Hello! Who are you?
Hi, I’m Madel! I’m currently based in England but I’m originally from the Philippines. I moved here to pursue a master’s degree in Youth and Community Leadership.
My passions lie in the creative field, mental health, and youth empowerment.
For me, happiness is all about being in tune with my truest self, finding simple joys in the present, and living my life through my own vision and not anyone else’s. I’d like to believe that I am constantly working on it!
What is your struggle and when did it start?
Currently, I am struggling with anxiety and overwhelm. I have always been an anxious person and had different experiences with it in the past. But being anxious and overwhelmed in a different country is something that’s harder to cope with now that I’m away from my usual sources of comfort and support.
Prior to moving, I thought that it would be a breeze. After all, I was so proud of my achievements and making it to a new country all on my own. I was excited about the bright future ahead of me. But after a couple of months of settling in, I started to feel bouts of anxiety creeping in.
In the past, I could usually pinpoint what was causing my anxiety and it was much easier to find ways to cope. But being here, there was a huge mix of factors that could be triggering my anxiety.
I was juggling lectures, placements, and part-time jobs. I was in an unfamiliar environment. My boyfriend who moved to the UK with me lived 3 hours away. Winter made my days cold and gloomy. I was missing the sun, the warmth, and my home.
How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?
During my worst moments, I would have a feeling of “restlessness” in my body. I would put on ambient music, distract myself by scrolling through my phone or try to watch a movie but end up turning it off after five minutes. It would feel like there’s nothing that could ease the restlessness.
I knew that I had too much on my plate. I knew that I needed to rest. But, when I did take breaks, I would feel a sense of panic bubbling up in my chest like I needed to be doing something productive at that moment.
In the past, my anxiety taught me the wisdom in the cliche “This too shall pass.” So I tried to keep everything in because I knew I could endure until I felt better.
To the outside world, I was independent, hardworking, and brave. But, on my own, I found it harder and harder to soothe myself in my most anxious moments.
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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?
To be honest, I am still finding ways to cope. But I started to really dig deeper into my anxiety when my boyfriend pointed out that I’m having a much harder time because I’m away from the familiar comforts that used to keep the tensions from building up.
I have juggled different roles at once in the past, and I was overwhelmed by it. I have been isolated from my support system during the pandemic, and it made me anxious. And all those times, I knew exactly how to cope.
But, it’s just different this time because of where I am. I am literally on the other side of the world. I live with strangers in my flat. The pressures at school and at work have changed. It’s 20°C colder, and the sun sets two hours earlier than I was used to for almost three decades!
Realizing these circumstances allowed me to understand and normalize my feelings of anxiety.
What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?
In the past, I have gone through therapy whenever I couldn’t cope on my own. So recently, I booked appointments with a mental health advisor and a counselor. I have found that talking to someone gives me a different perspective and helps me make sense of my thoughts and feelings, rather than weeding through the chaos of my anxiety all by myself.
Instead of binging on TV shows and doom-scrolling on my phone for distraction, I also started reading books again. It feels like a much healthier way of taking my mind off the things that make me anxious. It’s also a good mindfulness activity as it requires my full attention.
I’m also open to my tutors and supervisors when I’m struggling. It releases the pressure from me when I let them know that I’m having a hard time.
Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?
Aside from my boyfriend, having friends near me has been helpful. I have two close friends who are Filipino students at the same university I go to. We understand each other especially when it comes to coping with moving to a new country. Being in their company also breaks my routine and makes for feel-good moments.
It’s not always easy for me to share my mental health struggles with family and friends as they see me as the strong one in the group. They usually come to me for advice, so I’ve gotten used to that role.
But coming here on my own, I have now understood the importance of letting myself lean on others for support as well. Real emotional connections matter!
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?
It’s wonderful to achieve your goals and work toward the life you envision to have. But don’t forget that you are still human in the process.
It’s okay if you can’t be everything you want to be at once. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to have slow days. It's okay to let others know that you are struggling. It’s okay if you can’t be the stronger version of yourself all the time.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?
- The School of Life: My go-to channel whenever I need to make sense of my inner feelings, relationships, and the world.
- Ask Polly: An advice column/newsletter that always feels like a warm hug and reminds me that it’s okay to be a messy human sometimes.
- The Island of Missing Trees: A beautifully written book that got me back to reading again and has a magical perspective on history, nature, and love.
- Good Influence: A recent podcast find about mental health and other relevant issues that are helpful to pay attention to
- Loona: An app with really nice ambiance tracks to soothe me while studying, working, and sleeping.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
You can find more of my work on my author profile here on Tracking Happiness, where I share tips, examples, and helpful content!
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