Dealing with mental health issues at high school

I like to avoid thinking about my time in high school as best I can. It was painful. It was torturous (though admittedly, simply going out with your mom and shopping for shoes can be torturous, at that age—it can be seen as “not cool”). In any case, I really didn’t like that time, in my life.

There are a lot of people who didn’t have good high school years, of course. But I think I could easily vie for a spot in “the people who had the worst experiences in high school” list (hey, Buzzfeed! I have your next idea). I really struggled, during that time, and had a lot thrown at me.

I know I need to be careful with sharing negative experiences…I don’t want to insinuate the “I’ve been through more than you” thing (which leads to a “holier-than-thou” projection). That would be unintelligent, as well, because you may have had it much worse than I did, those years ago. So, once the aspect of who had it worse than who is disregarded, it becomes clear that everyone’s experiences are important and should be appreciated.

Returning to the subject, high school was hard for me because of my severe mental health issues, which included psychotic depression and anxiety. These illnesses made it hard to behave normally in my own room at home, let alone in school. And to make matters worse, I was taking medication that was ineffective and ultimately the wrong treatment during my high school years. I was probably misdiagnosed by my health care providers in all honesty.

As a result of having psychotic depression and not taking effective treatment, I felt terrified that people were watching and plotting against me. Though it sounds like a spy movie or a psychological thriller, I truly believed I was being scrutinised, followed, and plotted against by certain malevolent people (as do many people who suffer from psychotic illnesses). I could never say why I was being hounded by them, or who these people were, exactly. But needless to say, I was very scared, and I cried vehemently to my family about this problem, many times (along with complaining about other mental illness symptoms). And they did everything they could to comfort me, and get me the right treatment and doctor. Despite their efforts, it wasn’t until the summer after eleventh grade that I saw a doctor who put me on a certain med, which alleviated my psychotic symptoms. I felt better, and the people who were watching me faded away, to a large extent.

I feel a lot better than I did back in high school. And the one thing that pulled me through, honestly, was this deen.

Seeing this doctor and being put on a med that worked for me was after I had already left public high school, though, and had begun home-school. I stopped attending high school because it was too hard to fight the demons in my own head and take classes, at the same time. Too hard to go every day and try to act normal, when in reality the world around me was frightening and torturous.


These days, I am a junior in college. Though I still have a lot of mental health issues (like bad anxiety, cognitive difficulties and fragments of paranoia), I feel a lot better than I did back in high school. And the one thing that pulled me through, honestly, was this deen. People these days (myself included—I’m not exempt from this) take Islam for granted…They are half-hearted about their salah, they neglect the Islamic code of conduct with their fellow humans, they don’t open the Qur’an and read what’s in there…But meanwhile, it is Islam that delivered me (and many others) from destruction and misery. If every Muslim could remember that this deen is stronger than any other force on earth, they would not take it for granted. (And Islam surely is the strongest force on earth, as the holy book teaches us:

“If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah.” The Holy Quran (59:21)

Islam is powerful – it can counter any sickness, mend any broken soul, and save any person from trouble. Attending school while my brain was crumbling was hard. But Allah s.w.t. got me through it. Because Allah is the Most Strong. And His plan is the one that will go through, in every situation. Alhamdulillah.