Since I began my career in mental health, I have witnessed first-hand the high dependence on prescription drugs as a means of mental health management; not to mention also the vast array of negative side effects that this usually entails. My first frustrations came about while working in a hospital environment, witnessing not just the large amount of toxic medication the patients were expected to consume on a regular basis, but also the immense lack of alternative, natural therapies available to them. Quality nutrition, physical exercise, spiritual engagement; all of these seemingly completely lacking, as pills and injections were solely relied upon to treat every ailment and disease. I am not denying the important role that medication can play, which in certain cases can even make the significant difference between serious risk of severe physical aggression, to calm, sociable and compliant. However, while it might be a more convenient quick-fix to ‘numb’ the problem, what are we doing in regards to long-term health, personal development and rehabilitation?
Even in terms of our own health and wellbeing, everything is sought after as a quick-fix. Whether your suffering stems from a cold, mild depression, or a long-term disease, we aim to get rid of the symptoms without necessarily addressing the cause. An illness is often seen as a hurdle to overcome, or an inconvenience to be put up with until it goes away. Yet often this illness is merely a messenger, a prompt or a reminder that our body or our soul is being neglected in some way. By chugging down whichever dosage the pharmacist suggests to us, we are simply shooting the messenger without listening to what it has to say, and are missing an opportunity to make significant, dramatic improvements to our entire health and happiness. Whether we are talking about mental health or physical health, medicine alone will never give you a complete, whole cure. Nor is medicine alone the only tool capable of providing effective, genuine, life-changing healing.
We send down the Qur’an as healing and mercy” (Qur’an 17:82)
Through Tayyib Wellbeing, I intend to share and promote natural and holistic methods for achieving optimal health of mind, body and spirit, as inspired by our Qur’an and the example led in the sunnah/lifestyle of our Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him). By looking into subjects such as Islamic psychology, prophetic medicine, and our biological connections with the nature around us, as per Allah’s design, I hope to reflect upon and identify the many ways we can reach optimal wellbeing in a way that doesn’t require synthetic, toxic medications.
Figures collected by the Health and Social Care Information Centre suggest that 43% of men and 50% of women in England are now regularly taking prescription drugs. The same report also influenced some media controversy over the number of people taking antidepressants, with figures being particularly high for women on a low income. Mental health and physical health so often go hand-in-hand, and looking at our food and lifestyle habits as a nation, it’s no wonder these figures sit so high. We barely need to glance at statistics to understand the enormous health epidemic currently sweeping the West, with cancer and heart-related diseases being the main two killers by a frighteningly substantial percentage.
Our health is the most valuable thing we can ever hold on to, and yet we often do so little to maintain it. While we so frequently use various analogies such as rollercoasters and unpredictable journeys in order to depict the uncertainty of our lives, what we forget – or perhaps ignore – is the huge amount of control we actually do have. We make the mistake of gliding through life like a Scalextric car, obediently following one appointed track, with zero thoughts on steering or alternative routes – with maybe the odd clattering dramatic derail when forgetting to slow down for the corners. We are missing our opportunities and ignoring our responsibilities. We have so much control over how good we feel and how happy we are – we are not given one set track; we are given choices, options; we are gifted with free-will.
Of course life is unpredictable – far less predictable than a Scalextric track – and we have very little way of knowing what unexpected events lay ahead on our path. But what we do have control over is what we do in order to prepare for such possible events, and how we react to them when they come. According to researchers in America, our happiness levels are determined 50% by our genes, just 10% by our circumstances, and a huge 40% by intentional behaviour. So, it’s time to realign our intentions; it’s time to use our choice. It’s time to stop being patients, and start being people. It’s time to start living wholesomely, upon what is natural and pure – known in Arabic as ‘tayyib’.