Marcel’s story

I’m 27, married to Lynette and we’re over the moon about our new baby, Joseph. He’s 3 ½ months old. I’m studying at TAFE and about to start my first training placement for my Diploma of Mental Health at GROW. I’ve come a long way from when I was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a teenager.
Marcel Kassis

I was born in Lebanon and my parents adhered to Arabic cultural norms.  Throughout my childhood, my parents would worry a lot and offer to take over and I never learned how to make decisions or develop problem-solving skills.  Now, a lot of the time, I guess what people saw from the outside was that I had issues with self worth. 

I was referred to Embark Cottage in early 2013.  I was waiting on a social worker from PHaMS but they were full, so I got referred to Embark instead. Initially, I was working with Vivian.  She helped me with a lot of things – I made a lot of goal sheets.  The goals were around my plans to keep attending TAFE, striving to get my drivers licence, getting into shape and finding work experience.  Vivian encouraged me to try things; she’d help me go to different places so I could get a feel for how it is so I could make an informed choice about where to do my work experience. 

When Vivian left, I started working with Lorraine.  Lorraine and I have focussed on different things.  I’ve been practicing driving in preparation for getting my P’s.   Lorraine’s help has really made a difference to our marriage.  Lorraine used to be a midwife and she’s given tips to Lynette about baby Joseph.  As we’re new parents, Lorraine’s helped us understand each other’s roles and how we can support each other.  I now have a much better appreciation of how motherhood can be stressful (even for my parents).  My wife Lynette has been excellent, caring for me when I have had mental health issues.  Usually Lynette and I share feed, but she has taken over my feeds as my study schedule has become heavier.  I call her supermum.  She is really focussed on Joseph learning – she’s so smart and creative.  Lynette’s wonderful.

Lorraine is a patient person.  She understands that we are Christian and she supports me to live my faith.  Whenever we have told her about problems family members are having, she’s even recommended solutions or potential sources of help. 

Since working with RichmondPRA, I’ve learnt how to address intrusive thoughts, communicate with my parents and be more assertive with them.  With my permission, Lorraine has had a talk to my mum a few times.  She’s asked mum to keep being supportive and encouraging and most importantly, Lorraine helped me tell my parents what’s gong on.  Lorraine supported me rather than trying to take over.  She’s modelled how to be assertive; she’s never been rude.  In my family, what my dad said went. There was no playing up in my day; I get the impression that many people in that generation believed that children were to be seen and not heard although my parents did their best.

In my family, our son Joseph is going to be brought up to discuss things with us and we have resolved to be compassionate with him.  Part of the conscious choices we are making included my studying mental health so I can be protective over his future mental health.  I want to point out Joseph’s strengths and to let him know that Lynette and I love him.  We want Joseph to get the best quality of life.  It is about providing a stable home, ensuring he develops self-esteem and good values.  I’ve learnt that I can process how a child behaves and recognise that this is different from who he is as a person.  We will never punish him by hitting him or telling him he is bad.  We will reward the good.    I plan to trust my son and have faith in him.

More Real Life Stories