Aisha Thalia speaks: My mental health story, Internet trolls & more

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(10-minute read)

Editor’s note: Hey everyone! Last week I interviewed the beautiful model/ philanthropist/teacher (and more, believe it or not) Aisha Thalia so we could all get to know her a little bit, (if you missed it, just click here to catch up). Today we’re delving into much more serious issues, like her battle with bipolar 2 disorder, anxiety, depression and eventual healing. More anon…

On body image and self-esteem…

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TC: How did you become a ‘video vixen’ and model?

AT: I am not a video vixen! (LOL). I actually hate that term. What is a “vixen” anyway? I know that’s not me. I don’t define myself as one thing or another. I love acting, and, yes, I have done a handful of music videos. I find it pretty cool playing different characters. My first video was a Kanye West & John Legend song in 2009 and I only did it because the money was awesome, but I have done other videos since. They’re easy, fun, and as long as the message isn’t degrading, I’m cool with it. I started modeling with a small agency back in college to supplement my income — clothing ads and small commercials. It was never a passion, just a way to make money and help with the costs related to raising my daughter.

TC: Were you always this comfortable with your body? When did you realise you were a ‘bombshell’?

AT: Yes, always. It’s how I was raised. (Smile) I am certainly no bombshell. I think my personality shines through, as does my confidence, and I think that is what some people may find sexy.

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TC: What made you decide to be so open about your breast implants?

AT: What’s the alternative? Lying about it? (LOL). Sooooo many people have implants. It’s way more common (in the US anyway) than people will admit. It isn’t a huge deal to me. I liked my breasts before breastfeeding. They were cute… but afterwards I had one flat C cup and one perky A cup, so I couldn’t even wear tank tops, or fit into bras. I needed to fix that ASAP. I had to have a lift done on one side as well.

TC: What’s your advice to people who aren’t comfortable with their bodies?

AT: Walk around naked in your house! (LOL)… You have to start somewhere. In all seriousness, get to the root of the issue. Pinpoint exactly what it is about yourself that you don’t like. Is it something you can change like your weight? Work on it. Tired of the same hairstyle? Change it. Be the best you that you can be, but by all means, start finding beauty in everything. You can’t possibly want to change everything about yourself. You only get one body in this lifetime, treat it like gold. We aren’t all meant to look the same. How boring would that be?

On Internet trolling and the power of social media…

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TC: How has Instagram changed your life? What made you decide to use your voice to empower others through social media?

AT: Even before IG, I had a blog that many people subscribed to where I was able to share my thoughts with the world. Instagram has just widened the audience. It is also a way to make money through sponsorships. I already love bikinis, why not get paid to advertise them?

TC: Speaking of which, why do you think people get so uncomfortable with the pictures that you post?

AT: Hmm… Insecurity mainly. I think people either hate what they can’t have or hate what they can’t attain. Some people don’t actually hate it. They’re just bored or crying out for love and attention. People love to be vocal when they’re technically anonymous. I have yet to have anyone complain to my face 🙂 I’m way too loving and I’m actually nice to EVERYONE I meet. Always. It’s easier to complain about someone who is out there doing what makes them happy, than it is to actually go out and find what makes you happy.

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I also don’t think people realise it’s how I make money. There’s nothing casual about them… 98 per cent of the time my bikini posts are paid advertisements,(but even if they weren’t, it still shouldn’t bother someone). It’s clear what I represent. If you still choose to follow me or be small minded and discuss me while following me, I’m likely to believe you need to seek help.  Morals may be another factor. To some, partial nudity or swimwear is offensive. I get it, unfollow.

Also, only about 30 per cent of my pics are actually of me. Mostly my IG page has quotes, food or other inspiring things. I mean, you really have to be bored to hate on that. Lastly, I’m tired of giving attention to the people who hate what I do. I’d rather give attention to the 99 per cent of my followers who love it. When you speak too frequently about naysayers or assholes, they tend to multiply.

You handle the hate/’trolling’ comments well for someone who has mood-related mental illnesses. Do they actually affect you?

AT: I don’t get many “hate” comments, it’s literally 99 per cent positive and one per cent misguided or perverted. I don’t take anything personally because they don’t know me personally. The only comments I internalise are made directly to me by my loved ones. Those people matter the most. I cannot please everyone.

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There are only two kinds of actions in the world: they’re either from love or a cry for love. What people say has more to do with what they want to see or believe and what they are going through. It doesn’t really have anything to do with me per se. I enjoy giving a troll a piece of my mind from time to time. It can be entertaining if I’m feeling froggy (LOL), but the bottom line is this: why are they even worried about ‘lil ole me? We have too much going on in the world to have time to obsess so much over people or feel the need to troll them! I’m not even famous. Get a life.

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TC: Are you offended by the salacious comments and slimy DMs (read: direct messages) you get every day? How do you handle those?

AT: (LOL)! No, not offended. I get disgusted at times. No one wants to see penis pictures from strangers. More often than not I get annoyed because my time is valuable and I hate spending time on opening things like that, it’s a waste. I just block people. I simply no longer open DMs from people I‘m not following.

TC: Despite your charitable efforts, educational background, and the health and nutrition information you share online, there are still many people who perceive you to be just a pretty face and great body. How do you respond to that?

AT: I don’t care what people think about me because I am confident. To be honest, besides one or two other times, your question is one of the rare times I’ve heard that (LOL). If people are shallow enough to judge others based on something as superficial as their looks, they probably aren’t people I would associate with in the first place. I ignore them, block them, or politely tell them about themselves before I block them. I have learned slowly not to entertain any kind of madness. Unless I’m feeling playful, that is 😉

On love, motherhood, and her mental health…

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TC: You often advocate for mental health awareness on social media and have spoken about your own struggle. Tell us a bit about that and where you currently stand on that journey.

AT: This answer is so long… I recommend your readers visit my website where I just posted on my battle with mental health. Beware: it is LONG. But here is a quick summary: I was always up and down and it even reached a dangerous point years ago while I was working on my master’s degree… I didn’t feel like life was worth living. Boy, was I wrong! My daughter needed me, my family needed me, my friends needed me, and I realised I have a purpose in this world and until that purpose is fulfilled, my job isn’t done.

Where I stand now is in a place of peace. I love my life, I love who I am, I even love what I have been through as it has shaped me into who I am today… wouldn’t change a thing. Nothing is more powerful than your mind. You can overcome any obstacle with determination. Holistic methods have helped — reiki, Damiana tea, meditation and exercise have all played a major role in my healing.

TC: How do you manage to remain this positive?

AT: It’s a decision. I wake up every day and decide that I have no choice but to make the best of the day. Happiness is a state of peace within so I try not to let my happiness be caused by one thing or another. If that were the case, I’d lose my peace.

TC: What’s your advice to someone who is also struggling with mental illness?

AT: Get help. You can’t do it alone. Find someone a professional to talk to. Take time for yourself daily to do things that make you happy. Read a book, go to therapy, meditate, listen to music and exercise… whatever you find helpful. Switching to a plant-based vegan diet has also helped me tremendously.

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TC: Do you mind sharing a little about your daughter? What’s the best and worst thing about being a mother for you?

AT: I won’t share much because she is sacred to me and deserves her privacy. There are really no “worse” parts about being a mom besides the sleepless nights when they are first born… everything that is, it’s supposed to be. I guess if I had to choose one hard part, it’s loving her so deeply and being scared of ever losing her or of her living in this crazy world with so many lost souls.

She is my joy, my love, and my pride. She’s intelligent, gorgeous, empathetic, honest and kind. I’m happy that she chose me as her mother and she has taught me just as much, if not more, than I have taught her.

TC: How was the experience of losing control of your mental health for you as a mother? What went through your mind and how did it help to shape your perspective and influence your actions?

AT: Being a mom is what caused me to go get help. I wanted better for her. Although I was always a great provider, she deserves someone with more patience, less sadness… someone who was present and emotionally available all the time.

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TC: Do you still have frequent bouts of depression/anxiety?

AT: No, it’s way less common and my anxiety no longer just pops up. Anxiety can stem from over-thinking or worrying too much about the future… depression from looking too far back into the past. The key is to live in the present. If you are truly taking time to enjoy the present moment, those things are less likely to interfere.

TC: How did your depression/bipolar 2/anxiety problems affect your relationships with friends, family, significant other?

AT: I was testy. Irritability is one of the most common signs of depression and I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around during some of my extreme lows. It causes your loved ones to hurt. It makes you shy away from friendships for fear of hurting someone or not being emotionally available to them during your low periods. With inner work, all that has changed. I now love every part of who I am and know that I am worthy of being loved.

TC: Now that we’re on the love subject, what do you look for in a partner?

AT: Kindness, empathy, someone philanthropic, globally aware, honest and spiritual. Those are all traits I look for. I keep my love life private… I’ll just say I am very happy.

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I’d like to thank Aisha for sharing her powerful, inspiring story and ask that if you feel compelled to share, please do. We need more people understanding the importance of mental health and educating others. The stigma needs to go. Mental illness can affect anyone… and not everyone who struggles looks ‘crazy’ or sad. Many of them are among the nicest, most talented and accomplished people you meet. Persons who suffer from them (and their loved ones) endure a lot, and it shouldn’t take the demise of a familiar face for us to start the conversation.

Love and light.

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