"Where are you from?" - someone asks me for the first time in our first meeting. I stutter for a bit at the answer, trying to quickly process in my head whether to say if I'm Australian or Vietnamese.
Growing up in the city of Brisbane, I've always been proud of my cultures. But sometimes I am torn between the two cultures and deciding which I feel I identify myself more as is, in fact, quite difficult and makes me feel torn between the two cultures.
I love Australia. I love the weather, I love the people and the vibrant cities and activities that the places has to offer. It's an amazing country to be part of and I'm proud to call myself an Australian citizen.
For Vietnamese culture; I love the history (not saying Australia doesn't have one), the food, the people and especially visiting back to the country itself helps me get a feel of the real culture that it has to offer.
It just feels a bit wrong sometimes to say I am Australian, and not Vietnamese. It makes it sounds like I'm trying to say to the other person that one culture is better than the other.
The main trouble with myself is that every time I get asked this question, "Where are you from?", I also want to sometimes explain to them all day that I am Australian by paper but I also can sometimes identify myself as Vietnamese as well. But of course, everyone is running out of time and not have all day to listen to me and ramble on about my troubles with cultural identity and the like.
Tuan Thai Photography
Michelle Fleur Photography
Holding the aluminium sheets of medications I was about to open, I take a moment; just the slightest moment to really try to think this is what I really wanted to do: to end my life. To end it all with overdosing on medications.
This isn't the first time I have tried to attempt suicide in my room. It's something that seem to come by as now a "normal" behaviour of mine it seemed. Knowing the fact that I'll leave everything behind: my passion for fashion, my family, my friends and my dreams and goals. The "happy" person, Suzanne, no longer wants to be part of this world.
I am writing this at this moment where I have just overcome another hurdle for this season and which that was the suicidal attempt I experienced in my very own bedroom a couple of nights ago. I did not manage to overdose, or else I wouldn't be capable of writing this blog post for my readers.
It was the self-talk that saved me.
It was not the phone call to my best friend, or to the hospital.
I looked at myself into the mirror and simple told myself, "You are beautiful, you are an inspiration" whilst crying my hearts out. No matter how much I didn't want to believe the positive affirmations, I still, in fact, found myself looking into the makeup mirror and whispering out those affirmations.
Lonely nights at home seem to trigger a lot of things in my mind, as it's quiet mainly. I try to occupy myself with studies, work, seeing friends and the like to help keep my mind busy. As we all know, our own mind can be our own enemy.
I attended the Ipswich Fashion Festival Gala Evening 2015 on Friday 25th September for the second year in a row. It just gets better and better each year. I loved the entertainment from Those Tap Guys in between fashion shows. It was all very entertaining. As outlined and promised in the program; there were delicious canapés, entertainment and glamorous fashion from student to emerging designers etc. There were many different types of fashion to see from recycled wear, evening wear and bridal. I loved everything to be honest. The event was well organized and people were ushered in at 7pm or so and finished a bit before 9pm. I also received a photo frame which I loved in the goodie bag! Here are some of my favourite snaps from the night though:
Above: Love the gypsy style look from Tengdahl
Above: BORA does it again with amazing details
Above: Extraordinary millinery
Above: One of the entries for the SESSION STYLE HAIR DESIGN AWARDS
Above: Winner of the SESSION STYLE HAIR DESIGN AWARDS
Above: One of the entries for the PFAFF STUDENT FASHION DESIGN AWARDS
Above: An amazing millinery piece for the ASPIRE FASHION DESIGN AWARDS
Above: The 400 Co – an amazing corporate look!
Above: When Freddie Met Lily! Look at that pop of blue! Photography by Lyle Radford Photography
Above: Love When Freddie Met Lily clothing - Photography by Lyle Radford
Above: Love viewing bridal dresses. Look at the lace!
Above: Amazing win from Alexandra Bell from Xandra Bell The Label for the PFAFF STUDENT FASHION DESIGN AWARDS
Photography by Suzanne Dang unless otherwise stated
It's important to support your fellow designers and fashionistas in the fashion industry. But there's nothing even more important to give them continued support with their work in my opinion. I think that's what I'm lacking in the fashion industry. I go to these once-off events but I don't really follow up with the designers and models etcetera as much as I would like and do collaborations with them. Anyway, I went to the The 400 Co. Opening Store Launch on Thursday night 24th September and it is such a beautiful store. Everyone has to check it out. It's located next to Gucci on Edward St (how amazing is that!). There was a sweet station and champagne/sparkling water on arrival which I loved. Here's a glimpse of the my evening at The 400 Co:
Above: The 400 Co has come from a long way, I'm remember attending one of their first fashion event! Congratulations Laura Chong!
Above: Sweet Station
Above: Lucy Mae- Model at the Sweet Station
Above: One of my favourite outfits on the wall!
Above: Suzi from The Armored Club, Sandra from Sandra Carvalho Blog, Caitlin Bennett from Sundholm Style
Photography by Suzanne Dang
Network/Contact with The 400 Co.:
Phone Number: 0412 916 804
Address: 188 Edward St, Brisbane
Life isn't easy. We all know that. We have to work hard towards our goals and if we have any at the time. It sometimes phases me that for someone like me who have all these problems that it can sometimes be easier to die and end it all. Yes, I have attempted suicide before. I first hit myself with a rock against my head when I was 14. Didn't pass out or anything. It hurt, and it stopped me there. And I'm glad it did. I have so much to live for now. Cause life in itself is beautiful and it is precious to have life and be able to function. I believe everyone's struggles make themselves stronger as a person and it's up to them to decide whether they want to make positive changes in their life. Though in saying that, when I was really depressed and suicidal, I had reasons why I wanted to die:
1. Life is hard. Life isn't worth living for anymore
When I'm in this state, I don't have any clear views of what I want to achieve in life anymore. There is an emptiness that overwhelms and overcomes me. It lasts for a long time. Sure, I do think of my family, friends, or even pets I may have that are there for me. But sometimes people don't understand that it's easier to end it all. You feel like a burden to all your loved ones, for putting them through what you've done to them or so.
2. I feel like a big burden
This is a big one. Being a burden is normal for those who are depressed to feel this way about their health conditions. Some may even run away from their loved ones, away from their homes when they would be better off staying with their loved ones. I haven't personally run away yet, mainly cause I'm not too game enough to.
3. I am worthless, I am hopeless
Negative thoughts play a big part in my problems. The voices in my head are really important and what I tell myself each day is very vital to my mental health. Feeling worthless and hopeless in life just made me wanted to commit/attempt suicide even more. But of course some people don't understand this. They just want you to snap out of it which is ridiculous.
The 400 Co. promised in the facebook event that it will be an extremely well-coordinated event tonight, and I must say I don't disagree with that statement. It was simply amazing. Here I am sharing my experiences with you with this fantastic event that took place in the fancy Soleil Pool Bar even though I should be resting from my flu but this blogpost is too good to share. There were delicious canapés, welcome cocktail drinks (well - I don't drink so I got a mocktail instead), live entertainment and "one hell of a fashion show". I loved the setup. It was a runway shaped out with flower pots, it was just so beautiful...so beautiful I ended up asking Laura if I could take the flowers home for grandma! I enjoyed this lovely evening seeing familiar faces again. Laura Chong's fashion events never disappoints me, and I look forward to seeing her outfits again on the runway at the Ubermen launch tomorrow night too:
Above: The signature 400 cocktails on arrival
Above: But nothing beats my mocktails (mwaha)
Above: The beautiful runway setup! Amazing real flowers, aren't they?
Above: VIP seating
Above: Up close of the flower pots
Above: Amazing media wall!
Above: Guests start arriving to this exclusive fashion show
Above: That cut-out <3 - Austen Dress
Above: Rachel Fulton models in the Elanor Dress
Above: Lucy Mae looking gorgeous
Above: That print <3
Above: Rosie Luik wears this stunning The O Dress looks great on her
Above: Lucy Mae wears the Mayer Shirt
Above: Rachel Fulton models the Chancellor Suit and Ita Cami Blouse
Above: Rachel again models the Mia Crop Blouse
Photography by Suzanne Dang
I feel I haven't written and been keeping up to date with my mental health blogposts/videos lately. So I'm trying my best tonight to squeeze out a story for you guys. I want to say that my experiences in the psychiatric/mental health ward was definitely different to everyone else's. Everyone goes through different experiences each day and respond to it differently. There were some ways I regret of doing/thinking while I was down in the ward:
1) I thought I was the worse patient
This could be interpreted in different ways. I thought I was the patient with the worse condition and everyone should feel sorry for me. I don't feel that way anymore though. I believe at the beginning I was a stubborn, and bitchy patient. I didn't want to listen to what anyone said to me at the time. But of course there's more to that, I just wanted to be understood at the time. With having new diagnoses at the time years ago, I had feelings of guilt and shame and more in me.
2) I always over-exaggerated the situation
The patient who pushed me into the wall deserved to be put in the HDU (High Dependecy Unit - believe me, you don't want to go there) I felt. I cried so much after the patient pushed me into the wall. I didn't want the patient to get away with it. I was glad the patient was moved to HDU after the patient attacked one of the head nurse. On another note, I remember I didn't want stop washing my hands cause I wanted a new diagnosis of OCD. I was then quickly caught by one of the nurses who physically stopped me and I shrieked and yelled back at him for touching me and getting into my personal space. I was bizarre. I was not my usual self.
3) I seeked constant attention
My first month of my first psychiatric hospitalisation, I was put on something called "Constance" where a nurse was there to care for me, watch me eat, drink, use the bathroom etc. Everywhere I go I basically had a nurse following me around. After I was put off it, I felt the urge or/and the need for my life to have that constant attention/care again from the nurses.
Above: Photography by Elizabeth Grinter
Jessica Laughton Smith is a model of all different types, actress and National Finalist of Miss World Pageant 2015. She loves fashion, enjoy keeping an active and healthy lifestyle and will be representing Queensland for Miss World 2015. I spend a few minutes interviewing this gorgeous and talented young lady:
SD: So Jessica, what made you decide to join the Miss World Pageant?
This is my second year competing for Missworld Australia. I competed last year on a whim after seeing it online and thinking "why not?". The journey to national finals last year was not easy and it took an incredible amount of hard work getting there but once I was there, I felt like I had found my place. I learnt so much from Peter Sereno (owner of Dear Pageant Girl) who coached us all and I felt like it would have been a waste of the new knowledge I gained to not come back. Miss World is an incredible system that supports women and gives them a platform to give back to the community. My goal in coming back for 2015 is to take home the title of Missworld Queensland and revamp pageantry at a state level. I want to help create a program here in Queensland that aims to inspire next years girls to work hard both within the community and within themselves.
SD: If you could describe three positive words about yourself, what would they be?
I'm ambitious, creative and happy!
SD: Who is your biggest inspiration in your life at the moment, and why?
My biggest inspiration in my life will always be my mum. She passed away a few years ago from cancer and making her proud is my motivation for all that I do.
SD: You mentioned in your public figure Facebook profile that you do modelling, and so what is your favourite part of modelling?
I firstly consider myself an actress, so modelling for me is an extension of that. I love getting into a character for a shoot and working with a team of creative people to create a beautiful set of images. I haven't always been a confident person, but modelling has helped me learn to love the skin I'm in.
SD: If you could give just one inspirational or/and positive quote, what quote would you give to future pageant participants?
Don't get too caught up in the competition. At the end of the day, only one girl can be Missworld Australia but if you use the opportunity correctly, you can come away with new friendships, experiences and skills that will be with you forever.
Jessica's social media presence:
Facebook Public Figure:
I am very excited to do this interview with HANA as I was lucky enough to have witnessed her beautiful designs showcas at FASHFEST Canberra 2015. I am a big fan of her work and efforts. They are amazing designs with a touch of Persian to them. It is also Neda Alemohammad's (the designer) first time to showcase at MBFF Brisbane 2015 this year in August. I spend a few minutes with Neda interviewing her for the upcoming big Brisbane fashion event.
SD: Neda, who and what inspires you the most in making your designs?
I immigrated from Iran to Australia around one and half year ago and I was exposed to the pure nature of Australia. My inspiration comes from Australian nature and I integrated it with my Persian background and that's why I named my collection "Immigration" as it gives my first impression of this country.
SD: Where did you study to pursue your dream?
I studied IT, however I was always interested in art. I took part in some fashion courses in Canberra and I will continue it in the future. What I believe is that I need always to learn new things, as each learning gives me more passion and inspiration to create a new design.
SD: Does fashion design run in your family?
If so, tell me about it more. No not at all. Fashion is not very open and wide in Iran as women are dictated by government what to wear, however in recent years there are a lot of designers who try to make this obligation a bit more tolerable by making it more colourful and fashionable. I have been a fashion designer in Iran since 2007.
SD: What should be expected differently from the collection for Fashfest Canberra 2015 to MBFF Brisbane 2015?
I will showcase some of the collection of Fashfest but I will also add some new designs.
SD: What are some of your short term and long term goals for your fashion design career?
My short term goals are to learn as much as I can and improve my knowledge and business. I hope I can make myself know to Australian people by making ethical Australian made garments. My long term goal is to be an international designer.
Above: A snippet of HANA designs at FASHFEST Canberra 2015. Photography and videography and editing by Suzanne Dang
Find out more about HANA through these links:
Also buy your tickets to watch HANA latest collection at MBFF Brisbane this year in the NEXT Hotel Next Gen Group Show too! I will certainly be there! :)
Understanding someone with a mental illness/es is a hard one. It takes a lifetime for someone to understand someone else's condition I would say. You don't just meet someone and the person with the condition tells you about their struggles and you say you understand what they're going through. Unless you've been in similar situations such as hospital admissions and similar diagnoses but even that there's not full understanding in my opinion. My normal friends got it tough. But I'm going to say I have it tougher. I have been through a lot, and although there's no point in dwelling in the past, the past has been journeyed and there's no way I can change that. What I can change is the way I think and the way I react to certain things. Like when someone tells me to 'Chin up' and 'Snap out of it', especially when I'm in an episode, it simply doesn't help. On normal days I just shrug it off and don't care about explaining my situation. But on those terrible days I just want to be understood and not be told those unhelpful statements said above. So what do my good friends say when I'm in an manic episode?
1. "We'll go through this hell together"
No one wants to be alone. No one wants to be misunderstood and for me having mental illnesses it's easy to feel lonely in your own mind and time. I learnt that recovering from mental illnesses has nothing to do with strength but it includes having a good routine of sleep, a good diet, exercise, and a healthy support network such as love from family and friends.
2. "I love you. I care about you."
How often have I have been in an episode and received a lot of love and care from my support network? A lot. Whether that's in a form of written text on card or over Facebook msg, it can mean a lot to me. For someone to just say that, it touches me on a very deep level. I think it's something that gets missed telling to loved ones everyday and it can be taken for granted for.
3. "Are you ok? What happened?"
Instead of jumping to quick assumptions about what happened, good friends ask these questions to confirm everything is ok and they truly want to know what actually happened. People can normally be quick to judge (even I can be a victim of this).
So there you have it. I have compiled three not-so-detailed points about what good friends say when I'm in a manic episode. I can think of more but I'll leave it to next time.