2 months ago P.A.V.E launched our mental health podcast Real People, Honest Talks. It was a pleasure to have our very first guest Rugare, in this post you will find the transcript of her episode and above you will see the episode on spotify.
Ragure who faced a lot of criticism growing up, and her school experience was not at all favourable – she had challenges with her weight, which led her to take losing weight to extremities and impacted her self-image and mental health. In this episode, she highlights her experiences during her struggle as well as telling us how she’s overcome such adversities, with tips on how she developed her mental wellness.
Stevon: Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us today and willing to share your story with us to get us started. Will you let us know a bit of background about yourself?
Rugare: Hi, Steve. So, first of all, thanks for having me. A little bit about myself. My name is Rugare. I’m 22, originally from Zimbabwe, moved to the U.K. when I was two years old, and I’ve lived here ever since. I am a support worker; I specialize in challenging behaviour and learning disability alongside mental health in young adults and children. And I’m really excited to be here.
Stevon: You’re doing great work to support other people and it’s great to see the more of us young people out there doing what we can for society, because I believe this is something that will help us to continue moving forward. So to dive in a little bit deeper. Will you let us know what it was that you had to overcome or currently overcoming?
Rugare: Yeah, I think in my life there’s been a few things that I’ve had to kind of overcome. Unfortunately for me, they’ve all kind of happened one after the other. Like just as I’m getting over one thing, something else comes up. I think the two biggest things that I had to overcome in my life was dealing with the image that I had of myself, my body being plus sized from a very young age in secondary school and being bullied especially. And then just when I got my body right and lost a lot of weight, I went to college and then I had to deal with people bullying me for the way I speak, saying that, you know, I’m acting white. Whatever that means. It was just like mocking my accent and saying that I don’t know where I’m from.
Rugare: I do know my culture, just because I don’t speak with an African accent, I guess. So that was really hard for me to deal with because it’s kind of made me question myself and question my identity for a lot of years. You know, I spent a lot of years really trying to act black, which was really hard for me because it was a very uncomfortable time in my life trying to get people to accept me on both ends of the spectrum.
Rugare: So, yeah, those are probably the two biggest things that I’ve had to overcome in my life.
Stevon: You faced a lot of criticism from your environment and other people, and that’s really not something easy to overcome. So how did you go about overcoming it?
Rugare: Well, we’ll talk about my weight loss first.
Rugare: So, when I started high school right from year seven, all the way till I left in year 11, I always got bullied about my weight and the way I looked as well as I was a bit chubby in school. And I went to not a very diverse school. I’ll state that I was the only black girl from year seven to year 10 in my whole school. I was the only black girl. So it was not diverse at all. And it was really hard for me to fit in on that front. And then on top of that, I was getting bullied for my weight, which was even harder for me. And it really took a toll on me. It was very hard to overcome. I ended up actually losing six stone very quickly, in about five months, which is ridiculously quick to be 16 because I just wanted to work on it and I wanted to stop getting bullied so bad. I used to starve myself. You know, I used to like purge. I used to just go days without eating, just surviving on water or surviving on something stupid like 200 calories a day. And I did that consistently for five months because I was just so sick and tired of the bullying. And it wasn’t healthy because I was doing it for other people. I wasn’t doing it for myself. And hence why, you know, when I left school and I went to college, I ended up gaining most of the weight back because the people that I was doing it for, the people that I was doing it for their approval, were no longer in my life.
Rugare: And so I gained the weight back. But the good thing is during that time when I was gaining the weight, I learned to love myself, you know, I had moved to college. I had seen different people from different walks of life. And my college was very diverse. I saw, you know, black people for probably the first time in a very long time. I’ve seen like black people in one place because even like my primary school and nursery were not very diverse. And it was really fascinating to me to see that the things that I was getting bullied for in school were the things that they were getting praised for in college. And it really taught me to love myself and it really taught me that beauty is really in the eye of the beholder. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and you can’t bring yourself down just because one person or group of people don’t think you’re beautiful, because somewhere someone will always find you beautiful. So that was really enlightening to see. And it’s really brought me a long way because currently I’m still not where I want to be and my body image. But I love myself and I love who I am because I know that I am beautiful and I’ve learned to accept that.
Rugare: But also in the same light when I did go to college because it was so diverse and I was so used to a certain way of living, I did get a lot of bullying for things like the way I talk, the way I handle myself, people saying that I’m acting white and that was very hard for me to deal with. It was almost like I was having an identity crisis and that was really hard to deal with. And it’s still something that I do kind of deal with now, but just not as much I would say. But it is something that I deal with when I go to family gatherings. There are like certain members of my family that think I could be a bit more African sometimes. And it’s really hard for me to understand what they mean by that, because I do know my culture and I do speak my language. But it’s just because I have an accent, it doesn’t make me any less black now. I mean, that’s been really hard to deal with and that’s something that I’m still overcoming. But I think it’s just important to realize that you have to know who you are and know your truth. And as long as you’re confident in everything that you’re doing, then anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.
Stevon: That’s so powerful. You’ve made the most difficult leap, which is coming to terms with yourself and then accepting that love that you have for yourself despite the external things and other people’s opinions of you. And I think once you overcome that biggest hurdle. Everything will eventually fall into place, like you said, now you view yourself at a much, much better life than you did. You’re treating yourself spiritually and physically better fair play, well done for getting to that stage, because even if you’re still finding some things hard, I think that compared to not accepting yourself, that is definitely so much better. You mentioned a little bit about self-love and how you’ve managed to establish that for yourself. But along your journey, what is it that was also really effective for you? What sort of skills that you had to implement so that you can continue maintaining your mental wellness?
Rugare: I think for me, the things that I had to implement into my life was just reminding myself every day that I’m beautiful. Even if it was, I went through a phase of doing Post-it notes, just writing positive things about myself, like I like your smile. You know, you have nice teeth, your hair is nice, you’re a good person. You’re kind to people just writing that on Post-it notes and sticking it in in a place that you’ll always look at. For me, it was my mirror. And just reading that every morning and just reminding yourself that if no one else tells you this, that you can tell yourself it and you have to believe it as well. That’s the thing. Like don’t just write things on a Post-it note that you feel like you’re meant to say to yourself, write things that are true to you, things that you know about yourself because you have to love yourself first before anyone else can love you. And I think that’s one coping mechanism that really got me through and helped me to get to the point where I am today, where I can walk down the street with my head held high, even though I might not be as high six. But I’m still confident in myself.
Rugare: Another thing is also just to make sure that even if you are on a weight loss journey, because there’s nothing wrong with losing weight, but what your motivation is, if your motivation is other people or thing, then it’s never going to work, because once that thing or that person leaves, you’re just going to relapse.
Rugare: You have to do it for yourself first. And if it’s not for your first, then maybe you shouldn’t do it. Or you need to look into the real reasons why you are embarking on such a journey.
Rugare: Because weight loss for me, a lot of it was mental because it’s easy to eat healthy and exercise, but it’s hard to actually change your mindset about how you feel about yourself. I mean, I lost six stone very quickly and I still hate my reflection in the mirror because I never learned to love myself along the way. And it’s crazy that now when I’ve gained probably all of that weight back, I love myself more than I ever have when I was at my smallest because I didn’t, I didn’t see myself as beautiful because all I saw was, no, I don’t look like that girl or this girl. I’m not beautiful yet. But the truth is I was always before. So losing weight is really a mental thing. You need to love yourself at your worst so that you can love yourself even more at your best. So those would be my top tips. You know, pull yourself with positivity. If you have to write it down, write it down and read it yourself every morning. If you think that’s a bit too intimate for you, then, you know, work on work on your mental health, because that’s the most important thing is your mental health.
Stevon: Mm hmm. Thank you so much for that. Like, I think what you said was important about writing something that doesn’t feel conflicting, because if you feel like that statement doesn’t sit right with you, how are you meant to believe it for yourself? In fact, like the act of trying something different, such as these notifications for yourself. I think if you have you said you mentioned motivation. If your motivation posts are not motivating you, it’s it’s almost working against you because you’re feeling more out of place by putting a statement that you don’t believe in.
Rugare: Yeah, and it’s a lot of pressure on yourself as well, if you don’t believe in it, to try and force yourself to believe it. You just put in more stress and more pressure on yourself to be someone that is not true to you.
Stevon: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I don’t think you’ve mentioned this. So I’m going to ask, what was your communication with other people like when you were going through these struggles? What what did your support system look like?
Rugare: My support system was. I am a person who, likes to figure things out for myself, so in terms of my support system, I wouldn’t say I didn’t have one, but I didn’t allow myself to have one. I am someone who prefers to just deal with things on my own because I really wanted this to be a personal journey to me. So I would say that a support system is a good thing to have if you need it.
Rugare: But if you don’t need it, don’t feel like you need one. But if you need it, it’s definitely a good thing to have. I had people who knew about my weight loss journey and everything, and they were really supportive of me.
Rugare: But personally, I just.
Rugare: I like to do things on my own, so I would say my biggest support was myself.
Steve: thank you for sharing that, because I’m sure there’s plenty more people out there like yourself that like to deal with these personal reflections by themselves but does so much power within being able to overcome those type of challenges by yourself, because it’s not easy. It’s really not easy trying to motivate yourself and persevere and build your own resilience all by yourself when these things are happening, you know?
Rugare: And also, I could just say that, like you said, it’s definitely not easy. And if if you’re someone who feels like, you know, you can do this on your own at the same time, in the same breath, I would like to say never be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s like a third party who doesn’t know you. I myself have had therapy, I’ve had counselling, and I found it very useful and very helpful. And it’s just even though I like doing things by myself, it’s always nice to know that there’s someone to talk to if you ever do need it. And a counsellor is a really good person to go to because they’re always they’re never going to judge you and never be afraid to open up as well, because I can guarantee they probably heard it before. So yeah, if you are someone who likes to do things yourself, don’t take on too much by yourself as well. Always speak to someone when you need to.
Steveon: That’s powerful, that’s powerful. Thank you so much for that. Before my last question, I just want to know, where can we find you on social media?
Rugare: I guess Instagram is the best place. My Instagram is Natia X, X and Y as H, a x x brand.
Stevon: Thank you. Thank you so much. OK, so because you’ve had such a tricky upbringing, what would you say to your younger self if you met her?
Rugare: Oh, what would I say to my young self, I would tell her, I would tell myself to love yourself, accept yourself. I know that you are beautiful, you are worthy and you’re a good person and just believe that I really believe that because it will make your life so much healthier. You’ll feel so much more fulfilled and your mental health will be a lot better if you would just believe that you are worthy, but you are beautiful. I would also I would also tell myself to just relax sometimes.
Rugare: Just relax, don’t overthink everything. Just keep doing you because you’re a good person and you’re beautiful no matter what anyone says.
Rugare: And yeah, always, always put yourself first and your mental health first before anyone else.
Stevon: That’s so great. Thank you so much. And yes, Rugare, you are beautiful. I appreciate you so much for doing this with me.
Rugare: It’s no problem. It’s been great doing this.
Thanks for reading Rugare’s powerful story and journey. This episode and our many other episodes covering a range of topics and stories are available on every major streaming service including spotify, Apple and anchor plus many more. Just type in real people, honest talks.
Be sure to follow our instagram for more podcast content and keep up-to-date with our other projects. Our business P.A.V.E is currently creating a workbook for children regarding mental wellbeing. We are also currently planning and designing an e-course for mental health in business. Plus we also will continue to share feel good recipes because healthy food leads to a healthy mind. So if you dont want to miss any of this remember to follow.