As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us. I empathize with your worry and concerns as well as what appears to be episodes of major depression although I cannot diagnose you. Sister, when you were first depressed 8 years ago, did you see a therapist? If so, is it possible to return to therapy? If you did not, can you recall how you overcame the depression the first time?
I would like to ask you to reflect on a lot of things, dear sister. First, you are 35, educated, and in the prime of your life. Actually, you are in a better position to know what qualities you are seeking in a spouse which, in turn, has better success rates for a lasting, happy marriage. Too often we marry because our parents arrange it, or we think we are “in love”, or we are just graduating from school and feel it is the thing to do. However, Allah in His great mercy often protects us from things; He keeps things from us which would hurt us. Perhaps sister, that is why your first proposal did not work out; he was simply not meant for you. Perhaps Allah intervened to save you from something that could hurt you. Only Allah knows; however, we must trust in Him.
You have had proposals sister, but you have turned them down and possibly with good reasons. Choosing a spouse is not an easy process. I would kindly suggest that you, first of all, stop dwelling in the past – it is over. Please do not compare future potential spouses with your past. It is not fair to yourself or any young man who may pursue you. Leave the past in the past and look towards a positive, happy future. Yes, I know very well that in a state of depression it is easier said than done. However, I want you to try.
I suggest that you keep a daily journal of your feelings. Write a list of your positive qualities, your accomplishments as well as what your dreams and goals are. Make a list of what worries you about your parents and future. By doing this, it not only helps us organize our thoughts, but it gives meaning and insight into what we are feeling. I would also kindly suggest you organize your thoughts around what you actually seek in a partner. Make a list of the qualities you seek in a future husband. Review these lists daily and add to them as needed.
Fear of death occurs at certain life stages. Often, it occurs when one is a young adult in their early to mid 20’s. This is a time when many changes occur, and the once “child” is now an adult, experiencing many life changes such as starting a job or a new school, being self-sufficient, losing touch with old friends, trying to make new friends, etc.). It is something of either a feeling of crisis or a nagging constant fear of the future and what it holds.
Some research has shown that the fear of death is rooted in uncertainty about living a fulfilling life. When the fear of death is coupled with depression, it is most likely related to anxiety as well. Although you did not mention your symptoms, you may very well suffer from anxiety with depression as a secondary manifestation. That is why it is very important to seek counseling. I encourage you dear sister to see a therapist in your area who can evaluate and diagnose your specific condition. You are not alone. In the USA, for example, 15.7 million adults suffered from major depression in 2014 alone.
I know that you feel hopeless right now about pretty much everything in your life. However, I do encourage you to seek guidance from Allah in prayer, to read Qur’an, and to make du’aa’ that He guides you and grants ease. I also suggest that you find support groups to join which deal with depression and anxiety. A therapist can be a good referral source, or s/he can look through your local mental heath agencies.
In addition, having quality social time with others acts as a good support and encourages our social, Islamic, and personal growth. I have confidence in you sister that you will heal and find happiness. You just have to take the first step, stick with your plan, and be determined to live a happy, full life, and not just merely exist in the past. Many wonderful things await you!
You are in our prayers dear sister. Please let us know how you are doing.
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