Moving Out to a New Home! (Virtually) 😃

Here's today's announcement. Alhamdulillah, after working earnestly for months, I finally can announce that I have a website! So what's up in this website? Aside from being a one-stop center for my portfolio & activities, I have opened my very own online shop! So far, it is full with my preloved books, which brings me to the next announcement; Preloved Books Sale is coming again to you! With even wider range of genres & even more affordable price, this shop as all the books you need. Only click & buy in one browser & one website. A new book would be on sale every day, so keep your eyes out 👀 Susbscribe so that you would be the 1st person to know about new posts & products 👍🏽 For starter, I think this is a good product to lead with. With that being said, stay tuned for more products to come 😏 I'm excited with all the results that come so far,

Is Depression A Sign That You're Not Religious? - My Story

As a psychology student, the rising awareness of mental health really excites me. More people begin to understand it and getting concerned on how to take care of it, just like how would we take care of our physical health.

As a result, more and more myths about mental illnesses are getting debunked. And I wanted to tell my story about depression, to debunk one of those popular myths.

Well, this is quite a controversial myth, and simply debunking, or saying it is not true, does not sound right either, as it circulates on a very important aspect in our lives. Religion and spirituality.

What is the myth?

Depression is a sign of lacking religious practices and faith. 
Is that correct?

Well, let me tell you my story.

This is just a (quite) decent and suitable picture of me that I can think of to put in this post. Depression is not necessarily shown on the face. Please note that.

In 2016 and (almost the whole) 2017, I was depressed,  & I believed I was having depression.
(I said that 'I believed', because I didn't went to see any experts to have the official diagnosis. I deduced it based on my experience and knowledge. Similar to how you can know you have a fever without going to the doctor.)
(In my case, I knew it was not an ordinary 'fever', because I never felt so 'unwell' before.)

I felt such negativity that I have never felt before.
My thoughts had been deviated. They made me think that all my problems have no solutions.
I felt like the world is so evil, & I'm not doing anything to cure it.
I felt life was not worth it anymore.
I felt like dying.

Yes, that was exactly how I feel. Dying.

As for my religious identity, I am a Muslim woman living in Malaysia, a country where Islam is the most popular and influential religion, when it comes to the practices. I also went to Islamic school since I was 7, for ten years. So, it can be considered that I am a practicing Muslim.

Classmates. Missing memories with these weirdos as I'm writing this.

So, as a practicing one, during those dark times,
I continued to perform my religious obligations normally.
I tried to do extra good deeds and make others happy, so I can also be happy.
And of course, I prayed to God to cure me.

I prayed to God to make all of those negative feelings to go away.
I prayed to God to make all of those deviating thoughts to go way.
I need them to stop.
God, please make it stop.

Does it work?

Well, imagine this.

You are hungry. You need food.
But there is no food around you.
So, what did you do?

You will drink water, minimize your movements to save energy, tie something to your stomach, and others.
And of course, praying to Him that you will be released from the hunger.

To simply put it, you will do whatever it takes to eliminate the hunger,
except eating food of course, since there is no food around.

Now, think about this.
Do your actions help you reduce or eliminate the hunger? Definitely.
But do they solve your actual problem? No. The only solution to hunger is eating.

Same goes with depression & religious acts,
or in fact any other type of help that you receive.
Religious acts, medications, therapy, all of those are really, really helpful.

But depression is a mental illness. Only you have the ultimate access to it. And ultimately, only you can cure it by changing your thinking & perception. No one else.

What is the trigger of your depression in the first place?
Anxiety? Overthinking? A traumatic event? Or something else?
Whatever it is (or they are), focus of resolving these emotional problems or cognitive distortions, then your depression will go away.

In the mean time, do continue to do your religious acts, taking meds, going to therapy, and/or anything else.

For me, it took me almost 2 years to finally sense that my depression came from anxiety & overthinking.

I am a girl who loves learning, and I like to think about things about deep things, things that my peers won't bother, or feel that it is to hard to think about. So, whenever I wanted to make any decisions, I will surely and thoroughly think about them, to make the best decision.

So, it is quite obvious that I will tend to overthink things, and that causes anxiety. And when that strikes, instead of choosing what to do, I will choose not to do anything at all. That anxiety hinders me from doing things I wanted to do in the first place.

But I would say that these behaviors still fall in the normal spectrum, as they don't fulfill the requirements of being classified as a certain abnormal disorder, according to the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; current edition is DSM-5):

  • It is statistically infrequent
    There are obviously many other people who overthink and get worried.
  • It makes me unable to function as a normal person
    I was still functioning and capable of fulfilling my jobs.
  • It causes me distress
    Of course no one likes to be anxious from his/her own thoughts, but I just considered them as my flaws, just like everyone who has their own flaws.
  • It makes me violates the norm (eg- harming your own self, or doing things repeatedly)
    Um... no. It didn't.

So... when actually do these 2 things cause me trouble?

In 2016, I left high school and enrolled into the university. So many changes kept going on. There were more pressures. Subjects were harder. I was literally an ocean away from my parents, family and friends. Talking to people and making friends have become hard for me.
I became scared, terrified & worrying too much about those changes, and that made me depressed, without me even realizing it.

I didn't notice that all of those negativity come from my anxiety. But I do notice, after one and a half year, that what I experienced, are exactly like what was written in the DSM-5.

  • Although depression is predicted to increase, it is still statistically infrequent.
  • I couldn't function. My assignments were done in the last minute, with low quality. My social commitments were unfulfilled. My own self-care was ignored.
    I was just bombarded with all those nasty thoughts
    Why do assignments when you're just bad at them anyways?
    Why be friends with others if they don't want to be friends with you?
    Why bother treating yourself to something you don't deserve?
  • It caused me distress.
    I realized what was happening to me, is something that I was not happy about, and something that I wanted to get rid of. But I couldn't. Easily.
  • It made me violate the norm. At least, want to violate the norm.
    To be fair, I didn't, but the thoughts of it are much more frequent and urging than I thought they would be.

I then know, that I needed to help myself.

I started to seek for counselling. Personally, I'm not a fan of telling strangers my problems. So this is like, my least favourite treatment.
But one thing that we must note, counsellors are trained to professionally solve our problems with studied, effective and custom solutions. So, if you are seeking for help, counselling is the best start. 

Even if soon you dislike it and want to terminate the sessions (which is completely fine, acceptable and actually predicted), at least you will walk away, having some inputs about what is actually happening to you, and how to roughly solve it.

That is what happened to me actually. I went through a few sessions, before deciding that it wasn't it. At least for me. But I do leave with a clearer state of mind. The most important thing about getting all of these away, it must start with me.

So, instead of depending on others to treat me, I tried to treat my own self.

I started to calm myself down, whenever I felt like I needed to.

"Don't worry too much."
"Most things will work themselves. I could choose to follow the flow."
"Mistakes are okay, I just need to learn from it."
"It's okay not to know things."
"It's okay to take your time to understand things."

I slowly recovered, but it was really HARD.

That is one major difference between regular sadness/distress, with depression.
If you're just sad, maybe it took you just a couple days or a week, to gain back your momentum & be positive again.
DSM-V set the minimum duration around 2 weeks. I took almost 2 years
And I am pretty sure that thousands of people around might have far longer battles than my own.

And another thing that I am very sure, my religious acts & faith are the ones, or at least the major ones, who contribute to shortening my battle time.
Without them, either I might have to fight longer, or I might lose the fight, by take my own life already.

That is why I am so affected with SHINEE's Jonghyun's death. Apart of being familiar with him as an entertainer, I keep thinking to myself, what happened to him, could happen to me.

Some people thought it's funny that he killed himself because he was 'too popular'. On the outside, I too have a good reputation & positive attitude. My friends would describe me as a 'great person'.

But depression is a mental illness. Just like the physical ones, they have risk factors. But even the most healthiest person in the world, have the possibilities of getting sick/cold.

The possibilities may be reduced, but they may never go down to zero. Never.

So, back to the question: is depression a sign of lacking religious practices and faith?

Yes, in some cases, people have depression because of their low connection with God. So they tried to strengthen it by increasing their religious acts. As a result, God freed them.

Yes, in some cases, people have depression because of other factors. But due to them doing extra good deeds, or having a good connection with Him, He freed them due to His mercy.

So, depression is not necessarily a sign of lacking religious practices and faith.

At the bottom line, depression is an illness. Being affected with an illness, physical, mental, or any other forms, is not an accurate indicator of your spiritual wellbeing & your connection with God.
But, one simple thing for sure, if you are sincere in being close to God, He will help you.

Is my depression a sign that my connection with God is low? Maybe. Maybe not. I cannot know for sure. But, whatever happened to me, if I can use them to get closer to Him, then for surely my bond with Him will get stronger. Then surely He will tend to help me more.
That is certain.

(Some) Coursemates. Looking foward to make new memories with them.

So, I will repeat again, depression is not necessarily a sign of lacking religious practices and faith.
We can never know for sure why God do certain things to us, good or bad.
We can never how is actually our connection with God.

But, whatever that comes, use them to actually get closer to Him. If you do so, whatever that is happening to you, good or bad, will benefit you.

Thank you for reading till the end. I hope this sheds light onto some of the controversial issues on depression. This is my story. We all have different ones. Take you time to reflect on yours, and see what lessons can you get, and share with others. Or if you don't want to (which is perfectly fine), keep it to yourself and use it make yourself a better person. That is what I truly what I aim from writing this post.

Thank you again.
Finally, whatever you are going through, I pray that God will help you, and you will be closer to Him.


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