Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Imani - Interview 26

Age at interview: 48
Age at diagnosis: 47

Brief outline: Imani, 48, describes herself as African-Caribbean, and was born in the UK. She was diagnosed with depression aged 47 having survived an abusive marriage. Imani is feeling better now she is taking antidepressants and having Christian counselling.

Background: Community development worker, divorced. Ethnic background/nationality: African-Caribbean (UK born).

Audio & video

Imani, 48, describes herself as African-Caribbean, and was born in the UK. She was diagnosed with depression aged 47. Imani says she survived a verbally and physically abusive relationship by switching off emotionally and avoiding doing anything that would lead her husband to swear at her, shout at her or hit her. She says she stayed in her marriage because she believed that she had to suffer the consequences of marrying her husband. Imani says the turning point came when she realised she was not following God's purpose when God spoke to her, saying, “I can never bless what's not of me.” Imani says she blamed God for a long time, and that her depression was triggered by the feeling that God was rejecting her in the same way her father had done.

Even after she left the marriage, Imani says the abuse remained in her head, and was like a stain spreading through her life. She says she felt scared of men and about entering a new relationship. She says her friends noticed changes in her, commenting that she seemed angry and had stopped wearing colourful clothes. Imani noticed that she began drinking alcohol more than usual and had put on weight. She felt low, didn't want to eat, wash or talk to anybody, would wander around aimlessly, and burst into tears in the supermarket. She found her job difficult and exhausting because she was working with other vulnerable people.

When Imani got the opportunity to go to a refuge she says she realised she needed help. She went to her GP who diagnosed depression and offered her counselling. Imani felt she couldn't wait for 6 months so she made her own arrangements. She now has Christian counselling, and says her counsellor is brilliant because she's open and hears what Imani has to say. Imani believes the counsellor doesn't need to be from the same ethnic background as the clients, because her counsellor is a white female. 

Imani has recently begun taking antidepressants. She was scared about taking them and becoming addicted, but says the doctor explained that they would give her a 'chemical rebalance'. Imani hopes that her old feelings will not return when she stops taking the antidepressants. She also has the support of an old friend. Imani's faith is also an important source of support. 

Imani says that as a Black woman she experiences discrimination every day. She believes that the overrepresentation of Black people in the mental health system is due to the misinterpretation of their behaviour as loud and aggressive. Imani says health professionals should make themselves available in the community so that people won't fear mental health services.

Imani is hoping and believing that things will get better and she's feeling happier, wearing bright colours again and exercising. Imani's message to others is find some to talk to and they will listen because you are worth it.


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