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Shakti perspectives: Ria

Mental health is one of the biggest priorities in my life - but it was never always like this. I can recognize that growing up there was minimal nurturing when it came to mental health, behavioural abnormalities, and compassion. It felt like our growing up environment was always in survival mode, which was a difficult experience for all parties involved. It took me being a hyper-independent adult to recognize my trauma and seek external assistance on this. The lack of familial support and understanding of mental health as a child can be highly isolating. And this is a common theme for many South Asians - based on the people that I have spoken to.

Everything gets pushed down, right down until everyone explodes in an abnormal manner. It creates so much friction when a simple ‘how are you feeling?’ or ‘I love you’ could fix. My experience with mental health has always been highly confusing - because I would feel or act a certain way and could not comprehend what was happening in my brain, I was literally a child. This was so challenging for the entire family because we all had deep rooted problems, we all didn’t understand.

 This all boils down to south Asians being uncomfortable with speaking about mental health due to long term inter-generational trauma. It’s something that I cannot understand or grasp at all. I have found that families chose to be micro-managing parents rather than just normal parents that you can speak to, confide in and bond with. I think this is where the fault lies within our community - seeing south Asian parents now who choose to be someone that their child can turn to whilst also holding certain boundaries is one of the most refreshing things that I have encountered. This is the change that I’d like to see in our community so that mental health conversations are encouraged, nurtured and fostered.

As an adult now, things are very different - I have a sibling that I can turn to for mental health support and our family is slowly gaining the comfortability of speaking about mental health together. Our family has discussed the many faults in all of us that made our environment so hostile, and we know where things went wrong. This is all you can really ask for as an adult who is trying to grow from this environment and prioritize mental health.

My self-care routine now includes spending time with my sister, staying at home alone working on my different career goals, journaling my thoughts, seeing a therapist frequently & making sure my home environment feels at peace. All these things help me as an individual continue to grow more into myself and mature further.

All of this wouldn’t have happened unless I experienced the lengthy lockdowns in Melbourne. Prior to this I was very lost and had a substance abuse problem which I didn’t recognize was a problem till I was forced to isolate. Although the isolation was difficult in some parts, it made me face so many things I was running away from. I came out a completely different person to who I was, and I am forever grateful for it. It taught me so much about understanding my value/my worth, my boundaries, communication skills, understanding my own emotions and so much more.

If any parent reads this, remember - your child is a human being with their own emotions, thoughts, dreams & lifetime ahead of them. Try listening to them and understanding them - then they will take the time to understand you.

So much love


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