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This is my story by Esra - 01/07/2021 :: 31/07/2021


Hey you! Yes you! My name is Esra. I'm here to tell you a bit of my story of having complex trauma and illnesses which is followed from Child to Adulthood abuse.

It all started when I was about 6 years old. I experienced something that no child should experience. Yep, you've got it! I experienced abuse from not one, not two, but several abusers.

Growing up, I didn't really know that what I was going through, was abuse. I only thought 1) that my abusers have anger issues and abuse and 2) my mind kept telling me that I'm only being disciplined. These thoughts I've been having with abuse, it changed once I was in grade four, 2012.

2012 was the year that things began to fall apart.

I would go to school crying, sometimes crying for no reasons, other times, I'd be so overwhelmed by what has been going on for me and I would lack motivation into not doing anything which had concerned some.

I remember my primary school social worker had made several contacts with the Family GP to say how they were worried about my mental health and needed to be referred onto see a Psychologist specialized in Child Development and trauma for assessment.

After having a few assessments completed, I went back to the Family GP to get the assessment results and was told that I had been diagnosed with a couple of mental illnesses. At first, I didn't know what my diagnoses meant and how I've seemed to have developed the symptoms of the conditions, other then I only thought my mental health conditions were a physical illness and that I'd better within a week or two... Which is fair enough I guess, right?

Anyways, days had passed, and I was still fixated on what my mental health conditions meant and how it would affect me. So, what I did was, I dug around for information, whether it was from the internet or professionals as I was desperate to look for answers.

Eventually, I found some answers to what my diagnosed mental health conditions were and how it affects an individual. I didn't like the feeling of it to be honest.

 The year 2016 came along and I can tell you this much that I felt my mental health conditions were beginning to consume and ruin my day-to-day life.

I remember calling up a helpline one day, telling them what's been happening for me. After talking about some real traumatizing events of what has happened to me as a child and as far as the counsellor being concerned, I remember being told “I'm going to call for police to assist you as I'm concerned about your safety”. I had been busy at the time, putting in the effort to not allow the counsellor to call anyone, but somehow, the phone had cut out and I began to panic!

At least 1-2 hours later, I noticed that Police attended the scene and had found me looking highly anxious, not able to move off the spot due to shakiness and inability to speak in full sentences.

It took me a few moments to talk to the officer who was standing in front me. His colleague was talking to my dad.

When I tried to talk to the officer, I began to panic and cry. I took a few steps back and this is when the officer came walking towards me, holding out his hand, telling me “It’s OK. You're safe. Im here to help you”.

There were many thoughts rushing around in mind and I had mixed emotions at the same time.

The officer had asked me several questions about my personal life, school and mental health. The conversation reached a point of where I was told “Right, we're taking you to hospital”. I then responded by asking the officer in front of his colleague “But what about my dad?”. The officer responded by saying “I don't care. He'll move on. My colleague will tell your dad that we're taking you to hospital”. I kept quiet.

At least 15 minutes later, I remember stepping out of the police car, looking and feeling highly anxious, depressed, flat... I couldn't find the words to express how I was feeling on the day I arrived at the hospital emergency department.

Soon enough, after being triaged by the nurses and having my details correct on the hospital system, I remember walking down the corridors with the police officers looking like they were my very own security guards, with the two officers, both standing on my left and right side.

It soon turned out to be that the two police officers needed to leave as it was close to their shifts ending and I remember that the officer, before he left, who was speaking and brought me into hospital, had asked if I wanted his contact details whenever I need some assistance and I responded by saying “No”. Yet, the officer pulled out his business card, writing down both his full name, contact number and which Police Station he was working at, at the time. This was when This is when the officers had left me in the hands of the Paediatric team of doctors and nurses.

2019, after reminding myself of what the police officers did back in 2016 for me, I knew I had to thank these officers for going above and beyond, especially the one who had main contact with me and drove me into hospital. So, what I did to thank one of the officers was that I called the Police Station and spoke to the officer, thanking him for all that he has done to go over and beyond his job requirements to assist me as a Police Officer.

We see and hear often that Police are being slammed on the media for all sorts of issues, but I want to let you know that there are some police officers who choose to go over and beyond their job requirements to assist you.



How many people have lost their lives to Suicide?

Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years. (the stats need to change and be reduced!!)


What is the depression rate in Australia?

At least 1 in 16 Australians is currently experiencing depression disorder.


Esra Gunyel, Leader, TAS Multicultural Ambassadors 2021

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This is my story by Esra - 01/07/2021 :: 31/07/2021

This is my story by Esra - 01/05/2021 :: 31/12/2021


‘Overcoming barriers of my mental health’

Life for me, has been very difficult. I had experienced severe bullying throughout primary and high school, being around people who were racist to me and having friendship issues.

I didn’t know who to turn to. It was hard.

All the issues I have faced throughout my early childhood years until this year had caused me so much distress and ongoing trauma.

I should say that 2020 has been a difficult year and to name a couple, COVID-19, exam stress, re- engaging with college, being admitted to the hospital and a lot more, because I have been experiencing poor mental health to the point of where I became uncontrollably overwhelmed due to my negative experience of both school, home and community life.

For me being a cultural woman, I have faced barriers, negative stigma and attitude about my mental health from many people. Now, I know that for me to say this out loud to you all sounds a little strange, but unfortunately, this has been the case for me. Becoming negatively stigmatised, having barriers put up, and being given an attitude had brought down my mental health, to the point of where I started to believe what people around me have been telling me to my face many times.

It took me years to figure out ways on how to become stronger and to become the person I am today. So, what I did to start off was that I started doing research on a lot of mental health illness(es), then I thought about the things that one of my friends has been doing, which is participate in fun runs and marathons. I thought of doing something different, and that was to do something about lived experience of mental health, and I applied for roles in mental health and advocacy work, just so that I could give back to the community as this is something that I am very passionate about.

When I was admitted to the hospital psych ward, I would be sitting in my room, crying for help, but also crying because I felt lost, hopeless and worthless, until my psych nurse came into my room just to check-in on me. The nurse noticed that I had been feeling down, lost, hopeless and crying, and so, my nurse sat beside me and started convincing me to live, telling me that I could do so much for the community in order to give back, how I can be a lot more stronger and a role model/ advocate for those who could not fight or speak up for themselves. I wasn’t believing it.

Before I came into hospital, I was a little reluctant to arrive as I wasn’t sure about what the emergency doctors, nurses and psych doctors would do. But I still arrived as an inpatient and was only hoping for the best.

Time had passed, and I remember being woken up early in the morning by one of the emergency nurses, who told me that I was going to be transferred up to the Open psych ward. I was scared!!

As days had gone past quickly, my mental health became poor again, but another nurse who I had on the day, say beside me, telling me her story of overcoming hardship, and I honestly felt I had some sort of a connection as we both had something in common, which was that we both had to overcome hardship, that included leaving family behind to start a new life.

I remember sitting in the psych ward, thinking that “No one cared”, “People don’t believe me” and so on, but I knew that I had to get somewhere in life, in order to move on. What I also did was write my negative thoughts down on a piece of paper, drew a line down the middle, and on the other side, I wrote everything that those closest to me said or did that contradicted those beliefs.

So that every time my mind said “Esra, you’re a burden”, “Esra, you’re hopeless”, I would pull out my list and I would have rock- hard evidence in front of me that my internal reality wasn’t matching the external truth.

Now here’s the thing, it’s impossible to fight, if you don’t know what you are fighting for. And so, when I was sitting in the psych ward, I was starting to write out “Okay, what do I want to do with my future?”, “What do I want to do with tomorrow?”, “What are the things that I would want to achieve, if I didn’t have any barriers, what would it be?”.

It doesn’t take just one person to save someone.

For me, it took my friends, my medical team, and my mental health team to be able to get me to a space where I could learn to fight for myself and then save my own life.

The very first thing I had to do, while sitting in the psych ward was to figure out what the difference is between surviving and fighting, and so, I did, what any self- respecting researcher would do, and I googled the definitions.

The definition of surviving is to “Continue to live or exist in hardship, manage to keep going in difficult circumstances”.

You know, having a survival instinct is important, it keeps us going when times are tough, but this epidemic that we call suicide is no longer something we can simply live through, but we must learn how to fight. And now, the definition of fighting is “To engage in a battle or war. Fight to overcome and destroy an adversary”.

For people who know someone who is struggling with suicidal tendencies, this is something that is key for you to remember, that it’s not about behaviour modification, but about belief correction.

It’s not about battling your past but fighting for your future.

And you know, the dreams that I once had when I was sitting in the psych ward were dreams of wanting to be able to tell my story that maybe it could provide hope for other people, that I could be involved in mental health advocacy, getting out of my own way to help other people and a lot more things I now get to do for people in the community.

Now I tell you all of this, so that my experiences of being in the psych ward mean something. That HOPE is real. Change is possible!! I am proof.


How many people have been affected by depression in 2017- 18?

In both 2017 and 18, about 10% of Australians have experienced living with depression.

How many people will experience a mental illness?

Nearly 50% of the population (in Australia) will experience a mental illness at some stage in their lives.


Esra Gunyel, Leader, TAS Multicultural Ambassadors 2021

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The Mental Health Foundation Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their elders both past and present.