As if wearing the hijab wasn’t hard enough already, having bipolar and trying to stay modest gets even harder. There’s something no one knows about the silent struggle of bipolar hijabis. So why does having mental illness make it harder to keep the scarf on your head?
It might have to do with issues of self-image, fear of discrimination, black clash, too much pressure and judgment from others. Or someone might just be wrestling with their faith and trying to understand what Allah really wants for her. But a Muslim without mental illness could face these issues too. So what is really going on for bipolars who want to or do say bye bye to the hijab?
The main challenge for people with mental disorders is one of stability. Normal people have a hard time being consistent in having healthy habits or following through with their commitments but we are the lucky ones because we get an extra boost from our bipolar brain that makes us swing like night and day.
Of course, we are not lucky to have this yoyo life but I’m just trying to put some humour into it. So when we are having emotional roller coasters, the instability tends to spill into other areas of our lives as well.
For example, I have seen many Muslim bipolars start and stop a blog. I’m sure they have personal reasons for leaving the blogosphere. Yet, I can’t help but think of the glaring instability. Different bipolars show this wavering in different ways. That’s where hijab comes in.
Some people have approached me, and I’m sure there are more, sharing the story of a loved one who got bipolar and then took off the hijab. Their families, however, think that they have become less religious and are losing their faith. That could be but come to think of it, having bipolar isn’t the only thing that can test a person’s faith in Allah. Two sisters might go through the exact same test but one comes out donning the hijab while the other destroys it. The important thing is that none of us are in a place to judge who is better: hijabi or non-hijabi? Allah knows best.
What I am sure of is that on a regular basis, bipolar tells me to take off my hijab. But bipolar also challenges me in almost every other aspect of my life. Yet, I have to do my best to hold myself accountable for my actions. Otherwise, I would be giving up my personal power. Of course, I can only point the finger at my disorder when I am in a severe and prolonged episode. All the other times, I bear my action’s responsibility.
I really have a major issue with people who say that, “she went through such and such so she took off the hijab.” This statement assumes that removing the hijab was a result. It might seem like so but I think it is actually a “response. “ And yes, there is a difference.
A person loses a limb in a car accident. That’s a result. Then, they go on to start a charity that helps others like them. That is a response. Results are often out of our control but most often then not, the responses are very much within our power. After an event, reactions are what we do with our hands, eyes, words, and behaviour and in this case our hijabs. Our responses are what sets us apart from others.
Let me be clear: I’m not judging different responses, especially when it comes to hijab. I just have a beef with people who commit sins (including myself) and then blame bipolar when they were perfectly fine during the act. It took me a long time to realize what my actions were and what I could pin on the disorder.
When the committed sin is during a legitimate episode or period of insanity, that’s when the mental illness is at fault, not us. But outside of that, we are fully responsible for what we do. We might act good or bad, do right or wrong but in the end, it is still on us.
The next time you think, “bipolar made me say bye to hijab (or fill in any action)” realize that the common denominator is you. Using bipolar as an excuse or copout weakens you. Instead, own up to your actions. Once you accept them, you are much more likely to deal with them productively and move away from the bipolar’s cripplingly grip.
Now, even while having bipolar, you can say bye bye excuses. Hello freedom and a stronger you!