Friday, September 18, 2015

New Effort, Last Effort

Years ago, in early 2007, I had a freelance work on a book about a girl fought her way out of depression. That was my first time confronting this issue. I learned about depression from her stories, and I remember thinking I can relate to her struggle to some extent. But back then I didn’t consider the possibility seriously, perhaps because I wasn’t losing myself, perhaps because I still can handle it.

Between 2008 to 2010, I had moments when I just wanted to disappear. Accepting the fact that I failed to study abroad costed me three days zombie-ing in my room. And my family’s undergoing turbulent challenges put me—all of us, indeed—in constant stress. All I wanted was to go to school again.

I started graduate school in 2010 and things declined steadily. Some of my friends were young women dreaming of a happy marriage—one of the reasons why I wanted to study abroad, avoiding this kind of talk. I started PhD classes in 2011, a nervous little girl among experienced lecturers and researchers. Soon I realized that a PhD thesis was beyond my league. And I had to work. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

My study made almost no progress until 2014. That’s when I developed more symptoms of depression. I think I lost half of my hair. And if I had not had my faith, I would have hurt myself. I should have sought a professional help, but I couldn’t. I'd tried to motivate myself, many times, but somehow it didn't work anymore.
A photo posted by Melody Violine (@melodyvioline) on

Lately I’ve been actively looking for ways to fix myself and I think I’m getting better. I’m done with reading stuff about how to fight depression, since it plunges me into negative feelings. I need to be productive and I’ve learned that productivity entails happiness (or at least positive feelings). So I started reading things about how to be happy. I found this article (A Guide to Being a Happier Muslim) and decided to start working on it. I don’t think there’s anything new in the article, but it was written in an Islamic perspective so it makes sense to me. Let me quote some of it for you.

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].” [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 45]
Self-awareness means that you remember yourself in all situations. It means that you become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. This is extremely important, because many counseling experts believe that your thoughts cause your feelings, and your feelings cause your actions. Be aware of your inner feelings and learn to control them. If you can learn to control your feelings, then this skill will lead to better actions that lead to a happier life.

That means I must monitor my thoughts and start making supplication whenever I feel I'm failing. I must make a du'a and work again instead of feeding myself with escapist activities.

Lastly, I actually started writing this post to make the grateful list and my strength list encouraged in the article, but now I think I’ll just put it in my old-school journal. I might or might not transfer them here; we’ll see.

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