Managing bipolar disorder can be a challenge for anyone, but for Muslims with this condition, it can seem especially daunting. Our faith is an important part of our lives, and we want to make sure that we honor Allah in everything we do. But how can we do that when our mental health is impaired? In this post, we will explore how Muslims with bipolar disorder can manage their condition using an "Allah-centered" plan. We will also look at some of the challenges and blessings associated with living with this condition from an Islamic perspective. May Allah help us all to overcome our struggles and find peace in His guidance. Ameen.
Our Moods Change but Allah is Forever Constant
Allah is Al Hayy, the Ever-Living who doesn't die and is unchanging. Allah is Al Baaqi, The Ever-Surviving, The Everlasting. Our episodes don't last. Allah does. He was always there and always will be. He is Al Awwal and Al Aakhir, The First and The Last.
When our moods change or we feel like bipolar disorder is taking over, remember that Allah is always with us. Keep Him at the center of your life, not bipolar.
Keep Allah at the Center, Not Bipolar
When you enter into "orbit of the creation" as Yasmin Mogahed terms it, your life is consumed with what other's think of you. Creation can be anything from your loved ones, to your marital status, or job status. When things other than Allah define you and everything is going well, you are happy. And when things fall and fail and fade away, which they inevitably do as is the nature of this life, you collapse or whiter away with them.
However, when Allah is your Center, not your image, your body or even how healthy you are, then you have found the secret to your success and contentment. I am not referring to happiness for that is fleeting and comes and goes but contentment is a state of being. You can be sick and locked up in the psych ward and still be content with your station as was Prophet Ayub, may peace of Allah be upon him.
He was the epitome of patience, the father of patience. He had everything, from wealth, to children, friends, status and then lost it all but his faith in Allah did not waiver even when one bit. He lost everything, including his health yet he was brimming with gratitude.
How do You Define Yourself?
How? How could a man remain thankful even when his whole life shattered right in before his eyes? Because he did not define himself according to what he had. Rather his definition of success was how well his relationship was with his Lord and the link he had with all was impeccable. His belief in his Creation was unwavering. So when his house shook and crumbled with the storm, he didn't.
That is what it means to put Allah in the center. Fashion your identity according to what Allah wants from you. But you can't know what Allah wants until you pick up His book and engage with it. Learn what makes Him happy and live by that. Foster your love for Him because what or whoever you love is what you really worship. What you fear losing most is the very thing you love most.
What You Fear Losing Most is the Very Thing You Love Most
If you fear losing your health, sanity and figure, then that is god. But when Allah is at your center and your mind is telling you to end your life, your spiritual heart, your qalb rises to the occasion and stops your body from killing the body Allah gave you.
Does that sound too good to be true? Maybe but that is what actually happened to me. During a deadly suicide attempt, my body gave out but Allah saved me through the soul that wanted to make Him happy. Of course, there was a strong support network behind all that but in the center was, is and inshaAllah will be Allah.
Manage Your Relationship With Allah then Manage Bipolar for His Sake
Living for your kids and family could be motivating when you are struggling with a mental illness but you can only do that for so long. What happens when your loved ones anger you or they disappoint you. Do you still want to go on for them?
Living for yourself might be better when you are plagued with a mood disorder. But what happens when you become severely suicidal? What happens when the depression takes over and your own body turns against you? Do you still feel like living for yourself? Probably not.
And therein lies the problem. When we live for a "feeling" such as a desire to be happy, those emotions evade us because they are temporary. When we live for other human beings or even ourselves, we too change. We are frail and imperfect. One day we might love someone and the next day we can't even stand the thought of them. What happens then?
When you have Allah at the center of your life, your world view shifts. You are not living for some other being, you are living for The One who is always there. Moreover, Our Lord is very easy to please because He outlined all that in the Quran.
Is it always easy to live for Allah? No, not always but it is worth it. Will you always "feel" like praying or being patient for His sake? Probably not. So stop worshiping "what you feel like." I know that is a monumentous task when you have a MOOD disorder but trust me it is possible with practice, patience and a little support.
The Challenge: Many Bipolar Symptoms Are Taboo or Haram in Islam
As if bipolar symptoms weren't tough already, add to that the fact that many realities with having this disorder are forbidden in Islam such as suicide, reckless behavior like sexual promiscuity and violent behavior.
Many "soft" bipolar symptoms such as unbridled anger, laziness or lethargy, snapping at loved ones or neglecting your responsibilities are also looked down upon in our faith. Moreover, it is very challenging to determine whether the disorder is bringing down your energy or you just being plain lazy. The lines between your personality and bipolar symptoms can often become very blurry. And more often than not, you will be blamed for something that the mental illness is actually causing you to do. You might know it in your gut but others will not and will be quick to label you as "moody, not ambitious, lazy, lost cause, or failure."
The Blessing: Bipolar Can Bring You Closer to Allah
There is a silver lining. There always is my friend. When you see all the challenges that a mental illness brings as an opportunity to get closer to your Friend, your Companion and Protector, your whole point of view shifts.
There are many challenges when it comes to managing bipolar disorder within the context of Islam. Many symptoms are taboo or haram in Islam which can make it difficult for people living with bipolar disorder to seek treatment and manage their condition. However, there are also blessings that come from having bipolar disorder. This illness can bring you closer to Allah if you allow it. You must manage your relationship with Allah first, then manage bipolar disorder for His sake. With patience, determination and guidance, we can make progress in managing this illness.
May Allah bless us all on this difficult path and help us to overcome any obstacle in our way.