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Reclaiming my Mental Health: An Act of Self-Care

One of the YU marketing team, Hisham, has shared how experiencing traumatic events in his home country pushed him to leave everything he knew in the ultimate act of self-love. Read his heartbreaking yet inspirational story to see how self-care doesn't always look the way we might expect:

"The phrases "this is normal’, “it’s nothing unusual”, “I’m used to it" reflect the kind of attitude that has become prevalent in many parts of the world where people are dealing with harsh and often traumatic situations on a daily basis. It's a mentality that reflects both victimhood and resilience, a coping mechanism that helps individuals move forward despite the difficulties they face.

But is this kind of coping mechanism healthy or even sustainable? Is there a better way to deal with the harsh reality of life? These are the questions that arise when we consider the normalisation of difficult circumstances.

Many of us find ourselves in situations where our families, friends, and entire lives are rooted in a place that has become a toxic comfort zone. We may love our homes, but we also hate what they have done to our mental state. We may have experienced traumatic events, such as wars, bombings, and socio-economic crises, but we also have fond memories of the times we shared with our loved ones.

The normalisation of such circumstances is a coping mechanism that allows us to keep going. We try to create a sense of normalcy in the face of adversity, and we try to focus on the positive aspects of our lives. However, this can come at a cost. We may be suppressing our emotions, denying ourselves the chance to process and heal from the trauma we have experienced.

It's important to acknowledge the impact that difficult circumstances can have on our mental health. We should seek out help if we are struggling, and we should also consider other ways of coping with our situation. Perhaps we need to look for ways to create positive change in our communities or find new ways to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.

Ultimately, we should never feel like we have to accept our fate and move on as if nothing happened. There is always a better way, and we owe it to ourselves to find it. It may take time, effort, and even sacrifice, but the result will be worth it.

For 31 years, I called Lebanon my home, and I loved it despite all its flaws. But the toll it took on my mental state was undeniable. The endless list of horrors I had witnessed had become so normalised that it was difficult to imagine life any other way.

And yet, the strain on my mental health was too great to ignore. When the economic crisis and the devastating Beirut explosion hit, I felt numb, emotionless, and cold inside. I knew I couldn't keep living this way. I had to break out of the toxic comfort zone that had become my life.

Leaving wasn't an easy decision, especially given the challenges of leaving a country with an unprivileged passport. It took two long years just to figure out how to submit a bank statement, given the collapsed state of the banking system.

But I knew I had to take that step, to reclaim my life and my mental health. Our families, friends, and lives may be there, but a toxic comfort zone is no place to call home. We must find a better way to cope with the harsh reality of our circumstances, to refuse to be victims of a broken system, and to seek a brighter future beyond the confines of our current struggles."

Image: Dalia Khamissy/British Red Cross

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