I just really hope people don’t scroll past this.
I HAVE A LOT OF THINGS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT TODAY
You know what pisses me off and has pissed me off for the past five years or so?
When Muslims say things like “There’s no way that Muslims can be depressed if they have/maintain a strong bond with Allah!” or “Muslims can cure their depression through consistent prayer and reading of the Qur’an!” or “Suicide is a sin, how dare you even think about committing suicide, do you want to burn in Hell?”
Or, my personal favorite, “Why do you keep listening to Satan? It’s because you’re listening to Satan that you’re like this!”
And hey. That might work for some people! I concede on that point! That might work for situational depression, or temporary sadness that might last longer than one might expect it to. For some, it might actually help with their clinical depression! I’m not completely discarding that possibility, theory, what have you.
Please keep that in mind the whole time you are reading this because I am not bashing prayer or spiritual experiences of any kind as a cure. It is a perfectly legitimate path to follow, one I’m sure has cured more than just a handful of people.
Some people actually experience clinical depression! As in it’s not situational, it consists of multiple symptoms that last at least two weeks or six months, depending on the medical source, it can develop from a myriad of sources or from no source at all, and wow! IT’S A THING THAT PEOPLE HAVE. As of April 2012 an estimated 1 in 10 American adults reported having some form of depression. There are over 300 million people living in the United States, an average of 5 million of which are Muslim. Are you really going to tell me there is a zero percent chance of overlap?
And let me tell you something the fuck else about these “uplifting statements.”
1) Saying something like that can actually make Muslims feel even worse about themselves, even more worthless because if they’re already feeling like they’re hopeless and can’t do anything right, and you give them a motherfucking backhanded piece of advice that inherently implies that their relationship with God is lacking, inferior, or deficient, or that their faith and piety is lacking, then HEY! YOU’RE RISKING DOING EVEN MORE DAMAGE TO THEIR PSYCHE AND SELF-IMAGE! HOLY WOW!
and 2) Say this with me. Really slowly. I need you to understand this.
Depression is neither an uplifting spiritual experience nor a life choice. It sucks. A lot.
Islam, the fastest growing religion in the world (though not the biggest), is a spiritual experience embraced by over one and a half billion people globally. It is a life choice embraced by over one and a half billion people globally.
Depression is not a religion. It is not a choice. It is not behavioral. It is not a myth cooked up by pharmaceutical companies to take away the money that could be put toward the building of a new masjid. It does not discriminate. It is a medical condition spurred by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Wow! Did you read that? Read it again! It’s a medical condition! WOW you don’t hear THAT every day!
Hey, I seriously doubt that brothers and sisters worldwide would tell a fellow Muslim who had cancer, who had a heart attack or a stroke, who needed some form of surgery or a transplant or any other illness or injury that affects any other part of the body that isn’t the brain, that medicine or physical therapy shouldn’t be an option for the sick, that the only way they’ll ever go into remission, or heal, or be discharged from the hospital, is by consistently reading the Qur’an, by praying, by making du’aa and adhkaar.
Wow. Really makes you think, doesn’t it, about how our society stigmatizes mental illnesses, as though they’re not real, legitimate diseases or injuries.
These words are like the Islamic equivalent of telling a non-Muslim depressed person to just cheer up! Think positively! Go exercise! You’ll get better soon! And yes, some people can do that, and that’s great. But some people can’t. We aren’t born with or programmed with positivity-negativity switches. We learn coping methods, yes—we all learn how to cope with things in some way or another. It’s almost like a survival instinct. But developing a coping method isn’t always exercising, or thinking positively, or even just smiling. Things take effort, if we can even bring ourselves to do it at all. But we aren’t programmed to cope instantly, or to be positive at the drop of a hat. Our brains sometimes literally will not let us.
Please understand that.
Here. Now a case study. I was born Muslim, but didn’t start practicing until I was eleven. I started practicing of my own volition, because I was curious and it left me with a sense of peace. I read a good deal of Qur’an every day, pray five times a day every day, cover completely, and teach a wonderful little boy how to read, memorize, and recite the Qur’an properly. I teach him about his religion because it’s important to me I love educating curious people about my religion. It brings me joy to do this for people, even if they never embrace Islam. It brings me joy to show them such an important part of me and to pique people’s interest in a positive way. It feels awesome.
But you know what else? I have clinical depression. There. I said it. I have clinical depression, have had it for the past six years. I think I’m a worthless human being who contributes nothing to life inside or outside of my home or social relationships. I still pray every day without fail, but sometimes I can’t bring myself to read Qu’ran because I feel so worthless, because I don’t feel good enough to read it and because it reminds me of how much of a failure I am when I don’t read it. I’ve had more than my fair share of suicide scares, the most recent of which led me to visit my college’s dean of student life and a school counselor in secret. And I’m unmedicated.
And do you know why it was all secret? Do you know why I had to risk telling my primary care physician about it and pay out of pocket for Prozac that made me projectile vomit at three in the morning, ultimately making me feel too scared to ever try any form of medication or free therapy again? Do you know why I’m unmedicated, or why I can’t actually go to a professional therapist that I would have to pay for, or why nobody in my family knows that I so much as thought about offing myself?
Because my father said every single one of the aforementioned sentences for me to internalize for five of those six years.
And you know what? Here’s the cake-topper.
I find it really motherfucking ironic that my non-Muslim best friend of three years, who’s coming to visit me and therefore meet him on Thursday, is allowed to be depressed in his eyes, but his own daughter, the only person he ever gave actual life to in his whole half century of existence, isn’t allowed to be cured of an illness that, according to him and so many other people, she isn’t allowed or supposed to have in the first place. Not if she’s a pious girl, not if her bond with Allah is strong enough. She wouldn’t dare kill herself.
And it’s true. I wouldn’t dare kill myself. And that’s because of how strongly I believe in Allah’s power. And I’ll admit it. It’s because I’m scared. I’m scared of the punishment I’d receive for killing myself. But this, to me, is not indicative of the punitive measures my God will take with me if I succumb to an illness that people refuse to acknowledge properly. This is indicative of how closely I heed the word of my God, and how important He is to me that I would rather stay alive for His sake than kill myself for mine.
You don’t get to gauge my relationship with my God.
I’m a Muslim, I’m depressed, and damn it, my relationship with the Greatest is as great as I make it. It IS the greatest.
Peace with you if you read all of this.
Rad girl out.