I’d like to offer you a public service announcement: Being a Muslim does not make you immune to depression. According to the movement “Out of the Darkness Walks,” created by family members and friends who have lost loved ones due to suicide, every 13.3 minutes someone is tragically taking their own life.
That is 34,000 people a year. Statistics show that more than 25 million people suffer from depression every year, and five to eight percent are teens from the ages of 18 and older who are affected by it.
Stop Making The Issue of Depression Taboo
Being diagnosed with depression does not indicate a lack of iman (faith). As Muslims, we are constantly told to seek guidance in Allah through the challenging times, but some Muslims maybe be too ashamed to address the reality of our mental state in fear that it may reflect on our family’s reputation in a negative way.
Do not let us suffer in silence! You may not see us cry on the outside, but we’ve left a trail of tears on the inside.
In today’s Muslim youth, as we travel on the path to discovering our future functional role in society, it is hard to not lose interest and question the significance of everything as well as our own self worth.
Will I really make a difference? Does society need me? Can they live without me?
What To Do?
1. Whether you are a parent or a friend, be open to talking about anything. In an article entitled “My Experience of Talking About Mental Health in a Muslim Community,“ the author stated that, “God will always be there to turn to but, sometimes, we need to talk openly about our problems to someone who can help us practically, as well as emotionally — and create a support network of friends and family.”
Arguably, discussing the peek and the pit of our day during dinner should be the only advice we adopt from the Kardashian family.
It’s an effective tactic that opens having conversations with no limits.
2. Help if you can.
There is a narration of a man who was a companion of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) named Ibn Omer. He came to the mosque one day with the intention of performing I’tikaf (seclusion in the mosque for the sake of worshipping Allah (SWT)). He noticed someone there who walked in looking very worried about something.
Ibn Omer approached the man and asked him what was wrong. The man informed him of his financial debts and that the day to pay them back had approached. Ibn Omer offered to escort the man and assist him in getting an extension. The man was grateful for his company and accepted his request.
But another man came to Ibn Omer to remind him of what his original intention for being in the mosque was – to make I’tikaf. Ibn Omer informed him of the hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) that said, “for one of you to assist your brother in a time of need is better than seclusion of worship for 10 consecutive years.“
What Not To Do
1. Do not belittle or disregard the severity of the issue by forcing us to feel like a balloon that is inflating itself with anger, suffering, and self hatred because we will eventually pop.
Denying the existence of depression does not help one overcome it — rather, it helps dig the hole deeper for them to fall into.
2. If you are giving a pep talk or a motivation speech to instill some hope in someone who is going through a difficult time, avoid saying things like, “Hard times don’t last, but tough people do,” or, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
We’re not talking about finals week or the flu, people!
3. Sheikh Yassir Fazaga encourages Muslims to not associate depression with a character weakness as well as a lack of faith.
Ultimately, the goal is to prevent entering the stage of disparity where suicidal thoughts start to be contemplated.
Always remember that it is your divine obligation to fight for your happiness. In chapter 28, verse 77, Allah (SWT) commands us to seek the quality of life that He meant for us to have.
It is not easy, and for a while you will feel like you are climbing up a never-ending ladder; but in chapter 2, verse 195, Allah (SWT) reminds us not contribute to our own self destruction.
Time heals many things. It’s a cliche for a reason. “Bear with patience whatever befalls you,” (Qur’an 31:17) because, “surely with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an 94:6)