I was given a wonderful opportunity to share my story with Rotary Club of Southbank on Tuesday 9th April 2019. As always after our lovely gathering and talking about some inspiring work that our club has contributed recently, I had the opportunity to share my story.
Prior to the event I was struggling to find a perfect speech. Being a perfectionist, being perfect all the time is one of my core goals. However something inside me kept saying that I should share my raw self and be open and honest and share my journey; failures, mental struggles of becoming what I'm today.
After so many hours of self talk, that's what I exactly did I opened about my struggle with mental health and being lost as a teenager in this country and having to leave up to the highest expectations from my parents. Not knowing where to go and how to get help and almost certainly not knowing that I actually had a mental health issue that I needed help.
Coming from a Sri Lankan background as a family we didn't talk about mental health. It's almost certain that my parents believed that as children we had everything. Yes we did we were given lots of amazing opportunity to succeed, financially looked after and loved and cared for but never given opportunity to talk about how we felt inside.
And that cycle of patterns plus struggling to make my way up in a country ( Australia) that I'm new too and working really hard to finish my education and live up to my parents expectations put me in a very dark place. I remember one day close to the age of 18 and telling my mother that "I don't feel okay inside and nothing brings me joy anymore" (in reality all I wanted to tell her was I'm ready to give up life). She looked at me deep in the eyes and said "But you have everything".
That's all she knew. As the saying goes your a product of your own culture for someone like my mum mental health was never a important issue. I never blamed her for that because you don't know what you don't know.
From that moment I made a promise to myself I'm going to figure this thing out. The first step to healing was to understand that I had "major depression" and needed medication to fix my serotonin levels in my brain. Being a stubborn teenager I refuse to believe that I needed medication and remember walking out from the doctors room saying "I can fix myself " and that's exactly what I start doing. I read every single piece of article I can find about depression and learn about the importance of "gratitude". I learned I'm the master of my own ship and I took looking after myself as a greater responsibility. I hang out with inspiring people and learn how to properly meditate and listen to positive podcasts and affirmations everyday, I learn to appreciate small things in life from morning sunshine to a warm hug.
Although I was struggling inside, from the outside world I was a high achiever. I completed my higher education with high marks, created a successful business by the age of 25 and start building a school while sponsoring 7 children in Africa and Sri Lanka while trying my very best to look after myself. Giving back to the community and knowing that I had the opportunity to change someone's life was a great part of my healing journey.
So here I'm at the age of 29 being pregnant with my beautiful baby, married to love of my life and living the life that I always wanted. It's not because of I was lucky but only because of I made a choice to not to give up.
I hope and pray who ever reading this; "May universe give you the power to understand your own potential and believe your journey is unique and inspiring exactly as you are and you have the power to become the best version of your self!".
Our club had the pleasure and honor in inducting our newest member for 2018-19, Jaqui Clark who was referred by a common Rotary family friend of President Amritpal Singh who happens to be Past President Peter Durrant and Rotarian Kay Durrant from Rotary Club of Karrinyup, District 9455 Western Australia (W.A.). Jaqui's vocation is in financial services and part of her New Year 2019 resolution is to join an organisation to give back to communities locally and worldwide. We are so pleased in having Jaqui in our club and with her induction, she has increased the club's male:female ratio being closer to 50-50.
We like to acknowledge the Guests that came:
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