This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week #MHAW17, which is an opportunity to have an open conversation about Mental Health in a helpful and healthy way. Here's Reese Golding from Hadracha Bet shares some of her (inspirational) thoughts:
Many of the choices we make in life are the kind that will define who we are as people. In today’s modern Western culture, we often tend to seek approval from those around us, rather than looking inwards for validation. Why, may I ask? A question asked so often, yet never answered.
There are times when you may reach a point in your life where (for a seemingly inexplicable reason) you choose to neglect your needs. Whoever made self-care a taboo subject? As someone who has battled some incredibly difficult fights – and continuing to do so today – I have learnt so much. I have learnt that sometimes it’s important to admit when you’re not okay, and that asking for help is not something to ever be ashamed of. I have learnt that nothing should ever take priority over your own wellbeing, whether this is mental, physical or emotional. I have learnt that waking up in the morning without regret of this decision is a beautiful feeling; a feeling I wish everyone could experience.
I’ll admit that none of this was easy to practice, nor was it first-hand knowledge, but it is all something you teach yourself. Your mind has to stay positive and keep working and pushing forwards: the better days will come.
I spent so long shutting myself away from the world, from my family and my friends, and it never made me stronger. What really gave me the courage to brave another day, time after time, was admitting that I needed help, and teaching myself to look for light even in the darkest moments. From this I was able to develop an understanding of the way our thoughts are processed (or, mine, at least.)
We all fight so much, but nothing is more important than the way we treat ourselves. We are valued, we are powerful and we are wise. More than any of this though, we are united.
The mental health community has always been supportive of ‘people like me’, but this is not the only help I have received. Being a part of FZY gave me a sense of community and togetherness when all else seemed lost. During a particularly dark phase of my life, I made a lot of mistakes that led people to doubt my strength and not trust me to keep myself safe. Being doubted and told I wasn’t “trying hard enough” almost broke me. Nonetheless, it was FZY that gave me the push I needed to prove everyone wrong.
The movement team offered me a deal in order for me to take part in Israel Tour 2015: as long as I was honest and let them help me, they would let me go. The amount of support I received after this was incredible. I had daily conversations with my leaders to ensure that I was safe and taking proper care of myself (i.e. eating, not hurting myself and sleeping), I spoke numerous times to the office team who called to check in on me, and even after Israel tour, I stayed in contact with many of these people.
Between the time I arrived home from tour and the time that I sit here writing, I have entered recovery. I have made countless changes in my life and though I continue to fight my own thoughts every single day, I’m doing far better now than ever before. This is because I have finally found what I am good at, and that is raising awareness for the things that matter; things such as mental illness and the stigma attached to it.
Earlier this year, I took part in Veida, where each of us were given the opportunity to have our voices heard. This was an incredible experience for me, as I worked closely with the movement team in writing a motion to suggest the idea of mental health training for all leaders and FZY workers to be mandated, rather than optional. This may have only been a change on a small scale, but it was a change that could save someone’s life.
Try and put it into perspective the way I did, if there is a vulnerable child/young person in need of some kind of help, and they are reaching out, there has to be someone there who will take their hand and guide them towards a safe environment and better mindset. I made a change where it matters, and that is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I’m proud of that, and I’m proud of who I am.
I am not a problem, I am a person with problems, but every problem has a solution. Find your solution in the same place I did, in a kehila kedosha like FZY.