Tomek from Poland, now living in Spain, tells us his experience of dealing with his mental health at a very young age in Warsaw and how different perspectives can make the difference in a bad or a good decision for a young person.
My mental health story begins at the Primary School in Poland. I was getting good grades, teachers were sending me to the different competition till the moment a teacher went to the head deputy claiming that I am malnourished. This was the beginning.
I was not attending classes with other children as I needed to meet with the several psychologists, doctors, and the prosecutor. The same questions were repeated several times, none of them was interested in poverty issue in my family. Did they understand that every day I would go to the health centre for the elderly people to get a hot meal for my family? If you wonder, NO! Moreover the social workers who cooperated with my school, they were not willing to offer any kind of support to my mum, who is still receiving a minimal pension level. In their opinion, she was not meeting their criteria, eventually even asking her to pay for that meal at the health centre.
How specific was the criteria that social services held and to make an assumption that the kid is malnourished? Which i didn’t agree. The school even sent a letter to the court inquiring to send me to an orphanage. Happily it did not happen, the inquire was solved by adjudication of temporary probation officer, his support was useless as his opinion was created in advance. All of them were thinking that is the best solution for a little kid. Following a full list of the activities, I was about to commit suicide twice to manage my feelings. Moreover, I was diagnosed when I was in my high school with an eating disorder due to the nervous system experience.
To talk more specifically about the mental health, the first time I have heard of this term at the university. I remember that I was reading an article about psychopathology to find an inspiration for my essay. The author mentioned about emotional immaturity, I felt anxious about this term. I would not agree with it, even if I realized subconsciously that it was about me. I was not doing anything with it, I wanted to pretend that I am a regular person without any extraordinary experiences. It was not the right choice, as I was feeling depressed and apathetic for hours, I did have a lack of concentration and I do feel a lot of insecurities about my future till now. I was encouraged to write about my feelings and thought, and now Creative Writing is a great therapy for me. I feel powerful, I started to see more perspective in my life with the tool of writing. I believe it will allow me to move on to the next stage of life. The battle is still on as the words leads me to discover a stronger version of me with the right tools in my hand.
I am not the person to give the opinion if my story was particular or a part of mental health problems in Poland. Through my life experience and people that I have met in Poland, I would say that we do make too many assumptions. Therefore I would not confess any struggle that I am having in my head with my Polish acquaintance to be misunderstood. The reality is that many people – I think – share my opinion. People with similar experience are looking for the acceptance from the society, then would not like to endanger themselves by not getting support.
A short advice for Polish people, and everyone who reads, a short sincere talk with the entrusted person could give a different light to the matter that we struggle with. You can start it from saying to your neighbour: HELLO!