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Interview

Meg.

How does one’s environment affect their mental well-being?

Environment is instrumental to our mental well-being. Environment spans so many aspects, it’s not just having a lovely bedroom, it’s also the people we are surrounded by – whether that be by choice or not. It is also understanding how different environments affect us. For example, I really struggle with lots of clutter that isn’t mine. I have ADHD and I’m very sensitive to outside stimuli. I work very hard to create a harmonious space around me. I grew up in a house with a lot of toxic energy and this had a detrimental impact on my mental health. Therefore I am so protected in my older age as to who I let into my space. I need to keep myself protected first and foremost. However I appreciate that environments fluctuate. For example, when I am depressed I tend to neglect keeping my environment clean and tidy – however I’ve learnt to not beat myself up about this. My environment will change from day to day, and putting pressure on myself to always have perfect harmony around me is actually counter-intuitive. 

How do you deal with your own mental health?

Dealing with my own mental health is a daily journey. I’m very aware as to how my day starts can have a lasting impact. When I have sleep troubles and, particularly at the moment with lockdown, when I get out of bed late it can really send me into a spin for the rest of the day. I start small with my mental health, instead of thinking of the mammoth task to tackle I see it as small acts of kindness to myself. Whether it’s making myself a cup of tea, whether it’s taking the decision to ignore social media for a day, or run myself a hot bath. It’s also changing how I speak to myself. I had anorexia and bulimia, and the lasting effect of the internal dialogue I had with myself continued long after I had been in recovery. I make a concerted effort to tell myself something kind and compassionate every day. Looking in the mirror and saying ‘I like my body’ or ‘I like myself.’ It is difficult when you start, but after time I realised just how much it helped improve my relationship with myself. Speaking for myself, my mental health is very much based on the relationship I have with myself and my inner child. My childhood trauma had a lasting impact on me, I felt worthless and that I wasn’t deserving of love. I had to break this narrative and begin to treat myself with the love and compassion I wanted as a child and felt I didn’t receive.  Not every day is perfect, I try as much as I can to take care of the current moment and have faith the other moments will then look after themselves. 

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased to a notable extent in your community? What may be the reason for this? 

I believe my immediate circle are very stigma-busting. I’m fortunate enough to have built a life with people, on and offline, who care for others and believe in mental health change. I believe social media has been a double-edged sword in this. As we find ourselves locked in our houses, many more of us are spending time online and I have found a fantastic community who are all open and have no stigma in regards to mental health. I’m a queer socialist, and people in those circles tend to be very accepting and without much judgement. However I truly believe it is easy to get caught in an echo chamber, and believe because those around you think and act in a supportive and forward thinking way that the rest of the world is like that. It’s sobering when you expand beyond your circles and realise there are still a lot of people who don’t believe in mental health support. They have stigmatising views and see mental health as something ‘dangerous’. Whilst there is more talk on public platforms about mental health, many films and media are still stigmatising of mental illnesses. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

The million dollar question. I’m asked this a lot and never really know how to encapsulate what it means to me exactly. It’s such an overarching term. Mental health meaning in the dictionary sense is ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.’ Which sums it up fairly spot-on. In the general sense. For me, we then have several subcategories of this. Mental health isn’t just being ill, or having a disorder, or a stereotype. It’s like a fingerprint. No two people are the same. Your happiness is also part of your mental health. It’s not anything shameful. It’s who we are as individuals. It builds our relationships, it gives us creativity, it makes us special. Mental health is those tangles, spirals, lumps, bumps, and swirls that make up who we are. 

Why do you think that there is shame surrounding mental health topics? Why do people refuse to talk about it?

I believe mental health has been stigmatised through the media. People with mental illness have been portrayed as stereotypes, dangerous, different and to be avoided. They have been dealt with in a sense of ‘fear.’ Horror has used mental illness in their ‘monsters.’ There is also the phrase ‘stiff upper lip’ in British culture. This notion perpetuates the idea that emotion is a sign of weakness. ‘Oh don’t be so soft’ ‘man up’ ‘suck it up’ there’s a litany of phrases banded around to force people to quell what are deemed as ‘negative’ emotions. This stunting and suppression has a lasting impact, it also bleeds the idea into society that having mental health is a lack of control, a mismanagement of emotions. It then spreads and people begin to harbour shame, and shame silences. It’s been handed down generationally and it’s time we break this stigma.

How do you express yourself to the world?

I express myself through my writing. I find it hard to speak to be people very close to me, I think many people do. We don’t want to worry people. We don’t want to ‘cause a fuss.’ I’ve found through my writing I can be vulnerable and work through my emotions, all of them. Happy and sad. Up and down. I started writing spoken word poetry. This enabled me to have a third voice. Whilst I drew on personal experiences it wasn’t me directly saying this. I then moved onto writing plays, and again this was another mouthpiece for me to share the tangles of my mind. These two mediums helped me build the confidence to start my blog and begin writing first-hand of my experiences. These are me, these are raw, these are truthful. I am now so grateful for the community I have from my blog, and it has enabled me to express myself in a more direct manner. 

What are some challenges you have faced in life and proud of how you faced it?

My mother passed away in August 2019. It was also in the middle of a really tough period of my life. I had been hospitalised several times for mental health crises and suicide attempts. I blocked out what had happened. I indulged in alcohol and drugs, I was told ‘oh you’re handling it so well’ when in reality I was suppressing it. Any time something arose I would reach for my numbing target behaviour. I have now readdressed my relationship with alcohol and drugs and have joined AA. I’ve got myself into therapy and I’m working through this grief, as well as the childhood trauma I experienced. I am proud of myself for engaging with these growth methods. However I appreciate that they are not a quick fix, and it is a battle everyday. Recovery isn’t linear but we need to engage with the tools to move forwards. 

If you change something about yourself, what would it be? And why?

I wish I could learn to stop putting so much pressure on myself. I get so easily caught up with what others are doing, how much better than me they are doing and I can spiral. I convince myself I need to be doing more, or should have achieved more. I would like to be able to pause and appreciate more often. I want to practice more gratitude and compassion. I am aware of this, and I’m trying.  Gratitude journals. Stopping the negative self talk thoughts in their tracks, and meditation are all helping. Some days are better than others. 

What are some self-care practices that you recommend?

Meditation. Top of the list for sure. I subscribe to the Calm App, and their 10 minute daily meditation is such a delightful aspect of self care to my day. Sometimes I have to fight myself to do it, other days I don’t – however the days I do it only improves my day. YouTube has lots of free meditations for 5 minutes plus. I believe how I speak to myself is self care as well. I’m learning to parent my wounded inner child. I try to consider that when I’m speaking to myself, I’m speaking to the child within me. Patience, compassion, kindness and encouragement. This is what brings the best out in a child, inner child included. 

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

I would love to write a book. I’m looking forward to the theatre industry returning in a post-COVID world and I can further my playwriting ability. I hope to reach 1 year sober. I hope to find an inner peace. Big ask I know. I’ll say I hope to continue with what I’m doing. I hope writing will enable me to meet incredible people. I hope to continue working on myself, and I really hope to help people. 

What would you want the Revive audiences to know about you?

That I’m trying to approach mental health in my own way. I make fun of myself and my illnesses because that helps me. I can’t focus on the dark and weight of it all because that doesn’t help me. I swear a lot when talking about it. I’m incredibly honest, and at some times totally blunt. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, and I’m not trying to appeal to everyone. We all need to find our medium to express ourselves, and this is mine. I don’t take it personally if my approach isn’t palatable for all. There will be someone out there who likes it. There will be someone out there who you like. Also if you see me comparing myself to others, or trying to be someone I’m not… tell me to shut the f*ck up.


Check out Meg!

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Interview

Britney Bui.

I see that you’re part of SHEDIDTHAT!, Zenerations, Ocean Location, and Her Campus. Could you tell us what got you interested in advocating for change?

After COVID-19 hit, I was stuck in my house with nothing to do. Nonetheless, this gave me an opportunity to expose myself to more organizations and platforms on social media that I have not been familiar with.

I started as the Design Director at SHEDIDTHAT!  in July 2020 with the intention of advocating for women’s rights, empowering girls to explore their true potential, and take on life-changing opportunities with tenacity. Throughout the past few months, we successfully hosted a Women in Leadership Panel, launched our sister blog called InspiHER Media, and recruited team members from all around the world. We are currently hosting our second round of fellowship applications for any girls who want to create change through the power of journalism, digital art, and social media!

In August 2020, I became a graphic designer for Zenerations and landed a role as the Director of Campaigns and Development for Ocean Location. With a platform of 64 thousand followers (and counting) on Instagram and 140 team members, Zenerations has managed to become Gen Z’s most favorited account for activism and current news updates. As a graphic designer, I am tasked with creating on-brand infographics that highlight important concepts expressed in a specific article that is published on our website. During my time in this organization, I have enjoyed creating bonds with my talented and dedicated team members. As for Ocean Location, our small team is currently working on building a foundation for the organization and will be hosting team member applications soon!

Last but not least, I am a fresh face in the Her Campus community. Her Campus is “the #1 media site for college women, written entirely by the world’s top college journalists.” I currently hold two roles in Her Campus, one of which is a graphic designer for Her Campus at Penn State. I am also a Campus Trendsetter, who collaborates with brands and businesses to promote their products and/or services through creative content. 

What is your overall goal in life? Furthermore, how is the path you’re going on right now going to lead you to your goal?

My overall goal in life is to be financially stable, live my life on my own terms, and continue advocating for communities that are not able to have a definite voice through my personal platform. Besides already being involved with activism and engagement, I am learning how to live independently and try things that are beneficial for me. As a college student studying remotely at home, it’s difficult to do things on my own (especially with traditional Asian parents), but it also gives me the opportunity to get a job, spend more time with family, and get accustomed to the college lifestyle, minus the dorming. 

You seem interested in graphic designing. What made you gain interest in graphic design?

I started graphic designing in my senior year of high school for my Leadership class and it just took off from there. As I got more familiar with graphic designing applications, I started to develop an interest in it. With more experience, I was confident enough to start displaying my work through the organizations I work with today. I sort of also consider graphic designing a way of expression. Just like art, every blank page—or should I say, canvas—is transformed into a finished product that is representative of my skill set, personality, and style. 

Who have been your biggest role-models or resources in times of unsureness, grief, and healing?

In the dark times of my life, I heavily rely on the tight-knit relationships I have with my close friends and significant other. I find it very helpful to be communicative and open about my feelings and emotions. Although, I do believe that reflecting independently and just taking time to focus on myself will better increase my overall mood. I usually like to turn to music and personal care to take my mind off things and escape reality once in a while, whether it be doing my makeup at home, drawing, or even watching Netflix. 

How has the pandemic affected you mentally?

When the pandemic hit, I was currently in the middle of my senior year of high school. With so much uncertainty, I was really disappointed and devastated about the fact that I would not be able to walk across the stage or see my favorite teachers one last time. I wouldn’t say that the pandemic really took a large toll on my mental health, but I did experience a feeling of loss for quite some time. I found it really difficult to adapt to a new way of living, especially with virtual learning. Staring at my computer for the majority of the day definitely made my eyesight a lot worse. Knowing that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel really motivates me every day to continue to do what I do best and allow myself to learn and grow along the way.

What are the most beautiful things about life to you?

To sum it up, the most beautiful things about life to me is definitely the nature that surrounds us and the relationships we form with people in our community. These meaningful relationships that we cultivate often lead to open doors and unexpected opportunities in our lifetime. Need to mention, the success and innovations that are achieved are almost always a result of individuals who have cultivated strong connections with each other, and even themselves.

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased to a notable extent in your community? What may be the reason for this?

I feel like the stigma around mental health has greatly decreased in my community. Nowadays, schools and workplaces are emphasizing the importance of mental health, which I really appreciate. This is probably due to the large numbers of suicides and self-harm incidents our country has seen annually. However, I still do believe that certain cultures ignore the importance and role that mental health plays in our physical health.

As an Asian-American, I grew up with very traditional parents who always expected that I would excel in school. They would consistently discipline me for dishonorable actions and create a very tense environment every single time. With the pressure and restrictions that were placed upon me, I began to really struggle with my mental health. I feel like many other teenagers who grew up with traditional parents can relate to me on a personal level. For Asian parents [and maybe others], they seem to shy away from topics that they are uncomfortable to address such as mental health, dating, and even sex. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

There are many ways to interpret the meaning of mental health. Mental health to me reflects my overall well-being. Because without a healthy mindset, I am not able to physically motivate myself to do the simplest of tasks. I consider my mental health to be sort of like the nucleus of the cell—it essentially is responsible for the DNA of my wellness and regulates the inner workings of my feelings and emotions.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell Revive’s audience?

Whatever you do, don’t do it for the satisfaction of others, truly do it for yourself. You deserve it! Thank you for sticking around and reading my Revive interview!


Check out Britney!

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Interview

Anh Nguyen.

I see that you’re the executive director of The Asian Articles. Could you tell us a little about the initiative?

The Asian Articles is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and uplifting pan-Asian youth, primarily through writing and the arts. It’s difficult to represent the entire pan-Asian community when you’re based in the United States, because even up until now, representation in popular media has been primarily of the East Asian community. Moreover, many Asian communities are only covered in news or media because of the tragedy they experience. Our initiative as The Asian Articles is to normalize the representation of West, Central, South, and Southeast Asians in media through publications like our zine collections and articles and to ensure that the pan-Asian community is represented in a positive light rather than just tragedy. 

What is your overall goal in life? Furthermore, how is the path you’re going on right now going to lead you to your goal?

My overall goal in life would probably be to just deeply impact at least one person. I think it would be remiss of me to say that I want to change the world or something along those lines; it would be too idyllic. However, I would be content if I knew that my work positively impacted just one person, because that person can then deeply impact someone else. What I do with The Asian Articles, Dear Asian Youth Houston (as one of their cabinet members), or even in my local community has kept me on a direct path to this goal, and I’d like to think that my work has already affected one or two people in some manner. 

What would you say about mental health in the Asian community?

Mental health in the Asian community, especially the older generation, is still taboo. While the community here in America has definitely opened up more to discussions of mental health, it’s still something that many Asians can’t bring up to their parents or close relatives without receiving mixed response. I’m remembering a past conversation I had with my mother, who was raised in Vietnam until she immigrated here at around 18. She didn’t understand why mental health wasa  prevalent issue for so many youth, and it had to do with the culture she was raised in. The collectivistic values that many Asian cultures hold can raise extremely high barriers when it comes to free discussions of mental health, so I think the Asian community would benefit from adapting some of the individualistic values of Western culture.

What would you say to your younger self?

To my younger self, I would say, “Don’t be too resentful towards your parents, and don’t be afraid to make a mistake.” When I was growing up, it was difficult for me to empathize with my parents. I didn’t understand their harsh parenting, but now, as I’m older, I understand it was a result of how they were raised themselves. At times I’m even grateful because without the harsh parenting, I doubt I would be as hard-working or tenacious as I am now. With the harsh parenting came a constant expectation to be perfect, and this perfectionism has been a foible. I didn’t like making mistakes or asking for help (both things which I’ve worked on and am continuing to work on), which lead to some incidents during my childhood that could have been avoided. However, those incidents became memorable lessons for me, so I can’t say I’m not grateful for them.

Who have been your biggest role-models or resources in times of unsureness, grief, and healing? 

My older sister, by nine years, has been my shoulder to cry on and a source of stability for me during times of grief and unsureness. We’ve both experienced much, especially her, and our ability to empathize with each other has made her an invaluable person for me to go to whenever I’m uncertain, etc. As for role models, I think it’s stereotypically ARMY of me to say BTS, but I think I really can say that BTS, as people and as artists, have been a wonderful resource for me. I’ve always relied on music to get me through everything and anything, but the message of hope and reassurance that BTS brings has been even more comforting. 

How has the pandemic affected you mentally?

The continued absence of people and their physical presence in my life has made me increasingly lonely, but being a year into the pandemic has inured me to that feeling, and I’ve found ways to cope thanks to technology and the internet. It’s been difficult to stay focused and motivated at times, but in some ways, the pandemic has allowed me to improve my mental health and back away from falling into burn out.

What are the most beautiful things about life to you?

The most beautiful things about life, to me, are the moments in which I’m able to slow down and appreciate my time on Earth – whether that’s to experience good food, sights, or people. I think different interactions with people are what make life special, and while many are mundane, there are some that leave a lasting impression on you and that you’ll have for the rest of your life, which I believe is very special. 

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased to a notable extent in your community? What may be the reason for this? 

I’m not sure about notable, but I believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased somewhat within my local Asian community, as well as the general community, primarily due to Gen Z (and millennial) efforts to bring mental health to the forefront of conversation, especially in terms of stress, burnout, and more. Social media, especially Instagram with accounts like Revive and Project Lotus, has given young folx the courage to begin discussions of mental health outside of the bubble it used to always be trapped inside. This initiation is key to destigmatizing mental health.

What does mental health mean to YOU?

To me, mental health means recognizing my own boundaries when it comes to work and stress and prioritizing those boundaries. With hustle culture being so prevalent and a need for productivity driven into my Gen Z brain, it can be difficult for me to know when how much is challenging myself and how much is pushing myself too far past my limits.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell Revive’s audience?

Don’t ever be afraid to prioritize your mental health. I know that’s easier said than done, but sometimes, doing something for the sake of your mental health is better than sacrificing it for the sake of something else (like work or academics).


Check out Anh & The Asian Articles!

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Interview

Anna Everts.

Can you tell us about your most stressful experience and how you overcame it?

I think my most stressful experience was the first day of my first part-time job. I was 15 at the time (that’s a normal age for a part-time job here) and I was very nervous. Because of my autism, I always first need proper instructions when diving into a new situation. When I arrived on the job (a theme park) I was told to go to a certain place in the theme park to meet the manager, who would give me instructions. After at least half an hour of wandering, I still couldn’t find it. I was starting to panic: what if they think I’m late? What if they’re going to fire me right away? Luckily another employee noticed me and told me where to go. Turns out the place I needed to be didn’t have the name I was given on the front, so no wonder I couldn’t find it! Once there, I got told what to do and was then left to my own devices. This scared me because I was thrown into the deep end right away. I had to manage a food court by myself! I was scared and stressed, but luckily I only got 4 customers that day. But those four customers did raise my anxiety a lot. I managed to pull myself together and told myself that I just needed time to get the hang of it. During the entire season I was alone in food courts 80% of the time, so I did get the hang of it. I’m not sure if I overcame this stress right away, but it did teach me a lot of things that would be of use later in life. Every moment in life has lessons.

How does one’s environment affect their mental well-being?

A lot! Until March 2020, I was employed and worked in an office. While my colleagues were cool, I just felt myself being drained by the office. When I left the job and started freelancing, my mental well-being rapidly improved because I got to work from home all the time. I got to be in my own safe environment all the time (also because of corona..). It helped me so much that I managed to quit my antidepressants last September. I had been on them for 5 years at that point. I think if you’re constantly in an environment where you feel like you aren’t completely free to be yourself, or an environment that drains your energy in some way, it can really do a number on you in the long run.

How do you deal with your own mental health?

Because I’m autistic I’ve always been sort of forced to reflect on my actions and thoughts. Being aware that you’re different means you’re constantly hyper-aware of everything you do and say. On one hand that was bad for my mental health, but on the other hand it taught me a lot about myself. My past two psychologists told me that I’m really self-aware and seem to know myself very well. So I think getting to know yourself and your wants and needs is a very important step. I talk to myself a lot, which has been proven to be beneficial for your mental health. By talking to myself during low moments and breakdowns, I get to understand what is actually bothering me and I can think about a rational solution. 

What self-care practices would you recommend? Why do you think it is important to make time for yourself during the day?

As mentioned before, I think talking to yourself can be very helpful. Another very important thing is to protect your energy. You don’t owe anyone your time, presence and energy. If you need to recharge, give yourself room to do so. It’s important to look after yourself so you don’t get burnt out. Giving yourself time gives you space to heal and rest. One thing I learned is that when you’re tired, your feelings become distorted. Sometimes I realise that I’m not actually sad or stressed but just tired. That’s why, when my mental health gets bad, I go to bed early. If I sleep on it, I usually feel better in the morning. So getting enough sleep is an important part of self-care. 

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased to a notable extent in your community? What may be the reason for this? 

I kind of feel like on one hand there is more awareness now and people recognise how serious mental illness can be, but on the other hand this awareness makes people dismiss it. I’ve heard people say “everyone is depressed nowadays”, implying people are exaggerating. So I think there is still a lot of work to do. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

When I read “mental health” I always associate it with mental illness. I was diagnosed with depression at age 18, but became very depressed around the age of 16. However, according to my mother, I’ve been “down” for my entire life. Even as a five-year-old I expressed my dislike for life in general. So now that I’m actually doing better for once, my focus is starting to shift. I now slowly start to associate “mental health”  with self-care. It’s important to look after your brain, because your brain determines how you feel. Now that I have noticed what self-care can do, I think mental health is one of the most important things we as humans should be aware of.

How do you express yourself?

It took me a good 21 or so years to find ways to express myself, and I’m still not sure I fully figured it out. Because of my autism I always found it hard to fit in. I figured that, if I just did what everyone else was doing, they wouldn’t notice I was different. I was ashamed of being autistic and didn’t want to accept it. But being someone you’re not is tiring and at one point I decided I had had enough. I wanted to discover the real me, and so I did. Right now I express myself through my appearance. I like wearing a lot of colour and wearing 80s/90s style clothing. My friends jokingly call me “retro clown” (partly because I sometimes wear face paint or stick felt flowers on my face). 

Who inspires you the most?

Good question! I’m honestly not sure. Is it weird to say I inspire myself? Because I’m pretty proud of what I have achieved so far. I didn’t have it easy, but I managed to build a stable life for myself. I do also get inspired by my friends, because they’re all such creative and kind people.

What are some hobbies you have?

My main hobby is creative writing, although I would love for that to be my job. One of my comics got published last year and there are more comics coming out this year. I also want to write more short stories and poems. Besides writing, I love to paint. I have a little Etsy shop where I sell some of my paintings. Writing and painting are ways for me to express myself. I’m a very creative person and I’m the happiest when I get to create new things. 

Anything else you would like Revive’s audience to know about you?

Maybe not necessarily about me, but I would like for the audiences to know that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. It’s okay to cancel plans and take time for yourself to recover. It’s okay to put yourself first if you need to heal. Putting myself first was the best thing I’ve ever done and it has really helped me to get better. Even if today seems hopeless, know what you can always try again tomorrow. Never stop trying.


Check out Anna!

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Interview

Mae.

How does one’s environment affect their mental well-being?

One’s environment has a lot of effect on mental well-being. If you’re surrounded by people who keep on saying “just be happy” or make you feel as if your feelings are not valid, you start to believe that. This only causes further damage to someone’s well-being. If you’re surrounded by people who support you and try to understand what you’re going through, you can stop pretending your fine all the time and focus on your healing process.

How do you deal with your own mental health?

Good question. I am still struggling with this too. But I really like to read and go to bed early to watch a movie or series. Also, I cry a lot. I need to get those emotions out and crying is one of my ways to do it. 

I see you are the owner of Let’s break the shame, tell me some obstacles you faced when you first started the organization?

I think the first thing that crosses everyone’s mind when starting a business is: will people actually think this is valuable? Am I making a fool out of myself? Sometimes it’s still difficult to put myself out there, because I am afraid of what other people are gonna say. 

How did you make your organization a safe haven for people to come and share their stories?

I think what makes people most safe is the fact that everyone at LBTS has been struggling or is still struggling with their mental health. We understand them and we make them feel heard, creating a safe environment where no one judges.

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased to a notable extent in your community? What may be the reason for this? 

Well, in the LBTS community yes. Because we’re surrounded by people who understand each other. In real life, I’m not always surrounded by people who want/can/try to understand, but I’ve found my way to explain things from my point of view. I’m at that stage where I don’t let people get to me. Instead, I tell them what mental health struggles really feel like.

What are you most proud of in your organization?

My lovely team. 

Why do you think that there is shame surrounding mental health topics? Why do people refuse to talk about it?

I don’t “think” there is a shame around mental health topics; I know there is. I have experienced it myself and I’ve seen it in my own environment as well. It’s not something people refuse to talk about, but society makes them feel as if they’re not allowed to talk about it. As if they’re crazy. But they’re illnesses, just as physical ones, so why are we not allowed to talk about that? 

What would you want the Revive audiences to know?

You matter, you are beautiful & asking for help is okay.


Check out Let’s Break The Shame!

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Interview

Karina Kejriwal.

Can you tell us about your most stressful experience and how you overcame it?

The most stressful experience I went through was at the beginning of quarantine due to the uncertainty present in the world. In March/April of 2020, I was extremely anxious and longed to be near friends again. Over time, I learned to adjust to a new schedule that balanced a workload of schoolwork, extracurriculars, and then social time. Now, I have adjusted and feel comfort in this schedule and have got used to this new life. 

How does one’s environment affect their mental well-being?

I am a strong believer in the fact that every individual is a combination of the five people they spend the most time with. This includes personality, habits,  passions, and attitude. One’s environment strongly affects their mental well-being because they are, essentially, a support system. Without a strong and positive environment, it can be very difficult to have a stable mental health. 

What do you feel matters the most to you?

I consider three main things that matter the most to me: healthy well-being, happiness, and success (relative to my own definition). Firstly, healthy well-being includes self care, a positive attitude and mental health. I think it’s very important to always put health first, because without good health, everything goes downhill from there. Next, happiness includes a work/life balance and being surrounded by the people I care most about. If I can have a smile on my face, I believe I can accomplish anything. And lastly, the one most important to me, success. This includes pursuing a goal that you’re passionate about and following your dreams. In my eyes, working towards my dreams and goals is success, not wealth necessarily. 

What is a dream that you have yet to accomplish?

A dream I have yet to accomplish is having a happy and healthy family. Of course, that is long and far out, but since I was young, I have been really excited to have a family and kids! But. before this, comes working at a senior position and travelling to many countries. As someone very passionate in business, I look forward to hopefully working for a large company or owning a start-up. But, along with that, I want to travel all over the world – Europe and Australia, especially! 

What would you want the Revive audiences to know about you?

I would like the Revive audiences to know that I love meeting new people! This includes new friends and getting to know others beyond my local area. I would love to talk to anyone virtually, especially if you’re looking for a friend. I love talking about anything Taylor Swift, STEM, latest trends, room decor, and more!


Check out Karina & Cura Project!

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Interview

Cassie.

I see that you’re the founder of Be-YOU-tiful Disaster. Could you tell us a little about the initiative & what you hope your audience gets from it?

) I set my page up as when I’m feeling low I love nothing more than coming across an inspirational quote or post. It either lifts me up or makes me feel like I’m not going crazy, that my feelings are valid and I’m simply not alone. My page is still very much a work in progress and I’m in no way a medical or health professional. I can only go off my own personal experiences and things that I’ve learnt or that inspire me, but I’m hoping to eventually build a community of support where if you are feeling down you can come to my page and see something that gives you a little pick me up, inspiration or something that resonates with you enough to know you aren’t alone with how you feel. People appreciate honesty and realness and I hope to bring that across and show that it doesn’t matter how rich, educated, talented or famous someone is, fundementally we are all just human beings with the same worries, fears and hang ups. 

What motivated you to create Be-YOU-tiful Disaster? Furthermore, what advice would you give someone who is wanting to launch their own start-up but are held back due to the fear of commitment & responsibilities?

The motivation was knowing how much similar pages have helped me and still do, and I’d love to be able to pay that forward and put a smile on someone’s face. Life in general can be overwhelming at times and can sometimes be hard to function and get through the most menial of tasks. I just want to be able to spread some positivity and share my own thoughts and feelings with the occasional bit of humour with the hope of uplifting someone else. For anyone wanting to set up their own page but are unsure I’d say just do it! I feel as long as it’s something that you feel passionate about then you do you and hopefully that will come across to others. There won’t be a problem with commitment if you believe in what you are doing. 

I also learned that you are a breast cancer survivor. If comfortable, could you tell us about that experience and how it affected your mental health?

Having Breast Cancer has had a massive affect of my mental health, more so than I ever thought it would. I can’t even describe how it feels to ask a Doctor if you’re going to die and nobody can give you an answer. I’ve found life after cancer much harder than during cancer treatment. When you’re in active treatment you go in to what I can only describe as “survival mode” and for me I felt numb to what was going on and felt like a robot. Once my main treatments were finished that was when I had the time to try and process what had happened/was happening to me. At my lowest not only was I trying to recover from some treatments (whilst still undergoing other treatments), I was self conscious about my scars, my anxiety was through the roof, the fear that the cancer might return was crippling, I was still underweight and weak, I was having regular panic attacks, I was diagnosed with medical PTSD and if that wasn’t enough my then husband left completely out of the blue and it was all just too much at once. I remember thinking at the time that with all the bad happening to me then I must be a bad person and didn’t deserve to be in this world. It took me a long time to admit I was struggling. Put under the pressures of my own and others expectations to get “back to normal” once in remission, I just didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t okay. I was naive to think that once I was given the “all clear” that I would snap back to my old self but the truth is that person was gone and I was mourning her whilst trying to keep my head above water with everything else going on. I still have my good and bad days but the difference now though is that I’m not afraid to talk about it and that is half the battle.

How has the pandemic affected you mentally? What things did you learn about yourself during the course of this pandemic that you didn’t know before?

 I think the pandemic has affected everyone mentally in some way. For me it’s been hard trying to stay inspired whilst feeling like its Groundhog Day and I’ve had to find different ways to help motivate myself to do the simplest of things like getting dressed in a morning. I’d love to say that the pandemic has made me look at life differently, shown how fragile we really are, shown that it’s people and making memories that are important and not material things etc but the truth is, when you’ve already stared death in the face there isn’t much else a pandemic can teach you about that. What I think has been highlighted though is that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about and we simply need to be kinder to each other. Mental health is real, not as obvious as a physical injury but often more damaging. 

What self-care practices do you recommend? Furthermore, why is it important to scope out time for yourself each day?

For self care I’d recommend doing something that you enjoy and that makes you happy to get them endorphins flowing. For me I love a long soak in the tub with a face mask, doodling on my I pad or watching a Disney film, all of which never fail to relax me and put a smile on my face. Making time for yourself is super important. You need that time to collect your thoughts and just have a bit of time to put yourself first. We’re all guilty of putting others in front of ourselves at times because I think it’s easier to try and help someone else rather than dealing with your own problems sometimes but you can’t give anything useful from an empty battery so it’s important to rest, recharge and reset yourself as and when you need it.

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?

It’s important for everyone to prioritise their mental health and I think this past year has tested our mental resolve more than ever and highlighted even more how important it is to speak up if you need some support. At the end of the day, how are you expected to help others if you aren’t even taking the time to help yourself? It’s especially important for youth as I feel as a society we can sometimes dismiss a teenagers feelings because “they’re too young” or “they don’t know what they’re talking about”. However, we now live in a world where social media has the potential to make our youth feel worthless or inadequate, whether that be from online trolling or seeing photoshopped photos of people who appear to be living their best lives whilst looking like they belong on the front of a magazine cover. Your teenage years are challenging in itself with all the usual social pressures, add to that trying to establish who you are as a person and growing in to the adult that you’re going to become all whilst thinking that you need to look or act a certain way to be accepted. Putting that all together can have a detrimental affect on our teenagers mental health and it’s important that they are seen and heard and as adults we are there to listen and make them feel valid.

Who have been your biggest role-models or resources in times of unsureness, grief, & healing?

 All my fellow cancer fighters/survivors have been my role models. Unless you have had your very existence threatened I don’t think you could ever understand how hard it is to literally fight for your life physically whilst also fighting for your life mentally and come out the other side. You then have to get used to your “new normal” and readapt to life but not as you knew it. Anyone that can do that will always be my inspirations. Support wise there’s a fabulous charity called Maggie’s who offer support for anyone affected by cancer and the best thing is that the support isnt just for the person with cancer. The support is for your close friends and family too. They offer work shops including excercise and arts and crafts but also offer financial and emotional support and put you in touch with other charities that may be able to help you. If you don’t want any of that that you can simply go in for a relaxing cup of tea, they have centers up and down the country with calm spaces for you to just go in for some quiet time. I can not speak highly enough of them and they were and are invaluble support for me and thousands of others.

What does mental health mean to YOU?

 To me mental health means waking up every day and feeling like you are good enough, you are worthy and you are allowed to feel sad sometimes. It sounds cliché but it really is okay not to be okay. You just need to do your best to keep moving forward, taking little steps in the right direction to help yourself grow and heal one day at a time. I’m all about self love but I’m very aware that it’s easy to love yourself when you like what you see in the mirror. True self love comes from loving yourself when you don’t like what you see. Life is fragile and you really have no idea of someones state of mind and we need to mindful of that. Most of us have reached rock bottom at some point, the darkness and negative thoughts can consume you and sometimes it’s hard to see a way out of that black hole. We need to remember that something that might seem a small problem to you can be a massive problem to someone else and we all deal with things in different ways. No matter what facade someone is deciding to show you, you just don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors and it takes no effort at all to just be kinder to each other. Let’s be honest, we’re all a little messed up… some people just hide it better. Nobody is perfect, in fact we’re perfectly imperfect, some might say a beautiful disaster. 

Is there anything else you would like Revive’s audience to know?

 I’ve really enjoyed doing this interview and I think if you are comfortable enough to then it’s important to share your story and use your voice. You have no idea who you may be helping or what it means to someone to be able to read something that they can relate to. I just hope that anyone reading this or who stumbles across my page finds some comfort even in a small way. No one is you and that is your super power. Do you. Be you. Love you. For you.


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Interview

Emily Houston.

Can you tell us about your most stressful experience and how you overcame it?

My most stressful experience was definitely in middle school when I joined band class. Both of my siblings played instruments and really prospered through the program, and I felt that I was expected to as well. Throughout my time in band, I was extremely anxious and stressed. Even just walking to the band hall gave me so much anxiety. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I felt “different” from everyone else, as there were some things I physically couldn’t do because of my condition! I relied heavily on my friends and family through this time, and they helped me to manage my stress and anxiety in a healthy way. I ultimately am very proud of myself though, because I stuck through to the end of the year and only quit when I had finished what I started!

How does one’s environment affect their mental well-being?

One’s environment affects their mental well-being greatly because of the different stimuli around them. When in a stressful situation, their mental health can decline and take a major toll. You have to stop this from happening to you by surrounding yourself with positive people who push you and help keep your mental health in check!

How do you deal with your own mental health?

I deal with my own mental health in many ways- for one, I’m currently taking medication to help stop some of my anxiety! I feel like medication for mental health should be spoken about more and destigmatized, as it may help many people. I also find that meditating and spending time with my family helps my mental health.

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased to a notable extent in your community? What may be the reason for this? 

I believe that my community still has a lot of work to do when it comes to decreasing the stigma around mental health. I live in a pretty small town in Texas, and the community, at times, seems very closed-minded. I think we have taken small steps in the right direction, but we still need to push the issue and make the community speak more openly about mental health and how it affects all of us as a whole.

What does mental health mean to YOU?

Mental health, to me, is your well being and the way your body and brain respond to stimuli. We can all chip in and do our part to make our collective mental health and outlooks on life more positive- along with making it a less taboo subject to talk about!

Why do you think that there is shame surrounding mental health topics? Why do people refuse to talk about it?

I think there is a lot of shame surrounding mental health, and I think it’s because people don’t know that there are others going through the exact same thing as them. People often feel alone when going through their mental health journeys, when they don’t have to be! There are so many people to reach out to, yet they often are too ashamed and think it makes them “different” to have issues with their mental health.

How do you express yourself to the world?

I express myself to the world through my makeup, dancing, and advocacy. I love to do my makeup and post it on Instagram in order to show the whole world my artistic side! I’m often a quiet person when I first meet someone, but I really let go and express myself with makeup. The same thing goes with dance, I love dancing and expressing myself through it! Advocacy is another thing that’s very important to me, as I feel education is key. When people don’t know about something (such as my condition or mental health subjects), it often seems scary! I like to make things seem not so scary and speak about them in an open and honest way.

What are some challenges you have faced in life and proud of how you faced it?

I have faced a lot of challenges with my physical health. Around a year ago, I went through a really rough time with my throat, and I wasn’t able to keep food or drinks down for over a month. This was really hard for me mentally as well, as I was frustrated with my healing progress and upset that I was going through it in the first place. I’m very proud that I came out on the other side of it okay, and I worked hard to pull myself out of a depressive episode afterwards- I still sometimes struggle with thinking about the ‘what-ifs’, but I’m proud of myself for working on it.

If you change something about yourself, what would it be? And why?

I really don’t think I would choose to change anything about myself. It may sound corny, but I think I was meant to be exactly the way I am so I can potentially make someone’s life better, or do good in the world!

What are some self-care practices that you recommend?

When I’m down, I absolutely love to do my makeup and get dressed up! I always say, “even if you don’t feel good, you can still look good!” I also love having self care days and doing a face mask, or getting in the hot tub. I meditate at least once a week, and I think it helps a lot with my mental health!

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

In the future, I hope to have been a part in helping to destigmatize physical and mental conditions, along with continuing to do the things I love. I hope someday I can make a difference in the way that conditions are perceived.

What would you want the Revive audiences to know about you?

I would want the Revive audiences to know that even though I may have a physical condition and mental health problems sometimes, I’m just a normal teenage girl! Everyone goes through their own struggles, and just because mine are a bit different than others’ doesn’t mean yours aren’t valid. If anyone is ever struggling with their mental health, you can contact me at any time! I’m always happy to help. ❤


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Interview

Chamaya.

I see that you’re an actress, singer, writer, and content creator. What motivated you to pursue a creative path?

I suppose it started with me being surrounded by artists. My dad is a recording artist and my godmother is a theatre and TV director. Having a Grammy-award-winning musician for a dad, music was something that always came naturally to me. Once I discovered the magic in storytelling through a Snow White costume, I knew that theatre needed to be part of my life.  It wasn’t until high school that I experienced the merging of the two worlds in musical theatre and decided that I wanted to play pretend for a living. My journey as a content creator came much later. My platform “Plot Twist, Please,” which is a blog and a podcast, arose out of a time where I was personally struggling with my mental health. I now create content surrounding wellness, specifically mental/emotional healing, through an anti-oppressive lens because I believe that this subject is bigger than me. The aspect of creating content on social media and being an artist that I enjoy the most is the opportunity to inspire someone to be their most authentic self, and to be bold enough to love that person. It’s amazing that I can reach so many people with the click of a few buttons. 

Could you tell us about your favorite project(s) that you took part in?

I’m going to be writing an article that will be featured in The Spectrum Perspective, an autism magazine, which I’m extremely excited about because experiences of BIPOC aren’t often visible within the autism community.

I also learned that you are an entrepreneur. Could you tell us a little about that?

Absolutely. I have a boutique content marketing agency called CliqBridge Consulting, where I help creative entrepreneurs with their brand messaging, social media content, and overall digital marketing strategies. It includes copywriting, SEO, video producing, social media management, and one-on-one branding coaching. I’m open to new clients for February/March/April!

What would you say to your younger self?

I would tell her to floss more, and that she’s really brave.

Who have been your biggest role-models or resources in times of unsureness, grief, and healing?

My parents actually were always really supportive of me and encouraged me to talk about my feelings. It was a blessing to have that kind of upbringing. In terms of holistic wellness, though, I like to refer to Tabitha Brown. I love her positive energy and her grounded perspective on healing. Her vegan recipes are also great!

How has the pandemic affected you mentally?

It has definitely forced me to look inward and allowed me to hone in on the things that I truly value in life. Sometimes it’s tough, but online therapy, prayer, and the support of my friends and family has made a big difference.

What are the most beautiful things about life to you?

Connection, culture, and the way we continue to evolve. Also, I love the little things, like babies trying to dance when they still trip over their feet and freshly baked apple pie.

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health has decreased to a notable extent in your community? What may be the reason for this?

For mental health, yes. I think many of us are exploring holistic wellness practices because of things like Black Lives Matter prompting self-care regimens. It’s been tough on the black community, and I do think we’re investing more time and energy into our mental health as a collective. Unfortunately, though, I don’t think the stigma for mental illness has decreased much within the black community. First of all, there isn’t much representation in the media of black people with mental illnesses or mental disabilities. Hopefully, though, I can help change that.

What does mental health mean to YOU?

To me, it comes down to two things: accessibility, which is not under our control, and self-reflection, which is under our control. Not everyone has access to mental health resources, and that is half of the battle. The other half, I believe, is rooted in the pursuit of a balance of internal and external forces that, at equilibrium, create a healthy, affirming environment for one to thrive. No, you cannot control whether or not you are able to access certain mental health resources, but you can control who your friends are, how you communicate your needs, and how you talk to yourself. I view mental health in its entirety as a priority because so many aspects of society are affected by it.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell Revive’s audience?

Yes. The world is different because you, as an individual, are in it and I can’t wait for you to find out why. Stay weird, everyone!


Check out Chamaya, Plot Twist, Please!, & ClipBridge Counseling!

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Interview

Nick Kimble.

I see that you’re part of Edison Civic Change Collective and Civic Wave. Could you tell me a little about the initiatives and what you hope your audience gets from them?

The Civic Wave and Edison Civic Change Collective are student-created organizations. I am the finance manager and founding member of Civic Wave. As a founding member of Civic Wave, I worked with elective officials to secure access to civic education within New Jersey public schools with legislative bills S854 and S237. I am the co-founder of Edison Civic Change Collective. As an advocate and seminar host, I educate members on the history of movements and activism triggered by local and global issues.

I read your interview on Inspiring Teens Magazine, where you stated that you had gotten bullied in middle school. If comfortable, could you talk us through how you managed and how the situation has impacted you throughout the years?

During middle school, I managed my bully very poorly. I often kept to myself, stoped participated in activities, and remained in my bubble. I often pitied myself until I began to read, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. 

How has the pandemic affected you mentally? What things did you learn about yourself during the course of this pandemic that you didn’t know before?

Mentally I was able to adjust to the pandemic well. I love spending time with my family, and I realized how much time I didn’t spend with my family before the pandemic due to scheduling. I learned the importance of reaching out, checking in, and community with people I know and people I would like to know better. 

What self-care practices do you recommend? Furthermore, why is it important to scope out time for yourself each day?

I recommend positive affirmations, and I came across Ray Lewis’s “Affirmations for Greatness” during my time being bullied in middle school. Every morning, I listen to this to gain inspiration and take full advantage of the day. 

Are there any other psychological conditions/disorders that mean a lot to you? Why do they hold importance and how can we, as a community, help and provide support to people who go through them?

Suicide prevention truly means a lot to me. It is a difficult topic to discuss, and there are countless reasons why someone may take their life. In my school district, I founded the Student Safety Committee, an organization created to identify effective ways to keep students safe throughout my district. The Student Safety Committee is a microcosm of a family. Every member of the community is valued and appreciated by each other. As president and founder of the Student Safety Committee, I oversee and facilitate meetings. With the creation of peer support groups, we have helped students find effective ways to maneuver within a crowded hallway, designed an action plan for dealing with an active shooter, and facilitated the creation of counselor-led wellness groups.

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth and the BIPOC community?

Mental health is vital. Without positive mental health, it is impossible to live a fulfilled and meaningful life. Prioritizing mental health helps everyone in our society discover their purpose, passion, and more. Mental health plays a factor at every stage of life, I ask why not start early and create mental wellness and provide positive contributions to the generation?  

Who have been your biggest role-models or resources in times of unsureness, grief, and healing?

My mother is my inspiration. I come from a single-parent home where my mother has done absolutely everything for me. She continues to believe in me. At times I don’t believe in myself. She has taught me to stand up for what you believe in and always work to create a brighter purpose. Over the years, she has shown me what a powerful woman is. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from her is that patience and persistence is the difference in your dreams coming true or not. I am beyond thankful for my mother and the lessons and advice she continues to give me. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

To me, mental health means to discover your ability to enjoy happiness and find lessons of wisdom when faced with hardship.

Is there anything else you would like Revive’s audience to know?

I would like the Revive’s audience to know that “there no format or outline on the journey you are embarking on. Live with the mistakes and constantly move forward.”


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