Thoughts

I long for a better world. A world where Muslims are united upon the truth. Yes, there will be conflict and disagreement but it’s how we solve that discord and how we move forward which is important. 

I think Muslims need to develop a strong sense of identity and embrace the fact that they are Muslim first and foremost. We are one body, one ummah. Yes, we will clash sometimes when it comes to personality, aims, views, etc but when it comes to the common goals of our ummah, we should be willing to put personal differences aside (as difficult as that may be).

Yes, I understand that sometimes people are unkind and they do and say things which we don’t like or are hurtful to us. This can be damaging at times. It can make us feel betrayed, cheated, rejected and despondent. These feelings and emotions are valid and are natural responses to the events that occur around us. These feelings and issues need to be dealt with rather than brushed under the carpet. They should be talked about. We should think win-win where both parties can reach a mutual agreement/resolution. Yes, we might not have things completely our way and sometimes we might need to make sacrifices to be fair to each other. But we are part of an interdependent system and brothers and sisters, we need each other. We can’t fix the world by ourselves. We can advise each other, support each other, help each other and inspire each other. Don’t think of your fellow bro or sis as competition to you. Remember that Allah has our rizq decided so each of us will not receive any more or less than what Allah had already decided for us. 

Think of your fellow brother or sister as you and help them achieve the very things you would want for yourself. Let’s prop each other up and be pillars of support for one another. But let’s also remember that we should depend on Allah first and foremost. Yes, our brothers and sisters are there for us, but only because Allah sent them to us. All good comes from Allah.

The prophet (pbuh) said “None of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” 

(Sahih Al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

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How do I feel

I feel ok. I just want to tackle life. I do feel depleted of energy. I do sometimes doubt what I am spending time on. Am I spending too much time on medicine? Sometimes I struggle to concentrate. It’s just there are lots of thoughts in my mind. I’m planning what to do next and I feel there is so much to do and I don’t know where to start.

Sometimes I struggle to get out of bed because I just think there is so much to do and I don’t know where to start. I struggle to make decisions. I’m constantly trying to weigh up the pros and cons of everything and in the end I just get frustrated and I end up doing nothing or wasting a lot of time thinking about what to do.

I want to be in the present.

The Power of Prayer

I prayed Fajr (the first Muslim prayer of the day) today 🙂 I haven’t been the best at praying that lately. And I feel happy and motivated to tackle the day ahead inshaAllah. 

So Alhamdulillah, prayer has such a positive effect on one’s mental state. In the previous days I have felt guilty and sad after missing prayers. This isn’t a good way to start off the day.

Praying fajr seems to be like the first pillar in a building. It sets the foundations and if that pillar is missing, then the rest of the building will feel it’s absence.

This post was intended to be a reminder to myself and for anyone else reading this post 🙂 that prayer is so important for mental health. 

The Mindful Present

I am happy Alhamdulillah 🙂

There are so many things I made d’ua for and Allah is granting me those things one by one.

I am living in a better environment and I am looking forward to building new friendships inshaAllah.

Sometimes you fail to appreciate the beauty in front of your very eyes when you are ruminating or stuck in a mindrut about the past or constantly analysing.

This a reminder to myself to be more mindful of the present. That is where true happiness and true productivity lies.

Am I depressed?

I sometimes wonder if I’m depressed at the moment? If I am, then it is a mild level of depression because I am able to function Alhamdulillah.

So which of the signs and symptoms do I have?

  1. Feeling low – I do feel low about where I am in life.
  2. Lacking energy – this is my main symptom. I feel excessively tired all the time. I’m having to sleep a lot and feel like I have to drag myself along on placement.
  3. Struggling to concentrate – when people talk to me or when I am observing something, there is a lot of mind chatter going on in my head. But I’ve always been like this for as long as I can remember.
  4. My appetite is very suppressed at the moment. I don’t feel as hungry and can’t eat as much.
  5. I have lost a little bit of interest in my studies – but maybe that is due to the fact that I am repeating the year and am covering material I learnt before so learning isn’t as interesting as it was before.
  6. Lacking self esteem? – Hmm, not sure about this one. Maybe a little? I’m trying to teach myself that my self esteem should come from islam though. So that I can have nothing in life, but islam should be able to suffice me.
  7. Guilty? – Maybe a little bit for putting my friend through pain. But I am coming to forgive myself and I feel much less guilty than I did in the previous weeks, Alhamdulillah.

I do not have the following symptoms:

  1. Psychomotor retardation – slowing down so people can notice a change
  2. Loss of enjoyment – I can still enjoy myself when I’m with my friends/family.
  3. Suicidal thoughts – I still want to live Alhamdulillah. I still have ambitions 🙂
  4. Hopelessness – I do believe that there is the ability to get and be better. Allah allowed me to recover before.

So that is just a little medical analysis of my mind in light of the ICD-10 criteria for depression. It is in no way the complete picture but it’s just a way of considering my life and what I would like to alter inshaAllah.

An Interesting Case of Personality Disorder

I’m on my psychiatry placement at the moment and the patients are really interesting. I do find psychiatry quite puzzling at times though and feel that making a diagnosis isn’t very clear-cut as there are some features (i.e. psychosis or impulsivity) that could be present in a range of disorders.

Today I observed a consultation in an outpatient clinic where the patient had a previous diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. He was feeling very low, was drinking a lot to make himself feel better and felt suicidal at times. He bought his ex partner to the consultation as well who he said (in front of her) that she just couldn’t cope anymore because he was very detached and had mood swings. 

He appeared to be very calm and euthymic (of a normal mood) but at one point he started crying when the psychiatrist said that it’s not normal to want to kill yourself. This was after he very casually disclosed that he took lots of his prescribed venlefaxine and pregabalin in one go, because he just didn’t want to live. He had also self-harmed in the past and there was some sexual abuse by an ‘older lad’ when he was young, which he sometimes thought about.

The psychiatrist told the patient at the end of the consultation that he did not agree with the diagnosis and was going to change it to an emotionally unstable personality disorder. When I asked why that was the case, he said it was very clear from the way he acted that he could not regulate his emotions well. He was very impulsive – one minute crying and the next moment laughing and being completely fine.

To me, the diagnosis did not seem clear at all, as much as it may have been to the psychiatrist. In my mind, I thought could he be depressed but was trying hard to mask it? He didn’t look depressed at all. He looked very healthy and he had a good job. He had had many short-lived relationships that didn’t work out. But surely these things are normal right?

There were many abnormal things he mentioned as well – such as the excessive drinking, the self-harming, the overdosing, the mood-swings and the sexual abuse. And whilst the patient was saying all of this, he didn’t display any emotion on his face. He even said at one point that he didnt feel himself and sometimes feels separate to himself which is known as depersonalization.

Personality disorders baffle me. When I look at the different types of personalities, it makes me think, surely it is normal for people to have dysfunctional aspects of their personality right? No-one is perfect. I am sensitive to criticism, I can be quite self-conscious and doubt myself. I can be quite distrustful of others too. Would that mean that I have a personality disorder?

I would like to think that I have some good relationships in my life though and I do Alhamdulillah. There are some friends that I have who I have known for years. Yes, we might not talk all the time and we all have our very own separate lives and sometimes we go ages without meeting up or talking, but I know that I value them and I know that I am valued by them.

The patients I have been seeing recently – I try to identify with them and feel as if I am in their shoes but sometimes I think I identify with them too much and it makes me feel sad that that patient could easily be me, due to my own troubles and past experiences.

However, I need to keep aware of the bigger picture and remind myself that I am not a self-harmer, nor have I ever taken drugs/alcohol (or want to), nor do I take out my anger on the people around me and most importantly, I wasn’t physically or sexually abused when I was younger. 

So there is more evidence to cancel out me having a personality disorder than there is Alhamdulillah.

Mood Changes

It’s crazy how my mood has changed so much in one day. I was feeling sad one moment then my mood was lifted and I was feeling happy.

Emotions are like the waves on the beach. Sometimes the tide will come in but it will roll back out again. 

Painful emotions are not fixed. They will not last forever. Take solace in those moments when you feel at peace and look after yourself 🙂 The human body is fragile.

Motivation or Lack of It

Recently I have found myself to feel less motivated to study. I’m not sure if this is due to my tiredness, due to the fact that I don’t find learning as intellectually stimulating (since i’m repeating the year so I’m covering the same material again) or because I am losing my interest for Medicine and being a doctor in general.

It is true that I feel incredibly tired during the day and this probably plays a part in reducing my desire for activity. I have found myself sleeping a great deal too during the day. My appetite at the moment is very small as well. I wonder if the extent of my emotional troubles is robbing me of my physical energy.

As for the possibility that I am losing my motivation to be a doctor in general, that could be due to my tiredness as well which is clouding my outlook on life. I would say that I still love the idea of making a difference to the lives of people and I enjoy taking histories and trying to work out what is wrong with the patient. But I don’t like the system we are working within. Hospital staff seem to be very stretched at the moment. I don’t like the fact that there are so many other dimensions to working as a doctor that has been highlighted to me, such as the cooperation that must exist between all members of the multidisciplinary team and it worries me that there are so many other factors involved in patient care that it is far too easy in our system for mistakes to occur and when those mistakes occur then it can lead to stressful consequences for doctors such as the prospect of litigation.

The thought of having cases brought against me concerns me at the moment. I know this is quite far ahead in the future but it just worries me that something like that could happen to me.

If it is something that continues to be a concern, I guess I should probably ask for help and more information about it inshaAllah.

Achievements do not equal Self-worth

It’s the weekend! 🙂

I feel more at peace Alhamdulillah, knowing that today there aren’t any urgent external pressures on me so I can practically do whatever I please inshaAllah.

Recently I have been thinking that I put too much pressure on myself and I need to be kinder to myself. I am hoping to practice more self-care and self-compassion. Currently I have been waiting for certain things to happen to my life, feeling that maybe life will improve after that and thinking that those external changes will provide the foundations for me to have a better quality of life.

In part that is true, because if I move flats, like I am waiting to do so, I will hopefully have company inshaAllah. My friend and potential flatmate has said that she likes to study with company so perhaps that might be nicer for me inshaAllah. 

But what is more important than the above is that I find wholeness and happiness within myself, rather than wait for certain achievements, because the truth is, I might not have those things, and even if I do, the happiness will be short-lasting because then I will want something else.

My parents factor into this as well because I feel like my life and my studies has brought them some distress. They really want me to be successful in life and I feel like their aims and ambitions are lived through their children. Recently I have come to realise that the pressure that is there upon us, is not explicit pressure but it is implied, for instance if I do well at uni, then they will become overjoyed and it will bring them a lot of happiness. However, if something unexpected happens such as me failing or something, I can see the sorrow in their faces, eventhough they will verbally try to compensate for that by saying comforting things like “it was the qadr of Allah”. This positive reinforcement that I have had throughout my life has probably made me subconsciously associate my achievements with happiness so my sense of self-worth has come from what I achieve. This isn’t healthy though because sometimes in life things will not go to plan, which doesn’t mean that my sense of self worth should go down the drain either. 

I have been reflecting a lot on my life recently and I am starting to make some major realisations which I hope will result in me having a better quality of life inshaAllah.

Our sense of self-worth as human beings needs to come from something that is fixed and stable. If we relied on something that could change or be lost, then that would have destructive effects on our self esteem.

I hope that everyone reading this is able to find that happiness in a constant that they value inshaAllah.

Islam and Self Esteem

I was listening to a lecture on self-esteem by a speaker called Yassir Fazaga, where he used examples from the Quran to highlight how our self-esteem can sometimes be throttled by people in power/authority to serve their interests. He then went to explain how we could improve our self esteem, and he reminded us that we are Muslim and this fact is what makes us special. It is not about what we do in our lives but the fact that Allah has given us such a high status which should make us feel good about ourselves. Allah says in the Quran:

“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind.”

(3:110)

The Creator is telling us that we are people of status and honour. He has regarded us to be WAY better than all the people of previous nations and even the ones who were given the scripture before us.

The reason why I wanted to look into this topic is because recently I have found myself feeling quite low about myself. And I feel unsure about my character and whether I behave in the correct way regarding my interactions with others.

It was nice that the lecture shifted my views about my own self esteem from myself to Allah, reminding me that I am not intrinsically good nor will I become good of my own doing, but I am good because Allah has said I am good and as long as I follow His path, then that is all the goodness I need.

Another fact I was reminded of was that Allah will not challenge us with more than we can bear. It says in the Quran:

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.”

(2:286)

Allah has provided us with the capacity to solve our problems inshaAllah. He has provided us with the tools. We just need to trust that inshaAllah.

It is interesting that the verse finishes with a d’ua. It is like the d’ua is the cure for the hardship.

May Allah make it easy for everyone who is going through struggles at the moment.