This is a reflective blog piece written by Birmingham-based Aaron Singh Randhawa about his experiences of mental ill-health and ongoing journey in recovery. You can follow Aaron’s advocacy on his Twitter: @rhandawa_aaron
The year 2015 was supposed to be a positive year, I started university, things were looking positive, but somehow I wasn’t as happy as I should have been. I noticed that I was tired a lot, I didn’t have the energy or motivation to get out of bed. I thought nothing of it, I thought maybe I’m just overtired, but then things got worse. I started thinking negative thoughts, I made myself believe that people were against me, even my own family. Things got quite tough where I was scared to leave the house, my thoughts were getting more and more negative, the feeling of worthlessness and uselessness: every day I used to think why am I alive?
After searching on the internet, I was introduced to mental health, but I thought I can’t be depressed, us Sikhs we don’t suffer with depression or mental illness, but as time went on, things began to get worse, I then thought despite me being a Sikh I’m still human I’m the same as every other human no matter what religion or ethnicity, I started to believe yes I did suffer with mental health issues, but I was too afraid to admit it, I didn’t want to tell my family because I thought they would reject me and disown me.
I remember sitting in my room on my computer chair in the dark staring out the window crying, my mum came into my room and she noticed me upset, that’s when I built up the courage to just say look I don’t feel good in myself, and gods honest truth, the reaction was heartbreaking my mum was in tears and so was my dad. They said “son we will help you, we’re a family, we’re going to get through this, anyone can suffer with mental health issues, we love you.”
Admitting my problem was the best thing I ever did. After going to the doctors the next day, I was put on anti-depressants, and gave me support numbers which was put into place, however things didn’t stop there, as days went on I began to start hallucinating, I starting hearing evil voices inside my head, they got louder and more frequent and they increased in numbers, they were old people talking, young children singing nursery rhymes, dark demon voices talking another language, this is when I thought I’ve got a problem, turns out I’ve got psychosis too.
Was I different from everyone else? I’ve never seen a Sikh with psychosis, the elder generation would say to me your being silly it’s all in your head and they brushed it off this really brought me down. fast forward to 2019, I’m now in recovery, I’m seeing regular psychiatrists and a care coordinator, I wanted to turn my experience and knowledge to help others in similar situations as me, I wanted to raise awareness in Punjabi and Sikh culture that just because we’re Sikhs it doesn’t mean we’re are immune to mental health issues, we’re human like anyone else.
I just want anyone who sees any warning signs or begin to feel unwell, don’t suffer in silence, seek help, there are so many amazing people out there to help.. I for one will be someone who will always help any person in the best way I can, because if I can do it, why can’t anyone else?
Remember, waheguru does things for a reason. Trust god and he will put you on the right path.
Come and find me on social media, my name is Aaron Singh Randhawa and this is my journey.