My name is Haifa, I had been a carer to my father who suffered chronic illness for 20 years, my dad sadly passed away from cancer in August of 2016. I am the eldest child of four from an ethnic family, in my culture it is somehow expected that children particularly the eldest assists in looking after parents. For me this was something I loved doing and I became conditioned in helping my family in any way I could.
During my dad’s illness I felt it integral to accompany him to every specialist appointment since his English was fair and understanding medical jargon is difficult for anyone let alone someone with poor English. During this journey with my dad I tried to learn everything I could about diagnosis, prognosis and treatment so I could explain and try to fill him with hope. It was not easy to feel heavy with worry and stress about your family and fear of the unknown, certainly stress and depression over this consumed me and of course, my parents, however I knew that I had to get it together and climb out of this abyss otherwise we were all going to suffer.
At the time, it did not occur to me to speak to anyone, in fact I don’t think I knew that what I was experiencing was depression and anxiety until I started to read literature about it, from there I began reading self-help and philosophy related books which helped me immensely to feel better and understand the amazing work of the Universe and man’s place in it.
I began to develop an interest in supported recovery specifically for people from cultural backgrounds who like my dad, came to this country and could not quite fit in with where everything was in the medical and services domain. I realised when I spoke to people about their stressors they felt better and hopeful and I realised that essentially that’s what it took, someone to listen and understand and really offer some constructive assistance even if that meant navigating a service, explaining in their language or just telling them that they are not alone.
Assisting in this way is sometimes enough to help someone understand and see things from a different perspective which is enough to make a difference in how that person sees the situation with hope and strength.