I started becoming anxious when I was 11 and it escalated to the point that I couldn’t leave the house because I was afraid of being judged. There was so much pressure to always be right, get good grades, be perfect and it was all so paralysing as I got older. I would not study on the test so that if I don’t do well, I can blame it on not studying rather than on myself. It took me a very long time before I could reach out to people. I felt like people wouldn’t understand.
I was 20 when I experienced my first episode of psychosis and that is when I got help from my GP. During my psychosis I believed my body wasn’t my own, that I was unsafe, and I tried to escape it. That was accompanied with the feeling of paranoia that I felt someone wanted to do me harm. For a lot of young women, sexual abuse is a precursor to a first episode of psychosis. I wasn’t diagnosed with schizophrenia until i entered adult mental health services 2 years ago. Until then I had no specific label, just a history of symptoms.
During my journey of recovery what I found most helpful was goal setting, slowly changing how I perceived myself and having meaningful relationships. I am part Maori and I know mental health is really tapu. For Maori, saying you have problems with your mental health can bring shame to the family. It is important to me that we are able to have conversations about mental health so that our People don't suffer silently because they are afraid of the shame it would bring to their family.
#BeautifulMinds is a series of raw and honest stories from people sharing their lived experience with mental health in New Zealand. Published with permission. We hope these stories capture the diversity of how mental health affects different people and you can be inspired by their journey towards mental wellbeing. Clearhead’s mission is to destigmatise mental health through raising awareness and encouraging people to feel it is ok to seek help early by giving them the tools to do so. Sign up now to use the platform, it is free to do so!
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