DIY French Manicure

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Manicures have been around for thousands of years. Some claim that the French Manicure was indeed created in France (Paris) for the fashionistas of the 1930’s. Others speculate the word “French” was added because it makes anything seem stylish and chic. The white-tipped look with a pink or nude overlay seems to be an everlasting trend when one wishes to look effortlessly naturally put together.

Here is a simple DIY French Manicure tutorial:

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The nail enamels I use are 601 (white), 603 (pearly pale pink with silver shimmer as base coat) and a top coat, all from Inglot Cosmetics. About four years ago, this company began to develop the formula for this O2M ‘breathable’ nail enamel which uses a polymer similar to that in the newest generation of contact lenses. It is believed that wearing polish all the time will make the nails brittle and prone to breakage as it creates an impermeable layer that keeps nails from getting the water and oxygen they need to stay in top form. This polish is designed to allow molecules of water and oxygen to slip through the polish and down to the nail, thereby supposedly improving the health of the nail and nail bed.

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So let’s begin.

Step 1: Start with a clean canvas. Soak your hands in warm water, followed by scrubbing and exfoliating your hands. Care for your cuticles by rubbing cuticle oil on them, followed by pushing them back with an orangewood stick and cleaning the dirt from under the nails. Lastly, grab a vitamin-rich moisturiser and slather it on. Before moving on to step 2, swipe the nail beds with non-acetone polish remover to remove any oil and moisturiser.

Step 2: Clip your nails (optional) to the desired length. When it comes to a French Manicure, the longer they are – the better. If you clip them too short, you won’t be able to shape the nail.

 Step 3: Shape your nails using a file. You could create almond, oval or squoval nails by holding the file to the parallel side of the nail and softening the corners to create the desired shape. I use a 3-way nail file which is a convenient nail care tool with different surfaces designed to shape the free edge, smooth the surface and buff the natural nail to a glossy shine.

Step 4: Paint on a sheer layer of nude or pink polish as your base coat and let the polish dry for a couple of minutes. It is recommended that you to repeat this step with a second coat of polish.

Once your manicure’s base is dry, it is time for the white to meet the pink or nude and create the perfect smile line!

Step 5: Applying the tip freehand will require practice and patience. Swipe the white polish from one side of your nail to the other in a continuous stroke, covering just the tip of the nails. Or better yet, keep your brush still and rotate your finger slowly, gliding the brush along your nail. Let the polish dry completely.

Step 5 (cont.): To apply the tip with nail guides, place the nail guides on the nail to snag the perfect white tip pain-free. With the white polish, brush colour onto the tip of your nails, as if you were creating an upside down smiley or a sad face. Once the polish is dry, remove the nail guides.

Step 6: Use a small brush or a pointed cotton swab dipped into nail polish remover and with a circular motion, ‘erase’ the excess polish on the sides and insides of your nails with precision. Make sure the ‘smile lines’ curve slightly to avoid making your fingers look stubby.

Step 7: Paint the full length of your nail using the top coat and allow ’em to dry completely. I recommend two layers of top coats. To improve the longevity of your manicure, apply a top coat at least once a day.

Voilà, you have completed your very own French Manicure!

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side-by-side comparison of a French Manicure done at Glam Salon (left) & a French Manicure done at the comfort of my own home (right)

P.S This procedure is best performed when no other pressing errands or tasks will get in the way. After painting your nails, let the polish dry completely before you engage your hands elsewhere.

My Love/Hate Relationship With Fifty Shades

By this time, all of us have heard of E.L. James’ bestselling erotic novels: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. These books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide, and the movie based on the first book opened at USD 60 million. Moreover, the long-awaited release of the movie based on the second book is finally upon us. There are elements in Fifty Shades that warrant discussion. I am firm with my convictions, and I choose to air them publicly.

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I first stumbled upon Fifty Shades of Grey in the year of 2012, and a part of me was fond of it. But I also knew that something was extremely wrong about the book. Next, I read Fifty Shades Darker followed by Fifty Shades Freed, and continued to harbour the same perception.

The story is fairly simple. Anastasia Steele, a middle-class senior at Washington State University Vancouver, meets Christian Grey, an incredibly handsome, debonair 27-year-old multi-millionaire CEO. They fall in love, hard and fast. Theirs is a romance full of drama and passion, and they end up living the conventional fantasy: love, marriage and a kid. What’s not so conventional is their sex. Early on in the first book, Anastasia discovers that Christian is obsessed with BDSM – a condensed abbreviation for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. This is the central tension of the books. Anastasia loves Christian, but she does not want to be his submissive. Christian loves Anastasia, but he is turned on by violent sex.

Throughout the books, it showed the transitioning of a relationship which started off as ‘play’ with no intimacy into ‘play’ becoming the topping on the ‘vanilla’ relationship shared between Anastasia and Christian. One positive aspect of the book was that the readers would see how the characters grew, alongside and into each other. I believe that character development is an important element which should be present in every book or movie.

Though it may appear that Christian was controlling Anastasia, one can observe that he was dancing to her tunes. It is acknowledged by Christian himself. Even though Christian did make Anastasia feel anxious and uncertain (not healthy), she called the shots whenever he behaved erratically. She questioned and challenged him. And above that, she knows that she can leave at any time. That resulted in Christian defying every rule in his book just to win her over.

Moreover, Anastasia proved to be free from critical nature by accepting Christian with his f***ed up past and heavy baggage. She did everything within her power to reinstate self-confidence within him and dismiss his insecurities. She had hopes of taming him, thus became stronger than all other teaching.

One cannot deem Christian a ‘monster’ for wanting to spank the hell out of Anastasia, because kinks are valid. There is nothing wrong with one being turned on by something atypical, as long as everyone involved is being safe, sane and consensual. At the end of the first book, Ana asked Christian to punish her (“Punish me. I want to know how bad it can get.”) in order to show her how extreme a BDSM relationship with him could be. So Christian fulfilled Anastasia’s request by beating her with a belt. Therefore, it is evident that consent was involved even though she did not safe-word, despite being asked to do so if it became too much for her to bear. So why does Anastasia get to call Christian “one f***ed up son a bitch” when she had exhibited willingness to experience what she did?

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One can justify this act of Anastasia by saying that she was willing to endure all that because of love, which could be put up for debate. The books did portray Anastasia as weak as she succumbed to Christian while defying every rule in her book. At the end of the first book, she left Christian after she realised that they are incompatible. At the beginning of the second book, Christian offered her a ride to José Rodriguez’s gallery exhibit and that was all he had to do to win her back. While I read the aforesaid chapter, there was a chant going on in my head begging Anastasia not to go back…

From the beginning, Christian actively stalked Anastasia. He also controlled her behaviour and food intake and dictated who she is allowed to spend her time with. He belittled her, threatened her and blamed her. As a result, Anastasia was afraid of provoking Christian and was insecure in her own personhood.

Preferring to be submissive or dominant does not demean ones self. Some people criticise women who enjoy being submissive in the bedroom as they are ‘weakening’ themselves for their (usually) male-bodied partner, which is the same kind of logic as people who claim that all men need to be sexually dominant in their relationships or else they are not really a man to begin with. Both scenarios rely on an oversimplification of sexuality and of people. We cannot change what we are turned on by and repressing that is a miserable experience for everyone involved. But according to the books, it is evident that Anastasia did not want to be Christian’s submissive in the first place.

As several experienced BDSM practitioners emphasised, there are healthy and ethical ways to consensually combine sex and pain. All of them require self-knowledge, communication skills and emotional maturity in order to make the sex safe and mutually gratifying. The problem is that Fifty Shades casually associated hot sex with violence, but without any of this context. Anastasia had said yes to sex she was uncomfortable with because she was too shy to speak her mind or because she was afraid of losing Christian. She gave consent when he wanted to inflict pain, yet that did not prevent her from being harmed.

“Fifty Shades is just fantasy!” has been popular in defending the movie’s treatment of its protagonist, but it does not quite ring true. Unfortunately, for one in four women, Fifty Shades is a brutal reality. Would you be happy with a partner who micro-managed your life, dictated what you ate, picked out what contraceptive you used, required you to exercise a certain amount of days and cut you off from your friends and family? Add some good looks, a six pack and billionaire status and voilà, you have Christian Grey!

You cannot fix a violent person with your love, nor is it romantic to be scared.  For Anastasia, love was not always gentle and equitable. It was tempestuous and emotionally draining. But then again, isn’t black technically a shade of grey?

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An Open Letter To Donald Trump

Mr. Trump,

I never rooted for you, and I never will.

But once you were on the verge of getting elected, I found myself saying, “He cannot be THAT bad…”

Oh boy, how wrong was I.

I am a Muslim and a Humanitarian. Yes, it can go hand in hand. And that is one of the reasons why I believed that you cannot be ‘that‘ bad. Come on, you are only human! I waited to see what you have got, as requested by your beautiful daughter Ivanka, despite knowing that you have done everything you could to prove that you are unfit to be president.

It has been a week since you were sworn in, and you have let millions of people down already. People who voted for you, to begin with. People who thought, against all odds, that you will turn out ‘okay.’ People who somehow decided to give you a chance even when you managed to convince them that you are a grave mistake. People who defended you every once in a while, while others freaked out about you becoming the president of The US. People who did not give a rat’s ass about your ridiculous hair, overloaded bronzer, monstrous tie, baggy suit, uneven shirt cuffs and wrinkled pants.

Even though I am not a citizen of your precious United States, I am deeply saddened, offended and dismayed by your ridiculous policies. It was an unfortunate week for politics and decency, which have always been on frigid terms, but are now dead to each other.

On your first day in the Oval Office, you, surrounded by men, signed a ban on federal money going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions. Amusing, how you and your white + male cabinet consider yourselves fit to make decisions about what women could do with their bodies. Having mentioned that you support an abortion ban at home, signing this order as one of your first executive actions indicates you still see the issue as a priority. Do you not know that reinstating the anti-abortion global ‘gag rule’ will increase the number of unsafe abortions around the world?

Secondly, your policy regarding immigration and immigrants, which would block refugee admissions, uproot the lives of thousands of US green card holders and amp up detentions and deportations of unauthorised immigrants. Do you not know that your wife is an immigrant too?

What caused the latest uproar was that you signed an executive order on Friday to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough new controls on travellers from seven Muslim countries. You are targeting people based on their faith and national origin, and not on their character or their criminality! How many Muslims from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen have been welcomed into the US in the past? How many of them have established homes, families and careers in the US? How many of them have positively contributed to the betterment of your country, while paying taxes? How many of them consider the US as their home? Just think of all the families who will feel like second-class citizens how. How many people have been been hauled off flights as a result of your decision? How many film directors and actors are unable to attend the Oscars in the wake of your orders? How many students are unable to go back to their studies? Did you not see the chaos and confusion at airports in the US on Saturday, as customs officials sought to implement the order? Alas, you are too wrapped up in your egocentric, diffident, inhumane and dull-witted bubble to be bothered by any of it.

Thanks to a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, issued an emergency stay on Saturday that temporarily blocks the US government from sending people out of the country after they have landed at a US airport with valid visas. But does ’emergency’ and ‘temporary’ make the cut?

Did you not see how attorneys set up a shop at the O’Hare McDonald’s as they worked to get the people held out? Did you not see volunteer lawyers sitting on the ground, working pro-bono on a Saturday, preparing habeas corpus petitions for detainees at JFK? Did you not see how the JFK airport got roiled by protestors? It was the biggest crowd at JFK since the Beatles landed in 1964! Do you not see how the taxi drivers of New York went on a strike over your Muslim Flight Ban? Amidst the ache, it was delightful to see that ‘your’ citizens from all around the US have got my fellow Muslims’ back. And while you are banning Muslims from entering the US, everyone’s heartthrob (ie; Prime Minister Trudeau) is welcoming them in Canada.

Moreover, let’s not forget that you green-lit the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, scrapped a money-saving fee cut for new homeowners, froze federal hires, began plans to build the stupid wall and other nods to your base of anti-immigrant hysterics, targeted sanctuary cities, started dismantling the Affordable Care Act, put gag orders on multiple government agencies and removed vital internet content, demanded half-assed environmental reviews so development can proceed (consequences be damned) and many, many, many more despicable things.

I am a Muslim and I love America. I love everything it stands for. I too, want to Make America Great Again, and I cannot believe that YOU happened instead.

Rest assured, humanity will fight back. It is not going to sit around helplessly, while you parade your smug “I-told-you-so” smirk and pout. Muslims and Christians, Jews and Buddhists, Atheists and people of all faiths will co-exist in order to fight the religious oppression you have brought. People with complexions ranging from the darkest browns to the lightest hues will unite to do everything within their power to stop you from practicing open racism. The high income earners and the low income earners would work hand in hand to stop you from sabotaging the economy of the world, as every mindless decision you make will eventually impact the rest of the world. People who are born in the right and wrong bodies will unite to stop you from discriminating humans based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The married and unmarried, parents and parents-to-be, will do everything they possible could to ensure that a decent future is secured for their young ones. When it comes to humanity as a whole, there would not be any classifications, you will see…

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photo by @quiversarrow

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“Love alone can unite living beings so as to complete and fulfil them, for it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of Men and the Earth.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Yours sincerely,

A Social Justice Warrior

My Hijab Story

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In a world full of misinformation about the hijab, I want to spread positivity around. Hijab is not a symbol of oppression but instead, focuses on the freedom of choice.

Everyone’s history with the hijab and the way they came to wear it is different. Maybe you didn’t want to wear it initially. Maybe you started and then stopped. Maybe you started very late in life. Maybe you’d like to change how you do it. Here is My Hijab Story.

My mom taught me that at some point in my life, Muslim Women starts wearing a hijab. So one fine day, she suggested (ie; not forced) that I start wearing it. I did not say no, but I did not say yes either.

I was abroad when I received a call from my mom, wanting to confirm whether I would, or not, wear the hijab the following year, as she would need to alter my school uniform if I do. Perhaps the fact that I was away from her and caught up with something else made me agree to wear the hijab, subconsciously.

Thus, I became more creative with my hair. I bought hair clips and grips, bands and accessories, all for the few hijab-free weeks I had left. And that is an investment I would never regret.

I arrived at my home country just the day before school began, which meant that I had to wear the hijab the very next day.

The day I wore the hijab for the first time was a tough one. Since I had zero interest to wear it, I did not make an effort to wear it in a decent manner. Thus, I arrived at school with a poorly worn hijab. A teacher asked me why I wore the hijab, since I had told her the previous year that I will start wearing a hijab once I am over the age of 40. Moreover, all my schoolmates had seen me without a hijab on, so it was hard for them to grasp my new look, let alone it being hard for ME to grasp MY new look.

During the initial stage of wearing the hijab, I wore a part-time one. I received cheeky comments from people, which I disregarded. But the destructive criticism I received from a few members of my family caused me to fire back. Moreover, the criticism was directed towards my mom too, at times. “Doesn’t she bother to tell Eama to cover up in a proper manner?”

Back in the days, I wore my hijab like scarf wrapped around my head. It then changed to a square Turkish style, with the hijab tightly pinned underneath my chin, making my face look like a blow fish. From there, it shifted to a semi-Arab style, where I used rectangular scarves to loosely drape over my head. Fast forward to the present day, I create styles on my own, while still keeping my hair covered. Like in any journey, the transition to a full hijab took time.

With each passing day, I started getting more and more used to wearing the hijab. I stopped wearing it part-time and started wearing it full-time. It was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding acts I have done. Wearing the hijab is a series of stages and phases, and I grew along with it.

Nevertheless, the fact that I started enjoying wearing the hijab was not enough for the criticisms to stop coming in. The critics did not understand the inner battle I had to go through in order to get used to wearing the hijab. They did not realise how uncomfortable I felt wearing the hijab during the initial stage, because the concept of wearing a hijab was foreign to me. They did not see my attempts to fix the way I wore the hijab. They just saw a few strands of hair and tight jeans and thought “WOW, WHAT AN IMPROPER HIJAB!”

People who criticise Muslim Women for not wearing a hijab OR for not wearing the hijab “properly” needs to bring an end to their criticism. If you think that you’re doing us a favour by “reminding” us that we are “Dressed but Naked”, do realise that your taunts are more criticising than reminding.

I know it bothers you when you see a woman wearing an “improper” hijab. Because when people who do not understand the concept of ‘hijab’ sees such, it sends a wrong signal to them and eventually boils down to a generalisation that the hijab is “just a scarf” rather than a code of modesty. But whenever you feel the need to criticise a human being, let go of the critical tone. Do not come with the hot iron rod approach. Always remember that when you are being too stern to the point you hit below the belt, that too, gives a really bad impression about Islam.

Being quick to criticise someone, a Muslim or a Non-Muslim, is something to be avoided because we do not know a person’s intention, and they may be far better than us. What good is criticising someone when the recipient of the critical feedback ends up having negative feelings about the one providing the feedback, and when the mistake or behaviour is never corrected due to the ill feelings that one develops about the person showering that criticism?

For the Muslims who criticise others: The Youm-Al Qiyamah/The Day of Judgement, is called that for a reason. So we better focus on ourselves rather than spending our energy on judging others.

The Battle Of Sexes

The Battle of Sexes is the topmost battle of our time. Feminazis spurns Mennists, which lead to #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen. Yet, the winner of the Gender Supremacy Battle has not been universally declared.

First of all, Feminism. This is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the genders. This is the true essence of feminism. This is what I stand for. This is what I want to prevail. Fighting for women’s rights is not a synonym for man-hating.

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But –

The evolution of a fraction of Feminists to “Feminazis” jeopardized the true essence of feminism. Feminazis are extreme and perceive to seek superiority over men rather than equality and insist on carrying out a war against men. Recent studies show that this fraction of women are now on the verge of suing male seahorses for giving birth.

I have come across and dealt with different types of males throughout. Ranging from play-dates to schoolmates, co-workers to men whom I have interacted with on social media and through mutual friends, I can safely say that #NotAllMen are assholes. I personally know guys who advocate for the rights of women and yes, they are delightful!

– But then again, there were boys who underestimated my ability to kick a ball around just because I was a girl, thus excluded me from their ball games. Guys who sniggered behind my back at school just because I have a higher intellectual level *smug* and I dared to question. Men who were emotionally abusive and had a doctorate in lying which compelled me to check whether the sun was up every time I received a “Good Morning!” text from one.

Nevertheless, I haven’t lost sight of the men who does not belong on the battlefield at all.

Take my male cousins, for example. They are cheeky in general, but when I hit rock bottom, they are there for me. Their hugs and pep talks whenever I had a bad hair day provided me with the comfort I needed. Now we aren’t as close as we used to be, but they are always a phone call away.

I have male friends who are not trying to get into my pants. They check up on me every now and then, roots for my relationship and sincerely wants me to be the happiest I could be. Ladies, there are good-natured men out there who are striving to be decent people, even in a society entrenched in the patriarchy. But if you are convinced that all men are dogs 100% of the time, you close yourself to meeting genuinely pleasant guys.

And then there’s the most amazing man in my life: My Boyfriend who is also my Best Friend and my Number One Fan. He’s got my back when I wake up with determination, conquer the world and go to bed with satisfaction, and watches out for me in dreamland too. He showers me with unconditional love and that is something which I wouldn’t trade for anything in the universe. اللهم بارك له

These are men whom I appreciate everyday. And I am worried that along the way of becoming determined feminists, some women forget that both men and women deserve equal rights. Of course, there are plenty of men who do despicable things to women, and they deserve to be held accountable, but #NotAllMen are the same. And the decent ones deserve more credit than they get.

Ladies. Don’t let one man alter the way you view the entire gender. Stop rolling your eyes whenever a man holds a door open for you and gives you a smile. Be a strong and independent woman who knows how to value the gestures of courtesy. Stop wailing “Men!” whenever your crush doesn’t text you back. There are guys out there who would text you back in a jiffy. Stop hissing “Men!” whenever a man explains something to you because if someone, regardless of gender, doesn’t know or understand something, and a man does, then by all means, he should explain it! He’s not mansplaining. (Besides, the term “mansplaining” is pejorative. It’s an expression designed to cast aspersion on one group of people based solely on an inborn inherited trait. This term should never be used unless one wishes to belittle and denigrate all men. Clearly, a term that insult all the members of one gender has no part in a struggle for gender equality.)

Men can be awful, sexist, self-centered and heart-breaking creatures. But they can also be beautiful, intoxicating, strong, challenging and tender. They can help us to build ourselves and they can love us selflessly with all their heart. They can see an inner and a complex part of us and believe in it when we fail to do so, at times. They can grow us, and with us, into something truly magical. And it doesn’t always come in the form of a romantic relationship. The love you share with the opposite gender could be within a companionship, too. Hate doesn’t look good on you, darling. Love looks so much better.

Anyhoo, back to what I was saying earlier. Would being “multi-orgasmic” fetch points for women in the Gender Supremacy Battle and would men’s “athletic performance” fetch credit for men too, in the aforesaid battle?

Letter To My Younger Self

A couple of years ago, a friend suggested that I write a letter to my younger self. It is a powerful exercise that I believe everyone should experience. So here I go.

1st December, 2016

Hello, Little One. It’s your older self, writing to you. Just so you know, you will create your own journey which makes you amazing.

There isn’t a fine line between making inadequate decisions and regretting them. Sure, you’ve made some inadequate decisions just to feel the thrill of being impish, but every decision you make gives you the opportunity to take credit for creating your own life. Also, by experiencing the disappointment that might come with a decision’s outcome, you can propel yourself to a new level of emotional evaluation and master the art of self-forgiveness.

I recall that you were slightly insecure about petty concerns while growing up. Remember feeling insecure about yourself because your mom didn’t let you wear makeup to school whilst your “cool” schoolmates attended school with cake faces? Newsflash, honey. You were, you are, and you always will be cooler than them. Your outer appearance, as beautiful as it is, never actually defined who you are. The people you meet along the way falls in love with you because you are a lovable person by nature. Also, here’s a little secret. Later on in your life, you will wear makeup. You will look in the mirror and see a cake face too, if you apply it poorly. But that’s okay, because there is a time and a place for everything.

On a totally unrelated note, Prince Harry is not single anymore. You have stepped up your celebrity crush game and you’re currently admiring the current Prime Minister of Canada.

Moving on…

You are chasing your dreams. Remember the profession you have set your heart on? You are on the verge of pursing it. There were minor interruptions along the way. Your brain cut to a different route but your heart brought you back on track. People say that giving into the musings of the brain is the smartest thing to do, but honestly, listening to your heart leads to the best decisions made in life, and your brain will eventually give in.

Speaking of heart, love doesn’t come in the form of a relationship status on Facebook. It doesn’t bloom the moment you give him your e-mail address to chat-up and send nudges on MSN. Borrowing your mom’s phone to “play games” but texting your “crush” instead, followed by an inbox clean-up isn’t exactly a sacrifice. Later on in your life, you have met people whom you have genuinely loved and whom you will continue to love with all your heart. You have made smart choices, and I can safely say that these are the people who are worth sharing your life with.

But.

You have lost people along the way.  But you don’t let the injustices of the past occupy so much psychic space in your present. There is a Greater Power who will be the judge and you, darling, deserve peace in your heart. Your friends are wonderful people, and meeting them for a chit-chat is more fruitful than texting gobbledygook back and forth. You don’t have to be in constant contact with a person to prove your friendship to him or her. Being there for a person when he or she needs you is worthy.

Your wish for a brother continues to grow, yet you love your sisters unconditionally. You see, life doesn’t always go your way. You wanted to be a full-time babysitter for your sisters, but they have been living miles away from you. You do get to meet them occasionally, but you haven’t got the chance to unleash the big-sister vibe on them, YET. I have a feeling that they’re going to continue to travel throughout of the country and out of the country for a while, but all that matters are love and memories so make sure you give it and make sure you make them.

I have watched you evolve into a fiercely amazing woman. Today, you are one year older, so happy birthday. I am so proud of you. You are a hopeless romantic, but you’re not letting love distract you from conquering the world. You aim to thrive when it comes to your education, but you haven’t spent sleepless nights, buried in books. You are ambitious, but you have achieved the right balance between the significant aspects of your life. You love your family, but you do not tolerate having toxic family members around you just because they’re “family.” You are a self-proclaimed feminist, but you most certainly do not want death to all penises. You are considerate, but you don’t other people rent space in your head for free as that’s valuable real estate.

Darling, maturity is not measured by age. It is an attitude built by sensitivity, manners and how you react to situations. Don’t wait for the universe to bend in your favor. Go out there and slay, Queen! You are responsible for your own happiness. You are a warrior. Not a worrier.

I love you.

P.S You’re still a cry-baby.

The Battle Of Mind

There are two kinds of people in this world. People who consider mental illness like the serious concern it is, and the people/a**holes who ridicule it and question the faith of the person suffering from it. Excuse the harshness, but with regard to the talk of mental illness recently, I can safely say that 65% of the opinions and comments are from the kind of people who fall under the latter of the two.

Mental illness is any disease or condition that influences the way a person thinks, feels, behaves and relates to others and to his/her surroundings. Although the symptoms of mental illness can range from mild to severe and are different depending on the type of mental illness, a person with an untreated mental illness often is unable to cope with life’s daily routines and demands. Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, it is becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors, NOT due to personal weakness, a character defect, lack of faith, or black-magic, and recovery from a mental illness is NOT simply a matter of will, self-discipline and a couple of prayers. I could keep on repeating this like a prayer, but will the critical Maldivians ever gain an understanding?

Recently a 15 year old girl has reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself from a fan. This awakened the “holier than thou” crowd in our society, and they associated this act of hers to her lack of faith. Yesterday a man has suffered serious injuries after jumping from a building in Male’ in an apparent suicide attempt whilst spectators were having a festive time enjoying the “show.” This is the state of our community today.

I am certain that I have a fair amount of faith, yet I, myself, suffered from mild depression twice. This resulted in mood-swings, changes in personality and social withdrawal. The first time I got out of it was with a lot of pleasantry and support from a bunch of friends. Even if I am not in constant contact with most of them now, with one missing and nowhere to be found yet, I would forever be grateful to them for providing me with the comfort I needed back then. The second time was a tad bit severe than the first, so I increased my level of faith a notch higher than it was before AND turned to my family and friends for support. I did ponder on seeking professional help but later on I did not get to it as my ill condition kept wearing off, which I believe was due to prayers and encouragement from fellow companions. But do you know what the real challenge was, during the two periods I put up with depression? Being told that it was due to my lack of faith, from one of the people closest to me. Being told that if I prayed a bit more, my mental illness would “magically” disappear. Being told to stop moping around and to cheer up, just like that. Explaining my mental condition to that person further added up to my stress and became another battle I had to overcome.

My point? Since mine wasn’t severe and my symptoms were well-controlled, by the mercy of God, I was able to overcome it by seeking solace from prayers and companions, both working hand in hand. Had I isolated myself and kept on praying 24/7, I would not have been able to overcome it. While prayer made me feel better spiritually, the consolation I got from friends and family made me feel better mentally.

So that’s how I coped and overcame. And that is how I will cope and overcome, if, God forbid, I face a similar situation again. My illness was MILD. But there are people out there, suffering and struggling to function in ordinary life due to severe mental disorders. Even if the signs and symptoms vary widely between specific disorders, they are all fighting the same battle and they all deserve treatment. Treatment means all the different ways in which someone with a mental illness can get help to minimise the effects of the illness and promote recovery. This includes psychological therapy, medications and community support programs. However, because there are many different factors contributing to the development of each illness, it can sometimes be difficult to predict how, when, or to what degree someone is going to get better. Just like common cold, flu and fever, mental illness needs to be treated accordingly. Chanting “panadol, panadol, panadol,” as a mantra whenever one gets a fever would not act as a cure. The same way, praying without acquiring proper medication would not help when it comes to mental illness. Hearing the haram-police question their faith and uttering hymns to dispel the assumed evil-spirits would be the last f****** thing they would want to hear.

Unfortunately in Maldives, we lack the ability to provide proper treatment, support systems and EMPATHY to our fellow fighters. Passing on judgement is what most of us do best. Just because one has never undergone a similar situation is no reason to assume that there aren’t people out there who are battling to become the people they once were, back in happier times they have once known.

I would defend anyone with a mental health illness, even if thousands taunt me. I will defend the girl who committed suicide. I will defend the man who attempted to commit suicide. And I will continue to defend all the fighters already fighting, and yet to come. Do you want allegations of suicide or suicide attempts to stop making headlines in this country? Start practicing empathy, or being more empathetic, for a change. One of the greatest ways to improve self-confidence when living with a chronic illness, or when living in a society where this is common, is with education. A person with a mental illness often carries an indelible mark of shame nonetheless and this needs to be changed by breaking the mental health stigma.

Well put, shut up and go educate yourselves.