Her Father’s Daughter
The harsh reality of living with someone with mental health disorders.
I come from a family of seven. My parents, both came here over three decades ago and are based in London. Firstly, I would like to thank FOSIS for this amazing project – I have never been able to openly discuss this anywhere before, I still find it difficult discussing this with people beyond my immediate family. So thank you.
My father. My father has been known to have a problem since childhood of buying lots of things, and then finding it difficult to throw unwanted, unused items away. He will buy the most random things, and buy them more than once. We own pretty much anything your normal functioning family wouldn’t, and we will have at least 5-10 of that item. The clutter in our house therefore builds up and takes up space unnecessarily due to his emotional attachment to such objects. Compulsive Hoarding has been defined as a mental disorder and form of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, and is more common in people with psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and avoidance traits. My father is one of those people. The arguments in the house have been plentiful. The stress has been high. Mum doesn’t enjoy living in what feels like a storage cupboard, and dad has difficulty letting go. Sometimes it felt like my own dad loved these items more than his own children. I hated him whilst growing up. I was embarrassed to invite friends over, he was a socially awkward person and everyone at home felt depressed, anxious and socially isolated. It was a pain cleaning, and a pain finding lost items.
The harsh reality is my dad is mentally ill, and it has affected the whole family. My two brothers, my two younger sisters, my parents. My mother has been chronically depressed for most of her married life. The lack of financial and emotional stability my mother received from her husband, who himself is psychologically unfit to provide for his family, meant that my mother was often felt alone and unsupported. This meant that my mum was always working extra hours, and exhausting herself beyond words. Allah has most definitely granted her with patience, but after this long – I feel like this life is taking a toll on her.
I’ve considered running away from home, sometimes telling my mum to come with me. Anxiety, depression, insomnia- you name it, I’ve probably felt it. I’ve considered ending my life throughout my school years, but always had that conscience telling me to be God-fearful and God-dependent. After hardship comes ease inshallah. It was not until a few years ago, due to the amazing work by Channel 4, “The Hoarder next door” that we realised that he was not the only one. We were not alone, and it seemed to be something affecting others too. My older brothers, both studying medicine, started reading up further about this condition. It’s crazy when the textbooks and articles are listing symptoms that are completely relatable to your life. The harsh reality is that I was born and raised into a family full of mental health problems. Mental health problems don’t affect single individuals; they affect the whole family, the whole social network of people connected to that person. Friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours. It can be infectious in that, one mental health problem leads others to feel mentally unstable too – often testing your patience. Now that society is working towards getting mental health problems to be more widely recognised, I’m looking for ways to move forward. Mental health is important, it affects everything else we do in life. It’s time we start finding solutions, and making them more easily accessible to the individuals who need it most and to their friends and families.
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