Solace Stories : When Your Subconscious and Shaytan Align

a sunset behind barbed wire fence

By Umm Zachariyyah

Trigger warning – this post deals with themes of self- harm and suicide.

Once again, the thought in my head got louder.

I wish I could be dead. I want it all to end.

At the same time, another part of me was ashamed that as a practising Muslim, I could have any thoughts like this at all.

I know I am supposed to be grateful for all the blessings I have.

I am supposed to have trust in Allah and accept His decree even if it’s hard. To be patient.

But yet, that part of the brain that was usually so rational and sensible, was very quiet right now. Too quiet.

Scientifically speaking, my amygdala was on overdrive. It is an embedded stress response to specific triggers causing fight or flight. My body says “run” but there’s no where to run because I am trapped. I cannot leave my family that needs me. I cannot financially or mentally survive without my home. So just like I did as a child, the frightened and traumatised parts of me say “just die then”. It’s scary because it doesn’t feel particularly controllable, and the more I try to suppress a post-traumatic stress response the louder and more intense it eventually gets.

The feelings of aloneness, lack of care, support and safety from childhood had come back to haunt me as an adult through the triggers of family conflicts, health issues and abusive neighbours. The emotional feeling escalated to where it was greater than my logical ability to function normally.

I didn’t feel safe as a child. Not when my parents fought and threatened each other. When my mother would drink excessively and become uncommunicative. Nor when she expressed her sorrow and desire to die.

I didn’t feel safe from the abuse and hurt of others outside the family either. So as a growing child, unaware of the mercy and kindness of Allah and the promise of Jannah, I had felt totally despairing, and wished I could disappear off the face of the earth forever. Despair can be a very human response to overwhelming circumstances, but how we choose to move forwards – or stay stuck in the abyss – is ultimately our choice, though it may not feel so in the moment. Shaytan loves to magnify our doubts and insecurities further so that we lose our peace and trust in Allah.

Until what lies in the subconscious is brought to the conscious mind and processed, Shaytan will use it to constantly pull us back to the repeat of our original trauma.

The beauty of it all is, the experience forces me to confront the trauma stored in my subconscious and reattach to Allah – in my trust, love and sincerity.

It is in these times of intense overwhelm that I have learnt to start a dialogue with my inner self, or ‘inner child’. Using a specific therapy technique, I listen to my deep subconscious expressing the fear and terror of childhood and teach this part of me what my logical self already knows about Allah and Islam. This part of me doesn’t trust that any authority figure will love her and will punish her for minor mistakes, so I tell her that Allah is Most Kind and will definitely take care of her if she relies on Him. He can forgive and erase any mistakes with my repentance.

A part of me I encountered before once wished to hurt herself as she was angry that no one else understood or cared. I told her that I’m sorry she felt unloved as a child and that she deserved so much better. She wanted someone to notice her pain and tell her; “ it will be OK.”

So I tell my inner child, – , and all my sisters in pain, that Allah will make a way out for you, just like He did for Musa alayhisalam as he stood in front of the Red Sea with nowhere to escape. Death is not the answer. Self harm is not the answer. So listen and comfort these hurt parts of yourself. Become the adult you needed when you were young, and deeply trust that Allah is more merciful to you than any human you can imagine. Beauty and growth will bloom out of the hardship.

Therapy and inner child work has helped me on my journey with suicidal thoughts that originated in childhood. Being a compassionate adult witness to these fragmented and traumatised parts of myself has been essential to my healing process, – it is an experience that has allowed me to reintegrate parts of myself that had been suppressed and shut off as a child because of my inability to cope. However, duaa, athkar and keeping my duties to Allah throughout are also essential. No cure can work without the will and permission of Allah.

It is important to keep in mind how Shaytan will use our past trauma and the negative thoughts embedded in our subconscious against us. He will play with those ideas and magnify them. Seeking protection with Allah using the athkar is essential, and memorising other duaa for our emotional health is also important. My method is to choose one duaa at a time and save it on my phone to read each day in Arabic and English until I can easily memorise it by heart. One of the most recent was this:

“O Allah, I seek refuge in you from grief and sadness,

from weakness and from laziness,

from miserliness and from cowardice,

from being overcome by debt and being overpowered by men.”

You can find the Arabic and reference here. (link Hisn al-Muslim 121 – Fortress of the Muslim (Hisn al-Muslim) – -حصن المسلم – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم))

Solace has helped many reverts also suffering from intense negative thinking patterns related to themselves and others. Like I had, one sister was struggling with her deen, low mood, self harm and suicidal ideation. Solace aided her in learning to identify both the traps of Shaytan and accessing psychotherapy to heal her trauma. She attests that the care she received from the charity has been integral to her success.

She had this to say about the assistance she received from Solace:

“The support session I’ve received have given me genuine advice. I’ve never felt shamed or judged and genuinely believe the support I received is one of the key factors that has kept me here on this earth as well as keeping me striving to become a better Muslim every day.”

So please do donate to care for other sisters if you can and let us know, – what negative thinking patterns have you personally had to overcome? Have you ever sought outside help for your difficulties, – and what barriers have there been to getting the support you need?

About the author

Umm Zachariyyah is a revert of over a decade with a special interest in mental health and child development. She lives in London with her family and enjoys homeschooling her children. 

Many revert women struggle on their own after embracing Islam.

Your contributions keep them supported, and that support keeps them going.

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