As a team, we have realised that we love talking about different mental health issues and raising awareness about them, but we have failed to acknowledge some of the bigger issues in our communities and the negative impact they have on mental health. Inspirited Minds is all about confronting taboo and combating stigma, so this month, we thought “why not talk about the biggest elephant in the room?”
Yes, that’s right. This month we will be talking about pre-marital relationships and the effects of them on your mental wellbeing. We will be putting aside the “OMG this is so haram” attitude, and focus on the “well, actually, it’s really bad for you in many ways”. Everyone knows at least one person (or maybe you’re that person) that is or has been in a relationship. Some talk about it openly, whilst others do not. It’s a thing that happens but everyone wants to deny that it happens. Modesty, purity and piety are major things in Islam, and we would like to believe that as Muslims, it’s what distinguishes us from other nations. However, the reality is – it happens and we don’t want to say or do anything about it.
So, let’s start from the beginning.
When you begin to talk to someone or start the relationship, feelings start to brew and comfort you like hot soup on a winter’s day. You may find things more in common with each other, you may make each other laugh, you may start daydreaming and feel those feelings you have been craving for a long time. You can’t wait to speak to each other, and you can’t stop talking about one another (or you don’t want to) and you make each other feel good. Really good.
Aah, the sweet, syrupy infatuation stage. AKA – the honeymoon period.
This is the time where your dopamine levels are soaring because you’re participating in an activity that feels good to you. You’re getting some sort of reward from it. Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is also released during attraction resulting in euphoria, and can lead to decreased appetite and insomnia. You know, you’re so in love you can’t eat or sleep?
This huge amount of attention that you’re receiving, especially if you’re someone that doesn’t get a lot of attention naturally, it can feel awesome. You feel elated, and it’s as if it will never end. These irrational thoughts can increase if you and your secret love are sneaking around, taking risks and meeting up; it will add to the adrenaline and you will feel like nothing can go wrong. You convince yourself it will all work out. These factors contribute massively to how you actually perceive the other person and the relationship itself. You will actively ignore problems that arise, and dismiss issues that come about simply because ignorance is bliss. It can be quite dangerous for someone who is on medication for their mental health issues as they may feel the medication is no longer needed as their love has healed them. They may start presenting positive behaviour and be adamant that they no longer need counselling because their love is all they need. They may even stop relying on their support networks, and invest everything into this one single human being. It’s an alarming place to be in, and if you find yourself rowing your boat down this stream, think about your options and reflect before you potentially capsize.
It’s important to question, why are we looking for attention or company in the first place? Why are we looking for that mutual validation? Why do we want to be important to someone? There maybe some of us that have low self-esteem, and low confidence where we need that extra praise, or those additional compliments but there is also some of us that feel like crawling into a hole at the thought of that. We tend to think that people perceive us, the way we perceive ourselves. So, if we think we are rubbish and someone tells us they missed us, we feel like we are winning. Or if we feel that we are strange, and someone tells us we are great to talk to, you may be dubious at first – but you feel good. You see how this can escalate? The ultimate question is, do we need a relationship to fill this void, or is there something better?