Mental Health

Every day you go on this war and no one understands
Why you are quite why you are silent
Why you still respond “yes I’m ok” when you’re really not.

– the inner war between self-destruction and self-love

Mental health is seen as taboo subject especially within the south Asian community it’s not something you would discuss with your parents over the dining table. If you say you’re under stress – often you will be told what stress, when I was your age I did this … I did that.
In our south Asian community, many people view mental health as “sharam”, meaning it is shameful so it is often ignored or not spoken about, as it brings shame to families.
I feel in our community people really don’t really understand that there is something called mental health. Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Mental health is real, depression is real, anxiety is real and we need to talk about it and not avoid it.

There are many different types of categories of mental health – anxiety, panic attacks, stress, low self-esteem, depression, phobia, self-harm, suicidal feelings the list is pretty endless.
There have been times in the past when I have been under stress due to exams, things not going the way I hoped so. And I have had extremely low self-esteem I hated my appearance growing up that it made me depressed that I resulted to self-harm and had suicidal feelings.

And this past year I felt darkness once again… I wanted to run away from everything.  But I realised that wasn’t going to help me. The truth was I needed help. I needed to do something about this. I started writing deeper and deeper, writing everything I never thought I would – and yes that saved me. I spent time working myself, giving my mind a break from the usual trying to spend more time with nature and looking at Gods beauty and trying to understand the beauty of life.

The truth is we don’t appreciate the little accomplishments that we achieve. And sometimes we start to compare our lives with others and that’s when we make an mistake.

Sometimes we look at our-self in the mirror and constantly compare ourselves to models and celebs forgetting that they have Photoshop, they have so many people that make them look good. But we only have ourselves to make ourselves look and feel good.

But how can we become positive when we are drowning in negativity – small steps – learning to value and love ourselves.

Simple things such as a walk outside and connecting with nature – breathing and realising the beautiful existence of the world can help lift our mood and make us feel better.

Taking care of our mental health is just as important as our physical health. It can be incredibly hard to think positive and feel positive when you really don’t feel like that all. But one thing that has really been my saviour is having faith in God and trusting whatever God does is for the best. I know God helps me, supports me.

Whenever I do feel down God somehow sends blessings in the form of a person or just a conversation or just something that I read and makes me feel so much better.
Over the past year, I have changed a lot – be it my writing or as an individual.

This year has been the most important year, for making me realise how important mental health is. I could have been that 13 year old self-harming myself… but I understood what my body needed – it needed time to heal from everything, from every situation that I was placed in. Today I’ve really come out of my shell of having low self-esteem and zero confidence – to becoming someone who loves them self which I don’t think I don’t think is selfish. Self-love is one of the most important love that exists and I hope you all understand that too.

Take your time to heal
Realise what is important to you
Think about what makes you happy for once
Maybe go for a walk
Read a book
Write down everything you feel

Most importantly if something is making you depressed – leave it. If a relationship is causing pain – leave it. If you are unhappy with what you are doing – leave it.

If we don’t look after our health especially our mental health no one else is going too. We need to become our own best friends and understand what is good for our mind and body.

– mental health well-being 
is nothing to be ashamed off.

Eurocentric Beauty Standards

Growing up I hated my long nose – a feature which is common for many brown women especially in Panjabi women.  I believed it was “too big”.  I wanted to have surgery when I was older and believe it or not it made me very depressed. I hated my appearance throughout my teenage years. I started wearing makeup at the age of 12/13 years old believing that it would make me look and feel beautiful. I would wear layers and layers to school many people didn’t understand this. But the reason why I wore so much makeup when I was younger was because of my sense of insecurity.

And it certainly didn’t help seeing a certain type of women showcased on magazine covers, shown in television and films.  These women had a certain type of features- eurocentric beauty standards.

Now what I mean by eurocentric beauty standards is its focus on European and Caucasian women how they have anglicized features e.g – smaller noses, thinner lips, fair skin and light eyes etc. These types of features are seen more beautiful.

Often many women of colour who have been on magazine covers or TV ads are shown many shades lighter to their actual skin tone and some are even shown wearing contacts. And we are often told to stay in this westernized style and that our cultures traditional style make us look ugly or too ethnic.

Now I’m not saying that European or Caucasian women are not beautiful however their beauty certainly does not define another women’s beauty.

Today I’ve come out of my self-hatred and I am learning to self-love. Today I actually appreciate my appearance, my long nose, my brown skin. And regardless if you wear makeup or don’t wear makeup just be comfortable in your appearance. Don’t feel you need to fit in because you really don’t. Having dark skin does not make you less beautiful than someone with fair skin, having brown eyes and not green eyes doesn’t make you less beautiful. And those women who are shown on magazine covers do not define your beauty. You don’t need to be fair, you don’t to be skinny to be beautiful.

True beauty is defined by the beauty of the heart, not appearance.

No I’m not sorry that –
My hooked nose goes against your eurocentric beauty standards.

No I’m not sorry that –
My eyes are big and wide filled with the depth of the ocean

No I’m not sorry that –
I don’t fit in with your perception of beauty

Do my curves make you feel uncomfortable?
That my back and spine holds so much strength and power
That I don’t fit in with your idealisation of a perfect woman
No I’m not sorry.

Does my brown skin make you feel uneasy?
That God painted me in golden rays of light
Not to fit in with your fair skinned beauty ideals
But to stand out.

And no, no, no I’m not apologetic
I’m a brown woman who’s not defined by your eurocentric beauty standards.

I wrote this poem a few months back. I felt it was necessary to give the message across to women that your beauty is not defined by eurocentric beauty standards.

 

International Women’s Day.

Bhandd Janmeeai Bhandd Ninmeeai Bhandd Mangan Veeaahu ||

From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.

Bhanddahu Hovai Dhosathee Bhanddahu Chalai Raahu ||

Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.

Bhandd Muaa Bhandd Bhaaleeai Bhandd Hovai Bandhhaan ||

When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound.

So Kio Mandhaa Aakheeai Jith Janmehi Raajaan ||

So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.

Bhanddahu Hee Bhandd Oopajai Bhanddai Baajh N Koe ||

From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.

Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji – Ang 473.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji laid the stone for equality in the 15th century and it is now the 21st century. I wonder do we actually think and take action upon the Words of Guru Nanak Dev Ji or do we simply read. I come to think, that reading is one thing, but understanding and taking action is another.

Female foeticideExploitation.Violation of rights.Mental Abuse.Sexual Abuse. Rape. Torture. Harassment.

                                                      –  This all exists till date.

What can we do?

To make a change, we need to start from our own household. Raise our sons and daughters with equality. Not giving one rule our son and another for our daughter. Some believe a son can do anything but when it comes to the daughter, you begin to question her capability. Some men doubt the capability of their wife and believe them to be inferior. But she can do everything. There’s more to her, than her body and curves. There’s more to her than her physical beauty. She has violent currents, flowing beneath her calm surface. That can swallow you whole. Do not underestimate her. She is the Shakti that Shiv cannot live without. Her, each pore speaks of divinity. Just like Meera. And if she is calm like Sita. She can be fierce as Kali. She is the most powerful being. She can create another being out of her. If she can bring a Saint. She can also bring God, upon earth. Not is she limited just to her skin and bones. She is the light of the Supreme.

Rupinderkw