Natalie

Mind HK Ambassador

I AM... a student.

I AM... a teacher.

I AM... a mental health advocate.

No title. Drawing by Natalie.

"I am most proud of myself. To this day, I still can't believe I recovered from depression and a psychotic episode and have a bright life ahead of me. I think this is one of the highlights and major accomplishments in my life. "


Tell us about your life now

I used to think that I am nothing special and hence, I had low self-esteem. But after recovering from my first psychotic episode and depression, I realise I am much stronger than I thought. It is as if the heavy, dark, soaked cloth that has been covering me has lifted and now I feel like I am the best version of myself. I also have set a new career goal for myself which is to become a clinical psychologist to help more people who are suffering from mental illnesses. I love my life as it is right now.


Where/what has been important to you in your mental health journey? Why?

Paris. This is where my depression started. I attended a summer course in Paris after the second year of university. That summer, my grandfather passed away. He was one of my main caregivers when I was growing up and I was very close to him. I was not able to return to Hong Kong to see him one last time before he passed away, or to attend his funeral. It was my first time handling death. I didn't know how to grieve. I was alone in a foreign city where I had no support systems. All I did was push my sorrow down, pretend as if nothing had happened, and continued to live my life normally. However, the grief festered into guilt and self-blaming. In the following years of my depression, I often thought about ending my own life.


Home in Dreamland. Drawing by Natalie

How has the stigma around mental health affected your life?

When I entered the labour market again, I was open with my potential employers and mentioned that I had once suffered from a psychotic episode. None of them hired me despite my qualifications. When I decided not to disclose too much to potential employers, the job offers started coming in.


How would you describe yourself? What are your labels?

Chatterbox: I now love talking with people; I love to learn about people's life stories and points of view.

Neophilia: I love trying out new things. I realise that life is short and there is so much I have never done before. Tree climbing, learning new musical instruments, travelling, publishing children books... You name it! I want to try them all!

Foodie: One of the greatest pleasures in my life is food. Enjoying exquisite food brings me joy like no other.

Polymath: I did my undergraduate studies in Art History, and now I am doing a psychology conversion Master's degree, aiming to become a clinical psychologist. I love my academic background, as I always admired how knowledgeable Renaissance Polymaths were.


What gave you hope during your recovery?

My grandfather gave me the greatest hope during my recovery. He suffered from a stroke twice before he died, yet he had managed to recover (he trained himself to walk again) from them twice. I am always in awe of his perseverance and strength. I thought “I am his granddaughter, this determination must run in my blood.” It is this thought that pulled me through my recovery.

Symptom #1 Self Reference. Drawing by Natalie.

What has your mental health journey taught you?

I have learnt to be more compassionate when people disclose their problems to me. I understand that with the stigma in our society, people are not very willing to talk about their mental health conditions. Therefore, when someone confides in me and tells me their problems, I pay 100% attention, as I would like to honour their trust in me with all my heart.



What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of myself. To this day, I still can't believe I have recovered from depression and a psychotic episode and have a bright future ahead of me. I think this is one of the highlights and major accomplishments in my life.

 

Learn more about psychosis:

https://www.mind.org.hk/mental-health-a-to-z/understanding-psychosis/what-is-psychosis/

Learn more about depression:

https://www.mind.org.hk/mental-health-a-to-z/depression/what-is-depression/

Seeking help in Hong Kong:

https://www.mind.org.hk/getting-help/

List of mental health services provided by local NGOs:

https://www.mind.org.hk/community-directory/

Find help now:

https://www.mind.org.hk/find-help-now/