Failed Exams: I’m Stressed & Depressed

20 September, 2020
Q I don't know what to do with my life. I'm sick of being a burden on my parents.

I failed my exam with a border of 10 marks. I loved this guy, but he completely stopped talking to me. I get anxious when I'm reminded of him.

I'm scared to bits to face my exams also. I'm stressed; I'm depressed. I'm out of words.

Can I be guided so I can improve my life?

Answer


In this counseling session:

  • You stated “I’m scared to bits to face my exams”. This is a natural feeling, dear sister, that most of us go through. Oftentimes, however, as with everything in life, we can let our fears affect our performance and outcomes.
  • Begin preparing in advance. This would include reducing the anxiety. I would kindly suggest that you begin to learn how to quiet your mind by doing some stress reduction exercises in a quiet space.
  • For practical tips, please go over the material in class ahead of time and in a calm area of your home or school. Begin to organize the study material that was presented as main points.
  • Make sure you read and re-read the question carefully to ensure you understand its full meaning correctly. Misconception of questions can arise when we are anxious or stressed, so ensuring you enter an exam with as calm a mind as you can is important.
  • As for the guy you loved, if he stopped talking to you, then he was not and is not worth your time and worry.
  • Allah (swt) is the best of planners and the best of guiders. Thus, I encourage you to make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) for guidance in your life.

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,

I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through. It must have been very stressful and disappointing to fail your exams with a border of 10 marks. As you have a lot in your mind, I am wondering if you really did put forth efforts into studying as best as you could.

Exams

Taking exams is very stressful as well as strenuous. It takes much time and efforts as well as months of preparation. I am wondering if you did prepare as well as you could have, and did you take the time out needed to pass this exam.

Failed Exams: I'm Stressed & Depressed - About Islam

You stated “I’m scared to bits to face my exams”. This is a natural feeling, dear sister, that most of us go through. Oftentimes, however, as with everything in life, we can let our fears affect our performance and outcomes. We can actually lower our scores or fail if we become too anxious or if we do not prepare properly as you can see.

Some advice

Some useful tips on passing your next exams would be to begin preparing in advance. This would include reducing the anxiety. I would kindly suggest that you begin to learn how to quiet your mind by doing some stress reduction exercises in a quiet space.

Practice deep breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery techniques in which you visualize positive words such as “calm, peaceful, happy” and so forth.

Pair these words with a successful outcome such as when you think of calm, think of sitting in a quiet wooded area with lovely tree’s surrounding you and a gentle breeze, with no problems in the world. With time and practice, in sha’ Allah, when you are stressed or anxious, you can recall these words and invoke the feelings that accompany them, thus bringing you to a much more relaxed and productive state of mind.

Practical tips

For practical tips, please go over the material in class ahead of time and in a calm area of your home or school. Begin to organize the study material that was presented as main points. You may want to organize the material in a chart form so it is visually available to see what it is you are focusing on step by step. From there you can add smaller points under the main one.

As you begin to study each concept, try to remember difficult items by memory association. For example, if one of the course test questions can contain a certain person’s name and contribution, associate that name with the contribution.

Example:  Carl discovered a new medication. Carl happens to have a huge reddish beard and the antibiotic is for yellow fever. Carl may be pictured in your mind as reclining on a couch or bed ill and his once black beard is turning yellow. These and other kinds of visual associations help us to memorize events or details of study.

Also, while taking exams or writing essays for exams, make sure you read and re-read the question carefully to ensure you understand its full meaning correctly. Misconception of questions can arise when we are anxious or stressed, so ensuring you enter an exam with as calm a mind as you can is important (refer back to stress reduction techniques). In sha’ Allah, sister, these tips can help.


Check out this counseling video:


Love

You also mentioned that you loved a guy and he completely stopped talking to you, and that you get anxious whenever you are reminded about him. While you did not say how long you have known him, whether you talked to each other or not.

I can only state that if he stopped talking to you, then he was not and is not worth your time and worry. I know this sounds simplistic and rather vague, but it is true.

Often times, we think we “love” someone when, in fact, we often do not really know what it is we love! Did you love the way he practiced Islam? The way he treated his parents? His studious and hardworking efforts, or his sense of humor? Please make a list of what love is to you. 

What does a good potential husband encompass? From there, as you review your list, you may find this boy is not what you would want for a husband. Additionally, this will give you a better idea of what to look for in the future when choosing a potential husband.

In sha’ Allah, I would also kindly suggest taking some seminars at your local Masjid or Islamic center on marriage in Islam. This will help you get a better feeling of what to look for not only in a future husband, but in a marriage as well.

Please do work real hard at letting go of this boy, dear sister, because although I may be wrong, it is my feeling that he is part of the reason why maybe you could not focus on your exams.

Burden on parent

As far as feeling sick of being a burden on your parents, while we all wish for independence from our parents and we wish to be the ones who help them, families often live together for much longer periods of times these days. There is nothing wrong with that.

Often times, when we are still living with our parents, we can be more of a benefit to them. In the Qur’an, we can see the importance of this relationship:

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.”  (17:23)

In fact, I am sure that if you took inventory of the ways in which you do help your parents (such as housecleaning, cooking, assisting them with running errands, etc.), I am sure you will find that you are not a burden but a big help to them.

If you are not helping as you should, in sha’ Allah, try to increase your deeds regarding them as well as helping out around the home. I am sure it will be appreciated.

Conclusion

Allah (swt) is the best of planners and the best of guiders. The Qur’an states,

 “…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (2:216)

I kindly suggest that in order to find out what it is you want to do with your life, take a personal inventory.

Write down your goals and wishes. Then, for each goal and wish, write down practical steps to achieve your missives. As stated above, Allah (swt) is the best of planners and the best of guiders. Thus, I encourage you to make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) for guidance in your life.

Read the Qur’an for direction and comfort. Do dhizkr for remembrance of Allah (swt) and for the blessings of calmness that come with it. You will see that in doing so, in sha’ Allah, your life and thoughts and direction will become more clear and structured.

You may also find that the stress and depression lifts as well, in sha’ Allah. If, however, it does not after much efforts, please do see a therapist in your area for counseling.

You are in our prayers. We wish you the best.

Salam,

***

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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 projects.