I am a Muslim girl living in an Arab country. I am 28-years-old and I am yet to be married which affects me quite negatively mentally. I feel very much depressed.
Another reason for my depression is my mother, who feeds negative thoughts into my mind all the time. It increases my desire to work. I have been offered a job as a secretary. As I am inexperienced, and my options are limited, it is an amazing opportunity for me.
I cover my face with hijab and I also wear long modest dress. There is no possibility of me going to a therapist to help me. I am really determined to get out of this depression which is getting out of my hands as I have been fighting it for the past 5-6 years.
My question is, can I work as a secretary to a male, but my office is in a female environment? My boss will only contact me through emails and call to instruct me. Please kindly advise me, as I am very much depressed to the point where I want to hurt myself.
In this counseling answer:
• If she is insulting you, putting you down, saying bad things about you please do know that it is not about you, but it is really about her own self-image and internal struggles.
• I kindly suggest that you make a list of all your positive traits and qualities.
• I highly recommend that you do get ongoing counseling.
• Make supplication to Allah to guide you and to ease your depression.
As Salaamu Alaikum sister,
Thank you for writing to us and trusting us with your feelings and issues. As I understand from what you’ve written, you’re 28 years old and not yet married and it is affecting the way you feel and think. You state that you’re very depressed and that not being married is causing you sadness and other negative emotions. Additionally, and maybe more significantly, your mother is also a reason for your depression according to you.
The Projection of others Pain
You state that your mom says a lot of negative things all day and doesn’t stop. I’m not sure sister what she is saying to you, but I can imagine it must be harsh from what you have written. I am sorry that you must go through this with your mom. It is not Islamic nor is it loving to constantly tell someone negative things especially if it’s about themselves. Your mother loves you, but from what you wrote it appears she has issues within herself. Most of what your mother is saying is probably out of her own hurt and pain- whatever that may be.
If she is insulting you, putting you down, saying bad things about you please do know that it is not about you, but it is really about her own self-image and internal struggles. You probably happen to be the closest thing to her as her daughter, and sadly you are the one she is taking her pain out on. With that said, I kindly suggest that you try to look at your situation with her in another way. I know it’s difficult but try not to take what she says to heart. Try to remember that usually those who lash out and say cruel and negative things don’t mean it and are usually in pain themselves.
It is not fair that you should be the target of this. However, we cannot choose how one or both of our parents will treat us. We can only control how we will respond to it.
The Power of Self Exploration
I kindly suggest that you make a list of all your positive traits and qualities. Start from when you were little and work on up. I am sure there are many fine qualities and attributes that you have as well as things you have done that are wonderful. Please do list them all and read them daily. I also kindly encourage you to make a list of the things you would like to do in life such as goals and aspirations. Often creating a visual image of who we truly are and what we want helps us to see more clearly.
You had mentioned marriage. Please do list that in your goals. Underneath your goals, write up to five steps needed to reach each goal. Try to think creatively and out of the box, yet of course keep it halal. For instance, if you want to get married and your parents will not help, you may wish to investigate a reputable online dating site for Muslims; you may wish to inquire at your Masjid; you may even wish to join groups or other Islamic forums where Muslims are seeking marriage. This could be in your local community or online. I do caution you with the online aspect, to ensure that it is halal, reputable and that the content and people there are truly seeking to serve Allah in the quest for their marriage. This is just one example based on your desire to be married.
You may have other goals, sister. Is there anything that you would like to do such as go back to school? Start a business? Travel? A hobby you would like to engage in? Please do list all of your interests, hopes, and goals and plan out how to make them a reality.
There is an empowerment to be had in self-discovery and self-exploration. This self-exploration and discovery of your interest and good points can lead to increased self-esteem, higher feelings of self-worth and insha’Allah may decrease your depression. Also, by evaluating your good aspects, you can see where your mother is wrong in the way she speaks to you. I know it’s difficult. After being told negative things repeatedly, one may begin to believe them. That is the danger.
Your task is to try to undo all of the harm that has been done by restructuring the way you think about yourself. Insha’Allah, you will gain an understanding that the negativity is not about you but is in fact about your mom and her issues. Once you can understand that all the negative things are not even related to you, you may be able to grasp all the wonderful good things that you were as a child, and that you have become as a young woman.
Depression vs Happiness: Perceptions
Often when we are depressed others can pick up on it. They might not pick up that it is “depression” but there might be a slight desolate vibe that we put out that others can see. When others meet us, it might be that they see something that doesn’t quite feel right so they pass us by. That’s what depression does to us as humans. It changes the energy or vibe we give off. Your depression could possibly be giving off vibes and you’re not even aware of it, yet a potential spouse may pick up on it. Therefore, I always suggest doing “self-work” in order to get into space where we are happy with ourselves prior to seeking marriage. When we are happy with ourselves, people pick up on that and it’s a good feeling. When we are sad or depressed, they pick up on that too.
With that said, this may be part of the problem regarding finding a spouse. While it is not a fair problem as depression is very common and is a human condition, it is not the optimal mindset to be in when we’re searching for a spouse. After you have done some internal work regarding your perception of yourself, your self-esteem, and self-worth, you can then decrease the depression. This will lead to a happiness insha’Allah which will shine like light from your eyes, and it will attract love!
A Promise to Yourself
Sister, I’m not sure why you cannot go to a therapist. I would highly encourage you to seek out counseling especially because you feel depressed to the point where you want to hurt yourself. I ask you to please make out a contract stating that you will not harm yourself in any way or attempt to commit suicide. Put in the contract that you promise to reach out to a family member, a close friend, trusted imam, (safe person) or call the hotline (1) should you feel the urge to harm yourself in any way. I want you to sign it and date it. This is your promise to yourself. This is also illustrative of your hope and trust in Allah as a Muslim.
Allah loves you and He does not want you to feel sad or depressed or to harm yourself. You are loved. You just may not be able to see that now, but you are. Allah has someone very special waiting for you, you just must get through this difficult time in your life. Perhaps your mom has been emotionally abusive towards you for a long time, I am unsure. However, you may wish to look at this time in your life as a time to change all the negative into positive.
This may be your time for growth, change, and healing. Look at this period as a gift from Allah. Look at this time and the depression that you feel, as an inspiration to make a change. You can do it. It won’t be easy, it will take dedication and work on your part, but it will be worth it. I am confident that you can do this.
Work as a Stepping Stone
As far as the work goes, of course, you can work as a secretary. You can gain valuable experience and education from this position. It may even open other doors for different jobs which may be more interesting to you. Use this experience as not only time away from the negativity, but also as a stepping stone to pique your interest in other things you would like to do or learn. I also encourage you to make a list of jobs or career choices that you may be interested in.
Check out this counseling video:
There are a lot of online courses that you could take for very low cost or for free, based on your interest such as Udemy.com. Also, the Islamic Online University has many wonderful courses and degree programs. You may also wish to do an internet search pertaining to courses of your interest. In addition to your job, I encourage you to get out of the house as much as possible doing positive things. Go to the Masjid for prayers, take an Islamic class at your Islamic Centre, or do some charity work. It might be difficult at first, but the more you get out and engage with life the better you will feel. Even if it’s just a walk with a friend in the park or going out for tea or lunch you will feel much better insha’Allah.
Ongoing Counseling is Self-Care
I highly recommend that you do get ongoing counseling. Please check out the resources around you. If there is nothing, please do check out online counseling forums and look for groups on depression to join. Often these are self-help support groups which are empowering as the group members are generally very supportive of each other. There is also peer counseling available from one who has recovered from depression. Some groups are run by a counselor whom you may be able to communicate with on a regular basis. Please do check around if there is nothing in your immediate area.
Make supplication to Allah to guide you and to ease your depression. Stay close to Allah and turn to Him in times of despair. When you’re feeling down, remember Him, recite Quran as there is healing in it. If things become unbearable to the point where you feel you want to hurt yourself, tell your “safe” person and please call the hot-lines. SuicideStop and Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Sister, I hope you can look at this as a turning point for good, beautiful, and positive things to come. I hope that you can receive counseling and that you do realize that you are a precious beautiful Muslim woman who deserves to be happy. You’re in our prayers please do let us know how you are doing.
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