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Please Help Me Getting Over My Fears and Anxiety

25 December, 2017
Q I've been in conflict with myself these last few days but things became worse after this one thing that happened. In my school there is a class where me and 3 other Muslimah friends always gathered to talk about Allah and his mercy and all Islam related questions. But our school has been built near a place where they sell alcohol where depravation of all sorts probably also happens. And one time after one of those sessions , I had a bad intuition about something I couldn’t quiet explain but soon enough I was left alone in this class . Then out of nowhere I heard a hissing sound though at first I thought it came from the AC but then I instinctively looked at the door and I felt a most frightening feeling that spread in waves in my body and unconsciously repeated aouthou billahi minas shaytanir rajim and went out the class screaming this. It was the most frightening experience in my life . Then I stayed in a state of utmost fright the whole day my heartbeat speeding up at the faintest rustle of sound. When I tried explaining this to the people I trusted the most namely my father and grandma the first said that I was doing too much Ibadat that the zikr and prayer and Quran reading I did were a lot more than young girls of my age (18) ever did and that he feared in a way that I may turn crazy from doing this just like an acquaintance of his. Then I realized that like any other person he was afraid and confused and just didn’t know what to do or think since as he said this never happened to him . This was the same answer from my grandma who also said that because we were close to a place where Satan is regularly then it’s normal that he came to scare us because we were doing what he hated and that just like my father she said I should also stop. After this though I did pray Allah to give me courage and sustenance because if it weren’t for this I would have never understood how much true it was to say that only Allah is you real Helper. Then later on though I still feel as though I have scars from this because even if I wanted to do more efforts and zikr I get the most hated feeling of getting afraid that the thing my appear again and scare me. Though I keep reminding myself that it’s only Allah that I should fear and that the jinns are allowed to do what they do only if He wills. Yet I don’t understand why I feel so blocked every-time I try to get past some kind of wall that seems erected in from of me no matter all my rational thoughts. And it’s like all this happening wakes in me a need for proofs or miracles from Allah to justify to myself all that I do. Yet afterwards I feel bad for ever thinking this way when people that are better than me in character and that have suffered so much never got a sign of encouragement for their good deeds until their death where they see the fruits of their efforts (beautiful angels surrounding them on their deathbed) but they kept being strong in their faith no matter the hardships. I am afraid and I want to believe that if I do all the zikr and everything else recommended when in affliction that those doubts fear those hardships won’t happen again but then I am always reminded of the fact that I will be tried with my faith then I think How can I be strong when I’m being frightened each time how can I keep strength and have fear of Allah and none else. I’m lost what to do , what to think ?

Answer

In this counseling answer:

“If you are found to have anxiety, panic disorder, OCD or any other mental health issue, please sister rest assured you are not alone.Many people worldwide suffer from these mental health issues and are treated successfully most of the time and return to living healthy, happy lives-fear free. But you must take the first step in getting an assessment.  Lastly, yes-Allah swt is our ultimate healer.”


 

As salamu alaykum dear sister,

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Shokran for writing to our live session.  I can imagine how you must be feeling, not knowing if what you experienced was something from the shaitan or was a valid noise in the building.

Often times when we are over-worked, stressed out or otherwise mentally fatigued, our minds can play tricks on us as we are not functioning with fresh mental energy. Despite your not knowing what exactly it was, the fact is it is over now, you are safe, your worries and concerns should have subsided by now but they have not.

While I am not sure if what you experienced was of a spiritual nature or of an emotional one, indeed it did scare you.  The fact that the school building wherein you and your classmates were discussing Allah is near a place where alcohol is sold as well as other sinful behaviors occur may have become a focal point in your mind for anxiety and panic.

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What you are describing dear sister may or may not be related to an anxiety, panic disorder or another mental health issue which is causing you to think and feel this way.

The fact that you still are thinking about this incident and it seems to be growing in intensity and concern for you, maybe an indication that it was such a traumatic experience that you may need help in overcoming it.

Often times when we had an experience that was scary our minds often create a space where the fear and anxiety can grow out of proportion and start to take over our lives.

Psychology Today  states “We only need to start examining some of the beliefs that anxiety sufferers hold about the world and themselves in order to begin to understand how adaptive anxiety mutates into a mental health problem. For instance, most of the common anxiety disorders are underpinned by a set of dysfunctional beliefs that simply don’t represent the objective reality of the world, and in this sense they might be characterized as ‘delusional’ beliefs”.

If you do suffer from anxiety from this experience sister it may be that it has progressed to a deeper state of entangled thoughts and belief systems to which you cannot control.  The over thinking of this especially with your need for “proofs or miracles” from Allah may be indicative of an obsessive-compulsive disorder (which is a part of an anxiety spectrum) wherein obtrusive thoughts keep coming and you cannot stop them even though you know they are irrational.

You stated that while you wish to have “proofs and see miracles” you also stated that “afterward I feel bad for ever thinking this way when people that are better than me in character and that have suffered so much never got a sign of encouragement for their good deeds.”

While I am not sure if you are trying this in with your experience at the school or good deeds you have done or are doing, you do realize that expecting “proofs” from Allah is atypical thinking.

Sister, I would kindly suggest that insha’Allah you seek out assessment and counseling. Ongoing counseling with a therapist who can evaluate and diagnose you may prove to be most beneficial insha’Allah.

Please do speak with your parents again about this issue and insha’Allah request an evaluation. While I cannot diagnose you, I can only offer some small insights and suggestions to help guide you insha’Allah to get the appropriate help.

If you are found to have anxiety, panic disorder, OCD or any other mental health issue, please sister rest assured you are not alone.

Many people worldwide suffer from these mental health issues and are treated successfully most of the time and return to living healthy, happy lives-fear free. But you must take the first step in getting an assessment.  Lastly, yes-Allah swt is our ultimate healer.

Please do continue to pray, seek His guidance and relief and know that Allah is most merciful.   You may feel “blocked” or fearful however I urge you to try to move past this by knowing that there is truly nothing to fear but Allah.

Again, anxiety may be the root cause if this sister. I cannot say but Psychology  Today (1) discusses some of the avoidance behaviors in worship that you are describing “Severe anxiety gives rise to avoidance responses – behaviors designed to ensure the ‘bad things’ related to the anxiety don’t happen or are avoided.

What this means in practice is that the dysfunctional beliefs held by anxious individuals are rarely dis-confirmed. This is because the sufferer continually avoids situations that might provide information that the threat is not as horrendous as they believe”.

As we are human and subject to defects, it may take some time in counseling for you to fully get over these fears and blockages you are experiencing. Often times, when we are stressed, anxious or have other mental health issues going on it can affect our prayers, our ability to read Qur’an and so forth.  However, this is through no fault of our own and Allah is most merciful.

Please do see a counselor in your area sister to resolve this.  You are in our prayers.

***

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.

How to Overcome My Addiction, OCD, and Fears?

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https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/mental-health/why-do-i-feel-anxious-all-the-time/

 

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.