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Parenting After Brain Injury Part 2

20 Dec

Today marks my 2 month walkiversary and it feels good to have my independence back. I’m so grateful to be home with my family and most importantly my daughter. My family are the most amazing support network anyone could ask for. They understand when I can and can’t do something, when I feel tired, my feelings and emotions, although they don’t fully understand it’s great that they know to just let me be me and whatever is going down is a part of who I am. A lot  more has happened in my life than I’m letting on and I have shared various details with very close friends or trustworthy people who I know won’t let me down. I’m a member of various stroke survivor websites and groups online. I often find some people giving up, swearing, having enough and sometimes wishing the stroke finished them off. I understand it, I really do although not once, alhamdulillaah (praise be to God), have I ever had that thought. In fact I shared a little more on a group today and this was a part of what I said in response to someone feeling sorry for me:

I couldn’t be happier with my life right now. Yes it’s hard but it’s been such an incredible experience and I wouldn’t swap it for anything else. I’m in early days compared to most people here. Stroke was August 1st. Was in rehab for 3 months. Been home almost 2 weeks and trying to be a mum to my now 19/20 month old baby girl. I haven’t been happier in life i don’t think. God bless me and my family 

I honestly don’t regret any of what I’ve been through in the last four to five months. Obviously we can’t regret a stroke because it’s not like we have control over it and it wasn’t a choice, especially in my case where I was born with something that has changed mine and my family’s life, probably for forever. As incredible as the journey has been, I don’t wish this hardship on anyone else. I’m in contact with some patients from rehab, some have been discharged and others are still on the unit, one in particular was messaging at 4am because of insomnia due to pain and I was awake because I was reluctantly co-sleeping with my toddler which basically meant her head was actually on my head for part of the night and I had to keep changing sides because she was all over the place. Anyway, I thought it’d be nice to share how I felt about my position in life right now. I could have been a lot worse than I am so I am grateful for that and so much more. If you think your life is bad, take a look at someone whose life is currently a little worse or harder than yours and be grateful. Your challenges in life could have been worse.

Speaking of challenges; my daughter. This post is after all, about parenting. I mentioned the first time my daughter saw me. The very moment and how I felt. My family could see that seeing my daughter made me happy although noone knew the pain I was feeling. It was a bittersweet. The most bittersweet feeling a person could ever have. I loved her and loved seeing her, in fact, I loved everything about her. All her “perfect imperfections”. If you’ve ever stayed in hospital for three or more days you’ll quickly discover magic fm is the favoured radio channel amongst most, if not, all hospital and ambulance staff. That song played whilst my daughter was visiting and thinking back to that moment, those words kinda fit. Seeing her was so sweet but the pain was what was bitter. After every physio session and after every false alarm to the toilet, I’d get back into bed and I’d be at an angle. I’d have to shuffle so I  was straight and more often than not I’d have to try to slide myself up the bed using my limbs which didn’t work properly at the time. Sometimes I’d just quit and be like ‘you guys are on your own right now, you shift me’.

My daughter came to visit me one time and I mimed round and round the garden like a teddy bear on her whilst my other sister said the words, hoping it would remind her of the relationship we once had. She wasn’t having any of it so I stopped and told my sister that was enough. They hung around for a few hours and as usual that was great. My daughter was very well behaved on most days and  the nurses absolutely adored her.

Pretty soon, I was told I was getting a wheelchair. I imagined a regular wheelchair but this one was a little funkier, comfy and had a neck and head support like Professor Stephan Hawkins’ one minus all his other gadgets. They started me off slowly. I had to sit in the chair (I make it sound so sinister) for an hour a day. ‘Easy’, I thought. The first day I did almost two hours and then the nurses made sure it was just an hour after that but pretty soon it was getting exhausting.  It wasn’t a matter of just sitting in a chair and that was it. I had to concentrate and put effort into sitting up. I’d have to actively think and try to engage the muscles in my core and force myself to sit straight. I couldn’t slump or relax, I had to pay attention to my posture and position. The moment I stopped concentrating, I would flop to the left but this never happened, I’m pleased to say. Unless I was demonstrating it to my family.

So how was I able to get from bed to chair I hear you ask. It was an amazing piece of equipment called a rotastand. Okay, it’s not that amazing and I only ever used it when I was in the Royal London hospital, but me and that thing were close! I truly believe having to lift myself on it engaged my core which helped strengthen my muscles and made sitting easier. Particularly on the day when I  had nine trips to the toilet and six of those were false alarms. Woohoo for the three that weren’t! I also had an Occupational Therapist who gave me my first test and established I only had to work on my higher level thinking so I made that hour in my chair fly by whilst doing sudokus, wordsearches and crosswords. I quite like crosswords now and the metro puzzle page was my best friend on weekday mornings at breakfast in rehab.

When my daughter first saw me sat in a chair she was less anxious around me, she was taking her healthy baby snacks from me and talking a little. She seemed less frightened of me. I was in awe of her when she was walking. I was, and am, so grateful. Occasionally, I’d cry tears of joy, thanking God that my child was okay. She was and still is, my most prized possession. I was so happy when I saw her each day. The pain was always there but my heart was filled with an abundance of joy and gratitude. I had to be patient, very patient. This was a long road (even longer than I initially thought). It was as if seeing me sat in a chair was one step closer to ‘normal’. My family were amazing at making me feel normal and really made me feel so proud of myself for being able to sit. They too, were very proud of me and happy because I could have died several times, I could have been paralysed but Thank God for His endless mercy, He made me able to progress, kept me safe and in good health. My memory was intact as was my intelligence, ability to understand and more.

There was one day where I felt nasty… you have bed baths and sadly that doesn’t include washing the hair. I asked when I could wash my hair. Turns out the nurses had to check with my doctors because the stitches, or rather, staples from my craniotomy were still in my head and that’s my biggest scar. First we had to establish if they could be removed and then when I could have my hair washed. Taking the staples out was painful and the sound was disgusting. I remember thinking surely being stapled couldn’t have hurt that much because I don’t remember that pain but cutting them out with clippers was loud painful and it was grazing my head. A while in I told the nurse to stop, she just finished throwing everything  away and told me she was nearly finished when I bucked up the courage to endure the pain. As soon as she was done clearing up I told her she could carry on. What can I say, I’ve always had terrible timing, ha.

One day, towards the end of my stay there, one nurse insisted on giving me an actual shower, up until now I had been told I was allowed to because of my trachiostomy, the tube and being hooked up to oxygen. This lovely nurse said she’d put a towel around my neck and my first shower in five weeks felt like the ultimate spa treatment. I felt amazing, I felt so clean and refreshed. That first shower was just days after Eid and I was slightly gutted I wasn’t squeaky clean in time for Eid and also gutted i missed Eid prayer in the park. Anyway, everytime I transferred from the bed to my chair it took one or two nurses, a whole bunch of unhooking and hooking me back up once I was settled into the chair. I even had to make sure my external bladder was with me at all times. I’ll never forget the day my physiotherapist hooked it onto his pocket and was so casual about it. He hooked a pee bag to his trousers. Gross. Even if it was mine. Still gross. But they’re used to it I suppose.

I remember being so proud of myself for getting out of bed. That rotastand was my best friend. It’s so sad. I saw a rotastand in rehab about a month or two after getting there, is it sad that I got excited?!

Everyday after seeing my daughter in the Royal London was progress for me. Seeing her motivated me and it gave me something to work towards. My recovery was getting faster, I was constantly laughing, joking and sometimes, up to no good.

I had always wanted to homeschool my daughter, being a teacher made me quite snobbish about schools and I frowned upon them. I didn’t know how long I’d be in that state, I didn’t know if If’d ever be remotely like my old self, i didn’t know if I could teach again. So I made plan, I told myself if I have no choice then I’ll put my daughter into school, reluctantly. She wasn’t attending playschool or toddler sessions yet, I was just looking into them before my stroke. I had to wait until she was a little more sociable and comfortable playing in the park because for me, that was a good indicator for how she’d be interacting when it comes to other children.

I wrote a note to my family telling them to enquire about a preschool near us that I mostly approved of. My family initially though I didn’t know my daughter’s age but I explained there was a waiting list and I need to apply just in case I wasn’t able to do what I planned. My daughter’s happiness was everything to me. Seeing my parents happy and grateful I was alive was everything to me. My dad is one of those soft and quiet guys, he is rather panicky if anything happened to his loved ones, especially his children and I’m the youngest in my family. I remember being very concerned about my dad and how he was feeling. I made sure he was always happy, smiling and okay. At the time he was in charge of looking after my daughter whilst I was in hospital since I was with my family when it all happened. I wrote a note for him on one occasion, “Always be happy and always smile for (daughter)”, it read. I folded it and stuck it in his pocket. No matter what happened to me I wanted to make sure my daughter was surrounded by love, laughter and happiness. This particular event happened before I found out my dad did CPR on me and was the first person to actually save my life, by God’s Will, of course.

As mentioned in my previous post, despite being through the worst of it all and surviving, my coughing would cause such bad headaches and being suctioned numerous times a day would cause so much pain I would turn beetroot red and felt like I might die on two particular occasions.

My family had continuously told m how brave and strong I was to endure what I had. Sever times my family wouldn’t complain of their pains or ailments because it was no comparison to what I had endured. Now though I can say this. My family were grieving, for the first three weeks of me being in hospital they were the strong ones, they had to be brave, my dad got so choked up about it he didn’t really talk to others for a good week or so. One of my sisters was ready to prepare for my funeral, another one was ready to raise my child the way I would have wanted. My family consistently showed patience and perseverance during that time. They had each other and their belief and faith in God. They prayed so hard and a close and strong family became even closer and even stronger. During that time I was just me. I did nothing. In fact, I pretty much slept through the whole thing so I didn’t have to be strong or brave, everything was being done to me without my knowledge so I just lay down and chilled. The time when I had to be strong, in my opinion is when I went to rehab from September 13th onward. That’s when I was grieving, not that I had lost anything but I had to come to terms with what had happened to me and how to go about getting through the next stage and not giving up. Truly, God is great, if I didn’t have my baby girl, I don’t know if I’d have been as motivated or determined as I was.

I now know and say, my daughter is my kryptonite. She is my one true weakness. She can break me. Yet she also has the ability to build me up again… Kids are great. They are a blessing and a gift from The Almighty ❤

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My Stroke Story

17 Dec

So here goes, my stroke story and all the questions answered about what happened that day and the days that followed. The only time I’ve had to talk about it was with medical students, doctors, therapists and patients in rehab and then of course with my friends. The dates I didn’t know until my family had told me…

Late on July 31st 2017 I had a migraine and I decided to sleep it off with a nap. My then, 15 month old daughter should have been asleep by then, and I guess, I’m incredibly grateful she was still awake. Apparently my head was hurting so bad  I asked my eldest sister to deal with her (I was thankfully at  my parents’ home) because I didn’t have it in me. After waking up from my nap, I chilled and watched the food network ( I don’t remember this) and then took my daughter up to bed. Tucked her in and got myself ready for bed (at this point it was gone midnight and we were now on August 1st). I suddenly felt my migraine come back with a vengeance, it was showing no mercy and I just couldn’t cope. Something was wrong, I knew it. No migraine cool strip, painkiller or cup of tea was going to touch this pain. I knew I needed help. I went straight down to my parents’ bedroom and started banging on the door “Help me, help me!” I pleaded. They opened the door, I told them I had a really bad migraine and they had to call an ambulance immediately. They were both abruptly awoken from sleep and naturally moving slowly (it feels a lot slower when you feel like you’re dying of pain!) They lay me down on their bed (good move), the lights went on and I yelled something along the lines of “Why would you do that??!” I was clearly photosensitive by now. As I lay on the bed I kept telling my parents to call an ambulance and I was getting frustrated that it felt like things were going so slowly and my pain and symptoms were progressing too fast. My neck was stiff and my shoulders hurt, I felt like I was going to throw up, I lost patience with the pain and waiting for someone to call the ambulance. I grabbed the bedside phone and diallled 999 myself. “Ambulance!” I demanded and then gave my name and address (I think) I then handed the phone back to my Dad because I couldn’t speak anymore. Without much notice, out the vomit came, some in the bin and loads all over the bed and floor. I apologised for making a mess and felt a warm trickle of blood on the surface of my brain. I knew it was blood but nothing else clicked. and that was my last memory. My parents and family have filled me in on the unclear bits. Apparently I was muttering a prayer which my Mum could just about make out. It was the du’aa for forgiveness and one which all Muslims should recite every morning and evening. I also apparently asked my parents for forgiveness and then I passed out. My Dad had to follow the emergency service’s instructions to give me CPR (Go Dad! Super proud of you!!) I was only taking one breath for every six I should have been taking.  I can only think I must have thought I was dying but all I remember thinking was my baby girl is upstairs and someone should go to her (I was expecting her to come out the bedroom and follow me as she normally would if I left her) I also remember putting her into my bed in case she woke during the night and needed me. I figured if I was ill it would be made easier for me. My next memory was being asked by two physiotherapists to sit on the edge of the bed.

Now, I wasn’t alarmed waking up in hospital because I could hear things throughout and I was having some very bizarre dreams. By the time I reached this point I had three brain surgeries (including open brain surgery or a craniotomy). The  first procedure was on August 1st, a drain was inserted into my head to drain the blood from the cerebrofluid. Around this point I was put into a medically induced coma, intubated and all the rest of it. I was also unable to breathe independantly  due to a partially collapsed lung. I needed to be aspirated due to swallowing/choking on some vomit and it entering my lungs. I was in a coma for approximately 4/5 days and on life support before being slowly weaned off 100% oxygen. On August 8th, an embolisation was done but it failed (the weirdest thing about this was I knew because I heard the doctors say this and I relayed the message to my family (who were already informed by this point but couldn’t understand how I knew. I do remember writing “they screwed up” and that a doctor told me??) this procedure actually made me bleed more Finally, on August 9th I had the craniotomy just behind my left ear. The scar is huge but thankfully hidden by my hair! I didn’t know I had a stroke until my physiotherapist on the neurophysio ward told me. This was probably around August 20th – 25th I’m guessing. He didn’t sugar coat it either but then again I assume he thought I knew already. He just told me that the part of the brain where my stroke happened was responsible for movement and balance. Yes you science nerds have guessed it. It was on my cerebellum. I didn’t freak out hearing this because what I felt on my brain before passing out now made sense. My parents were naturally trying to protect me so down played it when I asked them. I say asked but I was actually writing everything at this point because I had a tracheostomy and thus had a tube coming out of my neck and I was hooked up to some oxygen this was finally removed on September 6th which was the day I could talk and eat again (I also had an ENT doctor or two examine me via my nose and neck using a fibre optic camera to try and figure out why I hadn’t been able to make any sounds since I was on ITU. My speech and language therapist discovered this and I eventually discoverd – by hearing the first ENT Dr who examined me, ask for a second opinion from the registrar because he thought my left vocal cords were paralysed – and they were. It turns out it was possible for me to speak because my right vocal cords were compensating. They told me about the AVM (arterivenous malformation) and how it was basically a tangle of veins and arteries on the surface of my brain which ruptured. I then asked for one of my sisters to come and explain it all to me. In fact, almost 5 months on and I’m still asking my family about what happened in the time that I was unconscious. It turns out AVMs are congential (you’re born with this rare condition) and it’s not hereditary (I asked how I can be sure my daughter doesn’t have it and if I could and should have her screened). For now, madam is doing just fine, thank God and I may give screening a thought when she’s older. My AVM was the primary issue which led to a secondary subarachnoid hemorrhage (the actual stroke). My sister also told me they found two other bleeds on my brain which didn’t surprise me and now I can talk I can explain why – I felt them a few days prior to the main event.

I should also admit that when I was finally with it, I thought a year and a half had gone by and genuinely thought I was 30 years old. I only figured out the date and year by reading the date on the cannulas put into my forearm.  After I was decanulated (trachy tube out and able to speak, breathe and eat on my own and also catheter and nasogastric tube out the next day), I was shafted to my local hospital for a week where I waited to go to a specialised rehabilitation unit. I was in rehab for 3 months from September 13 to December 11th. I was finally able to walk unaided on Friday 20th October and my wheelchair was officially taken away! Although I practised walking with a frame and walking stick in PT sessions, I skipped these two stages in reality, I also impressed my physio by stretching my quadricepts whilst standing, apparently it was like a rehab patient first for him. If you haven’t noticed, I’m approaching my 2 month walkiversary (it’s a thing since 2 seconds ago).

My remaining stroke symptoms:
-Left 4th nerve palsy/ diplopia – temporarily corrected using prisms on my glasses – likely i’ll need surgery soon
-Cognitive fatigue (I didn’t know it was a thing until my rehab physio told me after
I turned up to my session tired immediately after a psychotherapist session which consisted of loads of mental tests)
-I’ve started to lose bits of my short term memory over the last 3 weeks
-I’ve got chunks of my memory missing in the couple of weeeks leading up to the stroke
-Numbness all on my right side with pins and needles and tingling
-Loss of sensastion and temperatures on my whole right side
-numb tongue (was 100% but slowly getting better currently last 1/4 numbness left
-Loss of some motor ability in my left arm/hand
-I walk funny
-Sometimes my left leg joins in and does silly things
-Peripheral nerve pain since the end of August (right side)
-A tracheostomy site which is overgranulated and not healing as fast as it should
-Some loss of hearing in right ear

My hand is starting to hurt and I’m getting tired so I’m gonna leave it here for now. Thanks for reading and well done for surviving that long. The stroke is mostly why I’m aiming to be the paleo woman I was a few years ago. Being in a bed and immobile for most of the time, combined with foods can make a person… out of shape and I need the strength, energy and fitness to be able to look after my baby girl, bake and maybe go back to teaching. I can’t remember if I stated it on my previous blogs but I’m a cake baker and decorator, I launched my own home business back in October 2011 – before I went paleo. Here’s a cake I made for my therapists, doctors and nurses at my rehab unit 2  weeks before I was discharged:

rehab cake collage

In case you hadn’t guessed the name of my  business is Crumblicious Delights. I specialise in wedding cakes so I gave the cake a wedding theme and included my date of admission to discharge in rehab on the bottom tier in Roman numerals and the name of the unit on the top tier RNRU (Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit). I know I’m paleo and bake unpaleo things but they’re not usually for me and remember I started baking before I went paleo. I have just set up an instagram account specifically for this blog, litera;ly just now @paleostrokesurvivor and Twitter is back up @GFSalafi

All praise is due to God I’m not paralysed at all and I’m alive! God is good! ❤

Remedies from the Sunnah Part 2

15 Dec

It’s finally here!! I do apologise from the bottom of my gluten free heart. I have been busy lately and also struggling with food.

So… Health and the Sunnah!

Ibn Qayyim said: After guidance the next blessing is our health.

We need to fulfil our duty with our health and being healthy is from the Sunnah.

We learn that for every disease there is a cure:

“…There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.” Bukhaari 7,582.

Thus, there is no such thing as an incurable disease (except old age).

We learn that eating healthily is from the Sunnah:

Four Aayaat relating to this in the Qur’aan:

  1. “O mankind, eat which is halaal and tayyib …” (Al-Baqarah, 2:168)Ibn kathir explains this as meaning that which doesn’t harm the body or harm your mind.
  2. “Eat from what Allah has provided you as halaal and tayyib, and fear Allah in whom you believe.” (Al-Maa’idah, 5:88)
  3. “So, eat of the spoils you have got, halaal and tayyib, and fear Allah. Surely, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” (Al-Anfaal, 8:69)
  4. “Eat from the good things (tayyibaat) We have provided to you, and do not exceed the limits in it, lest My wrath should descend on you…” (Taa-Haa, 20:81)

So now we have the commands how can we do this? Let’s take a look…

Importance of Breastfeeding:

There ate three Ayaat in the Qur’aan relating to this:

  1. “Mothers (should) suckle their children for two full years, for one who wants to complete the (period of) suckling…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:233)
  2. “We commanded man (to be good) in respect of his parents. His mother carried him (in her womb) despite weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years…” (Luqmaan, 31:14)
  3. “…His mother carried him with difficulty and delivered him with difficulty. And his carrying and his weaning is (in) thirty months*, …” (Fussilat, 41:15)

*here 30 months includes the minimum period of pregnancy, that is 6 months and the maximum period for suckling a child, that is 2 years. So 6 months plus 24 months is the full two years.

As we all know that breastfeeding an infant increases intelligence, immunity, decreases risks of diabetes, obesity, risks of infections, asthma, allergies etc.

However, what the World Health Organisations (WHO) and other similar organisations don’t tell you is that if you don’t breast feed your baby you are putting them at risk of exposing them to the above diseases. For instance not breastfeeding your baby and switching to bottle feeding increases the risk of diabetes and obesity. This message, when put this way is more alarming. (As a side note, have you seen how many formula milks contain soya amongst other rubbish? I had a look out of curiosity!)

Wean your child correctly:

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah said: “A child should be given only milk until their teeth appear, because their stomachs are weak and unable to digest food. When the baby’s teeth appear, his stomach has grown strong and is able to be nourish by food. Food should be introduced gradually.” Book: Tuhfat al-Mawdood bi Ahkaam al-Mawlood. 16th chapter.

Do not force feed them into eating when they are not ready. Instead wait another week and try again until they are interested in food.

With that I shall conclude and inshaaAllaah the next part which you won’t have to wait long for I hope, we will look at fasting and praying and the benefits of each briefly.

Remedies from the Sunnah Part 1

15 Jul

Bismillaahi walhamdullillaah Wassalaatu Wassalaamu ‘Alaa Rasoolillaahi, Ammaa Ba’d:

Yesterday I attended a workshop run by our beloved sister Umm Sara who runs the website Health means Wealth. The workshop consisted of cures for diseases as mentioned in the Qur’aan and Sunnah as well as scientific research and evidence from many health experts around the world and authors of numerous books. We touched upon ways to detox the body, in fact this took up quite a large part of the workshop from what I can recall, and the essentials needed for life. We also learnt about personal hygiene (for women) and children. In this post I aim to write up all my notes and share with you all the benefits the attendees took from this workshop. There is a lot to mention and some things like detoxes may require their own posts. Over the next week or so everything should be blogged and there will of course be several parts detailing this workshop. May Allaah bless it, all those who were responsible in making it possible, the attendees and those who will benefit from the notes.

We began the workshop by renewing our intentions. It is important to have the correct intention with anything we do. Likewise, we should have the correct intention when we seek to improve our health. For example, we should have the intention to have good health in order to improve our acts of worship.

When we carry out actions we should ensure that they are according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah. The prophet ﷺ said his actions approved of the importance of tawheed (worshipping Allaah alone and attributing no partners with Him) and staying away from bid’ah (innovations) and shirk (polytheism or attributing partners in worship alongside Allaah).

Furthermore, we should look to follow the companions in all that we do as we know from an authentic hadeeth that the Prophet ﷺ said that the best of his people are his companions, those who came after them and those who came after them. Thus the first three generations of Muslims are the ones who we should strive to follow as they are good examples for us.

Evidence for this is when Allaah says:

So if they believe in the like of that which you believe, then they are rightly guided, but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition. So Allâh will suffice you against them. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. (Al-Baqarah 2:137)

and

And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination. (An-Nisa 4:115)

It is essential to have good manners and having the correct belief in Allaah. When it comes to seeking remedies and cures, people fall into two errors:

1) They say they will make du’aa and not take any remedies, as Allaah is the curer.
We know that this is wrong as it opposes the sunnah which states we should do both. That is, to take a medicinal cure and to make du’aa

2) The people say the cure came from a remedy only and this is shirk. We take a medicine and with Allaah’s Will we are cured as Allaah has control and power of all things and nothing will happen except that He wills it to happen. If He willed, a medicine could also not cure somebody.

We know that Allaah is the Curer and the proof:

“And when I am ill, it is He who cures me; (Ash-Shu’ara 26:80)

We learn that du’aa is an act of worship. As Muslims we should have firm faith that the entire Qur’aan is a cure. We know that every remedy is made more powerful by adding to it the recitation of Qur’aan.

There are four main ways of how we should use the Qur’aan as a cure and they are as follows:
1. To place your hand over the area of pain or on the head and to recite the verses
2. Spittling into water (for drinking regularly) or olive oil (used for magic as stated by sheikh ‘Ubayd Al-Jaabiree – this was something discussed later in the workshop but I have added it here for your benefit inshaaAllaah)
3. Reciting and spittling over something
4. Recite, spittle into hands and wipe hands over as much of the head and hands as possible.

There are authentic narrations where specific ayahs and surahs are mentioned and favoured when it comes to performing ruqya, even though the whole Qur’aan is a cure. The specific aayahs are:
1. Recite Surah al-Faatiha seven times
2. Surah Baqarah is used against magic
3. Ayatul Kursi
4. The last two aayahs of Surah Baqarah
5. The last three surahs of the Qur’aan (Al-Ikhlaas, Al-Falaq and An-Naas)

An important hadeeth about performing ruqya concerning 70,000 people who will enter Heaven without reckoning as mentioned in Saheeh al Bukhaaree, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 606: Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Nations were displayed before me; one or two prophets would pass by along with a few followers. A prophet would pass by accompanied by nobody. Then a big crowd of people passed in front of me and I asked, Who are they Are they my followers?” It was said, ‘No. It is Moses and his followers It was said to me, ‘Look at the horizon.” Behold! There was a multitude of people filling the horizon. Then it was said to me, ‘Look there and there about the stretching sky! Behold! There was a multitude filling the horizon,’ It was said to me, ‘This is your nation out of whom seventy thousand shall enter Paradise without reckoning.’ “Then the Prophet entered his house without telling his companions who they (the 70,000) were. So the people started talking about the issue and said, “It is we who have believed in Allah and followed His Apostle; therefore those people are either ourselves or our children who are born m the Islamic era, for we were born in the Pre-lslamic Period of Ignorance.” When the Prophet heard of that, he came out and said. “Those people are those who do not treat themselves with Ruqya, nor do they believe in bad or good omen (from birds etc.) nor do they get themselves branded (Cauterized). but they put their trust (only) in their Lord ” On that ‘Ukasha bin Muhsin said. “Am I one of them, O Allah’s Apostle?’ The Prophet said, “Yes.” Then another person got up and said, “Am I one of them?” The Prophet said, ‘Ukasha has anticipated you.”

It refers to the one who asked for ruqya to be done on them, but if you have tried to do it yourself but if, for example, magic overcomes you then going to a rakki (one who performs ruqya) then it is ok, as long as you tried and you don’t go for every small illness rushing to a rakki or if someone performed it on you due to you being ill this is a form of du’aa then this does not remove you from the 70,000 as explained by Sheikh ‘Ubay Al-Jaabiree and Allaah knows best.

How To Maintain Eemaan During Menses

20 Jan
Every month, most women have a menstrual cycle which lasts approximately 3-5 on average but can continue for up to 10 days in some circumstances and this may be the norm for some women.
During the early days of the menstrual cycles or the few days or week or two leading up to it many women may suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). There are many different symptoms and they vary from person to person and can even change each month.There are numerous symptoms which can be physical, psychological or behavioural and below the most common are listed:

Physical:
Feeling bloated, menstrual cramps, tenderness or soreness, back pains particularly in the lower back, dizziness, weight gain, feeling tiredPsychological:
Mood swings, crying for little or no reason, feeling depressed, feeling angry, feeling paranoid, restlessness, increased levels of stress

Behavioural:
Loss of appetite or craving for ‘comfort’ or sugary foods

Personally, I believe a good clean diet can help elevate most, if not all of these symptoms and inshaaAllaah, if you don’t do this already then in the future you will see the benefits of doing so.

However, this post will focus on discussing how to maintain your eemaan during the menstrual cycle so we will put diet aside for the moment. As already stated, symptoms of PMS can occur leading upto the menses and during this time a woman can still worship Allaah so things don’t usually seem too bad. Once the cycle begins, acts of ibaadah (worship) such as fasting and praying cease as we have been commanded by Allaah and His messenger salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

If a woman is devout and worships Allaah regularly, prays her obligatory prayers and the sunnah prayers, she fasts on Mondays and Thursdays, she recites the Qur’aan daily, prays tahajjud regularly and makes dhikr often then when she is suddenly not praying or doing any of these actions, it is not unusual for her to feel like she has been distanced from Allaah a little.
Now combine this lack of worship with a bad mood, anger, physical pain, tiredness and so on. She may begin to feel depressed and this is not uncommon. During these days of ‘darkness’ or depression, which remember, can last up to 10 days for some women, her eemaan may decrease. Allaahul musta’aan.

It is therefore important for the Muslim woman to know what she can and can’t do when she is on her menses and to do as much as she can to maintain her eemaan and avoid becoming depressed or in a state of anxiety.

The following is a list of things I recommend a menstruating woman to do and each one has been successful for Muslim women, alhamdulillaah:

1) Make du’aa – just because you’re menstruating it doesn’t mean Allaah stops hearing you, it doesn’t mean that this direct conversation from you to Him is suddenly no longer available. Allaah can hear us all when we call upon him and we ask from him.
Download and listen to this audio by Abu Khadeejah to learn more about the six occasions when du’aa is accepted and there is a lilttle more information to benefit from inshaaAllaah.

2) Remember Allaah and make dhikr – We should be doing this regularly anyway. When we do daily chores we should get into the habit of making dhikr. Even when we’re walking to the shops and so on, we need to keep our tongues busy with the rememberance of Allaah. Saying SubhaanAllaah, Alhamdulillaah, Allaahu Akbar, seeking Allaah’s forgiveness, saying Subhaanallaahi wa bihamdi hi, Subhaanallaahil adheem and so on. There are so many rewards to gain from these small supplications.
Download and listen to this FREE audio by Abu Talhah Dawood Burbank rahimahullaah on the benefits of Dhikr

3) Recite the Qur’aan or read from it – There is a difference of opinion amongst the ‘ulema is a menstruating woman can physically hold the Qur’aan with her bare hands, if she can recite from the Qur’aan and so on. We normally find that it i mostly a cultural thing whereby people say a woman cannot hold the Qur’aan and they forbid her from doing so and from reading it. Further down this page there is a book called “Regulations of worship during menses” by Muhammad al-Jibaly and you can buy it from the Salafi Bookstore. In this book it discusses the evidences for and against the permissibililty for a woman who is mentrusting to handle the Qur’aan. In conclusion, they say that it is permissible for her to touch, hold and read from the Qur’aan. If you don’t have this book already, then I advise you to buy it inshaaAllaah, it’s only £5.95 and there’s a direct link for it below the image.

4) Read books – There’s plenty of authentic ones to buy

5) Download and listen to authentic audios via Troid, salafiaudio and so on.

6) Listen to the recitation of Qur’aan, you can even listen and read the translation on youtube, so many of us can do this via our mobile phones so we don’t even need to be sat at a computer.

7) Read the tafseer of the Qur’aan, try to understand it if you don’t know Arabic

8) Wake up for tahajjud – whether you used to do it before or not. I know you can’t pray but this is a time when we know there is a great reward in worshipping Allaah. We know du’aas have a better chance of being accepted if they are done during the last third of the night. Sometimes you might spend the night tossing and turning so if you’re awake anyway, you may as well be upright, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
Learn more about tahajjud prayer here.

8 points have been mentioned for now but there are many more beneficial things a woman can do to maintain her eemaan and to make herself feel better. Below, there is a quote from a sister who has experienced many of the symptoms of PMS and with her permission I am able to share her experience in maintaining her eemaan so you can see how easy it is. I have heard a few sisters say similar things and there has always been great benefit for each of them.

“I find that it is easier for me to wake up during the night and then stay awake after Fajr. This is the time when I prefer to recite Qur’aan when the house is quiet and I won’t be disturbed or called away and look after those who depend on me. I normally do this but when I am menstruating I become very irritable and I tend to have a short temper. Not praying used to make me upset. Towards the end of my menses I would become impatient because I just wanted to start praying already, I felt like I lost my relationship with Allaah.

I pray all my Sunnahs everyday and try hard not to miss them and I found that when I wasn’t able to pray I used to waste time instead or treat it as if I was on a ‘break’. I didn’t realise it then but it was the worst thing I could do. Instead I decided to wake up for tahajjud as this was something I used to do. Instead of making wudhu and praying I just sat up and made du’aa for a while. Then I did some dhikr. I wasn’t too tired so I decided to read a few pages of Qur’aan until I got tired and wanted to rest. I went to sleep and when I woke up I felt quite energetic and in a very good mood. SubhaanAllaah, it’s amazing how even the smallest amount of worship can make you feel good. For me, it was better than abandoning all acts of worship completely. The next night I felt very tired so stayed in my bed and just did some dhikr, I woke up that morning feeling quite content. The third night I was too tired and felt unwell but I knew I had a good intention and I know my body has a right over me so I decided to stay asleep. I learnt that even if I don’t continuously worship Allaah or make dhikr regularly, even the smallest amount can have a positive impact on my day.

I woke up after the  third day still feeling content because I know Allaah wanted me to rest and I didn’t feel guilty after already making attempts to maintain my eemaan. Alhamdulillaah this is something I try to implement each month and I advise other sisters to do the same.”

So there we have it. It seemed like very little effort to this sister but the impact on her was greater than she expected.

The book I mentioned earlier concerning the evidences to say a woman can read from the Qur’aan during menses:

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You can buy this book from the Salafi Bookstore for £5.95 by clicking here.

May Allaah grant all the Muslim women success, sabr and ease during the monthly cycle. May He have Mercy on us and make it easy for us to remember Him during times of hardship and ease and make us from those who do righteous deeds no matter what state we’re in and grant us Jannatul Firdous. Allaahumma aameen!

Sisters: Islamic Health and Well Being

20 Jan

The information below has been taken from a khutbah delivered by our elder brother and Ustaadh (Teacher) Abu Khadeejah and it is from the first of his series of lessons for sisters held on Saturday mornings. He quotes the works of Ibn al-Qayyim, Imaam adh-Dhahabee and Imaam as-Sa’dee and makes references to hadeeths from the Prophet Muhammad salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam and quotes some of Allaah’s beautiful verses and having Tawakkul in Allaah’s cures in their various forms.

Some of this was mentioned in the previous audio from which notes were written in this post and I’ve repeat those points below and include further information from the titled audio.

Ibn al-Qayyim  mentions that since health is one of the most precious favours that Allaah has bestowed upon his creation once a person has entered Islaam, then it is fitting that whomoever is granted a portion of this fortune of good health, that he cherishes it and he preserves it against harm.

Imaam Al-Bukhaareee narrated from Abdullaah ibn Abbaas radhiAllaahu anhumma that the Prophet Muhammad salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam said that there are two bounties regarding which many of the people have become neglectful or that they are unaware and neglectful – that is, having good health and free time.

Ibn al-Qayyim also mentions that the foundations of medicine (medicine of the body) is of three types or of three basic fundamentals:
1. The preservation of health
2. A diet that avoids that which causes harm to the body
3. Removing harmful matter from the body.

In the past, when a person became sick, we would look at what he ate in order to find out what caused him this harm. We also know that as Muslims, Allaah has 99 names that have been revealed to us and from those names is Ash-Shaafee, The One Who Heals. So we should call upon Allaah by this name when we seek to be cured from some illness.

From Aaishah radhiyallaahu anhaa, the Prophet salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to visit a sick person he used to say: Remove the harm, O Lord of the people. Heal for you are the healer. There is no healing that avails except for your healing. A healing that leaves behind no ailment. (Bukhaaree and Muslim).

So this hadeeth contains a seeking of a cure from any illness such as terminal cancer, diabetes, obesity, paralysis and so on. Allaah is the One who cures the diseases of the hearts such as rancour, hatred and forbidden desires.
Ibn al-Qayyim mentions that diseases are of two types, diseases of the heart and the body. The diseases of the heart are cured by acts of obedience and worship. There are two types of diseases of the heart: shahawaat (desires, those to commit sin such as fornication, stealing, lying, gambling etc) and shubahaat (doubts brought by the disbelivers and innovators by putting doubts in your mind about Allaah and the Sunnah and these are cured by seeking knowledge). And of course the sickness of the body is cured by eating good and refraining from eating harmful things.

Allaah says in the Qur’aan:

وَإِن يَمۡسَسۡكَ ٱللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ۬ فَلَا ڪَاشِفَ لَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا هُوَ‌ۖ وَإِن يَمۡسَسۡكَ بِخَيۡرٍ۬ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬

And if Allaah touches you with harm, none can remove it but Him, and if He touches you with good, then He is Able to do all things. (Al-An’am, 6:17)

*It is narrated in the Saheehayn that the Messenger of Allaah salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam said: “Allaah has not sent down a disease except that He has also sent down its cure.”

*Abu Hurairah: Allaah’s Apostle said, “If a fly falls in the vessel of any of you, let him dip all of it (into the vessel) and then throw it away, for in one of its wings there is a disease and in the other there is healing (antidote for it) ie. the treatment for that disease.”(Bukhaaree).

Hadeeth in Abu Daawood from Abdullaah Ibn Abbaas: That whomsoever visits the sick person and his time of death has not come yet and he says in his presence the following seven times: “I ask Allaah the Magnificent, the Lord of the Magnificent throne to cure you” Allaah will cure him from that illness.

The power of du’aa should not be underestimated.

Allaah says in the Qur’aan:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ‌ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ‌ۖ

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor) (Al-Baqarah, 2:186)

Allaah also says:

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآءٌ۬ وَرَحۡمَةٌ۬ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ‌ۙ وَلَا يَزِيدُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارً۬ا

And We send down from the Qur’aan that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe, and it increases the Zaalimun nothing but loss. (Al-Isra 17:82)

Abu Khadeejah states that that from the means that bring about cure is the Qur’aan itself. That is, reciting it, reading it, pondering over it and understanding it. He then adds that the Qur’aan should not be written down and put around your neck (like a tawees or as an amulet, this is a bid’ah) – when you go to the Doctors and he writes you a prescription you don’t take the prescription home and put it under your pillows! Rather, you take the medicine, similarly, you recite the Qur’aan. Read the translation and tafseer if you do not understand the Arabic language.

Allaah says in the Qur’aan:

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ قَدۡ جَآءَتۡكُم مَّوۡعِظَةٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّڪُمۡ وَشِفَآءٌ۬ لِّمَا فِى ٱلصُّدُورِ وَهُدً۬ى وَرَحۡمَةٌ۬ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ

O mankind, indeed there has come to you an admonition from your Lord and the cure for that which is in the chest and a guidance and a mercy for the believers (Yunus 10:57)

Allaah also says:

قُلۡ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ هُدً۬ى وَشِفَآءٌ۬‌ۖ

Say: “It is for those who believe, a guide and a healing.(Fussilat: 41:44)

There are cures mentioned in this audio as well as supporting evidences but for now inshaaAllaah I will conclude this audio here. InshaaAllaah, the cures from this will have their own posts and will have the following titles listed below. The posts will contain information from other sources such as Ibn al-Qayyim’s book on the Prophetic medicine and other benefial sources. Please look out for the posts, links will be added below once they have been created inshaaAllaah.
Sisters: Raw honey is a cure
Sisters: Raw milk is a cure
Sisters: Zam Zam is a cure
Sisters: Ruqyah is a cure best done on yourself

You can download this audio lecture for just 75p by following this link inshaaAllaah

*These quotations are mentioned in the audio but contain different sources and were either taken from the previous audio or as referenced.

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Praise be to Allaah for this calamity

4 Jan

It is reported that Shurayh may Allaah have mercy on him said,

“If I am afflicted with a calamity, I praise Allaah for it four times: I praise Him because it wasn’t worse than it was, I praise Him when He gives me the patience to bear it, I praise Him for enabling me to say al-istirjaa’ (‘To Allaah we belong and to him we will return’; see Al-Baqarah: 154-156 ) in hope of a great reward, and I praise Him for not making it a calamity in my religion.”

Al-Dhahabee, Siyar A’laam Al-Nubalaa`, in his biography of Shurayh Al-Qaadee.

Source: http://www.sayingsofthesalaf.net/index.php/praise-be-to-allah-for-this-calamity/#ixzz2H2BtHaer

Depression: A Muslim’s Perspective

1 Jan

A lot of this has been taken from the NHS website, only because it was something I genuinely agreed with. Where I think things aren’t necessarily true or needed I will say so and offer my personal advice along the way. There’s a lot of information on the internet about depression but it’s sometimes difficult to find the correct, concise information you require. So take a deep breath and read on.

What is depression?
Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or hopeless for a few days here and there. Unfortunately, the words “I feel so depressed” are over used and misused. If you were really depressed I don’t think it’d be that easy for you to say so freely.

It’s true, we all have good days, bad days, we get moody, stressed and irritable at some point in our lives. Sometimes, with most people, this is a common thing. That is, to have mood swings or just generally being an impatient person. Being an impatient person is likely to lead to mood swings, stress and outbursts when things aren’t done when you want them to be done or how you want them to be done. This ultimately makes you unhappy or angry but it is not depression just because it happens all the time or more often than you’d like.

Depression is when you persistently feel miserable for weeks or months on end rather than just a few days. Sometimes, there may be a known trigger. Other times, the trigger may be unknown. It could be something like a memory at the back of your mind or a feeling you’ve attempted to suppress for a long period of time. Each person, case and scenario is different.

Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it’s not a sign of weakness or something you can ‘snap out of’ by ‘pulling yourself together’.
Alhamdulillaah, with the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery and go on to live a much better, healthier and happier life.

How to tell if you have depression
Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. They range from lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety and in some more severe cicumstances, some may have suicidal thoughts.
Some physical symptoms may include loss of appetite or increased appetite for ‘junkie’ or ‘comfort’ foods and constantly feeling tired and insomnia. It is clear the severity of the symptoms can vary and at first you may not show or feel all of these symptoms.

For a more detailed list, read more about the symptoms of depression via the NHS website. Please pay closer attention if you’re a female, particularly to your mentruation cycles. These can change in severity, length of time and even blood type. If changes occur over time do mention it to your Doctor or Nurse. The stress of being depressed can affect your body and hormones a lot more than you’d expect. It’s easier to notice these changes if you were regular and your cycles have changed.

Most people experience feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short time rather than be a sign of depression. Read more information about low mood and depression. It’s important that you view this list with an open mind. Try to pick a day to view this list when you feel in a better mood and when you’re more able to judge your previous character.

When to see a Doctor
It’s important to seek help from your GP if you think you may be depressed. Don’t be indenial, as soon as you suspect or genuinely have that gut feeling that this is more than just a small phase, see your Doctor! You’ll know the feeling I’m talking about if you are depressed. Have tawakkul (trust and reliance on Allaah) and if you’re wrong, then alhamdulillaah, all praise is to Allaah who has saved you from this particular distress.

There’s this small test you can do on the NHS website to find out if you’re depressed. I would say, it’s better to listen to yourself but if you do think you’re the indenial type then do the test anyway. Be honest, even if the feelings have passed. You may have to take yourself back to a bad memory or time in order to think about your answer. Take your time and don’t be afraid. Remember, you’re looking to make yourself better and there’s no shame in seeking help. If you’ve been feeling low for more than a few days, take this short test to find out if you’re depressed.

Many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it’s best not to delay. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery. From a personal experience, I was the indenial type of person. Someone told me they thought I was clinically depressed and they were talking from experience. I was annoyed with this person and never spoke to them again. It took me about a year later to finally come to terms with it and accept that it was the truth and during this period of time I looked at depression but made claims that it wasn’t me. It was bothering me as I knew there was some truth in it. I just didn’t know the severity of it and there was this huge fear of taking that first step into asking for help. I was clinically depressed and there was nothing I could do about it at the time to help myself.

Sometimes there is a trigger for depression. Life-changing events, such as bereavement, or losing your job or even having a baby, can bring it on. In my case, there was a trigger. One which I can talk about quite happily now but there’s no need for me to mention it without a real purpose… So that knowledge will remain with me and whoever else I have told. I genuinely see the blessing in something that caused me several years of trauma and took me a long time to overcome. More than half my life (in terms of years!) has been affected by it. However, after going through the right methods and seeking the correct help and being brave enough to ask for help, I’ve come out as a much better person, something that people who personally know me cannot deny and even they don’t know what my trigger was but they know that today and for the last few months I have become a better person in every way possible. Alhamdulillaah. Remember, not everyone has a trigger, perhaps you’re one of those cases when there is no real reason or no single reason.

Find out more about the causes of depression.

Treatment
Treatment for depression involves either medication or talking treatments, or usually a combination of the two. The kind of treatment that your doctor recommends, will be based on the type of depression you have. <– says the NHS website and just about everyone you ask! My advice, as a Muslim and someone who eats clean with experience having been through it. Try talking first! Never, ever take antidepressants without exhausting every other solution first. You may think it’s the easiest way out and a quick fix but did you know so many antidepressants can cause people to become suicidal?! I have close links with a few people who work for the government. They analyse the side effects of drugs and every single day they gets reports of various medications, particularly antidepressants that have caused the loss of a life due to suicide. I am not at liberty to mention the cases I know of (shh, naughty I know) but I do recommend you do your research first. There are plenty of real-life stories on the internet and forums where this has been discussed.

There were times when I thought ‘I want antidepressants’ but I had heard they just make a person feel “numb”. Sounds good, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Alhamdulillaah, I lived a “numb” day after contemplating this. It was the strangest thing ever. It was like I had no feelings or emotions. My head felt empty, my heart was empty, every action I did was empty and it felt like I had no purpose in life. I felt a bit robotic. The day was long and alhamdulillaah the next day the “numbness” had vanished. I was back to feeling the pain but I was also sane enough to know that this feeling of numbness was wrong and so far from healthy and normal. I decided that day that antidepressants were a no-no and this experience was a way that Allaah showed me to guide me away from medication.

I went through two sessions of counselling and by sessions I mean a block of counselling with different people over two different periods of time. There were pros and cons to both women I saw and though I was able to talk about a fair bit of stuff, it didn’t ‘cure’ me. It was only some three years later (earlier this year, wait, hang on, we’re in 2013 now, d’oh! It was half way through 2012 when I sought Islaamic help for my condition. That’s a discussion for another day though) when I finally dealt with all my issues. Towards the end of October that’s when I was truly better, and all praise is due to Allaah for his Mercy and guidance.

Anyway, about the counselling, at the time I was under the age of 21 so counselling works a little differently if you’re in the UK. If you go through the NHS and you’re under 21 you don’t talk to the counsellor in your GP’s office. Instead you get refered to another organisation, the one I was refered to was called “Solutions”. It helps to have a healthy relationship with your counsellor. If you have a funny feeling about the counsellor just by looking at them (I don’t judge a book by it’s cover but I should have gone with my gut instinct I think) then be honest and tell them you’re not comfortable. Obviously don’t tell them they don’t look nice but find an excuse, just describe the sort of person you would like to talk to. Perhaps someone younger or someone you feel you can relate to more, just to make you feel at ease. Don’t be worried about offending them, afterall, it’s all about you and they’ll do whatever they can to help.

Read more about the treatment of depression.

I would also like to emphasise the importance of a good, clean, healthy diet. Yes, this is where going gluten free or even paleo comes in. InshaaAllaah, there will be a post about the link between depression and diet soon so keeo your eyes peeled.

I’d just like to add, it took me a year and half to finaly tell a Doctor I was depressed. I was finally ready to accept it and seek help. Alhamdulillaah the Doctor had nothing but praise for me. It was the scariest feeling ever but because the Doctor was nice, I felt confident. I was praised due to the fact that I was smiling, young and brave and in addition to that, came from a culture where depression was taboo. The Doctor was rather impressed and so helpful. Finally, I felt like I had hope! This kind of praise was a good kind as it was the sort that encouraged me to carry on with my mission in going for counselling and avoiding medication! Bite the bullet and be brave. Noone will judge you for it and if you are suffering in silence like I was at the time, you don’t have to discuss it with anyone either. I hid how I felt and what I was like for years, in hindsight, talking about it would have been better but I’m more than pleased with whatever has been written for me as I’m a much better person.

And finally…

Living with depression
Many people with depression benefit by making lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol and eating more healthily. Self-help measures such as reading a self-help book or joining a support group are also worthwhile. Find out more about how self help and improving your lifestyle can help you beat depression. <– The first step is to accept that you have a problem.

When you start seeking help and you ask friends or family, it’s so easy for them to say “pick up a hobby, excercise, you need to go out more” or other ridiculus things. What they don’t understand is that when you’ve reached your lowest point, these words are useless. If anything you may want to scream at the person for talking nonsense and not knowing anything about what they’re saying. It’s easier said than done.

You need to find someone who is willing to hold your hand and work through your problems with you. Someone who won’t turn their back on your despite your highs and lows, good days and bad days, mood swings and crazy outbursts. Alhamdulillaah I found that person for the right period of time. Sometimes we actually need to work on the smaller things that prevent us from taking up a new hobby. We need someone to help us through it, guide us, lend us a hand and so on. We need that support system, even people who aren’t depressed need a support system at times. We all need that one person we can put our trust in (after Allaah of course!), someone we can talk to, someone who can listen and ideally, offer solutions from an Islaamic perspective.
For example, I had a few fears and so I focused on having Tawakkul first. I also suffered from paranoia and anger so learnt about how to cope with these from an Islaamic angle. Of course we know these feelings aren’t right but I went into them in more detail so I could understand the origin of it, my personal triggers, I even learnt about how the two things are classed as sins and could even make you leave the fold of Islaam! Since my eemaan was what I was focusing on getting back during 2012, I obviously wanted to avoid anything that would lead to such evil so I had all the motivation I needed and the help from a person with knowledge to aid me.

My eemaan plummeted throughout the years of my depression hence why I was so determined to get it back. I felt better after counselling but my eemaan was still almost non-existant. Since fixing up properly with the correct Islaamic help, my eemaan is a lot better and stronger than what it was pre-deression. And I thank Allaah for his guidance and Mercy otherwise this would not have been possible. Yes, I have only been completely cured for a couple of months now but I know I’m at a stage where there is no returning back to my previous state because everything that was an issue for me has truly been dealt with correctly. InshaaAllaah, the previous issues will no longer affect me… as for anything else, then I put my trust in Allaah and inshaaAllaah if anything does happen in my future, I will be better equipped, mentally and with knowledge to be in a better position to control the issues I had or the new ones that face me.

I genuinely don’t get angry or paranoid anymore and I remind myself these are from Shaytaan. I also know it’s not worth fussing or stressing over and whatever I face now is nothing like my dark days during depression. I don’t think anything could be worse than that. The days of low or almost non-existant eemaan are by far the scariest things a person can encounter. Without eemaan, belief in Allaah and trust and reliance on Him, I was nothing. Without eemaan, there is no point in living as life would not be pleasant at all. May Allaah protect me from low eemaan such as that I have experienced before… Aameen yaa Rabb!

There are some beneficial quotes I would like to share with you. InshaaAllaah they will be posted sometime soon and perhaps you could apply them to your life. Please look into the link between diet and depression in the meantime. A little bit of your own research will be beneficial inshaaAllaah.

Hayaakumullaah

Just Have tawakkul

27 Dec

The last week and a bit was a little rough for me. Potato overload = negative effects on body… not the way you’re thinking! It just made things a little bad for me.

I ruined a few things too like my relationship with people in terms of how I communicate with them and generally my behaviour and manners; all the things I improved over the last few months. I’m hoping this damage can be reversed and even though I know me feeling a bit ‘ugh’ (I have no words) was to blame, I’m not going to blame it. I’ve reached a point where I know I’m responsible for my own actions and words now I’ve (mostly) regained my common sense. I know I’m supposed to be patient and so on, I’ve worked so hard at it and thought I trained myself well. I was wrong.

It’s not all negative though. I learnt that when something bothers me or if I’m scared and worried it’s better for me to just say it straight out just to get it out my system. Even if the person I tell can’t help me or offer advice at least it’s something I ‘let out’ and it doesn’t feel like a secret and I don’t have to suffer in silence. I felt better for just saying it although it took me a short while to ‘heal’ after that. I was really silly and for that, I sincerely apologise.

It’s funny how when we finally get our lives back on track we feel like we can conquer the world, then one silly little thing happens and suddenly stubborness and stupity commandeer! Allaahul musta’aan.
I’m glad I can say I’m making less of these mistakes now and I reflect upon my actions much sooner rather than later… although that needs some work too *face palm*

I also learnt that I like retail therapy… rarely. That’s not actually a good thing as I think I did it to cheer myself up. Although, I did need those things and it’s not like I just splashed the cash without a care in the world.

Anyway, I remembered I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to share a book with you: “Tawakkul (Trust & reliance on Allaah)” By Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan. I started my proper ‘healing journey’, ya know, sorting my head, heart and stuff out in the middle of June. This was one of the first books I got my mitts on to help me. In it, an aayah:

“And whosoever has Taqwaa of Allaah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). An He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allaah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allaah has set a measure for all things.” (At-Talaaq, 2-3)

I focused on this aayah for a little over three weeks. Every difficulty and struggle I faced within that time went back to this aayah. At times, it didn’t make sense… how could I apply this to many of the situations I was in? Du’aa, thinking, reflecting, analysing each thing I was thinking about doingall came down to having truth and reliance on Allaah. I really had to understand it in order to live by it and implement it. I guess, that’s what I should have done once again over the last week and a bit when I was feeling a little rough and anxious.

I highly recommend this book. Everyone needs it and although I thought I bougth it from Salafibookstore.com I can no longer find it. Ajeeb! Here’s a picture of what it looks like so you can hunt it out inshaaAllaah:

tawakkul-trust-and-reliance-on-allah-by-shaykh-saalih-al-fawzan-4011805-0-1294149072000
This brings me on to something else I want to address… Depression. Oh no, I said a word that Asian culture doesn’t speak of! Seriously, it’s important, it needs to be discussed. Yes, I was a sufferer of depression in the past. For several years in fact. I was clinically depressed. The cause was known and I think, gluten was something that encouraged the down feeling to last a lot longer than I expected. Of course I only conjectured this after going gluten free and paleo.

When I explored a few websites to find something to help me Islaamically, there wasn’t a lot out there. Now many of you will disagree with me, yes there are du’aas, people have written tips to help, keep praying, sleep well, distract yourself and so on. You know, the usual misnomers we call “tips”. Unless you’ve been through the clinically depressed phase, you don’t really have a clue what you’re talking about. And in actual fact, your “tips” to make a depressed person feel better, make them feel much worse and even more hopeless.
It’s a funny one because so many people think depressed people “just” need “advice” and things will get better. No, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. So I’m gonna be realistic inshaaAllaah and list some things that do help in the next post.

Don’t forget to buy the book above!

Anyone can be a Doctor

28 Nov

Last night I went to the Doctors to see a nurse. I was hoping I could get her to request a detailed blood test for me. I’ve been a little concerned recently because my diet is so restricted. I only eat meat, chicken, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Other than my past problems ‘upstairs’ and my mental health, I don’t want to discover I have low levels of calcium due to a dairy free diet.

I explained that I was gluten sensitive despite not getting the blood tests done because I thought the Doctor who requested a gluten sensitivity test and coeliac testing was nuts. I also explained that after I was told to consume gluten with every single meal for 10 days straight, I was a little anxious. I started falling off the wagon anyway and even though I wasn’t consuming gluten often, the morsels I did take in affected my mood and emotions so I was happy to just remain GF and avoid being tested.
To my surprise, the nurse agreed with me and said Doctors shouldn’t bother testing patients if there is sufficient evidence that a particular diet works. She also recommended that we all listen to our bodies because that’s the only thing that’s going to tell us when something’s wrong.

Not too long ago I realised that I was no longer getting tummy aches, it was pretty common for me to have them in the mornings but since going GF these are no longer an issue. We discussed it and agreed that perhaps it may have been a symptom of coeliac disease. Either way, the nurse still advised against a blood test – I’m so pleased!

During our conversation we both discussed how we felt about our Doctors and how pointless things have been in the past or how they don’t pick up on certain problems. It’s really interesting to note how much emphasis she put on the fact that Doctors tend to specialilse in certain areas of medicine. For example, one Doctor is a hair and skin specialist whilst she is the lead for illnesses such as asthma. She said unless a Doctor specialises in that field, has a particular interest in it or you have a serious illness which is recognised everywhere then there is a chance the Doctor will do something about it. However, if it isn’t the Doctor’s specialist topic or it’s a ‘minor’ illness, in THEIR eyes, then usually nothing will get done about it. For example, coeliac disease. If you suffer from it, the Doctors will get you tested (and try to kill you in process by advising you to eat gluten everyday for ten days). If you tell a Doctor you think you have gluten sensitivity because you’re grumpy, had an autoimmune disease, have dry skin and several other symptoms then they’ll call you a hypochondriac.

This nurse was lovely, she told me to never come see a Doctor ever again unless I had a serious physical problem and I couldn’t agree more. Really. As much as she dislikes those real hypochondriacs who refer to Dr Google and scare the living daylights out of themselves, she praised my googling skills because I did the appropriate research, found a bunch of excellent people (and a Doc!) and implemented their advice. The result was good health, no more symptoms and cheeriness.
She told me to stick to what I’m doing and continue with my research if needed and that I would learn more fellow GFers. Apparently any Tom, Dick or Harry with gluten sensitivity is more useful than surviving medical school. Unless you’re Dr Rodney Ford. He’s a genius, he even has a thesis that’s older than me and what I’ve read of his books so far describe me so well. He was actually the first person I contacted when I considered cutting out gluten from my diet. I sent him a message and within 24 hours I had a reply confirming what I thought and was advised to leave gluten ASAP.

Anyway, I’ve made up my mind that Doctors can be pretty useless. Besides, I’ve have my share of bad experiences with them so I’m going to take pleasure in not having to see them for some time inshaaAllaah..!

If you think you may have gluten sensitivy or coeliac disease, do your research first. You may have rare symptoms and it may be difficult to find information connnecting your symptom(s) to GS but don’t give up at the first hurdle. In fact, try giving up gluten for a few days and see if you feel any better. I don’t encourage consuming processed foods but I know how difficult going GF is, especially if you’re doing it alone. If it helps you and makes your life easier, you may wish to experiment with gluten free foods. In the UK all major supermarkets often have sections dedicated to helping those with allergies with alternative foods.