Medication was the only thing that really pulled me out of the pits. It has taken some years, but they are finally seeing that medication has helped me and I hope that changes how my family sees it. Culturally, they believe in solving problems using “natural” solutions. They also did not understand why I could be depressed because I had everything I could want. They can understand why family members back in South Africa experience depression; their experience is justified because their family back home is faces financial and health struggles. My parents could not understand what they did wrong. I think they felt attacked when I told them that I was taking medication for depression, so they, in turn, attacked me as a way to defend themselves.
Mental illness does not discriminate. Parents should know that if their child has a mental illness, it is not because they weren’t providing or creating a healthy environment for their child. I think it is important for everyone to understand that you can live with mental illness no matter what your life is like.
Reeka is a NAMI Ending the Silence presenter with NAMI Dallas, which serves four large urban and suburban counties that are home to hundreds of thousands of families from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Reeka is proud to share her story and serve as someone that students can relate to. Her story is the first installment of a three-part series during National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.