“If you have strong faith, you won’t need anti-depressants and you won’t need to see a therapist.” I cannot even count the number of times I’ve heard this analogy from people of faith. Muslims are no exception to this misconception.
Mental health stigma is alive and strong in our communities. We need to continue talking about it and normalize seeking help and reaching out for support.
Countless clients come to my practice after a long time of contemplating coming to therapy. They are often dealing with guilt, shame, and fear of exposing family secrets.
The Quran and Prophet Mohammed’s (Peace Be Upon Him) teachings have many evidences that mental health is important. God says in the Quran,
And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein”(Chapter 50: verse 16)
God refers to our inner voice in this verse and assures us that that he knows what we whisper to ourselves. Muslims are repeatedly encouraged to self-reflect and seek knowledge and help. There are countless examples in the Quran that highlight our state of mind and heart.
We do not need to wait for a crisis to seek mental health support. The real work actually takes place when we are calm and not in a crisis. A lot of clients wait an unnecessary amount of time and go through so much pain before seeking professional help.
When looking at people who come to therapy, a lot of them seek therapy not because they have a mental health illness or diagnosis, but because they feel overwhelmed by their lives and have a sense of imbalance. No one needs to struggle and go through different types of life turbulences on their own. People start to heal when they are given the chance to decompress in a safe place. People start healing when they feel heard and validated. We all need to feel accepted unconditionally.
After September 11, I remember going through so much as a single mom raising my daughter in a country where I was just finding my footing. This difficulty led me to study Marriage and Family Therapy to parent my child differently and to understand the complexities of my life. Why was I experiencing the same feelings I escaped from the other side of the world? I found answers in my research and in therapy. Counseling and therapy transformed both mine and my daughter’s life.
I see clients from all walks of life at my practice. One thing that repeatedly comes up is the sense of shame and guilt that people carry for years about traumas or events they experienced in their lives. You do not have to carry that around. That will weigh you down and hinder your growth and progress. You deserve your own compassion and kindness. You have the capacity to give it to your loved one, so you definitely have the ability to put yourself as a priority and enjoy that sweet part of yourself. We cannot care for others if we do not care for ourselves.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says, “Love for your brother what you love for yourself.” When we look at that guidance, we often focus on the first part. We forget to look at the second part to define what we love for ourselves. This is self- care and self-awareness. This is about putting our mental health as a priority. Remember that you do not have to do it alone. Seeking professional help is one call or step away, so do not deprive yourself from own your care, compassion, and love.