Celebrating World Gratitude Day by forwarding our gratitude to womanhood.

World Gratitude Day is observed on September 21 every year. This day gives all individuals, societies, organizations, and countries a chance to celebrate the occasion of gratitude and give thanks to each other.

Do you know the origin of World Gratitude Day?
The idea to celebrate World Gratitude Day came first in 1965 during a Thanksgiving dinner in the meditation room of the United Nations building. Sri Chinmoy, an Indian spiritual leader, and meditation teacher, suggested a day of gratitude that the whole world could celebrate together.With that, each member present decided to hold a gratitude gathering each year in their country on September 21. Then, in 1977 a group that ran the meditation room requested a resolution that would give recognition for World Gratitude Day. This happened at the New York Headquarters during a special ceremony that honored Sri Chinmoy for his work. Ever since then, World Gratitude Day has been observed annually worldwide.

Spiritual leader: Sri Chinmoy

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is the awareness and expression of the of blessings that one has in the form of qualities, lessons, people, achievements, possessions, support, privileges, experiences, and gifts.
Gratitude is often related to humility, generosity, and mindfulness.
Gratitude has several positive health benefits:
-Feel more positive emotions
-Build healthier relationships
-Feel happier
-Increase in self-esteem
-Increase optimism
-Reduces materialism
-Reduces depressive symptoms
-Improves sleep
-Helps in substance abuse recovery

It’s quite surprising, isn’t it? Something as simple as being grateful for what we have and receive can have a multitude of positive impacts. But, at the same time, it’s very obvious. In moments of genuine, overflowing happiness, we have felt grateful.

In daily life, we must see that is it not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy – Brother David Steindl-Rast

So, having a day of gratitude is another reason to feel grateful in our lives. Now, let’s explore some ways that Drona our founder & CEO thinks she can celebrate World Gratitude Day, on September 21, and every day. Being a woman herself, she feels one way is by forwarding gratitude to amazing women she has met and advocating for women mental health. Hence publishing this article written by Dr Subashini.

Women mental health – Reset just before it shut

Recently more, young girls are experiencing mental health concerns.Nearly 3 times as many young women as young men (26%) have a common mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression. PTSD affects 1 in 7 young women (16–24) compared to 3.6% of young men.

Why are women more likely to experience problems like anxiety or depression specifically? Reasons, such as the woman’s health being predisposed by an abusive family member or any stressful incident at work, may fuel to her anxiety. Relationship-related concerns have gained popularity on TikTok and may have accelerated the development anxiety disorders.

If you find your everyday overwhelming, remember the following.

Anxiety and despair may worsen until they reach a point where one can lose consciousness or experience a mental arrest if you are stressed out and try to complete everything at once. Therefore, when women find it tough to tackle a work as before, they need to learn how to break it down. Avoid glorifying multitasking, remember, one task at a time!

In fact, when women understand what is wrong with them and acknowledge it to either a qualified healthcare expert or a reliable person, they need to be aware of the warning signs that indicate a worsening of their the condition.

Dr.Subashini (MBBS)

Reducing Mental Health Stigma on College Campuses in Malaysia

Mental health is a topic that has gained significant attention in recent years. With the increasing awareness surrounding mental health issues, it is crucial to address the stigma associated with it, especially on college campuses in Malaysia. This blog post aims to explore the importance of reducing mental health stigma and provide strategies for creating a more supportive environment for students.

Understanding Mental Health Stigma

Stigma refers to the negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes that surround mental health conditions. It often leads to discrimination and can prevent individuals from seeking help or speaking openly about their struggles. In the context of college campuses, where young adults are navigating various challenges and transitions, addressing mental health stigma becomes even more critical.

The Impact of Stigma on Students

When mental health stigma persists on college campuses, it can have detrimental effects on students’ well-being and academic success. Students may feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help, leading them to suffer silently without proper support. This can result in increased stress levels, decreased productivity, and even higher dropout rates.

Strategies for Reducing Mental Health Stigma

  1. Educate: Increasing awareness and understanding of mental health conditions is essential in combating stigma. Colleges can organize workshops, seminars, or guest lectures that provide accurate information about different disorders and their prevalence among students.
  2. Promote Open Dialogue: Creating safe spaces for open discussions about mental health allows students to share their experiences without fear of judgment. Peer support groups or student-led initiatives can be effective platforms for fostering these conversations.
  3. Train Faculty and Staff: Providing training programs for faculty and staff members equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to recognize signs of distress in students. This enables early intervention and appropriate referrals to support services.
  4. Collaborate with Counseling Services: Collaborating with counseling services within colleges can ensure easy access to professional help. By promoting these services and reducing barriers to seeking assistance, students are more likely to reach out for support.
  5. Normalize Help-Seeking Behavior: Emphasizing that seeking help is a sign of strength rather than weakness can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health. Sharing stories of successful individuals who have sought help can inspire and encourage students to do the same.

The Road Ahead

Reducing mental health stigma on college campuses in Malaysia requires a collective effort from students, faculty, staff, and the wider community. By implementing strategies that promote understanding, open dialogue, and access to support services, we can create a more inclusive environment where students feel comfortable seeking help for their mental health concerns.

Remember, mental health matters, and breaking down the barriers of stigma is crucial in ensuring the well-being and success of our college students.

We at Drona Wellness are thankful to the faculty members of MAHSA University, University of Readings and Honsbridge International in being part of our mission in reducing mental health stigma on college campuses in Malaysia by being part of our Staff Counselling Techniques and Mental Health Response Program.

Note: This blog post was written as part of Drona Wellness’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness about mental health issues.

Mental Health Response Awareness Program: Royal Malaysia Police

Policing is a demanding and high-stress profession that often takes a toll on the mental health of police officers. However, seeking help for mental health issues remains a significant challenge for many officers in Malaysia.

The Home Minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said based on an internal study conducted by the police on the mental health of its officers and personnel, several factors that had contributed to suicidal tendencies include stress, health and marital issues marriage, as well as new working environment.

On June 14 2023, Drona Wellness with our collaborative partner, BG Holdings Sdn Bhd, conducted a mental Health Response Awareness program for the Commercial Crime Investigation Department, Royal Malaysia Police, Bukit Aman. We had the opportunity to meet amazing officers, discuss and start an open conversation about the barriers that prevent police officers from seeking help.  In this blog post, we will explore some of the barriers that prevent police officers from seeking the mental health support they need.

  1. Stigma and Fear of Judgement

One of the primary barriers to seeking mental health help among police officers in Malaysia is the stigma attached to mental illness. There is a prevailing belief that seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of weakness or incompetence. This stigma creates a fear of judgement among police officers, making them reluctant to reach out for support. We conducted an activity on blowing a balloon, writing one stigma on the balloon and ‘breaking’ the stigma by bursting the balloon with hope of making the change the mental space needs.


  1. Lack of Awareness and Education

Another barrier faced by police officers in Malaysia is the lack of awareness and education about mental health. Many officers may not recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues or understand how to access appropriate resources. Without this knowledge, they may be unaware that help is available or unsure about where to turn. During the awareness workshop, they were exposed to common mental health issues and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  1. Organizational Culture and Support

The organizational culture within law enforcement agencies can also contribute to barriers in seeking mental health help. In some cases, there may be a lack of support or understanding from supervisors and colleagues, which further deters officers from seeking assistance. Additionally, concerns about confidentiality and potential repercussions within their career can discourage officers from reaching out for help.

  1. Limited Access to Mental Health Services

Access to mental health services can be limited for police officers in Malaysia. There may be a shortage of specialized services tailored to their unique needs or long waiting lists for appointments. The lack of accessible and timely care can discourage officers from pursuing treatment.

  1. Work-related Stressors

The nature of policing exposes officers to various work-related stressors such as traumatic incidents, long hours, shift work, and high-pressure situations. These stressors can contribute to the development of mental health issues. However, the demanding nature of their work can also make it challenging for police officers to find time to prioritize their mental well-being or seek help.

Addressing the barriers to seeking mental health help among police officers in Malaysia is crucial for promoting the overall well-being of these dedicated professionals. Efforts should focus on reducing stigma, increasing awareness and education, fostering a supportive organizational culture, improving access to mental health services, and implementing strategies to manage work-related stressors. By breaking down these barriers, we can ensure that police officers have the support they need to maintain good mental health and continue serving their communities effectively.

We at Drona Wellness are honoured to conduct their Mental Health Response awareness program to have taken comprehensive action and further improve their training modules from time to time and revised existing programmes.

Those suffering from problems can reach out to: Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392); Talian Kasih (15999 or WhatsApp 019-261 5999); Jakim’s Family, Social and Community care centre (WhatsApp 0111-959 8214); and Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929)

Note: This blog post was written as part of Drona Wellness’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness about mental health response. 


5 Powerful Connection Between Art Expression and Mental Health

Art has long been recognised as a powerful form of self-expression. From painting and sculpture to music and dance, art allows individuals to communicate their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a unique and profound way. But did you know that art expression can also have a positive impact on mental health?

1.  Release for Emotions

One of the key benefits of engaging in art expression is its ability to serve as an outlet for emotions. When we create art, we have the opportunity to channel our feelings into something tangible. Whether it’s painting a vibrant canvas or writing a heartfelt poem, this act of creation can provide a sense of release and catharsis. If you listen to this video, the sound of the sand on the canvas was truly satisfying.

2. Fostering Self-Discovery
Artistic expression can also play a crucial role in self-discovery and personal growth. Through the process of creating art, individuals are often able to explore their innermost thoughts and feelings. It is also crucial to pick art facilitators who allows you to pick your own colours and guides you through your creative expression. This introspection can lead to greater self-awareness and understanding, which in turn contributes to improved mental well-being. According to Dr Barbara Bagan, creative art provide older adults with multiple benefits, which is enhanced cognitive function. 
3. Promoting Mindfulness
Engaging in artistic activities requires focus and concentration, which naturally lends itself to mindfulness practices. When we immerse ourselves in the creative process, we become fully present in the moment, allowing worries and stressors to fade into the background. This state of mindfulness has been shown to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
4. Building Resilience
Art expression can also help individuals build resilience by providing an avenue for coping with adversity. By expressing difficult emotions through art, individuals are better able to process their experiences and find meaning within them. This can lead to increased emotional resilience and an enhanced ability to navigate life’s challenges.
5. Connecting with others
Art has a unique ability to connect people across cultures, languages, and backgrounds. Through shared appreciation for artistic creations, individuals can forge meaningful connections with others who may be experiencing similar struggles or joys. This sense of connection and belonging is essential for maintaining good mental health.
In conclusion, art expression is a powerful tool that can positively impact mental health. By providing an outlet for emotions, fostering self-discovery, promoting mindfulness, building resilience, and facilitating connections with others, art enables individuals to navigate the complexities of life with greater ease and well-being. So whether you’re picking up a paintbrush, picking the acrylic paint colours, remember that engaging in artistic endeavours can be a valuable form of self-care for your mental health. 


10 ways to be culturally aware in support of World Mental Health Day 10 October 2023

Malaysia’s population in the first quarter 2023 was estimated at 33.2 million, increased by 1.6 per cent as compared to first quarter 2022 (32.6 million) according to department of statistics Malaysia (DOSM). The total population comprised 30.4 million (91.7%) Citizens and 2.8 million (8.3%) Non-Citizens. This increase was contributed by the positive natural increase of Citizens and higher Non-Citizen population. Three states with the highest population in the first quarter 2023 were Selangor (21.7%) followed by Johor (12.3%) and Sabah (10.4%).

According to data from the Health Ministry, Johor recorded a high number of people with mental health problems at 40 %, followed by Labuan (33%), Sabah (23%), Negeri Sembilan (18%), and Perlis (16%). Selangor and Melaka both recorded 15%, while Pahang (13%) and Perak (12%) recorded. Less than 10% of those screened in Penang, Sarawak, Kedah, Terengganu had mental health problems, while only 1% of those screened in Kelantan experienced depression and anxiety.

According to an article in The Star dated March 8, 2023, the residents of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya were found to be the most depressed in Malaysia. While this study involved screening 336,900 residents nationwide, does this data provide a comprehensive overview?

Hence, an integrated mental health policy is needed across various sectors, including health, education, employment, and social services. Efforts to establish coordination and collaboration among agencies can lead to a more comprehensive and holistic approach to mental health promotion, prevention, and treatment.

By being culturally aware, increasing awareness, reducing stigma, and ensuring accessible and quality mental health services, Malaysia can move towards a society that supports the well-being of all its citizens in line with World Mental Health Day’s theme for 2023, set by the World Foundation of Mental Health, is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’.  

Understanding that every person has a culture – the many customs and beliefs that shape our perspectives and create a lens through which we see others. We are our own experts in the cultural experiences that influence our lives. Yet, when we try to communicate with people from other cultures, we need to ask ourselves whether or not we are doing so in an effective and appropriate manner. It is impossible to become an expert in every culture. Even so, we can become more culturally aware, understand our own cultural influences, and respect and value the differences of other individuals and groups. If we strive to learn from and about those with whom we interact, we will naturally become more culturally informed.

“People often consider eye contact as a sign of honesty and interest in conversation, but some cultures view direct eye contact as a sign of disrespect.”

In our mental health response program, we use these 10 ways from the American Psychological Association to be more culturally aware:

  1. Think beyond race and ethnicity.

Opportunities to expand our cultural understanding exist everywhere, especially when we consider culture beyond its association with ethnicity. Culture is central to our identity and, as such, may be seen or unseen by others. Culture is shaped by personal experiences that may include: ethnic and racial identity; religion; age; educational level; body size; heritage and family tradition; physical and cognitive abilities; sexual orientation; gender identity; and geographic and socioeconomic experiences.

  1. Think outside your own box.

We are influenced by our own values, beliefs, biases and life experiences. We need to carefully consider how our perspectives affect our understanding of other cultures and avoid making assumptions about others based on our own experiences. Becoming culturally aware starts with recognizing the limitations of our own cultural knowledge.

  1. Use language that evokes images of people actively engaged in life

When working with people with disabilities. Avoid phrases that suggest helplessness or tragedy. For example, say “Bob uses a wheelchair” instead of “Bob is in a wheelchair.”

  1. Listen carefully.

Hearing is not necessarily listening. Our own perceptions, biases and expectations sometimes make it difficult to really listen to and comprehend both overt and covert messages. Be mindful to focus on and identify the information being conveyed.

  1. Learn by asking.

People feel respected when others are genuinely interested in learning about their views and perspectives. Consider incorporating questions into conversations that demonstrate your desire to learn more about others’ cultural experiences. Use simple or open-ended questions that encourage dialogue, such as:

“What do you think?”

“How can I be of assistance to you?”

“What information is important for me to know about you and your culture?”

“If I was a member of your community, how would I most likely react to/cope with this situation?”

  1. Exchange stories.

We encourage responders, survivors and mental health advocates to share their personal healing story. Storytelling and personal sharing are important communication techniques that transcend most cultures. Consider sharing relevant personal stories as a way to start a conversation or build rapport.

  1. Tune in to non-verbal behaviors.

Sometimes, behaviours can provide more details about how someone is reacting to a situation than what they may be comfortable saying. It is important to recognize welcoming behaviours as well as those that may be defensive so that you can adjust your approach accordingly. Similarly, be aware of your own body language. Does standing while others are sitting demonstrate authority, or aggressiveness?

  1. Respect language preferences.

Before approaching a new group of people, consider whether the materials you have to offer or your presentation need to be adapted to ensure that you are understood. In some cases, it might be necessary to translate materials or invite an interpreter to the presentation. Other times, such as when communicating with young children, simply adjusting your vocabulary might suffice.

  1. Avoid insensitive comments.

In group contexts, individuals sometimes make insensitive and hurtful comments about others (e.g., jokes, slurs, etc.). Do not reinforce this behaviour. If you are comfortable doing so, make known your discomfort with what has been said and ask that no more insensitive comments be made.

  1. Honor flexibility in people’s self-identification.

We may make assumptions about people’s cultural identity while they may have an entirely different perception of themselves. Listen for information about self-perception. For example, do they consider themselves as having a spouse or a life partner? People may identify with a particular aspect of their diversity at different times (e.g., being a lesbian may be very salient in some circumstances but not in others)

Culture can influence the manner in which individuals express their emotions. To best communicate with people in any community, it is important that you be open to differences in how people express their feelings. Ask community leaders to help you understand any differences and to identify effective ways to communicate and/or provide support. For example, individuals in some cultures may be uncomfortable with any type of confrontation and, as a result, may go along with an idea you present when in reality they do not support it.

What is …

You can also take a Mental Health Response course. Drona Wellness offers tailored courses understanding needs of Malaysian population and can help you better understand your community and peers in responding to mental health. Get trained today and #BeAResponder for those around you. Our programs are HRDC claimable.

A survivor’s Story: Colourful Brain Confetti

You may ask why choose such an odd title for a blog post? What comes to mind when you think of colourful confetti? Happy thoughts, joy and laughter…..but the confetti that I am about to dive into isn’t all that colourful…..or is it? Recently and also about 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Although I have medical knowledge, a mental health advocate and a certified mental health responder. I am not going to talk about what the disorder is but I will tell you what I went through and how rough it was on me.

In June 2020, I was hospitalized in the psychiatrist ward for 10 days due to aggressive behaviour, disorganized thoughts and behaviours and having delusions, hearing voices that were not there.

The reason I called this colourful brain confetti is because that was how my brain behaved. Colourful and all mixed up like confetti, a mess…..it may sound like vivid imagination….my brain used to make up little creative stories and link them to everything that was going on around me, I was in a state of confusion. I was in a mess. I could not differentiate between fantasy and reality as there was a very thin line separating the two. I used to think I was the reason behind everything, including Covid, everyone was talking about me including the radio DJ’s who probably didn’t know of my existence.

At the time, I just was so confused, I wish my family understood the reason behind my frustration. I was in the hospital not knowing what I did that landed me there. It was at the peak of Covid and family members were not allowed visits due to restrictions. I was crying a lot thinking that my family had abandoned me when they didn’t wanted my family to know how much I love them and things were not in my control.

To the doctors, who treated me while I was there. I wish to thank them for correctly diagnosing me and bringing me back to my normal state. Although I have to take medication for life now, I still find it better than having to go back to the mess I was in.

I do hope that I find a guy who loves me someday and brings out the best in me and stays even when he sees the worst in me.

My message to all readers out there, as a survivor and fellow mental health advocate is: It takes sunshine and rain to make a rainbow, so put up with the rain with hopes of experiencing sunshine and eventually you will get to your rainbow.



“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” — John Green


Anxiety in Youth vs Middle Age + What to Do When You’re Anxious (by Dr. Subashini)

Written by Dr. Subashini

Photo by Christopher Ott on Unsplash

Anxiety is a mental health condition that has become more common especially post-covid 19. When fear and worry are persistent and you have trouble focusing, and when you feel like you’re in danger even when there isn’t any danger, it becomes challenging to go to work or school, mingle with friends, or have a regular, fulfilling life.

But how does the experience of anxiety differ between younger (youths) and older people (middle age)?

Teenage phase ( 13-19 years)

This phase is where one undergoes puberty and they start to fear their physical change ,trying to fit into a group of friends and figure out who they are. During this phase ,the teenagers need the right guidance either from parents or teachers.

Teenagers may suffer from anxiety, which they show by withdrawing from others, eating poorly, and engaging in games to avoid facing challenges. They might share some biological symptoms to their close ones. For instance, a teenager might tell his mother that he is feeling raising heart rates, sweaty palm when he had to go out to participate in marathon ordained by his school or female may report experiencing limb weakness and choking anytime she must ascend a flight of stairs to give a speech.

Teenagers who are anxious may skip class or engage in dangerous or unhealthy behavior as a coping mechanism. Early middle age ( 35-44 years) This phase is where adults achieved most of their dreams . Is that right? Perhaps that’s the standard in society. But not everyone will enjoy it. We don’t accomplish anything depending on what others think of us.

Middle Age

We might dream of getting a fancy car by a certain age and that’s entirely fine. So during this phase, those in early middle age compare and compete with their relatives or friends to achieve some of their goals. It can be healthy as long as it doesn’t cause any anxiety symptoms and remains non-disturbing.

Some examples I have encountered: An engineer might complain about problems falling asleep and that he worries constantly about how he will pay his expenses and feed his family. A lab assistant may say that she has increased muscle tension and irritability due to relationship issues. There are many who experience anxiety at this age, trying to cope with consuming beverages containing alcohol or other types of stimulants.

What to Do?

Although not excluding other age groups, these 2 stages may have higher levels of anxiousness. However, this age group is able to comprehend the severity of the anxiety and the need for support in order to help them get over it and improve their quality of life. First, when one experiencing those symptoms

1. Acknowledge the symptoms

2. Try to talk to an expert (counselor, clinical psychologist) or family member who can listen, help, and support

3. Attend therapy sessions to manage the symptoms

4. See a psychiatrist for more severe symptoms

Feeling Disconnected Lately? Here’s to a Quick Word on Loneliness that Might Save You

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

One of the emotions that all of us tend to experience more and more often these days is loneliness. Loneliness is what happens when we lack close, authentic connection with other people: do you have quality relationships in your life?

Otherwise, you might feel quite lonely. And if you had some challenging experiences growing up which affected how you feel about yourself, you stand a chance to feel even more lonely because you feel all alone in your personal struggles too. The irony here is that those of us with a history of abuse and neglect are more likely to isolate ourselves, leading to even more feelings of loneliness! 

So how do we escape loneliness? The thing is, we don’t. First, we must admit that we feel lonely, that this is a feeling that is affecting us right now, that makes us also feel perhaps a little sad, ashamed, and hopeless. For some of us, we may even occasionally feel anger in addition to our loneliness because we are exhausted and overwhelmingly threatened by the disconnection that constantly reminds us that it’s just us– deserted on the island of life. 

When we admit these feelings that accompany our loneliness, we start to understand that we’re just in need of that real connection, and perhaps not just to others, but to ourselves. In other words, our loneliness might just be a sign that we have long abandoned our true feelings about the things that have happened to us in our lives, or the things that are happening right now. 

So maybe, just maybe, loneliness isn’t something we have to escape from, but something to look deeper into so that it can tell us something about what is missing (such is the function of emotions); that we desire to move closer towards…


More on loneliness:

  1. Loneliness is stressful: it affects not only mental health but physical health, and predicts a shorter lifespan [1]
  2. Having low self-esteem and feeling shame makes us more likely to feel lonely [2] (e.g. when we think it’s our fault that we are lonely, we feel ashamed AND even more lonely, retreating even more into our shells)
  3. You are not alone in your feelings of loneliness: more and more people are feeling lonely these days [3]
  4. You can’t necessarily prevent feeling lonely, but you can do things that will help you feel less lonely– use the EASE acronym created by psychologist John Cacioppo to start on your path towards less loneliness:

Additionally, not doing something to reduce any other psychological pain we have can also leave us feeling super lonely- so remember to reach out for appropriate help. Depending on the nature and severity of such pain, this may mean either a friend, a person in your community whom you trust, or a mental health professional who offers psychotherapy and counseling.


  1. Hawkley L.C., Cacioppo J.T. Loneliness matters: A theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Ann. Behav. Med. 2010;40:218–227. doi: 10.1007/s12160-010-9210-8. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
  2. Çivitci N., Çivitci A. Self-esteem as mediator and moderator of the relationship between loneliness and life satisfaction in adolescents. Personal. Individ. Differ. 2009;47:954–958. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2009.07.022. [CrossRef] [Google Scholar] [Ref list]
  3. Hämmig O. Health risks associated with social isolation in general and in young, middle and old age. PLoS ONE. 2019;14:e0219663. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219663. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar] [Ref list]


Written by :

Iffah Suraya

Lifelong Learner and Mental Health Counselor

Alumni of Boston University, USA, and University of Malaya, Malaysia


Why the quality of my life is a direct reflection on the state of my mental health, writes Ethel Da Costa

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Each morning that I wake up alive, I jump out of bed. My entire being beams with GRATITUDE of this life I have been given, and how I feel the Universe move within my Body and Soul leading me to live my best life each day. My life is a blessing. A rare gift of joyous molecules, feelings, energy and well being.

But I was not always this person despite all of the outer achievements of my life – for which I am deeply grateful and thankful – I was very unhappy inside. Being unhappy had confused me, filled me with more anger, rage even. I had worked so hard my entire life for this level of success: Made many personal sacrifices to be where I wanted to be. Got on top of the food chain in my professional life. 

It was in 2018 when I realized that perhaps along the way towards the arduous climb to professional success, I had forgotten my true self, neglecting my deeply hurt inner child and the woman my soul was screaming to be and thereby committed great injustice to myself. Sure, I had pleased the outer world, but at the cost to my inner wellbeing. Indeed, I was a workaholic, a perfectionist, a control dragon with compulsive OCD, a hoarder. Fortunately, I now understand that these are characteristics of unresolved trauma; in other words, the mind’s coping mechanism to deal with post traumatic-stress. Physically, my shoulders were continuously aching, my body tense and tight, deep anxiety and multitasking having been normalized as a normal way of life. 30 years of carrying the world and its responsibilities on my fragile shoulders— when I look back, I feel deep compassion for that deeply hurt girl trying so hard to keep it together. 

Here’s the message I want you to have: When there is a lack of Self-Awareness – not the superficial bouts of awareness that come and go– but when you know something isn’t right…and you push yourself harder by being so hard on yourself, something’s gotta give. I’m glad I gave in to what I sensed inside. I am also blessed to have met my Life Coach who saved me from jumping off the edge and onto the hard ground. With her help and compassionate support, I did jump, but only in surrender. It was Fall or Fly. I am deeply grateful that the Universe powered my wings, my freefall being a descent down the cliff followed by flying. 

2019 was the most earth-shaking year of my life. The ground under my feet had cracked wide open and was ready to swallow me whole with my pain, grief, years of unresolved hurt, years of unhealed trauma– essentially, suffering. This time, I found myself standing on solid ground, as I had support on my journey of coming home to me. And I’ve been running home to myself ever since. 

The truth is many of us are afraid to heed the voice of our Soul. Calling us to let go of control. Calling us to heal, to change, to transform, to shed skin, peel off our layers of conditioning, years of bullshit, the stories we tell ourselves and believe. It is always somebody’s fault for our choices, our mistakes, finding it safe to lay the blame on others and taking zero responsibility on our part. How we feel, how we make ourselves feel, the language we use with ourselves, the ways in which we do not love ourselves, seeking validation from outsiders to add value and meaning to our life… I am still amazed at the reality of how no one teaches us to love ourselves, when it is hard to love ourselves, in which failing at doing so leads us to pour all of ourselves in wrong places and the wrong people. From the bottom of my heart, I wish we were taught to love ourselves as young children, so we can teach our young ones to face heart-break with more ease and confidence.

But there’s a beauty of coming home to yourself, even if it’s a tough journey from the Head to the Heart. I know this because this journey transformed the meaning of life for me. At this point in my life, I am ready to understand, appreciate and fully accept the gifts the Universe had bestowed on me. The gift of breath that keeps us alive. Gifts that I had done good things with, but now in awareness I am empowered to do great things for. 

While in lockdown in Malaysia from March 2020 onwards, in a new country, new people, new environment, no support system to fall back on, I relied completely on myself – old survivor skills that never leave you – but this time in absolute surrender that I was going to be taken care of. Something higher than me had brought me to Malaysia (of all the places in the world). The Universe had a mighty mission. The mission was to HEAL. A complete detoxification of the old life into a new spiritual being. Transforming and transmuting 30 years of pain and suffering into 2 years of transformation, bliss, personal and spiritual evolution. The kind I’ve never experienced in my life. The Universe, knowing my immense capacity to cope, adapt and learn, packing it all intensely vibrating Light into my Being. The most intense healing journey that packed 30 years into 2 years of hard, hard inner work that I had to do. My coach standing with me, despite the distance in India, unfailingly supporting my coming to light.  

From 2020-2022 I love this Being that is ME, with all of my Heart and Soul, unconditionally. It is said that when you fill your cup full, only can you help and support those you can help and support now. Each day I wake up and go to sleep, my affirmations of gratitude resonate from my Heart to the Universe that walks with me on this journey. For embracing my dark, shadow and parts unhealed to bring it all together into ONE. For compassion and kindness, I receive in abundance from strangers I’ve never known, but it is synchronicity that brings people and acts of kindness together. For learning to let go all and everything that does not serve my highest good, including people who have failed me. One day at a time. Learning to make the best of my life, as best as I can. To the commitment of doing the inner work on ME every single day, with my coach, guides and mentors the Universe sends my way to help me along my journey to self-actualisation, healing, and wellbeing. My commitment to my mental and spiritual health is a continuous process. From waking up in the morning and staying committed to my acts of rituals that support my body, my heart and my peace. For only when I am whole, can I contribute fully to my own growth, and contribute to those I love, and the world at large.  

Your quality of life is a direct reflection of the quality of your inner wellbeing, mental peace and self-love. Love yourself unconditionally. One day at a time. I am with you on this journey.



Ethel Da Costa is an Award-Winning International Lifestyle Journalist, Author, Global Destination Influencer, Key Opinion Leader (KOL), Advocate for Empowerment, Lifestyle Media Entrepreneur, Founder of award-winning Lifestyle Media Content & Communications company, Think Geek Media based in Malaysia and India.

Find her Lifestyle blogs at www.ethedacosta.com

Follow her on Facebook & Instagram @etheldacosta 

Email: etheldacosta@gmail.com