Allah has created you complete and beautiful.
If you’re not able to put your emotions into words, that’s okay, for Allah knows everything you reveal and everything you veil.
Living in a pandemic era, one has to be aware of all its risks. One of the most important of these is depression. I’ve been trying to gain knowledge about it and especially “how to overcome it”. I have tried to find something that can help. I sought help of my colleagues, some seniors, tried to gather Islamic knowledge from teachers about it, but nothing worked out. Some ignored me and some I couldn’t ask for a second time. I felt out of place, helpless and hopeless. It was an experience which taught me that we haven’t yet understood, let alone conquer, mental illnesses and psychological trauma.
So what actually is mental health and why should it be a major concern? Basically, mental health is our perception of our surroundings, the way we react to situations and the handle stressful events, and our response to various crests and troughs of life. Mental health is the wellbeing of social, emotional and psychological aspects of ourselves.
Why is mental health such a taboo subject? Why do we stereotype people who talk about it? From childhood till later in life, we don’t really look after mental health. I’ve been depressed, have been suffering from different psychological disorders and even suicidal ideation. I tried every possible remedy but still felt lost at the end of the day. Eventually, I realised that the disease lies within, somewhere deep inside. This inner world is intricate and when something caves in, it creates a labyrinth. This creates voids which harbour sadness and abhorrence. Sometimes it is exacerbated by the environment we live in and eventually a person feels haunted.
Survivors know how to endure the catastrophe, but each in a different way. I found that when we distance from our instincts, our enthusiasm starts to fall off. When this intimacy with our own selves is lost, we’re lost. Every little thing starts to bother, and we crumble under its weight. The only antidote, the only remedy to this malady is Allah. It often happens that we long for someone to speak well to us and be concerned about us but we forget that Allah is there. Every second verse of the Quran is saying it and indeed Quran is the Word of Allah to us, to each one of us.
Allah reassures, “Have no fear! I am with you, hearing and seeing” [20:46].
Allah has given a cure to every ailment in the Quran. But it needs faith and belief. If a heart puts its trust in Almighty, He will not only cure but also guide it. He, the Giver of Peace, says to us: “It is, for those who believe, a guidance and a cure” [41:44].
When a person truly believes, Allah certainly rewards. Allah subhanahu wataala is saying to us, “Indeed, those who have said, “Our Lord is Allah” and then remained on the right course – the angels will descend upon them, [saying], “Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised.” [41:30]
These verses serve as strength for the steadfast and the sincere. The significance of these verses is that we learn that the angels can be one’s guardians and companions, and at the time of death impart glad tidings of the end of bad things and the advent of good things. These verses acknowledge the grief mankind experiences in this life and shift perspective to an optimistic outlook that is free of depression and anxieties. Also, Allah never abandons a believer and the showers of His mercy never end. Once you’ll learn about the love of Almighty for you, you’ll never feel forlorn again; in fact, you’ll be filled with joy and happiness!
Don’t let your heart die. Ibn Al Qayyim [May Allah be pleased with him] said, “A true believer doesn’t fear physical death, rather he fears the death of his heart”. Believe in yourself because you matter a lot, you matter for Allah who created you, no matter what. Allah has created nothing that is not useful. Console your heart and let the seeds of faith grow in it. Reclaim the positivity that you’ve lost. A human being has three major components: body, soul and mind. Our concern must be for all the three, not just one. A popular saying is, “Man is a social animal”. The problem with us is that we’ve ignored social aspects and have started behaving like animals who only have to feed themselves and save their bodies. We too have reduced ourselves to that and have ruined all other aspects that make us social animals. It’s because of this that we’ve lost balance. We don’t look after our soul and mind. If our attitude, behaviour or thinking isn’t good and beautiful, it makes living miserable.
Ma’shaa Allah, those one billion neurons (more or less) in our brain aren’t futile. The brain is the source of logic, intellect, vision and many more blessings. It contains consciousness, imagination, memory. Every time a person starts to learn something new, new connections start to form. Different parts of the brain start to grow and become stronger. This is called the plasticity of the brain. On the other hand, if the brain isn’t healthy and isn’t working well, parts of the brain start to wear out and deteriorate. A positive attitude plays a major role in building a strong brain. When the brain is powerful, the mind broadens. It’s only with positive thinking that a healthy body and a healthy soul develops. When all the three – a healthy mind, a healthy soul and a healthy body –come together in a person, whatever he/she thinks, whatever he/she wants, he/she can achieve. Emotional ability grows and a person can conquer even the biggest fears. We define people according to their traits, for example, that he is a humble man, that person is arrogant, someone is lazy, someone is innovative, etc. All these attributes are a reflection of the mindset of a person. The mindset defines a person’s personality, his/her activities, thoughts, achievements. Subhan Allah, this mind has the power to shape the entire life of a person.
Allama Iqbal (R.A) said of a sturdy mind:
Chahe to badal daalay haye’yat chamanistan ki
Ye Hasti Daana hai, Beena hai, Tawana hai
If it wishes, can change the state of the world
This being is wise, visionary, robust
The essence of mental wellbeing is summoned up in this couplet. A person who can acquire such wellbeing can change the world. So, realise your worth and be confident with whatever you have.
Allah has created you complete and beautiful. If you’re not able to put your emotions into words, that’s okay, for Allah knows everything you reveal and everything you veil. Consign yourself to Him alone. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “When a person spends his entire day with no other concern but Allah, Allah, may He be glorified, will take care of all his needs and take care of all that is worrying him; He will empty his heart so that it will be filled only with love for Him, free his tongue so that it will speak only in remembrance of Him (dhikr), and cause all his faculties to work only in obedience to Him. But if a person spends his entire day with no other concern but this world, Allah will make him bear distress, anxiety and pain; He will leave him to sort himself out, and cause his heart to be distracted from the love of Allah towards the love of some created being, cause his tongue to speak only in remembering people instead of remembering Allah, and cause him to use his talents and energy in obeying and serving them. So he will strive hard, labouring like some work-animal, to serve something other than Allah… Everyone who turns away from being a true slave of Allah and obeying Him and loving Him will be burdened with servitude, love and obedience to some created being.” Allah says: ‘And whosoever turns away (blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allah), We appoint for him a shaytaan (devil) to be a qareen (intimate companion) to him.’ [al-Zukhruf 43:36]
If you really want to retrieve your positivity, work on your attitude and behaviour and be steadfast in faith. When you’ll set out on this journey, Allah will be your companion. Melancholy will change into mirth and hopelessness will vanish. Verily, the happiness of being blessed is far more beautiful than the fear of being lost.
The writer is studying medicine at SUMS, Iran. [email protected]