Praise be to Allaah for this calamity

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

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

Overdue rant

I know, I’m back after more than 2 weeks of silence. I’ve been a little busy plus I forgot the password to my blog so that didn’t help. In my defense though, I have been tweeting and Facebooking the odd bits here and there… when I can be bothered or have access to my laptop.
Anyway, I was doing some thinking (easy there, don’t fall off your chair!) some time ago after I noticed changes in my body and after discussing things with a few random ladies who were kind enough to share their experiences with me.

As Muslims we’ve been put on this Earth to worship Allaah, we get married to have babies and increase the ummah. However, I know far too many many women, married and unmarried who have irregular menstrual cycles. As a result, some of these married women have been unable to conceive yet a few of them tell me “Oh you know, skipping periods or irregularity has always been normal for me” Spot the contradiction “Irregularity is normal”?? No, that’s what we call abnormal! Alhamdulillaah this wasn’t an issue for me but either way, since going GF and paleo I immediately noticed positive changes so I started investigating just how common this was for women who had either cut out wheat, gluten and or had opted for a paleo lifestyle for whatever reason.

My research (googling, checking out blogs and so on) showed that it was common for a good, clean, healthy diet to sort out menstrual problems even if you didn’t think you had them! I also noticed that it was English, American and generally white women who wrote about this. It made me think ‘Where are the Asians, where are the Muslims?” Why don’t we talk about this stuff, it’s important to us!’

My opinion is culture has been largely responsible for this. In Asian culture it’s taboo to talk about your menstruation problems, it’s taboo to say you’re depressed, it’s taboo to mention that you have a sickness or disease or something wrong with you because you have a fear of being judged, disliked or made to feel like you’re an alien, abnormal or simply not good enough for something.

Since when did talking about your health become a taboo?! Why are Asians so afraid of it? Why do we, particularly women feel like we have to suffer in silence and when we do finally speak about it we turn to a Doctor who turns to drugs as a means to “fix” us instead?! What part of this makes sense to you??!

One thing I noticed with Asians, and particularly Muslims whilst doing my research is that on websites which are pretty excellent such as healthymuslim.com, despite mentioning benefits of breastfeeding and things to aid a woman during pregnancy food-wise, there was nothing about mentruation, irregular cycles or fertility. Excuse me for asking but what is the point in telling someone how to breastfeed and why if she can’t even get pregnant?! There is nothing out there for the Asian or Muslim woman to talk about or learn about how to fix her body. Yes, we know some women are barren and this is the will of Allaah and a test but if a woman isn’t menstruating properly or regularly should’t this be addressed first? How many women do you know who suffer in this way even if they’re unmarried or not in a relationship? Most, if not all women want to have babies some day, it what we’re built for and it’s important to us so where is the help that makes this possible? I’m fed up of this silence. There is no shyness in Islaam so we need to break this mould and this daft ideology that cultureand our ancestors have enforced upon us.

One sister in Islaam told me she got married and thought the babies would just pop out like that! (Obviously things have to happen in between) But despite being married for a few years she still hasn’t conceived. This sister knows she has health problems and is also on a paleo diet and still trying to find her way and naturally, she is struggling a bit but it’s unfortunate for her because she expected and hoped to become pregnant by now. I should mention she’s on a paleo diet for health reasons and it was a process of trial and error that convinced her to try this out.
It’s disheartnening because she said noone ever talks about things like this. And it’s true. And you know it’s true. So, I have a plan, or an idea….

I’m gonna do some more research now I have a good couple of months free and I plan to gather experiences of women all across the world and use their stories to help convince you that what you put into your body affects your health and the way your body functions. I want to focus on women’s issues because it’s such a taboo and because noone else cares enough to talk about it. Women should suffer in silence, we go through enough as it is. And for all you men out there who think we’re just bonkers for no apparent reasons or because of hormones, I’m sure there’s an underlying reason for why you’re other half behaves a little weirdly and even if she has told you, I don’t know if you’d be able to fully understand how it feels.

I want people to send me their experiences, stories about changes, irregularity or ‘patterns’ they have noticed when it comes to menstruation. If you changed your diet in order to lose weight, conceive and so on and have a success story to share, please send those along too! Women around the world and particularly Asians and Muslims need to know they’re not alone and they need to know there’s a cure out there that helps. And by cure I mean a good, clean diet. Not drugs and medicines.

All emails comments, questions, queries and so on can be sent as a reply to this post (or any other on this blog!) If it’s of a sensitive nature I won’t publish it but will keep it hidden so only I can access it. You don’t need to give your real name and at NO point will names be published alongside any stories or experiences I share. Permission will be sought before I share anything I receive, you have my word.

If you know of anyone else who suffers in a similar way, please let them know and let them have their say.

Edit: I forgot to say, you can also email me here: glutenfreesalafi@hotmail.co.uk

Forgive me, I think I sinned…

We all know in Islaam the first glance is allowed if it wasn’t intentional but what if after the first glance you took a second look? And after the second look you just started staring? And staring turned into thoughts and so on?

I know we shouldn’t reveal our sins but it happened to me the other day, I saw a beauty and the smell was so delightful I was being led into temptation! So many thoughts and memories went through my head. I could imagine myself running away with this beauty and giving out an abundance of hugs… I’m talking about bread!

I’ve been dreaming of bread and cakey things with custard. I really have no desire for it but it’s stalking me. You know you have a problem when you look at bread and have an urge to run away with it and give it a hug! And you know you have issues if you dream of desserts (and that’s not because I’m a cake baker and decorator either, let me tell you!). The other day when my sister was making this “healthy” baguette all I had to do was think about the effects that consuming bread would have on me. I’d become a moody, reckless mess and it wasn’t worth it. Alhamdulillaah I just knew I was better off without. I thought about how I’d feel even I ‘cheated’ even with just one crumb and it wasn’t worth it.
That dream last night though… I woke up so confused this morning at Fajr (morning prayer) time thinking ‘Did that really happen??!’ – It didn’t! Phew! I can tell you I’ve woken up hungry and I need to be out the house at 8am (that’s currently 21 minutes away)

On both ‘sinful thoughts’ occasions I also thought about this image I’d seen, it’s actually quite motivating so here you go:

Also known as stuff half the population can't pronounce yet we consume it everyday... well, at least I don't... anymore...

Also known as stuff half the population can’t pronounce yet we consume it everyday… well, at least I don’t… anymore…

No matter how much you’re tempted, just remember your intentions. Why are you eating healthily? What are the benefits to your body, mind and even eemaan (faith)?
Before you feel like quitting, think about why you started to begin with!

And I’d  like to leave you with this:

diet

That’s a pretty good point. So if you do fall into temptation and you have that one crumb or bite, don’t think it’s all over. Accept that you’re a human being, you make errors and move on. Trust me, I know from experience, there’s no point in dwelling over the past, mistakes and moments of weakness. Accept it, forgive yourself and move on. Sometimes in order to get better we need to get worse… I know I did.

I also received a message from a sister telling me sugary foods were a fitnah (trial…ish) for her. Who can relate?!