Coping with Panic Attacks, the resilience of raising a son with epilepsy by Dena Mekawi

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September last year I got the official diagnosis of Nicolaides Baraitsers Syndrome Disorder for my three year old son Iman. This was the third one but the most devastating.The Epilepsy and Autism diagnoses have nothing on his Nicolaides Baraitsers diagnosis. It is a very rare disorder, there are less than 100 cases reported in the whole world, it severely impairs his cognitive and speech functioning and has shaped my experience of parenthood in a very different manner than I imagined. This last diagnosis was the rainfall that dislodged my life and caused an avalanche under which I lay buried. I was in a desolate and terrifying place. The feelings, the pain, the heavy weight to be carried came so suddenly that I wasn't prepared. Iman has had nine seizures in total and every time he seizes he fights for his life. If for some reason oxygen doesn't go to his brain he will have permanent brain damage or if a seizure lasts too long it can be fatal. Not knowing what might trigger his next seizure or what his future holds has been the root cause of my anxiety and my panic attacks. Simply put, my well being is forever connected to the well being of my son's because he means the world to me. 

 

You know that commercial about an anti depressant pill where a person who is slumped over is being followed by a gray cloud that is consistently raining on them, yeah well that isn't what depression/anxiety looks like for everyone. If that commercial was made about me it would show someone smiling, joking, laughing out loud and loving super hard. You'd also see me cry tears not just frustrated and defeated ones but also ones of joy, awe, and surprise. Anyone who follows me on social media would just assume I was fine, because my snaps have been of me galavanting all around town, no slump shoulders in sight. Depression doesn't always have visual clues, that's why it is so important to be kind always, others might be fighting a battle you can't see or understand. 

 

On some days it's hard for me not to dwell on sad and morbid thoughts. I have to will myself to focus on joy and its not always easy to shake off the gray cloud that insists on following me. I used to try to find relief solely by spiritual means ie. prayer. Although prayer is very important, and calms my soul I have learned that I need to restore a healthy balance in all aspects of my being, the spiritual, mental and physical. So far some of the things that are aiding me in climbing out of the dark hole I have been dwelling in are: 

 

1. Talking to professionals who understand my struggle and aid me by providing tools and coping mechanisms.

 

2.Exercising daily, making sure I am doing right by my body and therefore by the people who love and support me. 


3. Going to sleep at a decent time, even if it means I don't get to write during the golden hours after Iman has gone to bed. 

3.Clearing negative notions from my mind. Regulating my thoughts is no doubt a difficult task but with willpower it isn't impossible. I have to force myself to focus on the blessings I have, to ignore that desperate voice in my mind that tells me there is no hope and end in sight. 

 

4. When I feel ready, share with others my raw and honest experience to increase awareness and help others empathize with mental health struggles that are invisible to the naked eye. 

 

Add a dash of shopping, makeup, extra hugs, good news from Iman as far as his health and milestones go and tada Im managing the gray cloud a bit better

Story by Faria Khan,

Follow her journey on instagram,  @faith_no_doubt

#ACT4AWARDS: Holiday Party Celebrating diversity in arts, media and tech by Dena Mekawi

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On December 4th, 2017 CINEMATCHER, STORYSHIFTER AND STYLE & RESILIENCE hosted a HOLIDAY PARTY CELEBRATING DIVERSITY IN ARTS, MEDIA AND TECH. At an integral time, coming together to celebrate our differences, while advocating for diversity across respective fields.  Honorees Included Alek Wek, Malik Yoba, Telisa Daughtry, M. Alby Bocanegra, Maya Azucena, & Jennifer Brea.

Hosted by Dena Mekawi ( Style & Resilience ) Lisa Russell(Storyshifter), & Lauren Magura (Cinematcher).

The #ACT4AWARDS Holiday Party hosted by CINEMATCHER, STORYSHIFTER and STYLE&RESILIENCE. As three strong women founders, our mission within our companies all revolve around  encouraging diversity and social change within the arts and media industry.

STYLE & RESILIENCE is a media and lifestyle company founded by Dena Mekawi, working with brands and private sector to create more inclusivity within mainstream media driving cultural trends through style and advocacy. Using the power of media, we implement diversity initiatives through pop culture and the arts.  We are making social good the norm, redefining what it means to be a resilient leader. Founder, Dena Mekawi used her experience of self-discovery as an Arab American to work collectively. 

STORYSHIFTER is a new entertainment and creative platform for the social good powered by machine learning and data analytics.  Founded by Emmy-winning filmmaker, Lisa Russell who produces films and creative projects for UN/NGO agencies, StoryShifter houses social good creative content (films, PSAs, music, poetry) and then evaluates its members demographics, viewing habits and subsequent action steps (ie, donate to a nonprofit, support a conscious brand, sign a petition and more), providing content producers with advanced data-driven tools to promote responsible storytelling and to take social good advocacy to the next level.

CINEMATCHER,  a matchmaking app that enables users to hire and get hired for film, TV and digital projects instantly – globally, founded by Lauren Magura. Their users are calling it the ‘Tinder’ for film and TV jobs, but more importantly they encourage diversity in front of and behind the camera. The founder Lauren Magura,  has experience working in indie film production, media operations supporting numerous networks at NBC, and publicity and promotions of record breaking films at Universal Pictures. Her passion for bringing efficiency and innovation to the industry, and bridging the massive gap of connecting creative productions to local and diverse talent, put Cinematcher into motion. Lauren wants to give anyone, anywhere, with any experience level the ability to connect, collaborate and create instantly, anywhere in the world.

 

 

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Alek Wek was honored at the #act4awards where diversity & inclusion were highly celebrated. “This really means a lot to me, making choices, where you want to be, I could have been in London right now but tonight meant more to me because that's who I am," declares Alek Wek, the first black model who didn't conform to a Caucasian aesthetic, the first with an uncompromising, sub-Saharan beauty. Her industry saw her as new and exotic – a savage beauty.

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Malik Yoba was also alongside the honorees being awarded. In 1994, Mr. Yoba began his role as NYPD Detective J.C. Williams on the popular FOX police drama series New York Undercover, opposite Michael DeLorenzo. Mr. Yoba and DeLorenzo made television history, as the series was the first police drama on American television to feature two people of color in the starring roles.Mr. Yoba's work on New York Undercover earned him three consecutive NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Drama series. “The coolest part is being in the give a damn business, we live in a world now where people who where on the fringes who were disconnected, disinterested perhaps disenchanted disheartened decided now it’s time to be in the middle of the arena and get active.” 

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TeLisa Daughtry is the founder of FlyTechnista and was selected as a Finalist for Code/Interactive’s Diversity in Tech Awards. Telisa expresses “There was less resources and less visibility of women and people of color in technology, yet somehow today we have more access to gaining technical and digital skills, yet more barriers, crazy right, I am committed to breaking these barriers daily .” listed Top 50 VisionaryWomen in Tech to Watch in 2017 by Innovative Magazine, and was recognized as Change maker for Innovation & Entrepreneurship by The White House: United State of Women,in 2016.

 

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M. Alby Bocanegra is serving the people of New York Chief of Staff, Strategy & Peformance in the Mayor’Office of the Chief Tecnology Officer (NYC Tech). He specializes in talent architecture, people development, project  management, operational excellence, diversity initiatives, and workplace culture. “I learned that I’m enough,I always share the wealth, whether it’s a smile or opportunity to share. I’m always in a state of serving others, that’s why working with underutilized populations has been part of my DNA.” Alby says.

 

   Maya Azucena , a multi-award winning recording artist  and magnetically inspirational woman, is known for making music that uplifts the soul. Maya Azucena devoted significant amount of her career to human rights, and uses art as her weapon. Maya provided music for Emmy -Winning UN documentarian Lisa Russell latest film Not Yet Rain, regarding the advancement of Women’s health laws and reproductive rights in Ethiopia. “I believe in each and every single one of you, that you have the power to affect change, ” expresses Maya while receiving her ACT4AWARDS.   

 Maya Azucena, a multi-award winning recording artist  and magnetically inspirational woman, is known for making music that uplifts the soul. Maya Azucena devoted significant amount of her career to human rights, and uses art as her weapon. Maya provided music for Emmy -Winning UN documentarian Lisa Russell latest film Not Yet Rain, regarding the advancement of Women’s health laws and reproductive rights in Ethiopia. “I believe in each and every single one of you, that you have the power to affect change, ” expresses Maya while receiving her ACT4AWARDS.

 

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Jennifer Brea is a TED Talker, an activist fighting for invisible illness and autoimmune disease, the director of Sundance award-winning Unrest, co-creator of Unrest VR, founder of  Shella Films and co-founder of #MEAtion.Jennifer Brea was not able to be there in person, the ACT4AWARDS was accepted on behalf of her inspiring resilient power in fighting through. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  (Left to right, Lisa Russell, Lauren Magura, Dena Mekawi) Host of the ACT4AWARDS.  Dena Mekawi mentioned “ I knew how it felt not to be reflected in mainstream media, I had self-esteem issues that stemmed from the desire to achieve the ideal standards of beauty. For me this meant that we each are represented properly in the media we consume.” From Miss Arab, to Oprah magazine, Dena has created a path that directly works with those shaping media and culture.

(Left to right, Lisa Russell, Lauren Magura, Dena Mekawi) Host of the ACT4AWARDS.  Dena Mekawi mentioned “ I knew how it felt not to be reflected in mainstream media, I had self-esteem issues that stemmed from the desire to achieve the ideal standards of beauty. For me this meant that we each are represented properly in the media we consume.” From Miss Arab, to Oprah magazine, Dena has created a path that directly works with those shaping media and culture.

Fashion and the Global Goals. Style & Resilience Co- Organizes the First Sustainable Fashion event at the United Nations. by Dena Mekawi

16 November 2017 - Thursday Briefing 

"Fashion and Sustainability: Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good"

Using Fashion as a Vehicle for Change

DPI NGO Briefing followed by a Sustainable Fashion Showcase

Date: 16 November 2017

Time: 11 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Location: Conference Room 4, UNHQ, NY

Women’s National Book Association

Dena Mekawi, Founder of Style & Resilience, and representative of Women’s National Book Association co-organized the Sustainable fashion show at the United Nations, November 16, 2017, along with the DPI NGO sub-committee , United Nations DPI. Taking the passion she had for style, fashion and beauty, into the United Nations 17 Global Goals framework. Dena says “  I wanted to creatively engage millennial into really understanding how they consume fashion. Fashion consumptions affects unpaid labor, forced child labor, especially in developing countries for women and girls, with the access and resources we have, now more than ever people have the tools to shift into a better circular economy.” 

Dena creatively came up with the social media marketing, along with the hashtag  #rolemodel4fashion, as a representation of models beyond runway models. Mirroring models within fashion, being the change makers and shifting how we consume fashion, makes us real role models. 

Did you know, the fashion industry’s CO2 emissions are projected to increase by more than 60% to nearly 2.8 billion tons per year by 2030- the equivalent of emissions produced by nearly 230 million passenger vehicles driven for a year.

#rolemodel4fashion. Also, over 50% of workers are not paid the minimum wage in countries like India or Philippines.

What if someone told you it takes 2,700 liters of water to grow enough cotton for one T-shirt, an amount equal to one person’s drinking water for 900 days? 

This was just one of the statistics about the fashion industry’s social and environmental effects shared at this month’s United Nations Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations briefing, “Fashion and Sustainability: Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good: Using Fashion as a Vehicle for Change.”

The briefing, moderated by Patrick Duffy, founder of the Global Fashion Exchange, featured panelists from global organizations working to enact change in the industry and was followed by a fashion showcase, the first of its kind at the UN. Five designers presented sustainable clothing collections to an audience comprising designers and companies, students from multiple New York universities, NGOs, UN officials, and ambassadors.

One way Ottoboni wields that power is by avoiding “fast fashion,” a term referring to companies releasing new clothing collections quickly and cheaply, leading to more textile waste and consumption of resources.

While some sustainable purchases cost more, Ottoboni suggests those with limited budgets can consider spending more on a garment that will last longer instead of buying new clothes more often.

She also believes that in the long term, “ethical sourcing and things like that will become a norm and become less expensive as demand increases.”

The enthusiastic audience at the UN briefing and showcase suggests the trajectory is already in motion, and Ottoboni is especially encouraged by this statistic: 65 percent of consumers are now actively seeking sustainable fashion.  

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18 Lipstick Brands That Are Full Of Cancer Causing Heavy Mercury Metals by Dena Mekawi

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The makeup industry is secretly one of the most corrupt industries in the world, whether you believe it or not. The chemicals women are putting on their faces today are toxic; if you don’t believe me see for yourself.

 

The makeup industry uses some of the most profound carcinogenic chemicals ever known. Lots of lipsticks contain toxic heavy metals in them. Always check the ingredients labels before you purchase your next lipstick. The CEO’s of these makeup companies are making billions per year at the expense of your health. Of course, they’re not the only ones doing this. Many corporations that control our food and water do the very same thing. It’s no wonder cancer is on such a rapid rise.

 

Were you aware of the fact that the US has little health regulations and no required health testing before their products hit the shelves? This is an open window for the greedy CEO’s to save millions of dollars; at the price of your health. They particularly use harmful chemicals in deodorants, foundations, powders, lipsticks, and shampoos. The Environmental Defense Group tested 49 makeup items for their levels of toxic metals. What they found was stunning. In fact, almost all of the most popular makeup brands tested for highly toxic metals. They tested the following.

 

5 foundations

 

4 powders

 

4 concealers

 

8 lipsticks or glosses

 

5 blushes or bronzers

 

7 mascaras

 

2 eyeliners

 

14 eye shadows

 

Around 96% of the makeup products tested contained lead-based ingredients. 90% contained beryllium based ingredients, and 61% contained thallium based ingredients. That’s not all either; 51% had cadmium and 20% contained arsenic. It’s clear to see that these are not chemicals that belong in makeup products, or anything else that comes in contact with people for that matter.

 

List of carcinogenic lipstick:

 

1. (#103c), Stargazer Lipstick

2. (#1005 Red Lizard), NARS Semi-Matte

3.(#410 Volcanic), L’Oreal Colour Riche

4.(#125 Pink Petal), Maybelline Color Sensational

5. (#165 Tickled Pink), L’Oreal Colour Riche

6. (#580 Ruby Remix), CoverGirl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues

7. (#27 Mauvey), Sonia Kashuk Luxury Lip Color

8. (#748 Heroic), L’Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor

9. (#025 Warm Brick), CoverGirl Continuous Color

10. (#475 Mauve Me), Maybelline Color Sensation

11. (#009 Fabulous Fig), Revlon Matte

12. (#1009 Funny Face), NARS Semi-Matte

13. (#375 Ripened Red), Revlon ColorStay

14. (#558 Mad for Mauve), Avon Beyond Color

15. (#530 Mauve Amour), L’Oreal Endless

16. (#631 Luminous Pink), Revlon Super Lustrous Peal

17. (Toffee), Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer

18. (#643 Satin Plum), Revlon Super Lustrous Peal

 

 

 

 Sponsored by Revcontent

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