Satveer Nijjar: “Talking isn’t a weakness”

Satveer Nijjar delivers sessions on self-harm awareness.

Satveer Nijjar: “Talking isn’t a weakness”

By Rebecca Durband

Satveer Nijjar delivers sessions on self-harm awareness with the aim of building confidence around the subject by reducing stigma, anxiety and fear. So far this year Satveer has reached 4000 people through her sessions. Here, she offers her life lessons.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

With the hot weather I am loving Robin Schulz, Lost Frequencies, Calvin Harris and Drake. Book wise, I’m halfway through ‘All the Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven – a teen fiction book focusing upon the story of two teens who meet when they are both suicidal. As for the TV, there is only one thing to watch at the moment for me and that is the World Cup, though my daughter has enforced Love Island on me!

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

A few years ago I would have said something about my own personal experience, but now it would have to have been when my daughter became ill and was sectioned under the mental health act. I never even contemplated her becoming ill, so when it happened it was a massive challenge, trying to be there for her but also maintain my own mental health. When she was in hospital, I found myself living alone for the first time in my life. Keeping myself strong and sane was a massive challenge.

As someone who raises awareness about self-harm – what do you think are the biggest misconceptions about self-harm?

My business name: ‘Attention Seekers’! I hear it all the time, ‘its just attention seeking’. It’s such a dismissive phrase that doesn’t take into account the distress that is behind the self-harm. Most people never disclose self-harm so if they are seeking attention, it should be provided.

What advice would you give to someone who is self-harming?

That self-harm is the symptom of underlying distress and when they are ready, with the right support, they can recover. Saying that, recovery means different things to different people. For one it may be to stop self-harming, for another to reduce the frequency of their self-harm.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

That I can manage my emotions much better than I thought and it’s ok to ask for help. I used to see it as a weakness.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Seeing all my favourite people; daughter, girlfriends, siblings, friends and doing a fun activity like an escape room followed by chocolate and a cup of tea on my sofa!

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Can I cheat and say two things? Firstly, my daughter being back at home and managing her health and secondly my secondary school teachers who supported me through school and without realising it, kept me alive.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…

…not being scared to have a bad day, not being scared to cry and, sharing the difficult times as much as the good ones.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I don’t have the best diet, but I have just purchased a smoothie maker so that’s helping!

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

I stopped smoking nine months ago and have attempted to take up running, it’s a bit hit and miss but I try and do small things like take the stairs or walk up escalators on the underground.

Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground every day and loving it – can you share a similar memory?

I used to play football through primary and secondary school and loved it, but what makes me smile is rolling down the grass mountain (ok, small hill / bump!) in my red and white cheque summer dress at primary school.

What three songs lift your spirits?

So, Des’ree ‘You Gotta Be’, Sukhshinder Shinder ‘Aj Din Kushian Da’ and Pink ‘So What’

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

It’s a poem for me. As cliché as it may be I first read Dr Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ when I was 12/13 years old and related certain parts of it to my circumstance and mindset, specifically:

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

That talking isn’t a weakness and to not wait until it’s become overwhelming before they seek support. My door is always open for them for a coffee and chat.

An advocate of Mental Health First Aid, Satveer’s website is here.

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