This World Mental Health Day 2021, Mahieddine bravely speaks out about living with mental health issues as an asylum seeker. Mahieddine has shared their story through our partner organisation EYST Wales. In addition to the stigma and discrimination faced by Mahieddine and their family, there is no access to public funding, benefits or work. This sheds light on the unequal world we live in. Read the story.
Although fear does not prevent death, it prevents life.
These few words are so meaningful to me and perhaps to others who have suffered from the same emotions. By that, I mean anxiety, depression, stigma.
Mental illness. It is never a choice but a result of prejudice, double standards treatment and hostile environment as a consequence of discrimination and distinguishing attitude towards people that seem to be different from others’ perspective.
I have been seriously having mental health issues in the last couple of years due to the fact that I am - and my family - we are asylum seekers. Needless to say, we have almost no access to any sort of public funding, benefits, work and lately even education which made our life too hard to live and even harder to accept. What was worse was being totally unable to make any change, thus I had come to the point of barely doing my daily tasks. I mean, how I was always feeling down and depressed was taking my life.
Unfortunately, what made the situation even more difficult was the recent global pandemic. Imagine being a refused asylum seeker who isn’t sure if he is going to be granted status and living with the fear and stigma as well as the threat of being removed at any time; all that and out of the blue we all start to hear about death everywhere. Lives being taken by that microscopic sickness… I consequently started to panic out of stress. During that time, we were staying at home endlessly since the first lockdown. Time went too slow and many people were passing away. That was just a non-classical shock to me which drained my motivation and caused my hope for the future to completely disappear for a while!
The world hates change they say! Right, I was so desperate for it though.
As human beings, we always want the best for ourselves. This is our common instinct, even though we can develop some kind of mental health problem from it. However, we tend to do it right when it comes to being helpful and supportive. Luckily, there are plenty of people out there who have their hearts in the right place like some of my friends and especially my family. They did what they thought was the right decision to make me like living my life like I used to before.
I have to admit, they helped me a lot. I eventually decided to pull myself together and take my life back. Although words might be easier then actions, change never occurs if you just wait for it to happen all of a sudden. Instead, I started to be more active by joining more events even if online ones, going on residentials, also volunteering so being useful to my community. Once I involved myself into these activities, I felt joy again that had been missing for years.
Life is what you make of it. While you are busy over-worrying, making plans for negative scenarios that you’d probably never face, I decided that I’d rather leave my worries aside and only live spontaneously then.
My quote is the more you worry, the more depressed you may become, due to the fact that it would kill your mental and physical health slowly but severely.
My script is coming to an end. Solidarity is the key to this stigma and we should put the right effort into our psychology. Last but not least, hope is found everywhere - there is no reason to give up.
Written by Mahieddine