I recently hosted a information table at a Eid Celebration event in my local community. I thought it would be a great way to reach out to muslims of all walks of life cultures and countries.
As I put thought into the creativity of this table, I knew right away that the topic I would be voicing was the stigma of counselling in cultures different cultures. This is not only something that affects the culture I am from but also affects many different cultures here and all over the world.
I got my confirmation that I had chosen the right topic to talk about when I saw some of the older women give me a side glance and or try to avoid eye contact or give me the hmm and walk away. This in no way discouraged me because I know that the stigma of counselling still exists and is carried on in cultures. I also know that my presence received alot of attention from people who were glad that there was finally someone out in my community opening up the doors to counselling.
This is just the beginning of breaking down stigmas about mental health in my community! Let it be the beginning in yours as well.
Mental Health Issues…. does not discriminate.
It does not look at age, race, gender, social status, country of residence,
Mental health issues affect more people then we know of. So why is it a topic that is not talked about more often. Why should individuals that are affected feel afraid or judged to share their struggles?
Why is there a stigma? Why is there a fear? Why isn’t there more support? Where is the help?
We need to start asking these questions.
I haven’t blogged in a few months, not because I haven’t been experiencing anything, but because I have been reflecting and focusing on self care.
For most people the new year starts as the clock strikes 12 on New Years Eve. Its a time to make resolutions to work towards in a new calendar year.
For me, I have always used my birthday as a time for reflecting back on the year and also to make the changes and resolutions I want for the the next year. November is a time of reflection and inner speech for me, it always has been.
I have never been the kind of person that makes a big celebration out of my birthday, I do however take an annual birthday trip. I use the trip as a way to refocus myself on the things I find most important, humbling oneself and learning about the world around me.
Once this trip has been taken and I return back to reality, I start to mentally work on the changes that I want to make.
This year I went through all the motions to get to the long planned and long awaited birthday trip that I did not pay much attention to what was happening with me. When I started looking back I realized the signs that I missed I knew that one of the things I had to focus on in my new year was to do more self care and to pay more attention to myself. I had let the signs go on for so long before realizing it could be something more until one day I woke up and people started to notice the signs that I could not see.
After my initial doctors appointment I was anxious. I had no idea what was happening to me other then I was no longer feeling like myself. In that moment I knew I had to stay rational otherwise my mind would run away with me. I could not care for others in that time, I could only focus on keeping myself positive. It worked! By the time I walked into the specialists office I was ready for anything he would throw at me, even the diagnosis of ‘We have no idea what happened and we have no idea if it will happen again. Just monitor yourself’.
Here I am, almost a month into 2018 and I have definitely been taking the time I need to rest, recharge, make healthy changes and be ready to see what tomorrow brings.
The fear I felt with this unknown medical scare was so short lived, minutes, hours maybe. The fear that I felt with my chronic migraines lasted years and I could say I still feel it. But that is for another blog.
As counsellors we know that everyones grief is different. Mine, mine comes first with shock. Shock as to how this person is no longer on the planet. Shock as to ‘what do mean i won’t see that person tomorrow?’
Its been two years since I last lost someone I cared about. In those two years the memory of her has not faded, I can still hear her voice and laugh. I choose to remember her as she was when she was laughing. It is still surreal that she is gone.
Now today as I spoke with good memories about someone else, within minutes it went from a funny stories about last week to ‘he can’t be gone’
Tomorrow I will walk into work and not see his smiling face waving at me. I have just lost a person that watched my back on my 9-5. Someone who sang and danced all day long.
Everyones grief is different, mine will come with calmness as soon as the shock wears off.
Almost nine years ago, I attended the wedding of one of my many cousins. Pre weddings as fun, it was filled with organization, decoration and laughter. Day one of the wedding went off without a hitch, day two went off with music and dancing. Day three, the main day of the wedding the ‘I Do’s’ or for us the Nikkah day had finally come. The anticipation, the nerves, the air is always filled with emotion. On this day I woke up feeling strange. An hour or so before having to get ready to attend that nights event, I realized I was having a migraine attack. Why didn’t I recognize this sooner?! I have never had regular migraine attack symptoms. I rarely know its going to hit.
What do I do now? My big brother is getting married in a number of hours and yet I am feeling sick and in pain. How do I not attend? How do I attend?
There are times where you just have to pop that migraine attack pill and cross your fingers its enough to get you through a little while.
This exact scenario repeated itself yesterday. A younger cousin/brother getting married and I wake up feeling strange. The headache lands me in bed and yet all I can think about is how I will make it through the evening. The option of missing his wedding isn’t on the table. especially since I was not able to take part in any pre wedding activities as my chronic migraines have progressed over the years. Either that or getting older has made it harder to deal with the symptoms or the pain.So, I swallow a migraine attack pill, wait until the very last minute to get ready and I head out.
All evening I felt like I was going to pass out, I couldn’t stand being in the room with the amount of people, noise and smells that was around me. I made it through the evening strictly on the thought that I will be in my bed soon enough.
Some might say that this was a bad decision for me to make. To me it was not an everyday dinner or get together that I would be able to skip. This was a wedding, a celebration of lives coming together and a show of support and welcome to the new couple. This was a new chapter in my little cousins life that I was able to take part in in whatever capacity I could.
As soon as it was over, I ran home and went straight to bed. I felt horrible, I still do but the thought of those memories makes me smile and that was worth the pain and discomfort I went through last night.
Congratulations FMK#4 on your wedding!
Two weeks from today, my two and a half month race begins again. What is my two and a half month race? Its the window between the treatments I receive for my severe
Every two and a half months, I carry out a routine that I have no where near perfected in the four years that I have been going through it.
I wake up the day of my treatment in no mood to talk to anyone, no appetite, no patience and on edge. I drive to my local pharmacy where I pay a absurd amount of money for a small vial that looks like its empty. I drive this mysterious substance to the doctors office and all I can think about during the drive is whats going to happen once I get there.
I will be injected about 20-30 times in various sites on my head. With each injection I will feel pain that makes me want to jump out of the chair I am sitting in and punch the wall. I will instantly feel worse then I did when I came into the doctors office and then I will need to be driven home so that I can sleep the rest of the day in this pain.
All of this, just for two and a half months of semi normalcy.
Now this day has almost come to an end. Do I feel any better? Am I glad its over for now? Can I carry on like I have been until the next treatment?
Is it worth it? To go through that much pain in order to not be in as much pain as I am without them.
It doesn’t end after I wake up from a day of rest. It will get better after two weeks, when the mysterious substance takes effect.
But the Chronic Migraines never end. I carry it with me everyday, everywhere I go and in everything I do.