Question

I’m 32, live at home with a mother that has mental health issues. Since the age of 16, she had episodes that have severely impacted myself and my brother. We have been poor, homeless and in situations where people have taken advantage of us. I have been very much isolated since that age because of the shame and experiences of people judging and taking advantage of my situation. Now at my age, I have insomnia, a very strained relationships with family, no friends and no prospect of getting married. I feel so fearful of the future and so hurt by the past. I ask Allah to grant me contentment for what He has decreed but I’m so sad and so fearful that things will just get worse. The fear is getting so bad that I have anxiety. I want to move out, change jobs but all I feel is fear. Why will things work out now when they never did before? And the loneliness is so painful too. What is the way out for me?

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Response

Assalaamu alaikum – peace be with you,

Jazakallahu Khairan for contacting Inspirited Minds, we hope that we can be of some help during this difficult time.

I am sorry to hear that you have had such a difficult time from such a young age. I don’t know the extent of your suffering and neither can I begin to comprehend your pain, however I believe that Allah tests us in various ways and I also ultimately believe that ‘with every test and hardship comes ease’ [Qur’an 94:5].

It sounds like you are at a stage in your life where you are reflecting on the impact your early life experiences have had on you. Often, difficult adverse childhood events such as the ones you have described can lead to feelings of anxiety, low mood, shame, guilt and difficult interpersonal relationships. This does not mean that blame is to be placed on anyone, it simply means that a set of circumstances have contributed to why you feel the way you do. We know from research that the more stressful childhood events someone experiences, the higher the risk of developing health conditions in adulthood. Exposure to things like domestic violence, parents with mental health issues and being a victim of abuse or neglect can have long-lasting affects. However, I must stress that this does not mean that these experiences define you as a person, nor does it mean that you are pre-ordained to continue to have difficulties. Ultimately, none of us have control over what happens in life but we do have a choice about how we respond.

By writing to us you are making an active choice to take steps to seek support and guidance to make changes. We are aware that often the difficulties we are seeking support for can stop us from accessing support e.g. low self-esteem might make us feel as if we are not worthy of support or that our problems are too trivial. Please continue to persevere to seek help, speak to your GP about the insomnia and options of talking therapy. Therapy can provide you with an opportunity to explore your feelings of shame and feeling judged by others. It can also help you identify unhelpful habits that may result in the same negative cycle that can often lead us feeling stuck. Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can assist you in gaining techniques to help combat anxiety.

It sounds like you have already identified some lovely goals, however working on several big life goals, at the same time could leave you feeling overwhelmed. Try to break them down into smaller steps and work on one goal at a time. This will make things feel more manageable and give you a higher chance of achieving the bigger goals inshaAllah.

Lastly, it is understandable that you feel hurt by your past and scared about the future. However, everyone deserves a chance to find meaning, purpose, love and happiness, including you. No doubt that you will be greatly rewarded for the support you have given your mother during her difficult times but remember you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take time to build your own reserve and safeguard your own wellbeing. In regards to your question ‘what is the way out for me’, I’m afraid there is no one answer, nor is there a quick fix. Maybe the question you should ask is ‘what can I do today that would make it a little easier?
Is it about making time for yourself, even if it’s a half hour walk a few times a week. So you see, it’s more about putting one foot in front of the other until you eventually reach your destination. Hopefully in time your faith in people and your imaan will go from strength to strength.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any further support.
Allah knows best and Insha‘Allah we hope this helps,
Duas always,
IM Support Team

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Ask Inspirited Minds is a safe, anonymous and confidential space for you to ask specific questions or seek advice around your mental health and wellbeing. We will publish your question and our response on our website but will make sure to make it anonymous and change any identifiable details. If you are going through these problems, then it’s highly likely someone else is going through something similar and we hope our advice can also be of help to others in a similar situation.

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