One of the things about mental health and wellness is that, everyone has a story! From bad days to those times when you couldn’t feel as if you could get out of bed, we have had those times. Some have had them more than others. A number have experienced more intense narratives of depression, anxieties, and other mental health issues. Nevertheless, those stories continue to stand. When we go through particular experiences, they are, ours. We own them and they belong to us. Its part of that natural phenomenon of being able to have our whole selves. Our true selves. Its one of those elixirs in being able to hear ourselves from past traumas. In turn, when we tell our stories, we liberate ourselves from the constraints, that silence restricts us when we are in pain.
Oh how healing it is when we release that toxic energy into the Universe. When we are able to cleanse our wounds, and release the old, it feels so good. Not only is a working replica of what we are to aspire to, for the healing of trauma, but it is also practice for daily rituals of cleansing, in the wellness of our mental health. At the American University In Cairo’s, Office of Well-Being, the “My Story Isn’t Over Campaign,” (2018) is just that-telling our story!
Beginning in the week of February 26, 2018, the telling of different stories took place on the American University In Cairo’s New Cairo campus. Not only did students tell their mental health journeys, but they also made sure to pledge their names. Pledging their names on paper, in order to ensure that a sacred promise they kept to themselves, would be honored. As their name was written, that sacred promise was not only kept, but it ensured how different conversations regarding mental health and wellness is being opened. The Office Of Well-Being is behind this form of mental ease and wellness, currently taking place at the American University in Cairo. In having a center which supports, and comforts, the minds of students, faculty, and staff, there is a nutritious, and nourishing, fact which takes place. The campus become less hardened, and painted with a softer touch.
During one of my daily strolls through Barlett Plaza, I had come across this euphoric display. It was a presentation of wellness at its best, or those who were aspiring to such. What was even more endearing is seeing members of the counseling team engaging with students-wearing jeans and T-shirts, and truly being one of the students again. Getting away from the office-enclosed cubicle, and simply experiencing the world of university students-even if it is a short time.
It was a sunny day. It was a euphoric day, and what is articulated is how the world of mental health, IS a University issue. It is an educational issue. Neither students, staff, or faculty, should be ashamed in articulating that they need help. There should be no taboo when conversing on the strains, pressures of University responsibilities, and how that can lead to depression, and other mental health disorders. Furthermore, even discussions relating to the different emotional experiences of University life are important. A student’s interpersonal skills, and ability to cope in University spacing is very imperative. Its essential and there should be more than ample room for students, faculty, and staff to have those conversations. Open, honest, and raw to the fullest extent.
I have had my own personal battle of mental health stories. And, guess what? They are mine. They are part of my journey-spiritual, emotional, and physical on this plane, called Earth. Its beautiful in understanding just how honest I have been about these experiences. Truth is beautiful! It gives you the opportunity to relate to other people. And when you project these stories, you soon learn that you are not alone. Its more than intrinsic. Its healthy! In the sharing of your pain, you come to realize that you are not alone. Being opened, and awakened, to the fact that others have gone through their personal, mental health battles and struggles, means that the conversation is becoming more normalized. Furthermore, it translates that institutions of higher learning have come a long way. Great improvement is on the rise, when dealing with to mental health discussions. And guess what? Its going to get even, better.
Seeing former counselors, and those beautiful faces of the Office Of Well-Being, who guided me through difficult times was refreshing. Those loving, bubbly faces, who were always able to create a sense of calm. Even if they didn’t understand a situation, or couldn’t relate to particular circumstances, they would still listen. Showing care, concern, and the unique lens that a counselor could provide. Not only was it one of the most comforting highlights on campus spacing, but it also reminded me that my story, mattered. That I had a right tell it, and tell it as my own.
As we are moving through a time of change, we remember this sacred moments at the American University in Cairo. Remembering how we were able to stop and focus on our own stories. Even if it was just for a moment. Proclaiming them to whomever would listen, while making a promise they would tell them. Sharing them for future, and present lessons, to be learned. Moving through this period of COVID-19, we get a chance to reminisce on those past times. Keeping them as memory banks for when we plan to tell them, again. A pandemic doesn’t mean that we stop. If anything, we keep moving. Not only do we keep moving, but we plan for when things open again, for another time. That sacred moment of observing students dance around and make the arena of mental health a popular subject, was the refresher I needed for that day. It was significant. It was fun. It was, LOVE!
Let LOVE guide our stories, our personal stories, our mental health journeys. Because after all, if we are going to tell them, we better tell them, well!
For more information on the American University In Cairo’s Center Of Well-Being, you can go to the following link: https://www.aucegypt.edu/students/well-being and their Facebook page entitled Center For Student Well-Being @wellBeingAUC
For more information on “Project Semi-colon,” you can go to the following link: https://projectsemicolon.com/
To watch the video of “My Story Isn’t Over” campaign, you can click the following link: https://www.facebook.com/wellbeingAUC/videos/596913483979349/