Warning: Distressing content

Immigrants are constantly on survival mode holding determination to achieve their own idea of what is success. With that, however, comes a lot of obstacles. Many often believe that, with resilience, one could fight their challenges. But what happens when that obstacle is actually themselves?

I’m five. Before me, is my mother, sweat on her forehead. I’m always afraid when I see her like this because I know she’s not happy. She’s always talking to the scary men. The men with the funny wigs and black robes. They talk words I don’t understand, that my mother doesn’t understand. When I tell her, I want to go home, she cries.

I’m eight. My mother has found a job. One that doesn’t require too much speaking or writing in English. A cook. She comes home late every night, so I wait for her. She’s losing her hair, her weight, her laughter. I open her drawer, and when I peer inside, I see pills.

I’m twelve. Perhaps it’s our arguments, the stack of unopened bills on the table, the unanswered phone calls from Grandma asking for money. But she doesn’t talk to me the way she used to. It’s as if she’s there but she isn’t at the same time. Over our untouched dinner, she tells me she quit the job.

I’m sixteen. My mother sits on the sofa, staring at the hole on the wall with no expression. She doesn’t acknowledge my presence when I walk past. Her appeal to the Court’s rejection to attain permanent residency in Australia has, once again, been rejected. I find the ripped letter in the trash can. Next to it, I find her passport. Dented. 

I’m twenty. My mother sits on the bathtub, exposed and silent as I scrub her scalp. When I try to talk to her, she unresponsive. In bed, I crumble her pills onto buttered bread, dipping it into hot tea to feed her. After a few mouthfuls, she turns away, burying herself under the duvet. It isn’t until I hear the gentle snores, that the tears begin to leak.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not adequately include immigrant samples. However, it has been consistently highlighted that immigrant populations are at higher risk of severe mental illness. They tend to have a larger rate of diagnosis than the general Australian population. The association between depression and educational level also interacts. Language barrier and insufficient income alongside pressures of family back home make an impact on their mental health, especially for immigrant women.

With lack of proper assistance and information, many Immigrants are found relying on themselves. With no support system, mental breakdowns seem as if they’re just around the corner. It is truly important that the mental health of such a community is acknowledged before they continue to be a silent sufferer.

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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