Mental Illness: Let’s Talk About It.

It’s the beginning of December in Atlanta and everything is beautiful; the leaves have changed color, the weather has a cool breeze and there’s holiday cheer everywhere yet I can’t shake this feeling that I’m wasting my life away. Days keep passing quickly yet I feel like I’m stuck and can’t move. I feel like I can’t live my life because it isn’t the way I hoped it would be. I wake up every day and I wish that I could stay in bed all day and wake up when I don’t feel anxious.

Talking about mental illness within the Muslim community can be a slippery slope. Often times we hear that mental illnesses aren’t /that/ serious and that you should pray and strengthen your relationship with Allah (SWT). While that may be true, we should not ignore that the brain is an organ and just like other organs the brain needs to be taken care of the same way. When you tell someone that you love and trust that you feel as though you may be mentally ill and in return you get that your “mental health” is a lack of religion in your life or that “it’s all in your head” (yes of course it is that’s exactly the problem) that can feel quite invalidating. But know that how you feel is absolutely valid.

Your feelings are valid simply because you feel them.

The conversation begins with me and it begins with you. Talking about your mental health can be a very personal thing. But opening up about it to someone you trust is the first step to getting better. You don’t have to be alone in the process. But there are also ways to work on your mental health by yourself at your own pace. Little things make a big difference, trust me. To avoid feeling like you’re not making any progress; make a list of things you want to accomplish for the day and then pick one and make sure you do that one task even if it’s something as little as getting the groceries or calling a friend back. Push yourself to do something new with people that you trust. One of the best ways to deal with and overcome anxiety is to do what makes you anxious.  I know that sounds contradictory but doing something that makes you anxious is a good way to overcome that anxiety when that action is returned with positive reinforcement. Exercise. Working out will give you time to clear your head and when you work out your body releases endorphins which give the mind and body a positive feeling. Change things that aren’t of benefit to you. Let go of toxic things and allow yourself to grow from this point on. And most importantly, don’t let yourself feel hopeless because I promise you that someone cares. I know it’s easier said than done and you can feel like there’s a war going on in your head what you want to do vs. you convincing yourself it won’t make a difference but try. Push yourself to make changes. Make little changes in the right direction and you’ll see what a difference they can make. Every day is a chance to try again.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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