Although I feel fortunate to have not had any serious mental issues, my mind has certain tendencies that I have found very difficult to address.
My whole life felt like it was practically planned out at birth. My Dad and my Mom had high a aspirations for me to become a doctor especially given that I generally excelled academically at a younger age. This scenario probably sounds familiar to a lot of people in the South Asian community.
I worked harder than most people I’ve met at an earlier age thinking that my hard work earlier on in life would ‘always’ translate into positive outcomes. Eventually, this work translated into me studying Medicine in Ireland; however, the sacrifices started to outweigh my efforts since my work life balance became heavily skewed. I thought making these sacrifices would also finally help me gain the approval of my parents extremely high expectations. Unfortunately, these expectations were not realistic for me to consistently sustain within my capabilities in the long term. I don’t blame my parents though, they just wanted what was best for me- their idea of success.
The ideas and values of success were ones I ingrained too rigidly into my beliefs as part of my self worth. Unfortunately this resulted in experiencing serious issue like anxiety and depression. Even though I felt these stressors, I thought I could ignore it. Then I turned 21 and my entire life changed.
I received my first (of many changing and evolving) mental health diagnosis.
It’s been an uphill battle ever since and eventually I opted to leave my career direction in medicine as a result of my challenges.
I was devastated because I felt like “my life was over”, and my diagnosis was a “life sentence” to impede me in ways that I’d never be the same person I was before. Fortunately, through treatment, support, and a lot of hard work I developed more insight into my symptoms and found new ways to cope so that my mental health issues wouldn’t always prevent me. I still have days where things aren’t “the easiest”, but I’m happy with my own improvements and my journey.