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Question

Asalamu alaykum wr wb, I hope you’re well,
I gave birth a month ago and have developed postnatal depression and insomnia so much so that one night I woke up confused about my spirituality and have been searching and terrified. I’ve had terrible experience of me walking around a whole day, not eating or drinking because I felt I’ve lost everything and negative feelings of dying in this state and Qur’an was on for me by the family and became scared due to ayahs of punishment and feeling sad for not belonging in the other group. I had panic attacks. I’ve been making duas but now feel numb like I’ve forgotten everything I knew (like I’ve had memory loss) and my thoughts change and sometimes I have none but I feel empty spiritually. Some nights I feel terrified and can’t sleep properly and trying to tell myself this is my test and inshallah will get better but I am so scared. I try to listen to some talks, do my adhkar and hardly communicate with my family (very minimally). I have some good moments and bad ones.
Thank you for this platform

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Response

As-Salaamun ‘Alaikum – peace be with you,

Thank you for reaching out to us, we know that it isn’t easy and we appreciate the confidence you have placed in us. May you be rewarded, Ameen.

We are glad that you have taken the first step in acknowledging that you are experiencing postnatal depression – a common condition experienced by about 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth according to the NHS. Indeed, one can directly link some of your other experiences to this, such as insomnia, and withdrawal from family and friends as these are common symptoms of postnatal depression. You can read up more about the condition at: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/post-natal-depression/overview/

By reading up on this topic, it may help you reclaim a sense of control by making you aware of how common this condition really is and appreciate the normalcy of your seemingly chaotic experiences in this state.

As you have rightfully recognised, you are experiencing a time of trial. Whilst Allah (SWT) has blessed you with a child, masha’Allah (Allah has willed it), He has also created a test from your experience. This only demonstrates the dual nature of this world where joy and pain are experienced to test us, as reiterated by Allah (SWT):

“Verily, with every difficulty, there is relief, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief” [Qur’an 94:5-6].

However, this should also be a source of continued hope in our lives, because even though joy may come with pain, pain also comes with ease. Additionally, Allah (SWT) has promised us that He does not burden a soul more than it is capable of bearing:

“God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffers its bad; (Say) ‘Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make mistakes. Lord, do not burden us as You burdened those before us. Lord, do not burden us with more than we have strength to bear. Pardon us, forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are our Protector, so help us against the disbelievers’.” [Qur’an 2:286]

When experiencing depression, the mind can become selectively attentive to reinforcing negative thoughts, information and memories which further reinforces the negative state of mind you may already be in, and aggravate feelings of despair and self-blame. This can happen without us and those around us even realising. For example, your family is likely to have good intentions when they play Qur’an recitations for you, however your condition means that, as you mentioned, your mind automatically focuses on verses of punishment, causing you panic attacks and therefore making you feel worse.

It is important to remember that even though our perceptions can often distort reality, Allah (SWT)’s wrath is for those who intentionally defy and disobey Him, and not those struggling to pass the trials and holding onto Him in times of hardship. It is worth remembering that alongside the verses of punishment, we have to draw our attention to the innumerable verses of love and hope from Ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful) for example:

“Say: O My servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of Allah’s Mercy. Truly Allah forgives all sins. Truly He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Qur’an 39:53]

In Surah Ad-Duha (The Morning Brightness), Allah (SWT) opens with a beautiful consolation and reminder for the Prophet (ﷺ) and, by extension, all of us in times of hardship and despair:

“By the morning brightness, and by the night when still, thy Lord has not forsaken thee; nor does He despise. And the Hereafter shall be better for thee than this life. And surely thy Lord shall give unto thee, and thou shalt be content.” [Qur’an 93:1-5].

Therefore, it is important to recognize that your sense of spiritual loss and emptiness is a direct consequence of your very real psychological state. Just as when we are physically ill, it can be much harder than usual to get up and do simple acts like Wudhu (ablution), when we experience psychological conditions like postnatal depression, our normal spiritual routine can be disrupted. After all, the physical, psychological and spiritual all together form the dynamic that is the human being which Allah (SWT) has created.

After acknowledging all of the above, it is important to seek professional help to assist you in restoring certain aspects of your life so that you can move from this struggling phase back to a balanced phase, In Shaa Allah (if Allah wills). You can seek counselling:

Meanwhile, some tips for self-care that may alleviate the symptoms you mentioned include regular exercise, breathing and relaxation techniques, spending time in nature to reflect on Allah (SWT’s) mercy and regularly engaging in dhikr (remembrance of Allah (SWT)). Even if it feels difficult or empty, Allah (SWT) will reward your effort and resilience during this hard period.

These are just some humble suggestions. We sincerely hope and pray that one or more of them will be suitable to your circumstances and help create ease for you, In Shaa Allah (if Allah wills). If you would like to discuss anything else on your mind, we also offer more personalized counselling here at Inspirited Minds.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any further support.

Allah knows best and we hope this helps In Shaa Allah (if Allah wills).

Du’as (supplication) 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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