Sunday, December 9, 2018

Let's talk about the A word

Disclaimer: I am not a professional, nor do I consider myself as highly knowledgeable on the topic of mental disorders. What I'm writing about is solely out of personal experience, and what I've witnessed and read about.

Imagine this: You’re at a party, the music’s loud, it’s crowded and everybody is dancing and just having fun. Everything is fine. Actually, the whole situation is more than fine. You’re trying to fit in, you finally decided to leave the comfort of your room and actually go out and have fun like everybody else. But, something just doesn’t feel right, or better said, you think that something doesn’t feel right. Your brain goes into overdrive, you start regretting your decision to go out, your heartbeat starts to race and your palms start to sweat. It’s crowded so maybe that’s why your breathing starts to get heavy, you struggle to catch a breath. So you decide to go outside and while you try to reach the exit you start feeling nauseous. All these emotions and feelings blur your vision, and you have just one goal set in mind – get outside. You finally do, you breathe in deeply and exhale, multiple times. Once you get your thoughts together and stop feeling like you’re about to throw up, the guilt kicks in. Why do I feel like this? Why can’t I just go out and have fun like a normal human being? Why do I have to make a scene out of nothing? My friends are now worried, but I’m not their responsibility, and I don't want them to think of me like that. You start to wonder why you put yourself in these situations when you know it could be either this or nothing at all, but why risk it? But is that the point of living, to not risk it? To live wondering whether you’ve been missing out your whole life?

Everyone can feel anxious, whether that's before taking a test or when you're put in an uncomfortable situation. When those anxious feelings start to overtake your day, start to become an obstacle in doing everyday tasks, that's when anxiety becomes a mental disorder.

Today, It seems that having anxiety is considered "trendy" and everyone "has a panic attack" over every minor inconvenience when there are people out there that seriously suffer from this mental disorder but are being ignored or not taken seriously. Personally, I've said that I've felt anxious in certain situations, as we all have, but I've never claimed to suffer from anxiety because I've not seen a professional doctor who has diagnosed me of such a serious mental disorder. And the reality is, a large number of the people who use that term don't know for sure too. I'm not claiming that people who experience real anxiety disorders, but are not diagnosed, don't have them. The reality is people are either scared, or they think that it's not important and it can be fixed on its own. So people stay silent, and this includes me too. 

P.S. I highly encourage you to read Donna October's post on mental health and her struggles, it resonated with me and gave me the courage to share my side of the story, although I wasn't planning on making this post so...personal.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I started to feel anxious. I remember I was in high school, maybe 15,16, and I watched a youtube video about mental health, and the topic was anxiety. It explained it so well that it made me fascinated that the thing I thought was just nervousness could actually be something bigger, and scarier. When someone says they have a mental disorder, people have the assumption that that person's crazy. At least that's what I thought up until that point.

Fast forward to a party, summer 2016. My friends and I were having fun, dancing at our table, and a couple of guys came over and started to make small talk with us. For some reason, when they approached us, a rush of heat went through my body and I immediately felt my heart start racing and I felt out of breath. Some of you may be thinking "Oh, that's because you liked them." Wrong. I didn't know what to do, so I just removed myself out of the situation. Without saying a word I went outside and tried to calm myself down. My friend called me and asked what was wrong, and all I said was "No, nothing wrong, I'm fine." I clearly wasn't. That feeling became engraved in my mind, I think I'll never forget it. It was my first panic attack, or at least that's what I think it was.

Life went on, and this feeling started to resurface at the strangest of times. One time I was laying in bed, and I was thinking about all of the things I had to do that day (as we all do). On that particular day, I had a handful of personally challenging tasks to do and I let my mind go into overdrive. I began panicking about how I can't do anything, how I'm a failure for not having the guts to do basic everyday things, I was basically overthinking about overthinking. And then that awful feeling came creeping up. I was in awe, how can I make myself panic over something so simple?

Today, I have a vague idea of the situations that make me feel the most anxious. Like parties. But not every single one, which is the part that makes this whole thing a bit more difficult. I guess that's why these photos are meant to represent a party, the place that makes me feel uneasy and full of uncertainty about what's going to happen next.

It's important to respect the fact that certain situations make some people uncomfortable, even when you don't fully understand why they start shutting down. If you don't understand it, read about it, educate yourself about it. Mental health concerns everybody, whether you're diagnosed with a disorder or not - it's our duty to be aware of this growing subject.
It's not stupid to ask if you don't know something.
But it is stupid and ignorant to say to a person who has a mental disorder to "Just get over it", or to mock them. Think about what you're going to say before it comes out of your mouth, sometimes words speak louder than actions.

Triggers. Everybody has them, therefore, they’re different for everyone. For me, sometimes it’s the situations. Other times it’s the people. It sucks when it’s the people because that doesn’t necessarily mean I dislike them. And this doesn’t have anything to do with social anxiety and feeling uncomfortable around new people. I could know the person and be very fond of them, but something in my brain has connected them to a “fight or flight” mindset. I always try to choose “fight”, even when it physically pains me. And if I choose “flight” I think of myself as a failure, so at the end of the day, it’s a lose-lose situation. That is why I’ve chosen to think it’s better for me to distance myself from those people, to avoid getting stuck in this vicious cycle of not knowing if I’m going to panic or if I’ll be just fine. And that sucks, big time.

Coping mechanisms. They come hand in hand with our triggers. I find this quite fascinating because as humans, evolution has allowed us to find ways to deal with every type of stress our body is put under. How we choose to act upon this enormous stress we're dealing with is up to us. We have full control over how we choose to do it. And this is the part I find interesting. Up to this point, I've let those anxious feelings take over my sanity, to play with my emotions and physical health. But when I actively choose to start taking matters into my own hands, and I say to myself "Snap out of it! Just breathe!", that's when I know I'm in control now.

Everybody has different ways of coping. Some take deep breaths, some need to be alone in silence and others use calming music. It's all about finding what works for you best. Yes, it sucks that it's based on trial and error, but don't get yourself down because what isn't in life?

Next time you leave the party, don't be discouraged. Go again, and again, and again. Don't let anxiety stop you from doing what you want.
If what you want is to go out and dance - do it.
If what you want is to stay home and watch movies - do it.
If what you want is to push yourself to do something knowing it might end up with a panic attack - do it. It might not this time.
This is what gives me hope every time I try to do something all over again - "It might not this time."

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

November Playlist | 2018

Hold up, November's over?! Okay, I definitely have no sense of time, I swear it was only yesterday that this month began! I guess I've kept quite busy this time, and it honestly makes me so happy. I feel like this month began with so many things going on that now I've run out of any will to do anything productive (when in fact, this is the time of the year when everybody starts getting ready for exams, midterms etc and ofc I'm running on low fumes), and his needs to change ASAP.
Short retrospect of November: volunteered at the European film festival CineDays, had an awesome time and met so many cool people; bought another disposable camera for a little project I have in mind; applied for something really cool (fingers crossed everything turns out good!); & got inspired, like, a lot. And of course, I discovered a bunch of new artists that I'm sharing with you today!

Without any further ado, here's the November playlist!

My favourite discovery for this month has to be, hands down, Lil Halima. I am in love with her aesthetic and sound, it's fresh and new and it gave me so much creative inspiration. Her songs "Abstract" and "Jasmine" have such a laid back, chill vibe to them, with "Abstract" being a bit more up-tempo. And can we just appreciate how gorgeous the videos are! Norwegians know what's up!

NAO's latest single with 6LACK is as amazing as I expected it to be. "If You Ever" has a lovely ethereal, dreamy vibe to it but still manages to keep an upbeat tempo. 6LACK is a great addition to the song, he gives the song an RnB dimension which counterbalances NAO's sweet, distinctive vocals.

"332 Miles" is such a VIBE! It's a bit more sultry than the rest of the playlist songs, but sometimes us ladies need a little something before a night out, and I'm all about that! Music is such a powerful tool, we might as well use it to its fullest potential. None the less, check this song out, it's amaaazing!

"Lost My Mind" always came on Autoplay when I listened to songs on YT, so as time passed by it got stuck in my head. It's a super catchy pop song, so if you're into those kinds of songs you'll like this one too. Plus, the girl has a very unique voice.

Can we just talk about the fact that I'm ONLY NOW jumping on the Brockhampton train?! Like, why haven't I been listening to these dudes months ago? Anyway, from what I've heard so far, "Sweet" is my absolute fave. The beat is SO CATCHY, I can't help but nod everytime I hear it. If you too are like me and have been living under a rock when it comes to these guys, I highly suggest listening to a few of their tracks.

As always, click HERE for the Youtube link to the whole playlist, or on each individual title above. Happy listening!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Trip To... #13

Okay, this is the last one, I promise!!
Although it might seem like I overdid it with these travel posts, I have only one excuse - TOO MANY COOL PHOTOS! It looks like I've spent a whole month abroad, not a week haha.
Okay, so for the grand finale I have the one and only Vienna, the capital of Austria.
When we booked our tickets for Bratislava, we decided to take a two-day trip to Vienna as it was only an hour away, plus the bus tickets were super cheap. So, this is a major tip for if you want to travel to Vienna and save on money - fly to Bratislava, and then hop on to Vienna by bus.
If you want to see what we did and where we went, keep on reading!
Photos: Angela Petrovska

Ова е последен пост од патувањето, ветувам!
Иако можеби (не можеби, дефинитивно) изгледа како да претерав со сите овие постови, имам само едно оправдување - ПРЕМНОГУ КУЛ ФОТОГРАФИИ!
За големото финале ја чував Виена, и конечно и' стигна редот. Кога ги букиравме картите за Братислава, решивме да направиме мала дводневна екскурзија до Виена бидејќи беше на само саат време возење со автобус, плус самите автобуски карти беа преефтини. Ова е супер совет доколку сакате да патувате до Виена и да заштедите пари - летајте до Братислава, и фатете автобус до Виена.
Доколку ве интересира што правевме и каде бевме, продолжете да читате!
Фотографии: Ангела Петровска

Monday, November 12, 2018

Bratislava & Vienna on Film

As a lover of all things retro, I can definitely say that analogue photography is my favourite type of photography. I adore the look of the photos and the feelings they evoke but most of all I love the thrill of not knowing what your photo will turn out like. And although I have never actually used an analogue camera before, I was eager to get my hands on one.
And luckily I wasn't the only one who had a thing about film photography. Angela, Jovana and I have talked about purchasing a small, point and shoot disposable camera for a while, so what better timing than for our trip?
I am in love with how the photos turned out, and now I am stuck on the idea of buying an actual analogue camera and giving this thing a go. Only time will tell.

Monday, November 5, 2018


You know that feeling when you return to a place you haven't visited in so many years, and it looks exactly like you left it?
This is that place for me. When I dig deep in the overflowing treasure chest called memories, I see myself, aged around 6 or 7, going up to the open fields of Gazi Baba to play with my friends or to go on afternoon walks with my grandmother.

Everything seemed so much bigger then. And more adventurous. I remember I was scared to go alone, actually scratch that - I was TERRIFIED because at night the hill looked straight out of a horror movie. The older kids would make up stories about monsters coming down from the forests if we played outside until the late hours, which I now realise was a great way to get rid of the annoying little children that we were.

Now, aged 21, I'm no longer scared of the monsters from the forest. I see the openness in front of me and I sigh. There's a word in Portuguese called "saudade" which I came to learn was one of the most discussed words in the language. There's no official translation for it, but what it essentially represents is a feeling of melancholic longing or yearning. Yearning towards something you had or you'll never have. How beautiful and sad at the same time. I'll always have the memories of this place, but I'll never feel the freedom of running down the field without a care in the world, nor take an afternoon walk with my grandmother again. I guess that's just life's way of making room for new, equally as happy memories to be created.

Photos: Jane Nikoloski

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Playlist | 2018

Sooo, October is over and done. In retrospect, this past month has been one of the most challenging ones of this year so far. From amazing news to moments of utter weakness, I guess the universe needs to balance itself out somehow. But amidst all those ups and downs I knew one thing for sure - music was here to make me chill tf out. That is why most of the music this month is on the "vibe with me" side, so that means lots of chill R'n'B and soul beats. The songs I listened to in October can be divided into two categories: new, fresh Macedonian music and music I discovered via the Student FM radio (92.9 here is Macedonia - you won't regret it!).
Here are the ones that made the final cut:

Probably my favourite song in October - Matej Foltz "Ponedelnik". I am soo surprised by how amazing Macedonian music has become in the past few years. New artists are bringing so much to the table, I guess the music here was stuck in a creative rut where it had to compete with foreign music in order to be appreciated. So when I see new artists like Matej trying to bring back the beauty of a cool, laid-back beat & simple, yet meaningful lyrics it makes me so happy to watch the industry move forward. Also, major shoutout to Frozen Timedrops, the video looks sooo good!

Another example of Macedonian music moving forward is Funk Shui and their latest track "Krik". They've been on the scene for quite some time now, but they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. I love the direction they are moving in, it's new and different from what we're used to but they still manage to make it unique and their own. And again, the video looks so sick!

Toro Y Moi - So Many Details
This is a prime example of "music I discovered through the radio". I don't usually listen to Toro Y Moi although I loove Tame Impala and he has similar music to theirs, so far everything I've heard from him has been super cool. I had another song by him on a previous playlist which was a totally different vibe from this one but none the less, "So Many Details" is the perfect chill out song.

Khalid is back with a new EP YAY! I'm yet to listen to it, but the lead single "Better" is sooo good! I expect nothing less from Khalid, I am soo beyond excited for his growing career and even more happy that he's still keeping his style the same.

Ama Lou - DDD EP
Ama Lou is my latest discovery and I am over the moon happy that I did. Her EP DDD is amazing from both an auditory and a visual aspect - the songs: "Tried Up", "Wrong Lesson" and "Wire" all complement each other so good and it truly feels like you're listening to a whole story being told accompanied by soul and R'n'B beats. At first, I thought I could choose a favourite out of the three but I soon realised they are all connected and you get the full experience when listening to all of them. And the visual film made to accompany the songs is simply filled with the coolest shots ever, plus I read that everyone that worked on it is under 22 years, so that makes me even more proud that young artists of all fields can come together and make something beautiful.

As always, click HERE for the Youtube link to the whole playlist, or on each individual title above. Happy listening!

Friday, October 26, 2018

A trip to... #12


I guess it turned into an unintended tradition for Angela, Jovana and I to take a trip to some random European city in September before University madness starts. This time around, there was a lot of debating where we wanted to go. We started off with the idea to go for the "chill, lounge by the sea" type of trip, but we knew we find those kinds of places a bit boring, so we searched for some cheap aeroplane tickets instead. And that is the not so interesting story of how we decided to go to Bratislava, Slovakia.

I know it's much better for the sake of the story to say that I've always wanted to visit Bratislava and my dreams finally came true, but it was just as simple as that - cheap Wizzair tickets FTW! Although we didn't know much about the city, that didn't stop us from getting all excited and googling fun things to do/see whilst in Bratislava. 

And after 5 days spent in Bratislava, this is the final verdict: it's the most charming little city, filled with cute cafes and a lively night-life. The food and coffee are relatively cheap, as well as entrance fees to different galleries and museums. The old town brings mystery (especially at night) with its intertwining alleys, the abundance of parks and trees clears up your lungs, while the murals and graffiti bring out the urban side of the city, as well as your camera. 

Hope you enjoy this collection of moments captured by Angela Petrovska!