Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Ali - Interview 33

Age at interview: 27
Age at diagnosis: 26

Brief outline: Ali, 27, was born in Pakistan and has been studying and working in the UK. Ali says that although it's easier to explain things to professionals from the same culture, as long as the other person is understanding, you can always clarify things.

Background: Employed, single. Ethnic background/nationality: Pakistani (born in Pakistan).

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Ali is 27 and was born in Pakistan. His parents separated when he was very young. He says he had a “strange upbringing” because his mother would regularly make unfounded accusations about him being sexually abused by people, including his father. When he was in his late teens, his mother told him that the man he knows as his father was not really his father. He says that in his culture, this was something to be ashamed of. Ali says he became depressed from this point. He says that although his parents have been very supportive, he doesn't feel close to them. Although Ali thinks his upbringing played a part in his mental health problems, he also thinks it could be a chemical imbalance or genetic.

Ali's symptoms come in cycles include feeling sad, lethargic, useless, and ugly. His mind focuses on negative thoughts and he can feel suicidal, although these feelings give him a sense of relief from his depression. As a result of his depression, Ali says he finds it difficult to have a relationship, although he makes friends easily and is able to work.

Ali has no one to talk to about his experiences. He has only told his story to two or three people and having no one to confide in made it difficult for him. When he told his father, he says he didn't understand. At first, he didn't seek help for his mental health problems because he felt it was a taboo subject in his culture. He feels that if people found out they would gossip about him and it would have consequences for his marriage and work prospects, so he feels it's best to keep it secret. 

Ali described himself as not very religious and says he sometimes feels as if God is out to get him. He hasn't found prayer helpful for his depression. One thing that does help Ali with his mental health problems is his imagination. He has imaginary friends who he talks to and shares jokes with. He is in complete control of these characters, and emphasises that he does not have schizophrenia. Ali also takes Fluoxetine and finds this helps to level out his moods; he doesn't think talking therapies helped him much because he is too impatient and wanted the quick fix offered by medication. Ali says he's willing to try anything to get back to normal.

When it comes to speaking to professionals, Ali says that although it's easier to explain things to people from the same culture, as long as the other person is understanding, you can always clarify things to them. He recommends that professionals show kindness and understanding towards their patients. His message to other people in the same situation is fight and keep looking for new ways to tackle your mental health problems.


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