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Bonnie: A story of a woman struggling with death and depression


Half of this story is truth and half of this has not yet happened.  Let me tell you the true part first.

When the doorbell rang a few weeks ago I sent my 3-year-old daughter and autistic 5-year-old son running after their father to open it.  We were expecting their aunt, and what we saw instead was our next-door neighbor Bonnie, covered in blood and crying hysterically. Within seconds my daughter was screaming, my son panicking, and my husband staring, aghast, at a woman my own age whom we had seen just an hour before, looking a little shaken but definitely not pouring blood.

“Call 911!” my husband yelled into the house. I yelled for my son’s caregiver, Joy, and our housekeeper, Cindy, to take the children into house.  They both jumped in surprise, because this is a house where people don’t yell.

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“Get the kids inside the house now! NOW! NOW!”

“Now?!” Joy and Cindy both echoed back, alarmed.

“NOW!” I yelled, as I ran to the kitchen and grabbed plastic wrap and kitchen shears. I snatched up the phone, dialed 999 and was grateful to Allah that I had the presence of mind to dial the UAE emergency number rather than the US one.  “My neighbor is at the door bleeding,” I told the man on the phone, “I don’t know what has happened but she’s at the door and she’s bleeding.”

I passed my daughter in the hallway, tucked under the housekeeper’s arm and still screaming in terror as she was rushed in the opposite direction.  My son was whisked past me a second later by his caretaker, and I could hear the kids crying muffled as they were closed and locked behind the playroom door.

My husband was still standing at the open gate, trying to ask Bonnie what happened.  People from the street had gathered around staring at the two of them.  I was unsuccessfully trying to give the operator our address.  The street and house numbers just wouldn’t come out right, no matter how many times I tried to say them.  “Bring her inside!  Bring her here!” I said to my husband, holding the phone out to him.  My husband ushered Bonnie inside the gate, took the phone and gave the police the right address.  I sat Bonnie down next to me on the front steps and pulled off a length of plastic wrap.  Then I wrapped it around Bonnie’s right wrist and tied it tightly.  I did the same to her left wrist.  I didn’t know if I was tying her hands in the right place because I couldn’t tell where she had been cut, but one thing was very clear – she had been cut before.  Just a few inches below the plastic wrap tourniquets, where my left and right hands were pressing her left and right wrists to try to make the bleeding stop, were the marks of several other cuts still relatively fresh and glued with strips of hospital-grade tape.

“I’m so sorry. I’m so so so sorry,” she sobbed, pressing her face against my arm.

“You don’t have anything to be sorry for, it’s alright.  That’s a nice tattoo,” my husband said conversationally, trying to engage Bonnie.  A man’s name was written across her left arm, the last two letters smeared with blood and hidden under my left hand.

“My brother, he died. My brother died…” she broke off and began sobbing with renewed misery.

I looked up at my husband and saw the gate still standing open.  Bonnie was crying and rubbing her blood-covered face onto my now blood-covered arms.  A man from up the street was standing just a few feet away, and I was without my ḥijāb or abayah.  “Can you close the gate please?” I asked. My husband turned around angrily and pushed the people back.  “Stop staring at my wife!”  He closed the gate.

The first ambulance arrived within minutes, and my husband rushed to bring me a shawl.  He threw it over me just as the paramedics entered, covering me as well as I could be covered considering that I was still holding tightly to Bonnie’s wrists and she was still crying and pressing her face onto my arm.  The paramedics took her left hand from me and began to bandage it.  Then they took her right hand from me and Bonnie panicked- “Don’t leave me! Please don’t leave me! Don’t go!”

“I’m just going to put on some clothes,” I tried to reassure her.  ” I’ll be back in a minute, I promise.”

Cindy, our housekeeper, met me inside the living room and trailed me to the bathroom as I walked elbows up, trying not to trail blood on the floor.  It was warm and sticky, and I remember thinking how unusual it was that it didn’t flow as much as it thickly dripped.  She took the bloody shawl from me, turned on the tap, and poured copious amounts of anti-bacterial soap onto my hands.  “The kids ok?” I asked as I scrubbed my arms.

“They’re calm now.  There’s blood on your nose.”  I nodded and she poured more soap onto my hands so I could wash my face.  I took off the apron I had been wearing – I was cooking dinner when the bell rang – and asked her to wash that and the shawl immediately.  I went to my room, threw on an abayah and a scarf and went outside again.

Bonnie’s father had arrived.  My husband seems to have amazing presence of mind in emergencies, though I have no idea when he managed to make that call.  Bonnie’s father was strangely quiet, distant even, and then I realized he was in shock, not physically but emotionally.  The paramedic told him to hold Bonnie’s arm up to help stop the bleeding.  He absentmindedly took it and a few seconds later he simply dropped it.

“Bonnie’s arm, “my husband said to him, “You need to hold up her arm.”

“Oh.” He picked it up again, though he didn’t seem to know what to do with it.  Bonnie’s head began to slump.  I took it in my hands and tilted her face upwards.  “She’s not breathing,” her father said quietly, politely even. “You guys, I think she’s not breathing?”

One of the paramedics whipped out an oxygen mask and put it over her mouth and nose.  I pulled the elastic over the back of her head.  Bonnie began gasping, then retching, and the paramedic took the mask off immediately while Bonnie dry-heaved into her lap.

The gate opened again and my sister- the aunt we had been expecting earlier- walked in looking alarmed.  “What’s going on?”  Three new paramedics followed behind her.

“Our neighbor cut herself.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

“The kids are in the playroom, they may be a little traumatized.  Can you see how they’re doing?”  She nodded and went into the house.

Eventually Bonnie was put onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance.  Her mother arrived by taxi, crying, smoking, and shaking so hard she couldn’t sort through her purse to locate a form of ID to give to the police.  My husband paid the expectant-looking taxi driver, who had been standing, forgotten, up the street behind the emergency vehicles that were blocking the road.

Then the ambulance took Bonnie and her father away.  Bonnie’s mother needed to follow in the father’s car, but she couldn’t find any keys.  She asked me to follow her into the house to look for a pair, so we walked next door, following the trail of blood from my gate to hers.  She reached her own front steps, gasped, covered her eyes and turned away.  There was a trail of blood- much more than the one leading into my house and neatly pooled at my front steps- it made its way out of the open front door, splashed across the steps and stained the floor tiles all the way out to the gate.

My husband, who had followed behind us, picked up the garden hose to wash the front steps, but before he could turn it on, the mother lost her composure.  She threw herself onto his shoulder and cried, and I know she was saying something but I don’t think either my husband or I could make it out.   He passed her gently to me, just as the police were entering.  “Don’t wash it,” they said.  “Don’t touch anything, please.”

“My friend is coming,” the mother gasped when she could speak again, “Maria is coming and she’ll help me find the keys.  She’ll find the keys for me.  I need a drink, I need a coke, you know I don’t drink any alcohol but my throat it’s just so- please, I need a drink.”  I took the mother into our house instead, which was much less bloodied, and sat her down on the same front steps.  I brought her a drink and a box of tissues.  She lit another cigarette, took a few sips of her drink and then walked out of the gate again.  She couldn’t sit still or stop talking.  Everything about her was shaky and flustered with non-stop talking.

I followed her outside where she stood next to the police officers.  My husband was there as well, trying to explain how a blood-covered woman ended up in our front yard and how we could have no idea what had happened.  “You see,” the mother explained nervously, ”She’s been like this since my son…her big brother, he died…” and she lost it again, tears rolling down her face and her cigarette dangling from her fingers in front of her face as she shook and cried.

“When did that happen?” my husband asked gently.

“Two years,” she choked, “It’s been two years and she pretends she’s ok, but we all know it hurt her so badly.”  The mother reached up and fiddled with the cross around her neck.  The police officers looked at one another and nodded.  We all knew what had just happened to Bonnie, or rather, what Bonnie had just tried to do to herself, but no one was saying it.

I went back inside the house and washed up and changed my clothes again.  We fed the children dinner and put them to bed.  My husband, sister and I each prayed Maghrib ṣalāh, and eventually Bonnie‘s mother returned and took us up on our offer to drive her to the hospital in case she couldn’t find the car keys.  It turns out the father had taken them with him to the hospital.  My husband had a few standing bites of dinner and then left to drive the mother to the hospital.  My sister stayed for dinner, and outside of the house the water evaporated off of the sun-baked cement tiles where our housekeeper had tried to wash away the blood.

And this is the part of the story that has not yet happened – Bonnie has not yet called me back, following the surgery she had on her hands the next day to repair the tendons that had been severed.  Her father did make a brief phone call to my husband to thank us, but we have not talked about it or brought up what was, in essence, Bonnie’s failed suicide attempt.

The blood outside hasn’t faded yet either.  I’ve been hoping that the Dubai sun will bleach the stains from in front of the gate, but they persist despite the 100+ degree heat every day.  Apparently, Bonnie first went to another neighbor’s house, and they would not let her in.  When she came to our house next and leaned on the doorbell, other neighbors told my husband not to let her in when he came to answer the door.  Why? Because the police would ask us questions.

We see the neighbor’s lights on in the evening, and we know they’re home, but they haven’t invited us back in.  We wave to each other every few days – I often see Bonnie’s father driving home just as I am leaving, or her mother taking out the trash when I bring my son back home from school.  I ask how Bonnie is doing and they smile and say “Fine!” and we wave and go our separate ways.  And that’s the really sad part- separate ways.  Without īmān, the sudden death of a beloved brother was enough to ruin Bonnie’s life two years after the incident.  She doesn’t work, she stays home and paints and smokes, and in the evenings we can smell the smoke wafting over the garden wall that divides her house from ours.   I wish I could go back and reassure her somehow, but without belief in the ākhirah, in Allah’s Mercy, or in the good in all things – even death – what do I have to work with?

We take Islam for granted, this I am sure of, because my husband and I, on learning why Bonnie had tried to kill herself both privately thought, “What, just because her brother died?”   To Muslims, death is a transition, not a tragedy.  The greatest loss is not of life but of īmān. The shahīd can die with faith and we are jealous of them, but a person could live without it for a hundred years in luxury and we would pity them.

I don’t mean to belittle the kind of pain that Bonnie must be in, or to make light of a grief so strong that two years later it overshadows her life.  I understand that without a complete picture of human existence – one that includes resurrection, accountability, and life after death – the end of human life is a tragedy of such magnitude and frequency that perhaps one would want to just get it over with and kill ourselves now, or just get over it because everyone dies and there’s no point.  Without faith, our options are depression, desensitization, or delusion.  Bonnie chose the first one.

So half of this story hasn’t happened, and I really wish it would.  That would be the part where Bonnie calls, or just walks over (following the rust-colored stains) to our gate and rings the bell to have a chat.  It would involve me trying to share the salām, the peace that Islam brings us when we submit to Allah and trust in His Will, even when it hurts.  It has only been a few weeks since she first walked over, bleeding and crying; maybe she’s just working up the courage.  Maybe she’s just waiting for her hands to heal.  In any case, please make du‘ā’ for Bonnie and her family, that their sorrow be the catalyst for seeking solace, and that solace be Islam.  Ameen.

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Zeba Khan is the Editor at Large - Special Needs for, as well as a writer, speaker, and disability awareness advocate. In addition to having a child with autism, she herself lives with Ehlers-Danlos Sydrome, Dysautonomia, Mast-Cell Activation Disorder, and a random assortment of acronyms that collectively translate to chronic illness and progressive disability.



  1. Abu Mohammed

    November 9, 2011 at 3:47 AM


    Alhamdulillaah for the blessing of Islam, the way of life that consistently connects us to the Creator and engulfs us in tranquility day and night.

  2. Abdullah

    November 9, 2011 at 8:41 AM


    Sister Zeba, this was a great story. However, just for the sake of reminding, the Prophet (PBUH) didn’t wait for the people to come to him to ask about Islam. Rather he approached them to share the deen of Allah (SWT). And so, instead waiting for Bonnie to give you a call or come to your doorstep again, how about you give her a call or go to her doorstep instead, just for the sake of presenting and sharing Islam? There shouldn’t be any delay or hesitation in sharing our religion, for we don’t know if those to whom we hold back in sharing the religion will be arrive tomorrow. May Allah make you and your husband a means of da’wah for this deen.

    • Laila

      November 10, 2011 at 6:40 PM

      I completely agree!

  3. Umm Sulaim

    November 9, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    A very sad story.

    It reminds me of the murder of my maternal uncle four years ago. The first thing his younger brother told me after confirming the tragedy was, “Do not kill yourself! Do not kill yourself!” I thought that was rather strange, but immediately, remembered the actions of some of my tribesmen (typically non-Muslims) similar to Bonnie’s, except with greater precision.

    Indeed Islam is a source of peace.
    Umm Sulaim

  4. Umm Sulaim

    November 9, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Come to think of it, a childhood friend committed suicide after the murder of his younger brother, my closest friend and one person I would love to see again. Of course that’s impossible, and more painful than that, none of them were Muslims.

    This story has really brought back very painful memories.

    Allah is He from Whom Help is sought,
    Umm Sulaim

  5. buzybi

    November 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    SubhanAllah, what a beautiful deen! We are told how to be content even when adversities like death reach us.. I pity all non muslims around the world, who lack this amazing faith

  6. Yasmin

    November 9, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Ameen! Mashallah, I simply do not have the words to describe how touching and meaningful this post is! It really show us the power of Iman. Indeed Iman is crucial in enabling a person to face a tragedy with patience!

  7. shiney

    November 9, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Jazakallah khair for sharing this sad story sister…while reading i felt like i was there, the points you mentioned at the end are so true subhanAllah, that to us Muslims, the loss of life is not as sad as the loss of Iman. May Allah help Bonnie get well and make us stronger Muslims. Ameen

    • Ruqayyah

      November 10, 2011 at 12:20 AM

      SubhanAllah! W@ a tragic situation bonnie is in! Alhamdulillah 4 deen-ul-islam. Pls don’t wait 4 her 2come 2u cos she might neva! Run 2 her cos she needs 2 knw abt d beauty of d religion of ALLAAH. May ALLAAH(SWT) mk it easy 4 u. Maa salaam.

  8. Umm ibraheem

    November 10, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    Thank you for broadcasting her story to the world I am sure she will really appreciate this ‘ Islamic ‘ gesture when she becomes aware of it and it will really bring her to the deen.

    Btw I myself have been through ‘suicidal’ moments despite being muslim. I would feel betrayed beyond belief if I ever discovered that my husband or others privy to it had disclosed this information.

  9. Fezz

    November 10, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    I’m not sure if this is really a true story and so to what extent the events are actually altered to fit a narrative. You said you couldnt understand “why Bonnie had tried to kill herself” and noted “marks of several other cuts still relatively fresh “. This and her presenting to the door of her neighbours bears the hallmarks Delibarate Self Harm rather than attempted suicide. She is exhibiting desparate cries for help and I hope she did receive some proper psychiatric and psychological attention.

  10. Ruby

    November 10, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    Thank you for sharing her story. It was truly touching and an eye opener, but I hope that the names and such were changed. As Fezz above mentioned, to share this story on MM who probably have mashaAllah, tens of thousands of visitors a month is sort of an invasion of privacy don’t you think?

  11. Jennifer

    November 13, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    I also live in the U.A.E. Unfortunately here, there is a great lack of mental health services. In addition, attempted suicide is a crime. Overcoming her depression will be a great challenge for Bonnie. I hope she will get the help she needs though. Our perspective as Muslims is such that we know what happens to us in our lives is because of Allah’s will, that what happens could not have been avoided, and what misses us could not have befallen us. We also know that our time in dunya is a test preparing us, inshaAllah, to be accepted into paradise. May Allah keep us all on the straight path and make it easy for Bonnie and her family to accept Islam. Ameen.

  12. Mehreen

    November 14, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    Ameen. May Allah guide her and her family to Islam.

  13. R H

    November 14, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    as-salaamu alaykum

    A few points:
    Firstly, thank you for writing about such an important issue and hopefully it will help raise awareness around the subject.
    I’d also like to echo the sentiments of previous posters re: confidentiality and strongly reccommend the article is removed unless the story has been sufficiently altered so as to make the lady in question completely unrecognisable.

    While I agree with many of the points raised, I felt the analysis here was incomplete. There is much more to this than simply ‘having’ Islam or being a Muslim. There is no doubt that strong faith (of any kind) can have a positive effect on mental health (though conversely may also have a negative effect too), but to reduce it to simply this is naive at best, and usually just plainly wrong. There are many, many reasons why people self-harm / attempt suicide, and it is very difficult to make a judgement from what you see on the outisde. (As a side note to the poster mentioning DSH rather than attempted suicide – these are not always two distinct entities, and often your barndoor superficial cutting, after a full psychiatric asst. is actually a genuine suicide attempt). There is a plethora of factors to consider here, including genetic biological and environmental factors, and it is not clear at all that just by virtue of being Muslim, Bonnie would not be in this position (although of course, one would hope so).
    I find such opinions (and I am not necessarily saying you intend this, but it is something I come accross recurrently in the Muslim community) very dangerous. It reduces mental health to a fundamentally black and white area (which is probably the only thing that it is clearly *not*), but also helps perpetuate the stigma associated with psychiatric conditions, and means that people can be blamed for things (“If only you were a better muslim, you wouldn’t feel like this.. ” etc).
    While I am all for encouraging the role of spirituality in psychiatry, I am against making it a tool for use by every lay Tom, Dick and Abdullah for diagnosis and management. As was mentioned before, what she really needs is a full psychiatric assessment, and then managing, taking into account her own opinions, using a bio-psycho-social model (and I include spirituality and the nice local Imam in that).
    wAllahu a’lam.

    (COI – shrink in training :))

    • Umm ibraheem

      November 14, 2011 at 11:49 PM

      I also agree that it is an incomplete analysis. I am a lifetime sufferer of depression and several attempts at suicide. I have been practicing Islam from the age of 17 and although at times it helps me overcome my problems the state of my depression and weak Imaan continue to plague me. Being a mother of 4 kids this has severely affected my kids mental health also, so I no longer see it as a problem that effects me but also my kids and generations to come have also been effected.

      I have asked for help many times but it is not offered as this is a taboo subject in our community. The only help I get offered (which should be sufficient, but with my state of mind is not) is to increase in prayer and zikr.

      Recently, because of the effect my mental health has had on my kids the only way I see out is to separate from my family. But my husband refuses to divorce me or let me go. I feel trapped in every way.

      Depression and suicide are very taboo subjects in our community. I challenge Muslim matters to write an article about it

      • Umm Sulaim

        November 15, 2011 at 12:59 AM

        Briefly, you might want to identify the cause of your depression and embark on self-analysis to work your way back to a healthy psychological state.

        Umm Sulaim

        • Fezz

          November 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM

          I’ll avoid the obvious sarcastic response to the above comment.

          Its is worth commenting that “mood” is not necessarily a spiritual component in the conventional sense. Neurochemical “happiness” does not equate to spiritual “fulfillment” (as we know from those who ‘have it all’ or abuse drugs etc).

          And conversely if one assumes that diverse organ systems within the body are prone to physiological dysfrunction then it is not an improbable extrapolatation to suggest that this does not exclude the brain. Indeed we know that many florid psychiatric illness (schizophrenia/bipolar disease) manifest in ways outwith the control of the patient, regardless of their religious disposition. Similarly, there are undoubtedly many patients with endogenous neurobiological dysfunction which leads to chronic spontaneous anxiety or depressive states and probably many many more who are chronically “low” with borderline emotional coping reserves which renders them susceptible to an acute depressive event given exposure to the correct cumulative stressors. The patterns of genetic inheritence are too well sustained within families and even separated monozygotic twins for this to be co-incidental. That is not to deny the concurrent psychosocial factors of religion and community which can be protective.

          Unfortunately we still have people who say “A true muslim can never be depressed”. Yes perhaps never spiritually depressed – and much of what is classified as depression in modern primary care is probably spiritual depression. But its not simply a case of “oh diddums…she didnt have enough Iman”. I suggest these people broaden their reading.

          (And Allah knows best)

      • muslimah nicola

        November 24, 2011 at 12:22 PM

        Umm Ibraheem,
        I am also a life – long sufferer from depression, and attempted suicide in my early twenties. I too have 4 kids, and although I so much wanted to live for them, I have been plagued with constant suicidal thoughts throughout their lives.Not being muslim at the time, I turned to self medicating, fearing the children would be removed and put into care, I turned to alcohol, drinking more and more to cope with the stress and depression, trying to block out it all out. I eventually had a complete nervous breakdown. That was about 5 yrs ago, I have had drug treatment ever since, with varied success, and coupled with reverting to Islam, I am coping with daily life again, some days are good, some not good. I and my consultant have agreed that I cannot ever be off medication, and I am so pleased to be here. Insha’Allah I will be able to carry on, and my faith does have a positive effect on me, but so does the drug cocktail I take religiously every night.
        SIster I urge you to seek medical help. You must see a doctor and insist on being referred to a hospital psychiatry dept if your doctor cannot help, or runs out of options. You may have to have several changes of meds before the right combination / drugs are found but stick with it.. I have my life back now, but I am old, and wasted too many years in the pits of despair. Do not let this be you sister. If you had a physical complaint you would seek help, you have instead a mental complaint, and it must be treated properly. If it could be cured just by faith, then it would be cured by now – it needs all of the tools Allah has given us, including the doctors and the drugs as necessary. I love you for the sake of Allah sister, and want for you what I want for myself.

  14. owais

    November 14, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    reminded me a lot of painful things tat i suffered myself…………but ultimately my trust in Allah saved me…
    and that is infact the secret to salvation————trust in Allah

  15. A.Janjua

    November 18, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    You are an amazing person and what you have done will be paid off in great hasanah. I really hope that Bonnie realizes she needs to thank you and your husband for quickly providing help and saving her life. And if she has any faith, which she should specially after given another chance, needs to thank Allah for not giving up on her giving up on HIM.
    JazakAllah kherun for sharing this.
    May Allah bless you always.

  16. Abez

    November 18, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    AssalamuAlaikum All- my apologies for being late to the conversation, I’ve been out of commission with bronchitis.

    There seem to be concerns about me ‘shaming’ Bonnie by sharing her private pain and revealing her identity to a worldwide readership. First of all, Bonnie’s name is not Bonnie. Second of all, this story was not submitted to MM until moving trucks showed up and without a word- Bonnie’s family moved away. She is no longer my neighbor, and if someone were to magically show up at my house trying to track down a woman named Bonnie who lived in the vicinity, there wouldn’t be anyone to find.

    In regards to Bonnie’s privacy- What Bonnie did- cutting her hands and wandering the neighborhood bleeding and crying while others stood outside of their houses and watched her (and no one called the police) was not private. The cut marks on her arms are not private. Her brother’s name is tattooed from her elbow to her wrist and scarred all over- that’s not private. I have not revealed anything about Bonnie’s pain or challenges that a stranger in a mall would not easily surmise from simply looking at her without ever having read this article. I have not broadcast anything that was shared in confidence, I have not violated a trust and shared anything secret. I have shared the sad story of a woman I once knew, whose name has been changed, and whose public cry for help led her bleeding to my doorstep- and I have asked for prayers.

    There have been some interesting comments regarding depression, and I would like to see those questions answered as well. However, I’m not a psychologist or a counselor, so I don’t have the knowledge to answer the challenge. Perhaps Sister Haleh is a better person to bring into the conversation?

    I am aware that, out of awkwardness and the desire to not give the family space when they have gone through something so traumatic, that I lost the chance to talk to Bonnie after what happened. I did though, unexpectedly bump into her at a pharmacy two weeks ago. She didn’t seem interested in acknowledging my presence. She smiled briefly, avoided eye contact, and wandered away in uncomfortable silence. Guidance is with Allah, and I’m still praying she is able to find it.

    Tabloid journalism exploits a person’s suffering for the sake of monetary gain- readership. I get nothing from this- no money, no fame- I have no reason to post this except sympathy and the hope that people do make dua for her, and one day Bonnie finds the healing she’s looking for. This is not tabloid journalism, this is a prayer request and zhikr. Alhamdulillah that we are Muslim. Please make dua for those who are not.

    Ma’Assalam :)

    • Umm Sulaim

      November 18, 2011 at 11:24 PM

      You should not have included the moving away detail. Commenters have pushed you into revealing an even more identifiable piece of information.

      Umm Sulaim

  17. Bint Frank

    November 24, 2011 at 5:36 AM

    Assalaamu alaikum, folks! Jazak Allah khair for this moving piece. I’d just like to mention that depression is a mental disorder that affects people of all faiths. Being Muslim and being suicidal are not mutually exclusive. While most Muslims know that the commission of suicide takes a person out of Islam, that knowledge may not be enough to keep someone with major depression from doing such a thing. Depression, like many other major illnesses, can’t be understood and fairly assessed by someone who hasn’t been through it. And when depression is coupled by suicidal thoughts, the isolation and despair is unbearable and can overwhelm your ability to reason and make good choices.
    Unfortunately, the Muslim community likes to pretend that mental illness is not our problem. It’s always the sufferer’s fault in the view of many Muslims. “if she had never…” “if only he had…” “Someone put the eye on her” “He has a jinn” Too often, I’ve heard Muslims talk about depression as if there’s nothing physiological or biochemical to it at all. Many Muslims have this idea that if a person has faith, then they won’t get depressed. That’s just plain false. Would someone say the same of a person who had cancer or multiple sclerosis? “If she really believed in Allah, she wouldn’t have lupus.” Allah tests us with many things, and sadly, for some people, their test is erosive to their faith.
    I personally know many practicing Muslims who display concrete signs of depression and other mental illnesses. Many of them suffer in silence and only occasionally acknowledge the pain they’re carrying. We are so in denial about mental illness that many of us wouldn’t even consider that these abnormal feelings are something that we might need to discuss with a doctor. Many Muslim families only make the situation worse by not acting upon evidence that their sibling/child/aunt/uncle/parent is sick with a mental illness. It’s really a sad state of affairs, and the community only makes it worse by blaming the victim and accusing the victim of being deficient in faith.
    I’m not accusing the author of making this mistake. I’m merely mentioning that it’s something that I hear often when Muslims talk about depression or other mental illnesses.

  18. Umm Esa

    September 12, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    for those suffering from depression or even things like bi polar and schizophrenia they have done studies that found that being deficient in certain vitamins and minerals can cause it or make it worse. many people get S.A.D during the winter esp in places like the UK. taking a good cod liver oil or d3 has helped many people. i personally have found that if it wasn’t for islam i doubt i would be here. alhumdullilah. i have also found that reading quran and tafseer in a language i understand helps me greatly. the less i read the more i feel like i am slipping back in to it. after having my first child i found it very difficult and almost spoke to the health visitor, but having studied some psychology and knowing that they very often like to hand out drugs and not having access to a muslim psychiatrist or psychologist i decided to try and cope. alhumdullilah it has been up and down, but alongside the reading quran, good nutrition plays a big role too. i finally realized that the epidural i had did cause my symptoms. durgs affect brain chemistry and so does food and vitamins and minerals. i hope my sisters can find the help they really need, may Allaah swt cure us all with a complete cure, may He guide us all and grant us all jannah, may He guide Bonnie and her family to islam and grant them peace in this life an the hereafter ameen. jazak Allahukhairn Absez from a fellow sister in the uae.

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