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Forums / Multicultural experiences / How culture related stress made me feel depressed

Topic: How culture related stress made me feel depressed

10 posts, 0 answered
  1. Spencerstriver
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    • China
    Spencerstriver avatar
    2 posts
    5 December 2017
    My name is Spencer; I am a first generation immigrant from Asia. From my personal experience over the past few years, I find it is really hard to adapt myself to a new country and obtaining a permanent visa/citizenship is not an easy task. It is not like taking candy from a baby, in fact, I have overcome difficulties since the first day I arrived Australia.
    I was diagnosed with depression a few months after I quit my first office job in Australia. At that time, I felt so stressed because so many pressures had been exerted on me at the same time.
    First, while I was working, I had to spend nearly three hours on traveling between home and work every working day, indeed. I need to buy a car. But I have to get Australian driver’s license after grant of permanent visa. Believe or not, I failed the road test three times even after I practiced more than 50 hours with a professional instructor. I was so frustrated and I couldn’t believe I failed again and again.
    Second, I was planning to get my accountant certificate, so I booked an exam, paid fees online and then study materials would be sent to me. However, they sent a parcel to the wrong place and did not arrange redelivery until one month later. This certainly distorted my entire plan and made me worried a lot. What was worse, the process of being a certified accountant in Australia is quite different from my home country. The job I was doing does not satisfy the requirement in Australia, so I questioned my ability and totally confused about my future.
    Perhaps family pressure was the last straw for me. In my culture, a man is supposed to be independent at the age of thirty, and it usually implies that I should possess a good and stable job, a vehicle and a house. My parents urged me to buy a house in Australia and they planned to sell their own house in order to help me pay for the deposit. Parental love is great, but it made me feel guilty.
    All these things happened in three months and finally I exploded and quit my job. After being unemployed for a few months, I became depressed and attempted suicide. When I came back to life, I changed my mind. There are so many people living in poverty, illiteracy and war zones, and they still struggling to live no matter what happened to them. Maybe I was chosen to go through these difficulties, so all I need to do is to find the best way to cope with problems, build up my resistance to stress and carry on.
  2. james1
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    3043 posts
    6 December 2017 in reply to Spencerstriver

    Hi spencer,

    Welcome to the forums!

    I am a second generation Australian and my parents came from China when they were in their 20's. There are a lot of things you have said that I have heard my father talk about from his early time here, but also things which he has held onto.

    A lot of the pressure of just trying to do all the official things right and get set up, to work and having a house and money issues. Then the big issue of family pressure (culturally, he needed to be doing well as the eldest son)...it's a lot to go through.

    I am sorry to hear that you fell into quite bad depression, but glad to hear that you are trying to get your life back on track. Congratulations - that takes a lot of courage.

    Have you ever spoken to any doctors, even a local GP about your mental health struggles?

    James

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Spencerstriver
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    2 posts
    6 December 2017 in reply to james1

    Hi James,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Yes, I saw GP several times both in Australia and back in China. They prescribed antidepressant for me and I took one dose everyday just to keep negative emotions at bay. I withdrew medicine first time after six months treatment, but depression bounced back quickly. I took extra dose for another nine months and now I’ve been stopped taking it for roughly two months.

    No doubt that your father had similar experience during first few years in Australia. However, I was raised from a single child family, so nobody could share the responsibility with me for taking care of old parents. Think of your grandparents, are they well looked after by your uncles/aunts? Having siblings is actually a irreplacable advantage for immigrants.

    Another thing concerned me a lot is that my parents are old now and their don’t speak English at all. Even if I were able to bring them to Australia, they wouldn’t feel happy. Once my father visited me and we were stepping out shopping centre and a guy drove past and threw eggs on us. This is an extreme case we encountered only once in our lives, but we’ve seen cold voilences/verbal abuse many times in Australia. If I can’t be accepted by most Australians, so can’t my parents.

    Now I’m doing my best to expand my social network and volunteering for NGOs. Hopefully I’ll find my role in this society.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. james1
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    6 December 2017 in reply to Spencerstriver

    hi spencerstriver,

    oh you are chinese as well? I totally understand what you mean about needing to take care of your parents and struggling to do it alone.

    It is very hard because that is the cultural expectation and people here in australia who are not from china do not understand that. I have many chinese friends here who either live with their parents or very close to them, basically because of that reason.

    It sounds like expanding your social network and volunteering is a very good idea. Adjusting to a different lifestyle and cultural experience is a slow process because it's not just you who has to adjust, but your parents as well. They will need to learn to live without having you physically there.

    It is not a bad thing, but it is difficult for you both and making sure you have a good support network is really important.

    What kinds of things would you like to do for volunteering and do you also have other hobbies you could perhaps join a group for?

    James

    1 person found this helpful
  5. J.M.12345
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    46 posts
    7 December 2017 in reply to Spencerstriver

    Hi Spencer,

    I'm sorry to hear that you've passed through such a tough time. James gave plenty of great advice.

    I'm a migrant myself but migrated at a young age with my parents. Therefore, these pressures your deal with are also ones I have seen my parents undergo! The struggle of starting from scratch, buying a house, car etc. Finding your identity in a foreign country and gaining that sense of belonging and community, without forgetting your old home. And then there's missing family and friends and your childhood country! It's all so tough.

    It sounds like you're doing the right thing though by visiting your GP and taking care of your mental health. Listen to the doctors, go to therapy, exercise, eat healthy, do all that it takes to stay mentally well! You've got heaps of hardships but a smooth sea never made a skilful sailor as they say.

    In James' last post, he mentioned hobbies. I agree entirely that hobbies are a really good way to destress and take your mind off things. Joining a new activity like swimming or trying something like gardening can help you stop and smell the roses (literally!) and can go a long way in reducing that anxiety from all the hardships that surround you.

    Well done for speaking up though and volunteering. I'm sure many others will benefit from hearing your story and in a way, that is doing good for the world.

    Cheers,

    Josette

    1 person found this helpful
  6. op1996
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    7 posts
    8 December 2017 in reply to Spencerstriver

    Hi Spencer,

    I am glad that you decide to be resilient with your journey. You are right, adversities happen so we can learn how to cope with them better, so we can become stronger each time we face them. I hope being actively involved in a forum like this will make you feel better because you're not the only one.

    It's hard to focus on adjusting to the new environment at your own pace when there are so much pressure from cultural/ parental expectations. I am Vietnamese and I tend to always put a lot of pressure on my self because I am the oldest child & the only child studying overseas. Self pressure adding on top of loneliness, external stressors, cultural difference are the ingredients for anxiety/ depression. I hope you can start one removing the internal pressure first then slowly learn the strategies to cope with life stressors.

    Chinh

    1 person found this helpful
  7. blueskye
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    67 posts
    9 December 2017 in reply to Spencerstriver

    Hi Spencer,

    I am so sorry to hear about your issues.

    Just like James, I am a second generation Australian. My dad is from Hong Kong and my mum is from China. I was born in Darwin and have living in Perth for as long as I can remember.

    I failed my driving test 3 times as well, perhaps 4 times. I understand it’s disheartening because I was in the same boat. However, you have to keep trying. Remember that you have practised a LOT and that you CAN do it. It’s all just nerves. I now have my licence and failing the driving tests is a distant memory.

    I also feel sorry for the person who threw eggs at you and your father. If they were having an amazing day, why would they be spending their time throwing eggs at people? The person was probably having an awful day and released his negative feelings onto you and your father who happened to be there. If a person was having a great day, they would be holidaying in Hawaii or doing something more productive. I don't know about you but I don't spend my spare time waiting to throw eggs at people. What a waste of eggs! Bake a cake instead with the eggs.

    I've experienced racist attacks myself but I like to think that those people aren't educated. They are either having a horrible day, have some mental health issues themselves, or haven't been exposed to proper encounters with different ethnic people.

    Have you considered applying for jobs online? You don't have to stick with accounting. There are other jobs out there that you may qualify for. They might even be better pay than being an accounting. Think outside the box and don't limit your options.

    Good on you for thinking more positively! Keep it up. Good things are coming your way!

    Stay strong :)

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    845 posts
    2 January 2018

    Hello Spencer,

    Just read your thread and would like to wish you a happy and prosperous 2018 where many of the past challenges and difficulties would be resolved. You definitely have gone through a lot of hardship. It's true for so many of us who have migrated to Australia that leaving crisis behind isn't the only solution. The battles continue with the migration process and resettlement in a new country. Cultural expectations about manhood and studies, work/success etc can definitely add to the already difficult equation. As 46% of our population is born overseas, I can tell you that this is a common struggle for many. I was reading the other day that in Melbourne we have the most educated taxi drivers, the majority of them having degrees and high skilled qualifications in their country of origin which are not recognized here, thus working as taxi drivers or delivery drivers. It's by no means easy. And not having appropriate supports makes it harder. Some of the challenges you describe happen to local people also, of course, but having migrated from another country, with different culture and ways of doing things, language, expectations etc makes it so much harder. I'd like to take the opportunity to congratulate you for your perfect language skills and the fact that you were employed so early on. Many take years or decades. Also, your determination to take up additional studies to get your skills and qualification recognized here. Also, congratulate you for navigating the complexities of the internet and accessing this forum! Many are not able to do this. You have such great insight into the whole situation and self-awareness which tells me you are very resilient and a survivor. You also have the ability to compare situations and conclude that yours isn't as bad as many other people and you have the ability to draw upon that fact and get strength to carry on. Well done! Your willingness to live, to go on and learn, succeed and build a new life with whatever you have in your hands right now is commendable! Of course it takes time. And it's hard. And there will be many failures along the way and hurdles and challenges, however, you are already in the race. You have a great outlook into your situation and you have concluded that it is a learning process and you will go through it. This is a great step forward. I truly am glad you reached out and share your story as many can relate. Keep engaging and sharing and get all the support you need along the way! :)

  9. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    2 January 2018 in reply to james1

    Hello James,

    Such a good recommendation. The conversation with a GP is a great start! It took me years of feeling very depressed, moody, anxious and unable to function before I thought of taking to a doctor about it. In my mind, this was an 'emotional' issue not one that needed medical intervention. Coming from another country, I also didn't know how the health and mental health systems work here and how to start the conversation. i believe a doctor is a good starting point. :)

  10. Donte'
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    2 January 2018 in reply to Spencerstriver

    Hi Spencer,

    My daughter is an only child and often wishes she had siblings. Yes, it could be harder being the only one but also has its advantages. The thing is we can't change something like this. We just have to do the best we can with whatever we have. I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience where you were assaulted in such a terrible and demeaning way. Many have similar stories unfortunately, but in time, most people tend to develop their own circle and find acceptance and build a life based on their interests, and values and unique purpose. Of course, what you described is a crime and should be reported to the police. Harassment is totally unacceptable and unlawful in whatever form it may take. This is something that can happen in any setting and in any country of course despite if it's racially based or not. Unfortunately there are many disrespectful people in this world. Luckily, there are also many good people around. Hope you have had the opportunity to talk about this experience with a counselor or someone who can support you. I've had experiences where people threw an empty bottle at me down the street or called me derogatory names and i know how it feels. Yes, it will be very hard for your elderly parents to live here. I'm a strong supporter of leaving our elderly parents in their homeland where they can age and die in the land they have lived and loved. Bringing them over in such an age is not necessarily a good thing. But of course depends on the individual circumstances. Mine live overseas and even though they have visited a few times, I couldn't envisage them moving here, even though they speak English and had lived here in the past and are Australian citizens. Many cultures share this common value that parents have to be looked after by their children but I would never expect that from my own daughter. She's a single child and that is a huge responsibility which no one prepares you for. I guess no one else can make this decision for us but us. And there's no right or wrong despite what our culture dictates. Ultimately, t falls upon the individual and their capacity. You'll make your own decision and whatever that may be, it will be the right one for you. No one can tell you otherwise. :)

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