Several of the refugees I treated on Nauru described their depression by comparing it to water in a glass. They would say the water represented sorrow and depressed thoughts, and that the glass could only be filled to the top – like themselves. "I can't keep getting filled, I don't know what I will do,” they would tell me. "I am a human being and we all have limits.”
On Nauru, I was part of the MSF team providing mental health care to asylum seekers, refugees and local Nauruans. Over the 11 months I spent on the island, I witnessed shocking levels of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among our asylum seeker and refugee patients, and severely unwell Nauruans with chronic psychotic disorders.