My name is Misbah Akhtar and I’m the mother of a crazy bunch of kids – 4 to be exact! Their ages range from 14 to 2 and since I parent them alone you can imagine how much fun that is, especially when we are all squeezed into a 2 bed flat! I am the founder of Single Muslim Mums an organization that supports single mothers and promotes awareness as to the struggles they face in an attempt to break the stigma surrounding them. I am also the author of Ramadan Without Daddy – the first of it’s kind Muslim children’s book, looking at the issue of divorce from a child’s perspective and Islamic standpoint.
I have always struggled with mental health issues my whole life, but was never diagnosed until after the birth of my eldest child. I was in an abusive marriage – both physically and mentally and so was never able to get the help needed for my post-natal depression because I was too ashamed to admit I was regularly thrown out of my home by him. The marriage broke up when my two eldest children were still quite young due to their father leaving us for someone else. I fell apart quite quickly, I was used to having everything handled for me and now I was facing an uncertain future all alone.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with both depression and borderline personality disorder – something I only found out recently. I struggled with motherhood, I was unhappy and yet unable to tell anyone for fear of being judged. What came to others naturally seemed to not come to me at all. The depression would get so bad that I would spend days just crying and feeling alone. It was round about that time that I decided to see if I could find a support group. There were many groups for mothers and even single mothers but no groups I could identify with. No groups where there were women like me with my identity from my culture. That’s why in 2012 I decided to form Single Muslim Mums.
I wrote a lot of articles highlighting the difficulties Muslim women face as single mothers and also how they are stigmatized within the Muslim community. This drew some attention and that’s how I came to find myself in the media.
In 2014 I remarried and had my two youngest children but before that I lost a child when I was 20 weeks pregnant. This marriage didn’t last more than a few years because he had mental health issues that he didn’t want to seek help for. It was round about this time that I was attacked in my own home by someone I knew. My face was swollen for a week – I have never been more terrified in my life and that’s how I came to suffer from PTSD. I healed both internally and physically but I wasn’t the same person I had been before. My whole perspective on life changed, for the better. I was thankful to be alive and to have survived. That’t why, when I suddenly found myself pregnant, I knew I would be ok: I had faced far worse. My son was born and I have never looked back since.
2018 has been a tough year for me. I have had many family members in hospital for various reasons and I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July just after my son’s 2nd birthday. The whole thing sped by in a whirl. One minute I was cutting a cake with my toddler and the next I was rushing to wean him off me because I was due to go in for surgery a week later. In August 2018, I had a radical hysterectomy, thankfully they caught all the cancer. I have now hit surgical menopause at the age of 37 and it’s a real pain in the backside!
I know I have gone through many trials in my life and I know through each trial I have come out stronger and better. It’s hard to phase me now and I’m not shy in raising my voice and saying what needs to be said. I have faced too many horrors to be scared of what others may think of me. I do hope though, that I can pass on whatever lessons and wisdom I have learned from my experiences in the hope that I may help someone else. I also hope to one day become a motivational speaker.
Mumspiration is my journey of acceptance of the things I can’t change; forgiveness and compassion. It’s my own personal development story in becoming a better person by applying all kinds of practices ranging from mindfulness to Tai Chi.
Thanks for stopping by!