Hold Hope

I do a lot of things to stay balanced and well. So I place a lot of importance on my inner circle. These are close family members and friends. I believe that friends are the family we choose, so everyone in my inner circle I consider family, even if we are not biologically related. Everyone in my inner circle has proven to be incredibly loyal and they’ve stuck by me through the good and the bad. The highs and the lows. Seeing as I have bipolar disorder, there have definitely been a lot of highs and lows.

One thing that has been amazing and moving from my inner circle, was from 3 very special ladies. My mum (aka my best friend) and her two sisters. I while ago I heard this concept of people holding hope for other people, until hey could hold it themselves. There was a time when I was severely unwell with bipolar disorder. I couldn’t function, was almost non-verbal (which is shocking if you know me), I was unable to work, go to school or do much of anything. I felt horrible about my inability to function and participate in the world. I didn’t think I would ever work, be a contributing member of society, or be independent again. These 3 ladies gave me very consistent messaging to the contrary. Each of them told me repeatedly, in their own way, that I’m not well right now and I’m recovering… But once I’m well I will be successful and there would be no stoping me. I didn’t believe them at the time, but at the same time I respected the fact that they were all very intelligent women and maybe they knew something that I didn’t. Maybe they could see something in me that I couldn’t. They turned out to be absolutely right.

Do you have people in your life that hold hope for you when you can’t hold it yourself? People that believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself? Hold onto those people. I recently held a thank you dinner for those 3 lovely ladies to thank them for all of their love, encouragement and support. They were so very appreciative. So many times we think lovely things about people but we don’t tell them. I’ve been making an effort to tell people how I feel about them.

Hold hope for someone.

Peace & Blessings,

Maïsha

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maiLIFE Launch

I have finally launched my business, maiLIFE. I’m so proud that this idea that I came up with has actually become a tangible thing! maiLIFE is a word that I came up with when I was unwell from bipolar disorder. I was severely manic (long story) but it stuck. It’s a full circle moment to turn insanity into sanity.. Into reality. It’s so rewarding to share my experiences in a way that I can help people and impact their lives. It means my pain was not for nothing.

I’m a Self-empowerment & Mental Health Advocacy Speaker. Some people assume I’m completely comfortable on stage because of the way I present myself. They assume stage fright is not an issue for me. The reality is I have terrible performance anxiety.  Why do I continue to do public speaking?

In the beginning, my goal was to help one person. I thought, if my experiences could help just one person, it will all be worth it. Part way into my first year of  sharing my story, the social worker I worked for pulled me aside after speaking to a high school audience. She told me that there was a 17 year old girl that left part way through my speech in tears. I felt awful to think that maybe something I said might have triggered her. The social worker stopped me and explained it was not what I thought. It turns out that that 17 year old girl, after leaving the auditorium, went straight into the guidance office. She said “Maisha’s story is my story”. She told them that she had been suicidal since the age of 12, and that she had planned to attempt suicide later that week.  She had a suicide note in her locker. From there her family was informed. She had never disclosed this to anyone in her life. She was admitted to the hospital and got help.

So there it was, I’d helped one person. I was so proud of myself. But that’s not the end of the story. About a year later I asked the social worker what ever happened to the 17 year old girl. She said she wasn’t sure. I was a little disappointed until she said she wasn’t sure which person I was referring to! She told me there were many teenagers who came up and disclosed things related to mental health after I spoke.

Wow! If that was a sign that I was moving in the right direction I don’t know what is. There have also been family members of people with mental illness who have told me that seeing me do well gives them hope that their loved one will thrive. So any performance anxiety that I have to deal with is irrelevant. It’s not about me!

Have a wonderful day.

Peace & Blessings,

Maïsha

10 Steps Behind

For a long time when I struggled with severe mental illness, I felt like I was 10 steps behind other people that didn’t have the same challenges as me. I spent years unable to function, completely isolated from people, socially anxious, in and out of episodes and hospitals, and struggling with negativity and self-hate.   I was unable to work for a number of years and had no career like most other people my age. People were in long term relationships, getting married and having children and had years of working in their careers under their belt… me zero. Their lives seemed to be amazing from the outside looking in and I was genuinely happy for them. But it also depressed me that I was not thriving, happy or successful. My life seemed to be a mess. I felt trapped in the aftermath of mental illness. 

What I didn’t appreciate or give myself credit for, is that during this time (and 10 years in therapy), I was working on me. Combing through some serious issue surrounding trauma, mental illness and self-hate. I realize now that it was a blessing that I had the space, time and support to deal with those things. Volunteered, went back to school and slowly started to reclaim my life. I got pieces of myself back bit by bit and found new strength  that I never knew existed! 

It’s cliché, but I am so much stronger as a result of everything I’ve fought my way back from. I have a career that I’m proud of working in the mental health field. I’m good at it and proud of it. I get to help people everyday which has been something Ive always loved doing. It was instilled in me by my grandmother who was a nurse. I’m proud to be able to honour her in that way. 

I had a full circle moment yesterday. I went to a studio for a photoshoot. My first one in almost 20 years. The pictures will be used for my website and promotional materials.. for my business! maiLIFE! It’s been an idea I’ve had in my head for so long and now it’s real! maiLIFE is a word I created when I was unwell and now other people are making reference to it. Using it. It’s a real thing! They’re excited to hear what it’s all about. Here I was standing chatting with a group of black business owners.. and it hit me! These are my peers! I too am a black business owner.  

It’s so interesting because so many of my friends and the people around me are where I am now. Starting their own business (or having recently started them). They’re at the same stage I am.  

I no longer feel like I’m 10 steps behind because I’m not. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. A 9-5 that I love. Creating a business that I love. Love from amazing friends and family. Self-love like I’ve never known before. Life is amazing. So blessed and incredibly grateful. 

Peace Love & Dreams Actualized

Maïsha

maiLIFE

http://www.mailife.ca

Peer 

So I’ve finally arrived. I’m finally here. “Where is here” you ask? I’m in a place where I no longer feel shame about my mental illness. I’m not discouraged or oppressed by the stigma surrounding it and I am proud to speak about my experiences with people. I’m thriving in spite of it.  This is a gigantic step forward for me. Very important in my work as a Peer Support Specialist and for my business (MaiLIFE) as a public speaker. 

A “peer” is someone who identifies as having a mental illness. It’s in my job title! Everyone in my agency knows that I have a mental illness, because of my title. The thought of that terrified me for a long time. I wouldn’t have even applied for the position this time last year. I feared that if people knew I had a mental challenges, I would be judged harshly and viewed differently. Now I wear the title proudly. I’m getting valuable practice disclosing to people as I introduce myself to 90 new clients and explain that I am a peer, and what that means. 

Years ago, while in hospital, a social worker said to me “Wow! You have a mental illness and you finished university?! You’re SO high functioning!” (Ever since I heard the words “high functioning,”  in that context, I’ve hated them). This was someone who worked in the mental health field and was shocked at the fact that I’d completed a post secondary degree?! What a sad state of affairs. I quickly understood that some people did not expect much of people with mental challenges. More than ten years later I still get that reaction from some people. Some of whom work in the mental health field.  The reality is there are many peers like me out here. We live among you! We’re living well. We have completed or are completing post secondary studies. We have healthy relationships and are productive members of our communities. We love. We feel pain. We have accomplished amazing things.  We are living “normal” lives. 

I want to make that known to people. So yes, it’s on my business cards. Yes, it’s in my job title. Yes, I will continue to be open and share  my experiences with people if I think it will be helpful and if they want to listen. I’m proud of every part of who I am. Mental illness is not who I am, it’s what I have. I’m living well, enjoying life, I’m successful, healthy and genuinely happy.  It is possible!

Peace,

Maïsha

MaiLIFE

This is the beginning of the new look of this blog. After years of thinking/talking/dreaming about it.. I finally registered my public speaking business! MaiLIFE! It’s something that I love to do and did it happily.. and for free.. for years. Eventually I started really looking into what it would take for me to make this into a successful business. There have been many people over the years who have told me “when you’re ready, let me know and I’ll help however I can.” I finally started taking them up on their offers.  I’ve believed for a long time that “when the pupil is ready, the master will appear.” That’s what has been unfolding in my life as of late. I’ve found a great mentor who is sharing her knowledge with me about the public speaking world. I’m so excited to be working with her. More to come on that. 

I plan to officially launch my company in April/May 2017. 

This blog will be about sharing my thoughts and experiences as a business owner, public speaker, workshop facilitator, mental health advocate, black woman and human being. 

I have a unique voice as I have a degree in psychology, I’ve worked in the field of mental health as a case manager and I am a survivor of mental illness. 

I hope you enjoy the read. 

Peace Love & Happiness

Maïsha