Best-selling author for adults and children, columnist and co-host, Jamila Rizvi is a trusted and pragmatic voice in Australia on fairness and equality. Jamila has overcome an enormous amount in her short life and continues to work hard, with kindness and compassion at heart. We love having Jamila as part of Team Hey Lemonade.
Read on for a quick Q&A with Jamila about her involvement with Hey Lemonade
What appealed to you about being a voice for Hey Lemonade?
Too often conversations about mental health only start happening when someone is experiencing mental illness. But just like physical health, our mental health and wellness is also something to be nurtured, cared for and invested in. We should be aware of it, be capable of checking in with ourselves and be armed with tools to help keep us well. Mental health shouldn’t only be on our radar when we have challenges that have become urgent or serious. Hey Lemonade is a smart, evidence-based support apparatus for mental health and I was genuinely thrilled to play a very small part in bringing it to life.
What helps you feel optimistic?
I’m a woman who likes to have a plan. Making a plan is a way of taking positive action and having made a plan helps us feel more in control. I find that my brain is at its happiest when focused on outcomes, and devising a path to achieve those outcomes. That sounds super naff and like I am writing a management textbook but the optimism of a plan applies in all sorts of situations. Why else do we have New Year’s resolutions and buy fancy stationery when we start a new job? Those acts of planning are optimism in action.
What helps you reset or pull together in times of stress?
Just this week my son and I were talking about naming our emotions and trying to understand why we’re feeling angry or sad or helpless. It was a useful exercise but I also wanted him to know that emotions don’t always have to be unpicked and unpacked, forensically examined or diagnosed. Sometimes you just feel how you feel and what’s actually required is having a go-to list of what helps you to relax or reset. For me it’s dancing in the living room with my son, taking the dog for a walk in the bush, baking for someone I care about, and if I am really honest, filling up my online shopping cart with things I probably shouldn’t buy.
What are you looking forward to today?
Right now I am not feeling particularly well. I live with disabilities and chronic illness so that’s a pretty standard part of my existence. Instead of getting angry at it, I have managed – well sometimes I manage – to reframe the ups and downs of illness as something to look forward to emerging from. So today I am firmly looking ahead to the middle of next week when I hope to be travelling interstate for work, sneaking in a visit to my parents and generally feeling energised again.
What’s a life lesson you’ve learned in the last five years?
There is a book called The Round House by Louise Endrich that has a quote which has stayed with me through what has been a pretty harrowing five years. I will butcher it if I try and remember the exact words so I will describe the thrust of it instead… And that is:
Once you know fear… real, pulsating, all consuming fear. Fear that breaks through every distraction and lingers deep inside your chest… you also know that fear is not permanent. That your body and brain are not capable of living in that state of heightened awareness forever. That no matter how powerful the fear is, eventually it will loosen it’s grip on you and it will pass.
Read more about Jamila Rizvi here.