Updated: Jun 5, 2019
A few months ago I crossed paths with the beautiful young woman behind the Instagram Mental Health Movement @alovilihome. Mele shares of her life ups and downs with her Mental Health journey. Her story encourages the conversation and awareness of Mental Health within the Pacific Island Community. Mental Health is growing topic within our generation and Mele is spreading awareness through her courage to share her story so openly. Her messages are raw and honest and it is what encouraged me to reach out and ask her to do this Blog.
Mele’s vulnerability to tell of her low points just as much as her high’s gives light for others to do the same. Alovili Home has been a place where many others struggling with mental health have found comfort that they are not alone in their journey and more importantly they are able to connect with someone who helps them through. The amount of people who reach out to Mele daily is a true testament to how much this kind of Mental Health movement and work is needed within our community.You are truly a gift Mele and I thank you for taking the time to let us know a little about you.
“Where love has no barriers and traditions embrace innovation” – Alovili Home
Who is Mele Fifita?
I’m pretty much your average 21 year old girl. I love to eat, go shopping, play with makeup, watching Netflix, listening to music and being around my nephews and niece. Although, I am 1 of 12 kids, I grew up loving Bollywood movies.
My sister says i wear my heart on my sleeve, which makes me vulnerable to everything love, food, people.
How was your upbringing in a Pacific Island Home?
My upbringing was a pretty strict one, in terms of religion and culture. Just like most Pacific Islanders I was taught and told exactly what to do. I grew up with extended family coming in and out of our home who either needed a place to stay to get themselves prepared to leave and build their own homes. Other times i’d have cousins who were sent to my home because “Uncle Loni”, was the only answer to helping them. Every day my house will then have my brothers friends who would come over, so my house was always filled with people. In turn growing up was always filled with Family time and then of course Church. My Older sister and I were the only girls in the Home besides my Mum, so because we were the only girls it meant we had to go everywhere with our parents.
What are you passionate about?
I would say i’m most passionate about helping others especially through ‘Alovili Home. I’ve found a way where I am able to both heal and try and help others heal too. Its such a beautiful experience to be apart of!
What encouraged you to share your Mental Health journey and start Alovili Home?
A lot of things were happening to me around the time I shared my story, which had a lot of talk about why I had Mental Health Issues. I didn’t share it for sympathy or for people to understand- I honestly shared it for myself. I’ve been counselled multiple times to speak out, to say how i feel. I decided to start ‘Alovili Home on social media,after I shared my journey.
Although i’ve had this idea for years to have a space where people who felt like i did (and sometimes still do) could come and feel safe. It was very important for me to open this space especially within the Pacific Island community where they could come, feel free in their journey and also try to better themselves.
What has been the biggest change for you in yourself since opening up?
I was always the kind of girl that wouldn’t leave my house without putting on Makeup no matter where I was going. I’d walk out and honestly hear, “Dude, we’re just going to the Civic”. I was also the girl that cared too much about what others thought of me, the girl that was ashamed of her Mental Health, I mean i still wear make up, but now you hear, “Dude, are you really leaving the house like that”. I feel like the biggest change I’ve seen in myself since sharing my story is that I’ve been able to be a little more confident and comfortable in myself.
What do you do on the days when you are really feeling down and out?
It really depends but i would usually just sleep for hours and stay in my room to isolate myself from everyone. Sometimes I would try and surround myself by others to try and make me feel a little better but what I’ve found is the most effective thing for me is hearing my brothers sing.
Is there a favourite quote or saying you live by?
It would definitely be D&C 78: 17-19
“17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and y e have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; 18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. 19 And he who receives all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.”
How has your relationship with yourself changed over the past few years to now?
I’ve learned to love myself more, maybe not to the extent that i should but more then I previously have. I also have learnt to trust myself more.
I used to text or call my siblings or close friends whenever i would be alone or feel alone or I would always feel like I had to make sure someone was always with me so I wasn’t alone. I trust myself a little more to not fear being alone and not do those things and to find my own way.
Tell me about a moment you’ve felt extremely proud of yourself.
I will always be proud that i actually shared my journey, no matter what anyone says- I am proud of that. I didn’t listen all those other times I was told the best way to heal was to share but sharing my journey honestly has helped me overcome so much.
What boundaries do you put up for yourself to protect your energy + achieve your goals?
I wouldn’t call it boundaries so much. I have Do’s and Dont’s. In order for me to have a productive day and reach a daily goal and have enough energy to do so- I have to plan it all out before hand. Prioritizing what is more important to me over something else. Also a big thing is surrounding myself with positive people that will help me achieve my goals and remind me to not over-do myself on the little things so I have time/energy for more the things that are important.
Where do you see Alovili Home working towards in the future?
We have very big dreams for ‘Alovili Home- a lot of traveling is involved to make them a reality. I don’t want to jinx anything but we hope to make a difference with Mental Health in the Pacific Island community and if all is a success spread out to other communities too.
What advice would you give to someone who reading this and going through a tough time?
To know that you are not alone in this journey, everyone has their own individual stories and struggles but that feeling you feel-I also feel and others also feel it. Do not be ashamed of what you are going through or feeling and know that their is help and people who care about you!
“YOU ARE SO LOVED AND NEEDED!”
What is your ‘WHY’ now for your life?
I grew up not being able to relate to people who went through my struggles. Although there were people who were outspoken about Mental Health and Suicide and Sexual Abuse they didn’t understand when it came to my Pacific Island culture or my strong faith. So in turn- my why is to be that individual that can relate to others who are going through struggles growing up in the same kind of home that I have. I want to be the support that I wish I had growing up. My why seems big but it also reminds me of words from the rapper Tupac Shakur, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”