The process of memorisation can be difficult and time-consuming, and it is not uncommon for people to experience feelings of sadness, frustration, and hopelessness along the way. But when you have depression, your symptoms can worsen.

If you are one of those people struggling with depression while trying to memorise the Qur’ān, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people face similar challenges, and there are a number of strategies that can help you overcome them and stay motivated.

Set realistic goals rooted in a routine and environment

One of the most effective ways to fight depression during the memorisation or study process is to set realistic goals for yourself. It is important to understand that memorising the Qur’ān is a long-term project, and it will take time and effort to achieve your goals.

Instead of setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, try to break the memorisation process down into smaller, more manageable goals or milestones. For example, you might set a goal to memorise a certain number of verses a day, week, or month, or to complete a specific surah within a certain time frame. By setting realistic goals for yourself, you can help to prevent feelings of frustration and disappointment, and stay motivated to continue memorising the Qur’ān.

Routine is really important too. It will make it easier for you to do things even if you don’t want to. I recommend that you make use of a digital tool for this like Notion, Google Calendar, or something else because you can move things around and make edits. If you have depression and you have a written list of things in a routine and you don’t do them, it can have a negative impact.

Environment changes can help you too. With every action you have in your routine, you should have a different environment attached to it. This will help improve your mood and get you out of an environment that might be negatively impacting you.

More severe depression would require more attention. You would need accountability if you’re really down and you can’t do anything. This is a situation where you can’t help yourself and need an extra hand.

Plan every single day

When you have depression, your mind can become disorganised with thoughts and scattered memory. This leads to memory fog and focus issues. It is not uncommon to find those that have depression to suffer from memory loss.

When you plan your day, you can organise your thoughts better. This will help your memorisation of the Qur’ān or any other studies. Because a disorganised mind due to depression causes you to become overwhelmed and emotionally tired. This often results in you not wanting to memorise or feeling like you have no energy to.

Keep a dysfunctional thought record

Dysfunctional thoughts are thinking patterns that prevent you from having a clear perspective on your life. They can cause you to jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and distort facts. When you have depression and you have goals that you want to achieve – dysfunctional thoughts need to be addressed.

I recommend you read “Cognitive Distortions: Unhelpful Thinking Habits” to learn more about this. Therapists suggest keeping a dysfunctional thought record so that you can identify your cognitive distortions.

Keep a memory bank

Shaykh Dr ‘Āsim Yūsuf (also known as Tālib al-Habib) mentions that we should create a memory bank where we store a record of all the things we have had good memories of. Maybe write them all down. Keep writing and maintaining this bank. You can also write down all the verses that you enjoyed memorising and that went well for you. Write down all the things that have been good. Similar to the set of intentions, you can even add a pocket to your Mus’haf and when you are feeling down, read and recall them.

Learn about your trigger and face them

Have multiple plans to deal with any pressure you face or anything that is a trigger point for you. A recommendation is to make a list of the top 5 triggers that send you downwards. It can be anything. It can be related to your performance, exams, lectures, or recitation, whatever they are write them down.

When you write them down, also write down what happens to you when you experience it and what you will do if it happens. Let’s say for example, every time you make a mistake or two you start to feel down. So you might write down that you will listen to a motivational clip when it happens so that you are reminded and feel better.

Strong support systems

Another key strategy for fighting depression during the memorisation process is to surround yourself with supportive people. The journey of memorising the Qur’ān can be a lonely and isolating experience, especially if you are not surrounded by others who are also pursuing this goal. If you do not have friends or family members who are memorising the Qur’ān, consider joining a study group or online community where you can connect with others who perhaps are going through the same experiences.

Make your support systems bigger than just friends or family, include teachers, community leaders, your wider community, and people that are trustworthy. It can even be your friendly bus driver or your friendly uncle or aunty.

Isolation causes many issues and you must take care to address them.

Make sure you are taking care of your health

Perhaps you are not sleeping well, this can cause issues. Take account of what you are eating. Take time to get outdoors, exercise, meditate (dhikr and adhkār are important), and smile. Go for a walk or go swimming. If you feel that you are disconnected from people, purpose, goals, meaning, or anything like that then seek it. This will also help your depression immensely.

Disconnections are often what causes depression. These can be feeling a disconnect from meaningful work, from other people, meaningful values, trauma, status and respect, the natural world, and a hopeful and secure future. A reconnection can cure depression. These are causes identified in Johann Hari’s work, Lost Connections.

Listen to more Qur’ān and positive words

Start listening to your favourite recitation and speakers with positive words and energy. Often listening to Qur’ān might mean that you are triggered leading to feelings of sadness, guilt, and burden. In this case, listen to a recitation that gives you a sense of peace and warmth. You can listen to motivational clips or something that gives you a kick.

Prevention is a cure

Preventing depression itself can come from a number of things. One of these is changes to your lifestyle. Becoming more active will lead to a stronger mental and emotional presence. Today, many of us sit idle for hours of the day. We engage in non-reasonable browsing of the internet and sit alone for hours. These are not healthy. Screen time and social media can actually lead you to depression. It can lead to agitation and anxiety such that sounds and responsibilities in the house begin to irritate you. One of the best things you can do is to go to sleep early and wake up early. Wake up at Fajr and recite Qur’ān. There is a blessing in the morning for the Ummah.

Strive to become a person of Allāh

Our Deen speaks about sadness, anxiety, and depression. Allāh knows us. He knows our secrets and what is even more hidden than that. He knows what makes us tick and how we work. Our Deen is catered to dealing with the questions of human depression.

أَلَآ إِنَّ أَوْلِيَآءَ ٱللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
There will certainly be no fear for the close servants of Allāh, nor will they grieve. [10:62]

These are words that come again and again in the Qur’ān describing the people of Allāh and those who attain paradise. They are not anxious nor are they depressed. With closeness to Allāh comes felicity. They are those that submit themselves to Allāh. Strive to become close through obedience, good character and behaviour with others, and attachment to at least one good deed with a pure heart. Turning or returning (tawbah) to Allāh. Making gratitude and remembrance. Turning to Allāh with hope and fear, faith and trust, love and contentment, sincerity, trueness, and yearning for Him. Watching over yourself and going out looking at His creation.

When we look at the Prophet (ﷺ) we see loss and gain, emotional challenges, and a rollercoaster of emotions. When you look at all the prophets, you see constant turbulence. They all experienced weeping, worry, joy, and ease. You see it with the greatest generation; the noble companions (May Allāh be pleased with them and make us like them). They were all recognised and consoled by Allāh through His Revelation.

Make sure you are doing things for yourself

One of the things that can happen when you are memorising is that you become so consumed in the journey that you begin to neglect your other needs. This eventually causes internal turbulence. You should have at least one positive and healthy thing that you do throughout the journey. This can be sports (archery, swimming, wrestling, horse riding, or ball games for example) or other activities. Visit the sick or those in need and support them. Be of service to someone. These help you regulate your well-being.

Get professional help

It’s very important to seek support from professionals if you feel depressed or face any symptoms that cause disturbances in your daily life. Benefit from the professional help in understanding what you are going through. Identify your triggers and identify how you can get better.

Usually a support system has two layers. You would have a base of core support from people who care about you and who know how to help. This would be therapists, counselors, or other professionals, family, friends, and peer support groups. Then you would have people who care about you but don’t know how to help. These people should not be the core support because all they can do is offer love or a listening ear.

May Allāh grant you ease, comfort, health and wellbeing!

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