It’s cold in Michigan. Dreary. Things are dying. Morale is at an all-time low for a lot of individuals during the fall/winter months. Lack of sunlight. Holiday woes. It’s super brisk and your usual cuddle buddy is being a fuckboi and not answering your texts. Yeah, I get it. It’s not the most wonderful time of the year, so says the holiday songs on the radio.
I’ve been in my “mood” lately. When, I say “mood,” it’s code for mental lapses, anxiety, depression, or all three—depends on the day or days. And I really hate when I get into these “moods” because I know that I’m feeling these emotions or I’m being a certain way… and for the most part, I have no idea why. It can strike at any moment—even when life seems to be okay or running smoothly. Then I begin to feel “ungrateful” because I’m feeling like shit when life dictates that it could be a lot worse.
Oh, isn’t life full of contradictions?
I understand that these “moods” are either triggered by some kind of hormonal imbalance, or a word, a face, or even a song which jolts you back into some repressed traumatic moment which leads to these negative emotions.
But meanwhile, at that same moment when people are telling you how “crazy” you are for even showing any signs of distress in life, you are feeling like a trapped bat ramming its little bat face into a glass window.
“If you were a better Muslim, you wouldn’t have those sorts of problems. Take it to the rug. Oh, you’ll be okay, just remind yourself of the people who have it way worse than you.”
Yes, when someone reaches out to you about not being right in the head or not feeling well mentally, please continue to pour icing over shit and not deal with the issues head on.
Do you know how many times I’ve reached out just to be called crazy or told to suck it up?
Do you know how many times I’ve been made out to be a jerk because of misplaced emotions?
Do you know how it feels to have the outside not match the inside – how confusing that is?
I’ve always had “issues” growing up, but was too afraid to tell anyone. When I got to college, the emotions started bubbling over. I was aggressive, sporadic, and in denial. I’d have these breakdowns, privately, and withdrew from other humans. I didn’t have drugs or alcohol to soothe my problems, so my outlet became fighting.
I graduated college at 20 years old with a business degree. I got married two weeks after that. More mental issues came to play. Aggression on top of aggression. The police were even called on me a few times. I didn’t go to jail. (Not yet, anyway.) I hit rock bottom. I had no one. No family support. My ex had left. And my friends wanted nothing to do with me or didn’t know how to assist. I was alone.
I remember lying on the beach, tears streaming down my face on the phone with my mother. “I’m going to admit myself to the hospital,” I said. “I can’t live like this anymore.”
She tried to console me. Tell me what I should do. She apologized for not catching my issues earlier. But it was a little too late. I was floating beneath the clouds. Watching my life unfold in a painful, slow motion.
I decided that before I admitted myself, that I deserved at least one more chance. I was going to seek out a therapist. I found one at this little Muslim family services place in Detroit. The female counselor was a hijabi. She was Somali. She was the hand that pulled me out of the darkness.
And that’s all I needed at the time. I went in twice a week. I cried. We talked. I wasn’t eating. She told me to eat colorful fruits and vegetables. She told me to make small goals for myself. She even gave me her personal number when I felt down. To this day, I see her around the mosque sometimes. I don’t think she understands how much I needed her. How much she helped me.
To talk about mental illness in Islam, or to even admit it, I think is a very “hush-hush” topic—like a lot of issues in our communities. I see some strides being made to make it more accessible, less judge-y, but we have some ways to go.
After five years of extensive therapy, and after hiding it for so long, I am very much so open about it. Why should I keep it quiet? Because I’m Muslim? Because I’m a Black superhero? Because I’m a blogger that posts cute pics on Instagram and my life is so fuckin’ perfect?
When I go through my “moods,” I sometimes share it on Facebook—not to get pity or to get likes. I share it because of the Muslim girls and women who inbox me, secretly, telling me that they, too, have the same issues and can’t admit it in fear that their community “wouldn’t understand” or they’d experience backlash or jeers. But even though they are not at the point where they can openly seek help or be honest about it, they have me: Someone they know who has and is going through the same outbursts., the same feeling of worthlessness, the same anxiety attacks.
Just like the Somali counselor reached her hand out and pulled me back into some light, by sharing my life, my triumphs, and downfalls, I want to do the same for others. I want to be that hand that reaches out, and I want others to do the same. If you see it, you have a duty to help. Listen. Provide a safe space for them to breathe. A hug. Giving non-judgmental advice. It’s the little things that count. Those little acts of kindness that could make someone’s day and be the difference between them stepping into the light or withdrawing into the darkness.