Disclaimer: This article is in no way meant to substitute for medical or mental health advice from a trained and educated mental health professional. Muslim Girl encourages those who need help to seek it, and encourages the use of resources such as therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and trained mental health professionals. You should never try to manage your mental health alone. You are not alone, and there is no shame in seeking professional help. Muslim Girl also does not recommend self-diagnosis; again, please seek the help of a professional. The following are the views and experiences of the author only.
Anxiety. Something I’ve always dealt with. But in my younger years, it didn’t have a name. I didn’t know what that crippling feeling was that would occasionally consume me without warning. As I got older, and I did more reading and came to find out about the word “anxiety,” that feeling came more often. When my children were born, it seemed like a constant state of mind. Aren’t hormones great?!
So let’s pair all that with a worldwide pandemic, a president who is threatening to reopen the country despite the death toll climbing, and my favorite month of the year: Ramadan.
In the beginning of March, when reality hit us about the seriousness of COVID-19, we all mentally prepared ourselves the best we could. But when schools shut down, that was the point for me where things became “real.” No more school bus, no more daily folders to check, no more lunch boxes to pack in the morning. I was heartbroken for my daughter and broke down on more than one occasion, especially during her first Zoom meeting with her whole class and teacher. But I quickly realized that my “privilege” was showing. Hey, at least she’s still getting an education and some interaction with her school friends. We have a roof over heads, access to food, and we can still play outside.
Ramadan was quickly approaching, and it was certain that this year would be different than we are used to. Maybe it was all the tears I had shed in the beginning phase. Or maybe mental preparation did the trick! But for some reason, my anxiety did not go sky high like I had anticipated.
After about five weeks, we had a good routine going. Parenting books will say that children thrive on a routine, but I can tell you that adults do as well. Ramadan was quickly approaching, and it was certain that this year would be different than we are used to. Maybe it was all the tears I had shed in the beginning phase. Or maybe mental preparation did the trick! But for some reason, my anxiety did not go sky high like I had anticipated.
Experience some quarantine cooking? I have! I began to enjoy cooking in a way that I never have. Though I can’t come up with genius recipes or anything brilliant like that, I can follow recipes step by step and make them more concisely. I enjoy the process of making food, of swirling the ingredients together and seeing what comes of it.
Because I have come to actually enjoy cooking, my fear of trying new recipes has faded. The process of creating something has made my anxiety go down quite a bit. Maybe it’s seeing that my children are enjoying their dinner (picky eaters). Or maybe it’s my husband saying that my food is restaurant quality. (What wife doesn’t love to hear that?!)
And it’s not even just creating the food itself. It’s creating the photos and videos that are to follow. My creativity has found a way to channel itself by making awesome foodie videos that I can upload onto my social media accounts. The happiness I get when someone asks me for that certain recipe is indescribable. It makes me feel like I not only created a meal for my family, but that I also gave someone else the drive to do the same.
I am beyond thankful that my anxiety has not driven my life out of control this Ramadan. Because of my stable mental health, I have been able to focus more on personal prayers, spirituality, and growth. Allah knows the state of the world. He knows what we all need, even if we don’t want it or don’t think we can handle it. And that’s fine. Keeping that knowledge in mind, I have been able to turn over more of my mental health to Him. Maybe this pandemic will go away in a couple of months and life will return to somewhat of a new normal. Or maybe it will be much longer than that. Wherever this road leads us, Allah is in charge and He’s driving. My anxiety can take a back seat.