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As the blessed month of Ramadan approaches, many Muslim communities across the globe are buzzing with excitement on social media. Ramadan is a month filled with blessings; it is a great opportunity for Muslims to seek forgiveness, to earn plenty of rewards and to change themselves for the better.
There are copious amounts of helpful posts that are going around social media these days, catered to people of all ages, which offer beneficial knowledge on how to stay productive and make the most of Ramadan. Seeing people making their goals and planning for a Ramadan filled with productive tasks and reading reminders of the importance of Ramadan is always inspiring and it can certainly motivate one to do more but it’s not the case for everyone.
Many Muslim individuals who suffer from mental health issues find themselves in a difficult position during Ramadan. Mental illness won’t take a vacation during Ramadan and it can hinder one’s experience of a fruitful Ramadan. What’s more painful is that the high level of stigma and ignorance around mental illness within Muslim communities pressurizes individuals into a shell and to quietly live with their struggles, which can be extremely burdensome.
Living with a mental illness like depression can make things particularly difficult in Ramadan. People with depression can find themselves demotivated and are often unable to feel any of the excitement and joy that Ramadan brings with it. They join in and make great goals such as completing the entire Qur’an, memorizing, studying Tafseer, Hadith, attending lectures etc; but keeping up with them can be tiring and become difficult. Other people around them don’t really understand why and think that the best way would be to guilt or shame them into being a better Muslim. This can make someone in depression feel worse and give up on their goals altogether.
Ramadan is a very blessed month and it’s extremely important that we make the most of it. However, everyone has their own capabilities and a different level of Imaan. So making the most out of this month can mean different things to different people.
We know our own capabilities. If someone knows that finishing the entire Qur’an in one month may not be possible for them, it’s okay for them to not make it a goal. Your friends have planned to take study Tafseer for a certain number of juzz in Ramadan and you know that it may take you much longer to complete and take up much of your energy; it is okay to take a step back. This doesn’t mean that you make no goals and use depression as an excuse to not do anything. Yes, it may be tough but you are capable enough but you must grab hold of the opportunity you’ve got and do your best.
I’m not an expert but I’d like to share some tips that I feel would be helpful on making the most of Ramadan when you have depression.
1. Make one major goal: Even it’s the only one. Think hard about one thing, only one thing that you’d like to improve this Ramadan. Perhaps you haven’t been able to pray obligatory prayers on time or have found yourself missing some from time to time or maybe you’ve found it difficult to read Qur’an as much as one should. Then make it the ultimate goal. Download a printable chart or make one with someone to help you keep track. This goal will be your main focus; don’t think about whether or not you’ll be able to make or complete other goals. Your main goal should have your complete attention. It’s the one you must try your hardest to complete.
2. Make goals that are more realistic for you: Perhaps studying the Tafseer of many juzz is difficult for you. That’s okay. If you can only do one, no problem, make Tafseer of one juzz your aim or maybe you can’t finish the recitation of the entire Qur’an, it’s okay, make 15 juzz your goal.
3. Take care of yourself: People with depression can lose their appetite completely or over-eat. Depending on their symptom, an individual may not have a proper portion of food during Suhoor or Iftaar. So it is important that they keep track of how much they’re eating and drinking. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Try and get plenty of rest at the appropriate time so you can make the most of your day.
If you’re taking medication for any illness mental or physical, please consult your Doctor and ask if fasting may have any negative effects on your health.
4. Make plenty of Duaa:
Make as much duaa as you can, ask for whatever you desire. Pray to Allah to cure your illness to make things easy for you. Your duaa doesn’t have to come in a format, just let it all out, HE is always listening and you will find relief in making duaa. When you break your fast, when you pray Qiyam, the time between the Adhan and Iqama and during Laylat-al-Qadr in shaa Allah make duaa for these are the some of the times when prayers are readily accepted.
5. Take a breather every once in a while: Don’t try to finish your goals for the day in one sitting. If you’ve planned on reading 15 pages of the Qur’an don’t do it altogether in one sitting, this may tire you and keep you from completing other tasks.
6. Make Dhikr: This is perhaps the easiest yet one of the most rewarding things one can do. You can make dhikr anytime, anywhere. Keep your tongue moist with the dhikr of Allah swt.
“The remembrance of Allah (swt) is the greatest (deed)” Quran (Surah 29: Verse 45)
7. Take everything one day at a time: Don’t worry about completing tomorrow’s goals or next week’s goals, don’t beat yourself up for not being able to complete a certain task on time before, don’t let it sadden you. Focus on the present and how much you can achieve now taking it one step at a time.
8. Reward yourself: Pat yourself on the back for accomplishing a daily goal, you deserve it. Keeping a reward beforehand may also keep one motivated to complete their goal.
These are just a few tips that I thought could help one with depression. I hope they were beneficial.
Individuals suffering from mental illness can’t always control how it affects them, just how it is with many physical illnesses. If they’re not leading a very productive and ‘normal’ day to day life it’s not because they chose it.
There are many mental illnesses out there and they are all complicated. They affect every individual differently and so one may react differently to it than another. Depending on the seriousness of the condition some mental illnesses, for example, eating disorders or schizophrenia, can even prevent a person from fasting in Ramadan.
So if you know somebody who is suffering from depression or other mental illnesses, please offer them support and encourage them to be gentle and patient towards them.
May Allah swt ease our affairs and our pains, may HE grant the ill shifaa, may HE change us for the better this Ramadan and may HE accept all our prayers and ibaadah this Ramadan. Aameen.
I’d like to end this by wishing all my sisters and brothers a very happy and productive Ramadan!
Borchard, T., & →. (2017). 7 Strategies to Be Productive at Work When You’re Depressed | World of Psychology. World of Psychology. Retrieved 23 May 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/10/28/7-strategies-to-be-productive-at-work-when-youre-depressed/
El-Nadi, S. (2017). ::: Psychology and Islam ::: Islam’s View on Depression? :::. Balancedleader.net. Retrieved 25 May 2017, from http://www.balancedleader.net/psychology/depressed.html
Ibrahim, U. (2017). Mental Illness and Ramadan | MuslimMatters.org. Muslimmatters.org. Retrieved 24 May 2017, from http://muslimmatters.org/2015/07/03/mental-illness-and-ramadan/
Places and times where du’aa’ is answered – islamqa.info. (2017). Islamqa.info. Retrieved 24 May 2017, from https://islamqa.info/en/22438
You Thought You Couldn’t Be Productive When Feeling Depressed, Just Wait Till You Read This. (2017). Lifehack. Retrieved 24 May 2017, from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/12-ways-stay-productive-even-when-youre-depressed.html