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  • Support with Saba

    Get confidential, one on one support for Muslims with mental health challenges Let's face it, we are all struggling mentally. This is why you need my help! You don't have to be alone in this battle... let's talk about it. I can help you find your way out of the darkness and back to wellness.

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Blog Posts (55)

  • Uncovering the Hidden Strength of Muslims with Mental Challenges

    When I first got a mental illness, I didn't want my family's help. I wanted to tackle this beast on my own. But it just got worse. Family is Our Strength We often neglect what a valuable resource family is and their support. We don't appreciate them yet they can be our super power. As Muslims, family connections are an integral part of our faith and culture. Without our loved ones, our recovery and wellness would be very difficult. Moreover, to have a meaningful life, you need connections. Family support matters because we are social creatures and the worst form of punishment can be isolation especially for one who has a mental health challenge. Reach Out When you get diagnosed or realize you are suffering mentally, either with anxiety or depression or suicidal thoughts, reach out to a family member. They are often, not always, the closet to you, know you well and have your best interest in mind. Of course there are exceptions but this is generally true of healthy families. Staying connected with your parents, spouse, siblings, kids or even extended family can add meaning to your life. They can be a hidden strength when it comes to fighting the dark demons inside you. Connecting and reaching out to your family helps you but it also takes the focus away from your pain and makes you think about them. Talking to them for support is good but there is an interesting phenomena that occurs. As we talk to our family about our pain, we can often see the turmoil they are facing. Families Living with a Loved One with a Mental Illness I must confess, I am guilty of this. The very premise of my work is supporting Muslims with mental health challenges. However, in this article I highlight the plight of the family members that live with someone with a mental illness. Not only do they see a loved one suffer but they feel the pain themselves. This could happen because they are connected with the sick person but their trial could also happen because of how difficult it is to live with someone with a mental illness. This fact came to my realization when I started listening to my loved ones and what they go through when I am unwell or at the hospital. Much of the focus is on getting help for me but what about them. Struggle as an Opportunity Your parent's or spouse's suffering doesn't take away from our pain. At the same time, this struggle is an opportunity for us to get out of our dark hole and climb into their dungeon and see just how dark it is there, if not more. Believe me, this shift of perspective and empathy can do wonders for your health, even if you are sick. Seeing their pain and understanding them is essentially a way for you to help them. And God helps you as long as you are helping someone else. Alleviate someone else's suffering and watch yours subside. I make this claim with certainty as my advocacy work has done wonders in my own mental wellness. The Exceptions At the same time, some families can be tough to deal with. They may have very little knowledge about your mental health challenges. They might also be toxic to your health. In that case, you need to decide whether their support is going to strengthen you or hinder your progress. Be aware that one of the biggest traps of Shaytan is to split up families and tear them apart through fights and drama. Consult a third party like a psychiatrist or therapist and see what your options are if your family is not supportive.n Grow Closer Together as a Family Do your best to use your mental health challenge as a way to strengthen your bond with your family. Grow through this challenge. Alhumdulillah that is what happened with my family. If they know very little about your mental illness or challenge, educate them in a kind and empathetic manner. See things from their point of view. They might feel very confused about how to handle your situation or even how to help you. They probably have to walk on egg shells around you because of your sensitivity and mental state. That is not an easy feat. When your family is utterly toxic and is actually hindering your progress, educating them or seeking their support might be futile. It might be better to seek external support from friends or a group or even a website like this. As for getting support for your family, there are many organizations that offer help and services to caregivers and families. Reach out to these organizations (a simple google search will show you support groups in your area). In the U.S.A. you can reach out to NAMI and in Canada, you can reach out to CMHA.

  • What Depression Feels Like as a Muslim

    That Dark Stormy Cloud It never really goes away, at least not for me. I'm in a depression episode currently. It feels suffocating. Every step I take feels like I'm pulling the weight of a mountain. I have high anxiety also and things are still not settled in my life. My creativity and energy is at an all time low. I spent a month in the psych ward and I feel utterly depleted physically, emotionally and psychologically but spiritually, I hope not. Allah Builds Me Back Up The overarching feeling I have right now is: broken. I feel like I've been shred into a million pieces. I exaggerate not. It's a feeling that's all encompassing. And at the same time, there's a part of me that says I must go on, no matter how difficult things are. I must not give into the temptation of self-loathing and self-pity. These feelings seem like the natural reaction but they lead to an unnatural state of ingratitude. Self-doubt is at an all time high. Even writing these words to you is hard because the voice in me keeps telling me I have nothing worthwhile to say. I feel broken right now but not for long. Dealing with a Loss I'm dealing with another loss that took a long time to achieve. Then it was taken away suddenly in the blink of an eye. That's the nature of this life. Things can change so quickly and are volatile like a tropical storm. But I have to remember that one day I'm going to leave everything behind. On the Day of Judgement, I won't feel the loss of losing something in this dunya but of all the good actions I missed upon. That's the ultimate loss. فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًۭا So, surely with hardship comes ease. Surely with ˹that˺ hardship comes ˹more˺ ease. Surah Ash-Sharh (94:5-6) Source:

  • How to Be Mentally Fit According to Islam -Moral Intelligence Part 2

    The Intelligence is your defining quality. It's the one thing that separates you from your pet cat or that fly on the wall. There are many kinds of intelligences. There's traditional academic intelligence, emotional intelligence, social, financial not to mention Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences. Any aspect of our life can be turned into a specific domain for us to excel in or be intelligent at. As Muslims need to focus on moral intelligence or rather 'aql. Baffled by Intelligence We live in an age of dysphoria. Slap any word next to dysphoria and you'll find someone suffering from it. But there is comfort in knowing that we are not the only ones going through confusing times. Alas, I found some solace as I read the first part of Shaykh Mikaeel Ahmed Smith's book "With the Heart in Mind." This post is part two in my close study of this enlightening work on the "Moral and Emotional Intelligence of the Prophet (S)." My previous article, along with a podcast episode, covered the introduction of this book. Mental fitness or battling a mental illness centers around your brain. But the Arabic term 'aql is much more than the mere facts stored in the grey matter in your thick skull. 'Aql is inherently tied to the Divine. Imam Muhasabi's Environment In the first section of "With the Heart in Mind," Shaykh Mikaeel describes the context of when Imam Muhasabi's influence grew. He is best known for his spiritual knowledge and asceticism. Imam Muhasabi was born at a time when rationalism was gaining momentum. Hindu mathematicians and Greek philosophers were growing in influence. This movement destroyed his family as his father started adopting rationalistic ideologies while his mom remained a traditionalist. Muhasabi Definition of 'Aql Scholars define 'aql as "a light in the heart just as sight is a light in the eyes" (Smith pg 28). Imam Muhasabi in "Theory of Intelligence" defined intelligence on three levels: Gazira Fahm Basirah Gazira is the first level of 'aql which Allah blessed us with. All humans with a sound and mature mind have this level of intellect and are held accountable for their actions because of it. The second level, fahm, is understanding and the third level, basirah, centers around insight. The Rationalist saw the intelligence as something that could distinguish good from bad on it's own. But Muhasabi saw the intellect as being capable of deciphering evil from good independently but that this quality was placed by Allah. This distinction in attributing our ability to tell right from wrong has important implications for the Muslim challenged with a mental illness. On one hand, bipolar may make you feel suicidal but your God-given intelligence or Aql rises to the occasion and helps you stop yourself from ending your life. Thus, true intelligence rests on your actions. You might know who Allah is and after reading this article, you might be aware of the levels of intelligence such as gazira, fahm and basirah but what is the point of all that when your actions don't align with your beliefs and words. Of the last level of the intellect, basirah, Muhasabi in Mahiyya al-aql states: This is what intellect is. And whosoever does not possess the last meaning (of the intellect) but has that base level of innate intellect by which Allah has differentiated between the intelligent and the insane, that person does not posses the divine intellect of understanding, and so against him, the proof has been established. (Smith, pg 23) A basic intellect (gazira) and understanding (fahm) are necessary to achieve the third level of intellect which is basirah. Thus, intelligence involves understanding and managing your emotions in a way that lives up to the moral standards set by Allah. This is how moral intelligence differs from emotional intelligence. Ghazali's Definition of Intelligence In his groundbreaking work "Revival of the Islamic Sciences," Imam Ghazali helped us understand what it means to be intelligent in Islam. Intellect is the spring and starting point of knowledge. The intellect is the seat of knowledge, and it is by means of knowledge we are guided. (Smith, pg 29) What does this actually mean? Simply put, if you can't use your knowledge, your brain to worship Allah better, get closer and show gratitude to Him, then you really are not intelligent or have any 'aql. Growing up, I was often told I had no 'aql. I would do strange things, moody things like run away or punch holes in the wall. So I started believing I had no intelligence. "With the Heart in Mind" paints a different picture of intelligence, one I can very much understand and relate to today. Take for example the case of a highly proficient professor or professional who is so skilled at their work or knows the ins and outs of the brain or their trade yet they fail to use that knowledge to know Allah, to be amazed by Him and show gratitude towards Him. Knowledge is not Power I have to admit that I said in one of my previous episodes that knowledge is power. I have to correct that now. Knowledge is power only in so much as so it can help you in your relationship to Allah. True Intelligence Furthers Your Relationship Allah The function of knowledge is to illuminate you. This means you accept your own shortcomings and know that your intellect and knowledge has a limit. You are not limitless. Allah is. Some might find that constricting but I find it freeing. That means it's not all on me. I'm not it. With bipolar, when you take your big head out of the way, you can actually see the light. Your moral compass takes center stage. Learn Traditional Islam to Decipher Right from Wrong One of my biggest fears is suicide but now I fear losing Allah more, not my life. That I believe is true 'aql for those of us blessed with mental illnesses. Your life doesn't revolve around how smart you are but how sound your relationship with Allah is. Your intelligence instead becomes the light in your heart with which you see and articulate. It becomes another tool in your toolbox to know Allah and to seek Divine Guidance. We can use our intellect to come close to the Divine and to know that he exists, but that is the limit of the intellect. (Smith, pg 53) Listen to the podcast version of this post here. Or watch the video version of it here.

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  • Mental Health Advocacy for Muslims | Mentally Fit Muslims

    Mentally Fit Muslims is a non-profit online resource for mental health support . It offers an alternative perspective on what it means to be mentally ill in Islam, one that's empowering instead of stigmatizing. MFM dispels misconceptions about mental illness, promotes healing through spirituality, and helps individuals take care of their minds just as they would their bodies. We provide tools for self-care through podcast episodes, blog posts, videos, eBooks and infographics. Latest Content Explore how families can help and support their loved ones dealing with mental health issues. Learn about organizations that assist in caregiver fatigue and discover ways to deal with the challenges of living with mental illness. Read more... Listen Now Apple Podcast Google Podcast Spotify Stitcher YouTube Latest Blog Posts Uncovering the Hidden Strength of Muslims with Mental Challenges When I first got a mental illness, I didn't want my family's help. I wanted to tackle this beast on my own. But it just got worse. Family... What Depression Feels Like as a Muslim That Dark Stormy Cloud It never really goes away, at least not for me. I'm in a depression episode currently. It feels suffocating. Every... How to Be Mentally Fit According to Islam -Moral Intelligence Part 2 The Intelligence is your defining quality. It's the one thing that separates you from your pet cat or that fly on the wall. There are... Latest Videos Tips For Mental Health: What To Do When You Have Sensory Overload and Too Much Mental Stimulation ​ This video is for all of you who have ever felt like your mind was spinning out of control. I want to share with you some tips on what to do when sensory overload strikes, so that next time it happens, you can feel more in control and know the best way to take care of yourself. ​ How Muslim Moms Overcome Self-Stigma And Shame Around Postpartum Depression ​ Are you a Muslim mom who is suffering from postpartum depression? Don't worry, it's not your fault! Postpartum depression is much more common than we realize and can be very isolating. I'm here to empower you with the knowledge of how to cope with postpartum depression as a Muslim woman. ​ Bipolar Muslim Mom Successfully Overcomes Mental Health Challenges ​ IThis video is a story of a Muslim woman, Hayat Omar Hubert, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and how she overcame it. She shares her life before and after diagnosis, tells you about the treatments that helped her, and gives some tips for managing your mental health. This is not a "rah rah" motivational speech. Rather it's about how we can use our struggles as fuel to help us find success in life. ​ Visit the Mentally Fit Muslims' Youtube Channel Featured Content Our monthly podcast is available for listening on this website and all popular platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and more. Podcast An archive of posts about personal experiences with mental illness, personal development topics and coaching. Blog A collection of e-books, guides, and dua's. E-Books About the Author Saba Malik is the creative mind behind Mentally Fit Muslims. Saba has been dedicated to advocating for Muslim mental health since her own diagnosis in 2005. Mentally Fit Muslim represents the culmination of over 12 years of work. Join our mailing list Email Subscribe Thanks for subscribing! Testimonials "Saba has created an incredible podcast mashaa’Allah. Peer-to-peer support, a space for Muslims living with mental illness to be able to come together and share their stories is direly needed in the Muslim community. Mentally Fit Muslims is filling that gap by providing honest stories about what it’s like to be Muslim and live with mental illness. Saba’s podcast breaks down the barriers of mental health stigma and makes mental health and wellbeing accessible to everyone." DR. FARAH ISLAM SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW | DATA AND PSYCHOSPIRITUAL DEPARTMENT YAQEEN INSTITUTE FOR ISLAMIC RESEARCH "I love the Mentally Fit Muslims podcast. It feels good to be able to put a name or label to spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity (episode 25). Saba's voice sounds very comforting and she is able to articulate her thoughts very well." FATIMA HALEEM, MSW "I love the piece about Ayatul Kursi (episode 24) and the connection between reading it before we go to bed and the fact that Allah (SWT) is He who never sleeps. I never saw it that way. Thought we are going to sleep and into this state where we don't have a consciousness or control, we're leaving our affairs to Allah (SWT)." ZAINAB HAYAT

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