Over the past few years, the arrival of Ramadan has signaled life changes for me. Two years ago, I gave up living the haraami (forbidden) lifestyle, meaning I stopped smoking and drinking and gave up a few of my vices. I had my fun with it and I don’t totally regret it, but,ultimately, it was just a phase for me. And since it was just a phase, it was easier to give up. I started to enjoy it less and I really see it being a big part of my future.
Last year, I continued with my life-alteration theme by giving up my summer and my sanity for the MCAT (god, this joke was awful). I really meant to give up cursing, but it never really worked out for me. Or rather it worked for a bit, then I just kinda subconsciously reverted back to it.
I liked to call these changes “Ramadan Resolutions.” I never really took New Years’ revolutions seriously because they never really meant anything to me. At least Ramadan had a religious aspect, a driving force behind it to keep me going.
So this year, I came up with a few new Ramadan Resolutions, some simple, others requiring more of a concentrated effort. I know it’ll be tough to follow-through with all the changes but something is better than nothing and yadda yadda yadda:
Self-admittedly, I’m terrible at following through one of the basic tenets of Islam, but the good part is, it’s an easily fixable problem. My solution is simple: Don’t be lazy. All I need to do is put in a little effort to complete this goal, so it shouldn’t be too bad
2) Keep it Zabihah
In Islam, like Judaism, there exists a dietary standard, along the same lines as Kosher meat. Pretty simple, pretty easy. I ate Zabihah until my senior year of high school and never quite looked back. This is my time to return to my roots and basically rid myself of this crappy, low-grade, dog-food equivalent excuse for “meat.”
3) Conquer Depression
I have trouble opening up about this, only my really tight circle have even known that I suffer/have suffered from depression. I do have a decent amount of close friends, a lot which I do speak to regularly, but yet only a handful know about my struggles with it.
It started at St. John’s. During my time there, I found myself caught in a perfect storm that led to my initial foray into depression. I always knew deep down, that pharmacy wasn’t the path for me. I still busted my ass to get the grades I needed, although I was still barely getting by.
This was around the time I started smoking and drinking, and I didn’t just chill with it, I binged the crap outta the both of them. And this happened multiple times a week, I didn’t just reserve it for the weekends. After a while, it induced a soul-sucking lifestyle within me. I began to use it to de-stress at the wrong times, for the wrong purposes. If I felt like I was working too hard, why not just roll up a blunt or pour out a shot just to take the edge off. Most people would be okay with this, but I would find every excuse possible just to resort to them. I created a drinking game out of reading every three paragraphs. It got that bad.
While I did enjoy the haraami lifestyle, there were a decent amount of lowlights to it. I began to hate pharmacy; I rarely got to see my friends, I was constantly stressed about my grades, and nothing I did felt like it was good enough. The substance abuse definitely accelerated this and well I just ended up in a dark place. A shell of my former self, I got agitated easily, begged for other’s attention while simultaneously pushing them away with a crazy, hostile behavior.
I had become such a shitty person that my friends decided to stage a small intervention, not your traditional kind with the sign and everything, but they just brought me in and talked to me about what I was becoming and how gloomy I was now.
I was miserable and it was easy to see. The following semester I decided to commute from home, to spend more time with my family and to heal myself from my own personal hell-hole.
Except you never really heal. You never really become whole again. There’s still a few cracks in the seams, where you panic, unwind, get anxiety attacks.
I’ve also had a couple smaller, shorter stints. “Depressive episodes” as I like to call them, where I’m not as deep in as I was during my time in Queens but it’s still pretty bad.
Lately, I feel myself plunging back into the same dark place. I’m not happy. I’m never truly happy. And that’s the worst part about it. It’s normal to be sad when things don’t go right; my issue is I’m feeling down even when things are going right, even when life’s good. And this has been the case for the past few months. I can feel myself losing my sanity, can feel my own friends pulling away from me, out of fear, out of annoyance. My future seems more obscure, I don’t quite see an end-game. I’ve lost track of my goals, I don’t feel as if I have much to be proud of anymore.
When I wrote my last piece, I was in deep. Two weeks ago, I completely broke down.It was ugly, it was horrific. I found myself in a place that I never wanted to return to: rock-bottom. I alienated friends, destroyed my own self-confidence, and lost my path in life.
Things have been better since then, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. My life is currently under reconstruction. And I’ve started taking the necessary steps, steps I believe will help pull me out of this slump, and keep the past in the past.
I have my second appointment with a therapist today. Right now, she’s on the fence with the diagnosis, but she’s slimmed it down between major depressive disorder and situational depression. The second one is far easier to help out than the other. Luckily, she’s leaning more towards situational.
I’ve started applying for jobs at charitable NGOs. Helping others always gave me a therapeutic feeling, gave me a refreshed perspective. Thought processes change when you see third-world problems and compare them to your own petty first-world issues.
If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, then an idle mind is his home, and boy, I should start paying for how long I’ve been in this horrid home. This Ramadan is going to be my time to fix myself. To be come whole again, to rid myself of my own negativity. It’s time to make a change
4) No More Cursing
Seriously, I need to watch my mouth.
I want to take some extra time out to those who helped me over the past few months, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Believe me, sometimes something as simple as talking to me helped me out big time. I know I haven’t been the easiest to deal with, whether I flipped out at you, or was just negligent towards you. I’ve been going through a few things and it’s time to work past my demons. This time for good.
Peace, and much love to ya,