Tryng to navigate mental health implications when dealing with difficult circumstances
Until God opens the next door, praise him in the hallway.
Just a few weeks ago my life took an unfortunate turn, and while I drafted this a week after I was able to mentally stabilise and be ready to talk about how the change affected me, its only today that I am able to get into it clear-headed. While we always anticipate slip-ups and challenges, getting over the obstacles can still be a difficult task. It is in these moments of difficulty that our fears and anxieties fog our mind, and we have some trouble coping externally with our internal ‘fight or flight’ response. Coming to terms with mental trauma can be, more often that not, more difficult than we anticipate.
Now while I went into this level-headed with a clear contingency plan, I couldn’t help but form an emotional bond with the fantasy of everything going according to the master plan, so much so that when I was faced with the contingency, it was met with disappointment. And in the moment of everything falling apart, all of my emotional pain began to manifest as physical pain where all of that sadness and rage made it difficult to steer clear of tunnel vision and not be deluded by my negative thoughts. My only defence mechanism saw me spiralling, trying desperately to stabilise my thoughts and hide the confusion. Trying to communicate what was going on in my head kept moving me to tears and I kept trying to hide it.
My Islamic faith teaches me about the value of patience and restraint in difficult times, but over the last few years I’ve learned that it is far easier to preach the concept of patience than it is to practise it. Having faith has made it easier to accept the situation in my mind as it gives my situation a purpose and it gives me a path.
I’m still processing the situation but changing up the strategy has given me a more peaceful way to slowly allow the pain to be a part of my life and allow me to learn from my situation and circumstances. I still have bad days when my mind is consumed with a million questions of why and thoughts of giving up, I am trying to take it one stap at a time. These are the things that helped me during this specific situation in my life and I will most definitely develop as I face different challenges along the way. But as of this moment this is what got me through.
Feel the pain
One of the mistakes that I made at the beginning of this journey was concealing my emotions behind a façade of peaceful disposition. But once I allowed myself to feel he pain and the sadness, when I allowed myself to cry and be hurt, the thoughts didn’t linger anymore. Every time that it crossed my mind; I cried, I listened to a song, I prayed. I focussed on the thought and found the space to rationalise it and not allow it to fuel the spiral and destroy the good that was still present in my life.
Focus on the change
All change comes with its own challenges and embracing the change from the master plan to the contingency can be a painful shift but focussing with the same energy you would’ve given to the master plan can help you to embrace the positives of your new steps. Start incorporating what you have into your journey, build with it, romanticise it and look into all the ways it will benefit you while you ae trying to get where you need to be.
Faith is power
Knowing that there is a higher power in control of your life, a being that loves you even in your darkest days and will deliver you from your struggled even though you could never do enough in return is a truly freeing feeling. It’s the thought of being seen and being heard. In prayer I am able to be my whole self, my honest self, and my flawed self, without fear. It is the understanding that there is redemption, that there is a way out. In the plan for the post I had this point first, thinking that you need to draw on faith to achieve the other two but in retrospect, faith is what truly brings the other two points together. Feeling the pain and embracing the change strengthens faith and allows for more open acceptance of an unseen power acting on your life. It was about reliance after a choice has been made, it is where hope grows, and acceptance lives. I needed to first understand that I was in pain before I could look for a cure and relief for that pain and I also needed to embrace the depths of tension and frustration before I could choose to be patient. Faith is the end of pain and the beginning of peace.
There is very little that we know about where mental health issues begin, but in my case I believe the mine stemmed from my inability to accept the imperfections of life. There are so many societal timelines and plans that navigating life can be confusing. Life is supposed to be a journey, an adventure that is unique to each traveller and while there is a clear destination, I now understand that the many years that I have are meant to be filled with knowledge seeking and wisdom finding. It is supposed to change us, test us, mould us and help us grow. Our situations are not the same, the steps we choose to take are not the same and even when they are, where we end up can be completely different.
The thing that used to mess me up in the past was fighting to be on someone else’s path whilst neglecting my own. There was so much pain and stress and disillusionment because I could not come to terms with the idea that I was different.
It will always be difficult to deal with trauma even when you are aware of the strain that it places on your mental health and sometimes it can lead to spouts of depression but the thing is to take it on as it comes. Find a way to vent, find an escape and find your way home. Struggling with depression does not mean that you are weak. Struggling means that you are trying every day, that you are fighting and most importantly that you are hopeful. I know deep down that I am not alone in this fight and there are many out there just like me, trying every day to find the bight side and come into the light.
Difficulties come and go and when I am faced with it, I give it a quiet space, I give it a peaceful place to exist. It belongs in my life; it has its purpose and there is something to learn from it, always.
So, until God opens the next door, I will praise him in the hallway.