Worth Living Ambassador Ayesha Noor

I started writing poetry as a way to cope with my anxiety and the tumultuous emotions it caused that wreaked havoc on my sanity. Word by word, and poem by poem, I slowly released the agony rioting in my mind. When I’m not writing poetry, one can often find me curled up with a book or watching the latest crime series like my life depends on it

My Experience with Anxiety and How I Survived It

I had been physically ill for four years. I spent every weekend that I was home from university going to doctors and trying to find a diagnosis that made sense. When instead I could have been hanging out with my friends, like most people my age were doing. Week after week, appointment after appointment, my disappointment grew until I was crying more often than not. I got a few short reprieves where the symptoms abated and hope swelled in my chest, that maybe just maybe, I would be okay after all. But alas, that was not the case. The illness returned time and time again until my mind couldn’t handle it any longer. Thus, my health anxiety was born.

Once the anxiety started, it wasn’t just that particular recurring illness that would trigger it. The slightest symptom, the slightest feeling of not feeling exactly right and my mind took off and I was spiraling for hours until it culminated in a panic attack. On the days I was stronger, I’d fight the anxiety for a couple of days before my mind broke under the constant pressure. It’s hard to tell which was worse, fighting the anxiety for so long or giving in right away so that I could feel the calm after the storm. Both were their own kind of agony. It hurt to not have a panic attack, but it hurt even more to have one. Either choice ended the same, with a panic attack. The agony was so strong and so severe it hurt all the way down to my soul. The kind of pain that makes you want to give up on living. The kind of pain that makes it seem like there’s only one option. The kind of pain which turns you into a blubbering, nonfunctional mess. The kind of pain that cripples your mind, body, heart, and soul.

Luckily, I had just enough bravado left in me to ask for help. I contacted a therapist and set up an appointment and the rest is history. Although it definitely wasn’t as easy as 1,2,3. Healing is a process that takes time, effort, and patience. But it is more than worth it. Along with therapy, I made lifestyle changes. Changes that not only helped my physical health but also my mental health. I started going to the gym at least four times a week, doing yoga three times a week, and eating healthier. Routine is good. It means you have things to do and less time to think. Therefore, fewer chances for the anxiety to take hold. Finding a healthy outlet for the turbulent emotions anxiety caused was a huge relief. What works for me is writing poetry. By writing about my anxiety, I am able to control the uncontrollable.

Don’t get me wrong, my life definitely isn’t perfect. I still have bad days; days where I want to curl up in bed and stay there all day. But there are more good days than bad days, and the good days outweigh the bad. And when the bad days come around, I just hold on to the knowledge that being okay, being happy, and being healthy is possible. I know this because I’ve lived it. Just remember you are only human. If you fall, pick yourself up again. Falling is okay, as long as you don’t stay on the ground.

My advice would be to find a regimen that works for you. Find a creative outlet for your anxiety. It doesn’t have to be writing and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  You’re doing it for you, not for anyone else. I’m sure whatever you chose, it will be spectacular in its own way. After all, you know what they say about creativity and the troubled mind. Don’t be ashamed if you have to take medication. Do whatever it takes to get you back to feeling like yourself. The new, healthy, and happy you. Because at the end of the day all that matters is you and your health. This is one instance in which you shouldn’t be afraid to be selfish. In fact, it is necessary.

Worth Living Ambassador Renee Raymond

Hello, my name is Renee. I am a cognitive behavioural therapist and Registered Kinesiologist. I am a mental health advocate, with a particular interest in youth and workplace mental health. I am currently collecting youth mental health stories to help advocate for better support for students across the country. I believe that it’s vital to allow those who are struggling to feel supported enough to seek help, and work with them as an ally through their recovery journey. You can visit my website www.mindfullyyouwellness.com

Growing Up and Social Networks

A part of growing up means being “responsible”. Many 20 somethings feel the impact of adulthood on our social lives during the transition to post-secondary. The focus of our lives shift to balancing our school lives, work, building a career, and of course paying bills. Friends change, older ones move away or grow apart. With all of the changes happening in our personal lives, we sometimes struggle to make new connections to maintain our social network of friends.

A huge part of being human is being around and with other people! Some of the most enriching memories in life come from being with and around others. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of what we need to do on a daily basis, and it can be easier to get absorbed an all of our activities rather than building and maintaining new relationships. It’s vital to our well-being to spend some of our time connecting with others in a setting that is off-line.

Being around people who you can share your interests with or share a joke with is actually good for our health. Having healthy, supportive relationships in our lives help us to feel more fulfilled and happy. Having healthy relationships is also important for when things aren’t so great in life. Having people you can turn to in times of crisis, or someone who cares about your well-being helps us to make it through difficult times. These reasons and many more can’t be taken for granted, and shouldn’t be over looked because of other commitments we have in our lives.

Try joining an exercise class, attending a local event, and reaching out to old friends this weekend. If you’re too busy with family, take a look at the week ahead and see how you can spend a few hours socializing.

While it can be weird stepping outside of your comfort zone to hang out with new (or familiar) faces, these social experiences have the ability to make your week just a little bit brighter.

Worth Living Ambassador Ayesha Noor

 I started writing poetry as a way to cope with my anxiety and the tumultuous emotions it caused that wreaked havoc on my sanity. Word by word, and poem by poem, I slowly released the agony rioting in my mind. When I’m not writing poetry, one can often find me curled up with a book or watching the latest crime series like my life depends on it.


I know you are in a world of pain right now. I know you may think that it will never stop. I know that some of you may only see one end. I know it hurts more than you have ever hurt before.

I know that it feels like a tornado is constantly swirling in your head, not giving you much of a chance to gather your thoughts. I know you want to kick and scream at the injustice of it all. I know you may think: “why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

Nothing. You have done absolutely nothing to deserve having anxiety. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Take comfort in the knowledge that your pain is not your doing. Take comfort in the fact that the pain does end. Take comfort in the fact that you can heal. Take comfort in the fact that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long the tunnel may be.

As you make your way down the path of healing, there will pitfalls and u-turns, and it may lead to feelings of frustration. But even that, even feeling frustrated is progress. Because anything is better than despair. Frustration can morph into doubt. It may have you thinking: “can I really do this?” Yes, you can! It may take some time and a lot of effort but it will happen. Slowly but surely, you will heal. You will feel normal again. You will feel joy again. You will feel hope again. You will look forward to the future again. You will want to live again. Don’t let the little setbacks, that are bound to happen, keep you down. I assure you, it is completely normal. It happens to all of us. It happened to me. Everything worth having takes time.

A day will come where you no longer cower in fear from your anxiety, but drown out its voice with a fierce roar of confidence in your ability to defeat it. As a lion does after it has caught its prey.

Worth Living Ambassador Angela Cassivi Dsouza

Angela grew up in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia. She studied at St Mary’s University and at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She now lives in Ontario with her husband and two kids, where they operate three locations of their music school, Avalon Music Academy.


Musicians and artists in general, are known to be over-thinkers. I’m no exception. But there is a fine, yet distinct, line between over-thinking and obsessiveness. I suffer from obsessive thinking, or obsession-based OCD (essentially OCD without the compulsions). My mind is always thinking. It does not have an off switch. It latches on to a thought and will follow that thought around twists and turns for hours, days, weeks, or years. I have to take medication to sleep, every single night, or my mind would not allow it.

I once had a therapist tell me that I was lucky, in a way – that I got to view things in ways that no one else did. It’s an interesting way to look at it – but most days it just feel like hell. With every single thought comes a feeling and I am always on emotional overload. A seemingly tiny incident can send me over the edge and of course, people cannot understand why. Of course they can’t. They’re not in my head.
Sometimes I love my feelings. But mostly they’re exhausting.

Mostly I’m tired of feeling. I’m tired of having so many intense feelings that I can’t share with anyone because they are just not normal.
From the outside, I think I look remarkably normal. I run a successful business, I have two amazing kids, I have a husband with a good career. It sounds like a whole lot of normal.

But I’m trapped in my head. I’m trapped with endless thoughts that won’t release their grip. I want to hide in a dark closet all the time. I cry and I scream and I rage – and no one knows.

Most days I count down the hours until I can take my sleep meds and shut off my mind.

I wish this was something the world would talk about. I wish I could share this without judgment.

But I can’t.

No matter how tolerant people pretend to be, I’ve learned that they only throw their support behind “normal.”

Worth Living Top 10 Countdown -With Linda Dias Menezes (South African Music)

This week we move from Kenya to another African country…sunny South Africa. This week Worth Living Ambassador Linda joins me. I’m so excited to learn about South African culture through music. I was already a fan of Black Coffee and Mi Casa but South Africa has so much more to offer. The under lying message in this countdown is hope. Thank you to Linda for all the wonderful music you shared! Enjoy some global tunes! – Scratchley Q

10. La Vida – Mi Casa

9. Love You Better – Crazy White Boy

8. Special Star – Mango Groove

7. Save Me – TiMO ODV

 6. Doo Be Doo – Freshly Ground

5. Nkalakatha – Mandoza

4. I’ve Been Thinking About You – GoodLuck

3. Fairytale – Liquideep

2. Love You Still – DJ Kent ft. Dominic Neill

1. Suited – Shekhinah

Bonus Track… We Dance Again – Black Coffee ft. Nakhane Toure

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 three years old.

I am also a mentor, an ambassador, a support group facilitator, a Psychology Honours 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.

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.

Caution: Linda discusses suicides

Exam Pressures, Suicide, and Depression

On Saturday the 18th of October, a 19 year old student jumped off a six storey building and committed suicide. The whole nation is still in shock. A beautiful young woman with such potential at The University of the Witwatesrand (WITS),one of the best Universities’ in South Africa, commits suicide.

This brought to light once again what this time of the year means for students. I would like to share this very personal story with you.Just in my circle of fellow students at the University of South Africa, I share social networks and study groups online. In our circle, there were two of my fellow students who had messaged me to say they were thinking or had attempted to commit suicide. One of the ladies went through with her suicide attempt and spent two weeks in hospital for observation; while the other lady reached out to me before going through with the attempt and thanked me for listening and I referred her to professionals who specialize in this field. It is difficult to make that decision to reach out when you have you will never regret it and will be surprised to see how many people are willing to help and show you just how important you are to them.

We students have support groups for Hons students, in South Africa where they can just unload their anxieties about the upcoming exams and how they are coping. Many of the students I interact with are balancing full time jobs, running a household, and studying part-time.

The main topics that came up while discussing exam anxieties are the amount of pressure placed on them by either, family, friends, relationships, pressure getting into masters or selection programmes, student grant or funding that they will have to pay back if they fail, and financial pressure that comes with being a student.

How to recognise depression:

The common feature is the presence of a sad, empty, or irritable mood, for more than two weeks and changes that significantly affect the capacity to function. Major depressive disorders are characterized by discrete episodes of at least 2 weeks’ duration, although most episodes could last considerably longer. A more chronic form of depression, persistent depressive disorder, can be diagnosed when the mood disturbance continues for at least 2 years in adults or 1 year in children. It is important to note a large number of substance abuse, some prescribed medications, and several medical conditions can be associated with depression. Having a depressed mood with feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopeless for most of the day, and nearly every day. Lack of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Lack of sleep or too much sleep nearly every day. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt. Diminished ability to concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day. This one is the most important! Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt. If you are feeling suicidal please reach out to professionals, family and or friends. The symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social activities, the workplace and other important aspects of day to day functioning. The episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or to another medical condition.

Periods of sadness are normal aspects of the human experience and reactions to certain circumstances; i.e. the loss of a loved one. Major depressive episode criteria are met for five out of nine symptoms and duration most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks, with significant distress or impairment.

You are not alone, depression can affect anyone at any time. Your life is worth living!

Who to contact:

 Students Reps
 School / University Counsellors
 A close family member or friend
 NGO’s specializing in Depression and Anxiety in your area
 Find local support groups in your area
 Clinical psychologists
 General practitioners
 Your family doctor

Exam tips:

 Make a schedule and organize your study space. It helps when the area you are studying is free from distractions i.e. TV, cell phones and or other distractions. Make sure you let your family and housemates know you are studying so they don’t interrupt.

 Make sure that you know when the exam dates and times are. Write them in your diary and save them on your phone.

 Ask your lecturer, teacher, or consult your tutorial papers for the content of the exam and what to study.

 Past exam papers help, if you are able to go through past exam papers, do so. This way you know what kind of questions are asked and      what the layout of the paper will be with no drastic surprises.

 Give yourself enough time to study after you have taken note of the times and dates, check how much time/days you have between exams, and how much time you have from today until the exam. Plan accordingly.

 Using summaries, mind maps, flow charts and or other visual aids help remembering the content of the study material.

Start a study group with fellow students

 Stay hydrated drink lots of water, this is when your brain works best.

 Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for memory retention and learning. At least six hours of sleep are needed to effectively study and remember what you have studied.

 Recalling what you have learnt, after studying when you are driving, washing dishes, doing general chores, or in the bath or shower. Try and recall the content you have gone through during the day and what you have studied.

Good luck with your exams, you got this!

Twitter: @diaslr
Instagram: epilepsyawarenesssa
Facebook: EpilepsyAwarenessSA
Email: epilepsyawarenesssa@gmail.com
Website: www.easa.org.za

Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – with Scratchley Q and Zippah

In my off time I like to explore different genres of music. I enjoy learning about music from different cultures. Having traveled to Kenya and getting to experience first hand some culture and traditions, I get a special feeling inside when I listen to Kenyan musicians and artists. It brings back so many emotions and great memories. Big ups to Zippah for contributing to this week’s countdown. This week we decided to give you ten songs that we enjoy. Most of the songs on this countdown are Kenyan or come from a country in Africa. Enjoy some global tunes. -Scratchley Q

10. Kababye (Remix) – Chin Bees ft. Khaligraph Jones

9. Pro (Kameshika Remix) ft. Naiboi, Kristoff, The Kansoul & Jegede

8. Phy – Ruka ft. King Kaka & Khaligraph Jones

7. Woju Kiss Daniel ft. Davido & Tiwa Savage

6. Niseme – Yamoto Band

5. Nakupenda – Yemi Alade ft. Nyashinski

4. Piga Makofi- Longombas

3. Always On My Mind – Vivian ft. Pallaso

2. Sing Along – Octopizzo

1. Love Portion – Mafikizolo


Worth Living launches Worth Giving!

All of you have supported, embraced, and contributed to Worth Living and I thank you! Each of you is a voice in the conversation on mental health awareness. The WL message of health, hope, and happiness has gone global. Let’s connect with more people.

The Worth Giving Story

I was recently talking with Mickie Bowe. She is the Executive Director and I serve as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Self Help Connection but most importantly we are dear friends who have shared a lot over the years.

We were talking about kindness and how people can make a change. I told her about my nephew passing by Shelter Nova Scotia on his daily walk and seeing a sign asking for socks to be donated. Well he never had socks with him, so one evening he gets home and orders 2 boxes of socks to be delivered directly to Shelter Nova Scotia. Towards the end of my story, Mickie says, “Stop, wait“. We pause for a few seconds. She then says, “Worth Giving, that’s you, that’s yours, that’s what you are doing”. Worth Giving was then created.  A special thanks to her and to my nephew. Another special thanks to WL Ambassador Angela Lam for the amazing logo she created. Please use it on your social media and share it.

Worth Giving will encourage you, your friends, and colleagues to give back to your communities.  I know many of you are active now in your community and beyond, even into other countries.

By giving back, the rewards are incredible, for those you help and for yourself.

Donate some time to a local non –profit or charity. Help out at the local food bank or shelter. Drop off some clothes that have been in your closet unworn for years. Maybe your local library or school requires some volunteers. Be kind to your family and friends. Be kind to strangers.  Smile to those who need to see one. Embrace the kindness in yourself and share it with the world.

Please send me your stories and photos about what you have done to make a difference.  They will be featured here, on Instagram, twitter, and  the WL website. I will be creating a WG page on the site.  WG will be a platform for acts of kindness.

Let’s all embrace the Worth Giving message to change minds by being kind, thoughtful, and helpful. Simple steps.

Krystle Lurther and I  launched Worth Giving this week by delivering 4 bags of food items to a food bank. The people working there were so appreciative.  We met new people and plan to help out there more in the future.

Please join us as WL continues to embrace this challenging world but with arms of kindness,

Worth Living Ambassador Ayesha Noor

Worth Living Ambassador Ayesha Noor joins us from Dubai.  She shares a poem and as she describes  ” I started writing poetry as a way to cope with my anxiety and the tumultuous emotions it caused that wreaked havoc on my sanity. Word by word, and poem by poem, i slowly released the agony rioting in my mind. When I’m not writing poetry, one can often find me curled up with a book or watching the latest crime series like my life depends on it. Or at least that’s what you can find me doing when I’m not running around like a headless chicken trying to keep up with the demands of being a law student.” 

progress is progress is progress

how can one word put so much fear into us?
it seems to take control of our minds
until we’re nothing but passengers in our own life
it might seem like there is no way
to take the driver’s seat back
but i can assure you there is
and i’m not just spouting reassurances
that i think you want to hear
i am speaking from personal experience
i too have experienced the agony that is anxiety

while everyone’s anxiety is different
what is the same
is that we have all suffered
that we have all felt soul searing pain
our journeys of healing will all be different
and will progress at different speeds
but what’s most important is
that any progress is good
and something to be proud of

Worth Living Ambassador Haddi Browne

Hello, my name is Haddi. I am a Research professional and a Psychology graduate. During my course, I volunteered within various mental health services, which included working on a helpline for people affected by mental illness, organising activities for inpatients on a psychiatric ward, and working in a therapeutic community for people with severe mental illnesses. For me, the most interesting parts of my degree were learning about different mental illnesses and their causes and treatments.

Unhelpful Thinking Patterns

One of the modules I found interesting whilst studying was Cognitive Psychology. During this part of my course, I learned about cognitive distortions and negative thinking. I learned about the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviour and how negative thinking can keep us in unhealthy, vicious cycles.

Cognitive distortions are a concept used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and they are defined as exaggerated or irrational patterns of thinking. These irrational thoughts and beliefs can lead to difficult emotions and behaviour, like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and relationship problems.

Here are 10 common cognitive distortions:
1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: seeing things in black-and-white categories. Believing that someone or something can only be good or bad, right or wrong, rather than anything in between or ‘shades of grey’.
2. OVERGENERALISATION: Making judgments based on a single negative event. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen again and again.
3. MENTAL FILTER: Picking out a single negative detail and dwelling on it. Only noticing what the filter wants you to notice, like only catching negative things in your ‘kitchen strainer’ whilst anything more positive or realistic is dismissed.
4. MIND READING: Assuming you know what others are thinking. Concluding that someone is thinking negatively about you, without any evidence that it’s true.
5. PREDICTION: Anticipating that things will turn out badly, and believing that you know what’s going to happen in the future.
6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMISATION: Exaggerating the importance of things (such as your mistake or someone else’s achievement), or shrinking things until they appear insignificant (like your own achievements or qualities). Also, exaggerating the risk of danger or the negatives.
7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: Assume that your negative emotions must reflect the way things really are: “I feel bad so it must be bad!”
8. SHOULDS AND MUSTS: Putting pressure on yourself by thinking or saying “I should/shouldn’t” or “I must/mustn’t”. This can result in feeling guilty. When you direct such statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
9. COMPARE AND DESPAIR: Seeing only the good things in others and feeling upset when you compare yourself negatively against them.
10. PERSONALISATION: Blaming yourself for events or situations that are not totally your responsibility.

We can probably all relate to at least a few of these thinking styles. Being aware of your thoughts and identifying cognitive distortions can help you challenge negative thoughts.