is testing how you deal with the situation. Always remember that Allah does not forsake His care over His creation and you are His creation! Allah will never abandon you!
‘Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear’ [2:286]
At times after coming out of one situation you say ‘Alhamdulilah’ then you go into a worser situation and then another and you feel like when will it end? Always remember that whilst life tests us, there is ease after hardship. Nothing will last forever. People with good health will fall ill. People who are ill will soon get better. There is ease of sleep and rest after a hardship of a day. What goes up must come down! Allah subhanahu wa taala says in the Quran:
“By the Glorious Morning Light. And by the Night when it is still’’ [93:1-2]
Majority of events in life are spontaneous meaning that nothing will remain the same forever. You can lose your job, losing your house, an accident, a terminal illness and losing a loved one etc. When we go through these real-life situations, you may ask yourself ‘Why me?’.
Suffering is a means of purification. For instance, fasting, when we fast during Ramadan, the three white days, Mondays and Thursdays and other special days throughout the year, Hunger gives us a spiritual experience which is good for the soul whilst food is an experience for our bodies. Similarly, in this perspective, difficulties are disliked by the body but are good for the soul. It allows us to grow spiritually, increase our emotional maturity, increase our connection with Allah subhanahu wa taala and most importantly it aids us in finding our innermost nature.
We have to keep moving because life is short. The past is gone. Focus on the present and aim for the future. At times when feeling depressed etc, this is due to expectations. When we lower our expectations in humankind; it lowers the incidence of going into depression and puts you in the position of fortifying yourself from being let down, betrayed and rejected!
Write down on a piece of paper stress and brainstorm all the possible causes you can think of that is making you down and depressed. The next thing is to think of solutions. And when I mean solutions i do not mean self-harming and suicidal. Seek solace by reading or listening to the Quran! Praying! Making Dua! Going to Islamic conferences! Try doing hobbies you enjoy, have some sleep, eat healthy food, go to gym, a walk in the park! If you feel as though this is not working, then don’t suffer in silence and seek support whether from family, friends, counsellor etc. Talk to someone you can trust to aid you in getting rid of this negative feeling and see things in a lighter and fresher perspective. But one thing is to don’t give up!
I’ve written a previous article concerning expectations and anger. Here they are below:
Short Interview with Leyla Hyda
Hafsa: Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatu allahi wa barakatu my dear Lyda. Hope you are well. Could you please let me know what Inspirited Minds is about?
Leyla: Wasalam my dear, Inspirited minds are a registered mental health charity that specialises in assisting sufferers and helping families in a professional and confidential manner regardless of faith and background. They aim to help by making a full recovery or learning to cope with the illness itself via telephone, email, skype and even face-to-face counselling.
Hafsa: What message would you like to give to those who are depressed, lonely and don’t know who to go to?
Leyla: Loneliness is a part of life that we have to face. It will come to a stage where there won’t be anything else but our breathing and reflection that would keep us company. It’s a hard process but reflects and takes the opportunity to start understanding yourself and loving yourself so that one day you can learn to open your heart to others. No one is ever truly alone with Allah subhanhau wa taala by your side but in terms of dealing ewith the battle of your mind. The hands will only reach out for you when you stick it our first for the help. Inspirited minds is connected with many brothers and sisters that are there waiting with their arms out. Don’t be alone let us help you find yourself.
Hafsa: If people want to get in touch with Inspirited Minds, how do they do so?
Leyla: Our website is inspiritedminds.org.uk
Hafsa: Jazakumullah khair hun. x
Leyla: Wa iyakum x
Dear Sister and anyone who is going through a hard time, know that Allah loves you and never give up!
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