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

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

25 things I’ve learned in 25 years

So, while you’re all sleeping, or partying or whatever it is you get up to on a Friday night, I’ll be turning 25 (yay!?). And although it seems like I’ve truly hit my quarter-life-crisis stage, there’s no denying that I have had a wild and very interesting 25 years so far!

 

From moving countries, to graduating with a first and realising my passions, to living by myself, and volunteering around the world, to passing my driving test, and experiencing so much of the planet and the people on it. I’ve had such amazing highlights considering the first few years I was in nappies!

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But of course, there have been not-so-fun times like bad jobs, bad travel experiences, a sad childhood and meeting a good handful of bad people! So, after 25 years of living, walking and talking, here are my 25 things I’ve learned in 25 years…

 

  1. Fortunes favours the bold and the brave

Doing things that scare you will benefit you. Netflix and chill is great but you’ll have nothing to look back on if you just sit indoors doing the same old. Do something that scares you once in a while. My best experiences have been my biggest life changes, they were risky, scary and completely new to me, but they changed my life for the good. Take that risk. Be bold. Be brave.

  1. On love…

5 things under my life lessons on boys… (and I’m still learning, and I could go on!) 1. Actions speak louder than words. If he says he likes you but only makes the effort to see you once a month on a night-out, then get rid and do better. 2. Love doesn’t last forever and neither do the sad times. 3. Find someone who loves your mind just as much as they love your body. 4. Most boys aren’t worth your tears. Learn to let go and realise when things aren’t meant to be. Don’t text back and don’t text him. There’s better to come! 5. Always have hope. I’ve had my fair share of absolute jokers, but I do believe (just about!) that there is such a thing as a good, and single man. Wherever he might be.

 

  1. Be an enthusiast!

There were a few times I doubted how much I loved everything but talks with my best friend made me realise how special it is that we just love everything! The littlest things make me so happy and it takes a lot to bring me down or make me even slightly sad. Being negative and hating everything isn’t cool and actually affects your outlook on life. Life is full of exciting things! Live positively. Celebrate it. And don’t be afraid to show it.

 

  1. Travel

The world is an incredible place full of beauty and wonder and non-stop exploring. I’ve had no regrets about spending most of my adult life savings and spending time on travelling. It opens your mind, heart and life to life-changing experiences and people. Travel is always a clever idea.

  1. Trust yourself and your abilities.

When I was at school, I never thought I was smart enough or capable of going to university or even doing A-Levels. So, I didn’t until 4 years later when I was braver and more hopeful. And I graduated with a first-class honours degree with 3 years of high marks and good assignments. Trust yourself more. You are capable, and you can do almost anything if you just put your mind to it.

  1. Always be grateful.

We are extremely fortunate for the lives we have. If you’re reading this, that means you too. Cherish it all, the ups, the downs, the bad and the good. Life is an absolute gift.

 

  1. Be open to anything

Live life with open arms, an open mind and an open heart. Just because something is new, doesn’t mean it’s dangerous or bad. Just because you’ve been hurt before, doesn’t mean you’ll get hurt again. Be open to the unknown, you’ll miss out otherwise!

 

  1. Giving is better than receiving

“True compassion lies in what you can do for someone else” (Olivia Benjamin). You never know the impact you might make on somebody and their life. There’s always room to give and ways to give. You can give your time, spare change or a smile. Knowing that I can help people and give my love and life to them in so many different ways, brings me an abundance of happiness and purpose.

  1. Love

Life is all about love. The times I had the least love and gave out the least love were my unhappiest times. So, learn to love yourself, love this life and seriously, ‘love thy neighbour’. We all need love and the world needs more of it!

 

  1. Be kind always

People appreciate my kindness. And I remember when people are kind to me too. It makes a huge difference to a soul, to receive kindness, no matter how undeserving that soul might be. I’m leaving this now to Roy…

 

“A random act of kindness, no matter how small, can make a tremendous impact on someone else’s life.”

 

“Treat everyone with politeness and kindness, not because they are nice, but because you are.”

 

“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”
― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

 

  1. The importance of following your dreams/ doing things that matter

Find your passion and fully go for it. Finding your purpose and doing something that matters with your life is the best feeling ever. Even if it could take years to fully achieve that dream, it’s so good to know that you’re on the right path. I’m fortunate to have a dream that could really make a difference to the world and to have the opportunities to pursue it. Never give that up.

  1. Have patience

Patience truly is a virtue. There’s going to be times in life where you want to lash out or where you have little time for the person in the queue in front of you, but being patient is one of my best learnt attributes and has helped me so much in life. Luckily, it takes a lot to test my patience and because of that, I can put up with an awful lot without it affecting me!

 

  1. Be good to you

Mentally, physically and emotionally. Be good to your mind and your body. And if things aren’t okay, that’s okay too. It’s okay to be sad and down in the dumps sometimes. Relax. Stop and take time for yourself. I definitely learned that one this year!

 

  1. You are who your friends are

Every friend brings something different to your life. I’ve recently learned that. I’ve got a great bunch of gals that really bring out the best in me and make me realise what’s important, and who I am. If you don’t have good friends, then bun them and go make some better ones. Good friends are good for the soul.

 

  1. Educate yourself at every opportunity

“Everyone knows something that you don’t” and whether you’re 7, 25 or 89, there will always be something to learn about. Education changes lives and minds over and over again. For westerners reading this, it may seem trivial, but my education is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m so blessed to know all that I do even if my maths skills are still pretty shocking.

 

  1. Quit

I spent almost two years in a job that I hated every single day. My biggest lesson from that was that I should have quit. Hate your job? Quit. Don’t like where you live? Move. Not happy with life? Change. Unhappy in love? Leave. Things change, feelings change, and life goes on. That includes yours. It’s okay to quit if it’s not right.

 

  1. Be curious and ask questions

You’ll never know unless you ask! And never be afraid to ask. Asking questions expands your mind, gives knowledge and gives power. Ask that guy for his number, ask your mum for help and ask for a bigger promotion. Just ask.

 

  1. Being authentic

Social media is a small snippet of highlights in people’s lives and the example I’m gonna use for now. Don’t compare, don’t feel pressure and be true to you always. Trickier today with the role of social media etc, but a big lesson I’ve learned is that it’s okay to admire other people, however, they are not you and you are not them. And you are amazing so just stick with you.

  1. Read more books

There’s an endless amount of knowledge and excitement that comes from sheets of paper. I barely read until about five years ago and some of the books that I’ve read since have made me laugh, cry, hope and change the way I think completely. Seriously, go to the library or click on amazon and get a book today.

 

  1. Unplug and switch off

Put your phone down and look at the world around. Or read a book. Or have a real conversation. It’s so easy to get hooked on our electronics that sometimes we miss what’s happening around us. Scrolling through Instagram all night won’t improve your life. Go get inspired.

 

  1. Work hard

It’s good for your employer, it’s good for you and it’s good for your bank account. If you hate your job and you cba every day, then quit. Go find a job that you love then work hard at that. And stay humble about it too.

 

  1. It’s okay to say no/ stop saying sorry

I’ve learned to say, “thank you so much for waiting” rather than “sorry I kept you for so long” because there’s just no need to apologise for every little hiccup in my life. Plus, I’m not always sorry! Similarly, I’ve learned to say no more often. Not because I’m a mean person, but because it’s okay to not say yes and do everything all the time for everyone. In fact, I could probably say no more!

 

  1. Be as wild as you want, but be wild

Life is short. Tell your loved ones you love them often. Go skinny dipping in the Philippines. Order that double cheeseburger. And jump out of that bloody plane. I know too many people who regret the things they haven’t done in life. I have no regrets, I’ve done everything I’ve wanted so far and intend to carry on that way. Dare to be wild. YOLO.

 

  1. Be conscious

Before you speak, before you buy, before you do lots of things, ask yourself; will this improve my life? Will this benefit others? Think of the planet, consider people’s feelings and think of the consequences of your actions. I could definitely improve some things in my life still, but I hope I leave a more positive mark on the planet than a negative one!

 

  1. Smile! And be happy

Do whatever it takes to live a life that you’re proud of. Do things that make you happy. And if you find that you’re not happy, change it. And always smile. Smile for your exes, smile to a stranger, and smile because you’re alive.

Thanks for reading as always guys! My blog is another big achievement and something I used to be scared about, but I love writing and I love you all for reading it!

So, thank you!

Vanisha

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Follow me on instagram @vanishamay

A day in the life of a volunteer in Mexico

Life’s a beach!

A day in the life of a volunteer

Thinking of volunteering? Want to know more about life in Mexico? Although it’s not this easy everyday, Sunday family days at Mision Mexico are truly the best, and here’s why….!

Australian founders, Pam and Alan Skuse spent many years building Mision Mexico and creating a home filled with love, life and hope. Together they’ve seen hundreds of children from Tapachula and the surrounding areas walk through their doors, even creating a youth transition programme that provides children with a more mature environment with the resources to help with their next stage in life. Combining their love of surf, Pam and Alan regularly took the children to the beach for special family time and fun for everybody. Along with the help of generous donations of surf boards and volunteers giving surf lessons, the children were able to practice riding on the big waves and test out their skills as the first surfers in Tapachula!


Following from this is Pam and Alan’s next great project, Mision Surf. Over the last few years and with the help of many donations, Pam and Alan have built an incredible beach house in the poorer community nearby. The ideas behind the use of the house are endless and inspiring. The house has already served as a place for the local children to come and enjoy free swimming lessons, and our children have also completed an art project that saw them venturing out into the community to paint and create beautiful and bright mural’s. The house also has space for various workshops for the children, guests and the community which will include art, craftsmanship and many more activities. Alongside this, Mision Surf will be a hotel complete with a small restaurant which will provide our children and the people from the community with jobs and training in tourism.

So, they’re the basics and the background of Mision Surf, and that’s where we get to spend every other Sunday together as a family! It’s my favourite day for sure, and my most favourite day during my whole time there was a Sunday beach day.

Mision Mexico has a bonus like no other refuge that I know of. During my time in their home in Tapachula, the family and I would spend every other weekend down at their beach house on the coast Mision Surf. Though it’s no holiday home for the kids, and luckily the beach is only a 30 minute drive, beach Sunday’s definitely feel like a mini-break!


The morning shift starts off with a rush because we need to get 22 kids fed, dressed, ready for the beach and sitting in the cars! The 30-minute journey consists of everyone in the van singing along to whatever’s on the radio! It’s funny, and every child knows most of the words to the Latino music AND the western music that plays. Pure talent. 


My favourite beach day was slightly different to the usual. Usually we spend a few hours at Mision Surf then head home for a family BBQ, the normal chores, TV etc. But on this day, we spent literally all day at the beach house, listening to music, playing in the pool, surfing at the beach and eating almost non-stop whilst drinking Jamaica. It was so much fun, and not once did I hear “I’m bored” or “when are we going home?”. The older boys with the help of Jonathan managed to make sure that everyone got into the pool, by choice or with force! And the sun also shined all day which topped everything (and meant that half of us left looking like lobsters!).

Days at the beach are not just filled with fun but are also incredibly important as a family and for the children. It’s the one day in the week where worries go out of the window and everyone laughs and plays heaps more than usual. The children are given the space to be just children and the day is full of normalcy which is usually natural for most families but with 22 children, days like this take a lot more planning and hard work! All the moments shared on that day, all the love and laughter makes all the effort worth it. It’s days like these where you think you’ve gotta be the luckiest volunteer going! BBQ, beach, surf, swimming pools, fun and sun. What more could you possibly need?!

For all those interested in volunteering or teaching skills through workshops and projects, please don’t hesitate to ask further. You can apply at volunteers@lovelifehope.com! We’re in need of volunteers especially for the holidays throughout the year with the first being this Easter 2018. Must be over 21 and willing to commit for 6 weeks minimum.

Thanks for reading!
Vanisha
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Instagram: @vanishamay and @misionmexicovolunteers
Twitter: @misionmexico
Follow us on Facebook too! @misionmexico
http://www.lovelifehope.com

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

Photograph credits to previous volunteers at Mision Mexico**