Wearing my suicide prevention bracelet for my Dad today and to all others who have been affected.
In amongst all the other crazy national days we see on social media. Today I stand with those whose lives have been affected by suicide and mental illness, to bring attention to ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’. A day that may not be presented in sparkly memes on Facebook but a day that is extremely real and hits hard to thousands of families, worldwide every day.
In line with this years theme “Take a minute, change a life” , I encourage you today, to take the time out to send a text or a phone call to a friend, loved one and let them know you are there to listen and it’s always OK to talk.
A minute of your life could indefinitely change someone Else’s and you may never even know it.
Mental illness and suicide does not discriminate and each year claims thousands of lives, of both men and women. So to anyone who is struggling with mental health, questioning their purpose or just generally feeling overwhelmed by this intense journey we call life, I am here for you and here to listen.
Lastly, to those who I have met throughout my own personal journey of losing a loved one to suicide, we may have been brought together by this experience but we are united by hope. A hope that one day, we will acknowledge the power and strength we all have inside of us, to fight and take action against mental illness and provide the support to DE-stigmatize mental health and one day prevent suicide for good.
Women can learn a lot from Alessia Cara’s song “scars to your beautiful”, but I guess the first question you ask is, “who is Alessia Cara?”
Fairly recent on the scene, 20 year old, Canadian singer/song writer Alessia is known for her single “Here” and debut album “Know it all” (2015). Last year she released her video for “scars to your beautiful” within which both women and men talk openly about their struggles with self acceptance and the harsh reality of living with the societal pressures surrounding the way we look and act.
As a woman growing up with social media influencers, tabloid media and supermodels etc, Alessia’s song perfectly depicts the societal pressures and scrutiny women put them selves under to fit into the norm. The lyrics of her song not only illustrate examples of this but they also provide ways to promote how to accept ourselves for just the way we are.
From a personal explanation I find difficult to find the right words to explain the pressure women are under these days because I’m part of the generation of women who are under it. We are told never to be happy with ourselves, and if we don’t like what we see well it can be fixed. The media subliminally tells us that having the perfect body or face is more important than having a beautiful mind. However, then goes on to contradict itself as we are then told “it’s what is inside that counts”, but deep down we know they don’t truly believe that. The media seems to protect itself by trying to promote a healthy body image and yet will still considers a size 12 plus size? These contradictions not only distort our views but give us no direction with what is right or wrong. When quite frankly there is no right or wrong. So, maybe this is why we need songs like this, to show us that learning self love and acceptance may be the only way to break away from societies distorted mirror.
Here are five lessons we can all learn from Alessia as told through her lyrics…
“There’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark. You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are”
Self acceptance, something us women struggle with so much because there’s only so much of ourselves we can change. The cosmetic industry is worth billions because it feeds off our insecurities. However, although I do not condemn surgery, for some people if something is plaguing your mind so much that your life would significantly be improved by changing it, then I guess go for it. But if it’s because you think the world will love you more for a smaller nose or bigger boobs then we will never beat this industry. Especially If we keep feeding their pockets and eating right out of their hands.
“Beauty goes deeper than the surface”
I don’t want to harp on about the waif like models that we see in magazines like Vogue, because quite frankly ‘body’ trends change more than fashion. I’ve even seen in the past year a dramatic increase in women who compete in body building competitions promoting unmaintainable body fat % and muscle definition. Whilst these individuals may have transformed their body for a body building goal, it doesn’t stop the rest of the world using a photo of that individual as an unrealistic figure to aspire to.
The norms and the ideals will continuously change and no one will ever be able to keep up with them. Your body composition is pretty much pre-determined and things like your bone structure, whether it be wide hips or broad shoulders, can’t be changed no matter what you do. So, why are we hating on our bodies so much? It does a bloody good job keeping us alive, who cares if it’s got a bit of jiggle in your bikini, try to work with it not against it. The same goes with hair styles ,beauty procedures and make up trends, they will always be one step ahead of you and really you cannot beat the system (if we could the industries would be out of business). Unfortunately these industries can make you feel bad about your face. However, they can’t make you feel bad about your passion, so choose very carefully which one is more important to you.
“No better you than the you that you are”
Have you ever looked at someone’s life and thought I want that or I want to be her, look like her or have her body? Imagine if you could collect all that time you’ve spent thinking about wanting to be like another person and invested that time working towards bettering yourself, your life, highlighting your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses? If you spent this time striving towards your goals, imagine how great your life could also be? One of my favourite sayings is “the grass isn’t always greener, if you watered yours as much it would be just as green”.
Remember ultimately you were brought into this world an individual, your weirdness and ‘qwerkyness’ is what makes you unique, and at the end of the day in my opinion it’s better to be a bit weird than the same as everyone else.
“No better life than the life we’re living”
The saying goes and until proven otherwise, we are only given one life. One chance, one shot to make the one we’ve got the absolute best. There is no better time to do things than now. Even when your having of what seems like the worst of days, I can guarantee you that writing off the day and giving in will make it seem like a whole lot worse. A tip I was taught in my Psychology degree is that smiling to yourself in the mirror actually releases dopamine because the muscles used in smiling send signals to your brain. Sounds a bit silly right? But who cares, it’s a free, effective way of bringing some joy into the days that aren’t so great.
“You don’t have to change a thing, the world can change its heart”
No matter what you do in life, someone is going to say it’s wrong or not good enough. People will always disagree but if it means something to you, if it pleases you then stick with it, accomplish it and be proud of who you are. Too many times when we put an idea out there, there is someone there to bash sit down. We then quickly retract the idea and feel disheartened. A Life lesson I’ve learnt is, someone will always want to see you fail and think you’re ideas are stupid because they couldn’t think them up themselves. However, there are millionaires sitting out there, on their private yachts in the Caribbean who invented “doggles” goggles for bloody dogs, so please don’t think twice before sharing your ideas.