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Why We Need To Write Our Own Mental Health Narratives

It is perhaps unsurprising that in a world where prejudice and discrimination are rampant, merely existing can invoke trauma upon our minds and bodies. I find myself thinking about this a lot, the difficulties of simply existing as who we are.

Maybe it was my experience of immigrating from rural Jamaica to inner-city London and learning that society had already predicted my destination. Or perhaps, it is simply my career in the medical profession, being immersed in a world where vulnerability is the norm, and the impact of trauma is all too evident.

I remember my first psychiatry placement. I stepped into the acute admissions ward and saw black and brown faces and heard stories not too different from those of my friends, family, and neighbours. Stories of migration and hardship, stories of abuse and loss. These were people who had been dealt a bad hand, people not too different to you or I. I was particularly drawn to one patient, a young black woman and her story of loss. I saw in her story, glimpses of the difficulties I too had faced, existing at the intersection of two marginalised identities. I also saw how she had been failed by the very services and systems that were created to support her.