The Island Alien

On Indian Arrival Day and Identity

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Once again, this time of the year comes around.
And once again, I have my thoughts on it.

Indian Arrival Day always fills me with bittersweet thoughts and a sense of loss.

We commemorate and celebrate the arrival of a large percentage of our current population. Our history would be so different if the East Indian indentured labourers had never come. Trinidad and Tobago would be a different place entirely.

And yet, this day just makes me think about my confusing feelings of identity. I don’t know my ancestors’ names. I know that my mother’s grandmother came here as a child on one of the boats. But which one? What was her name? What about my mother’s father’s grandparents? What about my entire father’s side of the family? I don’t know what I am, and though that might not seem important to some, it is something I struggle with often.

I think about how history is written and recorded. How it is twisted and changed. I think about all the labourers who were denied passage back to their homes. The ones who were bribed and lied to. I think about what it would’ve been like for them, living on barely enough rations, with only enough money left over to buy rum. Where do you think the association between Indians and rum comes from? In a time where depression, homesickness and loneliness were rampant, how else would they ‘heal’ the pain?

I think about the effects of colonization. The pain that still remains. How the white men told the Indian workers that they were ‘better’ than the African slaves,who were dirty and stupid, and how the Indians believed them because at least they were getting ‘paid’. How the white men tried their very best to keep the two races separated, instilling hatred and fear in their minds. I think about how that racist mentality still runs rampant through this country.

This day needs to become more than just a day to eat curry and dress up in pretty outfits.
This day needs to be a day of healing. A day when we can acknowledge and heal from colonization. A day where we hold workshops on dealing with pain and mental illness. A day where we can work towards undoing the racism between Indians and Africans that only exist because of white men.
When will these things ever happen?

So here I am, stuck in the middle of people celebrating all around me. Wondering if I’m having too many thoughts, or too little. Wondering who my ancestors were. Wonder how I can pay my respects to them properly on this day. Wondering if T&T will ever be able to get to a healing start.

The Island Alien

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the last showing of “Takdir: the greatest true love story of Indian Arrival”, a play written and directed by Victor Edwards and researched by Shamshu Deen. It was a wonderful experience. The play itself was beautifully written and directed, the actors were brilliant, the set design was amazing, and the music was breathtaking. 

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On being a Chronic Job Quitter.

I’m starting a new job soon (yes! A real job!), and boy am I feeling that anxiety. Everyone gets those nervous and anxious feelings about any big new step in their life, right? But here I am feeling double the anxiety and nerves, since I’m just a generally anxious person to begin with. All I can think is ‘I really hope I can do this’ and ‘I wonder how long I’m gonna last this time’. Cause let’s face it, I’m a chronic job quitter. Do you know someone like this? Lasts about a few months to maybe a year, then quits and moves on to something else. That’s me. For me, it’s not because the job itself gets difficult. It’s either it gets too monotonous and I get bored with the routine, or I get really fed up with the environment and my coworkers and it starts affecting my mental health.

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Unhelpful Thinking Styles

unhelpful_thinking_styles

I have this worksheet stuck up on my fridge and I thought I’d share this with you all, since it helps me to check myself throughout the day.

It’s called the “Unhelpful Thinking Styles / Cognitive Distortions” worksheet. Continue reading


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Some people just aren’t going to have success stories, get over it.

I’m sure you’ve heard mental illness success stories. I mean, who hasn’t? Someone overcame severe depression, wrote an account of it, and we’re all here feeling happy for them, right? Someone speaks out on how terrible anxiety is, and we all feel sympathetic towards them, right? And that’s all well and good, but I wanna talk about something else today. I wanna talk about the people still struggling through their illnesses. The people like me and so many others who have to hear things like,

“You’ll get over it! I was reading about this woman who struggled for years but she’s fine now!”

“Why don’t you try this medication I’ve heard of? It worked for this guy I know!”

“You should get out more and meet people, or even meditate or exercise! I’ve heard that works.”

“You shouldn’t be on medication; you need to do cognitive therapy. That’s way better.”

Listen folks, none of these things are tried and true. None of these ‘solutions’ are guaranteed to work for every single person dealing with mental illness. And please don’t push someone else’s success story in my face.

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Let’s talk about Mental Illness in Trinidad and Tobago

Something happened to me recently. I got angry. I followed the news. I listened to the Minister of Education speak. I did some research on mental health. I posted some questions on social media about primary and secondary school education. I got very angry.
Let me tell you a little about me. I am 25 years old. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for over 15 years. When I was younger, there was no one I could go to or confide in. When I finally moved out of my parents’ house at 21 years old, I started going to therapy and was diagnosed with 4 mental illnesses. I started medication and cognitive behavioural therapy.
I wish someone had told me as a child, that what I was feeling was okay and that I was not alone. I wish someone had spoken to me about depression and abuse. I wish someone had openly talked to me about self harm. I wish I could be the one to jump into a time machine and go back to little Julie and take care of her. But alas, I cannot. What I can do, however, is make sure no other kids and teens have to suffer in silence like I did for so long.

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On Indian Arrival Day and Identity

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the last showing of “Takdir: the greatest true love story of Indian Arrival”, a play written and directed by Victor Edwards and researched by Shamshu Deen. It was a wonderful experience. The play itself was beautifully written and directed, the actors were brilliant, the set design was amazing, and the music was breathtaking.  Continue reading


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“island-life”

You know, I truly believe this is a beautiful country I live in. I really do appreciate how lovely our flora and fauna is. We have beautiful beaches, forests, waterfalls, rivers, and other wonderful natural sights. I wish I could say that that’s enough to make me love this place. What ruins it for me, is the people. The government, the entire society, and what has become the modern culture.  Rampant murder, corruption, sexism, racism, homophobia, stigma and discrimination of mental health and its related issues, (to name a few things). I’m not saying that every other country is perfect. I’m just saying there’s nothing to be patriotic about. I wish I could enjoy our beaches and waterfalls, but everything is always covered in disgusting litter. I wish the citizens would help each other, but the segregation is ridiculous. Continue reading