In this counseling answer:
• Seek forgiveness from Allah (Swt) and make the intention to start praying again. Start out with at least one prayer a day and remain consistent.
• Set physical reminders to control your online activity or delete your accounts.
• Create an accomplishment journal and reflect on 3 accomplishments nightly.
• Identify 3 positive coping skills.
• Consider online counseling.
Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa barakatu,
Thank you for writing into us with your current struggles. That is the first step to transforming yourself into a productive and successful engineer, inshallah. Never doubt yourself. Remember you only fail if you give up.
It is my understanding you struggle with laziness, missing prayers and falling into the online cycle of YouTube and image boards. It is also my understanding you engaged in self-harm as a way to motivate yourself. Please understand self-harming seems like a way to punish yourself and lower your already shaky self-esteem.
Causing yourself physical pain alongside your mental anguish will not help you to feel motivated or believe in yourself, rather it will do the opposite. First and foremost, I want you to promise yourself right now you will immediately contact someone for help if you start self-harming again.
You state that you don’t feel guilt or shame. Yet you took the step to write in asking for help, which means you do feel something. If you truly did not care, you would not take the time to send in your question.
Take a moment to recognize you took that step on your own, you reached out for help and that is a great sign. Alhamdulillah.
Let us address your prayers first. What has happened in the past is just that, the past. Seek repentance from Allah (most honored, most revered) who is Al-Ghaffar, the repeatedly forgiving and most forgiving.
“But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.” [Quran 20:82]
Starting today, make the intention to become regular in prayers. Even if you start with 1 prayer a day, work to maintain that then step it up to 2 and keep moving until you reach 5. Make duaa for help and understanding as you struggle to build yourself back up.
This is part of your jihad, brother, and you might be surprised how many Muslims have faced the same thing. Take it one day at a time and do the best you can.
Social media such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are all addicting and common time-suckers. I suggest you set a timer whenever you are using them and once your timer goes off, turn it off. Many phones allow you to set time limits for social media and will alert you once you have exceeded your daily allowance.
If you find yourself unable to comply with the alerts and you keep browsing, then you need to delete your apps and remove yourself from social media.
I know an engineer who would temporarily disable all of his social media accounts during exam times. He knew himself well enough to recognize it was a distraction that would suck him in every time. Take action today to control your online usage.
My dear, brother, you are almost to the end of your degree and according to your letter, you barely study. That tells me you are blessed with a beautiful mind, alhamdulillah. You made it this far, plenty others fail before they even see year 2 let alone the final year. Take a moment to appreciate that. I am proud of you brother, but you need to feel good about yourself as well.
I encourage you to keep a journal with you and write down accomplishments you achieved. If you prayed 3x tomorrow and you studied for an hour then write that down. Don’t focus on the negatives or what you didn’t do; focus on the positives and what you can do better tomorrow inshallah. Allah (Swt) knows your current struggles and knows you are trying.
Every night before you sleep, think about 3 things you accomplished that day and reflect on them. It doesn’t need to be big, even if you helped someone finish their laundry and you really dislike doing laundry, that is an accomplishment! Say alhamdulillah and give yourself some credit for your efforts.
Therapy and Medication
You mentioned a failed attempt at therapy and medications are numbing. My personal belief is medications are pushed too much in the mental health field. They don’t necessarily solve your problems. They act as temporary band-aids that start to become less effective because your body seeks homeostasis, meaning it will adapt to them. Many of them are addictive and can have difficult side-effects. While they are needed in some cases, I would advise only going the medication route as a last resort.
Instead of medications as coping skills, let’s work on identifying 3 positive coping skills for when you feel low or in a negative space. Coping skills are methods we employ to handle difficult times.
Check out this counseling video:
As an example, I love animals and my cats are one of my coping skills. When I feel stressed or upset I will hold one of them and pet them while listening to their purring. Other examples of positive coping skills would be nature walks, reading Quran, painting, exercise or reading a book.
Use that accomplishment journal of yours mentioned above and start writing down coping skills that might work for you then try them out. Duaa can also be a coping skill.
“Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men”. [Bukhari]
If you are open to online counseling from an Islamic perspective, I suggest Noor Human Consulting.
Let’s summarize your action plan going forward.
1. Seek forgiveness from Allah (Swt) and make the intention to start praying again. Start out with at least one prayer a day and remain consistent.
2. Set physical reminders to control your online activity or delete your accounts.
3. Create an accomplishment journal and reflect on 3 accomplishments nightly.
4. Identify 3 positive coping skills.
5. Consider online counseling.
You are not allowed to ever say the words “my pathetic existence” ever again. This is self-sabotage and sounds like something shaitan would be whispering in your ear because he loves to see you struggle. You are a young man with a brilliant mind who inshallah is going to be a successful engineer that will bring happiness to his family. Tell yourself that every morning and if anyone tells you otherwise, ignore them.
May Allah (Swt) fill your heart with his light and give you strength during your struggles,
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.