Sharifah Bebe Hasan explores the difference between experiencing natural low points in life, and being clinically depressed.
Negative emotions are completely natural. In fact, they can make us realise that we are makhluq (created) being who are flawed, and that we have limitations.It’s also important to realise that we are eternally connected to our Khaliq (Creator) who has no limitation. Allah The Creator doesn’t leave His Creation without guidance. Allah says in the Qur’an:
لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ
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. (Sura Baqara 2:286)
Reading this verse can empower us to realise that we are, in fact, equipped to handle what comes in our way.
Encountering Low Points In Life
When encountering sad and negative feelings, a good first step is to try to better understand their causes. Is it a family problem, financial stress, or anxiety over something in the future? The answers will vary depending on the individual, but overcoming the root causes of these problems is one of the best ways out. Moving on or away from what’s dragging you down, such as a toxic relationship, could also be a way out.
Sometimes, going through a difficult time can reveal to you the people who truly care for you, as well as the ones who only stay with you until difficult times arise. When feeling low, take the opportunity to notice the people who show you love in many ways, such as by asking if you are okay, providing you with good resources, working hard to fulfil your needs. Then this will be the time you can talk to them regarding your feelings, and show them respect and love in return to make them happy and loved.
The feeling of emptiness, loss and confusion is not something new in this world. Many legendary individuals and great people had gone through these feelings to realise their existence and their reliance on their Creator. One of these great stories is the story of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, who was deprived by his own people and family, and he took that opportunity to search for his Creator.
In the same way, you may rise above this situation by using this emptiness as a call upon you to fill your heart with the love of the Creator and His Prophets, and find the great wisdom in life’s lessons.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad taught his companions the following dua:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ
“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” (Bukhari)
How to Seek Help
There are many things that one could do to seek help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, as feeling sad, lost, hopeless, and anxious are all ups and downs of a normal human being’s life. Some people manage to calm themselves by connecting themselves to the Creator where as others would need additional external help from their loved ones, or professional help from counsellors or therapists.
However, the problem can get much worse if they bottle up their feelings and don’t seek help. The best time to seek help is any time you need help. One could seek internal and external help by attending knowledge circles, or getting support from their love ones and counsellors.
What is Depression?
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), simply known as Depression, is much different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. It is a long-lasting condition, with a moderate or severe intensity of emotional response.
Experts have listed the following symptoms that usually appear in individuals with depression. An adult with depression would usually experience 5 or more out of these symptoms (including at least one of depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure) in the same 2-week period. In children and adolescents, the duration must be 1 year or longer to be considered depression.
- Depressed mood (subjective or observed).
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Change in weight or appetite
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Psychometric retardation or agitation (observed)
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Worthlessness of guilt
- Low self-esteem
- Impaired concentration or indecisiveness
- 11.Thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or attempt
Source: Uher et. al
To put it simply, depression is to feel some of the above symptoms over a long period of time. For adults, that time period is roughly more than 2 weeks, and for children and adolescent nearly a year, as their hormones are still imbalance and in growing state.
Unfortunately, not many people fully understand depression. When sadness or anxiety overpowers a person for few moments, some people self-diagnose with depression rather than seeking professional consultation. This puts them at risk of falling further into the abyss, rather than coming out of it.
Before coming to a conclusion, one should start by breaking down the root causes of their emotions. Is it because they feel hopeless towards life? Or is it because they can’t do as well as others in life? Or is it because they feel like their life is empty?
Feeling Down but Not Depressed
If these are feelings one encounters every once a week or so, or these feelings come and go, making it difficult to lead a normal happy life, then here are few ways to tackle or respond to these feelings. These are usually symptoms of feeling down or sad. They may not necessarily be depression, but they should nonetheless be acknowledged and addressed.
When is feeling hopeless, they should bring to mind that Allah is their Creator and Sustained, and open themselves to receiving Allah’s mercy Knowing that there is Creator who will always cherish and protect the creation, could be the first step to a life of hope.
For example, when a mother of small children bakes a cake, she would not put the cake at a place where her kids can reach it. In the same way, if a human being is so protective of its creation then, how one could think that Allah, The Creator of the Mankind and the World will ever leave His creation without help?
Hoping from Allah is the key to success. Having hope in Allah and staying connected with Him through, prayer and remembrance can keep you grounded. Then, moving forward with your ambition in the effort to push down the hopeless, using any help and resources that are available, will hopefully bring you closer to a solution. Allah says in the Quran:
فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Sura Aal-Imran 3:159)
Depression is on the rise amongst the adults and youth. Depression is not something which is incurable, especially if one can realise and work on it at an early stage. There are many ways that one could try out to overcome depression especially by breaking down on why and how they are feeling.
Channelling these feelings to positive actions and places is a great way to start. Constantly relying on the Creator, and spending time in circles of remembrance, can help overcome feelings of loneliness. Learning the stories of the Prophets of Allah will give one hope in leading a successful life. Other way would also be by studying the seerah of beloved prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, and sending peace upon him, an act recommended by scholars to remove depression related to feelings like sadness and emptiness.
Finally, since loss is one of the components of depression, I hope to express the reality of it through this short poem. I hope the outcome from this poem brings clarity to people, and helps many in finding their way out of depression.
I Was Lost Within Me
I asked you
I worshipped in your name,
But, still found out myself to be lost,
And so, I stopped everything that connects me to you,
I prevented all the connections I had with your name,
Although in deep down I knew i’m getting more lost,
The next day, I woke up missing you,
but , I was determined not to utter your name
As I want to put a stop for the feeling of loss,
I drank coffee in a cup that was written I love you
Which was gifted by my mom with on it my name
I always use this mug as I feared for finding them lost.
While sipping, I ignored once again my mom’s I love you,
Just because I found them uncool and very lame
And with my clinging siblings, to love them is a force
With all these problems I ran out to show I’m unhappy with you
Then, I heard my mom calling out Abdullah my name
Then I realise that You have never despair me to lost
I ran away from my mom’s love that was given by you
I pushed away my siblings whenever they came
I dug a hole and hide myself before claiming I’m lost
But I was always blessed by you.
Knowing this I uttered again with full of love your name
Allah thank you for being with me who were lost
I got my identity through you
I’m Abdullah a slave to you and your name
You are the Creator who never leaves one to lost
I was created by you
I will be guided by your name
Now, I have no fear handling loss.
Sharifah Bebe Hasan is from Singapore, and has obtained her Alimiyyah certificate in Hadith in addition to graduating in Shariah from University of Indonesia. Currently, she’s enhancing her research and writing skills through SeekersGuidance.