Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, but sometimes it can get too much and result in things such as panic attacks and long term anxiety disorders. I was always an anxious child but never thought anything of it. Then, in 2013 my anxiety started getting worse and I ended up in a bad situation whilst I was on my year abroad in Jordan. I was already pretty nervous being out there, away from many of my friends and my family so I felt on edge for the first couple months of the trip. Then, one day when I was out there I woke up and felt my heart beating rapidly and had pain in my chest. I went to the pharmacy across the road from my house and was told to go to the hospital. By the time I got there they recorded my heart rate at 144 beats per minute and so they thought I was having a heart attack. I had what seemed like an endless amount of blood tests and was put into the ICU and attached to a heart monitor. After spending the night in hospital with catheters and monitors stuck to me, the doctors said that my heart was fine and that I was just under stress, and that what I had was just a panic attack. Having never had one before, and with the doctors thinking I was having a heart attack, this only increased my anxiety further. The doctors in Jordan prescribed me beta blockers, a kind of medication that slows your heart rate down, but I was so worried about them, I decided not to take them. I went the next few months without having any instances of panic attacks or bad anxiety but when the new academic year started, things started getting worse. I was experiencing panic attacks more often in addition to my sleeping and eating patterns going awry. Not wanting to bother the doctors about it, and believing that my symptoms were just situational I just went to the university wellbeing centre and had a couple of counselling sessions. A few months later though, my anxiety was getting worse, panic attacks becoming more common and there was a day when it got so bad that I felt on edge for about a week where I couldn’t eat or sleep, which, for someone who sleeps as a hobby, and eats when she’s stressed, was quite odd. It was then where my friends convinced me to go and see the GP. She referred me to counselling and then advised that I went on SSRI’s, more specifically anti-depressants as she diagnosed me with depression and anxiety. For about the last year I’ve been on the medication and my anxiety levels have decreased, alhamdullilah. My advice to anyone experiencing similar problems would be, as the Hadith says, to “trust Allah but tie your camel”. Through my experiences with anxiety and depression, I did struggle with my faith a little, but kept making dua and praying to Allah to alleviate my hardships. However things started getting better when I also made sure I “tied my camel”, by going to the GP and eventually seeking help.

To hear more about my experiences, recovery and top tips alongside Mary, please listen into this month’s podcast. If you would like to share your experience do get in touch and also please participate in #FreakyFeels, our campaign for this month across all our social media.

Jamilla Hekmoun

Author Jamilla Hekmoun

Jamilla is a final year undergraduate studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and Vice President of the Islamic Society at the University of Exeter. After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, she is keen on improving the understanding of mental health conditions within Muslim communities. Follow her on Twitter @JamillaTweets.

More posts by Jamilla Hekmoun
  • Faheem

    Was there anything from a religious perspective that helped you overcome anxiety?

    • Meanha

      A’slaamualaykum Faheem, if you check out our latest podcast there is mention of religious coping mechanisms. There will also be upcoming articles on this topic, so keep reading!

  • Ismi_

    Jazakallah for sharing your experience and the reference to Islam. I had a panic attack few months ago and was really scared that its a sign I am losing my deen, but alhamdulillah I think it has done the opposite and made me closer to my deen. I remember during the attack I was lying on my bed and I thought I was dying and then I started reading the shahadah and I could hear my parents also reciting ( they weren’t sure what was happening). Alhamdulillah I was so relieved that Allah had given me another chance to live and improve myself before death truly knocks on my door.

    Jazakallah for the resources also ?

    • Meanha

      A’slaamualaykum, Jazakamullahu Khairan for sharing your brave story, you really are an inspiration. Alahamdulillah we are glad to hear of the positive outcome and how strong your faith really is, mashAllah. May Allah continue to keep you firm and safe, Ameen.

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