My mum tried taking her life when I was younger. She had developed mental health issues but it was a taboo topic that created a lot of emotional walls between our family.
During climactic stages of tension, we had these family gatherings but the emphasis was always on looking after each other rather than addressing the problem itself. From an early age, it was ingrained in me to put the family’s wellbeing before my own.
The only time I was offered help was when my mum attempted again, but this time in front of me and my brother. After that incident, my family asked us nonchalantly and abruptly, ‘do you want to talk to a counsellor?’
We were shocked because this was the first time in ten years my family ever brought up any mental health support but we were too used to feeling unsafe talking about the topic that we refused the help immediately.
I had also noticed people walked on eggshells around mum and when you see your mum alienated due to her mental health condition, you don’t want to be treated the same way. To save face, I never got my family involved with my own emotional or mental problems. I pretended I was okay.
When I turned 16, I searched on Google and applied for a Medicare card to access the public health system. I had to do everything secretly. I did get some help from school counsellors, but most of it was independent.
Even if it’s a stranger, my advice would be to let your thoughts out–keeping it inside and letting it eat at you for years deteriorates you as a person. I never thought I would live past 16. At the time, I couldn’t handle the world when my family was going to ruin but, eventually, you find people you can trust and now that I can talk to someone about it, I feel a lot happier!
Story from: M.T. | Words: Shona Yang | Cover Art: Jane Guan