Surviving a mental health crisis. - Through the eyes of a Muslimah

Asalam alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I hope this blog post finds you in the best of health and iman. 

If you’ve been following my IG page then you might have seen a few posts in which I’ve touched on a mental health crisis which happened to me about 2 years ago. Someone recently sent me a question about it and what advice I would give to someone with a family member going through something similar. I hold what happened to me very close to my heart and it's an absolute honour to be able to help someone else who is going through what I went through. Hardly does a day go by that I don't feel blessed for having my mind back. Alhamdulilah.

I thought it would be nice to share my experience with other people too in case it would be of benefit. Awareness of mental health is very important. My situation could have easily been contained if it had been dealt with early on and if the people around me had some understanding of it. 

Before sharing my advice please note this is merely just my opinion and a recount of what happened to me. Of course only a medical professional can correctly diagnose these things. I have left out quite a few details but just so you know where I’m coming from I’ve shared a brief recount first and then the advice after. (I remember most of what happend but not all).

Bismillah 

Ok so about two years ago following a few life changing events I noticed that I felt very different within myself. At the time I couldn’t quite place my finger on it but I just didn’t feel well... but from the inside. I was on edge a lot and I struggled to sleep. This carried on for a few days and then it turned into what was eventually diagnosed as acute psychosis.

At first when it all started my family & I thought it was something spiritual so they called in two different sets of ruqya specialists to help. After spending a few hours reciting, they said I was fine and that I should I recite Qur'an and read my adhkaar regularly. 
The day after this I kept on going in and out of the situation, so one moment I was fine and then the next moment I would have very wild and bizarre episodes. I myself could recite Qur'an and pray but I would faint every now and then & sometimes when I got to an ayah that I knew the meaning of.

During the episodes I felt very scared and it is honestly one of the most frightening experiences, so my heart really goes out to anyone who has ever experienced something similar.

I was in denial for most of it at the start and I was convinced that people were tricking me or acting. I said all sorts of weird things. Eventually after two days of psychotic episodes my mum rang the hospital as she was advised to do so.

She didn’t really know what she was going to tell them as it was all new to her but she told them I was acting strange. I vaguely remember speaking to a lady on the phone and she took some details from me.

However, after that it all went downhill. Seeing my husband and mum panic around me really made things worse. I later read that during this phase a person has a flight or fight response depending on what they’re most comfortable with so they can become quite aggressive or violent or they may even try to run away. 

 

(My mum later told me the hospital didn’t send an ambulance round so they decided to take me in themselves.)

 I remember my husband had to hold my wrists tightly in the car and on the way there. I remember my mum telling him not to allow me to walk alone in case I’d run off. 

Eventually we got to the hospital. They did some blood tests and a brain scan. They said my white blood cells were very high in number which was a sign of trauma, but there was nothing wrong with my brain. Whilst everything was happening I had a thought that the nurses were trying to kill me and if I didn’t fight them and prove to them that I wanted to be alive they would succeed. 

 Obviously none of that was true. 

 Eventually after a series of events I was sectioned and then transferred to a mental health unit.

That was when I finally got the help I needed. Alhamdulilah. I was prescribed medication and for the first time in about three/four days I was able to sleep properly and eat. Which was mainly what my body needed. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately) because of the commotion that had occurred in the lead up to me being taken there I didn’t have any of my belongings. My family didn’t know where I was because they were kicked out by the security guards when they resisted me being taken away. Alhamdulilah this turned out to be a good thing eventually as I was forced to make my own decisions and to think without any outside influences. This helped me regain control of my mind to some extent. 

The mental health unit made me feel uncomfortable, but perhaps because there were a number of other women there it somehow helped. 

Thankfully there was another muslim girl there too. Beautiful asian lady mashaAllah. I remember she came up to me on my second day of being there. It was during one of the eating times and she asked if I was a Muslim. (Even though I was completely out of my mind, for some reason I still had my scarf on and that must have prompted her to come over). She said she was Muslim too but didn't wear hijab. She added that she prayed all her prayers (even tahajjud...bless her, and that if I needed a prayer timetable she could get her brother to bring me one when he visits. (This story always make me cry). Due to the state of my mind & the trauma of it all I didn't know any prayer times. I felt Allah sent her to remind me. Maybe I looked worried but I remember she said to me "don't worry they'll look after you here". She said she had been there for two weeks and that she was getting better.

After a day or two my mum and husband were informed of my location and they came to visit often. They brought clothes, books, a prayer mat and A quran. My mum was completely broken when she visited for the first time and she wouldn't stop crying. I felt so bad for her. I could tell my husband was also distraught too but he put on a brave face and visited every single day. (May Allah reward them with the highest of Jannah) Ameen.

Every day felt like a whole month! I wasn't allowed to leave the ward & someone had to check on me every 10-15mins. At first I just sat in my room and recited Qur'an and prayed when it was time, but later on I started to talk to the other patients and I realised that broken people are often the most kind & down to earth.

After about four days of being on the medication I asked to be taken off it as it was making my hands shake. Olanzapine was the name of the medication and it was prescribed to calm wild thoughts. Being on it made me feel more stable and I began to understand what had happened to me had nothing to do with jinns or evil eye. The human mind is indeed very complex SubhanAllah.

(Although I haven't had to go back to the medications since then, if I’ve ever experienced anything close to jihad it was in the days following coming off the meds. The withdrawal symptoms were intense. In hindsight I wouldn’t recommend anyone to come off them so quickly like that.) 

 

During this time, very few things made me happy. One was family, my kids and just happy things. Anything sad always made it worse. Obviously my kids were not with me but they were allowed to visit me once in a family room.
Eventually after about 2 weeks I was discharged and I began to recover further at home. Two years later Alhamdulilah I'm in a much better place. My mind and my faith are a lot stronger Alhamdulilah. I can never tell this story without shedding a few tears, mainly because I don't think I'll ever be able to thank Allah swt as He deserves to be thanked for bringing me out of that situation.
I learnt sooo soo much just from being there. The women I met and their stories. The lessons and blessings are just too many. InshaAllah one day I'll write a book.
So back to the main purpose of this post 
What advice would you give to someone with a muslim family member going through this?
My advice to anyone with a family member going through this is:
 
  
1. Make dua.
Ask Allah to guide you to the steps and places that will be of benefit. My situation could have easily turned into something a lot worse but Alhamdulilah it didn’t and I believe that only came from Allah’s help. Ask Allah for His help and don’t give up asking whilst also seeking a means. Allah’s help comes in all forms and we don’t get to choose how He decides to help us. On one hand being sectioned could have been seen as a bad thing, but I truly believe that me going there was an answer to someone’s dua for me to get better. Through being sectioned I got to have a break from everything- which I hadn't had in a long time. I got time to reflect over some of the personal issues I was going through and the reasons that led me there. I got to see women who were far more broken than I was and that was enough for me to say I will do everything in my power to make sure I never end up there again.
2.Seek Medical and Proffessional help.
The second thing is to get the person seen as soon as possible by a therapist or a medical professional just so they can assess what’s going on. Most people will be in denial because it’s a very vulnerable state to be in and it’s so scary. But the only person who can really help is the person themselves as only they know what’s going on in their mind. Being open and admitting how they feel is half way to recovery. My situation escalated so quickly and that can sometimes be the nature of mental health especially if it’s organically induced. 
If the person is displaying strange behaviour it’s likely that it has reached a stage where he/she needs to be seen. They will likely be prescribed medication as it's the cheapest and fastest remedy. These can be addictive which is a major downside but with the right support a person will be able to slowly come off it InshaAllah. Therapy is also an option.

3. Remind the person to have good thoughts of their Lord.
Shaytan never ceases an opportunity to hurt a believer. During this time a person may be very weak and have thoughts about leaving the deen or harming themselves or others. Be calm with them and let them know that they are not a victim. At one point I felt as though I had been abandoned, I felt that I was being punished for something I did. Before all this happened I always prayed against evil eye, I recited my adhkaar and recited Quran. So when it all escalated I felt as though my prayers weren’t working and I began to have doubts. If not for the mercy of Allah I would have left Islam. The moment I was reminded to trust Allah I became a lot more at ease.  (I'll tell this story another time inshaAllah)


4. In the Quran is a healing.. for those who believe.
 
I was sectioned under the Section 2 act which meant I had to stay in the Mental health unit for 28 days. Alhamdulilah after about 10 days I felt better so I was able to put in an appeal and I was discharged thereafter (apparently this is very rarely granted and the doctors said they had never seen someone come in so broken and ill and then become better in such a short space of time). Allah knows best but I believe this was poonly with the power of the Quran and dua, and in my heart I feel that maybe Allah wanted me to go there so I could see how broken people can get, and use this to help myself and others. Allah knows best. Encourage the person to listen to their favourite reciter and also recite the Surahs that they know the meaning of. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. This remembrance is a remembrance that comes from the heart, and it is for the heart.

Lastly, please please please don’t ever leave it too late in the hope that it will just go away. Many of us from ethnic minorities hide these things which has led to a general lack of knowledge on something which is actually quite normal. At one point in a persons life they are bound to experience some sort of trauma or sadness that can escalate into a mental health crisis if not handled well. Usually if it’s left untreated over a long period of time that’s when people get very low and then start harming themselves or others. This can also lead to something more permanent (May Allah protect us all) Ameen. It is not easy to get help for a family member or to leave them in the hands of strangers but think of it as a prevention from something much worse.
If there is anything you take away from this it is to be open to all forms of treatment (Therapy, medication, counselling, spending more time with family) as long as they are halal means and you have researched them well.
I am thankful that I got the help I needed and that Allah blessed me with such loving family. Alhamdulilah x 1000

This is just my experience. He/she will get through it InshaAllah. I got through it and so many others have. Be very calm with people who are in this state, like you’re approaching a child. Their minds are not in the right place but kindness can be felt by all. It can happen to anyone given a certain amount of stress, sadness or trauma.
 

InshaAllah I pray that Allah swt blesses me with the ability to study this topic and do research on this so I can share with others muslims. All throughout when everything was happening I noticed that some things would trigger my episodes and some things would help subside them but I don’t have scientific evidence for them yet so it's not wise to share them.

 May Allah protect us all and our families. May He bless us all with good health and Iman.

Jzk for reading

All the good in this is from Allah & all the mistakes are from myself and the whisperings of shaytan.

And Allah the Most High knows best

 

 

 

5 comments

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Halima

Subhanallah, alhamdulillah, jazakillahu khayran for sharing , this reminds me of the hadeeth where , when in any situation we don’t have enough of something we should look at those below us as this will humble us (paraphrased)

Very heart touching subhanallah brought tears to my eyes …

S

This was amazing alh
I feel like I’m struggling thought a hard time and have done so for the last few years and this has somewhat brought peace to me
It was a beautiful read
May Allah swt let ur story reach many and iA keep u happy and healthy always x

Rose cove

This was really touching to read JazakAllahu khayran for sharing. A truly insightful read
May Allah grant you barakah in all your assets and hasanah in the dunya and akhirah ameen

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