I have been doing a lot of reaching out lately.
Alhamdulillah it is good to be supporting others, using my creativity to nurture others, and to feel like I am fulfilling my purpose. It is good when I am balanced.
“You need to learn to say no.”
“Make sure you take time for yourself.”
“Gosh, you’re busy.”
With hindsight comments like these were warnings that I had let things get out of control.
Instead of scheduling in activities within achievable time frames I decided I would neglect sleep and selectively ignore projects in order to finish the activities that I felt were needed most. That is how it started. But then I became focussed on the projects that provoked the most immediate feedback. It took me weeks to realise I was running on adrenaline more than any other sustenance.
Projects that had started slowly with istikhara (specific decision-making prayer) and, “Bismillah,” became hurried; when salah (ritual prayer) times began I finished my work before turning to my prayer just in time – a complete reversal of my former strategy. My altered priorities were evident in the way I handled my time but I didn’t want to recognise the truth.
I didn’t want to admit that my intentions had shifted. I didn’t want to have slipped into a negative pattern of reaching outwards into the dunya (life of this world) to satisfy my needs. I didn’t want to have effectively pursued failings.
I found my productivity satisfying and I was reluctant to let go of it. I wanted to cling to feeling that my work was necessary and could not be compromised. I had been sucked into product-focussed activity and I was comfortable. I encouraged myself to keep growing projects with self-talk like, “Well, I made istikhara at the start of this so I’ll go ahead and say yes to more.” I enjoyed moving swiftly.
Alhamdulillah for a body that needs to slow down and sleep. Alhamdulillah for a spiritual inner soul that cannot withstand neglect. And alhamdulillah for a depression that has provoked positive change.
I have remembered and accepted that I need to be balanced within myself, and within my family, in order to be able to sustain a supportive role for others in my community.
I have remembered that my action-by-action processes are my priority. That every small behaviour, utterance, and “Bismillah” is significant to Allah SWT. That it is His judgement, His perception of my productivity, that affords true value to what I do. That I need to please Allah SWT and I can be more certain of that than of any of my perceptions and projections about others’ needs.
So insha’Allah I am looking ahead to slow and simple changes in my responses to opportunities to support others’ needs. Insha’Allah I plan to maintain a schedule within which I can balance fulfilling my personal needs with supporting others’ needs. Insha’Allah I hope that being open about my struggles will support you in your struggles to depend upon Allah SWT, the Sustainer, the Satisfier of All Needs, the Witness.
Insha’Allah I’ll report back in February.
[He is] the cleaver of daybreak and has made the night for rest and the sun and moon for calculation. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.
The Qur’an, Surah An-’An’aam (Chapter of the cattle) 6:96
Maria Limehouse is an aspiring novelist who likes to write cathartic posts on her blog. She has recently been through a period of depression alhamdulillah.