“I’m a massive nerd. My brain was wired by birth for me to be an engineer and I think like an engineer. I don’t like doing things I don’t understand how to do. When I’m on just a random dance floor; random music, I don’t know what to do; I just don’t do anything.
I have been struggling for a very long time with mental health. I’ve been diagnosed with general anxiety and chronic depression, and on top of all of that I also have chronic fatigue syndrome.
I spent years without diagnosis, not knowing that I had these conditions and struggling a lot. When I eventually got these diagnoses I was living in the UK. They enrolled me in a workshop for cognitive behavioural therapy, to learn how to apply it to my life. I had one-on-one sessions and these changed my life.
One of the things I learned is; I need to try to challenge these conditions that I have. I need to challenge them by doing things that I would never imagine myself doing. This is what got me into dancing.
I never imagined myself dancing before. I came from a very reserved Muslim family back in Egypt. And anxiety comes in; I’m worried about what will happen, what will I do, will I be able to do it, will I be good at it. A part of me always wants to break this… routine.
Back in the UK I was doing ballroom. I started with waltz and quick step and in Latin we did cha cha and jive. In NZ I’ve learned to dance salsa and Kizomba.
With chronic fatigue, sometimes I can’t sleep well and I could have weeks in which I’m not sleeping; well I do sleep, but I don’t get rest from it. And it can affect work and life and it affects relationships with people. I have not been to dance classes for over a year now because of that.
One of my biggest fears is the unknown; the uncertainty of things that could happen. And life is full of uncertainties; that’s the problem!
I don’t want to give in. I want to live my life. And that’s why I will always dance.”