Mental Health over everything.

I thought twice about writing on this topic. It’s controversial in that, so many people have so many opinions and not all of them are positive. Actually, most opinions are negative.  Mental health is the sort of topic that’s not so widely discussed. I guess it is getting more notoriety than before but people who suffer from mental illnesses still feel ashamed to talk about it for fear of being stigmatized. I am vocal on this topic because I feel people need to know that they are not alone. There’s something comforting in feeling like you have support or that you are not completely misunderstood, that out there, somewhere – someone is feeling what you are feeling and you are not alone.

People who suffer from mental illness can still live a normal life. They can still achieve success and they can still do everything that a person who does not suffer from a mental illness can do. See, mental illness doesn’t render you incompetent. It may impede your progress in other aspects of your life, but it certainly doesn’t make you “less than” your counterpart who does not suffer from mental illness. It’s something that happens in the brain. It may be genetic, or it may be triggered by some sort of trauma or it may just occur because you are receptive to the affliction.

I’d like to elaborate on Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone else.

People suffering from bipolar may experience a range of feelings to different degrees. These affect different areas of a person’s life.

People may experience the following:

Mood: Mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities.

Behavioral: Irritability, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, crying, hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness or self-harm.

Cognitive: Unwanted thoughts, delusion, lack of concentration, racing thoughts or slowness in activity.

Psychological: Depression, manic episode, agitated depression or paranoia.

Sleep: Difficulty falling asleep or excess sleepiness.

Weight: Weight gain or weight loss.

Also common: Risky behavior, false belief of superiority, fatigue, or rapid and frenzied speaking.

Treatment can help but the condition can’t be cured. It is chronic and can last for years or be lifelong.

Treatment often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Therapies consist of support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.

Medications may include anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Supportive care refers to hospitalization.

And specialists consist of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

This affliction renders one fragile and feeling everything in extremes. Feelings are exaggerated and cannot be escaped. There are many things you can do to keep episodes at bay, but for the most part, no amount of treatment or medication or enlightenment can help when experiencing an episode. The sufferer may know that what they are feeling is because of the illness however, even though they can understand that, they cannot help what they are feeling.

I’ve heard some people saying “Just think positive thoughts”, I think if it were that easy, then nobody would be diagnosed with Bipolar. A bipolar person cannot help the way they feel, even if they may know better.

Also, Bipolar disorder does not mean having a split personality. It does mean having extremes in moods. People with bipolar more often than not, also have problems managing anger and unpleasant emotions. They have a tendency to view people and situations as either “all good” or “all bad”. They present feelings of emptiness. The mood swings involving anger or depression are usually in response to stressful events or relationships.  People with bipolar may also have poor self-image. There are often feelings or tendencies leaning towards self-harm.

Trust me when I say this: If it were so easy to just snap out of it, I’m pretty sure sufferers would “snap out of it”. I highly doubt any normal, sane person would feel this if they had the option of feeling anything other.

Recognizing triggers and keeping risky behaviour at bay is a good way of ensuring you don’t have an episode. Having a sense of purpose and believing in a higher power helps too. BUT…even with all of this, you can still have low moments.

Mental health is so important. It is important to keep yourself healthy and take the time out to tend to your personal needs.

“It took a long time to realize that you can do everything right and still end up unhappy. You can say all the right things, do exactly as your told, follow in the footsteps of all the people who swore by their success and their strategy surrounding it, and you can still end up displaced – because you didn’t ever choose to listen to yourself. The best thing I ever did for myself was simply listen to what I actually wanted. I drowned out the guidelines, the advice, and the ‘shoulds’. And I messed up. I made mistakes I’ll never forget. I hurt people I loved, and I got hurt.

See, self-discovery isn’t this comfortable, miraculous thing. It can get ugly, it can get confusing. Its gritty, it’s hard. It’s difficult to confront yourself sometimes, it’s difficult to be the person who does things differently, who doesn’t settle.

But it’s the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. It will push you towards figuring out what your own personal version of happiness looks like; and when you grow on your own terms, when you figure out what actually matters to you, and when you carve out your own path, you live on your own terms. You love on your own terms. You become the person you have always wanted to be, rather than the person you were always told to be and that is beautiful. Because when it comes down to it- life is about making yourself proud on your own terms. It’s about finding a happiness that works for you.” 

– Bianca Sparacino

You see, whilst bipolar sufferers may be plagued with the illness, they are also actively trying to find their happiness and own it. It’s a long and daunting process and there are a lot of bumps along the road, but there is also room for a lot of learning and self-discovery along the way.

So, if you have someone in your life, suffering from any type of mental health issue – be supportive and show some love and care, it might be the only love that person feels that day.

If this post helps you understand the illness a little more or brings awareness to this topic, then I’ve done my job.

As always, I wish you peace, love, and infinite happiness.

 

Reindeers, Skiing & Everything in between :)

I haven’t been keeping you guys updated and I apologize for that. I guess “feeling homesick” is really a thing and I’ve kinda experienced it for the first time in such a hardcore way. So I’ve been quiet here, but I have still been going on adventures and I’m here now to tell you all about the fun stuff I got up to recently.

I went to a museum ❤️

Anybody who really knows me, will know that I love museums. This love of museums was heavily influenced by my father, who exposed me to them at a young age and continued to do so until the feeling of walking into a museum became my happy place. Thanks Dad.

The museum I went to here in the city center was so beautiful. They are so interactive and are almost built on the fundamental fact that young children will visit the place to gain knowledge and insight. It’s built in a fun and interactive way that facilitates kids learning. If we want our children to learn anything at all, we must make it fun and attractive to a young mind. The museum appealed to almost all your senses. There were buttons to press in order to hear sounds, there was a dark room and you had to take a torch in and shine it on the walls to read the info or see the pictures. There were moving visuals projected on the ground and this was so awesome to watch because the little ones react so well to all this stimuli. I’m really learning a lot about how to approach teaching and learning.  


Melody turns 30!

My friend Melody celebrated her 30th birthday here in Norway around the middle of February. Our friend Ingrid organized an amazing party to celebrate this and it was my first experience at a Norwegian party. So, apparently clubs are really expensive – entry fee & alcohol. What people do here is : Pre-Party. It’s basically drinking at home with a whole bunch of your friends before actually going into a club. This party included some girls from our class at University, and some of Ingrid’s friends and then ended up being a huge gathering and it was exactly as it is in the movies. People just rocking up at the door. Friends of friends showing up. Roommates of friends and the roommates friends too. Hahaha. It was just like those house parties you see in American movies. Drinking games, music, conversation, laughter and a waffle cake! Wow. I had fun.


The real snow experience ❤

Up until this point I had only been exposed to little and few flakes of snow. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue – everything turned white! Thick, big and heavy flakes of snow fell from the sky and it was the most wonderful experience. You don’t think about the cold when you’re experiencing magic. Little kids as young as 3 years old, had skiis on and were ready to go skiing. I then heard someone say “Norwegians are born with skiis on their feet”. Haha. Must be true. This 3 year old had all the confidence in the world and skiied like a pro. The trees hung low and heavy. Being a South African and having never experienced snow like this before, was really breathtaking. The kids still have 2-3 hours of outdoor play at kindergarten, even when it’s snowing like this. Absolutely incredible. 


Reindeers at Røros 🦌🦌🦌

The university took us on an outing to Røros. It’s a few hours drive out of Trondheim. There was a festival happening and there were little stalls that created a market like vibe. The festival was in honor of the Sami people (the indigenous people of Norway). The stalls sold everything from Reindeer meat burgers, to typical Norwegian mittens and honey-coated almonds. Meat, leather, fur hats, woolen jerseys, stuffed toys, and so much more were on sale. The best part of Røros was the part where I got to see an actual Reindeer!!! What a beautiful, mystical creature. I went reindeer sleighing and it was totally cool guys! I feel like the stuff that’s been happening to me recently is straight out of a movie. I still can’t believe that I’m so blessed to be able to experience all of this. 

We had a pizza night here at the apartment 🍕🍕🍕 Homemade pizza! Yum 👅


Oh! Oh! Oh! I got a new piercing too!


Science center 

The University organized a trip for us to visit a science center and learn about how to incorporate science in a simple way, into our teaching. It was pretty fun. We experimented with different materials and using household or easy to find items. We made bombs, volcanoes and tried to mix oil with water. Sad story – oil and water never mix. 😔 They just never do. The coolest of the experiments was actually using a plastic pipette and trying to fit as many drops of water as we could onto a coin. We actually reached 87! How cool? Go try it please. It sounds childish but it’s actually the most fun thing.


Roommate Movie night 🎥😂❤

So let me just say, my roommates and I have become quite a little family. We have meals together, talk about how each other’s days went and we also talk about deep stuff too. These girls have become a family away from my family. I can’t actually remember who suggested the idea, all I know is this : one night, we dragged a mattress onto the kitchen floor and watched 50 shades darker on a laptop. We giggled and passed comments all throughout the movie. I have never read the books or watched the first movie, was never and will never be interested in the whole “50 shades” thing. But something about this night brought us closer together. Haha. We bonded that day. It was cozy and lovely. Here, have a look for yourself.

And girls, if you’re reading this – Then please know that I appreciate all the time you spend with me and the love and support too!


Oh! Oh! Oh! I got my residence permit! I’m officially a Norwegian citizen til August! The picture on my card looks hideous but that’s beside the point. I’m a resident homies! 

Trip to the woods

The kindergarten I’m at, took the little ones on a trip to the woods. I’m not even an outdoorsy person, but man, those woods were beautiful and Mother Nature is splendid. 

I baked a cake. From scratch. No premixed store bought fakes here. The real deal. Icing too! (Thanks to my friend Tamara -Tams Treats- for the recipe). Guys, my first attempt was a success ❤️🎂 yippee. Got my foot in the door with cooking and cleaning, now I can bake too. Wifey material right here 😂. Jokes. I’m taken.

But actually, it’s an achievement for me because I tried to make brownies (store bought premix) and they failed so hard. I put like 1 whole liter of water into the mix and it was just such a fail! So I’m gonna not so humbly brag about the deliciousness of the cake I baked! Need a picture for proof? Here you go. 

Boom!

Northern lights

A group of us girls went up to Moholt hill to see if we could spot the northern lights. We did get to see them but unfortunately my phone couldn’t capture the phenomenon. My friend Iffy did manage to snap some shots. Here’s what we got. 

Skiing 🎿 

I was really hoping to find an undiscovered talent in skiing. Lord, was I wrong! Ha! I fell down about 6 times in the first 5 minutes. And I kept sliding backwards. And falling. Backwards and falling. That was the total sum of events on my first attempt at cross country skiing. I went with my roommates Jennekke and Debora, and a friend of mine, her name is Annamária and she’s from Hungary. It was so funny getting on the bus. Literally every single person on the bus had skiis with them. Ladies as old as what looked to be 80 were kitted out and ready to ski. We got up the hill and the people on the bus got of. We entered this space of open land and I watched in awe as I saw little kids, 1 year olds, on skiis. Pregnant women, old people, young people, dads with babies strapped on their backs, people even skiing with their dogs! It was great. But there I was. Falling flat on my ass every two minutes 😂😂😂😂 I was a sight for sore eyes. 

Aaaaand, that’s it folks. Oh wait, before I forget, let me add some pictures of me at college with all my cool friends. The diversity amongst the group of exchange students is something to marvel over. We are all from different parts of the world, from different cultural backgrounds and have such different lives, yet we find common ground and build and forge meaningful friendships. The experience here is so rich and fulfilling. 

I also just want to show you my little humans climbing trees and constructing their own sandwiches ❤ They are seriously the cutest. My mentor made cocoa  and took his guitar into the woods, we made a bonfire and sang songs whilst sipping on hot cocoa 😍😍😍.  
I know the tone of this post is upbeat and happy, and I really don’t mean to be a downer here but I want to conclude on a serious topic. For those of you who may not know, I’m a very vocal spokesperson/supporter on Mental Health Awareness. It needs awareness because there are so many misconceptions around it. If you have someone in your life who is suffering from a mental illness, take care of this person. Try to understand even if you don’t. Because I can promise you this, it’s not fun for the person who has it. Nobody just wakes up and decides to be depressed for fun. These are serious things and people need support and love. You never know what you could say or do that may trigger the person, so always take care with your words and actions.  I’m hoping to bring awareness to a topic that people feel uncomfortable discussing. What’s worse is the people who are sufferers of mental illness feel embarrassed for having it, as if it was in their control or as if they had a choice in the matter.  If you know anyone who is battling from any sort of mental illness, give them a hug today or just say a few kind words to them. I promise you that it makes things just a bit better for them. And if you are reading this and you have some sort of mental health issue, imagine me wrapping you in my arms and giving you the tightest hug! You’re not alone and you matter. You are valued and you have worth.
That my friends, concludes this issue of MindBodySona.

As always, I wish you love, light and peace ✌🏼 Be strong my people!

If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” – Lecrae