Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Marlene - Interview 23

Age at interview: 38
Age at diagnosis: 24

Brief outline: Marlene, 38, was diagnosed with anxiety aged 24. Marlene's father is Pakistani, and her mother is white. Her sister, Shareen, was also interviewed.

Background: Housewife, married with 6 children. Ethnic background/nationality: Asian (born UK).

Audio & video

Marlene, 38, was diagnosed with anxiety aged 24. Marlene's father is Pakistani, and her mother is white. Her sister, Shareen, was also interviewed. Marlene was also raised in Pakistan by her grandparents and aunties. She went there aged 7. She says she liked living in Pakistan, and living the Asian way and didn't want to come back to the UK, although she doesn't miss living there. Marlene believes the separation from her parents affected her because she didn't get any love or affection from them because they were in another country. She says that her parents don't understand her and she doesn't understand them.

After she had her second daughter, Marlene began feeling afraid of dying and was seeing graveyards in her mind. When she realised these images were not real, she didn't see them any more, she says it's because she was strong. She tells herself it's all in her mind. She couldn't go out on her own because she would get anxiety and panic attacks and had to rely heavily on her husband. The doctor gave her some tablets. The medication used to work but it doesn't now and she wonders whether she'll ever be happy again. 

Although Marlene doesn't still have those symptoms, she now feels like a different person down, and gets lonely, tired and anxious. Her daughter helps her a lot now around the house. She says her parents and sister tell her it's all in her brain and this makes her feel lazy and bad. She says people don't understand. Marlene says if she gets worried or excited about anything she sometimes has unwanted thoughts about leaving her husband and feels guilty about this. 

Marlene says her doctor is good and understands her. Marlene doesn't mind taking medication. She also found self-help books really helpful, but her daughter used to read them to her because she can't read. She also goes to a support centre to get help and to talk to other people. Marlene has counselling at the support centre, but finds it hard to fit in because of looking after her children. Marlene believes prayer helps and had a blessing and that helped her get rid of her fear of gravestones. She explains that it's God that helps you and always does His best for you, but sometimes people talk about black magic and then you don't know who to trust and can get scared. 

Marlene worries about losing people that she loves, especially her husband. She doesn't know why she gets worried because she says she doesn't have anything to worry about because her husbands a good, caring person who helps with the children and looks after her. She wonders whether she may be going through the menopause and this is making her weak but her doctor puts it all down to anxiety.

Marlene says she tries to be a good mum and wife, and wants to be happy and normal and she thinks she is getting better. She would like to help other people who get anxiety attacks and says to other people in her situation “don't think negative, think positive”.


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