What is quite ironic is that the weeks leading up to this writeup, depression creeped back in and those things I knew for certain did not feel like facts anymore. I often personify feelings, and if depression was a person he would be a thief. Not only did he stole my love for writing, my excitement for this opportunity and every other opportunity recently given to me but he steals my sense of self. He steals my self worth, my motivation, the will to do even the smallest thing. He steals kindness, and confidence. He runs away clinging on to my time and most of all he steals joy from everything joy can come from. Sorry to personify him as a ‘he’. It’s just because it needed to be a character that was the furthest away from my own self. As clever and as thorough as he is in all his burglary galore, he cannot steal faith. I am only one person and I have only suffered this illness through the experience of one brain but I feel like I can speak for a lot of people when I say the following.
Result of Poor Faith?
Suffering the illness of depression is not a result of poor faith, nor is it a consequence of having a non-existent relationship with the Quran or having no sense of God and all his mercy. Just as we would consider a physical illness a test to be fought, the same goes for mental illness and depression.
One of the assumptions I hate the most is this idea that if you are sad it is because you are simply not grateful enough. Sufferers of depression are one of the most grateful people you will find because not only are they grateful for all the things everyone else is, like their parents, their jobs, Maghrib time at Ramadan but they are grateful for all the little moments. Moment when their hearts are at ease, for the times their mouths can actually utter the duas their hearts have been begging them to say for weeks. They are grateful for the days where they pray and can feel that their hearts have become lighter even for a second. What is even more amazing is the fact that some are grateful for this unrelenting disease because they can see God drawing them closer towards himself through it and understand it is all part of His infinite wisdom. Depression is not a result of ingratitude, depression is a catalyst for an infinite amount of appreciation for every little bit of good this world could give.
As for the issue of faith. It’s their faith in God that keeps them getting up each and every morning, it keeps them praying five times a day and it keeps them from giving up even when that is all that their head and heart is inviting them to do. These are the people who have conversations with their Lord begging him not to leave their side. These are the people who know that He is all they truly have. Depression is not a result of a lack of faith, faith is what they are using to fight.
It’s Ok To Get Help.
Getting help for mental health disorders is hard enough, never mind having to face any kind of stigma from the Muslim community. Depression is a real tangible diseases, that is so harmful to a person’s well being. It has physical symptoms that often go unnoticed and if remain untreated, it can be destructive. So yes, the cure for sadness is strong faith and remembrance of God but He also taught us to go to the doctors, learn about mental health disorders, seek therapy, and start talking. We need to spread awareness and we need to speak up. Sadness is not a sin, hopelessness is.