How do I nurture good mental health? Well, to answer that, I have to reflect on my work. Through my narrative research project, I found that racialised individuals who interact with negative emotions by sharing lived experiences of racism and the stories they make out of those experiences, have overall positive mental health and well-being. The stories they tell are a window into their emotions and the beliefs they hold about why they encountered those experiences. So, my ability to craft narratives from a place of pain, anger, fear helps me nurture good mental health and shape my interactions with others.
That is, how we talk about the controversial events in our lives has a profound impact on our overall mental health and wellbeing. So, if one changes the way they tell their life story, one could become a healthier, a more content person. Looking back on my life: when I fled to Europe due to a war in my country; my asylum claim was rejected and I was arbitrarily detained for six months. So, if one would reflect upon this experience of my life today, would one see this as just one of many experiences in which things were going great, and suddenly turned sour? Or would one see it as another example of a tough experience that had a positive impact, that toughened me up, and led me to my true self?
My true self in a sense that by telling this story, I choose to embrace my lived experiences: the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. The way we tell our storied lives has implications for our mental health. For instance, if I am the kind of person who remembers the positives that came out of that traumatising experience of being denied asylum and then arbitrarily detained for six months, it is then obvious that I do enjoy a greater sense of well-being, contentment, and satisfaction in my life. Owning my story provides foundation of my identity and lends meaning to my existence. A meaning to my existence in a sense that it is based on being considerate of and helping others.