It's been a while since my last blog and I am truly sorry. Studying full-time, working part-time and planning a wedding all at the same time really took a toll on me. Now that school is done for a few months, I can breathe and come back to blogging which I hope to keep up even during wedding season (LOL).
Ramadan Mubarak to everyone celebrating. I cannot believe it is almost over. May Allah SWT keep us steadfast through the next several days and continue to build our Iman, Islam and Ihsan.
Ramadan is very dear to me. Ramadan 2013 in particular is when I started wearing the hijab. Ramadan brings ease to my heart which in recent years has seen its fair share of pain. As many of you know, I suffer from anxiety and depressive bipolar. Anxiety has ruled my life in many ways. How I interact with people, how I prioritize things, how I cope. My anxiety really gets bad when I am studying especially because I am not entirely passionate about what I am currently studying. Exams, don't ask me how I manage to survive them, but they really test me, literally and figuratively.
Like exams, fasting tests me. On top of my mental illness(es), I have had a fair share of physical ailments that periodically make fasting hard for me but, Alhamdulilah, I still manage to get through most days okay. My anxiety brings out the perfectionist in me and that means if I feel my fasts weren't perfect, if i didn't observe as I expected or hoped, it creates more anxiety and I become hard to deal with.
So how do I deal with my anxiety during Ramadan when worship is at an all-time high and I want to pray 20 rakahs of Taraweeh each night but always seem to fall a little short of my goal and pray 8 rakahs?
1) Entrusting my efforts in Allah SWT
Allah says in the Quran " فَسَتَذْكُرُونَ مَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ ۚ وَأُفَوِّضُ أَمْرِي إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ - I entrust my affairs unto God. Truly, Allah is aware of His servants” (40:44) Allah is the One who understands how we feel, how we strive to perfect every form of worship towards Him and how we want to be better so we can enter Paradise. Allah never made worship difficult, we did. We fill our lives with so much nonsense and forget what truly is important.
2) Taking one day at a time
I cannot stress this enough. I find myself projecting about the future so much that I lose sight of the fact that today may be my last day and as long as I do my best, Allah will leave the reward up to Himself. In Ramadan, I tend to ground myself more and think about the day at hand and how I have to manage fasting, praying, reading Quran while I go about my daily activities. If I just keep each step ahead of me in my view and not the rest, I can manage.
3) Eating properly after Iftar and sleeping well
Sleep and proper nutrition really affect my anxiety. If I am not nourishing myself in these key areas, I find my anxiety spike and it slowly builds up and becomes intolerable. I nap when I can, I stay hydrated and eat very healthy, nutrient-filled foods (the Keto diet in particular has helped my anxiety). I almost immediately notice my mood change when I don't get my 8 hours of sleep a night or don't get enough nutrients in my food intake.
4) Taking medication/vitamins on time daily
I rely on medication to stabilize my moods and vitamins to help me feel more alert throughout the day so it's important for me to take them at the right time. I tend to eat suhoor early, before sleeping, just before Fajr, so I take my medications and vitamins so they start working gradually throughout the day. If I miss a dose or I take one too late or too early, it really affects my anxiety.
I hope this gave you some insight in to how I cope with my anxiety. It is not as simple as increasing prayer and dhikr; it is also critical that I avoid pressuring myself to do more than what I can do. In the end, intentions go a long way and our efforts are always noticed.