My Ramadan Diary: Fasting with depression & anxiety – BBC Stories

My Ramadan Diary: Fasting with depression & anxiety – BBC Stories


It’s 2.20, and I’m just having some cereal. Even though it’s really hard getting up, it’s just something you have to do or you’ll regret it when you wake up in the morning. I’ve been clinically depressed over the past three to four years it’s kind of expanded into generalised anxiety. Fasting is incredibly difficult anyway… with mental health issues it’s just so much harder. I’m so tired. Waking up for Suhur throws you out of whack when you’re used to… sleeping early, getting up early, like I am …but hey. Another day… 11 hours, so… hopefully get some naps in in between. I’ve had terrible years and I’ve had better years, this year’s definitely a better year. Erm…there’s been years… since I started at sixteen there’s been times where I haven’t fasted at all. It is a rollercoaster but that’s what it’s like with experiencing mental health issues, you have good days and bad days and I’ve had good Ramadans and bad ones. Particularly if you’re on medication, you might be craving food. Quite a common side effect is… you know, constantly being hungry, dry mouth, as well. Could you imagine, you know, dry mouth as a side effect of the medication on top of the dry mouth you have whilst fasting? It’s unbearable. This morning, we are off to a local mosque to see Farhad Ahmed, who’s an imam, to speak to him about his views on mental health. The holy Koran when it introduces the concept of fasting, it very clearly says that people who are going through an illness they’re not supposed to fast. I’m trying to watch my body language cos I’m like… I realised my toes have curled into the carpet, and I’m like.. Oh no, don’t worry… (laughs) So obviously, we look at depression or mental health illnesses as a form of illness. Obviously, each circumstance is different, and each person’s situation is different. So they can make that judgement. And the whole concept of actually the holy Koran is that it focuses on compassion and mercy. People who are going through difficult times they also…you know should seek professional help as well. Ramadan is healing for me but there’s only so much…like you say, The month of Ramadan is healing for me, it can be quite dangerous if you don’t also seek medical advice and you just assume you can kind of get through it yourself. Definitely, like you’re saying, like any other illness, you know, if you’ve got any other illness you do go to the doctor and at the same time, pray for your illness. It is really difficult, when you don’t have family who are fasting around you. The isolation… the loneliness… when you kind of go and prepare your meal for one and erm…(laughs) eat it like…I’ve had ready meals for my Iftar which I think is a bit tragic. Feeling quite ratty and tired, admittedly. I’m going to go and do some errands because it’s Sunday and errands still need to be done. Erm, and then I’m going to try and squeeze in a nap. And then…Iftar! So…not long left. Try and keep my sanity. I’ve reached the level of delirium where I am extremely hungry and tired. So I’m probably not making much sense and giggling a lot. Iftar is approaching and I’ve come to my best friend’s house erm..to have some food. I don’t have a large family myself, and it’s nice to celebrate with people. So I’m just kind of celebrating with the friends I’ve made family. I find support during the holy month from my friends. I’ve certainly got people who understand because they know the lifestyle I lead and the conflicts that arise when you’re trying to fast. Ramadan is special because it’s a very communal time of year. People really pull together. Erm…despite me saying, you know, some of it is spent in isolation for myself, it’s certainly not always the case. It’s like…it’s like Christmas for Muslims like, to be honest. It feels like that particularly when you celebrate at the end. And you feel like you really deserve it. Fasting for Ramadan is absolutely worth it. It’s worth it physically, mentally. You just feel really, really good about yourself and it brings you closer to God. And therefore you feel more at peace with yourself. At least, I personally do.

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25 thoughts on “My Ramadan Diary: Fasting with depression & anxiety – BBC Stories”

  • I'm not Muslim but sometimes I would try fasting to feel less depressed somehow It really helps and has much less side effects than medicine

  • Saila Sobriquet says:

    What is she on about? There are plenty of medical journal articles that discuss how fasting mitigates and relieves depression, anxiety, and many other physical and mental illnesses. And how is it such a hardship to fast 18 hours a day for a month? I, and many people I know fast for 20 to 22 hours a day, year-round. I guess if you feed your body crap food like junk cereal it might be hard, as well as facilitating depression, anxiety, and physical illnesses, but if you feed your body quality food, in the right amounts, it's no problem at all. And when did it become fashionable and a source of faux celebrity to crow about one's mental illnesses?

  • There are many studies that tout the benefits of fasting on our mental health:

    * A study on aging men found that those on a Fasting and Calorie Restriction (FCR) dietary regimen saw improvement in mood states and nutritional status.

    * A 24 hour fast in mice decreased anxiety-like behavior and also improved memory.

    * Studies on middle aged rats found that intermittent fasting combined reduced anxiety via anti-inflammatory pathways.

  • Jannah Sweetie says:

    You can make them up in the winter when the days are shorter if your not well enough to do them in Ramadan, if your very ill you maybe able to pay fidya if your unable to keep them.

  • What a f**king joke. Where are your stories about the "crimes" you helped lie about to convict poor Tommy Robinson you cowards??? But yeah, lets focus on some self induced" eating problem" the religion that is poised to overtake your lives is experiencing. You pathetic country of cucks, your culture is almost done, and you celebrate and welcome the invader and finance him 🙁 Your police work for Islam, and arrest those who just want their country to remain British—– What a disgusting shame. Free speech muffled, and disagreements made illegal. Sad times in the UK. Tommy is the only voice that represents the sanity of England, and you made his social media inaccessible to millions of his viewers. You pathetic gutless worms. Even your youtube commercials are aimed at the 3rd world. Soon, it will rule you, and it will be hell on earth living there . Saddiq Khan would be proud of you, you pathetic sheep.

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