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I’m a Porn Addict Due to Depression: Please Help Me!

Questioner

US, 23, female

Reply Date

May 12, 2019

Question

Assalamualaikum,

I am a 23-year-old female who suffers from depression and anxiety (more so depression than anxiety). I do not pray 5 times a day, mostly twice a day, and I do not feel peace in prayer at all. I have gone through phases in my life where I was at an all-time low and felt like I could not climb out of it.

I have attempted suicide before on numerous occasions, particularly when I was young. I have also spent most of my youth in counseling from 13-17 years old because of my depression, suicide attempts, harassment, bullying...etc. As I get older, I watch myself slowly decline. At this point, as I sit and write this, I am utterly depressed and miserable on the inside, like a dead person walking the earth with no purpose.

It is honestly weighing on me and to top it off, I cannot refrain from this one sin. When I was a child, a cousin of mine exposed me to pornography, and I was never the same again. As I grew and matured, I got wet dreams a lot, to the point where they were uncomfortable.

When I was 18, I tragically fell back into the sinful habit. Slowly, one photo turned into multiple photos, which turned into one video and numerous videos, and eventually I found myself sexually pleasuring myself. Back then, I never really thought of it. However, now when I pleasure myself, I feel guilty. There are times where I have the strength to refrain from pornography altogether. However, if I have not sexually pleasured myself there is like a burning inferno inside of me.

I am not married, and it is out of the question for me too. I do not wish to marry and use my would-be spouse as a tool for my sexual purposes.

Truthfully, as I reflect upon myself more, I begin to hate my existence. Sometimes, I wonder how I would be able to stand in front of the very being who created me and tell Him that I sinned and cannot take it back.

What do I do? I thought maybe going to counseling might help, but I refrained from the idea because I have been to counseling before and it has not worked out. How do I stop?

Counselor

Answer


I’m a Porn Addict Due to Depression: Please Help Me!

In this counseling answer:

•Please reach out to help if you feel suicidal: National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

•I highly encourage you to seek counseling in sha’ Allah. It won’t work unless you are ready and willing to tackle your depression and overcome it.

•Please do keep in mind that Allah knows your heart sister and Allah is most merciful.

•I would kindly suggest that you make a conscious effort to stop viewing pornography by associating a negative image in your mind when you feel the desire to view it.

•When you feel like you want to view it, get up right away and engage yourself in something else such as going for a walk, reading Qur’an, talking to a family member or other diversions.

•I urge you to consider marriage sister, but I also recommend that you deal with your depression first.

•When you love yourself, you can seek the help that you need to address problems such as depression and anxiety.


As salamu alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns. I am sorry to hear about your feeling depressed, sister, I know it is not an easy thing to deal with. You have been suffering from depression since your youth. You indicated that you went for counseling from the ages of 13 to 17 years old due to depression, suicidal ideation, harassment, and being bullied. I can imagine that was a very difficult point in your life. I am not sure what kind of counseling you had or if you recovered but now you feel like you are declining again.

Counseling and Successful Components

Sister, I highly encourage you to seek counseling in sha’ Allah. You did state that you thought about going and that it might help, but you are reluctant as it has not worked in the past.

There are many reasons why it may not have worked out in the past. Perhaps you and therapist were not a good fit, perhaps the treatment plan was not tailored specifically for your level of depression. Or perhaps you did not apply what you were learning in therapy towards change in the long term.

Counseling is a joint effort between you and a therapist. While the therapist may come up with a great plan of action, it won’t work unless you are ready and willing to tackle your depression and overcome it. This may not apply in all cases of depression, however, as depression often requires medication and case intensive management. As in all things though, we must be willing to help ourselves as well.

karim serageldin & naaila clay

Long-term depression, especially severe depression, can change and alter our brain chemistry. Stress can also do this. Medication may be needed to correct the faulty pathways in the brain. Ideally, a combination of a good plan of action, medication, and a person’s willingness to follow the plan of action and want to overcome depression is the ultimate process when it comes to healing.

A lot of times it is very difficult for people to move out of depression. Like high blood pressure, diabetes, or other medical conditions, depression is a medical condition. Therefore, it must be addressed with a serious intent to resolve.

The Triage of Humanness

Depression can also affect spirituality as our being is comprised of a triage: physical, mental, and spiritual. When one part is not functioning correctly or has a deficit, it can affect the other two. Thus, your not praying five times a day is likely related to your depression. Depressed people just do not feel motivated to do things a lot of the time, which could include prayer.

I understand that this has hurt you deeply and weighs heavily on your conscious as you do love Allah and wish to worship Him. Please do keep in mind that Allah knows your heart sister and Allah is most merciful. You also said you do not feel peace in prayer. This may also be because of your anxiety and depression.

I kindly ask you to think of a time when do you feel peace. If you can identify the times that you do feel good and at peace, I would urge you in sha’ Allah to start a journal to document these times and what thoughts, actions, or circumstances surrounded these times when you felt good and at peace. This can lead to insight into what triggers, events and environmental factors are conducive to healing. 

Masturbation

As you are 23 years old and unmarried, having sexual desires is totally normal. Sexual desire is energy like everything else, it is natural and normal. You expressed great remorse, guilt, and regret regarding sexually pleasuring yourself. However, I would like to state that there are difference Islamic schools of thought regarding masturbation.

The realistic side is that masturbation is better than committing zina (adultery) which is a major sin. Sexual urges are natural and normal. If masturbating is keeping you from committing zina, then try not to be so hard on yourself. However, if masturbation has become an addiction you must do to relieve stress, or you must do it when you are upset, or you cannot control it, then it may be an issue.

When you discuss sexually pleasuring yourself, you also talked about a time in your life when you were a child and your cousin exposed you to pornography. You felt that you were never the same since then. While being exposed to pornography as a child must have been a very traumatic experience, your feeling sexual desire is not something that is abnormal or related just to that exposure.


Check out this counseling video 


In other words, had you not been exposed to pornography when you were a child, you would still have sexual feelings now.

Regarding your current use of pornography, it sounds as it has become a habit, dear sister, one that needs to be addressed.

I would kindly suggest that you make a conscious effort to stop viewing pornography by associating a negative image in your mind when you feel the desire to view it. It could be an image of a trash pile, rotten food, or other unsavory things. If you do this for 30 days, you will train your mind to associate your desire to view pornography with a sickening image, thus reducing your need to view it in sha’ Allah

Also, when you feel like you want to view it, get up right away and engage yourself in something else such as going for a walk, reading Qur’an, talking to a family member or other diversions. You are stronger than this habit. Make duaa (supplication) to Allah to remove this habit from you. If you must masturbate to avoid zina, do not use pornography.

If you find you cannot stop after using these two techniques for 30 days, please seek counseling to help you stop. Yes, there are counseling specialties that deal with pornography addiction.

Marriage

Sister, the best thing for you at this point is to think about getting married. You stated very adamantly that you are “not married and that is out of the question that you do not wish to marry and use your would-be spouse as a tool for sexual pleasure”.  I must point out, dear sister, that marriage is one of the beautiful relationships Allah created for us.

Allah created marriage for many reasons and sexual expression and sexual satisfaction is one of them. In fact, marriage is the only relationship in which sexual relations are halal. I would not tell you to get married just to have a sexual partner, although some people do that to avoid committing zina.

However, I would advise you to seek a compatible partner. Choose someone with whom you would enjoy creating a life with, someone that you like and want to get married to. There is nothing wrong with that. It is one of the blessings from Allah.

Dealing with Issues Prior to Moving Forward

I urge you to consider marriage sister, but I also recommend that you deal with your depression first. By addressing your depression and anxiety, and working towards healing, in sha’ Allah you will find that your other issues will diminish. These issues, such as not being able to keep all your prayers, not finding peace, and feeling like you’re a “dead person walking the earth” will in sha’ Allah disappear.

In fact, the reason that you are probably having these thoughts and feelings is because you are severely depressed. Once your depression is addressed and worked through, you may find new joy in your life and the problems that you are experiencing now will be in the past in sha’ Allah.

By addressing your depression (and anxiety) with a successful treatment, in sha’ Allah, you will be able to bring your “true” person into a marriage. By using the terminology “true”, I am referring to who you are as a person without the depression and feelings of despair. 

I don’t advise seeking a marriage partner when you are severely depressed or have other mental health issues unless you are actively addressing them and on the healing path. It is best to start a marriage with a clear and positive mind. Sister, we all have issues we must work through in this life, but until we do, we will continue to go in circles.

Some never address their issues and live unhappily for decades. Others address their issues right away and find relief, leading to a much happier life and less wasted time.

 Self-Love

Sister, I kindly ask that you take some time to do an inner reflection of your self-love. Love of self is not a selfish or egotistical concept in its purity, but it is a concept which enables us to find self-worth and dignity. It enables us to see that we are worth fighting for and saving. It is acknowledging that Allah SWT created us, and Allah does not create mistakes or worthless things.

When you love yourself, you can seek the help that you need to address problems such as depression and anxiety. When you love yourself, you know that you are worth it, and as your sister in Islam, I’m telling you that you are worth. You are a beautiful, young, pious Muslim. You have your whole life ahead of you.

Hope

The depression that you are experiencing, as well as your history of depression, suicidal ideation and harassment is not uncommon. Many people go through it unfortunately and sadly, depression is very common. However, there is hope and there is a way out, and that is through trusting in Allah, caring enough about yourself to seek help, applying healing techniques and treatments to your life, as well as truly believing in yourself and in your future.

Conclusion

Please do seek counseling as soon as possible. Look at this point as a new chapter in your life, one that is filled with hope, healing, and resolution. Seek Islamic activities such as going to the Mosque, connecting with Muslim sisters, as well as attending Islamic social events. The more time we spend out with our sisters and in Islamic environment, the stronger we will feel.

Lastly, if you do feel in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Pray to Allah for relief, ease and His blessings. Please do see a counselor as soon as possible.

Salam,

***

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:

When I Feel Depressed, I Watch Porn

The Magic Solution to Stop Masturbation

Porn Sickens Me But Can’t Stop!




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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