In 2007, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had struggled with it since I was 14 years old but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I was officially diagnosed and put on medication. After a few false starts, I found a combination that worked. With attention to diet, exercise and spirituality I found my life was changed forever in a good way. I could make long-term plans for myself without losing hope that four or three months down the road I would be in a deep dark depression.
Although I came to terms with the disorder, I still felt ashamed of it. I started an anonymous blog so I could write about my struggle with it without feeling exposed.
Every Ramadan, I started fasting with the intention of completing the whole month. Every Ramadan, I stopped fasting halfway, in tears because my disorder reared its ugly head with another episode. This Ramadan has been no different. People with bipolar disorder are very sensitive to changes in routine, especially sleep. Waking up at 4 a.m. and going to sleep after midnight threw me into a tailspin. I started missing more and more salah until I had fasted for two days without praying. I’ve just had to put the brakes on and get my priorities straight. Do I want to be healthy and pray on time, or fast and not pray because I’m depressed or hyper-manic?
“I wish my illness knew how great my life was so it would leave me alone.”
I saw this quote on PostSecret one day. It completely encapsulates how I feel.
I still want to try fasting a few days so I can feel a connection to my family as they fast this Ramadan. I have to take care of my health too. Reading Saba’s Ramadan Tale at Morning Wind inspired me to write this post. I’m not the only one struggling and feeling frustrated because I feel like a bad or not-good-enough Muslim.
I hope I can make up for it. I hope Allah knows I tried, and am trying. I hope it is enough.