The rewards of putting your mental health first

Aastha Malik tells the story of how putting her mental health first, helped her to find happiness in where she is today

Aastha Malik
30th November 2020

Three years ago, I was on a flight back home, looking out of the window with no idea what my future was going to look like. I was scared and nervous, of course, but in my own little way I was proud.

It was the first time in my life I had decided to put my mental health first – to change everything around me to prioritise my happiness. And while I didn’t know it yet, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

One simple yet revolutionary decision to put myself first, and choose my own happiness, changed my life

I had been at a university, one that was absolutely beautiful and one that became the place I made my friends that I now hold dearest. From any viewer’s eye, I should have been perfectly happy, but I quickly realised I was not. I didn’t feel like myself, I’d want to spend my days in bed and I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. At the time, I remember thinking I would just suck it up – this was my life now, I’d get through three years and then maybe, I could find my way again. Changing things wasn’t even in my realm of possibilities.

Luckily for me, all that changed. “You should drop out!” said my mother, when I finally broke down about how I was feeling 3 months in. I had held it together as long as I could but sometimes, one question from your mom is all you need to tear down the water gates. Drop out? How was that an option? What will I do instead? What will people think?

I got to make new friends, see new places and feel passionate about what I study

To her the answer was simple –“Well you aren’t happy right? Let’s fix that first, everything else will follow” A simple idea, but how revolutionary.

And that’s what brought me on the flight. On my way home, having packed all my things and said my goodbyes, I was now officially a college drop out.

It’s been three years now, and I write this sitting in a new country, in my favourite city that I now get to call my second home. I got to go to a new university that I absolutely love on a scholarship – something I never thought I had the potential to achieve. I got to make new friends, see new places and feel passionate about what I study.

That’s not to say that it was never difficult. Some of my worst battles with mental health came after that flight, because mental health is a constant battle. But those days passed, like they always do, and got replaced with the days of contentment and joy I get to experience now, each battle having made me just a little bit stronger than before. I learnt to build love for myself and choose what I wanted from life. Against all the doubts and anxiety I had on that flight home, things did get better, much better than I imagined at the time.

One simple yet revolutionary decision to put myself first, and choose my own happiness, changed my life.

Feature Image: Pixabay @SerenaWong

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