My Story: Dealing with Mental Health Issues
By Amy Agigian —
Marisa describes her struggle coming to terms with her mental health issues while simultaneously having to advocate for herself to family members.
Marisa: When that moment had happened, I used that as an opportunity to kind of speak honestly to my parents about how the way that they view mental health as stress and not as what it actually is, is, in turn, really fucking with me. I’m sorry, I don’t know if I’m allowed to curse or not, it’s just the best way to kind of explain how that felt.
It was just really counteracting, like, my brain was just going back and forth, with—my friends are telling me that these are clear signs of depression, and they were right because I got diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and my friends are telling me, “Your eating habits are really unhealthy,” and they were right: I got diagnosed with anorexia, like it—they weren’t wrong, but then my parents would keep telling me, “Oh, but it’s just stress, it’s just stress, everyone goes through stress,” and then they would compare it to their own issues.
So it made me feel invalidated as well, so it was just really awful up until that point, because when the psychologist was still there and we had the—first she talked to me individually, and then she brought my mom in, and it was us three. I used that as an opportunity with her there, because she’s an immigrant, I can’t talk to her the way that I did in front of this woman behind closed doors, ‘cause my mom would be like “You have—” That would be a whole other fight that I was not trying to have. So I took it as an opportunity to respectfully say, “You know, you’re a major cause of why this is going undiagnosed and why people feel this way. Because the way that you have been kind of showing me what mental health is, in my mind is not what you’re telling me, but what I’m forced to believe essentially. Because no matter how many times I say, ‘But I think it’s this,’ you, like, negate it right away and then make me feel bad. And then in turn, make me not want to talk about it.”
And as much as I love my friends, we were 17/18-year-olds. They tried as much as they could by going to guidance, by, you know, doing something that they thought, “We can’t get her help, but other people can,” and still, you know, in turn backfired. Like, I couldn’t go to them for, “Hey can you, like, schedule an appointment with my doctor?” Like, we’re all underage. We’re all minors, we couldn’t do that [laughs]. But like my parents were that resource that I should have been able to go to, and it still felt like it was lacking a little bit.