#BellLetsTalk

Disclosure: I personally believe that mental health awareness should not be restricted to one day a year. I wrote this after finding out about recent suicides on my university campus. I thought today was an appropriate day to share.
Check out my acknowledgement of my own mental health here


I always wanted to be strong.

Imagine, 5’2″ me, the strongest woman in the world. I could build bridges, end wars, encourage world peace. I can bring diverse populations together. No more hunger; no more pain.

I can do this all because I am strong. My physical body would pave the way for the toughest journeys I would face. My fierce mentality would push me towards my goals. I would never give up.

I am strong.

But, this is all a fantasy.

When I experience my darkest episodes of depression and anxiety, I feel so weak. Like my physical body is burning away into a pile of ashes that will be blown into disappearance. Everyone will forget me. My soul feels unworthy. It feels like the runt of the litter. The worthless one.

How can someone so weak ever dream about being so strong?

And that is what mental illnesses can do to you. After hearing about a recent suicide at my university, I let out a huge sigh. Another individual, like me, suffering from a mental illness was taken way too soon.

Whenever I hear about suicides I shiver at the reality of it. That COULD have been me. I am beyond happy right now. Haven’t experienced an episode of depression or anxiety in months. But, I have been there. And for all I know, I might experience that again someday.

I am strong. Not because of my muscle mass or mental ability to retain information. I am strong because of the power I have to fight back against the darkness in my life. This is a strength that not everyone has. BUT, this is a strength that we all should be encouraging in one another.

A lot of my strength has been internally founded. I have discovered ways to overcome my episodes. Yes, I am strong. But, some of this strength was formulated through the positive energy around me.

A simple smile I received from a stranger; A “how are you text” from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while; A quick and quiet stroll in the park with a good friend.

These little events are what made me strong. On the exterior, I appear unbreakable. On the inside, my soul would weep in pain. This is a feeling I hope to never experience again, but this is a feeling I know so many individuals are familiar with.

Before you decide to bully someone (like seriously grow up if you still do this), purposely avoid eye contact with a stranger, or send any other form of negative vibes their way, please consider what these people might be going through.

Sometimes the people with the STRONGEST exteriors are in the deepest pain. Remember this.

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The Memories That Will Ripple Forward

The death of a young person really puts life into perspective.


I’m sitting here in my living room with the lights turned off because I cannot afford to pay expensive hydro bills. The darkness that fills the room leaves me clenching my eyeballs trying to hold back tears. I saw a friend from high school in a casket just a few hours ago. Twenty-One years old, my age, already dead. As a child, I always believed young people were never supposed to die. I think a lot of people still live with that mentality.

We plan our lives and goals assuming we have more time. All my dreams will come true in the future. But what future do we have? As saddest as I sound, life can be snatched from you at any second. Have you lived your life to the fullest? I know I haven’t.

Even in death Simon had the most positive energy illuminating from his casket.

In his Final Testament (a document Simon wrote before he passed), he wrote that he created an immobilization of ideas and memories he wants to ripple forward after he dies. I want the same to be true for my life after I die.

Luckily (and unluckily depending on how you look at it) there is no “countdown clock” ticking away the time we have left on this Earth. I am a big believer that our body is a vessel that holds our soul for a given period of time. But, what I fear the most is being forgotten. I want to positively influence each person I meet while living on Earth. I want my eternal energy to live on in people once my body decomposes.

As I placed my trembling hand on the casket of a fellow friend, I promised him that his uplifting energy and illuminating presence will never die. I will live each one of my days the same way Simon had. I will be kind to every living being that I meet. In my darkest times, I will fight negativity, disease, and failure with a bright smile on my face.

The death of a young person really puts life into perspective. Live out your dreams, your passions, and aspirations while you are alive. Be kind, be positive, and be bright.

 

Finding The Good in The Bad

Bad things happen. It’s inevitable. But, with every negative experience, comes a life lesson. And with every downfall, comes an incentive to change your mindset. Having hardships really makes you appreciate the things that truly matter to you.

When you’re going through a hard time, it is important to remember these few things:

Cherish those people that actually stick around

I can’t emphasize this enough. Very few people stuck by me through my lowest-lows. There are so many reasons why “friends” disappear during difficult times. Most of the time, it is because they were never a true friend to begin with. But, those individuals that stay, those are the people to value the most. Quit forcing friendships that aren’t supposed to be and begin appreciating the true friends you have.

Always search for the bright side

This is easier said than done. When nothing in your life seems to be going the way you planned, it becomes almost impossible to see the light through those hardships. Maybe, you need to start appreciating those consistent elements in your life. You know, all those small things that you would regularly overlook. Sufferings create an opportunity for you to change certain aspects of your life, whether it be your goals, outlooks, or even physical elements like friend groups and career choices. This is not to say that hardships arise because of life decisions, but facing certain struggles definitely allows you to grow as an individual. Always strive to move forward instead of looking back.

Embrace those limitations

Instead of solely ignoring, overlooking, or moving passed the problems and hardships you face, actually take the time to acknowledge what has happened. When you experience difficulty after difficulty like I had this year, it becomes quite tough to reflect on each and every challenge you have faced. But, when you feel like your life is finally going steady, take the time to try and understand how those losses have shaped the person you have become.

21 Realizations at Twenty-One

I recently celebrated my twenty-first birthday. Twenty-one is an age that seemed so far away. It feels so weird how quickly time flew. I always dreamed of this milestone as a kid. I envisioned so much for myself by this age. I wanted a boyfriend, one that I would eventually marry, I wanted to have a book published by now, I wanted to be moving out of my parents house, applying to ivy league graduate schools, be CEO of some company, any company, and attend Upper West Side cocktail parties. None of these goals have been accomplished… yet. And I’m totally okay with it!

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Because as a twenty-one year old, I’ve realized that it is okay to have not accomplished the goals I thought I wanted as a kid. Instead, I am grateful for everything I have learned thus far.

Here are the 21 realizations I’ve had in my twenty-one years of life:

  1. This is your time to be selfish
  2. Some people will just never like you. It’s not you, it’s them. So stop wasting your time trying to fucking please them
  3. Never settle for less than what you deserve
  4. Stop measuring your worth through how many likes you get on your social media photos
  5. Other people’s energies rub off on you. Start surrounding yourself with positive people
  6. The most unexpected, unplanned nights are always the best nights
  7. Don’t mask your feelings. If something unfortunate happens, you are allowed to be sad, angry, upset, anxious, etc. Make sure you set aside time for yourself to grieve
  8. It’s better to have a few, good friends instead of a lot of fake friends
  9. It’s okay to change your life goals
  10. It’s okay to not have any goals. Enjoy the silence and routine of your everyday life
  11. When one door closes, another one ALWAYS opens
  12. Do not change yourself for anyone
  13. You have to first love yourself before you can fully love someone else
  14. True happiness can be found in the simplest and smallest things
  15. It’s important to accept and embrace failure
  16. Learn to trust your intuition
  17. Set up boundaries for yourself. It’s the only way to avoid people taking advantage of you
  18. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be grateful for what you have
  19. Let go of the past. Holding onto grudges is never a good idea
  20. Take every experience as a life lesson
  21. What others think of you really doesn’t matter

A Thank You Letter to Western University

Upon finishing three full years at Western University, I decided to write a letter to the school itself. Three years ago, this was my dream school. I was an excited, ambitious, and courageous 18-year old, ready to start my new life at a university I was already in love with. I experienced such difficulties and regrets throughout my three years attending Western. But, none of these ever had to do with the school itself. I often thought how great it would be if I could drag the school, and my wonderful program back to my hometown, Toronto, with me. I can’t believe my journey at Western has already ended. And how it ended way too soon. Maybe I’ll go back and write a thesis, maybe I’ll go back and take a few easy and interesting classes I never got to enrol in while I was a student there. But for now, Here is a thank you letter to the University of Western Ontario.

Thank you Western for opening up my eyes. For showing me that identities can be questioned, changed, and shattered. My white-washed, heteronormative, patriarchal lens has been broken. I thank you. I thank you for showing me the people I knew existed, but never got to see. I thank you for making me even question me. For showing me that life doesn’t exist in binaries and that conforming is totally lame. For showing me love, and challenging me with hate. For giving me fake friends, and a few real ones. For making me cry. Oh, how you made me cry. I don’t think I ever shed a tear before university. My highest highs and my lowest lows were spent here. Because of you Western, I am the person I am today. Because of you Western, I will be able to face any challenge that comes my way.

Cass Next Door

I love taking photos. I love it even more when I’m photographing my best friends. Meet Cassandra, the subject of my second photo series.

Best Friends Forever

We take the term “bff” to a whole new level. We met back in junior kindergarten. How we became friends, I’m not quite sure… We were only 5 years old at the time. What I do remember were playdates spent jamming out to Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, ABBA, Paula Abdul, and Cher (Very unusual music taste for young girls). For each birthday, our moms would buy us matching clothing. And, we would plan days where we would actually wear these matching clothes.

Seventeen years later, after attending different high schools and post-secondary schools, we are still the exact same 5-year old best friends we were when we met. Yes, that means we still like to match and listen to questionable music at times. We also love gossiping, going to concerts (OVO forever), shopping, tagging each other in memes, and TAKING PHOTOS!

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The Photos

Once we finally passed that “awkward phase” (Maybe we’re still in it, I don’t know), we started having photoshoot days. I love taking photos with Cass. Partially because she is incredible at makeup and always does mine, but also because she’s so freakin’ photogenic. Not to mention, we are completely comfortable in front of each other and always supportive of each others crazy photo ideas.

Here are some of my favourite photos I’ve taken of Cass.

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