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“I’m scared to laugh, it might be too loud,”
“The chances of the car crashing are high, I’m staying in,”
“Something bad has to happen, it’s been almost a day,”
“My chest hurts and I might cry, I don’t even know why,”
“I died in a nightmare, I am not sleeping tonight.”
“Okay someone died choking, I’m never eating again,”
“I am so sure they are talking about me, even my friends are in on it.”
And the thoughts go on and on….
With every breath comes a new thought, something impulsive, uncomfortable, threatening or just dis-settling. You never ask for these thoughts nor do you plan them, but for crying out loud, they are just there and nothing erases them. Well, sometimes. It is almost as if, in the moment of almost having peace and calm, the thoughts race through your head and paint down bizarre scenarios.
This could mean enjoying the chaos over the calm or finding the chaos in the calm or simply struggling with the Anxiety disorder. You can pick one of the options, but yeah, still on the same page and topic.
It cripples your mind, your thoughts and paralyses those positive mantras you have once memorised for times like this. Nothing seems to be working, in fact, nothing is working. You are choking up, not crying, but choking up. Your throat is burning, aching and tight. Tears are building up and it seems like the air has been seized. The mind is numb, along with the body.
All of this is happening simple because of a nightmare or you have been thinking a bit too much.
A panic attack.
Wait, what? You’ve never had one or never thought of yourself as someone capable of having a panic attack? Think again.
A little back, I would say 2012, I never imagined myself as someone who would struggle with the Anxiety disorder or Depression. It might have cracked me up back then if someone had warned me or something close, but yes, I never had it coming. This is why my Islamic influence comes in and I have to say this –
Dun dun dun,
Allah tested me by making me realise and sink into the never ending hole of Anxiety, and Depression.
First off, let me define Anxiety as a disorder for you.
I would simply this meaning by saying- Anxiety Disorder is a condition whereby you are permanently unsettled with the thoughts of something pending to happen. Hence, the quoted examples stated above. Don’t get me wrong, human beings are prone to get anxious in various situations but it becomes a disorder when you are permanently on your toes and you begin having side effects. It goes beyond being afraid to fly, speak, run and etc.
I would illustrate with two different scenarios, and I hope it helps you understand what I mean.
Scene 1- I am nervous to speak in front of a crowd. I create scenarios in my head, sweat and take some water before heading to the podium. As I start speaking I feel less pressured, etc. and Yay, it’s done. (This is Normal Anxiety, it is okay to be nervous).
Scene 2- I am nervous to speak in front of a crowd. I create scenarios in my head, I sweat and choke on my water. As I create this scenes in my head, I am unable to breathe well and I am suddenly claustrophobic. Tears begin to pour down my cheeks and you sort of get the point. (Anxiety Disorder and it is still okay to feel this way).
To be sincere, a deep case of Anxiety Disorder would include creating excuses and more excuses in order to avoid this presentation or speech. Trust me, this has happened to me before and I am not sure I regret this.
Okay, back to the main topic.
Back in 2012, I was certain about my disorder but I was not sure if I wanted to admit it. So many things happened at once, I graduated secondary school, travelled to a completely foreign country for higher education, I lost a family member and it was just too much. One thing that took me off was basically how fellow Muslims treated the topic of anxiety and gave me certain replies when I managed to talk about it.
“A believer is never anxious or depressed,”
“If you pray as you claim, you will not feel this way,”
“Maybe if you were grateful, you will not have any reason to be anxious.”
Back up, back up, excuse me?
Maybe if you were as religious and learned as you claim, you would understand that Allah will test every single one of us and eventually assist us, when we realise it is him we should call on. Trust me, I got replies and comments like this. It made me recoil into a fictional shell and believe I was complaining for no reason. Nightmares, panic attacks and all would happen, but I would keep to myself and say nothing because well, I felt it would be a sin to complain.
With time I tried Dhikr and increased listening to the Qur’an, but it was not enough. Do not get me wrong but as much as you need spiritual help, you will still need to talk to someone and get medical help. Although, I don’t recommend pills. Any ways, I began seeing a school counsellor, by myself and alone without needing to tell anyone around me. I kept up my Dhikr and Qur’an, and ended up adding breathing exercises.
The Dua of Yunus helps a lot. He was left in the stomach of a whale. Sometimes I compare panic attacks to that.
This is not a write up telling you that Anxiety will be cured. No. I am writing to inform you that no matter how religious you are or how forgetful you are, you are liable to be struck with the Anxiety disorder. It could be hereditary or simply in you. It is nothing horrible and it does not reduce your quality as a human being, Muslim, Christian or whatever you are. It does not reduce anything in your qualities. Yes, it weakens you, makes you question a lot and changes some characteristics in you but how you go about it makes you either a better person or just stagnant.
If you face this as I do, remember not everyone has to understand what you are dealing with. Your friends may not understand why you take things extra personal, why you avoid certain outings or why you start crying even before explaining a situation. Hey, that is completely fine. This is your test and your battle, for you alone to deal with. You just have to acknowledge your thoughts, remember you are not alone and always remember somebody is going through something worse. Sometimes the last suggestion never changes much but this is where engaging in charity comes in.
Whenever you start feeling extra anxious, agitated and not relaxed; give to charity. Choose a day, visit an orphanage or just got to a home. Spend your day helping. This will not only de-compress your thoughts, but it will help relax you and make the day productive. Replace the vibes in your life, focus on the positive and kick out the negative.
To wrap this up, I would say I enjoy the chaos in the calm. Sometimes I appreciate anxiety and I thank god for this. Relax before you think I am crazy. If I was not always anxious, I would not remember to pray and seek forgiveness from Allah. If I was always calm, I would not increase my listening to Quran or learning new Duas. It makes me more careful about certain situations because I overthink, but at the end I never do what discomforts my mind.
That’s a great way to look at it, but it does not mean you should not seek ways in relaxing your mind. It was just my way of finding the positive in the negative.
Anxiety is basically like a cold sea. You are thrown into it. You don’t get to walk towards this sea or choose when to dip your leg into it. No testers here. You just get thrown into this sea, whether or not you are able to swim. The main thing here is how you are able to handle your floating body in this sea, you can sink down or swim up. It will not be easy, but by the grace of god, you will get there. Take it easy on yourself. Take each day as it comes and know, you are not as bad as you think.
All this has been as told by Fatou,
Peace onto You xx.
Personal Blog- www.astoldbyfatou.blogspot.com