Mental Health

You probably read a lot of scientific facts about mental health this week as we celebrated mental health awareness yesterday. I won’t be talking about the science here. Instead I will try to assess my mental health state. It’s such a hard exercise though. I’ve been so extremely busy lately that I barely have time to sit and evaluate.

I guess most of us go about our days without thinking or realising the state of our mental health. We tend to notice our physical pains but rarely give much attention to our emotions, our wounds and our traumas. How often do we notice how our reactions to certain situations are shaped by our past experiences?

Thanks to the healing process I allowed myself to go through, I developed an ability to observe how my behaviour is often directly linked to specific things I went through - at least I think have ;-). As I observe my reaction I notice how unreasonable it is and the reasoning behind it but I still have a hard time controlling it. It’s a very strange feeling. I can see myself overreacting and being illogical but I can’t help it. And it makes me realise the long road ahead in my healing.

As some of you know, I opened my centre, Rays of Sunshine, a couple of weeks ago in Beirut. The name was inspired by my mighty twin girls, my rays of sunshine. The centre has a Plant Based coffee shop, a Yoga Studio and Art Therapy classes. I developed it based on my belief that anxiety and stress can be prevented, reduced and even healed through natural means. I believe that a healthy diet and certain mental and physical practices have healing powers and can help free our minds and bodies from many burdens that cause our anxieties.

Towards the end of my first year into my grief, I realised that, while I can never stop seeking to have a positive influence on the world around me, I needed to do it through different means. I’ve always wanted to change the world and at the age at 12, I had already decided that I wanted to work on giving more rights to vulnerable people. I studied law and built a career around changing the legal system to make the world a better place for everyone, with a focus on women and children. While the work I was involved in succeeded at many times in changing laws and policies, I never felt that I impacted people’s lives as much as I did when I worked directly with them. I have had the opportunity to work in refugee camps in many countries, in a few schools and in detention centres and I truly believe that there’s no better way to change people’s lives than to build a space that helps them invest in themselves.

I want Rays of Sunshine to be that space. I want it to be a place where people experience the healing effect of introducing their bodies to (at least a part time) Plant based diet, the practice of Yoga and therapy through art.

The work is still slow obviously as we only opened at the end of September but it’s keeping me very busy. I still work part time with a child rights organisation based in London - Child Rights International Network (check us out online, we do awesome work!) - and open the centre from 8 to 8. The work here is great, I am close to my family and friends and Ella is very happy. There’s so much love around, even the people I share the space with at the centre are beautiful and loving - especially one of them, you know who you are ;-).

My cousin works with me in the coffee shop and she’s the best person I could have ever worked with. I just want to thank her and hug her all the time!

With all this work and love, I am obviously feeling better. I stopped taking Melatonine to sleep and I notice that some of my behaviour has changed. I am less agitated, I feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed around people and my panic attacks happen much less frequently.

But with new beginnings come pain and sadness. It’s probably less intense than it would have been if I weren’t feeling better generally. But everything new reminds me that Mya will never be here to see it. When I moved to my new apartment in Beirut, I couldn’t stop crying, it was very difficult to accept that she will never run in this space, she will not share the room with Ella, she will not sneak into my bed at night, she will not eat at the dining table… When I opened the centre, I felt the same, I wanted her to play with Ella in the studio, to sit on the coffee tables, color the mandala books and create a beautiful mess. But the difference is that I didn’t have time to cry. It sounds silly but I need it, I feel that it allows me to let the pain out… in liquid form! Hehe!

Even when I have some time on my own or with people I feel comfortable with, I can’t cry - at least not as much as I need to. I feel so overwhelmed with all the work, planning and running around that it just stays inside.

We start the first therapeutic art through painting class tomorrow, I think I should join the class and see what comes out…

I know some of it is due to the fact that I’m not seeing my yoga teacher anymore. My weekly sessions with her in Paris gave me so much and I was not ready to face it all on my own. Maybe I need to intensify my personal yoga practice to balance things out…

It’s not an easy task but I think we should always stop and think about our emotions, our behaviour and how they’re connected. Our mental state is as important as our physical state. In fact they are very much interlinked. Our mental pain causes physical pain and our physical pain causes mental pain… and it keeps going in circles until we allow ourself to seek help.

Thank you for allowing me to think about all this here,

I will try to sit down and re-assess in a week to see if I’m starting to work through my emotions again.

Much love

Sabine