Mind HK Ambassador
I AM... a fitness enthusiast.
"In a strange way, I’m thankful to have gone through this experience. Because of it, I understand myself better, what I want in my life and what kind of person I would like to be."
How has mental health affected your day to day life?
About four years ago I was taking the MTR as usual on my daily commute to work, during a morning rush hour, when my heart suddenly started beating quickly, my palms were sweating and I started breathing really fast. Over the next few months these symptoms became more frequent, and I finally admitted to myself that something was wrong. It wasn’t until I was on my flight back to Sweden, when I had my first panic attack, that I finally realised I needed to seek professional help. This is when my recovery journey from anxiety and claustrophobia began. At the height of my struggle with anxiety and claustrophobia, I found it difficult to take public transport - even taxis were challenging at times.
How has the stigma around mental health affected your life?
It frustrates me when people tell me I think too much or try to downplay my anxiety. Comments like “oh, it’s nothing, you’re fine, just relax and don’t think too much!”. Statements like these made me furious inside. However, these comments were rare and if they did happen, I found that when I explained my situation, most people were understanding.
I think the worst stigmatising label is the one I put on myself. At my worst, I thought to myself, that I would never get better, or I will never get rid of these horrible feelings. I labelled myself in a way that I wasn’t fit to do anything. Of course, gradually, I understood that that was not the case.
Where/what has been important to you in your mental health journey? Why?
The gym. A while back, I didn’t feel comfortable going, since I had no idea what I was doing and it just seemed boring. People kept telling me to exercise more, but most of the time I ignored those suggestions. However, deep down, I knew this was supposed to be good for me, and could help me with my anxiety and panic attacks.
During the pandemic, I had no excuse to not workout. Since then, I have been going to the gym almost daily. For the first time in my life, I am interested in the benefits of exercising and eating right. I feel more energetic, healthy, happy, confident, and strong.
How would you describe yourself? What are your labels?
Happy. I always try to be an easy-going, positive person that enjoys the simple things around me.
Strong. I would consider myself as a strong person mentally. I will never let anyone, or anything affect my core values.
Funny. I like spreading joy to friends and family.
Open-minded. I think no matter how old you are, you can always learn something every day.
Fearless. I’m never afraid of speaking up or letting fear define my actions.
Tell us about your life now
Today I feel much better. I am more prepared to deal with my anxiety. Whenever I feel anxious or have low energy, I know that I can rely on the coping methods I have learnt from my mindfulness and meditation practice. In a strange way, I’m thankful to have gone through this experience. I understand myself better, what I want in my life and what kind of person I would like to be. The most important thing for me, though, is how much closer I got with my family and friends. For the first time in my life, I dared to be open, honest, and frank about my thoughts and show vulnerability.
What has your mental health journey taught you?
Mental health struggles can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter who you are -- everyone can face challenging times. The key is to be honest about it and dare to talk about it with someone you trust. You’re not alone in this struggle and there is support available. . Also, listen to what your body is telling you. There is something magical about our bodies and minds; they will tell you if something is not right. You just have to be honest and listen carefully.
Learn more about panic attacks:
Learn more about phobias:
Learn more about physical activity and mental health: https://www.mind.org.hk/mental-health-a-to-z/physical-activity-and-your-mental-health/about-physical-activity/
Seeking help in Hong Kong:
List of mental health services provided by local NGOs:
Find help now: