Marlene - Interview 23

Age at interview: 38
Age at diagnosis: 24
Brief Outline: Marlene, 38, was diagnosed with anxiety aged 24. Marlene's father is Pakistani, and her mother is white. Her sister, Shareen, was also interviewed.
Background: Housewife, married with 6 children. Ethnic background/nationality: Asian (born UK).

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Marlene, 38, was diagnosed with anxiety aged 24. Marlene's father is Pakistani, and her mother is white. Her sister, Shareen, was also interviewed. Marlene was also raised in Pakistan by her grandparents and aunties. She went there aged 7. She says she liked living in Pakistan, and living the Asian way and didn't want to come back to the UK, although she doesn't miss living there. Marlene believes the separation from her parents affected her because she didn't get any love or affection from them because they were in another country. She says that her parents don't understand her and she doesn't understand them.

After she had her second daughter, Marlene began feeling afraid of dying and was seeing graveyards in her mind. When she realised these images were not real, she didn't see them any more, she says it's because she was strong. She tells herself it's all in her mind. She couldn't go out on her own because she would get anxiety and panic attacks and had to rely heavily on her husband. The doctor gave her some tablets. The medication used to work but it doesn't now and she wonders whether she'll ever be happy again. 

Although Marlene doesn't still have those symptoms, she now feels like a different person down, and gets lonely, tired and anxious. Her daughter helps her a lot now around the house. She says her parents and sister tell her it's all in her brain and this makes her feel lazy and bad. She says people don't understand. Marlene says if she gets worried or excited about anything she sometimes has unwanted thoughts about leaving her husband and feels guilty about this. 

Marlene says her doctor is good and understands her. Marlene doesn't mind taking medication. She also found self-help books really helpful, but her daughter used to read them to her because she can't read. She also goes to a support centre to get help and to talk to other people. Marlene has counselling at the support centre, but finds it hard to fit in because of looking after her children. Marlene believes prayer helps and had a blessing and that helped her get rid of her fear of gravestones. She explains that it's God that helps you and always does His best for you, but sometimes people talk about black magic and then you don't know who to trust and can get scared. 

Marlene worries about losing people that she loves, especially her husband. She doesn't know why she gets worried because she says she doesn't have anything to worry about because her husbands a good, caring person who helps with the children and looks after her. She wonders whether she may be going through the menopause and this is making her weak but her doctor puts it all down to anxiety.

Marlene says she tries to be a good mum and wife, and wants to be happy and normal and she thinks she is getting better. She would like to help other people who get anxiety attacks and says to other people in her situation “don't think negative, think positive”.


Marlene was separated from her parents and brought up in Pakistan by her grandmother and thinks...

Marlene was separated from her parents and brought up in Pakistan by her grandmother and thinks...

When I were nearly 7 years old I went to Pakistan, and I've been brought up with my grandma and my grandad and me aunties. And my mum, she were here, and my dad. And then we stayed there and we, we didn't, we've been brought up in the Asian way. And my mum, she's English'

And with my parents, I didn't have any love from my parents. And I think that has more affected what I've been through. Since I, still nobody understands me. Only my husband, my kids. Me and my mum, I love my mum but we never, we didn't get touched like should daughters and mums been. And my dad the same thing. And now it's, we've a family problem. I lost my grandma and my uncle because with family's problem. They brought me up and everything. And when, every time I think that, I think every time I love somebody, I have to lose that person. And then I've got fear that I might lose my husband. I might change for my husband and I think about bad stuff. And the thoughts come in my mind'

But when I came back, my, backwards, like I didn't have any love from my mum and my dad. It could be that. And it's the worse thing to not know your mum and your dad. You know them, but you, you don't have that love. And you don't want to share that love to your mum and your dad, because you don't know them. They're saying different things, I'm saying different things. And they don't understand me and I don't understand them. And it's very difficult for me. And I, I, sometimes I start getting anxiety. And now, it's, it's not anxiety, it's feel like I'm tired. I've got, like when I eat I feel full. I can't eat, digesting my food. And then I start thinking bad stuff.


Marlene doesn't know what causes her anxiety because she says "I haven't got anything on my plate...

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Marlene doesn't know what causes her anxiety because she says "I haven't got anything on my plate...


It's, I don't know why I'm getting like that because I, I haven't got anything on my plate, to be like that. I've got everything there for me. My husband's a really good person. He care, he care kids. He's a really good man. Like anything, if I feel down, he takes me out and he talks to me. That much, I'm lucky to get like that husband and kids…

But this, when this, when your mind takes over, like your picture, your mind, it takes over, then you get a little bit down and scary. You think, “Are you going to be living like that all your life with these fears? And stuff like that. Why, why we have to get it?” But you never know what causes it. Nobody knows.


Marlene feels the only person she can talk to is her sister [see Interview 22]; she says she...

Marlene feels the only person she can talk to is her sister [see Interview 22]; she says she...

Every time I say to somebody, they say, 'It's in your, it's in your brain.'


They, every time I say to them, 'I feel tired like' they say, 'Oh, it's all in your, all in your brain.'

Oh, I see. So who says, who says that to you?

My mum and my dad, and my, and my sister sometimes.

And how does that make you feel, when they say that?

Feel bad.

In what way?

Feel like, like I'm bad, like I'm hopeless. Why, why I should be tired? I'm not a lazy person. I wasn't, never been lazy person. I used to be light on my, on my feet. But now it's my eldest daughter, she does things for me, cooking and everything. And she does a lot. When she was at college I do it but I've never been like that. But now I get tired. I do little things, I get tired.

Is it difficult making people understand?

Yes, it's very difficult.

How do you explain to them then, how you feel?

I never talk to them. I only talk to my sister. She understands me. But I never talk to my mum and dad about this, I have this problem. I think that they're going to be worried, because my sister, she's having a very hard life anyway. And they know I'm, I'm strong and I'm, and my life's going like it is really. And I think that my parents don't worry about me. I never tell them. I just always hide it.


Marlene gets tired and loses interest in TV and music and doesn't do things or go out like she...

Marlene gets tired and loses interest in TV and music and doesn't do things or go out like she...

My mind always bottom, hits bottom. It's not like, I used to be like up and doing things and stuff like that. I'm not like that any more. I just feel tired. And when I tell everyone I'm tired they don't understand it. No, they don't understand it. They think it's, I'm lazy. But I'm not lazy. I'm not that kind of person to be lazy. I had, when I used to have anxiety attacks I never had any medicine like that. I just brought myself up with learning how to relax, how to be patient with them, not be fear with them. And I did it. But now it's, it's coming tiredness and your brain is not normal. And then it's like you think, 'What you are? You're going to live with this for all of your life?' And this is the life.

And how does that make you feel?

It feels bad, it feels bad.

So I mean these symptoms that you have, does that, do they stop you from being able to do anything? How do they affect your life?

It does affect your, it affects your moods. Moods go on and off. You feel like you're hopeless. You feel like you don't want to be dressed up, you don't want to be going out. You just want to be laying down or watch, sit down and watch TV, you know, you're not interested in TV. I'm not interested in songs. You think that you, it's like darkness come to you. It's like, you feel like darkness. But when you feel better, you feel like sun shine and you feel like, you like listen to songs, love songs and you feel a different person tomorrow.

And does it make it difficult to do things around the house and, and that sort of thing?

Yes, they do, but I push myself a lot. I won't like be, like I won't like be mess house and sit down. No, it would irritate me more. I will be get upset more. I think, 'God, the house is upside-down. And look at me, sitting down.' You know, even I'm poorly, I have to go and clean my house up, keep my kids clean. Because I don't want people talk about any of my kids. And when every day they go to school, they comb their hair, nice clothes, uniform clean, everything. Yes, even I'm poorly, I look after my kids. Plus my husband as well. [Laughs] Yeah, nice shirt, like new clothes, everything, don't look a mess. Because even I, I'm poorly, I change my clothes, do my hair, this like normal, clean.


She feels like a different person and believes that some of her symptoms might be caused by the...

She feels like a different person and believes that some of her symptoms might be caused by the...

Can you tell me a bit more about what kind of symptoms that you have? How, how does it make you feel?

It feels me down, it feels me very down. Before I used to feel like heart racing, my back used to be tingling and my tongue used to be getting like tingling as well. Now I don't get that symptom at all. Because two years ago I just feel like a, like a scary person. I'm scared, I'm scared to lose this person and I'm scared to lose this person. And I don't get anxiety now. I get tired. I get lazy. I don't feel like to do anything. I feel like lonely. And but this moment and this, because I'm, I think, I think, I'm 38, because I change myself a lot. I'm not rely on my husband like I used to do. I do things for myself. And then I don't like it because I'm not used to it maybe doing them things. And then I think that, 'Why I'm like that?' But then I think it's, might be my hormones changing me and I'll be like the woman, not child any more. And then the things that, then I get scared about, then I see things about men and wives, sex and stuff like that, and I don't like it. And it just flashes in your brain keeping, and I don't like it. And I want to be like a, a normal girl, you know, normal, normal woman too. And then I push my head, then I start thinking good stuff. My brain is, it don't think good stuff'

One thing I think is when, about a year ago I was slowing down my period and I felt dizzy in my head. And then I felt really down like somebody had washed me and had drained me. And I felt like that. But I didn't took any notice. I thought it was just nothing. But I think it's, I think it's my period or my hormones today because I was a lau-, I were fit girl, I were laughing girl. Like anybody fall out with me I used to get upset. Anybody didn't ring me, I used to ring them. But I'm not bothered any more. I'm changed completely, I'm changed. And that makes me very, because you'll never be the same person anyway.

And did you, what does the doctor think of that?

The doctor always put to anxiety. They don't really know, because people, don't know what when they go through. When they go through they understand. But my sister's, she's different to me, she's different. I'm, I'm not that kind, I don't get angry. I might, two or three months I might not cry.


Marlene found a self-help book helpful for relaxation at bedtime but her daughter had to read it...

Marlene found a self-help book helpful for relaxation at bedtime but her daughter had to read it...


Even my daughter, she's 13, 14, she's going to be 14 this month. She says, she goes, “Mum, when I grow up, I want to be like anxiety person, to help other people.” That's what she says. She goes, “I want to help other people, mum. To be like anxiety people, to talk about, yes, I want to be like something like that.” She goes, “Then I can look after you.” Because I can't read, you see, and night-time I used to have books, anxieties, and they read it for me. Night-time, and then they relax me. Because they say that it's like water in glass. You going to empty it, the water's going to get spilled. You don't want to empty it, you going to worry about it. I'm going to empty, I'm not going to empty. And you're not going to empty, you don't be, have to be worry about it. Because you, you don't want to be empty that glass. And it's like that, it's like you worry about this thought, but you're not going to do it. Why you worrying for? It's like book like that. And I read it, my daughters reads for me. And then I think, “Yes, I think there's water there. I'm not going to empty, I'm not going to empty it. I don't want to empty it. Why I'm worrying for it?” And then it gets you better.

So that, those books have helped?

Yes, they've really helped, books.

And has it been a problem, not being able to read English?

Yes, it's really a problem. I can't read any, any language, because I've never been to school.


Marlene describes how an Islamic blessing helped her, but how people talk about the harm that can...

Marlene describes how an Islamic blessing helped her, but how people talk about the harm that can...

Yes, prayer does help. But sometimes when the people talk about it, they say they do black magic or stuff like that. Then you get scared. Then you don't know what to trust.

Who says about black magic?

It's like, you know, like Asian ladies, like they be poorly, and the people say that, 'Oh, they're doing black magic on you. And that's what it is.' And then because I've been in that, what you were saying, I've been, and I were well enough, I was scared. And the, the, when the woman talk, something come bad out of. And then you, you think, you get scared, you think. 'What to trust?'

So what happened? Sorry. Tell me again what happened. You, you went to see someone?

Yes, I went to see someone.

Who, who was that then you went to see?

It's like really. Bede. Like you've mentioned it now. Bede, we call in Asian, Bede. I don't know what you call it. Blesser. Like blesser. Yes, we went there. And I used to have like a problem with graves, stuff like that. I got that out there.

So how did that help? What happened? You don't know?

He just given me like, he asked me to read and stuff like that. And got, then went to about few years, I got, because he prayed for me, I know God give it to you, I got son as well with going there. I got son. And then afterwards like one woman, she, her blessings didn't come right. And she were talking, she goes, 'Oh, God, you never believe him, because they have like magic or stuff like that.' And that got me scared. And I rung him up. And that's straight person I am, that I can't take it. Once I'm scared, I can't take it. I picked the phone up and I said, 'I'm scared of you.' He goes, 'Oh, my God.' He goes to my husband, 'Your wife, wife's forward, you know, she says it in your face.' And he goes, 'We don't mind what she thinks, because she gets that fear and just in her mind tells her and stuff like that.' And he didn't mind since I didn't ring him up and I didn't talk to him. But my husband goes. Yes.

Okay. And did you say there's something, someone had said something and something bad happened?

Yes. But it's is, is not them. Like some people say it. It's like some people, like they can't control their selves. Or they only can pray for you. Is, God does help you. Like I come here. I didn't know I'm going to do an interview. But it's like I talk out what my feeling is. I didn't know it was going to happen like that when I came in. And it's like God always do best for you. We believe that way. And like when the bad day, we can't say, we can't blame on you, say, 'Oh, I came here and that's why I broke my foot' or stuff like that. If it happens, it happens, and that's what it is. And now I'm starting, because I think I'm maturer now, and I'm realising stuff. Before I used to be like panicking, and scary. I used to be like, anybody fall out with me, I feel guilty. Now I'm not. I just to be, probably that my body's changed to a different woman. I'm all different now. Nobody come bothers me, nothing now. Because my sister used to be fall out with me, I used to run out and please like, 'Sorry' like that. Now I'm not. I've got stubborn [Laughs].

So when, you know, when these prayers, you think they were, were helping?

Yes, they help yeah.

Do you think, how, how do you think they helped? Is that because you think, well, do you think the, the, the, the things that you needed help with were, were something to do with God in the
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