I decided to write about what Ramadan is like for me for Ramadan Readathon as I am unable to fast because of my disability and chronic illness.
Ramadan holds a special place in my heart, especially in my 20s when I could truly appreciate it and all the blessings it holds. But my 20s were also when I started struggling with my health and was eventually diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, fibromyalgia and vertigo. It affected every single aspect of my life and continues to do so, though I have mostly learned to adjust and make accommodations.
However, it became more and more difficult for me to be able to fast and it severely affected my health. I eventually had to stop fasting after speaking to both my imam and doctors about how it is affecting me and it was probably one of the most difficult things to come to terms with.
Every Ramadan I feel like I am missing out on these blessings and rewards for those who fast. Every Ramadan I have to prepare myself when people “need” to know why I am not fasting. The looks of pity and sometimes even judgement, saying “I should just try.”
It makes me think twice about going to the masjid or public gatherings and when I’m there my anxiety is in overdrive. Because not only am I not fasting, but I also require a chair to sit as sitting on the floor causes my legs to go numb. But I don’t look disabled so I will always have to justify myself. I think there is only one masjid I’ve been to where I have actually felt welcome and that has truly made such a huge difference in my life.
But it’s been a few years now that I haven’t been fasting and I’ve mostly come to terms with it. I know that Allah will reward me because it isn’t my fault that I cannot fast and that not fasting has allowed me to be able to function during the day as I can take my medication and manage my pain. It means I am able to pray taraweeh and stay up at night for ibadah. It means I can focus on my salah and Quran because I am not dying from pain and it also means that I am able to make iftar for my husband and get the rewards for feeding a fasting person.
Seeing all the blessings that Allah has given me and the ability to still be able to complete other acts of worship and focus on that instead of the one thing I can no longer do has helped me to come to terms with this and still be able to make the most of this month. Having people in my life I can talk to about this has also been really helpful because sometimes I feel frustrated but after speaking to someone I love about it, I can see a different perspective and also just get it off my chest. Just being able to sit and ask Allah for help and turn to him especially when I am having a bad pain day just brings me sukoon and contentment. I know I will be okay.
Obviously I still have good and bad days, days when I am more productive and days when I need to rest more (generally the day after I have cooked I need more rest as that takes a lot of spoons). So I know to manage my days accordingly. On days when I am not able to stand up and pray taraweeh I will sit and read Quran even if it’s from my phone because the joint pain in my hands are bad. If I can barely sit up I will watch a lecture or listen to Quran, do some dhikr to make the most of my time. I can still sometimes over do it but I am learning and alhamdulillah I am very lucky that it’s just me and my husband, he is very supportive and helps me with my pain management. If I’ve had a bad few days and there isn’t really any food for iftar, he will open his fast at the masjid and then bring home something for me to eat too.
It’s been a big learning curve for me but alhamdulillah I am trying to make the most of Ramadan even if I can’t fast. It can be a lonely experience which is why I decided to write about mine and maybe someone else will read it and not feel like it’s only them, all alone.