Talofa, I’m Brittany
Born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, I have ancestry back to Samoa, the Cook Islands, Ireland/Scotland, Lebanon and more (I’ve got the DNA to show for it, thanks ancestry.com).
Growing up I was not culturally aware and it wasn’t until my last years at high school that I came to understand the nations standing behind my grandparents. However, the constant war between my indigenous roots and western up-bringing left me filled with confusion and a sense of isolation and this contention in my identity would form the foundation for all future feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness.
I followed my friends to university and I ended up studying Medicine through the University of Otago. This was a time where I flourished as an individual, however it was also a time where being constantly busy and expending my energy on others became the basis for my self-worth and value, which, in combination with external triggers would cause my mental health to become unbalanced.
It was not until I had a miscarriage in 2018 and I was forced to confront my own self about who I was, what I was doing and what I actually wanted that I realised I had been lost and simply going through the motions for a longtime. These experiences helped lead me to a passion in mental health and to embark on the pathway of psychiatry training. I am no longer simply treading water trying to stay afloat, I am finally able to actively explore who I am as an individual, improve myself and see how far I can go. My interest in mental health has also been fuelled by the horrendous statistics affecting our nation of New Zealand, and especially affecting my Pacific Island people. My hope is to help others; on a population level by influencing public policy and planning (still figuring out how this will happen) and on an individual level through both my clinical practice as well as through my role as a friend, sister, daughter, niece, partner, and cousin. At a personal level, I want to encourage open dialogue, honest communication and vulnerable conversations. These sorts of conversations are fundamental to relationship-building and if you have good, healthy and supportive relationships then you will have optimal mental wealth. It takes courage, it takes dedication to yourself, and it will take a whole lot of self-awareness with some confronting self-realisation, and to do this, I know it starts with me.
Here’s to open, honest and vulnerable conversations. Here’s to being brave.
“For now, my heart is for my people and that is enough”Unknown Pacific Island Health Professional, Pacific Health Day, May 2019
Photo: Hungry Pixel Designs