Should I care about Ramadan?

One of my closest friends is Muslim. Not something that makes her any different from any of my other friends. Everyone of my friends have different attributes but this makes her no less better than any other. This friend of mine is currently coming to the end of Ramadan. Something I knew of in some detail, parts learnt from at school.

This year my friend told me she really wants to be a good Muslim and dedicate her efforts to Ramadan. This made me realise that I should probably learn more about it due to how important it is to her. It was the least I could do after all the support she gives me.

Through my search I learn more than just the usually “You can eat and drink until evenings”. Depending on how far into it a Muslim wants to go they can also avoid music and TV, these are distractions from god. This month is all about a person’s concentration and dedication to god. A month to put other luxuries aside and really reflect/pray.

I also learnt a few phrases that I could use during Ramadan to be respectful: Ramadan Mubarak (have a blessed or generous Ramadan), Iftar (Break fast), Assalamu Alaikum (peace be upon you). When I started to explain to my friend that I had learnt these and started to use them she was so grateful. Just a simple thing but massively appreciated.

My friend really wanted to nail it this year and my brain said “Hey how about you tell her you’ll join a few days, so she won’t be the only one. If you can fast (a person who LOVES food) maybe she’ll realise she’s stronger than she thinks”. Maybe it was a silly idea, but I really wanted to show a little support. Now am I in NO way saying you have to fast in order to support your Muslim friends but it was just something I was really interested in.

So Last Thursday I decided that would be my fasting day. I asked my friend for a schedule of when they pray and eat. I wanted set aside time to reflect at prayer time to see what a full day entailed.

Wednesday at around 7pm was the last time I ate. I first woke up at around 2:30 for Fajr, shortly after I went back to sleep. When I woke up at 8am I wasn’t hungry, my day was like any other. I carried on with my day making a mental note to not have a drink or to just pick up any food I see around the house for a snack. I began my day reading, trying to avoid anything that is considered haram (sinful or distracting things).

It was when 11am when the hunger started to roll round. It wasn’t very intense it was just a conscious thought that my body was ready to eat. It was easier not to think about at first. So, I carried on with my day, cleaning my room was my next task. Due to me soon having to run a marathon I had a protein bar for when I run. I just saw it and I grabbed it. I was going to eat it, but then my brain suddenly realised that’s completely the opposite to what I’m meant to be doing right now.

It was a very strange sensation, being hungry, your body telling you its way over due for something to eat. But my brain telling me we just needed to wait a little longer and carry on with what I was doing. Eventually this feeling was easier to get on with. This day continued on and I did little bits to keep me occupied.

That night I was cooking for my family. It was weird to cook and not be able to pick at the little bits I’d cut up or cooked. This actually made me realise that I probably shouldn’t eat half my dinner before it gets on my plate. It sounds stupid but waiting for it to be finished seemed more worth it.

The last 3 hours before Maghrib seemed slow. It was hard not to think about the food that was to come after. But if I had waited this long to eat I might as well stick it out. That’s exactly what I did, I waited and when I finally ate it was all gone quickly, much to my stomach surprise. But the food was good. Made me appreciated the food just that little bit more. I did find myself extremely full after 2 wraps. My favourite part of it all was being able to have a drink. It was just so satisfying to be able to hydrate myself.

After this I felt drained of all my energy and found myself in bed and asleep not long after 10pm. When I think back now I can only respect my Muslim friends. Now myself I’m not a religious person. But I can respect those who have a belief in something bigger than themselves. To fast for a month really takes a dedication that I’m sure many people don’t possess. It’s a loyalty like no other, I’ve witnessed.

After fasting for just a day I feel like I know a bit more into the lives of those around me, that I can now understand and respect them more that before. I think just doing more research and asking my friend questions about her religion is important. Nobody is saying you must be Muslim but its just nice to show interests into what those around you care about. Be open minded about the stuff you don’t understand. Be educated and respectful.

My small glimpse into Ramadan was eye opening to say the least.

What does Ramadan mean to others?

“Ramadan is the 9th and most holiest month on the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims all over the world fast from dawn until dusk.

A lot of people think that Ramadan is all about fasting, abstaining from food and water but it’s so much more. Ramadan was the month that the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (swa), therefore commencing the religion of Islam. Muslims take this month to become as spiritually connected to God as possible by solely focusing on worship and abstaining from all the distractions of everyday life.

To me, Ramadan is a time of reflection. To reflect on who I am as a person and most importantly, my relationship with God. I often allow myself to get lost in everyday life, with all the small problems it brings and forget to remember why I am where I am in the first place.

By taking eating and drinking out of my daily routine, I realise just how much time and effort we put into something that isn’t that important. Humans can last up to 3 days without water and three weeks without food so fasting for one day isn’t that impossible. It teaches you patients, something that is very important in Islam and it’s also really good for your body health wise. Many doctors have said that fasting has massive health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. It also makes you appreciate food and water so much more then you usually and you’ll be surprised how much free time it gives you to focus on the more important things.

I always feel so happy when people take the time to learn about this month and what it’s all about. Of course, I appreciate when people say “Oh I won’t eat if your fasting.” or “Let’s not talk about food.” but what they don’t realise is that the whole purpose of fasting is to test yourself and better yourself personally. Although it is very considerate to say those things, it’s even better when you ask “do you mind if I eat?” because that way you are giving the fasting person a choice and, more times than you would expect they will be fine with it. People often find fasting become easier over time and will want you to be at ease around them. If they do find themselves struggling or leaning towards temptation, they then have the opportunity to turn to God for strength and guidance, therefore improving their relationship with God.”

–          Aisha

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Mental health awareness week

We all have our own stories. Everyone’s lives seem to be entwined with some sort of pain. My story is one of thousands upon thousands. In my life right now, I feel like I’m in a place to share the pains I’ve gone through even though I’ve been told time and time again I’m too young to have experienced depression or pain.

Throughout my whole life I always been quite bubbly and energetic. It’s a quality that has made people love or hate me over the years. I’m content in that, we can’t be loved by everyone. But sadly, I’ve always felt the need to be liked by people and I’ve always needed to impress those around me to make them proud. This is still my biggest flaw to this day. No matter what you do there will always be somebody left unhappy by your choices.

During my high school experience, the pressure of GCSE’s and A levels was one that was beginning to become unbearable. There was never a direct conversation that I had with my parents, but they always held high hopes for me, why shouldn’t they? I worked hard and even though teachers told my parents I would struggle to catch up with everyone due to how young I am I still did well. The need to make my family proud and prove to them all that I could do well was a huge weight on me and I put it their myself. The pressures put on me by those doing well around me but also already at a young age considering my future was a drive to do well. I don’t really think I considered how I was feeling as I got caught up in these feelings. I had to work extra hard as I was failing to get a C in maths and being told I had to attended morning math sessions and summer holiday sessions in hopes of passing. It was all too much.

It was during year 10/11 when things really started to get bad. School pressure was high, I was having problems with my friends and slowly in between it all I was losing myself. I became more withdraw from my friends and family. I started listening to darker music, a way to cope with my emotions. I feel it was these times I argued the most with my parents. I don’t think it was just this making me sad, there was a cloud over my head which was already causing me to feel down, I’m not sure where it came from.

It was this period I started self-harming. Life’s biggest regret. I remember knowing of self-harm and I always told myself that it was dumb, something that I’d never consider. To ask me how then that I ended up starting is still a mystery. I’ve tried to block many memories of those times, a sort of defence mechanism it seems. But all I remember is it all seemed to happen all at once. I could go weeks without needing to do it again. But it seemed that eventually it was my only outlet and sometimes and punishment on myself for not doing well enough. I’ve seen interviews of celebrities say why they self-harmed. Will smith’s daughter recently said something that made complete sense to me, he physical self didn’t match her mental self when she was hurting, it kind of let her match how she felt. Maybe that was it. I remember getting to 3 months and thinking I’m never gonna be able to stop this and I’d relapse. I think I made it to about 6 months and relapsing and it broke my own heart, it was so hard to get to that point. During this time, I put so much pressure on one of my friends and this I will forever regret. He would help put my broken pieces together and make me forget even just for a little bit.

Finally, I got to my A levels and to say I was fed up of the same shit was an understatement. It was draining, hiding the pain. A friend at the time suggested seeing the school counsellor, but the fear of my parents finding out was crippling me. They wouldn’t underhand, how could they when I barely got it myself. I was told that the counsellor couldn’t call home it was a breach of privacy. So, I booked my appointment and it finally came around. I was nervous, absolutely crapping my pants. But I let it all out and to be honest I can’t even remember everything we spoke about. My heart broke into a thousand pieces when she told me that she feared me to be a risk to myself and that now she was going to have to inform my parents.

I knew what was coming next. There was no escaping my reality now. I remember rehearsing for my exam after school and getting a call from my mum, “I’m gonna pick you up, think we need to talk.”. I’ll never forget how hard my heart was beating in my chest. When I got home both my parents were there, which is rare as they work late. I felt cornered. They confronted me, I tried to explain but I couldn’t. I felt stupid, I couldn’t even give them the answer they were looking for. One thing I regret today is they asked if I wanted to go speak to somebody. I didn’t want to cause them any more bother and I didn’t want to accept my reality to I declined that offer.

Things were weird after that, I couldn’t hide anymore. It was out in the open. But from this my family opened up to me about their own struggles. I might not have appreciated it all back then as it was all very overwhelming, but I do now. I only self-harmed one more time after they found out. I somehow decided that enough was enough and I was done living and ‘coping’ like that. If you ask me how I did it, I can’t tell you how.

Now my mental health didn’t get hugely better. I didn’t feel as consumed with sadness, but I would go through bad patches. When I reached uni I was struggling with the change and the uni culture that I didn’t fit into. A family member who was also at uni told me they had seen a counsellor through the uni. Now there was no chance they could go ringing home, so I booked my appointment.

Seeing my uni counsellor was the start of my understanding of my sadness and pain. We spoke through how I felt, and I soon realised I was working out why I acted certain ways or felt certain ways. I was finally get an understanding. This made me feel liberated, I was finally taking my mental health and seeing why it was the way it was. Me and my counsellor after 4 sessions had discussed all we needed to and agreed that I was better than when I walked in.

So, am I fixed? No but do I want to be fixed? Not really. I don’t want to ever be as bad as I was but, I’ve learned a lot about myself and for how far I’ve come I’m proud. To be honest I didn’t think I’d be here and where I am today. I used to think about life to bleakly but now I see all the potential there is. I may still struggle, and I may always but now I feel like I can actually live life a little.

I hope sharing this can help people to open up to their own stories and reach out. As scary as it was for my parents finding out and maybe they didn’t understand but seeking out help and talking to others really does help. Even if it is a uni counsellor for a few sessions.

Let your pain be heard ❤

Body confidence

For my first real blog post its quite a heavy topic to start on. However, its one that’s been playing on my mind recently. I also feel like this is something everyone struggles with at least one time in their lives if not more.

When I was younger I was never the slimmest of children and I wasn’t the tallest of children. My Nana was always spoiling me when she way me and picked me up from school. We’d go to the shop behind my school when I finished, and I was always allowed to buy a chocolate bar and a packed of crisps. Very healthy I know. I also loved to have a cheese sandwich with tomato ketchup when I got back to hers. Much to my waistlines sadness I wasn’t always the slimmest of children, but all kids have some chub.

From the age of 7 my mum finally had enough of me walking up to the TV so she dragged me to the opticians where I found out I was in fact very blind. I’m 19 in a couple of months and I still wear glasses. Its been almost 12 years and yet I still can’t get used to wearing them. Sometimes I find myself taking them off around certain people I like or not wearing them to certain occasions because I feel like my glasses make me ‘ugly’. It amazes me when I reflect at how you can live with something every day and yet you still find it hard to get over. This is something I strive to appreciate and embrace as it will always be in my life.

So, picture a chubby little kid with glasses in school. It wasn’t really the look any kid wanted, I was always trying to fit in with my friends who I considered the pretty ones. It might seem silly, but even these small things from my childhood build up ideas about myself that still stick today.

Maybe the media is to blame? Maybe it’s the people around us to blame? Maybe I’m to blame? I’m not sure. But I do know my mental health had a HUGE impact on how I felt about myself. For many years during college I did self-harm, and this had a huge impact on my confidence. As I started my recovery I started to gain more confidence. I realised that the negative thoughts I had weren’t all that true.

I have always felt a great need to impress people and this is where my downfall lies. No matter what it is I always feel a need to make others happy even if its causes me to feel bad. I still do this, but I’ve come to realise this, and I try to work against doing this. I need to link less of others opinion of me and care more about what I think about myself.

What I used to do and still do some may consider self-centred, but I stand in front of a long mirror and look at myself, whether its clothed or not. I try to get used to looking at who I am, I look for the part that I love, the parts that make me smile. It was hard at first but eventually I started to realise that I liked my shape. Some days even know I look in the mirror and that can be enough to start my day of badly. Its all a work in progress.

Now I’m at a point where I’m okay with myself. I still have very bad days, but I always have good days. I still have days where I try on a million different outfits and still hate myself in everything I try. Sadly my lack of confidence can lead me to not want to go out with people. But I’m slowly getting there. I’m trying to find more ways of being comfortable in my skin. One of these ways is through my tattoos and piercings. Another is experimenting with fashion. I also trying to use a face mask once a week and relax after a shower. Caring for yourself is so important and sometimes we get so caught up in the world we don’t take a second for ourselves.

If I’ve learnt anything from my little experience of life is:

1.       Its okay not to be okay. We are allowed to feel how we feel, good or bad.

2.       Life is too short. Try and embrace life because things happen and change so quickly.

There’s more to my body confidence than just these little things but I just wanted to give people a taste of how I feel. I hope that maybe when somebody reads this that they can maybe relate and feel able to discuss how they feel with others.

Music suggestion –

Palace by BROCKHAMPTON

Welcome

Welcome to my blog,

Over the past few weeks I’ve been pondering on if I should do this or not. Some people I know have mentioned that I should give it a go. So here I am. This blog will entail some of the things I get up to with my theatre course at university (and what happens in uni life in general). But I also want to use this blog for more than just posts about what I’m doing, I want to share personal details of my life. I want to discuss deep topics and hope that maybe I can open a conversation for people. So, keep your eye’s peeled for more things to come.

Sending you all love,

Lucy

–          Music suggestion: I wont dance by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga