I sometimes feel depressed and irritable, and I can’t stand anyone around me. I like to help people but I can’t seem to help myself. I have been divorced for 20 years and now my youngest daughter is getting married. I feel like I don’t have friends or another immediate family around me; I feel so alone at times. I have family back home, but they are not willing to support me emotionally or financially. I don't have much faith in Allah and I don't know why that is. There are Muslims in my community, but they are either too religious or do not practice Islam as they should. I came to this country when I was 16 and I never wanted to adapt to Western culture.
I also have a problem letting go of past abuse that I encountered from my ex-husband, which does not allow me to go forward with my life. I tend always to interfere where I shouldn’t, I think in order to not focus on myself, and so leave my unsolved problems behind. Please help me. I don’t want to live a miserable life anymore. I hate my life. I wish to have a better quality of life. I want to share my life with a special man who will support me emotionally as this is something I am lacking and this would restructure my life for the better.
Please guide me to the right path. Thank you in advance for helping me. May Allah bless you.
In this counseling answer:
• Social support is what you need.
• Engage more in Islamic society in your region. You could find a lot of work and supportive relationships.
As-Salamu `Alaikum dear sister,
I was pleased to read your insightful e-mail. I feel that your problem is more social than psychological. I am truly pleased with the hope that you still have, even while living in such a social context.
At times you are depressed, feel boredom, irritability, and sadness. However, these times, apparently, are short ones and so cannot account for a major depressive disorder, which needs certain criteria that you, al-hamdulillah, seem strong enough to be free from. Therefore, what you truly need is a form of social support.
Social support can be broadly defined as the existence or availability of people on whom one can rely; people who let one know that they are cared about, valued and loved. There are various types of support (assistance/help) that people receive from others.
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Support can be classified into two (sometimes three) major categories: emotional, instrumental, (and sometimes informational) support.
Emotional support refers to the things that people do which make us feel loved and cared for and bolster our sense of self-worth. Such support frequently takes the form of non-tangible types of assistance, like talking over a problem or providing encouragement or positive feedback.
By contrast, instrumental support refers to the various types of tangible help that others may provide, such as help with childcare or housekeeping, or provision of transportation or money.
Informational support represents a third type of social support and is sometimes included within the instrumental support category, it refers to the help that others may offer through the provision of information.
My opinion is that social support is what your daily life is lacking, and I think you can find it—but how?
You mentioned, “I don’t have much faith in Allah (swt), and I don’t know why that is. There are Muslims in my community but they are either too religious or do not practice Islam as they should.” Clearly, it is your bad impression of the behavior of most Muslims in your region that seems to stand on contradicting edges of a continuum. However, this could be changed. If you tried to look at people from a closer point of view, you would find middle-of-the-road people that are neither too religious nor too unreligious. This is because human behavior, in general, is distributed throughout such a continuum, and only a minority stands on the extreme edges that you describe.
What made me tell you this is your inability, or refusal, to adopt Western ideas and ways of life, as apparent in your words “I came to this country when I was 16 and I never wanted to adapt to Western culture.” In view of this, your only way is to engage more in Islamic society in your region. At first, you may feel it hard, or at least not satisfying, to enter into talks with some of them. For example, they may ask you for some religious duties you are not practicing, but shortly you will be able to come to terms with them. Through this way, you could find a lot of work and supportive relationships.
Once you have done this, you will, in sha’ Allah, find the man who will help you find yourself again. You will have changed your view about Muslims in your community and gradually your faith will be reinstalled in your heart. Try to do this and tell me about your experience.
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