Meet Talya Shelley, Head of Social Media for Huddlehumans 🦋

There was a time in my life when I struggled with mental health deeply. It is scary to share this with the world, as I have never shared it in such detail before.

But I have to.

There was a time where I longed to no longer be alive. I felt tremendous emotional pain and I cried almost every night. Actually, I didn’t just cry, I sobbed. I was so vulnerable that I could just explode into tears while I was out. I’d hide in the toilet in school or public places just to cry. I knew I didn’t want to die but I also so badly did not want to be alive. I longed for other sources of pain just so I could feel something other than the emotional pain. Physical pain was often my only other escape.

I could not let anyone know. I had to hide. I had to wear masks. But that made the pain even more intense. I never got diagnosed and I never dared to see a doctor or tell anyone about it, but the pain was intense. Ironically, many people would often seek emotional help from me, but the truth was that I was suffering myself. I never dared say anything because I thought that I wouldn’t be believed or that I’d be laughed at, which would hurt me even more. Everything in my life seemed so good. I had a beautiful family, friends, an education, and a roof over my head. I had everything, yet I was going through such mental health and emotional difficulties. The hardest part was not being able to put a finger on what was really wrong with me. Sometimes I would wish that something really bad would happen so that I’d have a real reason to be sad.

I remembered that there was one night (after a week of feeling okay), where the intense pain and rush of negative thoughts came flowing back. It would happen like this; I’d be okay for a few days or weeks and then suddenly I would relapse. I had decided that this time, I’d seek some sort of help. I found an online platform that allowed me to share my troubles anonymously with a psychologist. But then I ran out of credits, as you had to pay after a few chats. And it felt all too robotic. In the end, I didn’t really feel understood.

I tried many ways to get through – drawing, creating pictures, and writing poetry, which was a huge help. Instead of hurting myself or someone else, I would write every time uncontrollable emotions arose, or when something triggered it. A fight or something. I had a whole Tumblr blog of poetry I wrote during this time – and no one ever knew. It was the only place that I could be completely and utterly myself. I needed to organise my thoughts into words or images. I also wrote down in a journal positive and negative aspects of each day and one thing I could change in myself (E.g. being thankful, seeing another perspective, smiling) to improve the next day.

Had I known of a community such as Huddlehumans, things might have been so, so much easier. I am so glad that I have the chance right now, to help to build it and spread it to people who need it. For those who need an emotional release through words and connection. For those who need to know that they are not alone. For those who need to feel like somebody else understands what they are going through. Because this is a community of people who are facing and sharing mental health struggles bravely and vulnerably. I know that one big barrier to this is having to show one’s face or show up physically to a session to talk about struggles. Huddlehumans broke through that barrier. You can share anonymously if you’re not ready to show your face. Huddlehumans is a safe zone for you. We have moderators in the group to ensure it stays safe. We have advisors from high places in the psychiatric and psychological fields who overview our work.

Today, I’m glad to say that I’m well, I’m not perfect, but I live life with a whole new perspective. I cannot really put my finger on one thing that healed me, but I believe that God placed many experiences and people in my life which allowed me to try and uncover underlying root causes of my sadness. It was how I placed my worth on my achievements; it was how I placed my worthiness on how people saw me, on how included I was; and it was my desire to be loved authentically.

I know that, if I wasn’t broken, I wouldn’t have this drive to help people now. I’m so glad that I went through what I did. I get to appreciate the most minute gifts in life now. The little moments. I have also come to appreciate the failures, knowing that they do not define me. I know that I am not just human, but I am a human, and that is a gift in itself. To be able to struggle together, to connect through struggles, to feel, to experience life, to choose, to be fully present – that is living. It’s still a struggle, but I also know that I need to acknowledge my emotions and not be ashamed of them.

Today, I live out my passions and create out of my healing wounds. A few years ago, I started my own arts business (@mindinthemountainsart) which aimed to help people heal through art. I am currently studying psychology and I aspire to become an art therapist. I am constantly figuring out the best ways to help people. I realised that it is when I am healed myself, that I can provide the best environment for people to heal. As they say, “healed people heal people”. That said, I have learnt to practice self-care routines to take care of myself every day in terms of healing and coping, to find wholeness and fulfilment, and to be authentic and present with friends and people. It’s just what we need as humans.

Here at Huddlehumans, I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to reach out to the world with content and visuals to provide helpful messages and bring people to this special community. This community is all thanks to my childhood friend and my dear brother that I never had, Viaano, who is the founder of Huddlehumans. He really surprised me by the fact that he was working on this noble initiative silently for so many years. I would have never imagined myself to be a part of something so great. Life is so full of surprises, and every day, I look forward to more. There is so much knowledge, things, people, experiences, and places to explore. I pray and hope that none of you lose your life to the lie that everyone else is perfect and that you’re alone in your suffering.

I end with this beautiful reminder:
“Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.” – Henri Nouwen

Keep huddling,​

Talya

Head of Social Media