There may not be any romance to mental illness but who needs romance when the preferable route is agency? The prevailing conversation around mental health issues is agency and the lack thereof on the part of the mentally ill. But what do you do if you're a paid-up member of the mentally ill populace in question? Do you curl up into a ball and give up? No, you look for solutions. Ultimately, it's about keeping despair at bay and sometimes simple things like running, taking up a hobby, doing charity work, painting or, in my case, writing can be a galvanizing part of the recovery process. Keeping the brain and the body active can give life a semblance of pleasure and hope. This is what writing has done for me. I took every traumatic element of my condition and channelled it into something useful.
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APADiriye Osman Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=there-may-not-be-any-romance-to-mental-illness-but-who-needs-romance-when-preferable-route-is-agency-the-prevailing-conversation-around-mental-health-issues-is-agency-lack-thereo
ChicagoDiriye Osman Quotes. Jar of Quotes, 2019. https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=there-may-not-be-any-romance-to-mental-illness-but-who-needs-romance-when-preferable-route-is-agency-the-prevailing-conversation-around-mental-health-issues-is-agency-lack-thereo, accessed .
MLA"Diriye Osman Quotes." Jar of Quotes, 2019. . https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=there-may-not-be-any-romance-to-mental-illness-but-who-needs-romance-when-preferable-route-is-agency-the-prevailing-conversation-around-mental-health-issues-is-agency-lack-thereo
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As her body expanded so did her interior landscape. She imagined minarets, skyscrapers, entire cities being constructed inside her. Thighs thickened, belly became basketball-sized, buttocks deepened with dimples. Even her taste-buds shifted, and she held her tongue out for crushed ice, chalk, charcoal.
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Home is in my hair, my lips, my arms, my thighs, my feet and my hands. I am my own home. And when I wake up crying in the morning, thinking of how lonely I am, I pinch my skin, tug at my hair, remind myself that I am alive. Remind myself to step outside and greet the morning. Remind myself that it's all about forward motion. It's all about change. It's all about that elusive state. Freedom.
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I wear makeup and I don dramatic attire because I like control. I'm not interested in controlling others but I'm invested in strict self-governance. This is why I don't do many face-to-face interviews. I don't like being caught off-guard. It all goes back to that attempt to create order amidst disorder. One of the most frightening things about losing your mind is that you feel like your body, your brain, every part of your essence is being invaded. There is such a palpable helplessness to that narrative and I hate the sense of victimhood that it implies. Certainly, this is how I felt during my moments of psychological disquiet. I felt like my personhood was under attack. Performativity is important to me because I'm the teller of my own stories. I have been performing these multiple roles for so long that they have bled into my identity. I have become the man that I always wanted to be.
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The God of Imagination lived in fairytales. And the best fairytales made you fall in love. It was while flicking through "Sleeping Beauty" that I met my first love, Ivar. He was a six-year-old bello ragazzo with blond hair and eyebrows. He had bomb-blue eyes and his two front teeth were missing. The road to Happily Ever After, however, was paved with political barbed wire. Three things stood in my way. 1. The object of my affection didn't know he was the object of my affection. 2. The object of my affection preferred Action Man to Princess Aurora. 3. The object of my affection was a boy and I wasn't allowed to love a boy.
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In those sticky summer nights in South London our windows stay open and our tiny apartment becomes our secret garden. The magic of the secret garden is that it exists in our imagination. There are no limits, no borderlines. The secret garden leads to the marigolds of Mogadishu and the magnolias of Kingston and when the heat turns us sticky and sweet and unwilling to be claimed by defeat we own the night. We own our bodies. We own our lives.
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i have been told many times by family, friends, colleagues and strangers that I, a black African Muslim lesbian, am not included in this vision; that my dreams are a reflection of my upbringing in a decadent, amoral Western society that has corrupted who I really am. But who am I, really? Am I allowed to speak for myself or must my desires form the battleground for causes I do not care about? My answer to that is simple: 'no one allows anyone anything.' By rejecting that notion you discover that only you can give yourself permission on how to lead your life, naysayers be damned. In the end something gives way. The earth doesn't move but something shifts. That shift is change and change is the layman's lingo for that elusive state that lovers, dreamers, prophets and politicians call 'freedom'.
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I want you to know that life will try to crack you like an egg and your silence will eventually break. Someday you will spill some of those painful secrets and taste a modicum of much-needed freedom. You will lose a great deal as a result but the gains will outweigh every loss. You will love and be loved by a beautiful man in a place where your mutual passion won't be a marker of shame but pride. You will be awkward and alone and alien for a long time but you will transform these qualities, which is to say yourself, into a work of art. You will wear your awkwardness, your aloneness and your alienness in your hair like gold thread. You will adorn your wonkiness on your wrist like a charm bracelet studded with stars.
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Who do I write for? I thought about this again and again over the next few days until the answer crystalized in my consciousness. I write for all readers. But my primary interest is in representing the complex but universal experience of Somalis. I do this because the media representation of the global Somali community is one that is carved out of derivative cliches crammed with pirates, warlords, terrorists, passive women and girls whose entire existence seems to be nothing more than a footnote on the primitive dangers of female genital mutilation. I write because I want to give a long-overdue voice to a community that has experienced a tremendous array of challenges but who constantly face these challenges with the most wicked sense of humour, humility and dignity. My father always used to tell me that in our culture, the done thing when you're facing hardship and your belly is empty is to moisturize your face, comb your hair, press your clothes and step out into the sun with your sense of humanity intact. It's a lesson I've carried with me to this day.
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She was a spiky teenager rebelling against the soul-suck mirror reflected back at her in her mother's blank stare, her question mark of a spine. Determined to beat the odds, she completed high school with distinction. But there was a caveat. Beydan was allowed to roam and educate herself - up to a point. On her eighteenth birthday her Father sat her down and held out his Rolexed wrist. Studded with crystals and flecks of diamond, the watch dazzled in the light. All Beydan could hear, however, was tick-tock-tick-tick-tick-tick - time to neatly fold all her hard work, to parcel up her progress, send it to the attic in her subconscious and let dust gather on her dreams. There was a lump in her throat and a stopwatch in her womb.
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If dislocation is a permanent state, I want to try and explore the possibility of temporary impermanence. If dislocation is a tatty dress from the thrift store, perhaps the solution is not to cast it aside. If dislocation is a tatty dress, perhaps the only solution is to mend it, scent it, and wear it until everything about it signifies newness, something close to the perpetual promise of a fresh start.
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Home is in my hair, my lips, my arms, my thighs, my feet and my hands. I am my own home. And when I wake up crying in the morning, thinking of how lonely I am, I pinch my skin, tug at my hair, remind myself that I am alive. Remind myself to step outside and greet the morning. Remind myself that it's all about forward motion. It's all about change. It's all about that elusive state.Freedom.
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Daughter, I want you to form the most intense, loving relationship with yourself. Only then will you realize your capacity for kindness and emotional expansiveness. Daughter, after you have formed this relationship with yourself, I want you to love others with the openness and humility that you always embodied as a child. Daughter, I want you to forgive easily, laugh loudly and never allow yourself to become the invisible, silent woman that your mother was. Daughter, this is how we soften our hearts and become better human beings.
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