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Yasmin Jasmy, founder of digital platform for personal development and mental health resources, Pause, shares the lessons she has learned from her own struggle with anxiety and depression

In her childhood and early teens, Yasmin Jasmy was often described as a bright and bubbly student who loved the stage, performing and singing at every opportunity. But as the years progressed, she found herself increasingly withdrawn, feeling like an outcast and falling into a "spiral of self-doubt and insecurities," she shares.

"It persisted for years and it got so bad that every little thing, like making a small mistake at work or a comment from a friend, would trigger these horrible thoughts in my head and I began choosing activities that were bad and dangerous for me to keep them at bay."

At 25, she finally found the courage to open up to her family and seek professional help—a difficult but pivotal moment in her life.

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Late last year, the 30-year-old launched Pause, a mission-driven digital platform that aspires to help Malaysians cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness in themselves.

From structured programs and meditation starter kits to podcasts featuring prominent figures in various industries, Yasmin has made it her mission to provide accessible and research-backed resources on how to press pause and deal with the stress and challenges that come with modern life—before they get too much. 

In the long term, she hopes that Pause can open a healthy dialogue to change the perceptions around mental health and help people embody their highest potential through recognising the role that mental health plays. “There is nothing to be ashamed of,” she asserts. 

Speaking to Tatler, she draws from her personal experience to impart some advice to those who are ready to speak to their loved ones about their struggles with mental health.

1. Acknowledge your feelings

"The first time I had a panic attack, I called the ambulance in the middle of the night and went to the hospital. When I arrived, the nurse told me that I had a panic attack but it didn’t register in my mind. I just told myself that it must have been a one-off thing because I over-exercised but then it happened again.

The stigma around mental health was so strong that I refused to admit that I was not okay, even after my body was literally telling me, like an emergency alarm. So, that’s the first thing: Be honest with yourself that you are going through something."

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2. Open up to someone you trust

"The first person I opened up to was my best friend, Liyana. I told her that I had been experiencing panic attacks and anxiety and to my surprise, she told me that she has been going through something similar without telling anybody. Everything changed for me because suddenly, I wasn’t alone. I didn’t feel ashamed or judged. We went on that journey together and built our vocabulary on how to articulate our feelings and problems, which only continued to improve when I started going to therapy.

That moment in our friendship catalysed Pause. I want it to be a community that is caring, freeing and willing to understand each other’s struggles without judgement—with empathy and compassion, instead."

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3. Stand in your truth

"On my podcast, I spoke to child psychologist, Katyana Azman, and she mentioned that the word ‘mental’ itself is so loaded and has so many negative connotations. When I first told my parents about wanting to see a therapist, my father asked, in a lighthearted tone, 'Why do you need a therapist?'.

Of course, he was ultimately supportive but that’s the prevailing perception of mental health, especially in Asia. Be prepared for that. Not everyone will be open to the conversation and that’s not their fault—but neither is it yours. Despite what anyone says, including the little voice in your head, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging and openly speaking about your struggles."

See also: How to Take Care of Our Mental Health

It will be difficult for you to see your loved one in pain and not be able to immediately fix the situation. But in truly listening, you are already helping by giving them a safe space to express themselves.
Yasmin Jasmy

Yasmin stresses on the important role that family and friends can play in cultivating a comfortable environment for people who are struggling to open up. The key is to listen.

And it cannot be a one-time thing, especially for parents with young children. “In some ways, children are more emotionally intelligent than adults. If you encourage them to speak on how they are feeling and model that behaviour, it can be immense help for them as they grow older and make it so much easier for them to open up to you.”

Yasmin Jasmy is a certified spiritual and mindfulness coach and meditation facilitator with a Master’s in Development Studies at the Institute of Development Studies in partnership with the University of Sussex.

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