Sofia, Malaysia

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Being a female ExMuslim in Malaysia For the most part is not disruptive to daily life. It is not immediately visible that one is an ex muslim so the presumption will always be I'm a liberal Muslim. The only issue is being an ex Muslim, but Muslim passing due to being Malay, is hard to endure. Being surrounded by your Malay community who are all so clear to you as being indoctrinated and to varying degrees, because of the religion, but you have to play nice, is hard to endure. To read the news and see Islamic authorities doing bullshit things policing citizens and being allocated taxpayers' funds to fund these activities is enraging. To hear the overwhelming male population being entitled in their misogyny is aggravating.

Before the coaching sessions I was struggling because I had felt secure being in the company of the non-muslim community believing they embraced me as one of their own. I'm slow to trust and had believed they were as well and that we had built a rapport over a period of 2 years. I had some kind of psychological breakdown when I realized they never had considered me one of them because of race. I may identify as non-muslim but I'm not of the non-muslim race of Malaysia. The politicised racial division in Malaysia has developed non-muslim communities i.e. Indian and Chinese to be insular due to their protectionist approach to preserve their own cultural and non-muslim space. I was experiencing anxiety and panic attacks and felt like I was drowning. I was desperate for help and sought social company from friends, family and realised they were not equipped for the help I need. I then sought psychiatric treatment from a local hospital and also reached out to Jimmy hoping it would help.

I also started prescribed medication by the psychiatrist which helped with anxiety and panic attacks. This gave me some mental clarity and not be too affected by the drowning feeling of not belonging. I didn't have any clarity on what exactly mentally healthy means, I've always thought I was mentally healthy.

During the sessions I had insights into what psychology means and started to see how my brain is wired. Not absolute clarity but it was more of finding what had been subconscious issues I didn't deal with maybe emotionally or psychologically, dig them up and have them addressed. It had been eye-opening and gave me a better idea of what mental health means and where I stand on the mental health spectrum; not as healthy as I've always thought. My challenge has always been to be less emotionally affected by others' emotions and to be more oriented to my own emotions for myself. In a sense, bringing my consciousness more towards myself and my identity rather than myself in relation to others, as how I realize now I've been brought up. I've made great progress and feel more comfortable in my skin and a better understanding of who I am but I also realize that ongoing sessions is likely a solution I need to consider.

I’ve learnt to be less negative about how I feel towards my own emotions, in essence, to accord myself more value to myself to be closer to the value I have accorded to others' emotional wellbeing.

I did not have high expectations because I know I have some deep-rooted issues from childhood trauma that had caused me great distress for decades and didn't expect them to be resolved by a few sessions. I was amazed to discover that it did help in the few sessions which made me realize, I should have gotten therapy sooner instead of anguishing about it for years.

The sessions I've had were amazing and made a difference: How it was fluid and dynamic and dealt with whatever I was dealing with at the moment in time. How my therapist managed to root out something based on what I say and we go down that rabbit hole to pull out the subconscious that I have no awareness to be aware about. The exercises we did that actually made a difference.

Sofia from Malaysia.

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