“As a child I went to an elementary school where the students were predominantly white, like I could count all of the people of color with 2 hands. I remember thinking, “why does my school get to have a gymnastics class apart from regular gym class, and a drama class when all of the other schools I attended before with predominantly African American students didn’t have that at all.” I didn’t really understand why things were the way they were just because the people lived in different neighborhoods, but I began to understand as I grew older.”
“I struggled with my mental health as a child a lot. It was in regards to my own body. I always felt fat, and believed no one would like me or date me because of it. It was only in my 20s that I let that belief go, and then I discovered anxiety about other issues. But the main struggles in my life were always about my sense of unlovability. I just didn’t feel worthy of connection or love and if I don’t keep on top of that, it comes up in my life today.”
What inspired you to use your platform to become an advocate for mental health?
Ali: When I started struggling, I didn’t find anyone online that I could look to. As a teenager, you live your life on social media and that can lead youth to believe everyone is perfect. If I couldn’t find anyone, why shouldn’t I be the one?
“I do something called devotion for my wellbeing. The equivalent to this that is most easily understood would be meditation, but meditating with the Bible, and having the source of what you’re being present with as God. I go on my Bible app and go through different plans of life stages. It usually takes me about 20 minutes and I take notes! Devotions in part help me realize that there are bigger things out there to be concerned about, and learn to make the best out of any situation with perspective.”
“I think every digital creator with an online community deals with burnout. Burnout not in the usual sense of “overworking,” but in the sense that sharing our life online like we do makes us completely dependent on the internet. “
“I couldn’t see myself working as a print designer all my life and I was always thinking to do my own thing one day, but I never had the courage until I met my husband who really pushed me to take risks. I was tired of producing hundreds of designs every month– it was always the same and I wanted to work on a product that had more meaning to me and could properly feed my creative mind. I then started to explore ceramics deeply and ended up producing my first collection along with opening my first solo show last September in London. I was so happy and proud of how much I learned in a single year on my own and hopefully this is only the beginning.”
“I grew up in a household where discussing mental health wasn’t really a thing. As a child in my household it always seemed like the more you held in, the stronger you looked in the eyes of everyone else. Talking about mental health is still something that isn’t easily done in my family. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding seeking therapy/counseling, some that may have turned my family off completely from seeking mental health. Some like you have to have money to afford talking to a therapist, mental health is only for crazy people, and mental health only being a thing for white people. I also believe that my family as well as many people don’t really understand what practicing positive mental health looks like. Positive mental health can be as simple as reciting positive affirmations everyday, learning to say no when you don’t agree, drawing boundaries with family, friends and associates. Taking up that favorite hobby that makes you feel good, practicing positive self esteem, working out, practicing healthier eating habits, talking about your feelings and also checking yourself when you do negative things as a human or things that may hurt others. I believe my family has to discover these truths on their own.”