I struggled with depression for most of my teens and twenties. But it hit me worst after both children. I never thought a simple process of reflection and gratitude could turn my life around. Anyhow, here is my story…
I was stuck in this dark place with no way out.
Each day I would sink deeper and deeper into a never-ending abyss of my own thoughts.
It all seemed so dark and gloomy without an end in sight.
I felt unfulfilled and purposeless leading a meaningless life.
If this is how life was going to be for the rest of my days, then I didn’t want to live it.
There were times I wanted to get done with it and just end it.
And I seriously considered it too.
But what stopped me was my faith, or whatever was left of it. I knew taking matters of life and death into my hands was not right and for doing so I would be doomed for eternity. And what about those little children whom Allah placed in my care. What was their fault? I sometimes saw their eyes searching my face, why wasn’t mama happy? What did they do to not deserve a happy mother?
But there was some miracle or perhaps a healing touch in their innocence that I wanted to be better.
So I started trying.
I started trying to show up as a better person, I started trying to show up as a better mother and a wife.
It was hard and I faltered many days and even fell. It was hard to start all over after a fall. But I did start again.
It was one of the nights after a particularly hard day when I lay defeated in my bed when I stumbled upon a dua :
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنَا وَسَقَانَا، وَكَفَانَا، وَآوَانَا، فَكَمْ مِمَّنْ لاَ كَافِيَ لَهُ وَلاَ مُؤْوِيَ
Alḥamdu lillāhil-lathī ‘aṭ`amanā wa saqānā, wa kafānā, wa ‘āwānā, fakam mimman lā kāfiya lahu wa lā mu’wī.
Praise is to Allah Who has provided us with food and with drink, sufficed us and gave us an abode, for how many are there with no provision and no home.Reference: Muslim 4/2085.
Hisn al-Muslim 108
This dua struck me. It struck me at the core!
Here I was with all blessing in my life and not a trial in sight. Yet I was sulking here sinking in my despair, thinking over what could have been. All I ever wanted was right there in plain sight. Yet I was overlooking it all because of the state of my mind.
Alhamdulillah for that dua that day!
It made me snap out of the gloomy state. For indeed this life was a blessing. Just trying wasn’t good enough. I had to make an effort and actively do something to recognize the everyday blessings in my life.
I started by guarding my prayer and saying the morning and evening prescribed azkaar. Because I came to know faith is a precious thing that needs to be taken care of. Besides, it was all like medicine to my soul.
I started taking care of my health by eating well, exercising whenever I could. And in turn, it started improving my mental health as well.
…one of the things which made me lose hope in life was a lack of reflection.
I wasn’t reflecting on the blessings I had, the changes I needed to make in myself and in my systems and habits.
As a result, I was stuck in the same place being miserable and doing nothing.
The moment I started to reflect, things started to change around.
When I started reflecting on my blessings, I came to realize even though my life was busier and kind of harder than before, these are the very things I was wishing and praying for once upon a time.
When I reflected upon things that were not working anymore, I realized I am a married woman with a husband and children. Things that worked for me as a single carefree woman would just not work for me now with all the duties and responsibilities.
When I reflected upon the fact whether I really had accomplished something or had I done the right thing by not pursuing my career. I realized I had a family many were yearning for. I gave up the career for my family’s sake and surely Allah has returned me with so much more.
It was a horrible and dark phase in my life. Alhamdulillah for having reached the other side where I know it’s a choice we make every day whether to stay stuck in a place of self-loathing and self-pity. Or get up, dust yourself off and take charge of your life and do something about it.
Because in the end, no one comes to save you.
You have to help yourself to save yourself.
For Allah is always with those who help themselves.