N.B: This article is focusing on the distressed student. However, it can be helpful in all spheres of life such as at home, work places and social life. Please read through.

We all face stress in our lives. Stress can be positive sometimes, however, it can be debilitating when it is a lot. Students are usually under a lot of pressure with both their academic and personal lives. While students have found different ways to cope with the system, sometimes it can become too much and thereafter lead to distress or even depression.

Emotional distress can be explained as a state of mental anguish which may result from a certain circumstance or mental health issue. The staff of a school have the better opportunity to notice when a student is distressed and that includes the school counsellor and fellow students too. This is because, they get to interact with them throughout the day. It is crucial for all school staff members to be familiar with, and watchful for, risk factors and warning signs of suicidal behavior. The entire school staff should work to create an environment where students feel safe sharing such information. 

Sometimes, students who are distressed may be perceived as simply ‘naughty’, or ‘bad’ by teachers and peers. This perception may in turn damage their self-esteem and make them feel shunned by those around them. It is thus important that teachers and school counsellors be on the look-out for any indications of stress or depression.

There are several matters that could cause distress to a student, including (but not limited to):

• Broken relationships/family

• Loss of a family member/friend

• Illness of a loved one

• Conflict with family or a close person

• Victim of assault

• Sudden change i.e. moving to another town/school

• Traumatic experience example rape, war, accident, floods etc

• Mental health condition

When one is faced with such difficult situations, there might be some changes in the person. The following are some of the indications of a student who is struggling.

  • Unusual Behaviour:

 • Falling asleep in class frequently

• Threatening or disruptive behavior in classroom  

• Marked changes in appearance, example hygiene and weight

• Extreme mood swings or inappropriate, excessive display of emotion

• Sudden withdrawal from others or excessive sleep

• Chronic irritability, excessive anxiety or hyperactivity

• Confusion, bizarre behaviour or disorientation

· Unusual bruises or cuts on hands or body

· Sadness, tearfulness

· Extreme loss of appetite or binge eating frequently

· Dependency, i.e. the student keeps making appointments to see you

· Lack of energy and enthusiasm about various aspects of student life

• Preoccupation with death

  • Problems with Academic Performance:

• Poor academic performance or a sudden decline in performance from previous tests.

• Request for special accommodations

• Speech or test anxiety

• Not attending classes or not doing assignments

  • Harmful Statements or Behaviours:

• Uses statements of helplessness or mentions about suicidal thoughts

• Indications of prolonged unhappiness

• Extreme risk-taking behavior

• Use of drugs or alcohol

• Getting violent or aggressive with classmates or other students

In addition to the above mentioned signs, if a student is suicidal, they show other clues of their struggle:

  • Verbal cues: a student may directly or indirectly communicate their suicidal thoughts (sometimes even using jokes) or intentions by saying things like:

· “I’m going to kill myself.”

· “Everyone would be better off without me.”

· “I just can’t take it any longer.”

· “I wish I were dead.”

“I am tired of this life.”

  • Behavioral Clues: a student may do something that may reveal self-destructive intentions, like:

· A previous suicide attempt, especially if recent

· Giving away valued possessions

· Procuring means: asking for sedatives or buying a gun

· Composing a suicide note

·  Resigning from social groups, extracurricular activities,  

· Crying spells without external triggers

· Visiting a physician for unexplained or vague symptoms

· Substance abuse

Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly; however, parents, school staff, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to ensure the student’s safety. According to Worthington (1982), the most crucial step in assisting another person, is make them believe that you understand them. This can be achieved by asking the right questions, listening attentively to their concerns and evaluating the person’s needs. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:

• Remain calm: To be of greater assistance and to reduce the student’s agitation one needs to stay calm.

• Provide a quiet, private place (if possible) for the student to rest in the mean time

• Talk to the student clearly and in a straight forward way on whether they feel suicidal or are considering committing it.

• Listen to them and do not judge! Be kind and empathetic.

• Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.

• Do not leave them alone

• Make arrangements for appropriate aid from other experts

• Remove means for self-harm.

Get help: No one should ever agree to keep a youth’s suicidal thoughts a secret and instead should tell an appropriate caregiving adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist/counsellor. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to a school-employed mental health professional or administrator.

As for the students themselves, it is also important to be on the look out for any weird or unusual behaviour in yourself, your mates and friends. A lot of times nowadays, youth use social media as a way to seek help. DO NOT ASSUME THAT THEY ARE SIMPLY SEEKING ATTENTION. Don’t gamble with that. So whenever you see any posts with suicidal ideation or posts of self-harm like cutting oneself or jokes on suicide (especially when done more than once) reach out! This could be their cry for help and you could be all they need to stay alive (Okay perhaps not ALL they need but you could play an important role in preventing them from taking their life and that should count for something).

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, once a child or adolescent is considered at risk, schools, families, and friends should work to build these factors in and around the youth. These include:

  • Family support and cohesion, including good communication.
  • Peer support and close social networks.
  • School and community connectedness.
  • Cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide and promote healthy living.
  • Adaptive coping and problem-solving skills, including conflict-resolution.
  • General life satisfaction, good self-esteem, sense of purpose.
  • Easy access to effective medical and mental health resources.

To get assistance, here are some counselling offices that you can reach out to, not just when feeling suicidal, but whenever in distress.

  1. Taalluful Quloob: 0780 222 205/0111 222 205
  2. Noor Counselling Centre: 0739 724 234
  3. Amani Counselling Centre: 0735 744 389


Benton, S.A. & Benton, S.L, (2006). College student mental health: Effective services and strategies across campus. National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Inc.

DeRosier, M. & Lloyd, S. (2010) The Impact of Children’s Social Adjustment on Academic Outcomes, Reading & Writing Quarterly, 27:1-2 DOI: 10.1080/10573569.2011.532710

Grothaus, T. (n.d.) School Counselors Serving Students with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. asca | Professional School Counseling, 16(4).

Worthington, E.L.. (1982). When someone asks for help: A practical guide for counseling. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/mental-health-resources/preventing-youth-suicide/preventing-youth-suicide-tips-for-parents-and-educators

Photo Courtesy: https://kaylafae.files.wordpress.com

So I went to Port Reitz the other week and visited the mental unit. The place was so quiet and calm, with a neat, green compound. You can imagine my disappointment of not finding a lunatic running around with a doctor following him with a huge needle in his hand. That’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear of Port Reitz right? Well sorry to burst your bubble. Apparently the only time the place is as you picture it is when a maniac or violent patient is coming in for assessment for the first time. So yeah, as much as mental illness is often equated to madness, that’s just NOT the whole picture. Mental illness is depression and anxiety and OCD and all these other things we go through and brush away because well, who wants to admit they are mentally ill?

It is also at Port Reitz that I got to know that by a range of just 150/= to 300/= you could get to see a therapist. But because we’ve stereotyped mental illness and this place so much, we’d rather not even think about going to this place.

By now we already know that therapy is as expensive as it gets. So if only we kept aside our insecurities and decided to seek the desperate help we need, we would have made good use of these very affordable charges. Anyway, getting to my point now, do you realize that for you to get any better you need to get help?

It is rather sad that we would go to see a doctor for the smallest of physical aches yet choose to continuously ignore the pain within our souls. Each one of us is carrying a baggage, a painful story, things they’d rather not talk about because it is easier ignored than faced. But the reality is that, time is not necessarily going to heal you as the theory goes. We are very different human beings and we cope very differently to the challenges we face. For example, you could meet two victims who were involved in the West Gate attack and perhaps underwent the same scenario but you’d find that one was resilient enough after the attack was over. They quit the job they didn’t like, spent more time with family and started pursuing things they are passionate about. The other one however, was probably stuck in that messy moment for an entire month and still having nightmares about it. That’s just how different we are and it is OKAY to feel whichever way you feel.

To ensure that you remain sane and not entirely lose control of your being, here are a few steps to help you cope.

  1. Admit to yourself that you have a challenge that is pulling you down: You have to be honest to yourself without feeling any guilt or shame. You have to accept that this is how you feel right now and there shouldn’t be anyone or anything to make you less of a human being for feeling the way you do. Remember that your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does…and if you want this nightmare to end, this step is very crucial.
  2. Talk to a confidant: Go talk to a person you trust and who will listen to you without judgements or with less regard as to how you feel. Be open and be yourself. Letting it out is an efficient way to feel better.
  3. Keep a journal: Writing down what you feel is proven to be really helpful for anyone undergoing stress or any other mental illness. You can be angry, emotional, detesting or whichever feeling you’ll be experiencing and you don’t have to worry about what your journal thinks about all that you are talking about. It gives you the chance to be free and yourself. Furthermore, it will be more helpful if you also have a gratitude journal whereby you write down what you are grateful for by the end of the day or maybe weekly.
  4. Pray: While experiencing very stressful situations, praying can be the hardest thing to do. You have so many questions for God and you are almost giving up. You lack the enthusiasm for life and you are just in this dark phase whereby you don’t know what to do. However difficult it is for you, pray. Because if there’s any time where you have to prove your faith in God, this is the period. This is your test and this is the time to trust blindly. Yes, blindly. You may not see the light ahead and you may not understand a thing but pray still. Trust His plan for you. Pray to Him. Cry to Him. Talk to Him. Tell Him about all these things only you and Him know about. Tell Him about your pain, your confusion, your anguish and struggle. He is listening. He is always listening.
  5. Seek help: This is an important step when things get overwhelming for you. Do not worry about what others will think about you or label you. Do not worry about what will happen next or how the therapist will judge you. Close your eyes and take the step. Seeking help doesn’t make you mad or crazy or weak. It makes you brave. It makes you strong and courageous. So go for it. Seek help while you still can. Seek help because you deserve a peaceful mind and a grateful soul. So go for it!

That said, here is good news for my dear ‘strokes of my pen’ family. To make it easier for all of you to seek help, Strokes of my pen and Taaluful Quloob have joined hands to assist you to access therapies at a special price.

Taaluful Quloob is a registered community based organization in Mombasa with a mission to proactively address family issues through a collaborative care, offering comprehensive package embodied with assorted services to help replenish homes. They offer services such as general guidance and counselling, Islamic marital counselling (pre-marital, marital and post marital) and match-making (Interesting huh?!). They also train community counsellors and organize workshops and seminars.

Coming back to the special price, Taaluful Quloob will be charging a small fee of 300/= plus a one-time registration fee of 100/= only, for general counselling for anyone who uses the code: Strokes of my pen. Please take note that this offer is only for the general counselling matters and not for marital counselling.

You can book your appointment via their number: 0708 964 809 or you can email them for further inquiries via: taallufulquloob@gmail.com

It is my hope that you will make use of this great offer and seek help. Please do while you can. Please be kind to your soul and allow it to heal.

P.S The offer is valid until December in shaa Allah.

One of the great therapists I know repeats this like it is the most important statement to live with: Mental Illness is NOT a choice but your RECOVERY is. I believe she is right.

‘Why is this happening to me’ is one of the very frequent questions we ask when we are in despair, when we are sad and in pain. Sometimes we are so angry with God, we don’t understand why we go through what we do. We demand for answers from anyone who seems pious or close to God. We ask ‘Why is there evil on earth?’ ‘Where is God? Why is He not answering my prayers?’ ‘I have been good all my life. I’ve been a consistent worshipper, I’ve been obedient to Him and to my parents and I haven’t harmed anyone, why did God give me this illness? Why am I struggling?’ At this point we have heard enough of ‘Be patient’, ‘Keep praying’ and all the other consolations we say to each other in difficult situations. We want to understand WHY.

If you ask me i’d tell you, this life is a test. Thousands of years before we came to existence, it was already ordained for us that we’d come to this earth and we’d have to work with sweat and blood to earn Jannah. But you probably have heard enough of that already. You want satisfactory answers. But part of the test is that you won’t have all the answers. There is no one who will ever come to you and say, ‘So, on this date, when you were 25 years old you committed injustice to so and so…that’s why you became bankrupt today.’ Or that you missed your only chance to get a scholarship because two years later, another better chance will be there for you. We don’t and won’t have the privilege that nabii Musa aleyhi salaam got by learning the wisdom behind tragic events from Al Khidhr. No. Nothing like that will ever happen. Sometimes, maybe months or years later you come to appreciate what happened to you because now you can see the wisdom behind God’s plans. And sometimes, you won’t understand one bit of what is going on and you will never get the closure you need, but will you still believe?? Will you still have faith that God is the best of Planners and wants what is best for you? Will we learn to trust as from the stories of our prophets and the pious people that came before us?

In a hadith in sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’” Some of the commentaries of this hadith is this: Imam Nawawi (may Allah have Mercy upon him) also said: “al-Qadi ‘Iyad said that this means He will forgive him if he seeks such, will accept his repentance if he repents, will answer him if he supplicates, and will suffice him if he asks for something. It is also said that it refers to having hope and longing for relief, and this is more correct.”

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have Mercy upon him) said: “Most people – in fact, all of them except those protected by Allah – assume other than the truth, and assume the worst. Most people believe that they are deprived of their rights, have bad luck, deserve more than what Allah gave them, and it is as if they are saying: ‘My Lord has wronged me and deprived me of what I deserve,’ and his soul bears witness to this while his tongue denies it and refuses to openly state this. And whoever digs into his soul and comes to know its ins and outs will see this in it like fire in a triggered explosion…And if you dig into anyone’s soul, you will see that he blames fate and would rather have something else happen to him than what actually did, and that things should be this way or that…So, dig into your own self: are you protected from this? If you are safe from this, you have been protected from something great. Otherwise, I do not see that you have been saved.” [Zad al-Ma’ad]

There is a very thin line between belief and disbelief and questioning, is one of those things that can drastically push you to the other end of the line. Many people have found God due to questioning, researching and contemplating life while many other pious people ended up falling into disbelief because of constant questioning which ended up in wrong conclusions. This is why we need to be careful on what we say and how we say it, the intention behind it. One of the main reason atheists don’t believe in God is because they question how and why there is evil on this earth if there is a Just and All-knowing God.

In a hadith in sahih Bukhari [Volume 2, Book 24, Number 555:], the prophet p.b.u.h talks about this:

Narrated Ash-sha`bi:

The clerk of Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba (radiallaahu `anhu) narrated, “Mu`awiya (radiallaahu `anhu) wrote to Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba (radiallaahu `anhu): Write to me something which you have heard from the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) .” So Al-Mughira (radiallaahu `anhu) wrote: I heard the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) saying, “Allah has hated for you three things:

1. Vain talks, (useless talk) that you talk too much or about others.

2. Wasting of wealth (by extravagance)

3. And asking too many questions (in disputed religious matters) or asking others for something (except in great need).

All I mean is, sometimes we just have to trust God’s plan and His process. Sometimes we just need to have this undoubted faith that God knows your pain and will surely take care of you.

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have Mercy upon him) also said: “The more you have good expectations of your Lord and hope in Him, the more you will rely on and trust in Him. This is why some explained true reliance and trust to be having good expectations of Allah. In reality, having good expectations of Him leads to relying on and trusting in Him, as it is unthinkable that one can trust in someone that he has bad expectations of or no hope in, and Allah Knows best.”

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, thinking well about Allah is a part of the excellent worship of Allah.”

There is this quote by Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahu Llah that is too beautiful. He said:“Had Allah lifted the veil for his slave and shown him how He handles his affairs for him, and how Allah is more keen for the benefit of the slave than his own self, his heart would have melted out of the love for Allah and would have been torn to pieces out of thankfulness to Allah. Therefore if the pains of this world tire you do not grieve. For it may be that Allah wishes to hear your voice by way of duaa. So pour out your desires in prostration and forget about it and know; that verily Allah does not forget it.”

So the next time you are asking yourself ‘why is this happening to me’ or someone asks you the same, tell yourself this ayah:
‘Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?’ Surat Ankabut: Verse 2.

May Allah grant us the patience and great faith in whatever He plans for us. Ameen.

P.S Our next creative writing training is set for next month in shaa Allah. Kindly check the details in the poster for registration. Please share!!


One of the saddest things is hearing people say, “I need help but I don’t want my family to know…”It says a lot about the person, the situation and the family; especially the parents. It is a messed up society. The youth are afraid to speak up about their struggles and depression because they are afraid of their parents’ reactions. The situation is such that depression is almost becoming a trend now. And the parents? They remain oblivious of how much their children are struggling. I am not pointing fingers at anyone. As I said, it is a messed up situation. The youth could be unnecessarily worried about speaking up. Perhaps their parents would in fact listen and help them get help. Perhaps they would be supportive. Perhaps you speaking up would be a wake up call for them. How would you know if you never approached them? This generation is so good at hiding so we can’t entirely blame the parents for not miraculously knowing you’re in pain. The family on the other side could be playing a role; sometimes a major role, in the problem itself. Carrying on with the same old traditions and customs, our parents seem blinded on how much they actually play a role in facilitating depression amongst their children. Here are some ways in which parents, unintentionally cause unnecessary pain, struggle and hopelessness.

1. Forcing them to take up courses/careers they aren’t interested in: I was talking to this 18 year old girl who just completed form four. She says she HATES maths, she FAILED maths and she doesn’t want anything to do with it. Oh well guess what, her family still thought that being an accountant is the only way to succeed in this life.I couldn’t understand how anyone could see her misery and still force her do this. It is sad, so sad, that parents have this one track mind. Parents believe they know what is best for their children (which majority of the times is true) but sometimes this is not the reality. If someone despises something that much, what kind of life do you expect your child to have at university? Sleepless nights, over-working themselves, breaking down cause of constant failure…what for?? Is it really worth it?? Even if they indeed work their sweat off and pass their exams, what kind of a career will they have? One whereby they deal with numbers for eight constant hours, seven days a week…do you expect your child to lead a happy life? Will they be any less valuable or worthy if they didn’t become that person you expect them to be or that they didn’t follow your footsteps?? Go ask around the students at university, ask them what they study and majority will tell you they do it because they had no option. Because their parent chose this course for them. Because becoming an artist or a chef or a journalist won’t take you that far. But would it give them a chance to grow? A chance to go after their dreams? A chance to be happy? So long as it is something that can still earn them some money and is decent enough then why not?? WHY NOT?!

2. Imposing their beliefs/opinions on their children: This happens a lot. A child is rarely allowed to have his/her own opinions. So a father would tell his son, ‘A real man marries from his own tribe’ or ‘A real woman should know how to carry firewood on her back’…This and that and that..Opinions are fine but imposing them on someone else is what is wrong. What if your son would love to marry someone from a different far-off culture, does it make him any less a man? What if your daughter knows how to sew clothes instead of carrying firewood, what do we label her? As much as we’d love our children to think in a certain way or to be our copies, it is wrong to force to them think in a certain way. The best a parent can do is advise. If a child follows their own path despite your words, they’ll be the ones to face the consequences of their actions; whether good or bad. Let your children fly. If they bump into a tree and fall down, they’ll come back to you crying and seeking your wisdom. Yet still, don’t cut their wings. You can’t protect them from the word, you can only guide and pray for them.

3. Forcing/Pressurizing them into marriages: ‘I got married at 18, you are 28 and you are still single’ ‘I was a father at your age’ ‘This is the best bride you could get’. I get it, parents get worried about their children; where they are headed to, whom they’ll have a family with, whether they’ll settle down like their mates or not. We get it. It is a scary world and it’s natural for them to be worried or desire to take control of their matters. But the reality is that your son/daughter is the one who will live with that person, that it is them who will handle the responsibilities, that it is them who will live that life. At least give them the chance to choose their paths; what time they decide they are ready to settle and who they want to settle with. Don’t make them any less human for not not being married yet or for not wanting the person you chose for them.

4. Comparing them with other children: This includes comparison amongst siblings. We are all built differently, with different personalities and different emotions within us. We experience the same things differently and different things the same way. We come from different backgrounds and the words we use in our home could be banned in yours. Your child could start speaking at two years and another at four. Your child and your neighbours’ could go to the same school since kindergarten and live in the same environment, yet they’d still perform differently and have different opinions. That is how it is, even for siblings living under the same roof with the same parents. We are different. Parents tend to make this mistake to always compare their children with others. It could be in performance, achievements, beauty, neatness, skills…anything really. Yet this is how they slowly ruin their childrens’ self esteem from a very tender age.

5. Getting children mixed up with adult problems: This is in the case of divorce or separation or just parents having frequent fights amongst themselves. Many times the parents never consider the effects of these fights on their children. Many children from broken families end up having trust issues or being depressed or unable to commit to any relationship. Parents would fight over custody of children, make them choose whom they want to live with, keep repeating to them how their other parent is worthless or is a bad parent, comparing the bad habits of the children to their other parent and so on. Children end up being exposed to unnecessary drama and chaos, traumatizing them psychologically and the effects would be seen way into their adulthood.

6. Rarely showing appreciation: A child could be responsible, obedient, hardworking…but the parent would never take a minute to praise them or show them appreciation or tell them how worthy they are. But once this same child does a mistake, he/she would be lectured, insulted and maybe even not spoken to. There is no balance and as such, the child ends up feeling worthless despite everything else good that they do.

7. Absent parents: These are the worst. Because you can barely tell if these children have parents or not. They are either too busy working, or too busy fighting, or too busy travelling, or too busy with their own business, they rarely have time for their children. They could be providing for them their basic needs but they don’t offer the emotional connection they desperately need. Sometimes they are forced to take up responsibilities, bigger than their age to cover for their parents’ absenteeism. This sometimes leads to the children seeking love or any emotional bond elsewhere to compensate for what they lack.

8. Never involving children in family decisions: It all starts with the small things. If a parent involves his/her child in decision making with regards to the house issues, then the child automatically feels valued. Even if it is by asking them what food to cook today or what colour they think will be best if painted in the room. The child feels that his opinions and thoughts are welcomed, wanted and appreciated. Even if their suggestions won’t be accepted, the children will still feel proud and their confidence will obviously boost. Yet what happens when the opposite happens? A child gets home and is just informed that the next day they are moving to another town. A child gets home and his father has traveled abroad without a word. A child gets home and some of his clothes have been given out. As much as parents have the right to do whatever they want in their homes, it does certainly have an impact on a child with regards to whether or not he was informed/involved or asked his opinion. Unfortunately we tend to think asking for children’s opinions is too Western but children often surprise us with their thoughts. And it is by these small decisions that children get to assume how much their opinions are valued or not.

9. Never supporting their ventures: So your child decided to open a furniture shop instead of the tiles shop you wanted them to. You decide you won’t support them. In fact, why talk to them even? They disobeyed me. But maybe your child believes that this will work out better for them. Maybe they love dealing with furniture and decors. Maybe this is a risk they must take for them to know what they are capable of. Sometimes all a parents needs to do is show support despite the differences in opinions. One can’t say the support doesn’t matter. It definitely does. One becomes more confident when they know they have their family backing them up.

10. Parents who are too proud to accept their mistakes: Indeed we are all human beings with so many flaws. Parents sacrifice and do a lot to ensure their children have good, stable lives. No one can delete or ignore their efforts. However, parents sometimes ignore their own wrongdoings and mistakes despite them having an impact on their children. They wouldn’t accept they are wrong when they publicly embarrass their children for lack of some skills, they wouldn’t accept their mistakes when their children’s teacher complains of their absenteeism to the parents’ meetings. They wouldn’t accept they are wrong when they demoralize their own children or when they send their young children to buy them weed. So first they make the mistake and second, they demand that no one questions the way they raise their children. Having stubborn parents like that, a child may end up having low self esteem, or have the wrong view of life or themselves. The child may end up thinking that accepting mistakes means one is weak, so they follow suit. There are many ways in which this could affect a child.

As much as we love and respect our parents, maybe it is high time we said it out loud that many are the reason their children are undergoing depression or being constantly sad. They also play a role in silencing the screams from within due to the children’s’ fear. Maybe it is high time we are open about these things so that maybe, just maybe, the future generations can have better, understanding parents. Ameen!

P.S. I dare you to try talking to your parents about what’s stressing and eating you up. You never know. You just never know. It could be your gateway to a healthier relationship with them. Plus, they could help you through your dark times, who knows?!

Photo Courtesy: www.pixabay.com

The kind of lives we lead nowadays is quite sickening, disgusting and most of all, heartbreaking. Indeed this world is full of trials. All universal religions believe that we are here to be tested and on a mission to prove our faith. That aside, there are many many disappointing situations that could be avoided entirely if only we are mature enough. If only we are thoughtful, empathetic, patient and truthful to ourselves and others.

And honestly, I don’t get it. I don’t get it how our conscious is still so intact even when we know we have ruined someone’s life. How we intentionally and very soberly, mastermind the downfall of our very own friends and people who trust us. Doesn’t it bite you inside? Doesn’t it pinch you deep inside that someone somewhere cries for the difficulty you put them through? For the money you borrowed and intentionally refuse to return? For the trust they gave you before stepping on it like a used cigarette? For the times they awaited you to take responsibility for the role you play? Doesn’t it eat you up that someone wakes up in the deadliest of nights to cry to God about you. About what YOU did to them? About how you tore their hearts and how their souls ache for you or because of you? Doesn’t it bother you that you are the reason your mother no longer smiles? That someone slept hungry today? That someone gave up on life? That someone is contemplating suicide just because you have been so reckless with your words?

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I don’t get how a man carries himself, step by step, full of confidence and promises, full of charm and over-stretched smiles to a lady’s home. He marries this woman and takes her away from her loving family, from her comfortable life, from her king-sized bed, from her cute kitchen, from her tiny library that has been her source of bliss of years, just to turn her life into hell. I don’t get it, because even if this woman was having a miserable, tough life in her own home, you have no business giving her hope just to transfer her from one hell to another. I don’t get it. Were you forced to marry her? Did anyone hold a knife on your neck to take her to your home? And even if you were pushed to marry her, does she have to pay her entire life for a mistake your father, mother or grandparents did to you??

I don’t get it when parents are so irresponsible, so thoughtless, so immature, when they make their children pay for their failed marriages. I don’t get it, how you even allow yourself be the reason your child falls into depression, why your child has insomnia, why your child wants to end their life before it has even started. Why do we assign ourselves these duties if we are not ready for them? I don’t get it how we allow ourselves be the reason our children justify their depression with,’I come from a divorced family.’

I know you don’t care. Most of us don’t. We are busy faking our happiness we forget how much we damage other people. But you know what’s the scariest yet still the beauty of life? Whatever you give out is what comes back to you. Give out love and compassion and it comes back to you. Give out misery and tears and you’ll remain wondering ‘where did I go wrong?’ You want to know where you went wrong? It was that person you hurt and broke. It was that person you stole from. It was that person you oppressed. It is the prayers of that person you mistreated being answered. You are wondering why you are never succeeding in whatever you do? How misery engulfs you like charcoal on fire? Find out who you hurt; could be intentionally or even unintentionally. Their heart ache is perhaps the reason you won’t be able to smile for the next few years. Indeed, what goes around comes around. It’s all a matter of time.

Food for thought…

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Photo Courtesy: http://allswalls.com

I came across this meme the other day, it was actually a tweet of someone asking something like, “What motivates you to live?” and someone replies, “Suicide is haraam.” And you know it sounds funny but we all know there is so much truth and pain behind most of the memes. Maybe it is because they are quite relatable and you think, “Oh, at least i’m not the only miserable one.” so we just laugh it off even when are writhing in pain deep inside.

I am not sure how things got to the state we are in right now, the current generation that is. I, for one, know that several people would attempt suicide hadn’t it been illegal and an abomination in almost all cultures and religions. At this instance, many have thought of suicide, some have contemplated it, some have attempted it and some went ahead and committed it. What is so wrong about us? Is it that we are too soft or is it that we are just impatient beings who want bliss on a silver platter.

From what I always hear about the previous generations, our parents and grandparents went through a whole lot of hardship too. They would walk for hours to get education, they too suffered due to unemployment, from forced marriages, from ugly divorces, from death of parents and what not…They too suffered but it is important to note that they survived and that suicide was almost unheard of except for the abnormal or mentally ill patients or in very rare cases, the normal people. Were their hearts made from harder and metallic content different from what we are? Or are we simply the spoilt generation?… I am still trying to figure this out yet on the other hand, I do have an idea of where this springs from.

Before I go on. Wait, did you see where that famous vlogger, lady X, had lunch yesterday? Breathtaking right?!! Such a beautiful place and the food looked so delicious! After that she went for a spa…you know, those self-love stuffs we keep talking about. And Mr Y, that instagrammer with 20k followers posted this epic image of himself. He wasn’t doing anything really, but he looks so savage just how he ‘lives’ you know. Its like some people are paid for just existing. Ah, but that’s not even the who we should be talking about. There’s this fashionista who was showcasing her new wardrobe, I almost cried at how gorgeous the artistic prints are. But she is too pretty herself you know, we have to give her the due credit. My God, where are these young people getting all this money to just enjoy life? I mean, I have a job and I earn a salary yet I can’t even afford to be as happy. Sigh. Never mind. Where were we before talking about these seemingly perfect humans?

Aha. Suicide. Have you ever contemplated it? Do you feel miserable because your age mates seem to have everything figured out so well? Your age mates are going for adventures, they are getting married to these ‘perfect humans like themselves’, they are having cute babies, they go to the beach…and you? What do you do? probably nothing compared to what they do right? And that ends up messing you all the time isn’t it? Like why can’t I have any of that? Don’t I deserve it? I know for sure, if suicide wasn’t haraam, many would have tried it.

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I think the current generation, my generation, are living in a complete illusion. We are soo engrossed in portraying how our lives are okay, no, in fact, we are more than okay. We are doing too good. We want our ‘haters’ to know that we are doing quite fine even when our haters are probably just people prettier than us or perhaps more successful. We want to be fancied, to be famous, to be noticed everywhere we go. We want to be able to afford any hotel in town and so we do anything to afford that. We want to be savage, to be envied and be seen like hot chocolate. But we all know in reality what goes down in our lives don’t we? We know what we show off and all that ‘awww thank you boo’, is a lot of pretense, sadness and pain. We pressure ourselves a lot and use so much of our energy in proving that we matter, meanwhile, losing the shreds of true peace and happiness within us. For the rest who are not obsessed with being ‘somebody’, we get carried away with what we hear and see about our friends, or these very happy couples and all these famous young people and we push ourselves way too hard to at least lead a ‘good life’ like theirs.

The truth is, what we see online is not even half the truth about what our lives or anyone’s life is about. There are so many fake smiles, fake laughter and fake lives plastered up on our walls to show the world we are doing great. But in reality, everyone is struggling. Each and every human being is struggling in some way. They may not show it but before obsessing over someone’s seemingly perfect life, always keep that in mind. And I know this has been said so many times even with the celebrities themselves, but maybe we should remind one another more often.

Keep in mind that each one of us has their own special journey, their own timeline and their own milestones. Concentrate on yourself, your special self and your special journey. Be patient and love yourself. So if you are thinking of suicide, or contemplate it from time to time, do know that the world is bigger than your struggles. You shall overcome them and you will be happy by God’s will. Life has never been a straight line. No one has gone through misery throoouughout and no one has ever been entirely happy forever. There are ups and downs, so with every low remember that your high is not so far away. Be kind to one another, you never know who needs it. And always remember that when God made suicide illegal, it was because He knew he created you with enough strength within you to tackle your battles. Have faith please and pray a lot.

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I know there are a lot other factors that contribute to the increment of suicidal attempts, but I thought to discuss about this first. If your struggles are overwhelming you way too much, please seek help. Please don’t feel ashamed to be helped. If you need a counselor, email me at info@lubnah.me.ke, i’ll link you to one. You never have to go through the storms alone.

To end this, i’ll just drop this forward I received this morning. It was written by one lovely counsellor:

“In the counseling session last night, the sister, after committing 100% to starting her journey of healing and self-care took a step back and asked very sorrowfully,

“But Sr. Bela, what about the years and years of damage, isn’t it going to effect my future?”

So, after taking her through a few more therapeutic processes to answer this question, I added – the example of a man who faced years and years of damage.

He was thrown into the well by his own brothers. Wasn’t it enough to inculcate fear in him and make him lose trust in relationships? Damage. He was sold in a market. Wasn’t it enough to ruin his confidence and sabotage his self-esteem? Damage. He was invited to do an immoral act by a woman. Wasn’t it enough to make him lose his chastity? Damage. He was imprisoned for many years. Wasn’t it enough to give him the liberty of playing victim for the rest of his life? Damage.

But what happened as a result of all these damages?

He stood confidently in the court of a King convincing the king to make him – what we can understand as – a Finance Minister. The years of damage made him – PURE GOLD.

Our beloved – Yusuf A.S.

After years of trauma upon trauma, he emerged the victor.

Lesson: Your past only does to you what you allow it to do. This is the reason Prophets never dwelt on their past and remained persistently positive – came what may.

The damages and trauma come in our lives to

1- erase our sins
2- elevate our ranks
3- teach us what happiness and an easy life could never teach us.
4- make us PURE GOLD.

Take lesson. Learn. Implement and move on.

The victor inside you is waiting for it’s awakening.” – Bela Khan.

If suicide wasn’t haraam, I hope you’d be strong enough you still wouldn’t try it.

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Photo Courtesy: http://media.istockphoto.com/

2016 has been like any other year; with it’s own ups and downs, new innovations, great changes, tragedies, successes, new habits both good and bad ones. As much as we are encouraged to embrace change and accept it, there are some things that we shouldn’t be okay with, that we should STOP doing as fast as the four letters can be pronounced and that each one of us should really reconsider before doing them again. Let us make 2017 a better year.

1. Let the journalists do their work: This is one of the things that really REALLY bothers and pisses me off honestly and it makes me sad too. We are in this era whereby everyone is a citizen journalist, everyone is a photographer. Of course there is a good side and great advantages of this but we are sooo misusing the privilege. Having people take photos and videos of tragic events, heart-breaking scenarios is soo not okay. It is NOT okay to take photos of someone’s bloody body at the accident scene, of someone’s burial, of someone who just committed suicide, of a total stranger having his private time somewhere and you decide the world should laugh with you on how they had worn their dress the wrong way or make-up done so badly or whatever embarrassing moment they are facing. Or even ‘better’, making a meme out of it. For heavens sake, please just don’t. We have journalists for a reason. And we go through four years of learning for a reason. We are taught ethics which apparently many don’t have.

Sometimes, I come across very devastating situations in which I know I could create a master piece story from yet I, as a journalist refrain from taking the pic or the video because I always remind myself that I am a human being before a journalist. And this is something we should all consider before we are so quick to pull out our phones. Ask yourself this question, if I were in that same situation, would I want someone to expose me to the world like that?! Would I want that to be done if it was my mother in the bad make up? Or if it was my dad lying on the ground dead? Would I want the world my dead body’s picture circulating before even my own family is notified of my death? For those who have ever read the biography of the Bang bang club of South Africa, or watched the movie, they can tell you how photo journalists at that time suffered from guilt and depression due to the heart-breaking scenes they had to capture. One committed suicide yet his photo of a vulture waiting for a hungry child to die brought him great fame. It was all guilt…but do we have any left? He was a journalist, that was his job, yet he couldn’t stand it. What of us of the all day, all night selfie era??

Don’t say I can’t be in that situation. I can’t commit suicide. I can’t do bad make-up. I can’t I can’t…but you may do something way worse and trust me, you wouldn’t even want to admit it to your own self let alone the whole world knowing about it. We need to start acting like human beings with brains and with a heart. Act HUMAN!

2. Stop putting yourself down: Stop waiting for a miracle to happen to bring you out of your misery. You need to believe in yourself, believe that you have a purpose in this life. That you do make a difference. It doesn’t have to be world wide difference. You don’t have to be mother Theresa or Nelson Mandela for you to know that you are making a difference. You are. Because you make someone in your life happy. Because you help your friends in their difficult times. Because you love your family and they love you back. You are making a difference just by your existence. So don’t allow rain drops look like a storm. Don’t create problems that don’t exist. Don’t overthink. Just believe. Have faith. Love and love again. Be kind and never let yourself down. Remember, you are amazing! 🙂

3. Staying low key is important. It is as important as you taking your medicine on time. I personally spend a lot of time on social media because that is where all my work is but if there is anything that I learnt is; learn to separate your personal life from social media. Stop worshiping the internet. Stop giving out too many details about your life. It is okay to let your friends know when you are happy and when you are sad or when you are having a nice time somewhere. Just don’t over-do it. There are many vultures out there waiting for you to trip or maybe even your downfall. You upload your every single movement; from hotel to hotel. From outing to outing. From boyfriend to boyfriend. From meal to meal. Do you believe that people actually are happy for you just because they clicked ‘like’? or because the comments got to 100 plus? Think about it. How many are actually your friends; REAL friends? Few I am sure. What then becomes of the rest who have so much information about you to write your biography yet you are actually strangers? Doesn’t it ever scare you that you have nothing left in your life that is private and unknown to the world? Be a little bit mysterious. It has it’s own beauty.

4. Regard depression seriously. It’s high time we stopped mocking people undergoing depression. They are not attention seekers. They are not drama queens and kings. They are not weak. They are just too overwhelmed with their lives. They just need your help, your advice, your support. We need to stop telling on them like they are being delicate babies. That they are not strong enough. We need to stop pushing them away because depression is an illness of the heart just as cancer is to the body. It is real. It is deadly. It is suicidal. We shouldn’t wait until someone has harmed themselves is when we say, ‘He told me how he had suicide thoughts many times. I thought he was joking…’ Sweet heart there is no jokes on depression issues. When your friend/family/close person comes to you then give them your time, your love, your prayers and assist them in discovering God and having faith in Him and His plans.

5. New beginnings: I believe in new beginnings. I believe in making changes, meeting new people and making new discoveries. I believe in better days and happy moments. But I also believe that none of these are tied to a new year. Every new year we want to make resolutions, we want a fresh start, we want the new beginnings. Yet 1st of January is not any different with 31st December or 20th August or 23rd of March. It is a day like any other. It doesn’t come with a miracle from Santa nor does it hide any surprises. It is all but our own perception of it. The resolutions we make each year, we rarely ever fulfill them. We just make them because everyone is making their resolutions. But it should never be so. Yes I believe in making goals and what better time to make them than on a new year? Yes that is fine. I also do have my resolutions and goals each year. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until next new year for you to make the necessary changes in your life? How are you even sure you will live to the next 1st January?

Please stop complaining that it has been a terrible year, every single year! We hear the same words on and on and on, year after year. So when are you ever going to appreciate the good things that happened in the 12 months phase? Stop being a negative person. Appreciate good things when they come and be patient during tough times. And remember, change can be done any time any day even if it at midnight of a very stormy night. It’s all in your brain. You can start your new beginning right now, right this second. Who is going to stop you? Every day is a beautiful day; beautiful enough to be a fresh start 😉

It has been a year of it’s own. Let’s hope and pray that 2017 will be a more peaceful year for the whole world, a better year for us all, a year with more love and happiness than any other. May we all live to have our new beginnings and achieve our goals. Ameen 🙂

Photo Courtesy: https://www.pinterest.com/

Hey Assalam aleykum  ?

If not Muslim, hey buddy!☺

It may be one of those rough times in your life. Perhaps you are undergoing a financial collapse, a family conflict, a heart break, bad marriage, betrayal, identity crisis, quarter life crisis, mid-life crisis…you name it. Perhaps you are just feeling lost and confused. Perhaps you don’t exactly understand why you came to this world. Perhaps you don’t feel your need existing in this world. Perhaps you think this pain is too much to bear. Perhaps you wish you could disappear. Perhaps you can’t stay hungry anymore. Perhaps you have no strength to work one more day. Perhaps you are undergoing writer’s block. Perhaps things are just not working out. Perhaps you feel the very urgent need to explode. You feel low, stressed and depressed. But perhaps…all this is not as bad as it may seem.

One thing for sure; you are going to over-come this and it is going to remain as a memory. Perhaps a bad memory but it will all be in the past and what’s in the past no longer defines us.

Be rest assured, there is nothing abnormal in the kind of pain we live in. Everyone is experiencing some kind of battle, maybe not at the same time as you do but they surely do. Don’t see happy faces full of smiles, walking on the shores of the beach and going for shopping sprees and you start thinking ‘why the hell is my life like this? And not like that?’ The only difference comes in how we deal with that pain. You are the one to choose whether you are going to let go of what is eating you up, whether you will forgive others and yourself and whether you will stand up after that terrible fall.

Sometimes too many things collapse at the same time especially when you are in your 20’s. This is the time when just almost everything seems to be falling on your head. Identity crisis; you don’t even know what you want in your life, betrayals; you start seeing the claws of the dearest people to you, University’s chaotic life, financial problems, Career search that never ends, transition into marriage life etc etc. This could be like “hello! Welcome to the real world” call. You start seeing truths you’d never want to know but you are forced to stare into that horrible reality for some time and maybe for a longer time than you expected. But hey! Don’t despair.

I am just going to tell you 3 things that I hope you can take note of.

1.Dear, you are not alone. You are definitely not alone in this. Perhaps you consider yourself such an awful person or you feel so lonely and don’t expect anyone to even cry if you died this moment. Maybe you think that you are better off six feet under with only soil to hug you. Do know this; people do love you. It may be one person, three, ten or even a dozen it doesn’t matter the number. What matters is that this person or these people can cross oceans for your sake. However many your flaws may be, these people truly and sincerely care for you. Some even look up to you, they probably even consider you their mentor and role model while you are just not aware of it. Do know that to someone out there, you are really needed in this life. Your existence is crucial for them so don’t let the sadness sweep you off your feet forever. Don’t disappoint them by letting yourself sink in that wavy ocean. They need you to stand up NOW. You are Needed.

2.You are allowed to feel the pain. It is just a phase of life. It is okay to experience it and embrace it. Just don’t allow yourself to stay too long in the darkness. Cry, mourn, talk it out if you need to but don’t let it take over your life. Just take enough time to grieve but not too long to make sadness and loneliness a part of you. It is all about learning how to stand up after that great fall. You can do it ?

3.I’d like to give you an example here. Let’s say you admire some girl out there (or the vice versa) and you really want her/him to talk to you. You want the attention. So what do you do? You create a problem for them so that they can come to ask for help from you. If you know that she can’t fix a puncture you intentionally prick her car tires so that she may ask for your help. You know that she may ask for help from her other mates but sometimes no one can help except you. So she will come, eventually; sooner or later. Patience here is crucial. When this problem is over you make her computer crash. And then maybe put a virus in her flash disk. It could go on and on. It depends on how much you love that person. The more you love them the more you want them to talk to you and thus, the more difficult situations you create for them. It doesn’t mean you want to harm them does it? It just means you love them so much that you would want them to know how much you are crucial in their lives. This is the same thing with God. Well not exactly but almost. God doesn’t need your attention in fact, you need His! But when He loves one of His creations, He keeps testing them again and again. He knows you will go to your mother for assistance or your best friend or your neighbour but eventually you realize that no one can help you except Him. Now look at all these problems you are whining about. See how God loves you? See how much He wants you to talk to Him? See how much He wants you to seek help from Him? For He is more than ready to help you! He is just waiting for you to call unto Him. What are you waiting for buddy?!

With that said, please rub off those tears. Please be patient. Please have faith in God. Please believe in yourself. Do your best and let destiny take you places. Do not under-value yourself. Be happy and grateful with the good things in your life. Do not worry too much over what’s going to happen next. Let the flow flow! Keep talking to Him and you’d be amazed what great plans He has for you. Better things coming buddy! In shaa Allah. Now don’t let that smile fade from your face. You just don’t know how pretty it makes you look! ?