Written by Step Above Stigma's Outreach Director, Simran Dhaliwal
People often ask me: "What motivated you to become a mental health advocate?" "How does it feel participating in the movement to break down the stigma surrounding mental health?"
I usually end up lost in thought after I hear these questions.
You see, I wasn't really familiar with the concept of mental health before.
That is until I realized that my mental health had been affected before, and I had never really done anything about it.
As a straight-A student, I had never really taken the time to focus on myself before. Back in grades 11 and 12, I remember returning from school, having supper, studying for up to 7 hours, doing homework and going to bed- every single day. Added to this was the stress of applying to foreign universities and meeting the requirements of their conditional offers. In short, life was hectic.
Spending time with family, socializing, dressing up just because I wanted to, going for a fun day out – as much as I wanted these things, they were alien to me during my high school life.
It was only after school ended that I realized how much I had missed out on. I was so absorbed in the fast pace of the world around me, that I never really made time for myself, for my needs and my wants.
This realization sparked a fire within me, to love myself more than anyone else in my life. It motivated me to pamper myself, to be my own biggest cheerleader, to take care of my needs and to do whatever I want, whenever I wanted.
As much as I dislike the COVID-19 pandemic, I'm glad it gave me and many others a chance to stop, pause and introspect about what they want and enjoy the little things in life.
Whoever's reading this: I know that it's so easy to get sucked up into the whirlwind of this fast-moving world. But be sure to look within from time to time and indulge in self-love. Engage in "unproductive productivity" - stop what you're doing, hit pause and introspect. Take time out for yourself amidst the chaos.
You are a priority.
Before I go, I want to add in a few lines from a stanza of one of my favorite poems: "Keeping Quiet" by Pablo Neruda:
"If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves."
Neruda, P. (n.d.). Keeping Quiet. Keeping quiet, Pablo Neruda. https://www.bu.edu/quantum/zen/readings/keepingQuietNeruda.html.
Read our blog posts about personal experiences and stories with regards to mental health. Posts written by our team or those passionate about mental health.