To be Muslim and Bipolar – ‘One time, I told a sister that I was depressed and she told me that depression was from the devil’

I am one of six million Americans that suffer from bipolar disorder in the United States. Worldwide, it is the sixth leading cause of disability. According to the Depression Bipolar Alliance, people with bipolar disorder have their lives shortened by nine years. It is a genetic disease; two out of every three people that have bipolar disorder have had at least one relative that has had the illness. In my case, my father and my uncle both have the illness.

My diagnosis

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2014. When the psychiatrist first gave me the diagnosis I had mixed feelings about it. It was a good thing because it helps me understand what was going on with the mood swings. One minute, I could be everyone’s best friend, hyper happy and feeling no one could stop me. The next minute, I would literally have to fight myself to get out of bed because I would be so severely depressed. But deep down. I was afraid that this illness would take me into the great unknown and would test my limits both mentally, physically, and spiritually.

I struggled the first two years. I went through trial and error with many medications. I moved back home with my mom.  A lot of times my medicines would make me drowsy. One time the medicine knocked me out so bad that I fell into deep sleep while my daughter was awake. She tore up the house scattering powered sauce packets and cracked eggs everywhere. The shout of my mother woke me up. I had a fun time vacuuming and cleaning up while my mother was chewing me out and my grandmother was taking photos. Part of me was so upset at myself but another part of me was struggling to make a way. It was then that my mother decided to administer my medications.

It was during this time that I was away from the Muslim community for a year. I missed the Eid prayers, fasting for Ramadan and was either combining my prayers or not making them at all. I would read Quran, but I felt like something was missing, like a piece of me was dying. Not being around the Muslim community left me vulnerable both spiritually and mentally.  The side effects of the medications were not helping. They made me sleepy and I would struggle to stay awake during the day. I didn’t have a period for three straight months. I drastically lost 30 lbs in three months. The heavy medicine would cause me to lose my appetite.

March 2016

I left my mother’s house in March 2016 because I could not find a job in a month.  I went to a Muslim shelter and was forthcoming about my bipolar disorder. The first thing they asked was if I was going to be violent. I reassured them that as long as I was taking the meds, I should be okay. I was taking the shots and it seemed that I was on the road to recovery. I lost my insurance in April 2016. I took precautionary measures. I tried to get insurance under Obamacare and applied for ABD (Aged, Blind, and Disabled) Medicare. I got denied Medicare twice and was told to get on Social Security. As for Obamacare, it required money and it only covered catastrophic health injuries, not mental health.

I stopped getting mental health services because I didn’t have the money to pay for the doctor’s visits and the medicine. The danger with living with an illness like bipolar disorder is the lack of money. When you have the money you can get the best medication, the best therapy and you can manage and be successful. But when you do not have the money, the odds of you having good mental health is pretty bad. Without proper care and treatment, many face serious problems ranging from homelessness to committing suicide.

The stigma around mental health 

One of the hardest things in dealing with a mental illness is the stigma coming from both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Some Muslims that know about my mental illness have often compared it to being a punishment for a lack of faith or committing sin. This often hurt because I was daily struggling to not fall into the side effects of being bipolar like overspending or flying into rages. There is a serious lack of education about mental illness within muslim societies and when people are either taking medicine or seeking treatment, it is always met with hostility and backlash. One time, I told a sister that I was depressed and she told me that depression was from the devil.

However, despite those challenges, being around the muslim community has helped me deal with the illness. There is always a check and balance system where others are held accountable for their actions. I truly think about my actions when at other times I would give in to the impulse and make stupid choices.

For Muslims that are suffering from a mental illness, I would strongly encourage them to go seek treatment and get help. Do not suffer in silence. Build a support group around you and find imams, mosques and an environment that will treat you with dignity and respect.

This article is written by Kadijah Faaria Aleema Islam  

Written by Mvslim


In the mixed society we live today, we went looking for the ideal platform for Muslims. And of course, we didn’t find it. So we made one ourselves.

  • Saba

    Thank you for this honest account! I have bipolar too.

    • Cake123

      Idk if I have it but I keep getting very odd mood swings one day I am happy, sociable the other day just the opposite really.
      From Isra ❤️

  • A . S

    I love what you wrote, It reminded me of myself. I was also diagnosed with bipolar back around 2013/2104 too, I quit medication and turn things more in a holistic approach. It helped me so much to this day, people that are bipolar are gifted with a big and heavy heart.

    You need to learn how to distinguish the difference between your feeling and delusional feelings you planted in yourself. Reading and listening to the Quran and saying your prayers out loud helps. You need to stop putting outside external feelings in your heart and put Allah inside. Hopefully it will help you too 🙂

  • Othman N.

    i think i can provide necessary help in this case if you’re still going through these problems.
    In conclusion i just wanted to say that relation with people has a huge effect on our mental health. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging can treat these depressive episodes. as a business analyst and psychology student i think the best guaranteed income fund is to spend money on others that make connections into relations thus fixing the problem caused by un supporting surroundings such as friends thus curing the depression you were in mentioned above. being social open many doors try making new friends by spending money on them or fulfilling their needs. i promise it comes back.

  • Rekya Rabya


    Thanks for sharing.

    I’m bipolar too. It drives people away, weither they’re muslim or not. The stigma is really hard. I was depressed since early childhood, what hurt me most was the guilt cause I believed it meant lack of faith.

    I don’t feel guilty anymore. I see it for what it is, an illness, and like any illness, I thank god and seek treatment for it.

    There is an aya that I love, and I try to remember at harsh times

    ( give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided. )

    This illness brings me closer to God, the hard way, and I do suffer a loooot.

    May Allah help us 🙂