A few days ago I decided to take a good look at my mental and emotional health. I’ve been in an up and down spiral with my mental illnesses and I knew part of the problem was in how I looked after myself in general. Spiritually, physically and emotionally, I just haven’t been attending to myself in a way that I’m pleased with and I began by making a list pertaining to Ramadan and how I want to observe this month. The goal for me is to get back to the person I recognize, the person I believe in and someone I can trust. That’s where I started. When I look at self-care in that manner, my goals all around begin to reflect the person I want to be. I made goals for good deeds I want to do and for how I want to treat myself better.
When you are unable to fast during the month of Ramadan, you have to focus on other aspects of the month that are also important. This is true regardless; however it becomes imperative when the physical fast is taken away. It’s interesting to me that one of the things I wanted to work on was my socialization with others and not isolating myself so much from the community. Because alhamdulillah, the other day, a friend reached out and invited me to a group iftar program for the month. Even though I missed the first day, I’m happy to have this gathering as an incentive for me to work on my social anxiety. And it will help me learn to connect with others in a way I haven’t done in a really long time.
The other nice aspect about this community gathering is that I will be able to tackle another part of my anxiety which involves the kitchen. I absolutely can cook and I cook well mashaAllah. I just hate it. The kitchen gives me anxiety, so I avoid it whenever possible. But my friend has asked me to help her cook for the other members of this gathering this month. I’m excited but nervous at the same time. Many times I hear people saying Ramadan isn’t only about food, and this is quite true. It’s about so much more. For someone like me, with multiple mental illnesses, my focus on the food aspect is many fold however. It involves my aversion to cooking, my disordered eating patterns, my lack of social skills, my love/hate relationship with isolation, and so forth. So Ramadan makes food the star player in my life for a month whether I want it that way or not. But this year, I feel blessed by my hyper focus on food. It’s causing me to also focus on other areas of my life that needed tweaking, which is greatly improving my self-care and hopefully my overall quality of life.
This group of sisters I’ll be joining has many teenagers, so they have added in nightly programs to bring the kids closer together as friends and also connect them with their deen. The women have organized games and such to create a spirit of fun while learning about the Quran and Allah. I am so glad they asked me to take part because it has such a family feel. As a convert, I need something like this considering I am the only Muslim in my family. Ramadan tends to be a lonely time for me (and other converts), especially when I’m not feeling well or if I’m having an episode.
It’s day 2 of Ramadan and I’m feeling hopeful about the goals I’ve set for myself. They are goals for my life, not only for this month. Ramadan is a springboard for me to get started in treating myself better, in order for me to be able to reflect that outward towards others.