Pearl Nkomo – Student at Central Memorial High School
On November 12, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my friends Pearl Nkomo, a grade 10 student in the Theatre Arts program at Central Memorial High School. She is very open about her struggles with mental health. There will be a small amount of talk surrounding suicide and a mention of self-harm. If this triggers you please do not continue reading.
Alberta’s suicide rate is 50% higher than in the province of Ontario. Which makes the suicide rate in our province the highest in Canada. Throughout my interview with Pearl, I learned about exactly what she has been through. Before this interview, she was open and honest but never went into specifics. By the end of our interview, I was in awe of how resilient and strong she is, not only going through what she did but for speaking about it so openly.
Why is mental health an important topic to you?
Okay, this is going to be one of my rambles. My Uncle committed suicide when I was in grade five. A lot of circumstances led up to that happening and everything, but one of the big, major reasons is that my family doesn’t talk about that sort of stuff, they’re very, hush-hush about it and so when he committed suicide, everybody acted as though it completely shocked them as to why it happened, and my fifth grade self was sitting there like “um it’s because none of you talked about the issues he was clearly having. So I guess sort of to honour him but also because I don’t understand why people think that they can just get over it and treat people crappily for no reason. That just doesn’t make sense to me.
What advice would you give someone going through difficult times?
Allow people to help you. I know that it can be hard, I know that sometimes you don’t want to, but at the end of the day, if you need help, get help. I have a friend currently, right now who is struggling through mental health issues but because of the fact that she lives overseas, I can’t help her. It sucks because I really want to be able to help her, but I just can’t.
How has poor mental health affected your life?
Ummm, I guess there was a portion of time where I was almost suicidal. Like it wasn’t like where I was actively thinking “I’m going to kill myself”, I had like the thoughts in the back of my head and I really didn’t care about what was going on, and it was just a really dark time for me and what was even worse is I was so little. Like I was really young when all of this was going on and so it was like that’s concerning. And eventually what happened was that one of my teachers realized what was going on and she did kind of an intervention, and she was like you need to get your life together and that pretty much saved me.
Why do you think that mental health is something that people don’t talk about?
I think because, for a lot of cultures, you don’t talk about that stuff. You brush that under the rug in order to save face, like having a good face or a good reputation for a lot of families is really important because that makes you known in your community. That’s how you’re treated because if people know you as the family with all these people committing suicide or who are constantly self-harming, they aren’t going to respect your family as much. So I think a lot of people don’t talk about it in order to save face and because they’re scared of being judged.
What has helped you practice self-care and overcoming struggles?
Sleeping. Not gonna lie to you. Sleeping helps a lot because for a really long time I was almost an insomniac like, I could not sleep at night. I don’t know what it was if it was my anxiety or what. I just could not sleep. So I found that finding time in my day to actually take a nap actually helped because I wasn’t so worried about going to bed that night.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts there are resources available.
A few are:
Phone: 403-264-8336 (24/7)
Kids Help Phone
Phone: 1 800-668-6868