Mind Over Chatter

FOSIS Mind Over Chatter campaign is here to provide a platform for discussion on mental health and equipping ISOCs with tools and resources of their own. Share your personal experiences so that others can understand the picture. You may have looked after a family member, experienced depression or anxiety yourself, or have tips you've learnt from others that can improve one's mental health well being. We can share your experiences on our Mind Over Chatter blog for others to benefit from. Alternatively, you can also choose to submit anonymously using an anonymous tag name.

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19th April 2019

Time To Talk

On Sunday 10 th March I spoke at the ‘Time2Talk’ event at Birmingham University, hosted by
FOSIS Mind Over Chatter, IMed Birmingham and the Islamic Society at Birmingham
University.

The event was hosted with the aim of increasing awareness around mental health in the
Islamic community, there were various speakers throughout the day each offering a
beneficial insight into mental health offering different perspectives.

But the most important and eye-opening part of the day was when students spoke about
their struggles with their mental-health. It is very common for us to assume that those that
suffer with mental health problems are weak, and that they cannot speak for themselves.
This preconception was banished when four students, including myself, spoke about their
journey, we were given the opportunity to voice our opinions and urge the members of the
audience to actively participate in making a change and starting the conversation around
mental health.

In the past year or so I have started becoming a lot more vocal about my struggles with my
mental health, all with the aim of increasing awareness and reducing stigma.
However, this was my first time actually speaking in front of a group of people, I was so used
to uploading my struggles onto a blog or my Instagram and having the screen to protect me.
But this was real. People would be sat in front of me, and I would be able to see their
reactions, and that terrified me.

When offered the opportunity to speak at this event I immediately said yes, however later on
I regretted agreeing so soon. What if I wasn’t as good as other speakers? What if I made a
mistake? What if people didn’t understand what I was talking about? I didn’t have a
PowerPoint to accompany my talk. Would people get bored?

I went back and forth with myself if I should go or back out last minute, but I ended up going
in the end. My main purpose of life is to help others, to reduce their struggles, and if opening
up about my past and my journey can help others, then it is my duty and responsibility to do
so. Regardless of how difficult it may be for me.

Everything that we go through is for a reason, it is so that we can find our greater purpose
and pursue our goals. My struggles with my anxiety and depression do not define me, but
they give me purpose, my pain gives me the determination to stop others from feeling the
same. It gives me the passion and the determination to ensure that others in society are
made aware and encouraged to educate themselves.

I started of the talk by discussing my diagnosis, then spoke about where I am currently with
my journey. I discussed struggles that I face on a regular basis, and how I overcome them.
Such as when I am experiencing a dip in my mood, another phase of depression, I will
remind myself to take things slow, like you would with a child, and congratulate myself on
the small wins during the day. Rather than forcing myself to do big tasks, I will take things
day by day and actually give myself the rest I need.

I ended the talk by advising the audience on what I think they can do to increase awareness
and start the conversation about mental health, our generation spends hours aimlessly
scrolling through social media, gaining nothing to better themselves or humanity. Why not
take some of that time to educate yourselves on a topic about mental health? Is there
something you don’t fully understand, or is there something that you would like to learn more
about?

Take the time out to read up about a specific topic, watch an online video, read a blog post,
ask questions. Be an active part of the change. Take responsibility.

I understand that it can be hard to open up especially when there is so much stigma from
society adding to the internal dilemma that you have, but I urge you to open up and get help
when you need it. It is so important that you take the time out to take care of yourself.
Recovery does not come overnight, it will take time for you to find the light, but I promise you
that it does get better. There will come a day when you will start feeling better, and your
feelings of hope will gradually increase, and day by day you will continue your journey of
recovery.

Opening up has been the most important and hardest part of my journey, by speaking up
about my struggles I have come to accept and embrace them myself, and for that I am
incredibly grateful to all that have given me the opportunity to speak or write, for all of you
who read and comment. Thank you.