Wa ‘Alaikum As-Salaam dear sister,
You are a very dedicated sister and daughter, and I can tell that you love your family very much. You are a very aware young woman with great intuition. You intuitively recognized that your depression is normal – and it is. It is a natural grief process. It is also normal to worry about your brother. I would like you to consider the stages of grief and also complicated grief.
In your case, you live in a family system that was initially struck by grief when your brother did not develop like other children. You likely are close to your parents and you absorbed their grief, fear, and confusion into yourself. You have been feeling their feelings and taking a lot of responsibility upon your own shoulders. You likely felt grief about your parents’ grief without even knowing it.
The difficulties and the sometimes even chaotic events that have been experienced by your parents have likely affected your parents’ ability to focus on you as much as they would like to and as much as you needed. Yet, you realize that this was due to circumstances beyond their control. So, the role you took within the family is the healer and the responsible party.
This role also filled your heart when your parents could not. So, your grief is on multiple levels. You miss your brother, you likely feel loss in a way that may be difficult to describe in regard to your relationship with either both your parents or with your mother. And you lost your “purpose” role. That is a lot, but if you can look at the different areas of grief, you may be able to move through them and work through your feelings.
One suggestion is to get three separate notebooks for yourself and begin journaling. Keep one notebook for your feelings about your brother; one for your feelings about your relationship with your parents; and one for your past and present functions and roles within your family, community and society, and then add to that ideas, hopes, and dreams for your future. This will take a few hours every week, but it is well worth the effort.
Don’t worry so much about your personality, but rather look at your strengths and weaknesses. The attributes that you have mentioned about your personality will be very useful in helping you to complete your education. It sounds like you are very focused and analytical. If you can steer your energy into a constructive and productive activity, even your occasional obsessive thinking can serve you.
Here is a little secret: You cannot achieve the doctorate level of education (19 years minimum total education in the USA=after 12 years of high school, another 7 years minimum) without being a little obsessive. In order to make it that far, you have become details oriented, analytical, and intensively focused.
With that said, I suggest you complete the studies that you have already begun. There is always a hump in academia. It often disappoints the intelligent student who begins the journey all fired up and enthusiastic, only to find that the actual day to day “travel” requires a lot of focus on things that are not always so inspiring or exciting, but are essential to developing the skills required to become an expert in your field of study. I call this the rocks along the path because they are, indeed, nut and bolts and they have to be mastered. Learning the languages while also getting a degree in political science will position you to be able to serve humanity in a very lofty manner. Stay the course.
Once you “reset” yourself and focus on your studies again, your worries and irrational fears will likely subside. Your mind is just too active and it is wandering. To ease your worries about your brother, write out your concerns and then write a plan of action for your concerns. Follow your plan of action and you won’t need to worry so much.
You are correct: life is a process, and life is Allah (swt). Trust the process, trust life, and trust Allah (swt). Take time each day to find five things to be thankful for, and remember to thank Allah (swt) for your eyes, for your ability to walk, for the beautiful mind that He (swt) gave you, for your very breath each and every day. Then ask Allah (swt) to use you as His (swt) instrument. Only after you have done this – even if only silently to yourself- proceed with your daily routine and tasks.
This world is very lucky to have a young woman like you. Your nature is to serve humanity. You are also very passionate. Ask Allah (swt) to guide and direct that passion for the fulfillment of his will, and your fears and anxieties will be relieved, In sha’ Allah.
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