My maternal grandmother was schizophrenic. She helped raised me and my siblings for more than two decades before she passed away in 2002...
… due to several moves, lack of money, and a nasty divorce. From the time I was in 4th to 7th grade, I was also sexually abused by my older brother, who is 5 years older than me. On top of this, I shuffled between living with my mom and dad. I was also dealing with new stepparents. Honestly, I am unable to remember a time that I was not depressed and suicidal.
By the time I was in high school, I had very severe depression and anxiety. I struggled academically and I didn’t have a lot of friends – which further fueled the depression. In my junior year of high school, I attempted suicide a few times. Eventually, I landed up in a psychiatric hospital for 3 days. This had to have been the lowest point for me.
Overall, the therapy felt like it helped way more than any medications I was on at the time. However, I’m sure it was a combination of the two. Depression for me was an intensely solitary experience. It formed a sort of tunnel vision, and I didn’t see the bigger picture. I don’t think it is ever cured but rather managed. My family has a history of depression, suicide, etc. and I think it is a very stigmatized topic in the south Asian community – especially the subject of sexual abuse. This stigma was part of the reason I never told anyone, and I didn’t seek help earlier. Even now, I have to yet to come out about the sexual abuse. However, I am planning to tell my dad soon.
It has taken time but I have come to realize that my trauma and my healing do not deserve to be minimized and invalidated for the sake of the family. Mental illness affects so many people, yet remains very taboo. Now I am older and I understand that the shame and marginalization is present, and I am working to break through that stigma. Depression is something I continue to struggle with, however, I have a better understanding of my triggers, and I know when to seek help. I think it’s really about learning about oneself and having the tools to identify one’s emotions and treat them.