Dear Thelma: My family thinks I bring bad luck, and it's making me depressed

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Those contemplating suicide can reach out to the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (03-2935 9935/ 014-322 3392); Talian Kasih (15999/ 019-261 5999 on WhatsApp); Jakim’s family, social and community care centre (011-1959 8214 on WhatsApp); or Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929/ email befrienders centres in malaysia).

Dear Thelma,

I come from a deeply traditional Indian family where beliefs in horoscopes, priests, and temple rituals hold significant importance.

Recently, I shared with my family that I have feelings for a guy from my university, only to face immediate opposition. According to my horoscope, our stars/signs are deemed unsuitable for a love relationship, predicting potential betrayal. This has escalated into a complex situation.

Additionally, I'm currently job-hunting, facing difficulties in securing interviews. My family attributes this to my supposedly cursed horoscope, prompting them to insist on more rituals.

While I respect their beliefs, the repeated consultations with priests are taking a toll on my mental well-being. The constant blame on me for the perceived bad luck is causing frequent conflicts at home, leading to depression.

I find myself unable to sleep at night due to overthinking about the potential consequences of this perceived curse. The pressure to adhere to these rituals is becoming overwhelming, and I'm exhausted. I value my faith, but it's impacting my peace of mind, and I'm struggling to cope.

I need to convey to my parents that this situation is causing me significant distress. I've reached a point where I'm grappling with suicidal thoughts, and I urgently need their support and understanding. How can I communicate my feelings without causing further conflict, and seek the help I need?

Depressed Soul

Going in for a blessing after childbirth, for a wedding, or for support before interviews or after a loss is wonderful. However, this is not what is happening here.

Your parents are putting you in a position where they tell you over and over that you’re bad. That’s bullying, plain and simple.

You have been bullied for so long that you are at breaking point; depressed and suicidal.

First, see a psychiatrist, a medical doctor who specialises in mental health. Ask to be assessed for depression and suicidal ideation.

As your parents have led to this breakdown, medication is not a solution for that problem. However, medication can help lift some of the mental burden, so have a chat to see if this would be useful to you while you make other changes.

Second, your parents must change. If someone respected in your community can talk to them frankly, then the knowledge that they have driven their daughter into ill-health may be a wake-up call.

If it is, then the next steps are simple: No more talking about you being cursed. If there is such a thing, then you’ve had enough blessings to fix it.

If your parents want to say prayers for you, that’s fine. But they do it on their own, without your presence. Enough is enough.

You are a young woman about to start out on her career. There’s a potential romantic interest too! From your letter, you are also articulate and thoughtful. All of that is worth celebrating.

Hopefully, your parents change their focus and start being proud of you. If they’re willing to do this work, then your relationship with them should improve.

However, all this blame and nastiness directed at you will have an impact. Please also go to a mental health professional who can help you overcome your depression, and recover your self-esteem and joy in life. It’s time for a reset for all parties.

Third, surround yourself with empowering people who love you for who you are right now, and who are excited about your happy future. We all need support in life, so good friends are vital.

What concerns me is that kind people do not focus on telling their kids they are bad. Abusive people do. Abusive people love telling others that they are bad, need fixing, won’t ever make it, etc.

Also, abusive people work on their targets, making sure that they don’t escape. Your parents are sabotaging your ability to earn money, be independent and your potential relationships.

So I’m concerned that your parents are aware of the effect their actions have on you and that their actions are intentional. If so, then talking to them won’t work.

We don’t talk much about abuse within families but it is frighteningly common. In a 2022 study led by Nurin Sarah Noor Azaf, Perdana University, analysis of 121 new students revealed that 15.7% had experienced physical abuse, 6.6% neglect and 2.5% sexual abuse, in addition to a whopping 43.8% who were targeted by emotional abuse.

If you don’t see change, you would profit from a few sessions with a counsellor who is skilled in working with cases of abuse. As you are suicidal, please see a trained professional! She should have a Master’s Degree in counselling, psychology or social work that included at least 300 hours of supervised client work.

I’m aware that it can be frightening to open up to a stranger about family affairs. However, this situation has deeply impacted your well-being, causing significant distress.

It's clear that this isn't a typical scenario, and it's essential to address it promptly to help you regain your mental and emotional stability.

So reach out, and get the help you need. You deserve happiness.

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