This week I've been inspired by the journeys of those in what I consider to be my community. What I've noticed is the power that comes from sharing ones stories - not only for the speaker but also the listener. Sharing one's stories has long been a method that produces a cathartic effect, but listening to another's stories can make you realizing things beyond your wildest imagination.
The Holistic Heroine
Tiffany Manbodh invitingly shared her experiences, feelings, and wellness journey. Tiffany graciously answered a few of my questions as I wanted to learn more about her and her perspective.
What have you learned about mental health as an adult that you wish you could tell your younger self? "As an adult, I have learned that every feeling/emotion is valid and that it’s okay not to be happy all the time. Now that I have better awareness of the spectrum that emotions lie on, I am able to look at them and see what they’re trying to teach me. All of it, whether it’s love, fear, anger, sadness, etc. I also learned that crying is not a sign of weakness and it’s pretty healthy to cry. Crying allows for the release of pent up emotions and I usually feel much better after a good cry session."
What do you do for your mental health? "To upkeep my mental health, I do a variety of things depending on how I’m feeling, in terms of mood. Sometimes, I do deep breathing exercises which relaxes my nervous system along with meditation. I also go for walks in the afternoon as a way of unwinding mentally. I ensure that I’m fueling my body with nutritionally dense foods since what we put into our bodies affect our moods. Additionally, I preserve my mental health by setting boundaries, whether that’s with family, friends, colleagues, etc."
How do you think your platform can help others? "On my writing IG account (@writewithmetiffany), I share content that brings awareness to mental health. I openly share my own personal struggles with mental health as well as informative pieces. Last but not least, the books I write contain themes of depression and anxiety and other mental health related issues, which is an excellent conversation starter to destigmatize how we view mental health in the Caribbean community. By sharing stories, we normalize speaking about mental health just like we do when it comes to physical health."
The platform that we have today is a privilege, and it's a beautiful thing to see it being used for mutual well-being.
Another of those inspiring voices is Natasja. Recently connecting with Natasja has opened my eyes again to the power of visible representation and community. I asked her why is it important to her to share stories and experiences. She said:
"I share my vulnerable stories (something that terrifies me) because I grew up without any visible representation as a queer Indo-Caribbean woman. The bicultural struggle is complicated, and we don’t talk enough about our (intergenerational) traumas. There’s a lot of unvoiced or unheard pain in immigrant communities. Mental health and being vulnerable are still such daunting and taboo topics, even I feel the fear still. But that’s also why I know I need to be brave."
This bravery gives courage to others to embrace their journeys and help others along the way. With that, Natasja adds " For now, I focus on communal healing through writing: From my vulnerable stories to therapeutic writing workshops."
In my journey, I never really grew up with the chance to connect with these members of my community. While our experiences are unique to each of us, I find solace in feeling like I am no longer alone. I am grateful for these voices sharing their insight with me.