It took a brush with the possibility of losing her life for Suhur to realise that she needed to stop hiding her truth behind a facade of perfection and become the mother to her own hurting inner child. Now Suhur reflects back on this painful time in her life as a blessing, as it was the push she needed to change the way she was seeing herself. Whether you choose to share Suhur’s belief that this was God’s work or not doesn’t really matter, what matters is that when we dare to let down our guard and face our deepest, darkest parts of ourselves, as Suhur was brave enough to do, that is where the magic happens…
It took me a long time to come to a conclusion that Islam as a religion is pure but us as Muslims have faults and are imperfect, especially when we mix religion with culture.
As a 23-year-old Somali Muslim woman I have always known there is a lot of stigma and discrimination towards people with mental and emotional distress.
I think that we live in a culture that values strength and perseverance and has this very naive belief that everyone is born in the same circumstances with the same bodies and the same brains that work the way they’re supposed to work.
The challenges British Muslims with mental distress face within the community is stigma and labelling, disrespect and being ignored and the accusations of not being a good practising Muslim. Also the barriers people from Muslim and Somali – African backgrounds face is the lack of mental health literacy, culture of silence particularly amongst men, and also fear and negative speculation about mental health services and systems
The stigma is the biggest challenge.
Though labelling and stigma attached to people with emotional distress is rather common among other societies also, it is more intense and more evident in communities that hold the kinship network in high regard. In a nutshell, people with mental distress are stigmatised and accused of being incurable. Distress is seen as being precipitated by individuals not being good practising Muslims. Their families are also stigmatised and accused of not raising their children properly and in Islamic ways. People with emotional issues are ignored by the mainstream community members and they are not talked to, assuming that they are worthless, and their talk is nonsense and a waste of time.
I myself suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety. I constantly felt like a walking contradiction. I had dreams and goals that I wanted to achieve and lots of amazing ideas and plans bursting to come out of me, but I felt stuck and blocked. I couldn’t consistently act on the things I knew would benefit me and the pressure around it all gave me crippling anxiety which slowed me down further. These patterns developed into a guilt so heavy, it made me dislike myself. Disliking yourself is like hell on earth and the worst way to go through life.
There would be days I would close the blinds get a duvet, snuggle up on the sofa or my bed and just look up at the ceiling and wouldn’t move for days. Other days I would be super productive, and nothing could hold me down.
Nobody knew and still till this day some people don’t know that that girl who had a full face of make-up on and with a smile on her face the size of a watermelon was broken deep down inside.
I found myself constantly questioning my purpose and what it was that I was brought into this world to do because I’ve always known it was nothing average.
I attempted to take my own life in 2017; I remember being in the ambulance with the sirens on, racing to the hospital and it raining so heavily. Through the raindrops on the roof of the ambulance I could hear the paramedic saying to my friend as I came in and out of consciousness “Her heart rate is very high” and “she could die” but I didn’t. I am alive for a reason. A purpose. I arrived at the hospital and had my stomach flushed of all the pills I had tried overdosing on. I remember the nurses coming in and saying, “you beautiful girl, why on earth would you do this” and “It will all be okay” all whilst stroking my hair as I looked blankly up at the ceiling avoiding eye contact at all costs.
In the Quran rain is one of the most important factors for life on the earth. Rain carries great importance for all living things including human beings and is a Barakah (a Blessing).
This was my sign. This experience was a blessing. Only lessons and a stronger version of myself was to come from this.
I find such beauty now in being completely broken and rebuilding yourself and that is what kept me going. It was so hard, but I’ve learned it’s all about mastering the balance, you are bound to wobble but it’s how you regain that position that matters.
I truly believe Allah (God) has a plan, is the best of planners and only tests the ones he loves the most.
I’ve never wanted to boast about my suffering of life because there is always somebody who has it worse, I’ve never wanted sympathy. Just for people to try to understand what I am signifying and learn from it. Mental pain can appear less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and can also be harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden.
It is time we change the mindset around mental health.
I hope to continue pushing for mental health to be a part of schools’ curriculums and educate young people.
I hope to bring together communities for discussions on this topic and organise events around mental health.
I always knew I would be great from a young age, but I just didn’t know how, now I know it is through helping others by sharing my own experience and breaking this stigma.
Here is a little message to you…
The same month of my suicide attempt, exactly a year later, I had a beautiful daughter and life has been just phenomenal.
Being willing to meet the darkest and deepest part of yourself without any judgement or harshness but being the maternal mother for your inner broken child that the world stepped on is the only way to heal. Giving yourself all the love and light you are desperately seeking outwardly is the only way to heal. The willingness to change the way you see yourself, self-love and putting yourself first is the only way to heal, crying over the old you and welcoming the new you is the only way to heal.
Never give power to the things that broke you or WHO broke you.
Don’t be afraid to step forward and be a better you.
Are you a Muslim who has #Emerged Proud through your own personal struggles and want to join Suhur in speaking out to end stigma and start new conversations within your kinship and beyond?
To find out how to share your story for this amazing Pocket Book of Hope,