Dear Readers: Writing about taboo issues like mental health can change (and save) lives. Read on as author Kamil Idris imparts important advice for writers.
Depression and thoughts of suicide are very serious issues. Not just for the person suffering said issues, but also for the family members involved. There’s usually lots of crying, lots of pleas, lots of promises. The whole nine yards. For people going through that darkness, it’s important to have a good support system. The more the loved ones in your life help you, the better off you’ll be, and the better your chances of surviving will be.
But what is it like to be a Muslim who goes through these things? As someone who is both a Muslim, and a longtime sufferer of depression, let me tell you… it’s not easy. Muslim families aren’t like other families. Muslim mothers, in particular, aren’t like the moms you see in sitcoms. Yes, they’re very loving. They’ll do anything for you. When I told my mother about what I was going through, the tears started to flow like raindrops. We cried together. The pain was coming out in full force.
Then I mentioned how seriously I had thought about suicide. Through her grief, my mother’s face turned intent, determined. Even a little angry. She started talking about Hell – more specifically, how anyone who committed suicide would instantly go to hell.
That showed me the problem. She loved me with all her heart. No doubt about that. But some of her warmth left when I mentioned the dreaded S word. Her first thoughts weren’t about getting me in front of a psychiatrist who could help me. No, her first thoughts were about how her son had to be warned about the Devil’s workshop.
I then did something I had never done before. I told my mother off. She listened with an open mouth as I told her how she shouldn’t have said that, how the concept of hell should have been the last thing on her mind. And I’m glad I did. When it was all over, my mother took a few moments of silence to reflect on what had just occurred. And then she agreed with me. Ha. Let that sink in. Me lecturing my 67 year old mother, who prays 5 times a day. Wild.
But it worked. She understood what she had done wrong. And it’s something I think a lot of Muslim families need to work on. Writers need to step in and do their thing – they need to write about the stigma of depression and suicidal thoughts in Muslim households. That’s the only way we can raise awareness about such things. The word “hell” should never enter the equation if a member of the family talks about the possibility of ending their own life. Fear of hell cannot save someone from severe depression. Only love and understanding can.
My friends call me Kam, and I want my readers to do the same. I am a Pakistani immigrant currently living in America. I am also a longtime sufferer of depression. Through my social media presence on Tumblr and Twitter, I discuss issues related to being a Muslim in America, as well as things like mental illness and self-harming. If you ever need someone to talk to about such things, feel free to drop me a line on my Twitter account: @KamWriter
I have over 17,000 Twitter followers and growing, and I will do whatever I can to help you. Thanks for reading, and stay strong.
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