My sensitivity

I’m really sensitive to the things that people say and do around me, if it doesn’t fit with my model of how people should be and the way they live their lives. 

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine expressed her sadness at the end of block. I told her to “toughen up”, not really thinking it was a big deal. She played with my comments, being more sarcastic about her views and joking about them herself. I didn’t think much of them.

A couple of weeks later, we were talking and I said I felt sensitive after our session on psychotherapy. She told me that she could tell me to toughen up but didn’t think that was very useful. I apologised for my lack of empathy and said we all had our different sensitivities. She replied by saying that most/all people would think that telling someone to pull themselves together would trivialize their feelings.

At that point it hit me how she had felt. I felt more awful, knowing that I had been insensitive. I sincerely apologised and explained where my thoughts came from and that I should have been more sensitive.

She accepted my apology and told me to chill out, saying she was completely fine about it. 

Anyway, what this episode has helped me to further realise is that I haven’t really been a great friend to her. Looking back, when she explained to me that she was an extreme empath and that she couldn’t distinguish between her own feelings and those around her, I said “that sounds crazy”, making a joke about it.

I’m probably not a great person to talk to about feelings. Sometimes I feel like they are invalid if they are not based on something rational or correct. But the truth is, that’s what feelings are – they can’t always be explained. And the fact that another human being is feeling something in response to their environment, then I should try to feel what they feel. I need to remove my own agenda from my interactions and really listen to a person and try to understand things from their perspective when I currently don’t. I have a very strong moral compass where the voice inside my head is constantly condemning what I see around me and I find it frustrating when I can’t control that environment around me.

I fear that the above is affecting my relationships with people and that makes me feel low about myself. I’ve realised that I value friendship/connections more than I thought I did because work won’t always provide that satisfaction for me, so it’s good to not place all of my eggs in that one basket – the basket of academia and my career goals.

I can be quite ruthless but I don’t want to be anymore. I don’t want to be so harsh on myself and the people around me. However, I don’t want to be vulnerable either. I’m confused.

May Allah grant me greater clarity.

Ameen.

Trying to make peace with the turmoil

It just feels that life has become so hard for me. The shaytan tries to make me believe that it is MY fault that things became like this and if it wasn’t for ME then my life would have been better – I may have been around my closest friends, I may have had more wealth, I may have been living somewhere nicer than where I currently am, and I may not have had to repeat the year.

Allah says in the Quran, 

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,

Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.”
Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.

(Surah al Baqarah, 155-157)

So it is part of our test that we will be faced with loss. Allah told us that in the Qur’an. This is something that I’d like to internalise. It is also due to the Qadr of Allah that I faced and am facing what I am today. This was meant to occur to me. My rizq and the rizq of everyone else was decreed from above the seven heavens. He has the power to fix things if I turn to Him directly. And he has so far, I thought I wouldn’t get my student finance so I got a job and worked rigorously. Now, I not only have the funds from what the government has given me, I have extra savings from my job, Alhamdulillah. So Allah has increased me in wealth. I was living in a lonely studio flat, but now I have the pleasure of living in accommodation that is a step up from that in a nicer room where I have more space and it is in a slightly more pleasant location. 

Allah gives us advice in the Quran about how we should react, what we should say (inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioun) and the amazing bounties that we will receive from doing so. He has promised us this!

Also, Allah wants to know who is truthful and who are the liars. If we claimed to be Muslims and on the straight path when everything seems to be going fine and dandy, then once we are tested and we face major losses, it drives us away from the deen and we turn to our desires, then that shows the level of our conviction. Nay Allah protect us from hypocrisy. Ameen.

I received a not very nice phone-call from work today after I tried to call in sick many times but no-one picked up. In the end, it was told it was my fault for not trying hard enough to get through to them. Perhaps it is true to an extent as I was not thinking properly as I was stressed. I was threatened with disciplinary action which has stressed me out. 

My mind wants to forget about it and so I just wanted to remind myself that I should only fear Allah alone and nothing/no-one else is worth fearing. 

It is a hard journey but there are huge rewards promised to the believers at the end for sticking to the straight path.

May Allah make us of the people of Jannah. Ameen.

My Life

There are a few things I wanted to get off my chest regarding my thoughts. During the teaching session we had on psychotherapy, we went through two case studies and analysed the lives of two patients and what may have caused the difficulties in their lives. I realised that my past is shaping my present and I want to move on, but it’s not so easy. I also became worried about my future and didn’t want my past to continuously bring me down and my future relationships.

My Childhood

I think I was a very shy child. My parents were very strict on me and I remember my mum not allowing me to go out and play with the other children because she was so anxious of something bad happening to me. During the latter years of primary school, I found that used to make me feel very low about myself. I felt like I was missing out on a lot of fun.

My mother

My mother is very devoted to caring physically for her children. She is cooking all the time, eventhough we have grown up and don’t need to be fed so much because sometimes we eat out as well. I think my mum still treats us like children. She’s also a perfectionist and likes things to be done in her way. She is a very stubborn woman and it is very difficult to get her to change her mind on anything, even if all the evidence points against her point of view. She is a very anxious person and is stressing out all the time. I feel like she takes her stress out on us. We were and are still shouted at quite a lot for not helping out enough around the house. Even when I do, I feel like it’s not appreciated enough. I feel like my siblings avoid my mother because she is constantly telling them off.

My parents

My parents don’t have a good relationship with each other. They are from two completely different walks of life. My mother had a wealthier upbringing and my dad was from a poorer background where he had to work very hard. I have heard many stories from my mother about how she had to drop her living standards after she married my father. There have always been issues with money with my parents. It can be quite frustrating to listen to. My father always gave and still gives money back to his home country to support his extended family which my mum has always hated. She feels like it means that there is less for us.

Key Relationships in My Life

I was quite close to my aunties when growing up as they were just a few years older than me. I feel like I became distant from them when leaving for university. I was disciplined by them as well and sometimes when they took out their anger on me, it left me feeling very upset.

I was close to my friends at secondary school, but I feel like they were very different to me as they weren’t so academically inclined and would gossip a lot. I felt myself drift away from them.

When I came to university, I struggled to make friends as everyone was very into the partying scene. I became very depressed that year but did not receive any treatment for it as I was unaware that it was depression.

I became close friends with another girl when I started university and we spent a lot of time together. We shared common values and we shared a lot with each other. She opened up to me about some of the pain in her life and I opened up to her about the pain in mine. She was my best friend and I did devote a lot of myself to her, preferring her over a lot of my other friends. I think towards that critical point in our relationship when things broke down, I feel like she was providing more support to me than I was to her. She just could not handle it anymore. She sent me a long message explaining how she felt. I was very upset to read it. It made me feel low and bad about myself, as if I had failed and it was my fault that things had become that way. I blamed myself.

I write about all the above and I’m sure there is more within my unconscious that I may or may not need to tap into to deal with my anxiety and depression. I have had CBT and been on medication before but this only helps in the short-term. It seemed like I relapsed again recently. I want to know what has caused me to be like this and then I’d like to fix it inshaAllah.

I pray to Allah for a solution. I am soo sceptical about psychotherapy or pursuing counselling again. I hope Allah provides for me a cure and a way to live my life in a healthy and productive way.

A Miserable Day

Today was miserable. There were far too many triggers scattered throughout the day and in the end I just felt horrendously miserable. I was crying outrageously when I got home and I couldn’t do anything else.

I guess the day didn’t start off brilliantly because I missed my Fajr prayer. Then, I began to grow jealous of my accompanying friend as she seemed to have lots of social connections in her life. I sat in a group of doctors with her and I just felt so disinterested in what they were talking about. I couldn’t wait for it to just be over. They began to talk about their lives as junior doctors and it just sounded so depressing. It made me worry prematurely about the future, when I don’t really want to think about the future. I just want to focus on today. There was an element of freemixing involved as well which I thought was unnecessary.

Then we had a session on psychotherapy, since I’m on my psychiatry block. It brought to the forefront of my mind many negative thoughts and emotions. The words transference and counter-transference brought back the trauma of that message my friend sent me a long time ago explaining what I was doing to her and how she just couldn’t cope anymore. Then there was the explanation of why psychotherapy is important, when we were given an interactive exercise to think about the kind of person we would go to for help and the type of qualities they would have. It reminded me again how my friend was like my counsellor, and I probably overshared with her when maybe you shouldn’t tell the close people in your life so much as they will find it upsetting. 

For the last few months I have been debating with myself whether I should pursue counselling. I didn’t want to because I just want to carry on with life and leave the past in the past, but when the past is affecting my present, then I guess it needs resolving.

I came home today and amidst the crying I prayed and made d’ua to Allah that he grants me good things to my life. I complained to Him for my losses and begged Him for resolution. Since then, I have made the decision that I need to see my GP urgently to sort my life out – including my medication and some counselling. Of course, all good comes from Allah, so I pray to Him first of all that He provides me with relief from the best possible dunya means.

Towards Acceptance

I sustained a few losses in my life during the January/February period of this year. It was a painful experience. I lost money, I felt alone, I was living in a flat that I didn’t want to be in, I needed to get a job to be able to pay my rent and eat food (because I didn’t want to ask anyone for money eventhough I know that many would have been willing to do so, however I did not want people to see or know I was in this state). I could feel my mental health deteriorating at this time and I felt bitter and began to blame my problems on external factors. I needed to accept the qadr of Allah. 

It was He who was testing me. It was He who took some things away from me and returned them back to me. It is He who is looking after me as He always does. I am truly honoured to be where I am today, to have what I have. Eventhough waves of sadness approach me every now and again where I feel sorry for myself or feel jealous or envious of what others have, I stuck it through (all thanks to Allah). I persisted and didn’t give up.

What was it that kept me going during a period that could have been darker? I knew if I fell, it would have had repercussions much greater than when I had crashed a few years back, and so I wanted to prevent that from occuring. Also, I didn’t want to hurt my parents again because I knew it would affect them. So knowledge of the darkness of a previous episode and my family were protective factors for me.

I am in a good position Alhamdulillah, where Allah has given me the opportunities and the resources to build my life up again. I did it, Alhamdulillah! The road is long and painful but I hope and pray that first dip in Jannah will make everything worth it.

May Allah forgive us all for our ingratitude and our shortcomings. May He allow us to continuously strive towards Him. And may He give us all the final success.

The Path Towards Jannah

Today I was given my timetable for the next 6 and a half weeks. It will require some planning to ensure I do everything that needs to be done. I suddenly just feel so overwhelmed as a result of it, eventhough there’s probably not a lot that NEEDS to be done. I’m just ambitious and I set myself challenging aims regarding what I’d like to have fulfilled with my time.

I also feel low sometimes when I see what the people around me have. Currently I am feeling a little envious and resentful of people who have cars. I walk around a lot and use public transport. Sometimes this can involve a bit of waiting and it takes up time. However, on the plus side it means I can read and do useful things when I am travelling which drivers can’t. And the most important reason why I don’t want to drive is due to having to pay insurance, which is haraam though most people just do it.

The evidence for this is the following:

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him):

“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade transactions determined by throwing a stone and transactions which involved some uncertainty.” (Narrated by Muslim).

The reason why paying insurance involves uncertainty is because you are paying a fixed amount, though you do not know when and if you will receive something back from the insurance company. There is no service or product being bought.

I want to look forward to Paradise inshaAllah. A place where the believers will be able to fly (forget driving). So I should stick to my guns and not be swayed by the people around me whom shaytan is making me think their life is better than mine.

I feel that shaytan really tries to get me down by whispering negative and damaging suggestions to my mind. He wants to disunite the believers and cause chaos and turmoil between them. I WILL not let him win inshaAllah. Things WILL improve and get better. Things aren’t the same in my life, that is true, but that is how we grow – through change we involve into better formed human beings. Things might be difficult at the start but inshaAllah these are all steps the believer has to take towards jannah.

Raise iman and fight Shaytaan

I feel like I’m carrying the dead weight of bitterness and resentment inside me towards this friend of mine.

Thoughts like the following are going through my mind:

“How could she abandon me when I was at such a low point?”

But then as I write and look at the above statement, I feel a little bit sorry for her, for having to carry the burden of my emotional troubles for so long.

I guess this is it. This is the time for me to learn to depend on no-one expect Allah. It is tough and so easy to blame my circumstances and the people around me for the predicaments in my life, but I know these thoughts are from the shaytan. He wants me to hate these other believers and so I should not distance myself too much from those who Allah loves the most.

I must challenge these thoughts of mine! I really want to forgive my friend but currently I just can’t. I want to let go but I don’t know how to. I think about this all day long when I should/could be doing things that are way more productive and important.

Shaytan tries to drive apart the believers so we are disunited. I will not allow him to do so and create a wedge between me and what is good in my life.

I don’t want to have any regrets on the day of judgement about how I treated others. I WILL let go of this bitterness inshaAllah. I WILL love and respect all of the muslimahs that Allah sends into my life. We are a team and we will make it together, inshaAllah.

Realisation about My Time

What yesterday’s post highlighted to me is that humans have basic primary needs/requirements. They are the following:

  1. Health
  2. Wealth
  3. Shelter

I know I would prefer to live a life where the above three have been taken care of inshaAllah, so that I can then just focus predominantly on my secondary needs such as seeking knowledge – medical knowledge and islamic knowledge, and giving da’wah to my closest ones, which are arguably more important, although less urgent than my primary needs.

I have been focussing a lot lately on my basic needs, because in my mind, I feel that once those are in a better position, I might be in a better position to seek knowledge.

What this shows me is that I am waiting for my situation to become more ideal and I am comparing my present life to the past life I had where I feel I was more productive/happier.

The truth is, there is lots that has changed in my life due to the qadr of Allah, and this is not out of my own doing, though of course my past actions have had consequences that have affected my present. And as much as I try, things will not be identical to how things were before. In vague terms, I can pursue good friendships, good housing, good pastimes because those are the things which can contribute to my sense of wellbeing, but the finer details of these things will not be the same as what I had before.

This is just a realisation for me that I need to devote an adequate amount of time to the various aspects of my life which I feel matter.

May Allah make this process of time-management easy for us.

Ameen.

Life Audit

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Yesterday we had a teaching session where a GP asked us to consider the various areas of our lives such as health, wealth, career, etc and rate how satisfied we were with each of those areas. Altogether these areas formed the circle of life.

I felt uncomfortable doing the task because it felt strange to me to consider other areas of my life when I was at work. I compartmentalise my life and when I am at uni or on placement, I like to solely focus on that. Here was a man asking me to consider my life in it’s entirety in the presence of my other colleagues and reflect on it. It was really out of my comfort zone.

It’s not like I did not think the process was useful, because I do think it is important for one to ‘audit’ their life regularly, especially as we are Muslims so we should constantly be seeking to improve our lives. It was just that it felt strange to do it at that particular moment and I definitely did not feel comfortable with sharing any of my reflections on it.

The process highlighted once again to me how dissatisfied I was with certain areas of my life. I did not appreciate being reminded of these features during that session. I think my non-Muslim colleagues benefitted from the session because it got them thinking about their futures and the kind of life they wanted.

I try not to think too far ahead about my life because there are far too many uncertainties. I think it is better to live life in a way where we are most concerned about pursuing our most immediate/important concerns. The future is built by the present. Of course it is perfectly acceptable to have milestones and things you would like to achieve, and perhaps you need that so you know how you should live your present.

I know I am very career oriented and in the past, perhaps my life has been more swayed towards this, which is out of my own choice. I do not think there is anything wrong with people prioritising different areas of their life at different times. 

So right now, what do I feel is the most important to me?

  1. Becoming an excellent doctor
  2. Striving to gain islamic knowledge
  3. Building good connections with family/friends and giving da’wah.

The above three are my most important aims. But then I also need to acknowledge the following:

  1. Be well enough to pursue the above health-wise which means doing exercise and eating well.
  2. Be financially comfortable so I can do all the things I want to do in life.
  3. Be able to live comfortably so I can achieve the above more easily inshaAllah.

I know I have very high standards and expectations and this is what can sometimes be my downfall. I pray that Allah allows me to pursue what is the most important to Him and my deen and I pray he gives me the wisdom to know how to allocate my time accordingly.

Family and Weddings

I have had an amazing weekend Alhamdulillah. The family wedding I spoke of in my last post happened and it was fabulous, Alhamdulillah. It was exciting and uplifting and it was lovely to have all my family together and to spend time together.

I started to feel a little sad and anxious near the end because I didn’t want to go back to uni. It is difficult to switch from the party buzz back to the normal 9 to 5.

I am soo blessed to have family members who are willing to go to so much effort to allow nice things to happen. There is a lot of physical exertion involved.

My family is one of the many blessings in my life and I am soo grateful to Allah for allowing me to have them.

Things went well this weekend, and I am sad that it is over. May Allah bring many joyous occassions to all our lives. Ameen.