Depression… When your brain switches off.

I have had a rough couple of days, I didn’t feel like going to school, talking to people, getting out of bed, I barely found the will to maintain my five prayers each day. I’m not surprised; this isn’t the first time it happens. I am quite used to having a week or two where I feel like quitting life in general. But this is the first time I am writing about it, or at least, writing something to be shared in public about it! The only reason that pushed me to do this is: First; maybe I’ll feel a little bit better (writing always made me feel better) and second; I really hope this will help someone who is going through the same road… To you I say: Please know that you are not alone, I understand and I feel you. You’re going to be okay. This too shall pass.

As the title suggests, the only way I can describe depression is as if a switch turns off in your brain. Nothing motivates you, nothing excites you, nothing makes you happy. All of the things that used to uplift your spirit once just seem not to work. You don’t feel like doing anything, not even opening your eyes. It gets more complicated when you have responsibilities and deadlines ahead of you; which is only adding to your frustration and anxiety, making you crawl back under the covers and hide in your bed. This is exactly how my day went.

From this position it only gets worse and worse. It’s a downward spiral to a darker place. And being depressed makes it easy to take this way down. This is why so many people find it hard or even impossible to climb back out of it. And this is where thoughts of ending your life or using drugs start to creep in.

But the way I see it is: No place is impossible to leave. You can get out of any situation you wish to exit. The first step is acknowledging that you CAN and you WILL get back up.

At this point some people may think: Why should I bother? Well, you owe yourself this much. We didn’t come to this world to mourn and whine over everything and nothing, we came to this world to serve a purpose. Being depressed keeps you from accomplishing your mission, it is counterproductive.

If you’ve never experienced depression before consider yourself lucky. There are very few people who have escaped this modern epidemic and I am not one of them. Although I try my best to exude positivity and joy, I am still on my way to healing from a few hurtful events in my past.

The trick with depression is that you must MAKE YOURSELF get out of this situation! You won’t just wake up one morning and suddenly all is good. You have to work your way up, step by step.

I am not a therapist, I cannot give you scientific or psychological based solutions. I am writing today to share some of my personal tips and what worked for my experience, it may not work for you but it will help you take the first step towards your personal freedom inshaAllah.

That first thing that cancels the feeling of being stuck in emptiness and also the hardest thing on the list is to “WORK”: Getting busy, makes your brain focus on the task at hand rather than focusing on the darkness in your mind. Get involved in volunteering, learn some craft, make bracelets, workout, learn how to sew, all of these activities and many more make your brain rest for a while and instantly move you up the scale. The hardest thing about this step is the starting point, it might seem almost impossible to start. But once you do, you’ll realize that it’s really not that hard.

Force yourself to interact with people: Again this feels so hard to do, but it’s just like medication, no one likes how it tastes, but you must take it anyway, so think of it like that. Visit family members, go out with your friends, play with children or have a conversation with the elders. The idea is to avoid being alone, for it makes your negative thoughts louder and more painful.

Don’t run away from your obligations and responsibilities: This is the mistake I did by skipping school for weeks, but I assure you, it will only make coming back harder, because you’ll feel belated and it’ll add more work to your schedule just to catch up. No matter how insignificant your daily tasks might seem, force yourself to stay ahead of your game even if you’re feeling low. And remember that these feelings will never stop you from working, the decision is still up to you. Go to work or to school even if you don’t feel like it, you don’t have to feel like it, you just have to do it.

Stay away from sad music, sad movies, sad news or anything sad: This one is obvious, don’t be dumb, just stay away from sad stuff! Thank you.

Get help: All of the tips above will only get you through this relapse, this fall, but they will never deal with the underlying problem. And yes, there is always an underlying problem. You’ll be surprised to know that 9 out of 10 people experience depression. It’s so spread out that it’s almost normal. Some people lived with it their entire lives. But knowing that you have a problem and still refusing to get help is an act of oppression against yourself. As I said before, it is a responsibility you have towards yourself; to be at your best, to feel the best you can feel, and to experience life at its fullest.

I always like to keep the best for last; this is the divine kind of taking action, and its results are best described as “Miraculous”: Prayer and Quran. Up until now I have tried my best to make this article as practical as possible, simply because every time I mention prayer and Quran recitation people seem to consider it as an abstract concept for their real depression and they seem to be looking for something more realistic for their symptoms. But the truth is that this is the realest action you may ever take. I may have mentioned this in my previous blog posts but I’ll say it again: A human being is made of two things; a body and a soul. The body originated from earth, as Allah states it: “Indeed we created Adam from the extract of clay”. As for the soul Allah says: “So when I perfect him, and blow of My spirit in him, you shall submit to him“. What this means is that all that is earthly was created to fit your physical needs, to satisfy your body. However an emptiness in your soul or in your heart can only be refilled by reconnecting with its source, your Creator.
You must keep in mind that “Time” is a crucial component for prayer to work. Patience is a key word in Quran, mentioned more than 90 times, it is with patience that you overcome every situation you may encounter in life. A beautiful patience is what makes you stronger after every fall. A beautiful patience is knowing deep down in your heart that whatever comes your way is for your best, and knowing that Allah is with you at every step.
Prayer and Quran recitation do have a miraculous outcome, but it only shows with time.

You’ll find many verses in the Quran that states: “Don’t be sad” “Hold your anger” “Be patient”. It’s as if Allah Azza wa Jal is saying that we HAVE the ability to control how we feel, with His help of course. Being depressed makes your feelings seem out of your control. But nothing is out of Allah’s control. Ask for His help and you shall get it inshaAllah.

To conclude this post I want you to leave with this: Life is a combination of good and bad, beautiful and ugly, ups and downs. Whatever you focus on will grow in your reality. But it is perfectly normal to have a few days off where you don’t do or say anything. It’s okay to take a break from life. But don’t stay out of the game for too long. This article’s purpose is not to end your depressions for good, it is to help you engage again in life even when you don’t feel like it.

And it is a reminder for me and everyone else. We all need reminders sometimes. The very essence of human being is forgetting all the time.

 

 

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