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  • Why I Choose To Be Happy


    Photo by Erin Smith 

    I told in a recent interview with SBS (Vietnamese) that I didn't set out to be a mental health blogger. I never set out to be excluded from Nursing in University. If anything, I set out to become a registered nurse and help as many people as I can professionally. When I was excluded from nursing, I mentioned in the interview that it was my most traumatic experience in my life back then. I care about what others thought about me; my family, my friends. I never want to be an emotionless shell who doesn't get affected by what others think about me, especially from family and friends. I asked myself - how was I going to take care of my grandparents if I cannot take care of my career and myself? How can I be a good granddaughter which they raised me to be? 

    There's not much I can do in terms with the past, I have to accept the past cannot be changed. But I can change is my choice to be happy. I can choose to look at the past, and sure, it was a hard struggle, it was a good fight. I wouldn't be here today if I didn't have those negative experiences, and I choose to not let those experiences affect me negatively, and that's why I choose to be happy these days. I choose to look at my future, at the promises God has for me. What He has in store for me. I choose to respond to it in a positive way. Sure, I do get flashbacks from time to time again from my negative experiences and trauma I faced, but I cannot let it consume me. It's that simple. If anything, those experiences have made me become more resilient in life.

  • My Interview with SBS Vietnamese (English Translation)


    Original Article

    1. Your growing up journey in Australia as a Vietnamese second generation in Australia?

    Growing up in Australia and of Vietnamese background, I always believed in always connecting with your roots and heritage. My grandparents raised me after my parents divorced and they played a huge role in keeping my cultural identity. Although I did not have many Vietnamese friends when I was younger, I believed with the help of my grandparents, I got to learn about the values, morals and beliefs of a Vietnamese person, as well as the language. I learnt the importance of family, and the value of working my hardest and to never give up. Australia has such a vast variety of cultures, being a multi-cultural nation, I also got a glimpse into the food and culture presented in the Vietnamese cultural events in Australia too.

    2. Your profession (your study major)?

    On my third year of a Bachelor of Nursing, I was excluded from nursing for academic reasons in 2010. I felt this was one of my biggest traumatic failures in life, and although I couldn’t graduate, I did instead try to find employment to have a sense of belonging in the community. I miraculously found a job and worked as a nurse assistant specifically for people with spinal cord injuries for three years, and didn’t really enjoy that too, so I left. Although I haven’t had much luck with my tertiary studies and employment, I still love the idea of studying and making education a top priority in my life, as I believe in life-long learning. I have had the pleasure to take glimpses and enrolled into other tertiary studies such as; Fashion Design, Photography and Sociology too.

    3. Why do you choose to work in the mental health field?

    I never planned to be an advocate for mental health, it was always meant to be with the grace of God, and one of God’s miraculous plans for the greater good that despite through all the pain of my academic failures in life, I am able to achieve something and help others through the power of story-telling. Although being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I, I have suffered a lot of pain, not just mentally, but emotionally too, but only through the strength of God, I can have an interest in mental health, because being in the mental health ward for almost eight times now, I have seen people from different spectrums of life and I want to see what I can do to help them through my suffering too, give them hope that they can recover from mental health issues. I believe people with mental illnesses can recover too, and I just want to set an example.

    4. Why do you choose social media platforms to promote your work?

    At first, it was more of a cry for help. I began using social media as a cry for help in sharing my stories to others and I use it to give myself a voice for those who don’t have one. From then on, I expanded out using the platforms to share safe mental health information, especially on my blog, cause not all mental health information is safe and effective to help others online.

    5. Working as a mental health advocate, what are the common mental health symptoms you have often faced with, especially for young people?

    I am no doctor or mental health professional, but young people have so many pressures from life these days, I have met young people in the mental health ward who are as highly functional as me, and because their symptoms get in the way, I think they are unable to recognise it soon enough and get the help they need. Something as little as getting out of bed can be the hardest thing for a young person to do, not getting enough sleep, and disconnecting with their social circles are some of the things I noticed.

    6. You're also a fashion, beauty blogger. Are there any links between fashion, beauty and mental health in your work?

    Again, I did not set out to be a blogger of very different interests, especially in being a mental health blogger. I think it’s important to always be open-minded to different things in life, and take what you need from it, and turn it into how you can help others. When I attend fashion events, I always introduce myself as a mental health and fashion blogger, emphasising on the mental health part and also say that through my journey of Bipolar I hope to give hope and light to those who are suffering from something similar.

    7. Working in the mental health field, have you ever feel stressful?

    Yes, of course. I attended a youth mental health workshop one time, and I ended up feeling so stressed that I ended up in the mental health ward a few days later. But I received a lot of support during and after the workshop, plus many follow-up calls and messages from the youth mental health organisation which was great. I learnt a lot from that experience, I learnt it’s not about how much strength you can muster up to work or volunteer in mental health, but more about knowing yourself and recognising your triggers when things go sour (for example I called the Mental Health Department at hospital and Lifeline that I needed help). It’s about taking baby steps to getting the help you need.

    8. I heard that you were nominated for Best Bupa Blog Awards? Also you were invited for a role of 'Conference Consultant' at the 12th Biennial Asia Pacific International Mental Health Conference. Can you talk more about this?

    I am blessed to have the opportunities and finding different ways of getting my work out there. I was nominated for the BUPA Blog Award “Health” category, and the conference was my first time accepting the role as a ‘Conference Consultant’, but unfortunately I could not attend the three-day event for health issues, and being in the hospital. I just helped with sharing information about the conference through the use of my social media platforms though, that’s all.

    9. Do you have any plan for the near future? (For example expand your work)

    I plan on recovering to the fullest. I want to heal from my mental health issues, and although I am better, I feel there’s always room for self-improvement. Learning to practice self-compassion, self-love, self-gratitude; and taking small steps in life every day, and taking it easy.

  • Dating A Girl With A Mental Illness pt II


    Photo by Kaitlin Maree Photography

    Hold her when she is crying, when words no longer work. Acknowledge the fact you cannot fix anything at the time, but you are there to support her. You can only do so much. Tell her of all the good qualities she has such as, she is kind. She is beautiful, and wonderful as she is. Understand and mention that you are always on this journey with her, and that God always protects her and loves her for who she is. Be active in her progress in her recovery, and cheer her on for every good step of the way. 

    Be supportive and encouraging, always.

    When things get tough, and it feels like neither of you understands each other; take a breather, and re-evaluate and see that you are not letting your emotions and feelings dictate the choices you make for each other. It's okay for both to embrace solitude, but not isolate each other. Be creative in her recovery, not just like the visual arts; but be pro-active in her journey, not overwhelming her with too much information, as it can be overwhelming. 


    Photo by Kaitlin Maree Photography

  • 3 Positive Things I Learnt From Living With Bipolar

    There is still a lot of stigma around mental illnesses. Although it's getting better, we still face these challenges - for example, with everyday conversation - how easy it is to say "Good" to the typical question we see every day when meeting someone new, "How are you?", when deep down in ourselves we are not actually ok and actually need someone to listen to us. Even from a stranger at times, cause why not. How often do we find in this rushed society, it is hard to meet a stranger who actually genuinely cares about you and your mental health? And what actually would happen if we answered, "No, I am not ok." and the self-stigma we may face that prevents us from continuing that conversation? Living with Bipolar Disorder Type I has many disadvantages, I am challenged every day with myself whether to share to a stranger I meet on the streets that I have Bipolar Disorder on those "I"m-not-OK-days". I ask myself, am I putting myself up for trouble by sharing 'too much' about myself? Why am I trying to connect with this person in this way? Cause I do find I have the tendency to share more about myself than the average person, not in an egotistical way, but more like my struggles in life and so on. But in the midst of all the disadvantages of oversharing to a stranger (and perhaps the dangers in it), on the lighter side, I found five positive things I learnt since being diagnosed with Bipolar:

    Photo by Erin Smith Photography

    1. The better people stay in your life

    And the people who don't understand you won't. I have lost a lot of friends in this fight with Bipolar. But I have also found some very genuine, and authentic friends as well. I am lucky and blessed to be surrounded by positive people.

    2. Your creativity in art heightens

    I always had an appreciation for art, but it grew since being in and out the mental health ward almost eight times now that I am learning to appreciate it even more. When I think about my art, I think about my photography, my painting, my mindfulness colouring-in. It's all very therapeutic.

    3. You have more insight into yourself

    I'm becoming more self-aware with my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I act on them much sooner if I sense something unhealthy is about to come my way. When I feel suicidal, I have self-coping mechanisms like praying. If they're not working, I reach out for support such as Lifeline 13 11 14 and talk through it with a counsellor, if need be.

    All photos by Suzanne Dang unless stated otherwise

  • 5 Reasons To Look Up And Be Hopeful


    Photo by @alexatepaper

    1. Because you are loved, and cherished

    Know that no matter how much emotional and mental pain you are in, someone out there is thinking about you. They accept you for who you are, they don't care how you wore your makeup that day, what you thought you said that might have sounded 'stupid' or 'bad'. You are accepted for who you are as a beautiful, human being.

    2. Because things will get better

    Know that you have a bright future ahead of you, and every challenge and milestone; small or big, it will shape you for who you are. You may feel deflated, tired, anxious from all the noises of life, and it's dragging you down but know that when you are dragged down to the point you can't get up, you will learn to crawl, yell, or even scream through the pain and get right up where you need.

    I wouldn't be here if I didn't go through the trials and tests that life throws at me, even it means going to hospital and be admitted into the mental health ward. The mental health ward tested my willpower and I didn't go by a day thinking, "I want to give up already". So I screamed, cried and even yelled through it if I needed to, to get the help I wanted.

    3. Because every challenge will make you stronger

    They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You are to the point you are ready to give up, you want the exit emergency door, you want to scream out and yell to the world why life has been so unfair to you and you don't understand why. 

    But you know what?

    Your 1% battery (like an iphone) lasts in the last very minute of time, you use it to get the help you want. You learn to master an episode of Depression or Bipolar. You know when you start feeling depressed and down and you seek help straight away, whether that's medical or from a family/friend. Your 1% willpower wins all. And at the end of the day, you become stronger.

    4. Because you have a story to tell

    Everyone has a story to tell, and you will inspire and empower those around you who may have gone through the same thing as you. You understand their journey of being diagnosed with mental illnesses and you empathise them and help them cause you know what it's like to be in the deepest, and darkest pits of despair. You believe in the art of story-telling and helping others.

    5. Because we are all in this together

    Our lives are limited to less than 100 years. Only some of us have the fate and luck to live to that long, but know that while we are all still living and breathing, there will be people who will help you with what you need, your destiny will change as soon as you believe it will get better. You have the support you want and need.

    So just look up, and be hopeful.

  • How I Won A Friendship With Negative 200 Dollars


    I received a distressed phone call early in the morning. It was one of my friends, who had a bad incident and experience. I was about to head to bed, and be knocked out from my medications I take for my Bipolar Disorder. I listened out in the phone call and tried to think of how I could help. As soon as my friend said she wanted to go home, and she tried contacting her boyfriend and family, but no one could pick up, I knew it was up to me to do something. 

    I didn't hesitate for even a moment at the time to call Uber and fetch her where she was over an hour away or so. I had absolutely no money in my account, my account was already in the negative. I thought to myself, what if my friend was about to go in danger? What if something happened to her and I didn't act in time when I could have?

    I wanted to sacrifice my money, which I hold so dearly (even though I don't have much!) every day and help a friend in need. Helping a friend/saving a life is more important than money and material things in life. After all, we are all in this world of madness together. Let's help each other out, and not be selfish in our own ways. 

    Though I do think that a lot of people may think I am stupid for making this decision in my life, and my financial planning is not as planned out as everyone else's. But I have no regrets. I have won and influenced a friend in a good way, and I would give all the money in the world to help a friend in need. By the grace of God, I will be able to overcome this financial madness I put upon myself in due time too.

  • Infinity Fashion Runway

    The Infinity Fashion Runway happened on November 25 this year, and guests were welcomed in from 7pm. Dazzled with Infiniti's luxury cars and tables filled with scrumptious cakes and desserts, it was an event I could not miss. Guests were entertained with a fabulous fashion show with different designers, ranging different styles such as from bridal, avant garde, ready to wear and to menswear as well. As guests entered the venue at Infiiniti, many photographers (runway and media wall) were readily able to capture the guests in their glamorous outfits. It was an overall fantastic night for everyone, and even guests were getting up on the runway to have their 'moment'. While some guests were entertained with a pop-up bar and delicious canapes, a pop-up photobooth was available and also a photoshoot area with a shimmering backdrop where guests can take photos of themselves at a unique backdrop. Here are some photos from the wonderful night:


    Above: Guests finding their seats


    Above: The shimmering beautiful backdrop for guests to use as a photoshoot



    Above: Details of a beautiful bridal dress

    Photography by Suzanne Dang

  • My Weight Loss and Gain Journey

    Photos of myself beginning from 2007 to 2016.

    I remember in 2007, I was a very insecure girl, not confident and always had issues with my own body. I compared my own image to other girls. I believed and told myself I had the 'worst' body in high school, no matter how much I would eat, my body seemed to never gain weight.

    Fast forward a few years, I had my first episode of Depression, and started on antidepressants. My body's metabolism started to slow down, and I (joyfully) watched as my body weight increased. As I became more sedated, and the dose's treatment for my mental illness increased, my appetite increased.

    But deep down, I was hurting and angry, and asked God why did He put me in this position? I was angry at God, and so I left my church for a while. I found myself to be in more emotional turmoil, having watched myself be admitted and discharged from hospital several times already.

    As I gained more weight, I found I wanted to battle with the modelling industry I was then in and help reshape the appropriate body image of models in the industry. And try to be a role-model for younger girls and people who were interested in modelling. I helped be a role-model and hopefully inspired those who wanted to try modelling. As of this year, I found myself started to having medication withdrawals. Withdrawals so bad that I couldn't eat, see all my friends for two months and crying almost every night, and in turn, I lost 7 kgs 'naturally'. But I ended up in hospital for a month as of recent.

    I want to reach out to especially young people, whether you are on antidepressants/pharmaceutical drugs or not, there will always be a silver lining. Bodies will always change physically, it is just inevitable. My journey has been a rollercoaster of a ride for sure, and although my memory is somewhat fragmented I feel at times due to the side effects of meds, at least I still have a story to tell.

    I try to tell myself these days that there's no such definition as a 'perfect' body. I pray to God that I will always remember these words, and I ask God for his spiritual covering and protection as my body will grow or/and shrink later on and that I don't have to be on these medications for the rest of my life, so I can live a 'natural' life.


    My current self. Taken in November 2016.

  • Dear Little Suzanne, What I Should Have Told You When You Were Younger


    Photo of Little Suzanne by Unknown

    Been wanting to post this one for a long time now, but the title idea just been sitting in my notes app for ages. Although I'm feeling really vulnerable, weak in the mind, body and soul recently, I want to try and use my own energies to making thoughtful, and genuine mental health content from now on, even it means sometimes posting every few months. My blog will always still be here for you all to access, no matter how much I feel I am struggling financially to maintain it anymore. It's a service I want to donate my time and money to.

    Not Everyone Who Smiles At You Is Your Friend

    Maintaining valuable, thoughtful and genuine friendships is a lot of hard work, so you learnt. It's more than building a number of so-called friends on Facebook. It's more than attending birthdays and showering your friends with gifts. It's about being there for them when they're angry, upset, or even crying. Or even worse, in a mental health crisis. 

    Having met friends who have been sweet to you in different forms of communication in the early stages of the friendship than backstabbing you in ways that you let yourself get affected and hurt. Life is not for the weak. Anyone who is not given the right tools to make meaningful friendships and relationships in times of weakness, be it professional, business or personal, they will suffer because of it. Suffering is everywhere as we can see portrayed in the news and media. Though through weakness, finding strength can be easily found. 

    Life Is A Fight But You're A Fighter

    Having lived for twenty-five years with still a roof over your head, food in your belly, hands and feet you can use, what else and more do you need and want? You fight for your mental health every day, it's a constant battle no one wants to have. You want to build mental health awareness and you are doing it. You have made efforts to make your first mental health conference work. Finding this niche in blogging was hard, but it's working for you.

    You are open to new things in life and with careful consideration of course. Whether that's in making new friendships, or in romance. You don't always verbally say and respond everything to people say. The worse thing that can happen is regretting something you say.

    Know People Will Genuinely Care About You

    Even it means they are not physically there for you all the time. You have been crying almost every day to yourself, and for other people who you feel you have affected their lives in ways. Know that someone is always there to give a small thought about you, it doesn't have to be a gesture or anything really. You have seen people lash out at each other cause of over a small disagreement but you don't let that affect you. You don't want to be that person who lashes out at others.

    You don't have to agree with every little thing your favourite people in the world say, but it's good to trust your first instincts when someone doesn't genuinely care about you. People will change over time and be kind and be true to yourself is vital. There's a difference in taking advantage of a vulnerable one is one thing, and genuinely caring is another.

  • How I Was "Let Out" From Psychiatric Ward Without Taking Any Meds


    Photo: Tuan Thai Photography

    I was recently hospitalised down in the psychiatric ward. Again. This isn't a secret guide or anything like that if you're purely interested in how "getting out" of the Psychiatric Ward, it's just my experience and each case and person is different from each other. I just want to give a few points on how I made it out of the psychiatric ward without taking no medications at all. 

    I was suffering from short-term memory loss (I lost my wallet twice this year), hair loss, shakiness in hands, and daily constipation from the medications I was taking for the past 6 years or so. 

    If you're not aware, the psychiatric ward is a really different place. I have met some of the most fascinating people (patients-wise) yet "scary" as well. In my last admission, I was wrongly accused of stealing of another patients' pants/leggings and I was shocked to hear that same very day that my roommate was told by that patient who accused me to steal my pants at night time when I am sleeping. This shook and scared me, I thought the patient/s were playing psychological games with me. I did the right thing straight away and told the nurse and the nurse in charge about what had happened. I don't argue with patients, I am polite to them but distrust them in most ways I would like to add.

    Anyway I didn't take my/any prescribed medications when I was in the ward. I had the right to refuse as I was a voluntary patient mainly. I know the nurses loved and respected me as a patient, I would help the Bed Warden with some tasks such as making beds for new admissions for example. They know I was kind, respectful and wouldn't hurt anyone. But the doctors and nurses would still prescribe and administer me medications whenever I told them I was "anxious" and not "calm". 

    I remember in my first admission I would learn to say things the doctors and nurses wanted to hear, take the medications they prescribed no matter informed I thought I was in taking the medications I was prescribed. But this time, I wanted to do things differently and Suzanne's way...of what I think is best for my body, and of course being aware of what the doctors and nurses tell me about medications and taking care of myself at the back of my mind. I am a grown adult, I have a lot of support from family and friends and sometimes it feels I am treated like a child in there (especially in the first few admissions). 

    So I decided to stop my medications cold turkey and I was discharged earlier this week. I am able to sleep better, I don't feel sedated when I take the night medications as I also love to burn the midnight oil and work at night on things I'm passionate about in life. I study full-time, and work as well. I have been able to maintain employment longer than I used to. 

    Just saying people don't realise how highly functional I am as a "mentally ill" person. 

    This time during the admission, my room was the cleaniest (so I was told by the nurses) out of all the mental health patients in the ward, I dressed well enough that people told me I looked like a doctor or/and nurse. It was quite hilarious actually.