An Uninvited Guest

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an uninvited guest
settles in the valley of my heart
makes a home within my chest
and refuses to depart

the mountains of my lungs
are crumbling down beneath his weight
as he pollutes the peace once there
with oppression and hate

there are waves of emotions
that pound against my veins
lost in a whirl of wind
as they rage in a hurricane

the currents get rough
and I find myself lost at sea
within a jagged ocean as vast
as the emptiness I flee

my nights have grown longer
as I struggle to fall asleep
my days have blurred together
and my body has grown weak

tracks run over my wrist
as the departing train voices its last call
is it better to feel pain
than to feel nothing at all?

emotions cloud my thoughts
smoke fogs up my mind
they tell me I’m not good enough
that I’m not worth it to the Divine

my faith is shaking
I can’t find who I am
I am enchained by anxiety
as desolation takes command

saltwater shakes my core
and spills over the rims of my eyes
as the ocean drowns me
I succumb to numbness inside

I frantically glance into the distance
and find His lighthouse shining from miles away
guiding me home
from tides that make me stray

He shows me the universe;
constellations trace my skin
and even when I’m breaking,
my galaxies shine from stardust within

He shows me the dawn;
as it breaks, so do I
but there’s a beauty in my breaking
as red and gold paint the morning sky

To Him I am worth more
than this world entirely
and that’s all I need to overcome
my haunting thoughts of mortality

an honorable guest
has settled in the valley of my heart
He illuminates it with hope and light
in places I’ve broken apart

Mental health disorders have been plaguing both Muslim and non-Muslim communities at an increasing rate. One in five adults suffer with a mental illness each year within the United States1. More Americans struggle with depression than they do with coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS2. Unfortunately, stigmas founded on misunderstandings of mental illnesses are common. Some may, for example, wrongfully attack the faith of someone who is depressed by claiming it to be weak.  Others may inappropriately label the lack of energy that a depressed individual struggles with as laziness. In turn, those that are suffering turn away from getting the professional help that they need from fear of what people may say.

The “uninvited guest” in this poem refers to depression. The poem’s title aims to demonstrate that depression is just as real as any other physical disease that one may have. It isn’t a state that those suffering choose to be in; rather, depression appears uninvited and begins to govern the mind and body of the victim.

As a young Muslim, I have witnessed many of my close friends struggle with depression. I wrote this poem to bring to light their challenges so that we may put ourselves in their shoes and get a glimpse of what it truly feels like from their perspective. The poem in particular follows a story of an individual who is in agony on the inside and has been afflicting pain to themselves through “tracks” or cuts on their wrist. They contemplate suicide but ultimately overcome that thought through recognition of the worth that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) attributes to them. By reflecting on the beauty in the world that He created, they begin to see the beauty that He has similarly placed within themselves as well.

Overall, the purpose of this poem is to share the complex nature of depression, the thoughts that may plague the minds of those that are depressed, and ways in which we can all look at the signs around us to remember our Creator, our purpose, and our worth in times that we feel lost and hopeless. I believe that by sharing experiences and having open and honest conversations about mental health, we can become a step closer to shattering stigmas and improving access to treatment and services as a community.

Mental Health By the Numbers – National Alliance on Mental Illness
Suicide Facts and Figures – Overnight Walk

Shaziya Barkat is currently a student pharmacist at Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Pharmacy. Aside from her interest in pharmacy, she also holds a strong passion for photography, art, reading, and writing. Shaziya believes that with words comes self-expression and that everyone has a story that needs to be heard. She joined MYM in hopes of using her passion for writing to not only self-reflect upon her life and Islam, but also to depict the day to day struggles, hopes, experiences, and perspectives of a young Muslim woman.


  1. Mental illnesses are such an important topic to talk about, especially in the Muslim community. Thank you for talking about them with such beautiful words. Also, the lines ‘He shows me the dawn;/
    as it breaks, so do I’ are absolutely gorgeous, mashaAllah.

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