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My Experiences With Bullying

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

VITHYA

Feature image courtesy of MY Photography.

I have briefly mentioned experiencing bullying before, but after hearing about an incident in Netherlands of a young Tamil boy who took his life due to bullying, and receiving an email from a girl yesterday about similar issues she is facing, I thought I will write a blog about my thoughts on this, in the hope that this may create a ray of hope for anyone out there who feels what I felt many years ago.

I grew up in a refugee camp to begin with, and since my parents didn’t speak German, I was not able to pick up the language very quickly, so I went to kindergarten and was picked on for not knowing German. Not just by fellow kids, but also the teachers, who isolated me and never included me in anything. When I started primary school, I was picked on immediately. We didn’t have school Uniforms in Germany, and my parents couldn’t afford to dress me in nice things, so I was picked on for my dress code, not speaking German, and for being coloured. Germany in the 90s was extremely racist. I was called names just because of my skin tone.

In my last year at primary school, I used to get beaten up during break, I used to go home with bruises, and my mum believed every story I told her. My parents were never even aware of what went on at school.

When I started high school, things got better, only to then be told that we are moving to England. I hated the high school system here. Yes we had Uniforms, and the teachers had a lot more control over students and waited at the bus stops until every student got on, but that never stopped the bullies. I had to sit at the front of every class due to my language barrier (yep, I spoke no word of English at the age of 14), and the so called ‘cool’ kids sitting at the back used to chuck paper at me when the teacher wasn’t looking. On one occasion I had chewing gum chucked at me, which got caught in my hair, and I waited to use the bathroom, to cry in the cubicle because I couldn’t get it out of my hair.

I was teased for the way I looked, for having a hairy upper lip, for the way I dressed, for the way I spoke, for not being academically smart. Naturally I had no friends either. Not in Kindergarten, not in Primary school, and not during High School either. The only person I became friends with was also being bullied, so we were both always picked on.

I genuinely believed that Uni will change everything, but it didn’t. I moved out, and initially made friends with the people I lived with, but very soon they made their own friends from their courses and I was left on my own again. I tried really hard to make friends in my course, but I really struggled. I hated having group work or a lab partner, as I was always the last person to be selected. No one wanted to work with me.

I still managed to make a few friends who I am still close with to this day. But man, making friends during those days just wasn’t easy for me.

I was depressed, miserable, and just super insecure. I had the odd person I hung out with, or was desperate to have a boyfriend because I thought at least that way I won’t be lonely, but to no luck. Things never seemed to work out for me very well. (And when you are this vulnerable and lonely, you do attract the wrong kind of guys, so please please do not make the same mistake. It is better to be on your own, than wind up with a psycho boyfriend who will make you fell much worse about yourself than any of those bullies at school).

I didn’t tell anyone about it, and I didn’t talk to a therapist either. In fact none of my family members knew about it, and the teachers/lecturers weren’t aware either. Do you know what I did about it? I learned to not care about them. I figured that a few years down the line none of these people are going to matter. I took a vow that I will make something of my life, and that I will be happy, content, successful, and achieve my goals. I used to want those things, just so I can have people begging to be my friend.

Well today that doesn’t influence my decisions of course. Today I have learned to do things on my own, to be independent, and to run my own business. I achieved all the things I set out to achieve, and whoever stuck by me through this painful and long journey, are the ones I really regard as friends and who really matter to me. To me, my parents and my cousins are still my number ones, and every one else I meet along the journey come and go, and I am content with that. People who want to be friends with you because of success or fame, are never really real friends. Trust me!!!

I have considered taking my life numerous times during those awful years. I used to think no one would even notice if I am gone, and that I would probably enrich their lives by killing myself. I am telling you, I have never crossed paths with any of these bullies since leaving school, and I am glad that I never took my life for their satisfaction. Bullies make you believe that something is wrong with you, when in reality something is wrong with them. They are the miserable and unhappy ones, and they get their notion of happiness by making others suffer. It is their way of coping, their way of surviving. It is not your fault. In fact be the better person and feel sorry for them, if you are not able to do so, then just ignore them.

I could write an entire essay of what you could do to those mean bullies, but stooping to their level is never wise. We don’t know what they are going through nor why they are so bitter and unhappy. They must be fighting their own battles at home. Who cares? It is not your problem. You are loved, you have a beautiful family, and you have a roof over your head and cooked food on the table, stay strong and put up with it until you can make active choices. Yes you could change schools, or jobs, or stop being friends with the person that constantly picks on you. But does that solve the problem? It deals with the symptoms not the source. How we react to these situations is dealing with the source of the problem. Just ignore them, and don’t change. Be the same kind person you want to be.

You would think bullying only happens in schools, but no it happens at work, it happens in relationships, it even happens amongst family members. We can never get away from a bully. They are everywhere, and around us. But we have the power to do something about it. To make choices that allow us to stay away from such people. Or remove ourselves from these situations. The first step is to talk to a loved one, confide in them, and let them help you. If you don’t, then there are professionals you can talk to at school or even at work to make them aware of this.

I once had a staff member bully me at work for over a year. Since I became an expert at being bullied, I just noted down everything; anything he said or did. I never encouraged him, nor reacted to his behaviour. (Even though I used to cry at home, or in the bathrooms), and then after about six months of collecting evidence, I wrote a huge letter to HR, filed a formal complaint, and after a few interviews he was sacked. And I worked happily ever after!

Even now, I sometimes get cyberbullies. I even have some family members who bully me. I deal with it every day.

Why should you suffer for someone else? Why does the other person matter more than you? Why is it ok to feel sad, irrelevant, and lonely? Why?

No one has that right or that kind of power over you. So don’t let them!

Just use me as an example. I was bullied most of my life, and today I regard myself as a successful and independent woman. I am also about to leave my family and friends and move to another country where I am not going to know anyone and start from scratch. I got those bullies to thank! I became tough and strong because of them.

So get up, dust off, and LIVE!!! Life gets better. I promise!!!

Vithya is a London based Hair and Make Up artist who specialises in Asian Bridal Hair and Make Up, and dressing. She qualified at the London College of Fashion, has worked for M.A.C Cosmetics for almost three years, and is now self employe

http://tamilculture.com/my-experiences-with-bullying/

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Who I Am Toady…

Posted on 29 December 2016 by admin

VITHYA 

Everyone has ups and downs, but even that statement is not widely accepted in our community.

When I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14 and I came and told my parents, their response was that the doctor was an idiot and didn’t know what he was talking about.

Of course I believed my parents and never bothered talking about it again, nor did I even try and explore it further.

Almost a decade later, I was bitter, miserable, unhappy, and just sad all the time. It was like there was never a light at the end of the tunnel for me.

In my mid twenties, it got worse. Life just got harder with the pressure of graduating, finding a job, finding a husband, settling down, having a family. My way of coping with negative situations only got worse, and I went through a few personal problems on top of that.

That is when the thoughts came into my head. Wanting to end my life. For years I kept feeling that way, but never found the courage to actually follow through with it.

The one time I did cut my wrist and ended up in hospital, was when I was aware of how bad things really got. That was also the day, my parents understood what I was going through and they just had no idea where to begin.

I was a 23 year old woman, who did not want to live anymore, and I was surrounded by people who had no idea of how to help me.

I spent the next 5 years in and out of hospital, different psychotherapists, different types of anti depressants, several more suicide attempts, and a nervous breakdown. I lost my job, most of my family and friends disliked me because I pushed them all away, and I was not capable of being in a relationship.

Do you know what I did? I went to the London College of Fashion and enrolled to do a hair and make up diploma.

In the midst of all of that, I wanted to do make up! The one thing I enjoyed since I was a young girl. So I decided to just follow that passion. The only passion. The only thing I felt I was good at. You all know the story of how hard it was to even convince my parents to not pursue a career in science, since I graduated with a Biology and Psychology degree, so you can imagine what sort of stress that also added to my endless list of issues. They simply had no respect for my career choice.

My job is hard, it is very stressful, you work under a lot of pressure. It is not just doing make up on people, but you are running a business. You also have to be patient and tolerant. Qualities I did not possess. I was so focused and driven to pursue my career in this, that I knew I had to figure out how I can learn to cope in negative situations, and not feel like jumping in front of a train at any given opportunity.

The first thing I did was go to my GP and talk. He suggested the right kind of anti depressant for me, and I started off with a low dosage. Most people get so scared of anti depressants, and if you do google it, there are tonnes of pros and cons to taking them. There are also so many different types of anti depressants. You just have to figure out which one works for you.

I am not a doctor, so I cannot describe what it does and how it works scientifically, but all I needed to know was that it numbed the pain, the bad thoughts, the constant negative feelings. Equally I did not feel anything positive either. You feel nothing. I needed to feel nothing. Isn’t feeling nothing better than feeling sad all the time?

Once the medication kicked in, I started seeing a psychotherapist. I know the waiting list to see a therapist is very long, but if you can afford it, just go online and find a local one. Most countries have a listing. The NHS site in the UK has a very descriptive list of therapists; their expertise and experience. You can pick and choose depending on what the nature of your problem is.

I tried several therapists until I found a lady who was just the right type of therapist for me. She taught me coping strategies. How to cope in a negative situation.

I find that with most therapists they get you to talk about your past too much. I understand that finding the source, the root of the problem is key to eliminating the symptoms, but not everyone can handle bringing up the repressed memories of one’s childhood. Everyone suffers from different types of problems.

My mum used to always say “What problems could you possibly have? We have done everything for you, you have a roof over your head, food, warmth, luxury, we buy you everything, why would you be sad?” Of course she was right. But I came from a generation where we didn’t talk about what happened in our childhood. We were wise enough at such a young age, not to burden our parents with things we knew they would never understand. More than that, we didn’t want to tell them things that would potentially hurt them. We tried to protect them by suffering ourselves. Imagine that responsibility being a child?And then what do you think happens 20 years later? We blame our parents for not having been there for us, for not having protected us, for not having saved us from that big black hole inside our head.

But it is not their fault. They never knew, and they were never exposed to the things we have been exposed to in the past two to three decades.

Once I was able to cope better with everyday things in life, I focused more on my career. I was motivated to build something that distracted me from all the bad things in my life. Some of my friends who have suffered from depression, all found something that made them appreciate life. For some it was having a baby, for some it was gym, and for some it was changing their career.

For me it was my career, IS my career. I put my life and soul into it, and worked hard to be where I am. I am still very critical of myself and still feel I have a very long way to go to perfect my skills, but it is enough to keep me going. Enough to make me feel content and happy.

I know I have a big social media presence, and I come across like the happiest person on earth, who has it all; that magical walk in closet, the million Zara items, that costly chia seed lifestyle, and those damn expensive Starbucks cappuccinos every week. But I want to inspire people, not show off to them. I want someone to see the benefits in the things I do. And also help someone, anyone, see the brighter side of life. Even if it’s through my famous chia seed dessert. I know the Starbucks is not inspirational in any way, but the coconut milk substitute is beneficial to your health! There you go! Anyway joke aside.

I want to make a difference. I have not had it easy, and nothing was given to me on a plate. I worked very hard, and suffered painfully, to be where I am today, and to be who I am today.

I hope people can see that through my social media posts.

When I got divorced, my parents thought I was going to try and harm myself again. They were like hawks in my house; constantly watching me, analysing me, and trying to talk to me. It really helped that they understood what I was going through. They understood that this could trigger my depression. As I now strongly believe that depression is a mental disease, and it never really goes away, it lingers, and just waits to attack. I did suffer a nervous breakdown. I did feel suicidal, and I was seeing a therapist again. But after only a few months, did I realise that I did not want to go down that path again. I did not want to take medication nor sit on a couch and talk about my ex husband. Instead I joined the gym, hired a personal trainer, saw a nutritionist, and focused on my inside. I just wanted to love myself. Figure out what I needed, and what would make all this go away. And it did go away. That cloud hanging over my head during the divorce went away. And it was all because I did that. I made it go away, by wanting to live. Wanting to be happy. Desperate to have another shot in life again. Believing that someone will love me, and that I will have a happily ever after.

We all deserve it. But how one achieves that is in no one’s hand but your own. You have full reign, full control of how you want your life to be.

Getting professional help is the first step. And once you understand what is going on in that head of yours, you should be able to explain this to your loved ones, because we all need the support of our family and friends.

When you are depressed you do feel alone and you shut yourself off, but even if it’s just the one person you can talk to, only one, it’s enough. It is better to have one person who you can trust, than a million negative people who are waiting to see you drown.

People love a gossip, and people are nosy, and you think they care, but all they want is entertainment. When you type my name into google, one of the most searched words associated with my company name is the word divorce. Do you know how many people still want to know what happened? Why I got divorced after only a four-month marriage? I never gave in. I have never shared my story on social media in the past 2 years. Firstly, it is no one’s business, secondly, it has nothing to do with my career, and thirdly it is not beneficial to anybody else.

All I want people to know is HOW I got through this, and HOW I overcame such a painful time. Because I know that divorce in our community, is another subject that is brushed under the carpet.

The stigma of divorce, depression, and all the other terms that are taboo in the Asian community, need to be addressed. How else are we supposed to set an example to the younger generation if we are encouraging them not to face these big problems?

I received a message last night from a girl who was feeling suicidal, and after reading my article, she snapped out of it, and thanked me for motivating her to go seek the necessary help.

I was so heartbroken reading that.

But then I was so happy I opened up about something so personal to me, because it made that difference to one person at least. And I can say that it was definitely the first time I have saved someone’s live!

Let us all save more!!!

I am grateful for all the comments, private messages, emails, and even text messages from previous clients, for sharing your stories, for supporting me sharing mine, and for wanting to help people who have also suffered or still suffer from this illness.

I was having a few bad days, which is ok, and I received a request from Women’s Planet to write an inspiring story for them. So I did. Timing, I tell you! Never did I imagine though, that I would get such a response. It really overwhelmed me and threw me off. I had never planned to ever talk about my depression, but reading all those private messages last night, made me realise that people were expecting me to share my story of how I overcame it. So I did. And I really hope this explains just a notion of who I am today!

I might not be able to make someone’s problems go away, but I can surely beautify them just for that one special day, and make them feel like they are worth everything. That is the power of my job, and I find it most rewarding. It is my way of giving back to the world, because we all deserve to feel and be happy.

I hope my blog was useful, and whether you yourself are suffering from depression, or know someone who does, then please take the necessary steps to seek/provide help.

Thank you.

Images courtesy of MY Photograph

http://tamilculture.com/who-i-am-today/

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