Mental health and me.

Part One

Love me when i least deserve it, because that’s when i need it the most – unknown

It’s taken me months to come to terms with my life and who I am right now, and it’s taken weeks to write this in a way that I’m okay with.

Topics, awareness and conversation about mental illness and mental health have been slowly, but more positively, making its way into our minds, out of our mouths and spreading through the veins of our society. But growing up knowing words like ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ didn’t always mean they were fully understood. Although it seems we are now surrounded by our friends, family, strangers and celebs all fighting daily battles with their mental health, the battle can be easily misunderstood and still feel confusing. My experience with mental health has been messy, dark, confusing and not always something I wanted to accept. And that wasn’t even my own mental health. It’s hard to understand something that hurts, and with mental health you can hurt, and other people can hurt as a cause of your hurt. Now, as I battle my own issues, I’m understanding it more than ever.

Six months ago, I was extremely happy with myself, I was acing university, following my passion, keeping fit and healthy, living independently, working hard, and I had exciting plans and hopes for my future. Everything was great. I was the best I had ever been in my life in every way possible. Until one day, I just wasn’t.

I used to think happiness and positivity and depression and negativity were like a switch that you could turn on and off. And the use of the switch would depend on how hard you wanted it and how hard you tried. With mental health, I’ve found that it’s partly true. Except the switch is one of them stupid ones that flick back on as you leave the room and you have to go back to turn it off again but it’s constant and lasts through the night and into some days and you have no control over the stupid damaged switch. Life becomes a constant battle with the switch that never used to even cross my mind before because it was never an issue and would almost always be on happy positivity mode.

Some days feel the same as six months ago. I can still fill my days with positivity and people comment on how much I smile and brighten their day. Some days I see hope for my future and am inspired by all the good in the world, and all the good left for me to make. Some days I feel happiness because I know that one day I’ll be exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I love with someone who loves me just as much as I love them. And I won’t question or doubt anything about myself or my life because everything will be good enough.

But some days it’s hard to even fake a smile. Some days I feel so far from who I even used to be, yet alone from where I hope I’ll ever be. Some days I can’t believe how much pain has been in my life and how people keep finding new ways to hurt me. Yet alone all those hurting other people, all those other people suffering. Some days I can’t imagine working with people in crisis because how can life and the people in our world be so cruel to ever put another human in that point of crisis in the first place? Some days my brain drives me crazy. I lose complete focus, worth and love for myself and the world. Nothing ever seems good enough.

I’ve read articles after blogs after websites about how to cope, what to do, what not to do and what depression and anxiety even are. There’s poetry and quotes and helplines and chatrooms. People tell you to exercise, get out the house, talk to someone, get a good night sleep. Lol. And for those who know me and follow my IG and blogs on the reg, you’ll be laughing along with me. I’ve gone from one extreme to the other. Here I am, little miss positivity, spreading sunshine and love around the world and trying to save the planet, feeling the most negative ever and trying hard not to hate everything around me.

And it’s funny when people comment how you’re coping so well, like you could never tell that I was even remotely low, like how my IG looks like life goals and how it appears I’m the same person from six months ago. Because mental illness isn’t visible through a photo unless you post a picture of yourself crying in bed with the caption ‘btw i’m depressed’. And it goes to show how you never know what battle someone might be fighting.

 

My “choose happiness” and “be a seeker of everyday magic” mantra is just not so relevant right now. Sure, if you’re having a bad day it might help. But depression doesn’t seem like a bad day because depression doesn’t seem to leave. Instead, you might have good moments in your bad day. Or your day might not be particularly awful, but there are no feelings of happiness like you knew it before.

I know things will get better. And like everything in life, this is temporary. But for now, I’m learning and finding my own ways to cope through it. I’m trying to find peace, worth and love for myself. I am healing from the pain, trauma and sadness in my life. For the first time in months, I’m starting to accept these feelings and thoughts. And that it’s normal. And that it’s okay. I’m very slowly remembering the things that make me happy and trying to remind myself who I am. And even writing this, I feel relief to be talking about it. And although I’m quite used to blogging and being honest and open with what I write about, mental illness is a new topic for me. Today I’m raising awareness about my newest fight in life; mental health.

Know that mental illness is serious and varies and has tonnes of different symptoms and effects for different lengths of time and on different scales of severity. It’s a huge problem in our society with millions of sufferers. It is always important to talk about it. Self-love and self-care are important too. And realising you’re not alone and that you can recover from this is important to remember also. If you don’t have it, you’ll know someone that has it, or you’ll soon have it, or you have had it.

 

Let’s be kinder, more understanding and more loving. A mantra that can always be applied.

Vanisha

X

IG: https://www.instagram.com/vanishamay/?hl=en

Dreams of Tapachula

Day one in the life of a volunteer!

 

So, I’ve been in Tapachula for 24 hours now and so much has happened already including an evening stroll around the pretty city center which was filled with friendly people, a fair and churros and an emotional goodbye to my big, eventful, backpacking trip as I hopped into a taxi to Mision Mexico. Hello new adventure!

 

My journey here started in January when I was in full stress/productive mode writing my final major project at university in London whilst attempting to plan the rest of my life (and I still have no idea for those of you wondering)!

 

I’m deeply interested in education, aid, crisis, children and women’s rights, and am aiming to spend my life dedicated to the humanitarian sector. So what better way to start than by volunteering?

 

One night in my productive/stress mode, I googled ‘volunteering in Mexico’ and Mision Mexico’s Children’s organisation happened to be one of the first to pop up! And the website was in English (I speak zero Spanish even after three months of being in Spanish speaking countries!), and they were looking for volunteers! I sent an email, had a quick reply back and the rest is history! 7 months later and here I am.

 

I’ve been dreaming about this for a long time. Dreaming about volunteering, about the start of the rest of my life, and of recently, dreams of Tapachula.

 

I didn’t come with many expectations but my knowledge of Tapachula itself was that it was completely the opposite to the rich, modern city that I’d left behind. A fairly poor and typically Mexican city found on the border of Guatemala, my research told me that poverty, crime and gender inequality were all traits of the area (tiny butterflies in my tummy as a criminology and sociology graduate!) but, so far so good! It’s all quite charming including the people!

Pulling up to the grande casa verde was nerve-wracking! This is it. Here I am. Dreams becoming a reality!

 

I was shown up to my room which is in a separate volunteers house and has its own living space, kitchen, bathroom and balcony! Again, I was pleasantly surprised because I have my own bedroom with furniture and places to put my clothes, and my own fan. All huge luxuries after backpacking! Mision Mexico is full of colour, big palm-like trees and there’s even a volcano in the distance!

 

Everyone was so friendly and gave me space to chill. Good job regarding the lunch that followed a few hours later was filled with heaps of cheeky introductions, lots of little happy faces and many, many new names! Definitely a good way to start the next part of my life!

 

Keep with the adventures here on Instagram @misionmexicovolunteers and @vanishamay and keep your eyes peeled for many more blogs to come!

 

For all those interested in volunteering please don’t hesitate to ask further. Please apply at volunteers@lovelifehope.com. We’re in need of volunteers throughout October-December 2017. Must be over 21 and willing to commit for 6 weeks minimum.

 

Thanks for reading!

Vanisha

 

Mision Mexico,

Tapachula,

Mexico,

http://www.lovelifehope.com

https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/

Photograph credits to previous volunteers at Mision Mexico**

Are you eating brunch wrong? This is how best friends should brunch according to Instagram…

As much as I love the advancement of social media and technology, the downsides and superficial images you find on platforms like Instagram can be especially damaging. For young people and those growing up around fitness personalities and girls on flamingo pool blow ups, you have to step back and question, are these people for real? 

It’s all fun and games if you’re fully aware but how ridiculous and damaging can some posts be? This one in particular made me think…

With over 2,000 likes on this picture alone and 20,800 followers, this girl has insta-famous sussed to a T. She travels, she’s beautiful and she looks like she’s living the dream life! I love looking at feeds like hers that are full of travel and inspiration but this picture baffles me. What exactly is it saying?

• That best friends should brunch topless?

• Ah best friends should brunch standing up?

• Best friends should brunch after a photo shoot and after poses around their brunch food?

• Best friends should have no actual room for a plate on their table

• Best friends should share one glass of champagne (lol never)

• Best friends should brunch with 6 plates of food in front of them then assuming hours at the gym because as far as I’m aware, you can’t have your cake and eat it, and be in such good shape still. 

• Best friends should then post all of the above on to social media


I don’t know. Maybe it’s all a bit of fun but the amount of people writing ‘goals’ in the comments makes me wonder how many people think this is seriously real life and achievable. Are we able to distinguish between reality and a photo-shoot, Photoshop and set-up shots? Are we aware of what’s authentic? Would they be eating brunch like that without Instagram? Would we be the same people without social media?

Am I overthinking things? Or am I eating brunch wrong?

Let me know what you think about the use of social media, being authentic and any experiences/thoughts you might have!

Thanks for reading guys!

Have a good day

Vanisha

X

Follow my South American adventures on Instagram @vanishamay and travel related blogs in the travel section 🙂 

Are you an Insta-sham? The negative side to social media.

So, in the last week, thoughts around social media, and especially Instagram, have consumed my brain almost entirely (other than my pooey dissertation!). And after lots of discussion, and changes in my own social media accounts, I feel like I’ve reached some sort of conclusion in my brain and annoyingly, my eyes are even more open about social media and its role in society. This is my ridiculous battle with instagram...

 

I can’t lie, social media is amazing, and finally after all these years of meaningless use, I’m finding my own ways to use individual platforms to raise awareness about issues that are important to me, things that help educate, and also entertain, but in a more thoughtful and strategic way, and in a way that might benefit me, or hopefully someone else. And there’s no rules in this, social media is completely up to the individual who uses whatever platform, to do whatever on it. You decide it all. But do you? With Instagram, I’m having a real issue about all this.

 

Over the weekend, I realised that I had gone Instagram crazy. I was suddenly brainwashed, consumed and obsessing over an app. Who am I following? How many likes does this picture have? I wonder who’s stalking my profile? (which apparently, there’s an app for) Who’s following me? Who’s not following me? Erm, is this girl dating my ex?! How did she get so many likes?! And how did she get that body?! Maybe it’s them fitness pages? Hmm, let me check them out. And, how has this fitness guy got so many followers? Maybe it’s because he’s topless in ALL his posts. Hmm, I’ll let that one slide. Wait. Hold up. Stop. WHY DO I CARE AND WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING?!

 

Then I realised I had wasted half my night on a stupid app, doing stupid shit that I actually do not care about. And so, to detox my mind, I deleted my whole account. Then made a new one like five days later….

 

It’s so unhealthy, and as a sociologist especially, I’m fully aware of it all. But it’s so dangerous that so many people are not. And even for me, I get so caught up in it still! There’s so many types of pressure and ideas about how we should live our lives and what they should look like through brands and personalities on an app. It’s silly. There’s a whole generation growing up in the world of social media, and being accepted through followers, and self-esteem boosted by likes, by numbers, by strangers. It’s a sad reality.

 

There’s a fine line between posting something for yourself, for your business, for your own personal aim and growth, and posting something for likes and for attention. And it’s so easy to forget that for so many ‘instagram famous’ people, their posts are not fully representative of their real lives but actually “a finished product” (quote by my gal Becca, oi oiii) after staged situations and hair and make up teams and photographers and photoshop and so much other shizz. Shots of travel couples in the Bahamas, and egg on avocados on toast, and yoga girls doing the lotus on a mountain top, are all nice to look at but are tiny little snippets of someone’s life portrayed through filters. Which I guess is why it’s so important not to get too sucked up into it.

 

You can use instagram however you like, but why are you doing it? Who are you doing it for? What’s your point? Is it healthy?

 

In 10 years time, are you gonna be okay if your children find your instagram? If your mum saw it tomorrow, then how would that go? I guess it’s about asking yourself how you want to be portrayed and the kind of people you want to communicate with. It’s about authenticity. Because in a few years time, when a new app comes along, are you gonna be the same person without an app like instagram?

 

If ya want more, take a look at these similar things….

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/x-pro-ii-valencia-instagram-choose-neither/614571/

Have a good day!