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I’m Stuck in a Cycle of Depression & Anxiety

Questioner

Saifullah

Reply Date

Jun 30, 2019

Question

I got stuck in a depressive cycle for the past year and a half and have been unable to break it. I hardly sleep and have been going on like this only.

To give a bit of a background, ever since I was a child, I’ve had low self-esteem and was not a very active person with no social life. Due to my lonesomeness, I got into some bad habits. I am too hypersexual from childhood up to this date.

My father's younger brother passed suddenly due to a heart attack and I developed some heart palpitations issue. I lived in full anxiety about my father and my health. I was almost paralyzed by this anxiety and hardly had any life, along with my anxiety towards school studies and sexual addiction.

Even after all of this, I did decently at my studies, and I got the opportunity to get in the topmost college of my country for engineering. When I was in the first year, I had sleeping issues and I started worrying about it and then I got chronic insomnia due to that excessive worry. I was then referred to a psychiatrist.

Sleep and life have since then never been normal for me. My life has been centered around not getting sleep and the next day thinking about how bad my life is and how everyone was functioning normally but me. I was frustrated at why I had to live that way.

When I was in the second year, I got into a relationship with a Muslim girl. I was very naïve as I thought life was complete and that after college would marry her. However, sometime later I realized it was wrong to have a relationship outside of marriage and got too much anxiety and completely couldn’t sleep. Despite that, I couldn’t leave her.

I went to a psychiatrist and took anti-depressants and convinced myself that I'll just remain friends and become a good Muslim and leave my bad habits. But soon it became a cycle where when my anxiety would kick in, I would lose my ability to sleep but keep pushing myself towards reducing contact with her and getting into better habits and activities as a Muslim.

Because of my anxious thoughts, I became paranoid for 6 months and was in a mental hospital. Suddenly one day I became normal by Allah's grace. My college was over I and went there for some work and met the girl again and got into a relationship with her again as I could not cope with the feeling that she may end up with another guy.

10 months later my father passed away. It was sudden. This time I decided that I must end this somehow. I wanted to improve my life to become more mature and responsible and to improve my character. I wanted to cut her off and everything that leads me to my bad habits. This time due to my father's death it was an actual realization by heart.

Before I could tell her again, I became anxious that in the future if I marry her, I may not like her, and my life will be fake just because I didn’t want to leave her and hurt her. And so, my anxious cycles and sleep deprivation returned. I also became worried about having given pain to my father all these years and that I would do the same to my mother.

It’s been 1 year and a half and I am getting health issues. I am afraid that at this rate I will be diseased and not be able to provide for my family.

I don’t want to be sitting and watching my life get destroyed. Please, help!

Counselor

Answer


I’m Stuck in a Cycle of Depression & Anxiety

In this counseling answer:

• Once you resolve your mental health/sleeping issues, you can move in the direction of deciding if she is one who you will marry.

• If you have depression and anxiety, there are biochemical and neurological changes that may have taken place which need to be corrected.

• Whatever it is that you find stability and peace with, please do stick with that routine.

• Go back to your therapist; you must continue the healing path all the way, In sha’Allah.

• I want you to write out a contract stating that you will not harm yourself. Please, also call a Suicide Prevention Hotline in your country.


As Salamu ‘Alaykum dear brother,

Thank you for writing to us and trusting us with your issues. As I can see, you really suffer. May Allah grant you ease, dear brother. You will get through this, please believe it. You will get better. During the past year-and-a-half, you’ve had a lot going on not only mentally, but in your personal life as well.

What really stands out brother is your sleeping issues and your anxiety. When a person goes without sleep, it wreaks havoc on their whole system. Mentally, physically, and spiritually. Sleeping is so important for stability.

I’m Stuck in a Cycle of Depression & Anxiety - About Islam

As you are diagnosed, I believe, with depression and anxiety, I’m wondering if you were also screened for bipolar disorder. The fact that you can’t sleep at night and you have high energy during these times makes me ask this question.

Mental Health Issues? Allah Loves You

Brother, I am sorry for your loss of your dad and the earlier loss of your uncle. I could imagine this affected you greatly. A loss is never easy. These life events combined with your anxiety and depression, no doubt, have increased your symptoms. Reading your question, I noticed you kept going back to this girl you were seeing.

She seems to be the highlight throughout your question. She also seems to be the highlight as to why you feel that you cannot move past this paralyzing anxiety and sleep disorder. It seems she really does care for you, brother, and that is a blessing. In sha’Allah, once you resolve your mental health/sleeping issues, you can move in the direction of deciding if she is one who you will marry.

However, now is not the time to think about her or anything else except healing yourself. After that, everything else will fall into place, In sha’Allah. Lastly, on this subject, remember that Allah is most merciful and loves to forgive.

I know you want to stop haram behaviors. However, when we have severe anxiety, depression, or obsessive thoughts, we cannot think clearly, and everything becomes magnified. Allah knows you are struggling, and He loves you.

Perspectives

Brother, the problem does not lie within this girl that you’re seeing, nor does it lie within you, per se. If you have depression and anxiety, there are biochemical and neurological changes that may have taken place which need to be corrected.

I am not one to promote medication. However, there are certain circumstances where medication is needed to help heal the brain. Yours may be one of those cases, and there are many. Some people are on medication for a lifetime. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I advise clients to look at it like this; if you had high blood pressure or diabetes you would be on medication. There would be no stigma, it’s just something that you would live with and know that it was best for your health.

I know you spoke against medication, but perhaps you needed a different dose or a different medication. Often, it takes many tries to find the one that works, but it is so worth it. You are worth it. You have many great things to do in this life and many blessings coming your way.  Please reconsider.

Finding Stability & Peace

Brother, I know you said that you had worries and anxieties as a child, but I encourage you to look at a time when you felt good and stable and you could sleep well. What was going on in your life at that time? Did you sleep well? Did you have friends? Social life? A solid Islamic life? Did you eat healthy food and exercise?


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By answering these questions and others, you may find what it is that does stabilize you. Whatever it is that you find stability and peace with, please do stick with that routine. Our mind, body, and spirit are connected. When one part hurts, it affects the other two.

That is why it is so important to have a balance. When a person cannot turn off their mind, and the thoughts keep running, it is difficult to sleep. Lack of sleep with exacerbating everything else. It will also be difficult to make rational decisions in life. Not sleeping for long periods of time can lead to psychotic-like symptoms.

However, you can turn everything around, brother, and start the healing process and live a full and wonderful life.

Reclaiming your Peace of Mind

I kindly advise you to go back to your therapist, In sha’Allah. If that therapist did not produce significant reductions in your symptoms, please see a different therapist. With your high anxiety, sleep disorder, depression, and other thoughts, medication and psychotherapy should be effective.

If you are not getting relief, seek treatment elsewhere. Often people do very well on medication and therapy. Then they stop because they think they are healed, only to have a relapse. It doesn’t work that way. You must continue the healing path all the way, In sha’Allah.

You may need an anti-anxiety medication for many years. And that is okay. I had a friend who had symptoms and issues very similar to yours. She started medication and therapy and after a few months, she felt wonderful.

After 6 months she stopped going to therapy and stopped the medication. She felt so good, she figured she did not need them. However, it was the meds and therapy that was helping her to heal. She relapsed and ended up in the psychiatric hospital. This cycle kept happening for years until she realized it was a repair process that may take her dedication, commitment, and compliance.

She accepted that and went back on her medication and weekly counseling. Today, she is a lawyer and happily married with two children. She is also an advocate for mental health.

I kindly urge you, dear brother, to advocate for yourself regarding your rights to heal and move on with your life. 

A Promise

In the meantime, dear brother, I want you to write out a contract stating that you will not harm yourself. I want you to state in addition, that prior to any harmful thoughts you will contact someone.

Write in a name of a person that you are close to and trust that you can reach out to should you feel like hurting yourself.

Also, state in the document that you will call the Suicide Prevention Hotline number (list it) and or the emergency number in your country and sign it.

[Editor’s note: Here are 5 suicide prevention hotlines in India you need to know about.]

This is your promise to yourself, your family, friends, your future wife and children, and to Allah.

I can understand your frustration, feelings of helplessness, as well as just wanting it all to end. However, this is not the way. Not only is it a sin, but it would also destroy your family and especially your mom. Your life will get better. You must believe this.

So many people have gone through similar situations that you’re going through and have come through, healed and are leading wonderful lives. You will do the same, In sha’Allah. Allah has many great things for you and your future.

I have confidence that you will come through this, and you will soon feel much better. You have your whole life ahead of you, and to think you want to end it, is heartbreaking. Allah took such great care in creating you.

Please, do call emergency services if you feel like harming yourself. Please, do write the contract, contact your therapist to arrange treatment as soon as possible, and pray. Know that Allah loves you.

Please let us know how you are doing,

***

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:

Religion Might Be Answer to Depression

Save Me from Depression!

How Can I Overcome Fear and Depression?




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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