Many of us know the story of Hajar’s (peace be upon her) plight to find her baby some nourishment. She didn’t just calmly search for some water. She frantically ran between the two mountains or hills (I forgot what they were exactly) scanning for any sight of food for her wailing baby. In my head, this story was only theoretical but as I entered the mental illness advocacy field, this story became an experiential one.
I remember a mother who was desperately searching for a cure to her son’s schizophrenia. Although they were following a medical treatment, it wasn’t enough because her son was still getting sick. Then a friend told her about a treatment that a “knowledgeable” person prescribed from their native country. Guess what the treatment was? The title of this post sort of gives it away. The mother was told to buy cow liver, rub it on her sons arm for thirty days and then dispose of it daily in a secluded area in a park. Lo and behold, the mother started doing this. But of course there was no result except a sign that the city put up saying no littering in the exact area where the mother had been throwing the liver.
So what’s the deal here? Yes these frantic methods mothers or others do to save themselves or their loved ones are weird but the more important question is why do people do these kinds of things in the first place? Hajar’s (peace be upon her) measures seem more logical than the liver prescription but let’s not dismiss this attempt either.
The point is that some people will do anything to escape the shackles of mental illness. And though the methods they employ may not make sense to us, we do have to commend them for trying. That is the take away from here. Mental disorder treatment does have a lot of bogus tricks and tips but do your best to sift through the bag and use the tools that are safe, sane and successful.
What does that screening entail? The filtering requires research on your part. Learn about your disorder and the possible treatments. Don’t dismiss something simply because it is weird.
For example, at one time I thought it was weird to take medication for bipolar. It just didn’t make sense to me because I saw my disorder as something mental and the pills were suggesting the opposite. It took time and some episodes for me to realize that these “weird” pills could actually do wonders for me.
I’m not saying that you have to accept every treatment or cure that comes your way. It’s true that some methods are utterly stupid and maybe dangerous but some are not. I’m staying away from listing the good and the weird ways to treat mental illness because it all depends on you and the kind of disorder you have. For some x, y and z will work and for others a, b and c will.
But there are some cardinal methods that you should definitely stick by such as:
Medication: mental illness requires a cocktail of pills and depending on the severity of the disorder, some people require more and others require none at all. Get help from your psychiatrist and see what you need.
Allah: I know as Muslims we already have Allah in our lives but with a mental illness, you really have to stick with Him. Some will tell you that Allah is penalizing you with this sickness. But what do they know? The illness can also be a trial or a way to make you closer to Allah. The point is we can never know whether it is a test or punishment so just use it to make Allah love you more.
Healthy lifestyle: This means have a healthy diet, regular sleep and exercise.
There will be many other treatments that well-meaning Muslims will offer you. And many of them are just trying to help because it pains them to see you sick. Instead of getting angry at them, give them the benefit of the doubt. Try their method as long as it is not harmful to your faith, health and wallet. And when you don’t agree with them or don’t think their advice is for you, just decline politely. Turn down their counsel but don’t turn THEM down.
And just for the fun of it, I’m going to list some weird treatments I’ve heard:
Essential oils: Not to discount their benefit but if they were the cure, why do we still have mental disorders? I’m sure they can help as part of a holistic treatment. Just don’t come telling me or any other mentally ill Muslim that oils are the cure for their stormy disorder.
Zamzam water: Again, I am not discounting the benefit of this holy water. I know it has many benefits and is blessed but it does not cure bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD and other disorders. Twice I was told to just drink this and all my pain would disappear. I just smiled and nodded. But hey, maybe I am missing something here. When that is the case, comment below and please inform me.
Tawiz aka amulets: This is just utter stupidity. Folding an ayah, surah or dua, putting it in a little locket and then wearing it or putting it in your car’s dashboard or under your pillow is not going to cure anything. You are much better off reciting whatever you put in that silly contraption.
“Miracle” nutritional supplements: No comment. Yes, couple it with your medication but it alone is not going to get rid of the voices in your head.
I know there many more remedies out there so please entertain us and do share them below.
Check out these posts below in the “Seven Silly Mental Illness Misconceptions” series:
Enjoy and please do share so we can eradicate mental illness stigma once in for all.