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My Family Drove Me Anxious & Depressed

Questioner

S (29_female_India)

Reply Date

Mar 20, 2017

Question

Assalamu Alaykum, I am a depressed and very angry mother, and my children are suffering from it. For many years, my husband and his family repressed me psychologically. For example: I was never good enough for them, they embarrassed me in front of others, complained about me, etc. This hurt me a lot, and I got Ill because of it. One day, they again demanded things from me. I even got hit by my husband and later, I had a miscarriage. They were demanding all the time, but did little themselves. Later on, I got pregnant again, but got more and more ill. I spent long time in the hospital during my pregnancy. I wasn't able to take care of neither myself nor the children, but I haven't received any helping hand from my in-laws. They made my live miserable, gave me the feeling that I am worthless and that they are better people. Now I am isolated, feel insecure, hurt and angry. I suffer from panic attacks, I don't dare to do anything. I am afraid to die, because I am not sure about myself. I feel worthless and my children really suffer from this. Please help. Jazzakum Allah Khayran

Counselor

Answer


Depression

As salamu ‘alaykum my dear sister,

 

You are very aware of your emotional landscape, and what caused you to feel as you do now. I wonder at what point you became angry with the emotional, psychological and physical abuse that you have endured over far too many years. For what you have been through, your reaction is normal, albeit that the way you have been treated is far from normal. Different societies, communities and cultures have varying levels of perception and understanding of the place of women.

The more oppressive the social setting, the more acceptable inhuman acts become. With those oppressive social settings, there is a general disrespect for life, and a lack of consideration of how destructive those “values” can be on the soul of the victim. Men do not raise themselves – they are raised by women (mothers) who have come from the same kind of background in terms of the level of domestic violence, or women who believe that the place of women in society is under the feet of the men.

They are also raised by men (fathers) who are abusive because they have never learnt to respect women, or by men who have been negligent of their roles as fathers, leaving the child to the mercy of the mother when they could play a balancing role in the lives of their children. Parents like these are generally emotionally incompetent in marriage it has been found, and they mask their incompetence in various ways. Your husband obviously has had the full support of his family, in abusing you, and it is left to his consciousness to realize the wrong in what he has done.

It is not quite clear that how your husband began to realize how he had been treating you was wrong, because although you say he was left alone, you do not state by whom (i.e. his family or you). If he was left alone by his family, then if anything this shows how weak he is in character, in that he can be easily influenced by them and become their tool in exploitation.

In short, your marriage has been a traumatic experience, whereby each moment of everyday, you have had very little to look forward to. Your in-laws treatment of you has made fear a part of your daily life, with humiliation and abuse marked indelibly on your psyche.

Living in this constant fear causes you to become fixated on what you fear, blocking out any other stimuli. It reaches a point when you just keep worrying, you keep being fearful in expectation of the next bout of humiliating experience, because the years of abuse have “trained” you to become that way. This is what leads you to having panic attacks, which with it comes the fear of dying. Sometimes the fear of death is a manifestation of the fear of the unknown. You have lived your life for so long in one mode, and now, you find that you do not have to accept that mode any longer, but what is the alternative!

How much your children have been exposed to the emotional, psychological abuse is not clear. Under a life of domestic abuse, your physical and mental health was compromised and you tended to miscarry as a result. Is it that you only began to go full term when your husband began to change? Do you live separately now? Maybe this is why you have room for anger now.

It might seem like the best thing, but there is one thing that needs to be done, and that is for you to face him with what he has done to you, and how he has caused the suffering of the children. Much healing can take place by telling the perpetrator what he has done, and how it has affected your life, because in the process you reclaiming a part of yourself. It will also help him to take responsibility for his actions.

If you are living alone with your children, how are you managing? To help take control of your life, it is important to be inactive, giving into the sadness and the pain once you have acknowledged the sadness and the pain. It is important to be proactive, and to be busy in the home, doing all kinds of things. By doing the chores, and anything creative towards the improvement of your home, will help you to regain confidence that you can do something useful, and to nurture the feeling that you are worthy and not worthless.

If when you are with the children, the sadness, anger and the pain should come over you, if it is possible, take the children out to a local park for instance, because this will help to take your mind away from how you feel. If it is not possible to go out, because of the needs of the children, or the time of day, do something creative with them, read them a story, help them with their homework.

All of these things will act as distractions from focusing on how you feel, and will give the children a chance to see another side of mom; and for mom to see another side of mom! You can also take the opportunity to find out how they feel about anything, in this way they can learn to express themselves and show you what is going on inside of them. It can be surprising how much healing we can get from children when we are hurt as adults.

If it is possible, try to find a good reputable cognitive therapist, the kind who is accepting of your faith, and is not judgemental of your faith or your circumstances. Your progress can be helped by processing what you have suffered, and retraining your emotional circuitry which has been conditioned to live in fear.

Salam


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About Hwaa Irfan

Hwaa Irfan serves as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. She is focusing on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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