I’m Ashamed of My Mental Disorders

19 August, 2020
Q As-Salamu Alaikum. I have been suffering for the last 2 years. Finally, I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with OCD. I also suspect that I have BDD (body dysmorphic disorder), but I didn't have the courage to talk about it with my doctor or family.

Being a medical student and suffering from such conditions have led me to extreme anxiety and depression. My heart is broken and I feel my life was destroyed. I can barely get out of bed each day although I can't sleep.

My family started to get bored of me; my grades dropped markedly, my relationship with God and family and friends has almost been destroyed.

I am truly broken and can't move forward. I spend all my days crying. How can I heal from this and move forward?

Answer


In this counseling answer:

• Engage in stress reduction techniques as being a medical student is stressful, and stress exacerbates OCD tendencies.

•  Some helpful stress reduction techniques include mediation or dzkir, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, walk in nature, prayer, Tai Chi, and others. Not only will this help with the OCD, but also with the anxiety.

•  Have more compassion for yourself.

•  Begin a journal and write down your feelings relating to your disorder. Then in the next paragraph, I ask that you write down how you can change these things. Note the positive side of having this disorder at this time in your life.

•  Write a letter to yourself, pointing out all of your good points and traits while expressing gratitude for these attributes. Tell yourself you love yourself just the way you are.

•  Keep close to Allah (SWT), make du’aa’ .


As Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,

I am so sorry you are going through this, and I hear your pain and your crying out for a ”normal life”. However, there are several positive things here. You did go to a doctor and got a diagnosis, which is OCD. I am wondering if s/he recommended treatment or counseling.

Also, you are a medical student, so you know there are effective treatments. Third, you have insight as to what is holding you back (pride and shame in being a medical student).

As you also feel you have BDD, as well as anxiety and depression, I would ask you, what would you advise a co-worker or fellow student to do if they came to you with these symptoms?

Surely you would listen compassionately without judgment and refer them to a mental health specialist, right? Or, would you encourage them to try to hide it and just go on with life?

See, my dear sister, there is no shame in having OCD, or BDD, or depression, anxiety or any other myriad of disorders that we as humans get.

As a medical student, you should understand that we are all susceptible to various conditions at any given time, no matter our profession. Perhaps, dear sister, this is, in fact, one of your first tests as an upcoming doctor – to not accept, nor project shame when a disorder presents itself.

As you evaluate your situation, I ask that you have more compassion for yourself. After all, I am thinking that you decided to become a doctor as you have compassion for others and want to be in a profession wherein you can help people.

I'm Ashamed of My Mental Disorders - About Islam

Psych Central states that “Nearly all of my clients have struggled with shame about having a mental illness, or even about having feelings that are inconvenient or that seem out of sync with what others seem to feel,” said Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, a therapist in private practice in San Francisco. She focuses on helping clients relate to themselves and their lives with greater self-compassion.”

I suggest dear sister that you begin a journal and write down your feelings relating to your disorder. Then in the next paragraph, I ask that you write down how you can change these things.

Note the positive side of having this disorder at this time in your life. Perhaps, it will give you more insight as to how your future patients may feel.

Perhaps, it will cause you to be even more compassionate, or it will lead you into the field of psychiatry. Whatever reasons you find, document them.

Once you begin to understand your own motivations, skills and weaknesses, feelings and emotions, you will be in a better position to make healthy choices and to avoid the traps of ego.

I also ask you to write a letter in sha’ Allah. Write a letter to yourself, pointing out all of your good points and traits while expressing gratitude for these attributes.

Tell yourself you love yourself just the way you are, and that you love yourself enough to seek the proper treatment.

I highly suggest dear sister that you begin counseling as soon as possible so you can find out the root of the OCD and BDD and begin to heal. As most OCD behaviors are caused by anxiety, fears, loss of control issues among other things, it is important to identify them and overcome them.

A therapist trained in the treatment of OCD would be best as there are special types of cognitive therapy used which are highly valued with successful outcomes.


Check out this counseling video:


I also suggest that you engage in stress reduction techniques as being a medical student is stressful, and stress exacerbates OCD tendencies. Some helpful stress reduction techniques include mediation or dzkir, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, walk in nature, prayer, Tai Chi, and others.

Not only will this help with the OCD, but also with the anxiety. Concerning the BDD, again, a therapist is best suited to address these issues with you and formulate an agreeable treatment plan.

So, my dear sister, please, in sha’ Allah wipe away your tears, know that you are human, know this does not define who you are but it is merely a symptom that needs addressing. I ask you to be as strong in advocating for yourself as you would for your future patients!

I have confidence in you, and I know you will not let this stand in the way of your self-worth, self-esteem, nor your academic pursuits and happiness. You are making it through medical school (which I hear is very grueling ;)), therefore I am sure you will make it through this.

Keep close to Allah (SWT), make du’aa’ that He guides you through this, and have confidence that everything which seems dark passes and we emerge from our cocoons as butterflies with new wings!

You are in our prayers. 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:

https://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/new-muslim-how-to-minimize-the-stress/
https://aboutislam.net/family-society/6-ways-to-reduce-anxiety-stress-right-now/
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.