Back in 2019 I experienced several losses in my life. At that time, the one that changed my world was the loss of my mother.
During my grief the stigma I faced were:
“She is depressed.”
“She’s gone crazy.”
“She has changed, she is different!”
People seemed to have made up their own diagnoses without even talking to me. I was in a placid place without direction; trying to understand and cope with my recent traumas that were affecting my mental health.
At the time, I didn’t really think about how these recent traumas were affecting my mental health! It was all new to me.
The social expectations of how we should deal with grief was different from how I was feeling, so I felt like this added to my mental health struggles and isolated me even further.
Speaking up about the situations and feelings felt like it was wrong to do, and I felt that I was not being heard and it’s almost like I wasn’t allowed to talk about the reality of what happened to me. The loss caused grief which impacted on my mental health. I found that the support and understanding were lacking from my community, family, and friends due to the stigma. This just made me feel outcasted from everyone for the way I was dealing with my grief that didn’t meet other’s expectations. At that time, this confused me further.
However, in hindsight, I now realise it was a normal way of dealing with the grief. It was okay for me to ‘not feel okay’ and struggle mentally, to have good days and bad days. Unfortunately, at the time I did not feel I received the right support I needed due to the social stigma and discrimination, so I was fighting with myself to find other avenues to help myself while I was mentally challenged. I resorted to faith-related groups through which I met like-minded people in small support groups. I also found online psychology and counselling courses very helpful. Also taking breaks from everything every so often and little breaks in beautiful places in Wales really helped with healing.
I am grateful as I was able to get myself out of the isolation. However, if there was more knowledge of mental health and mental illnesses within our communities, then maybe there’d be more empathy towards people struggling with loss of lives or any other situation that could negatively impact their mental health.
Personally, joining online psychology and counselling courses has helped me to recognise the signs of mental health issues and how dealing with grief or any other trials can affect our mental health. These platforms helped me to understand and accept things better and move forward with my healing process. I just want to share my experience so that others can realise that they aren’t alone.
Mental illnesses can affect anyone from any culture and background at any time of our lives. Education, tolerance and understanding of mental health is key to putting an end to stigma and discrimination within our communities. This starts with sharing our stories.