“Depression feels like complete numbness,” starts Sheikha Majda Al Sabah. “The lack of feelings and a lot of dark ideas roaming in my head as if I’m trapped in a very dark room with no exit sign.”
Everyone has their own mental health journey, but few are as candid about their internal struggles in the Middle East as this Kuwaiti beauty entrepreneur. After experiencing a personal battle with depression, Al Sabah found her “purpose in life” by co-founding the ASAP Initiative, a private campaign committed to increasing mental health awareness and investing in related initiatives.
“I wish that I knew more about the symptoms,” said Al Sabah. “I wish that there was an awareness in society in terms of the types of disorders, the kinds of therapies, and that was the main reason why we started our initiative.”
Providing access to regional resources, collaborating with designers, and publicly speaking out at events and in the media, Al Sabah is on a mission to correct misconceptions about mental illness and advocate for societal change, inspiring many others to join her in the movement to destigmatize mental health disorders in the Middle East.
Al Sabah is one of the many powerful women who participated in the inaugural WILL Summit last week at the Rosewood Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Presented by Nervora, Vogue Arabia, UN Women, and the General Women’s Union, the all-day event sponsored by Neutrogena and Bulgari promoted female empowerment in the Arab world, providing a platform for influential women to share their success stories and visions of equality in the future.
Far more than just a hot-button topic, meaningful conversations about mental health are beginning to occur at all levels and people are actively incorporating wellness techniques into their daily lives, tending to dedicate as much time to their emotional health as their physical. Although “we got a long way,” Al Sabah has begun to see this transformation firsthand as well as the effort individuals are making to understand their unique mental states.
“I know that there is light somewhere and I took the journey to leave this dark place to the light,” concludes Al Sabah. “I’m still struggling every day and this is normal, this is life. No one deserves to stay in this dark place. Everyone should enjoy their lives.”