In this counseling answer:
“Sister, don’t underestimate yourself or your capabilities. You are a strong young woman who is coping with a lot. However, if you feel that your depression and anxiety continue to interfere with your life and is affecting important aspects of functioning, I would suggest you consult a professional psychologist to help you ease your worries and live better, In sha Allah.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaykum Sister,
I am so sorry that you are going through such turmoil at this point in your life. First and foremost, you are not a coward and neither a failure. It is just the situation you are currently in. However, you can definitely adapt to your situation, change your own perspectives and rise up from your current situation.
As you have mentioned, you’re worried about too many things all at once – which include your religion being different from your family’s, your autistic brother, spiteful relatives, failing at college, fear of your parent’s death, fear of your own death, not being able to pray and having a weak faith. I will try to broach each subject of your concern so that you get an answer to all of your problems, In sha’ Allah.
You are a brave and strong girl for embracing Islam, without the support of your family. Allah chose to grant you guidance, Alhamdulillah. So, you should praise and thank Allah immensely that He chose you to be successful in the Hereafter, In sha’ Allah.
There may be trials in this life, but remember to remain steadfast in the path of Allah. Continue praying and reciting the Quran as much as you can, and also ask Allah for the guidance of your family. Reading about the lives of Sahabah during the early days of Islam would help you muster the courage to pray in front of your family and be steadfast in Islam.
Next, about your autistic brother. It is vital that you understand that he does not throw tantrums on purpose. Autism is a condition where the individual desperately needs a routine and consistency just like one needs air to breathe. Therefore, it would be wrong to blame him, scold him or make him understand anything that is beyond his personal level of control.
I would suggest altering family habits a bit to help him cope better. For instance, maintain a routine he is comfortable with. Or is it not possible for your parents for some reason, let there be a person at home with your brother who can handle him so that his routine is not disrupted. I would advise your family to get professional assistance from a psychologist/psychiatrist about how to manage your brother.
Further, you have mentioned having relatives who are jealous and have cast black magic on your family. I would suggest avoiding contact with such relatives, especially if they make you feel uncomfortable, stressed and drained out. Remember that you have Allah, and His Mercy and those relatives do not!
Allah says in the Quran:
“And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners” [8:30]
And in another place:
“Then when they (i.e. the sorcerers) cast down, Musa said: ‘What you have brought is sorcery. Allah will surely make it of no effect. Verily, Allah does not set right the works of corrupt evildoers.” [81-82]
Therefore, it is important to have your trust with Allah. Ask him to protect you and your family from evil. If you have not already memorized the last two Surahs of the Quran (Surah Falaq and Surah Naas) I would recommend that you learn them, or at least just recite them regularly.
According to Ibn Al-Qayyim said that “the effectiveness of these surahs is great to repel magic, evil eye, and the rest of the evils and the need for a slave to seek Allah’s protection from these two surahs is greater than his need for self, eating, drinking, and wearing dress” (Al-Fawwaid, 2/426).
Failing at College
About you failing at college two times, I believe this is because you have so much pent up stress that you are not able to concentrate properly on your studies. It is also important that you are studying a subject of your personal interest rather than pursuing a subject which your parents want you to study, or one that is perceived to get you a good job. In the end, what matters is that you are satisfied with your accomplishments.
If you feel telling your parents about your failures is not required, it is alright. But you need to let go of the fear of other people controlling you or harassing you about your life. If they do so, have the courage to tell them that they have no right to make comments or propaganda about your life.
I would advise you to have a small break from everything and spend time on yourself. Focus on enhancing your self-esteem and removing the discrepancy between your actual self and your idealized self. Having more confidence in your abilities would help you perform better in all aspects of your life.
Since you are in the midst of so much stress, it is easy to lose focus on your life, your ultimate goals, and purpose in life. Therefore, I would recommend you to find a purpose in your life. Choose to make a difference in your own life as well as in the lives of others. It will help you, empower you and make you more confident in your abilities. For instance, you could try helping children with their assignments, or join a tafseer class, or join a painting/baking class – in short, anything that appeals to you and will help you take your mind off your problems. This would also have a therapeutic effect on you if you consciously try to make it something to help you relieve stress and thoroughly enjoy indulging in the activity (whatever you chose).
I would also advise you to maintain a journal. It will not only help you clarify and organize your thoughts, but it will help you arrive at logical solutions to the problems you face in your day to day life. In addition, it would help you vent out your negative emotions and, thus, their impact on your life would be less intense. Journaling will also help you make goals and plan your life.
Fear of Death and Fitna
About your fear of death, it is important to understand that we all have to die one day. We have been sent into this world only as a test by Allah. Facing death and meeting Allah is something we cannot deny. However, what we can do is to prepare for the Akhirah while we have time.
Try to recite your prayers regularly and read the Quran. Like you have mentioned, it is indeed a time of Fitna as the time of Qiyamah draws near. We need to seek refuge with Allah to protect us all and our generations to come from the Fitna. Do try to read or hear the Tafseer of the Quran, whenever you find the time, to help you better understand the commands of Allah and to realize what He wants from us, In sha; Allah. Quran is a book of complete guidance.
Sister, don’t underestimate yourself or your capabilities. You are a strong young woman who is coping with a lot. However, if you feel that your depression and anxiety continue to interfere with your life and is affecting important aspects of functioning, I would suggest you consult a professional psychologist to help you ease your worries and live better, In sha Allah.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.