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I Have a Chronic Illness; I Feel Depressed

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Oct 09, 2019

Question

Assalamualaikum,

I am a 24 years old guy. Since childhood, I’ve suffered from abdomen problems. In higher secondary, it was found to be piles, and I’ve been getting treated for it since then. After finishing college, I’ve been facing serious mental illness and depression.

I was offered a good job in a fortune company, but due to my illness, my parents went on to decline it. After that, I went to many interviews, though I didn't even last a week in any company. This went on for two years, and my parents forced me to work in my father’s shop.

My mother suffers from thyroid issues since long ago, and years later, it went on to become a mental illness. She is taking medicine for it till now. Sometimes, she loses her control and starts to abuse both my sister and me, as well as beat my sister. One day, I lost control and attacked my mother. I am doing istigfaar for it till now, but I still don't know how the Almighty can forgive me.

I barely go to my father's shop and due to that, my father scolds me very badly. I just stay at home. I also took various treatments for my abdomen problem, but I still find it hard to leave my house. My father is losing his control and told my relatives about my condition. They as well began scolding me and often tell me: “Why are you staying like a girl at home?" and often insult me publicly.

My father bought me a two wheels vehicle to visit the shop more often. Since then, I am a little happier to visit the shop and make trade. It felt different for me, after all these years. I recently went in for surgery for an infected tooth, but they said my hemoglobin level was very low and it interfered with the blood test. I eat food very little and barely. I still suffer from abdomen problems and don't know how to treat it anymore. All this makes me avoid my father’s shop again and I continue to get scolded.

I recite Quran and pray, but sometimes, due to my abdomen problem, I suffer from constipation. It makes me leave the prayer. I also listen to a sermon from different Imams, but I still haven't found peace in me. I want to get married to a pious wife, but I don't think it is possible. I used to think I could have been born in Syria, so that Allah would take my life within the minute I born.

I am a mountain of burden to my parents. Though they still love me, I think I don't deserve it. I also have very little of friends whom I don't speak to very often.

My mother's mental illness continues, and recently my sister has been affected by breast cancer. And here I am, with my abdominal problems, constipation and mental illness. The only naive soul is my father, who earns us bread and works for us night and day. What result does this lead to?

Please advise me as I don’t know what to do.

Counselor

Answer


I Have a Chronic Illness; I Feel Depressed

In this counseling answer:

• Request a full blood test.

• Examine your diet. Please ensure that you eat a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, fibrous foods, fish, drink lots of water, and ensure that you are not mainly eating foods that are constipating.

• Ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist and get a monthly membership to your local gym.

• Keep a journal of how you are feeling daily.

• Choose at least three words to work on each week for goal setting.

• Begin stress management.


Assalamu Aleikum dear brother,

Thank you for writing and trusting us with your most important issues. As I understand, you are 24 years old and you live at home while suffering from physical as well as mental illnesses; these include stomach problems, constipation, and depression.

Your mom has a history of a thyroid disorder, mental illnesses, and your sister now has breast cancer. In addition, your mother was abusive to you and your sister while growing up. I can imagine that all these factors are difficult to deal with and cause depression and hopelessness.

I Have a Chronic Illness; I Feel Depressed - About Islam

In shaa’ Allah, you will begin to see how you can gain control over your life and be happy and productive as you wish.

Physical Problems, Nutrition, and Exercise

Brother, regarding your stomach problems, I would kindly suggest that you do see your physician if you have not done so already. I would highly recommend in shaa’ Allah that you request a full blood test.

I recommend this because you stated that you went in to get your tooth fixed and they could not do it because your hemoglobin was low. I am not sure if you followed up with your physician about this, but you really should. It may be something minor that could be fixed rather quickly.

About your stomach issues, piles, and constipation I will kindly suggest insha’Allah that you examine your diet. Please ensure that you eat a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, fibrous foods, fish, drink lots of water, and ensure that you are not mainly eating foods that are constipating.

Avoid processed foods, sugar, starchy foods and things that are harmful to your system. I know you said you eat very little, perhaps that is part of the problem as well.

A daily regimen of exercise is also helpful. You may find that it not only helps with constipation but also helps increase your good mood. Exercise has been shown to increase the feel-good hormones that help us feel joy and happiness. In fact, exercise and nutrition is a very important component in mental health, especially depression.

In shaa’ Allah, once you get a physical and are cleared of any serious disorder that may cause internal bleeding (such as an ulcer from worrying), you should begin a lifestyle change which will enhance your health and your mood.

If possible, ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist and get a monthly membership to your local gym. If this is not possible, choose what you enjoy. It may be running, lifting weights, soccer-whatever it is, doing it every day for at least 45 minutes. If you commit to this, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel within a few weeks’ time!

Journaling and Productivity for Health

In shaa’ Allah, brother, I will ask that you keep a journal of how you are feeling daily. I would like you to circle any word that is negative at the end of the day. At the end of the week, I would ask that you make a list of the words that you have circled which are negative.

Look at these words; you may be surprised to see how many negative thoughts you generate within your mind! A lot of times when we are depressed or not feeling well, we tend to look at things negatively. This leads to a vicious cycle. If we cannot think of positive things or outcomes, then it is very hard to get out of a depressive state.


Check out this counseling video:


Go back to the list, and for each negative word in shaa’ Allah I would like you to make a line. Next to the line put a positive word. In other words, if you have the word depressed in your writing and on your list, next to it put Happy.

Next to happy, I asked that you write a brief sentence of what made you happy that day. Add a brief sentence about what will make you happy in the future. Make this a goal. Then in shaa’ Allah, write a list of steps that you need to take to reach that goal.

In shaa’ Allah, choose at least three words to work on each week for goal setting. Try to complete at least two of the steps every week and increase the steps as you go on. At the end of the month, I would like you to briefly write down the outcomes of the steps that you took to increase happiness.

Stress Management for Health

While you are working on your nutrition, exercise, positive thought, and goal setting, I kindly ask that you begin stress management as well. In addition to eating healthy, exercising, thinking positive and setting goals, managing stress is equally important.

In shaa’ Allah, choose one or more stress reduction techniques that appeal to you. There is progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, aromatherapy, and so on. A quick internet search will bring up many useful stress management options. Choose one that feels right to you and engages in it daily. By reducing stress, you increase physical and mental health and regain control over your life and choices.

Conclusion

In shaa’ Allah, brother, you may find that the power to your health and happiness lies within your attitude and your belief that you can change things. When we believe that we can change things and we actively seek the tools to do so, we are usually successful.

The key is believing and setting a plan of action with specified steps. If you find these simple tools useful and practice them for 30 days, they will become a habit in shaa’ Allah. You may find that your health problems decreasing, you have more energy, you see the future in a positive light, and you will more confident in your abilities.

Confidence leads to greater social opportunities such as friendships, social outings, and career/job choices. In shaa’ Allah, if you decide to implement this plan of action, make duaa to Allah for blessings and success.

We wish you the best, 

***

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.

Read more:

How to Deal with Depression, Anxiety, and Guilt

What Causes Sadness and Depression?

Shall I Get Married While Having a Chronic Illness?

 




About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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