The Memory Phenomenon: Missing Things You Don’t Really Miss 

I’ve been writing a lot lately about minimalistic living and the importance of being mindful – topics that are proving to be similarly thematic. Their overarching theme: the importance of living simply and in the moment. Easier said than done, of course.
 closet.jpg
The concept of minimalistic living extends further than cleaning your closet; in theory it’s tangible change that affects you mentally. Because a clutter free home equals a clutter free mind – or something of that nature. I’m not big on clutter. I like my possessions, but I keep the hoarding to a minimum, primarily due to my small apartment and my neurosis pertaining to mess. That said, I feel like I am constantly cluttered anyways mentally. 
I once attributed the fact that I hadn’t changed the background on my phone (a photo of me and my then ex boyfriend), to the fact that I’m an emotional hoarder. Maybe I don’t keep old clothes or hang on to every hairbrush that comes into my life, but when it comes to the sentimental, I’m grossly attached. In fact, just yesterday I found a photo of my ex boyfriend from high school stuffed behind a business card from a job I quit last August, snuggly layered behind behind two fortunes cookie fortunes that yet another ex gave to me years ago. It was at this point I realized, my emotional hoarding might be a little more of a problem than I’d given it credit for.

Continue reading

Advertisements

“What It’s Like”: The Globe and Mail’s New Series and Why It’s Important

“Have you ever wondered what it’s like to overcome a paralyzing fear? Catch your reflection after facial reconstruction? Or to regain your eyesight?”

This is part of the tagline for a series debuted by The Globe and Mail, aptly titled: “What It’s Like.” In late 2015, Wency Leung, general assignment reporter for the Life section of the Globe, wrote the first story for the series, about an individual faced with relearning everything after a stroke. Since then, stories about alcoholism, PTSD and cold urticaria have been beautifully reported under head of the series. The series’ aim is to put a well deserved spotlight on individuals who live with, or have overcome, “extraordinary health experiences.”

“What it’s like … to hear voices,” is one of my favourite stories published in the series so far. Leung tells the story of 53-year-old Kevin Healey who has been experiencing the unexplained phenomenon of auditory hallucinations since the age of six. To an outside observer, his illness may seem distinctly unpleasant, fraught and disturbing; but in Healey’s story, Leung conveys the humorous side of it as well. At one point, he compares some of his voices to Captain Kirk, Spock and Sulu. Throughout, he maintains that as difficult as his condition can be, he has learned to cope with – and in a way even embrace – his illness.

“I tend to think of my voices as an amplifier of whatever I’m experiencing. I’m never without them. They’re hardly ever quiet. But if I’m in a good space and I’m not tired, and things are going well, it’s like having a bunch of friends around.”

The Globe’s new series is important for a few reasons: 1. Because once again the Globe is giving it’s loyal readership a chance to share their stories within the prime real estate of their pages; and 2. Because “What It’s Like,” allows readers the unique ability to learn new perspectives about illnesses, mental and physical, through the eyes of someone with first-hand experience.

Read more “What It’s Like” here.

ZAKIYA KASSAM12312232_10208039303806073_238423358_n

Zakiya has her degree in journalism from Ryerson University and currently works as a freelance content writer based in Toronto. Zak is a dedicated journal-er and enjoys writing and reading fiction, particularly science fiction, in her free time. Mental illness is something that has touched her life and the lives of her loved ones, so she is supportive of anything that brings attention to and provides new perspectives about mental health.

 

When Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home Anymore

BY ZAKIYA KASSAM

Over the past seven years or so, my definition of “home” has been in shaky limbo between where I grew up and where I live now. I’ve always called both my home, because that just seemed like the diplomatic thing to do. As the cartoon Dragon THow-do-I-protect-my-home-equity_slideshowitem.pngales taught me, two is better than one; so I had deemed myself lucky to be able to call two cities my home – Calgary, where I was born, and Toronto, where I live now.

I’m not sure if this was inevitable, but over the past few years I’ve found myself growing indefinitely estranged from my hometown. This became more glaringly apparent with each visit back to Calgary, where instead of feeling safe and comfortable, like “home” should make you feel, I instead itched to return to my new life in Toronto.

I recently went back to Calgary for a visit, and those five days felt way longer than they should have. Funny enough, I felt as though nothing had changed since I left there, but the uncomfortable lurch in my tummy told me that I no longer felt any sort of pull back to the city I had lived in for the first 18 years of my life.

Continue reading

Stress: The good, the bad and the chronic

BY ZAKIYA KASSAM

The word “stress” is one that carries an extremely negative connotation. Being stressed is rarely perceived a positive thing, but the alternative – being stress-lessNervous_Man_Approach_Anxiety – can be harmful to your physical and emotional health as well.

Most people don’t realize that we need stress in our bodies in order to feel vital and excited. When your palms sweat upon seeing your crush, when you get butterflies in your stomach upon starting a new job, when you’re about to take a penalty shot and you can feel your heartbeat in your ears, these are all natural and manageable responses. These are also examples of positive stress or “eustress.” Without eustress, we wouldn’t be ambitious, motivated, or excited. These are all part of the ups in life that push us forward and shape our emotional development. 
 
Everyone experiences stress, and whether you’re experiencing it positively or negatively, stress can be taxing on your body and ultimately harmful to your long-term health. But your body is equipped to deal with the majority of your stress, so long as it’s acute. When your stress shifts from short-term to long-term however, this is called chronic stress. After a period of being chronically stressed, the body’s ability to return to homeostasis (its pre-stress state) becomes dulled. 

Continue reading

The Power of Movement Returns to Toronto on March 6

BY ZAKIYA KASSAM

On Sunday, March 6th, the Power of Movement returns to Toronto. The Power of Movement is Canada’s largest yoga fundraiser, benefiting 4.6 million Canadians living
with arthritis and autoimmune illnesses. Proceeds from this event will go towards
 the Arthritis Research Foundation. 
 
Since this event aims to bolster awareness, let’s be aware! So what is an autoimmune disease? autoimmune-01.png
 
There are more than eighty known types of autoimmune diseases, which can affect almost any organ, gland, muscle, or nerve in the body – regardless of age or gender. When you have an autoimmune disorder, your body’s immune system is essentially attacking and destroying healthy body tissue by mistake. These illnesses often present themselves in ways that are non-specific and as a result, go unnoticed or untreated. Autoimmune disorders have become one of the leading causes of death and disability in the Western world.