Tammy

Mind HK Ambassador

I AM... a mental health advocate.

I AM... a nature lover.

I AM... an occasion runner.

I AM... a fitness enthusiast.

I AM... an engineer.




"I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I understand. We might not share the exact same experience. None of us really do. But the emotions that you are experiencing at the moment, that I can relate to. That your feelings are valid, regardless of what others say differently."





How has the stigma around mental health affected your life?

As someone who has been diagnosed with depression, I have been called or identified as “a lazy individual” on multiple occasions. My living with mental illness was perceived as repeatedly using depression as an excuse for procrastination. That wasn’t being said out loud, but it was very much implied. This can be very upsetting – especially if someone who feels this way is a family member or someone close to you.

When I summoned the courage to tell my family about my illness, I did not receive the kind of support or care that I’d like. It seems like to them, depression is something that’s just “all in the mind” and that the way of tackling it is to “snap out of it”. Easy-peasy, as one would call it. But I don’t believe it works that way, I mean, I wish it was that simple.

I, too, faced the dilemma of whether to disclose my illness to friends around me. I was anxious about how they would take the news and see me as a person. Most of my friends were empathetic of what I was going through and expressed love and support in helping me get through the difficult times.

There were moments that I was internalising the negative beliefs. It was like, sometimes, when you hear or experience something often enough, you start believing it or doubting yourself. I was doing exactly that. I was allowing other people’s judgement or ignorance to influence the way I felt about myself. That was quite detrimental because I noticed my self-esteem sunk to a new low and bringing shame into the mix. There were times that I felt I was more alone or isolated from the world than ever before.


How would you describe yourself? What are your labels?

I am someone who was diagnosed with depression. To be honest, if I ever get the chance, I don’t think I would take away this experience. Walking down the path of battling depression has allowed me to be more in touch with myself, unwire unhealthy past patterns and partially shaped the person I am today.

I guess what I am trying to get at is that I am a multifaceted individual who is not defined by a single feature. It is the combination of various qualities, parts, and perspectives of me that makes me whole.


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

There is a walk along the Bath skyline that I would always go on. It provided me with a safe space to process my emotions. This was much needed especially on those challenging days when I was consumed by negative thoughts. It allowed me to fully release the difficult emotions that held me back and find peace within myself. It served as an escape for me. Despite having recovered, it will continue to hold a dear place close to my heart.


What gave you hope during your recovery?

Real progress in recovery began when I started to look deeper into the reasons for making me more susceptible to mental illness. One of the main reasons was my lack of self-love. It was by fundamentally understanding that I am worthy enough, I am valuable enough, I matter enough, to give myself the love that I deserve. Breakthrough occurred once I stopped hating myself for being depressed and stopped hating the depression. But to almost imagine depression is a friend who is struggling. What would I do for that friend? I would sit with them and accept them how they are; I would hold them and be there for them. So, I learnt to do that for myself. I learnt to find that sinking feeling within me and gave it a huge amount of compassion. Once I stopped resisting it and leaned into it, the negative emotions gradually subsided with practice. This helped me get beyond the depression symptoms that were holding me hostage.

Tell us about your life now

I am proud to see myself as someone well into recovery and at a much better place than I have ever been. Don’t get me wrong, my life is not all rainbows and sunshine. But I am being extremely self-aware of my thought patterns and feelings.

Having the tool kit in dealing with what life throws at me on a day-to-day basis is fulfilling. It allows me to better equip myself for what is there to come. I prioritise my mental health above all.


What would you tell someone who is going through something similar to what you have experienced?

I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I understand.

We might not share the exact same experience. None of us really do. But the emotions that you are experiencing at the moment, that I can relate to. That your feelings are valid, regardless of what others say differently.

Learn more about depression:

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

Learn more about nature and mental health:

https://www.mind.org.hk/mental-health-a-to-z/nature-and-mental-health/how-can-nature-benefit-my-mental-health/

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/