What are You Happy about Today?

Worth Living Ambassador Linda Dias Menezes

I would like to start by introducing myself. My name is Linda Dias Menezes and I have epilepsy. I have a loving supportive husband and a little boy who is 3 years old.

I am also a mentor, an ambassador, a support group facilitator, a Psychology Honors Student at the University of South Africa and an advocate for mental health and epilepsy. I have my own NPO aimed and spreading epilepsy awareness in South Africa and plan to open a second NPO with fellow psychology students called Mental Health Profession Advocates for Change.

What are You Happy about Today?

Here in sunny South Africa the mental health care is all but sunny. Mental health and the stigma attached to mental health are not seen for what they are. Instead, some communities have a belief that if you have epilepsy or a mental health problem you are possessed or deranged.

I educate my audience in every presentation I host about what epilepsy is. People in general are not educated on the myths and stigmas related to mental health as soon as they hear the word mental they think of THE “Arkham Asylum”.

I discuss the mental health issues that go along with Epilepsy for example:

1. Dealing with anxieties of when the next seizure will strike, will those around me know how to administer first aid?
2. What would happen if anyone would find out that I had epilepsy, how would this affect my relationship?
3. Depression setting in, living with the condition for the rest of your life and being dependent on medication or even other people because you can’t drive for two years after you have had a seizure.

I have seen it many times, in the beginning all these questions and challenges lay before you and you feel like giving up, you become locked in darkness almost where there seems to be no hope and your friend with no name is actually depression. It only sets in later that your friend is not really your friend. Everything you loved before now becomes so much effort you don’t even feel like getting out of bed in the morning, all you want to do is hide from the world except the problem doesn’t really go away.

I might not have had the severest depression in my life, at a point all I knew was I was sad and unhappy for a long time I just didn’t really know why.

It had to take a real change in my life to look at what I had accomplished and embrace all the positive aspects of living with a condition that has no cure. I realised I can either dwell in the depths of despair of living with this condition or I can embrace the condition make it my own and celebrate my individuality.

My hope and resilience were renewed and I after visiting a few hostels for people living with epilepsy I realised I am quite lucky. I have a family, I have a job, I have a loving and caring husband and a beautiful healthy little boy, life is definitely worth living!

Life is even more Worth Living when I know I can get out of bed in the morning and be thankful for everything I have.
Life is so precious!  Make the most of it.

Every day I ask myself these questions and I urge you to do the same

1. What am I happy about today?
2. What am I grateful for today?
3. Who do I love?
4. Who loves me?
5. What can I do to make today fantastic?
6. What can I do today that will make a difference?
7. What can I acknowledge within myself today?

By celebrating the positive and going through the above questions every day you realize the little things we may sometimes take for granted. I had to really dig deep and reflect on my life.

1. What is it that I really want?
2. What are my goals?
3. What do I want to achieve with the resources I have?

I am thrilled that I got to share my story with you and hope I inspired you in some way.

I look forward to hearing from you:
Lots of love Linda

Website: www.epilepsyawarenesssa.wix.com/supportgroups

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