Sad stories also have happy endings. Meet the Albanian-Canadian blogger Genta Gjomema

Sad stories also have happy endings. Meet the Albanian-Canadian blogger Genta Gjomema

Toronto- Canada

I got to know Genta through the social network. She is eager to convey a perfect image of beauty and fashion on Instagram. In fact, if you surf there, the real daily events have gradually become rarer. Technology has certainly facilitated our life and, at the same time, complicated our relationship with the reality. As a guest by the Albanian Montreal Press, Genta is eager to disclose aspects of her life,which she tries to convey through the colours and combinations she makes on her blog as well as the messages she carries are also there. She insists that beauty and detail are closely related to fashion and have brought great spiritual changes in her.
Genta originates from Vlora. She has made Canada her home for the past 13 years with no-so-easy immigration journey. Her passion for clothes and dressing started when she was 10 years old at a time when Albania could not offer more than the calico stores. According to her, it seemed like a children’s game at the beginning, but such a passion would follow Genta throughout her life. Her teenage memories include the fashion shows she used to organize with neighbourhood girls in her room.

Genta recounts that her inspiration came from her favourite Italian show Non e la Rai with Ambra Angiolini. It was there in her small room where the catwalks took place accompanied by photos imitating various models. Upon graduation from high school at the age of 19, Genta emigrated to Greece for family reasons. There she spent a considerable time of her life. Through lots of sacrifices and in a discriminating reality towards Albanians, Genta had to learn Greek within a short period of time in 6 months. She found comfort in her diary starting with her desire for clothes and then with her daily balance. In spite of her unpleasant memories of Greece, it was there that she got to know the love of her life and became a mother for the first time.

Genti Hali Photography Lgh Art Photography

Genta, can you tell us more about your beginnings in Canada?
Canada proved to be fruitful restart for my life from the moment my application was successful. When I arrived in Toronto, I immediately noticed huge changes in how people dressed and presented themselves. At the same time, it gave me a feeling of freedom making my daily life adjust to the new reality. Toronto was my big dream and I adapted to the new lifestyle with utmost pleasure. Contrary to Greece, I was eventually free tell people of my origin and everything they asked about Albania. Exploring the city, learning the language, the close touch with the Canadian lifestyle was a gradually increasing curiosity for me.

Photo by adriana_artisticaffair

I remember I started getting dressed comfortably, without high-heel shoes (I never went out without high-heel shoes in Greece), with little makeup and a year-and-a-half child. I savoured so much this sudden change in me. In January 2008 (a year after my arrival in Canada), while pregnant and expecting my son, I completed my college studies on Office Administration & Legal with High Honours. My son came to life on November 27th, 2008, a month before my final exams. It was then when my life turned upside down. After an unexplained negligence on the part of the medical staff attending my son’s birth, I suffered a third-degree burn on the back of my leg. I complained many times that something was burning me but neither the nurse nor the doctor checked me. Then, I felt nothing after the epidural injection took effect and I fell asleep for three hours. When I woke up, it was a real horror with doctors coming and going. I just remember being told that I had suffered a third degree burn which had damaged my nerve and that there existed the possibility of me not being able to walk again.

Genti Hali Photography

I paid little attention to this news as the labour pains were so big that my focus was to bring my son to life.
I fainted by the shock the day following the birth of my son when I saw my wound. When I was discharged by the hospital, I had to take the final exams. I do not know where I found the physical and psychological power to go back to college, accompanied by my husband, and write the exams in horrible pain and with an open wound. I succeeded in passing the exams and graduating with persistence and power of character. The burning was one of the most difficult experiences as it took me 4 months of excruciating pain hoping that the wound would heal naturally. Finally, I was forced to agree to have a skin transplant so that the wound would close as soon as possible. I was hospitalized for three weeks lying in bed without moving with a machine pushing new skin over the wound and with a horrible anxiety whether it would be successful or not. After three weeks of anxiety and sacrifice, having to breastfeed the baby three times a day, the surgery succeeded and the wound closed. Of course, there were marks left, but I was little affected by the marks after what I went through. I remember wearing only XXL tracksuits because I always had the machine mounted on my leg. I will not forget the moment when the machine was removed and I could finally walk normally and wear whatever I wanted. It was then that the desire for fashion, dressing and clothes resumed. Jeans and a t-shirt were my preference. I did not want to hear about tracksuits anymore.

Can you disclose us more details about what caused your depression?
Despite suffering burns, I pushed myself to forget everything after the surgery and focus on daily life, raising my kids, dedicating myself to my wonderful husband and certainly my career. Everything was going well. I started a full-time job at a prestigious college. Anyway, my intention was to continue my studies for law clerk and with 2 years of work experience in a law office, then continue to university to fulfill one of my other dreams: law, more specifically, to become a lawyer. My husband at that time was doing very well. He worked as a chef, and financially we were very well. So, finally, after so many years in Greece, I felt myself, I felt like I was born in this country. In February 2010 while we were getting ready to purchase our first home, I went to my family doctor for a cold I had. The doctor surprisingly gives me a completely wrong diagnosis for the heart, which scared me so much that I experienced it very badly. I was trembling for three full days until I went to see the cardiologist for a determination.
When the cardiologist saw me, I was told me that what the family doctor had done was ridiculous because the symptoms had nothing to do with my heart. He examined me and everything went well. But I had three sleepless nights because of the anxiety and discomfort of a machine that the family doctor had put on my breast. Consequently, the following day at work I did not feel well. I did not realize what I was doing until I started having anxiety attacks that I had never experienced or imagined in my life. I was scared, I drank cold water, fell on the ground and could not breathe. I took a taxi home. My husband was concerned when he saw me in that condition. But the same happened to me the following day. I got the good news of my mom winning the battle for her life. The surgery was successful.
The irony of my fate was that I had had so many anxiety attacks that I could not experience the joy I could have hardly waited for. I was offered anti-anxiety medication, but I refused to take them (I consider it a big mistake now that I look back). After three completely sleepless weeks, trying any herbal medicine, breathing deeply, running, etc., which could not help me, I agreed to start a small dose of anti-anxiety medication. I finally calmed down and started getting 8 hours of sleep. But my body was tired and I started to deteriorate slowly. I had a longing for my family which I had never experienced before. I was not impressed by the blossoming of flowers in April or by nature. I remember I could not concentrate. I realized something was wrong and started psychotherapy. I tried hard to profit as much as I could for two months in a row, but my lack of full concentration and lack of focus made me finally admit and go to see a psychiatrist.
I can not describe my feeling of horror when I learned I was diagnosed with clinical depression coupled by anxiety. Me! Genta! I had so many dreams, passions, ambitions. How could this happen to me!? With my psychiatrist, an irreplaceable doctor, we talked about everything besides the medication doses. It was then that I realized that you have to accept the situation, live with it (a word of mouth) and evaluate yourself even for a lesser success towards climbing the mountain from the beginning. I would not like to go any further as it has been the darkest period of my life and it did not last one, two, or three years. Yet, with my perseverance, strength, love for my children, the full support of my family, my husband and my social circle, I managed to emerge from the darkness. However, I still needed a small step to find myself fully and the secret was to pursue a passion which I had had as a hobby.

Adriana Photography

How did your passion for blogging start?
Fashion and getting dressed, as I said above, have been my hobbies. While trying to find a hobby to lift me higher, it was my younger brother (a person with a extraordinary intellect and intuition) who suggested that I followed such passions as a way of focusing my energy on positive things. I received some initial instructions through contacting an Albanian fashion blogger in Vancouver (whom I thank from the bottom of my heart). It has been almost a year and my blogging site has been surprisingly doing well and has soon turned into a fashion business. Most of my followers are from Europe and I communicate almost daily with them. We communicate daily on my Instagram page This brings me a lot of pleasure. I am taking a course on Social Media Marketing and I have a plan of extending my blog, without rushing and, at a moment, when I feel more confident in myself. As for my style, I would say it is classic influenced mainly by the French style. My philosophy is quality above quantity in my wardrobe. Better to have ten quality, timeless things that resist fashion trends and then make different combinations with them. There is no doubt that fashion changes every year, new trends come, but the classic remains a classic. I will certainly try to follow the new fashion trends, but not to the point of becoming a victim of every trend that comes out in magazines and fashion shows. My favorite brand is Chanel, not in the sense that my clothes are Chanel, but it is the brand that has maintained its identity for so many years. Gabrielle Chanel is my idol, not only with her wardrobe but also as an influential icon with her personality.

In general, what is your message for what you have gone through?
I have a message for those who know and do not know me: there is light at the end of the tunnel. You should never surrender. These thoughts are sometimes hard to believe, but mind should be fed with love, positivity, persistence and a powerful force. My own moto comes from the film “Gone with the Wind”, which I used to say over and over again every day in my mind and diary; “After all, tomorrow is another day”, that is, tomorrow is a new hope.

What is your biggest dream at the moment?
My biggest dream is to be healthy myself, my family and my loved ones, because when we lose health, we lose everything. Of course, with so many ups and downs in my life, there are many unfinished tasks. One of my dreams is unquestionably related to my greatest passion, fashion. As I mentioned above, my style is oriented to the Parisian fashion. One of my dreams is a trip to Paris in order to follow closely the “Paris Fashion Week”. I do not know if I will ever realize it as financial conditions play a role, but I will continue to dream. I can not believe that when all my dreams vanished, now I can dream again. I am very proud of my strength and perseverance. I thank from the bottom of my heart all the people who stayed close to me during that period of my life, even those strangers who saw me cry on the street, shook my hand and gave me courage. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to share with you not only my story but also my passion.

Interviewed by Blerina Ruka


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