Mental health can affect anyone, no matter your age, race, or gender. Yet some cultures do often face difficulties when it comes to either accepting they may need support or when accepting a diagnosis.
This is something I’m particularly keen to bring awareness towards given I have experienced this in my own culture. Like myself, Aaron has experience of a mental health condition and campaigns to help support people who are in similar situations, especially due to their cultural background.
When people talk about mental health, the thought in the Asian culture and community is that’s not something that our ‘kind’ suffer with, that stigma and idea has been passed down through generations.
So when I began suffering with mental health issues, I was in total denial, I believed that maybe it was just me being silly and I was feeling unwell, but then things seemed to have got worse over time. I was beginning to start hearing voices, I wasn’t sleeping at night, I was feeling so low and worthless.
I remember crying one night in my room and just feeling emotionally empty, and that’s when I admitted that yes, something isn’t quite right. After telling my parents, their reaction was surprising, they actually believed me and took time to listen to what my problem was. They emphasised that I wasn’t alone, and my family will be there for me through anything. I remember my best friend coming round to see me and I’ve never seen such heartache in his eyes – it made me realise that I do have people who do care about me and I can rely on.
The next day I went to the doctors surgery and I was totally mentally broken. I didn’t even have to say anything and the Doctor knew what was wrong. He knew that I had depression but after me telling him about the voices, the concern on his face was alarming. He instantly put me on medication and referred me to the early intervention service, which is a service to help 18-30 year olds who suffer with psychosis – a condition where people can experience things that are out of touch with reality through hallucinations or delusional thoughts.
After having a general meeting with the psychiatrist and my Community Nurse, a plan was put into place, but the fear was still there. What do I tell my extended family and friends? They will not believe me.. and it was right, most of my extended family would say “snap out of it” “your being silly” “there’s nothing wrong with you”. Those words are heartbreaking for anyone to have to hear, considering I was relying on family to help me recover.
After the death of my grandfather, things got worse. My symptoms were getting worse, the voices were increasing, I was hearing dark, demonic voices speaking different languages, and other people shouting negative things to me, which led to my first of four hospital admissions. Being in there and being away from your family and friends is a horrible feeling; having to say goodbye and watch the door close after them was heartbreaking, but it gave me time to think. I couldn’t let this beat me I had to do something and that’s when, when I came out I was determined to help myself.
I applied for jobs and managed to get one in a supermarket where I worked for two years. It was great, it was a distraction and it was rewarding to say “yes I suffer with mental health, but I managed to find myself a job, a purpose in life”. Yes I had relapses whilst there, but I wouldn’t let it beat me. After a while, I wanted something different and on the off chance applied for a role within motoring. I wasn’t very confident in my chances so I was in total disbelief when I was offered the job. The feeling of joy and reward was unreal. I finally defeated the voices and negativity. I had done what I set out to do.
Two years later, were now in 2019. Yes I still suffer with mental health issues and I hear voices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I won’t let it define who I am. My message to anyone in the Asian community, no matter what age, gender, nationality, religion, please don’t think you’re alone. There are people out there that can help, and they are brilliant. Don’t let it get to the point where you are at rock bottom. You’ll be surprised in the reaction you will get, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I for one will be someone you can talk to, because if I can do it, then so can you. Remember be strong, be happy.. and my ears are always open.
Aaron Singh Randhawa
Thank you so much to Aaron who has written this heartwarming blog about the reality of experience mental health. Aaron would like to share his social media as he is devoted to supporting those who may need an ear. You can find him on twitter at: