#Take5ToBlog

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On 5th February, it is Time To Talk Day – a campaign by Time To Change to encourage people to talk about mental illness for five just minutes. As part of the campaign, Time to Change want people to share why they are taking part in the movement with just five sentences (above) and here are mine…

  1. My name is Habiba and I struggle with an eating disorder (anorexia), depression and anxiety.
  2. My mental illness has affected my life by making it rather difficult for me to do normal day to day activities because a voice in my head seems to control everything I say or do.
  3. My greatest source of support has been family (the ones who understand) and my friends who have always been there for me. Another strong support has been God and Music. Music has definitely helped me through some rough times. And believing in a higher power? Well, it is amazing what that can do.
  4. My hope for the future, in terms of talking about mental illness is that I would like to see more empathy, support and understanding for people with mental health problems.
  5. I am taking 5 on Time To Talk day because I am passionate about breaking the stigma of mental illness, especially in my culture where mental illness is not often talked about without bringing shame into the equation. Through my journey with mental illness, I want to inspire people and make them believe that it does get better.

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Celebrating small achievements with anxiety

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It has been a while since I last blogged so I thought it is about time I write.  I have been inspired to write about recognising and celebrating small achievements when you have anxiety because I don’t think people understand how even little successes matter. It is great if you have big dreams and want to focus on the main long term goal. Looking to the future and having big goals is a motivator to achieve them. But, without small achievements, you cannot get to the big ones. As the saying goes “You can’t run before you can walk.”

We all have bad memories when we may have failed something but when you think about it, there have still been many successes along the way. Have you really given yourself credit for the little things?

For me, I learnt to be proud of little things that I pushed myself to do within the last few months. I started a new job and slowly started trying to face up to my fears along the way.

For example…

  • Making small talk with a colleague: This might not seem like a big deal but my anxiety can make this difficult but whenever I go out of my way to talk to someone, to actually talk, even just saying hello…I feel like I accomplished something.
  • Answering the telephone
  • Offering to make tea for colleagues
  • Asking for a little help
  • Smiling at a stranger
  • Being honest
  • Managing to get out of bed and face the day when it is the last thing you want to do
  • Joining in a conversation rather than isolating oneself
  • Managing to find the time to workout within a busy schedule (even if it just a short walk)

There is so much to be proud of. A lot of people just focus on the negative and beat themselves up. Of course, there are times I still do that myself but there is always something to be proud of no matter how big or small they are. Even the mistakes you made or failed something, you still can be proud that you didn’t give up. Instead, you keep trying. Focus on what you can learn from the mistake and how it can motivate you to do better next time.

Motivational Monday #1

I thought I would start doing a series on my blog. Motivational Monday came to mind. I am all about self development and improving yourself and I just want some positivity on my blog once a week.

So I thought I would start with a quote I live by which is….

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Having been suffering from severe social anxiety for many years, I now wake up every morning and read this quote to myself. I have realised that if you are scared of something, when you keep avoiding it, the problem gets worse, so you might as well do it! What is the worse that could happen? If you mess up, you can learn from it for next time. I was scared of speaking in public before and I still am. That was one of my biggest fears ever since I could remember. Now, everyday, I challenge myself to speak in front people or speak to someone I don’t know…this is helping me build my confidence. I have my own radio show which is a platform for me to break some of my fears. So, if you are scared of something – feel that fear and do it anyway, because trust me, when you do it, you will feel so much better afterwards.

I highly highly recommend the book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway (where I got the quote from) by Susan Jeffers. Fantastic book. It has helped me a lot.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2013

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It is World Suicide Prevention Day today and to anyone who wanted to take their own life but did not and are still here, I am so proud of you. I understand what it is like. After years of battling awful demons, wanting to not be here anymore, I have realised how I took life for granted. Recovery is so hard but there is always hope. Everyday is a blessing to be alive. Just remember, life is worth living. Stay strong. 

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Being Shy & Quiet

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Something that people often describe me as is “quiet”. I have no problem with that at all. Well, not now anyway. I am a quiet person but there is a lot more to it than that. For me anyway, because my quietness is a symptom of my Social Anxiety, which I have had for many years but that is another matter. I want to talk about shyness and quietness in general, especially in school.

Shyness is nice. Yes, I am quoting The Smiths but it is true. Shyness is nice and it is a beautiful thing, yet when I was at school, I felt like being shy and quiet was a bad thing. Teachers used to put me down for being shy and not speaking. In every school report I received, it said “Habiba is a very sensible child but is very shy and quiet and should speak up a bit more.” and that made me feel really really upset because that was who I was yet my teachers wanted me to become someone different and so I felt like I was never good enough.

I craved to be someone who is loud and outspoken because those were the people who were popular and had lots of friends and they were the ones who was most liked by peers and teachers. Because I was quiet, peers did not really understand me or even got to know me and I was an easy target because I did not open up as others did and was afraid to stand up for myself and that is why I usually isolated myself even more leaving me to become this very anxious person I am today.

I feel like the negativity attached to being shy and quiet stops children from enjoying their school life. I sometimes talk to kids in primary and secondary school and sometimes they would say there is a quiet person in their class who has no friends, who always gets low grades and gets picked on and I tell them to talk to that person and become their friend or even smile at them because I know how they feel because I was that person once.

Someone can be shy and quiet for no particular reason, they just are which is absolutely fine. Some can be quiet because they have had some sort of a trauma or they just have stuff going on at home which leaves them to become very quiet in school. You have no idea what someone might be going through so please, do not judge them or be mean to them.

Do not get me wrong, shyness can get in the way of things because for me it did ruin a lot of opportunities and I never really showed people who I was without being shy and if that is you, then do get help. Obviously if you were once a loud person who then became rather quiet, then I would suggest you look into that a bit more and find out why that happened.

However, shyness can also just be a simple personality trait in some but they can still do normal things. Some can be shy in certain situations. Now that I can do certain things that I could not have done a few years ago, people tell me “How can you do that? You are so quiet! I never expected you to do that.” Well, it is hard. of course it is. But, being shy and quiet does not have to stop me from doing certain things that require me to speak. It ruined so much for me that now I am not letting it ruin anything anymore.

For once I am proud of myself  for getting this far with my anxiety. Nothing is easy, of course not: I am at university now and even to this day, I still suffer with shyness and still feel awkward every single day of my life and now, it is a real mental illness  that I am battling with along with others which does not make not being quiet any easier.

As I got older, I realised that being loud is not the be all and end all. You do not have to be loud to be popular or to be liked. You do not have to be popular either. Who cares? I may be really disheartened by the way my school life panned out but despite all that, I am glad that I stayed true to myself. It is all too easy to say “I wish I was not a quiet person. Things could have been so different” But, it is done now. The past is the past. Yes, I was quiet and shy and I still am, but honestly this is not something I am angry about anymore. This is me.

So, if you are at school, college, university or even an adult who is shy and a quiet person, there is nothing wrong with that at all. Embrace it. If it is getting in the way, get help but just know that shyness and quietness is a lovely trait to have and no one should tell you otherwise.

Book Review: Love You Bye: My Story by Scott Mills

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Being the radio geek that I am, a few months ago I finally bought Scott Mills’ book about his career and all the troubles he faced along the way. If you do not know who Scott Mills is, he is a BBC Radio 1 DJ and presents a weekly mid-afternoon show on the station.

One reason why I bought this book is not because I am a fan of Scott but because I faced (and still facing) similar struggles to him and this book has been so inspiring to me.

In the book, he talks about being homosexual and his visit to Uganda to film a BBC documentary called ‘The World’s Worst Place To Be Gay’ about the illegality of homosexuality in the country, which must have been very tough for him to do.

He also talks about his journey to becoming a successful radio DJ whilst also battling crippling anxiety which is what I could relate to. Also, he talks about the losses in his life, his relationships, his friendship with David Hasslehoff, his weight and drinking problems and how it overcame them all.

He is very honest yet very funny in the book, which is what I loved the most. Something I could relate to was his battle with anxiety.

“My way back from hospital radio sacking came through work experience at Ocean FM, a proper radio station. Every Saturday I would turn up and do whatever menial tasks were asked of me. I would happily have dropped out of school and spent all my time in the studios if I could. Ocean FM gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel much happier and more secure, so it’s a mystery as to why I began to suffer from crippling panic attacks at around the same time as I started working there.”

This paragraph stood out to me because I completely understand how he felt. Radio is something that makes me feel happy and makes me forget about all the bad stuff but it is not easy when you have anxiety, This paragraph reminds me of my work placement at BBC Radio 4. Working there changed my life yet I battled severe social anxiety whilst working there but it was the first step to getting better and facing my fears.

When you have anxiety, people think you cannot do jobs that require you to speak. I often get told how am I even a journalist because I am so quiet but that is the thing. I challenge the fear, just like Scott Mills did.

This book was great in the fact that you get to see how he made it big and got a job on a station like Radio 1. Following his career since I was little and being on a journey to a career in the radio industry myself, it was an enjoyable and inspiring book to read and I highly recommend it to radio fans but also if you suffer from any form of anxiety too.