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MENTAL HEALTH ENGLISH #SELFLOVE FIGHTING YOUR INNER BULLY Interview: Torsten Schwick Creative multitasker Mario Mendez is known as the Beauty Coach on the RBB Real- Life-TV series “Ganz Schön Berlin”. Originally from Tenerife, he studied and worked in London and eventually settled down in Berlin where he got himself a busy career as a freelance make-up artist. Like many of his colleagues, the pandemic hit him hard - and not just professionally. We talk about toxic positivity, toxic perfectionism and what #selflove is really all about. How have the lockdowns affected you, not just professionally but also personally? I was doing really well before corona. I had a lot of jobs and was doing what I love. For me, happiness is getting paid for doing what I love. And it’s something I was very proud of. I remember that I went on a holiday to Tenerife after a very busy time working and then the first news about the pandemic broke. When I got back to Berlin, it all started to collapse and I just couldn’t believe it. I realized I had no real security net and I started to panic. It’s not that I hadn’t experienced failure before, but this time was very different. Because technically I didn’t fail. The world just came to a stand-still. What happened then? I got really scared. I never thought it could happen to me because I’m usually the person to help others when they feel down and need cheering up. I’ve always been a listener. I was always tough and could focus on moving forward. But I fell into a spiral of depression and anxiety. The situation turned out to be a deadly cocktail of problems that I couldn’t deal with all at once. Then, from one day to the next, I just couldn’t stop sleeping. When I say it now it sounds really weird because I was literally just in bed, sleeping day and night. As soon as I started to think I should be doing something I got so tired again and went back to sleep. This lasted for about one month. So, what did you do to combat this? I decided to go see my doctor because it was so scary. The doctor did a complete check-up and eventually prescribed me anti-depressants. That is also something I never thought I’d need. Fortunately the medication did help me to overcome the initial stage of helplessness and get out that hole of absolute chaos. I’m still taking them and it makes me feel safe, knowing I won’t go down like I did again. And I understood that it’s ok because it can happen to anyone. What other strategies did you discover to sustain your mental health? You have to do your homework, of course. I give myself simple tasks, like drinking a lot of water, leaving the house and doing something. Slowly I found that I was actually walking again and that I will manage somehow. I also have my creative work, which is still very fulfilling. I started to paint and craft sculptures again and have found great pleasure in it. But of course not everyone enjoys this as much as I do or has the skills or resources to do it. What’s important is finding your own way to commit to yourself and finding out what makes you happy. You need to care for yourself and find what you are passionate about. How is self-care so deeply connected to selflove and why is it important to address it? You can easily get stuck in your anxiety, 40 CHECK NRW #1

MENTAL HEALTH “We are organic things, we’re not perfect. We fuck up. And that’s ok. “ Foto: Mario Mendez especially when you look outside for answers. You tell yourself that it’s because of this or that external circumstance why you’re anxious. And sometimes this is where you find it. But you also need to look inside. When your body tells you so clearly that you need to change something, you need to listen. What are you hiding from yourself? What is the real crisis happening inside of you? What issues do you need to address? What did you find out about yourself? A lot of different things. I started to ask myself how much my energy is actually worth to me. How much time and emotion am I willing to invest into something? I’m more honest with myself now. I mean, I’m preaching self-care and self-love on television, but I’m also struggling with myself. I used to get very angry with myself for not being so strong all the time. Or for not applying my beauty routine as I tell people they should. But now I stopped pressuring myself so much. I discovered that I have an inner bully who wants me to be perfect. I’ve taken away his power and won’t let him affect me anymore. Instead I say nice things to myself. So, I guess I’m finally taking my own advice to love myself as I am. Taking the edge of things and saying “I’m enough” sounds like really good advice to me … Especially in the age of Instagram! When you see all those hashtags and quotes about #selfcare and #selflove you need to make sure that you don’t force yourself to live up those psychological ideals. They may not be right for you. You need to find what works best for yourself. Toxic positivity and toxic perfectionism are on us everyday. And they are based on racist, homophobic and sexists ideas as well. Don’t analyze your own behavior by comparing yourself to others. Try to be present and listen to yourself. We are organic things, we’re not perfect. We fuck up. And that’s ok. (edits:mb) CHECK NRW #1 41

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blu, hinnerk, gab, rik, Leo – die Magazine der blu Mediengruppe erscheinen monatlich in den Metropolen Deutschlands. Die nationale Reichweite der Magazine ermöglicht den reisefreudigen Lesern Zugriff auf alle Informationen immer und überall. Themenschwerpunkte sind neben der regionalen queeren Szene, Kultur, Wellness, Design, Mode und Reise. Unsere Titel sind mit der lokalen Community jahrzehntelang gewachsen und eng verbunden, was durch Medienpartnerschaften mit den CSD-Paraden in Hamburg, Berlin, München und Frankfurt sowie zahlreiche Kooperationen, wie der Christmas Avenue in Köln, seinen Ausdruck findet.