BY Romina Mayani Nankani, CYE-CYL
I was eager to meet with a dear friend to hear about why he is the way he is. He draws people to him, smiling and adding a few good ol’ hearty laughs here and there. I simply said, “Paul, one hour max of your time please”. 4 hours later, and we would be on our way to writing material fit for a bestseller.
“Who is Paul?” I asked him, and loudly he replied, “Here goes, honey…”
“I am on a journey, always willing to learn, develop and trust that whoever you are meant to be, will come. I do think I’m positive and I can proudly say that what has shaped me is having overcome mental health issues. I learnt gratitude and to not take life so seriously.”
I admired his honesty and willingness to share his experience.
“In my first year at University, I was experiencing highs and lows. I thought it would be best to take a gap year as I was unable to focus, and felt extremely overwhelmed by my surroundings. I flew back to Gibraltar, and with the help of the Mental Health Team at Coaling Island, I began working on my thought processes to try and establish where these rollercoaster emotions were coming from.
“You are one thought away from changing the way you feel at this moment.”
“I feared being diagnosed though. One day, after many months of working on myself, I met with the Mental Health Practitioner and was informed I was indeed bipolar. But it wasn’t important for me to follow the label. More often than not, patients fall victim to the words in their diagnosis and lose focus on the remedies and tools to improve themselves. I didn’t give up and was determined to reach a balance in my life. I persevered daily! I now have a motto that keeps me going and focused with little effort.”
Of course, I urged him to share and wrote it as fast as I could.
“Work hard, enjoy all of life’s experiences, travel far, love intensely and appreciate all of the positive, whilst acknowledging all of the negatives.” He smiled saying it!
“Romina, I heard a great person speaking and she said, “You are one thought away from changing the way you feel at this moment”. Her name is Kerstin Andlaw and she emits so much energy and wisdom with simple tools. It is important for me to advise those that may be reading this article, that if they are struggling with their mental health, they can get in touch with the GHA or even Gib Sams who are amazing at what they do. There is always a way, a person and/or an organisation who you can reach out to and address the issues you may be feeling. You are not alone.”
Paul is a teacher, fashion designer, entrepreneur and a fantastic mentor. He knows how tough mental health issues can be for anyone, and truly is a great advocate to encouraging people to seek help and talk in confidential environments.