Linda was a young, Vietnamese woman who moved to Montreal in 2017. She was 28. She was alone. She couldn’t speak French.
She worked as a manager for Rogers and Fido. It was difficult for her to do her job because there were language barriers. Customers would often get frustrated with her and tell her to fuck off.
“From my experience, I was told it was because they wanted to protect the language,” says Linda. “If I said hello instead of bonjour they would be angry.”
Linda experienced discrimination on a daily basis, and because of this she suffered from severe anxiety. Her experience was likely amplified by her mental illness. Being in a foreign city and learning a new language was very isolating for her.
Her body responded negatively to the stress and anxiety. What first began as little hairs flying away became large patches of hair falling out. She walked around Montreal with patches of bald spots.
“This gave me a lot of anxiety and I was always mentally drained. I wanted to die every day. I would question why they were so mean to me.” says Linda. “That caused my lack of confidence. I still ate very well and I was active, but none of that mattered. My mind was taking a toll on me and my body showed it.”
It didn’t help that she was alone. Her parents were living in Winnipeg and were unaware of her circumstances. She knew she had to tell them the truth.
She video called them and cried when she told them that she couldn’t take it anymore. She hated being in Montréal. She tilted her head and revealed her bald patches to her parents. They were speechless.
Her dad wanted her to be happy and supported whatever decision she made. He didn’t understand what mental illness was, but he could see how much stress it caused her.
On the other hand, her mom was affirming and comforting. Linda told her mom that she had no idea what she was doing in Montréal.
“My mom was like you can make it, Linda. You can look however you want to look and you can do any job. You know that not a lot of girls are like you? You wanted to move to Montréal and you wanted to become something. You can do anything. You’re the best. You’re number one Linda.”
Her parents wanted her to do what was best for her health. Linda’s mom called her regularly to check up on her and sent her remedies to help with the hair loss. Linda was not diagnosed for her mental illness. However, it doesn’t change the fact that her mental health was so bad that she began to lose her hair. Because of the physical symptoms, it was easier to understand what was happening.
Despite loving the city and wanting to succeed, she knew it was unhealthy for her to continue living in Montreal. She was hurting herself by being there. She needed to remove herself from the environment to take care of herself.
She moved back to Winnipeg in May 2018, not because she was a failure but because she was better off back home. She knew she’d have support from her friends and family.
It’s been almost one year since Linda moved back to Winnipeg. Her hair is still growing back, but she no longer feels insecure. Her mental health is better and realizes that it’s a constant work in progress.
Linda now runs her own business, The Beauté House, a beauty salon where she focuses on lash extensions and lash lifts. Linda lives a fulfilling life and embraces her race, living in Winnipeg and her body.