Resident writer Gemma caught up with BBC Radio 1Xtra & BBC Asian Network’s DJ, Mim Shaikh, about his latest spoken word video detailing his Mother’s mental health and the affect it’s had on his life.
Hi Mim, thanks so much for chatting with me again! I was so excited to see your latest video as I love your work! But, especially this one as it was written to your Mum. I really connected with this on a personal level as my Mum has struggled with her mental health too. Has your Mum watched the video? What was her reaction?
She was the first person I showed the video to. As soon as I had it completed, I rushed downstairs. I think it was Christmas Day, and I sat by her side showed her the video. She said is that about me? And I said yes. What did you take from it, and she replied that you’re going to carry on giving me money and we both started laughing.
How did you find it affected you, growing up without her as a Mother ‘figure’? And, how did it affect you growing up without a Dad?
I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s made me into the person that I am today, a very strong, confident and talented individual. I always thought everyone has the same mindset as me whilst I was growing up, but I sooner realised that the pain and lack of support that I may have experienced at a younger age has only been a good thing for my development. It kinda forced me to grow up a bit quicker than some of my friends or other family members who were the same age as me.
Mental Health can be so debilitating and it’s so important to understand what a person is going through. But when you’re young it’s not so easy to understand – did you know what was happening with your Mum?
When I was younger not at all, I remember one of my Aunties sitting me down and saying your Mum isn’t like other Mums and she tried to explain the situation but at the time it never really registered. And I never questioned why, as much as I do now. Only realised over the last couple of years, what was really the root and causes to the way her mind operates.
At what point in your life did you feel she started leaning on you for support? Did this put weight on your mental health as a result?
She’s never really leaned on me for any type of support if I’m being completely honest. I felt the need, and still do, to this day, that I need to be her human support system and “I will carry on doing that till my existence is taken away,” like I say in my spoken word piece. I think whilst being young, you crave and desire love and attention seeing as I was an only child especially. That may have had an affect on me, but nothing too strenuous that I couldn’t really manage or needed a lot of help with.
I think it’s often overlooked when a child is growing up surrounded by an unhealthy relationship with their parents through things like divorce, abuse, mental health etc. Do you think more should be done for those growing up in such an environment?
I think the main thing that needs to be done is just to let young kids know that it’s cool and normal to come from families that aren’t so nuclear. It’s actually becoming the norm now. But we don’t have these conversations in schools, we should be able to introduce subjects or support systems that allow us to talk to someone and have someone talk to us about what’s going on at home. I had a few teachers who reached out all from the goodness of their hearts. If we had more of that, I’m sure there will be less problems with the issue.
It was great to hear you on Radio 1 on Wednesday night, and your words and advice really inspired me. What would you say your most valuable piece of advice would be for parents who struggle with their mental health?
To any parent struggling with their mental health I would say confide in the child you brought into this world because they just want to see the best in you. They want to be able to help, care and support but if they don’t know what’s going on in that mind of yours then unfortunately they can’t do as much as they’d like to. The first step is to start discourse.
And, what advice would give to those who have parents struggling with their mental health?
It’s hard man, it really is. I been there and I still am. I just think, find a way where you can bond over one thing. Like my Mum loves knitting, so I’ve started paying more attention to what she knits and I try to help her. It’s worked wonders for her, that she’s even offered to knit me some socks. Perfect for this bloody snow that’s about to hit us!!!
Thank you so much for your time, and thank you for all you do for mental health awareness!
You can check out our previous interview with Mim his last inspirational spoken word video, ‘Coming Out’!