By Precious Tawaia I Lifestyle, Opinion
When I was growing up mental health wasn’t a thing. I never really understood what it was about. It was a distant matter that I was never going to have to worry about. My mindset changed when I was sent to counselling in year 11, arguably against my will. The only pro at the time was that it meant I would miss Spanish class during last period. I sat for 6 sessions talking to a woman I despised. She was the complete opposite to me, a middle-class middle-aged white woman with a consistent frown on her face. She made statements that I disliked and so I mentally disengaged quite early on in the therapeutic process. To be honest, I was glad to see the back of her. I finished therapy and that was the end of it, or so I thought.
College was a blur and before I knew it I had to choose the course for my undergraduate. As I had studied Psychology, I felt myself becoming more self-aware. Low moods and suicidal thoughts were very normal for me especially as I found my childhood quite traumatic. Interestingly enough, I never considered my mental health and the effect it was having on me. I just thought I was “sad a lot” and that that was “normal”. For some, it may be but for others, it can be extremely debilitating. The more I studied the more I started to look inwardly. All of a sudden the stubborn 16 year old who thought that therapy was a waste of time had grown up and wanted to do something drastic – she wanted to consider being the therapist herself. I could say the rest was history from there, that I went on to study a BA and I am now studying my MSc in Psychodynamic counselling and Psychotherapy with the aim to practice as a qualified psychotherapist but to explain my drive in that manner would be too simplistic. This isn’t about accolades; this is about a passion project – my baby.
On December 9th 2018, we celebrated our 1st year anniversary in south London with some amazing acts and I spoke about my mental health battles for the first time in my life. As weird as it was at first, I know my personal story helps for people to understand Psycool and why I am so passionate about it. I am someone who has always wanted 12 kids (now down to 6 because inflation is real honey!) and the thought of being a mother has always been something I have aspired to more than anything. I couldn’t wait to have the relationship I had with my mother with my own children. However in March 2017, my world shattered when I had a miscarriage. “This isn’t supposed to happen”. I remember feeling numb for days. The mental pain was much worse than the physical. I felt a void. I quit my job and found myself stuck, unfulfilled, unmotivated and unhappy. I am a God-fearing person and my faith is often was a draw upon for strength and in my time of need a prayed and the vision and name for Psycool came to me. It just felt right and has continued to feel right. I’m still learning as I go along and the more events we do the bigger impact I hope to make. Psycool has been therapeutic for me, meeting amazing people, hearing encouraging stories, watching people form friendships at our events – I could go on and on.
Psycool is my baby. My passion project. I want to bring mental health awareness to safe spaces and work to erase the taboos in the BAME community. Mental health does not discriminate and we all may find ourselves feeling low or triggered. There are other forms of illness also and I think it is important that people understand mental illness is more than “anxiety or depression” and that there are so many different types of illnesses one can face. This is why I started this platform; a platform where you can grow and learn mentally whilst having a good time. Our next event is on March 3rd and I can honestly say it will be worthwhile. For those reading this, remember to keep your mental health at the centre of your decisions. Glossing over your feelings only works for so long. Feel the feeling. If it is negative, think about the triggers and how to avoid them in the future. If it’s positive dwell on it. Sometimes society can make us feel like we are being overindulgent for looking after ourselves but that’s completely false. We set the blueprint on how we want to be loved by how we choose to love ourselves. Love deeply.
By Precious Tawia