Personal Stories

I’m a burden afterall, right?

I’ve always been pressured to get good grades. Multiple tuition teachers have hurled insults like “stupid” & “useless” at me countless of times, with a tuition teacher throwing a pile of newspapers to me because she was so frustrated I couldn’t get any questions right. This made me fearful and scared of everything, as I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me again.

From then on, there was this irrational fear of studies and getting bad grades. For every time I had a bad grade, I would continuously beat myself over it, and there was this point in life where I couldn’t get up and began feeling suicidal and getting suicidal thoughts.

Nowadays in Polytechnic, I still continuously feel sad everyday. I can go from happy to sad in a span of a few minutes and I blame myself for everything, like my emotions, of what I’ve been through. It’s like I’ve trapped myself in a dark hole and I always feel like killing myself.

There are times that I honestly really want to commit suicide but I always found a reason not to do so. Things have gotten bad recently, even though my friends urge me to see a counsellor, I’m not willing to do so because I’m a burden afterall, right?

I knew I needed help

It all began when puberty struck me and sensitivity crept into my life. In Primary school, my sensitivity got a hold of me and I started to break down almost everyday. The thought of self-harm came to mind because of how people made fun of me. There were times when I was completely normal, and times where I would become a maniac and start slashing my arm.

During Secondary school, one self-harm attempt led me to the Institute of Mental Health. It was really scary, but I knew I needed help.

I couldn’t possibly let my schoolmates see my “drama”, and my parents (my mum) be so worried about me. It also struck me how my relatives reacted to my self-harming. Especially my father who blamed me for choosing to let all this happen and also for believing in my religion.

I cannot possibly hide this matter any longer, so I’m thankful for my school counselors, teachers, church mates and my mum and relatives for truly understanding my situation; encouraging and guiding me along as I chose to seek professional help.  

So to my fellow students that are also struggling, please speak up for yourself and get professional help. It would really benefit you and help bring you back to who you truly are.

I was severely bullied

Since the age of 12, I have been experiencing suicidal thoughts and anxiety. I was severely bullied in Primary 6 but now I’m still recovering.

I feel like a jar, an empty jar. When everybody just takes everything inside away from you, and all you’re left with is nothing. Please stop putting labels on us, because sometimes all you’ve got to do is to understand how we feel. We are all humans.

My mental health journey hasn’t always been smooth. I’m currently in Secondary 3, so I’m seeing the school counselor. It has taken me courage to seek help and recover from it. I have cut myself many times, attempted suicide but now I’m still alive and breathing.

I choose to advocate for mental health because not many people understand how we actually feel. If you need to seek help, seek help. Don’t be ashamed of seeking help because it will be worth it in the end.

It makes us feel like animals

Being diagnosed with a mental disorder is never easy to accept, but being stigmatized after your friends and colleagues get to know you’re “crazy” is even worse. It hurts everytime there’s an indirect remark, an accusation being thrown, comments like “karma” and “possessed”. It’s embarrassing to be a schizophrenic, it’s never fun being a maniac, and it feels horrible being depressed, but not everyone understands.

Stop the stigma, it makes us feel like animals, instead of humans. We want to be normal just like how you want us to be normal.

To those suffering, you are brave and resilient. Keep going, you will recover eventually. Look forward to that light at the end of the tunnel.

I feel like jumping down the school building

To my secondary counsellor who took my thoughts seriously. Thank you. Thank you for taking it seriously enough to call down professionals from the Institute of Mental Health to assess me. Severe depression was their diagnosis and they shared with me my options. But, how do I go for treatment with zero finances?  I wonder what would have happened to me if you had not given serious thought to what I told you. It was nearly the end of recess. “I feel like jumping down the school building” You looked at me shocked while I told you that grim sentence with a smiling face. It didn’t feel like much to me.

My whole life had been a series of half-hearted suicide attempts. Never really wanting to commit, but feeling like I had to because it was always going to be that way. All I have left of it are two arms filled with obvious self-harm scars and some scars here and there on my body. I never realised that talking about suicide was out of the norm. A taboo. It was the norm in my head. It has been a norm since I was in primary school.  My mum was toxic and poisonous at that time. Someone lost and reeling and simply trying to hold on without losing it herself. You told my mum about it and didn’t let me go till she came to pick me up. We went back home and she told me that I had humiliated her by sharing personal family matters with a stranger. In that moment, I hated talking to you. My mum constantly reminded me of how I shamed my family and I regretted sharing my thoughts with you.  Forward to a few months later, I felt better. I shut down and started being positive cause I thought things were getting better. If I shared my real thoughts, my mum will know of it and more shaming would occur. So I didn’t tell you of all the times I wanted to do it. I just said “okay”. “I’m good”. “I’ll be alright”. My favourite teacher told me that it was nothing. I just had to talk and it would get better. Maybe he was right, maybe not. I had no one to talk to who’d understand. So yeah, maybe it would have been better if I had spoken about my problems. But there was no one out there who could understand, who could help.  

Life has been a journey. I thank you my dear counsellor because you manage to instill the tiniest ray of hope into my mind which was enveloped in darkness. I go for therapy twice a month. My job brings hope to families. I have a diagnosis now. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) with bouts of depression, anxiety, and a whole lot of dissociation. I still wish I didn’t have it. I feel broken. But I’m okay with that. I’m used to it. I found that acceptance is the way forward from the reins of my past. It makes it a tad easier than denial.

We should not ignore or avoid

I don’t have any mental health problems but the lowest I have felt was when a loved one passed away and I was grieving for a few years. This was when I had to take my O’level examinations. Even then, sadly, I’ve realised that most of my friends did not want anything to do with me or my emotional baggage. I could not study, I could not finish my work which I would then be scolded for. I was lost and I was grieving. Time healed but it took a very long time.

Fast forward to college when my really good friend was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. I saw my friend struggle and was always in so much pain. Although I could never fathom what she/he was going through, I still felt really sad just looking at her/him,

What frustrates me the most about mental health is that I could not understand why someone I cared for had to go through this. Why does someone who is as kind and considerate as my friend have to suffer from this thing called “depression and bipolar disorder”?

These things hindered my friend so much, my friend was so different when she/he went through her/his episodes and that upset me because people who suffer from mental health problems are people just like us, only they have to go through things we would never want to go through.

One thing my friend said that struck me was, “This is part of me.” Over time, some friends and classmates started to avoid this friend of mine. Initially, I held strong resentment towards those who had ignored me in secondary school and I had the belief that “no one wanted to help those with problems”. However, in college, hearing from other friends, I realized that perhaps nobody was at fault.

I understand that everyone has their own priorities and they should focus on their priorities. However, I still feel that we should not ignore or avoid those with mental health problems just because we can not handle their problems. We can still direct them to those who can help them.

I know everything is not black and white and I wish that in our society, more people will be aware of mental health issues and how it affects the person suffering from it and perhaps we can be a little more sensitive and empathetic towards those who suffer. I also wish I was taught how to help those whom I care about.

I really want professionals to teach us ordinary people how we can help those who need our support. We may not be able to treat or cure them and even though my friend believes that this was something she/he had to overcome with her own strength, I still believe, however, that our words and actions have the power to help ease their pain.

Healing is not linear

Mental struggle is real

Having witnessed a friend’s mum commit suicide at the age of eleven and two uncles who lost their lives to suicide, one in Institute of Mental Health and myself personally experiencing anxiety and depression and later being clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I can only say that mental struggle is real.
Healing is not linear even with the help of medication. The love and support from family and friends are what kept me alive.
“Having someone in your life with depression and anxiety means being prepared for any and all episodes. There are going to be days where they’ll want to lay in bed all day. Lay with them. Bring them their favorite drink.
There will be days when you’ll be out socializing, but at any given notice they’ll start shutting down and want to go home. Watch for these signs, remember them like the back of your hand.
There will be days when they’ll be so fragile, and anything can break them. Hold them in your arms while they cry about something that they remembered from years ago, even if they swore they moved on. Do not try to explain to them they need to stop living in the past, now is not the time. Just hold them and show them they are loved.
And lastly, there’ll be days when they will want to be alone and not speak to anyone. Yes, this includes you. Understand this, understand when to give them space. Understand nothing is in spite of you.
Just, understand.”
Let’s break the social stigma!

The only way is up

I’ve been suffering from Bipolar Disorder since I was 11. Misdiagnosed as having clinical depression at 17, my mother discouraged me from taking antidepressants as she thought it was against her religious beliefs.

My condition worsened as my mania disrupted my studies and affected my relations with others. I was ostracised because of my abnormal behaviour. I dropped out of school twice because of my struggles with depression and not being able to handle my peers’ misunderstanding of my condition.   

Now, at 27, having destroyed my career chances and many friendships, I find myself feeling strangely at peace. It may be because I know that in life there are ups and downs and I don’t have to worry about it getting any worse because I already am at my lowest – the only way is up.   

I feel hopeful that God will lead me to the destination I am heading for, despite the path being full of turmoil and troubles. I am a person suffering from an illness, that I have no control over, and I have dreams, hopes, and desires like everyone else. I have fears, worries and problems. I am a human being with emotions. I yearn for someone who would understand me, love me and care for me regardless of my flaws and mistakes that I have made.   

I’ve learned that I deserve love, from all the falling outs I had with friends and family members. Mental illness is not an excuse but it is a condition that greatly affects every aspect of one’s life. But it should not allow others to judge one’s character.   

Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a lot to learn from it and make amends.

Community is important

I believe that your mental health has a lot to do with the community of people around you. I developed an eating disorder at 11 years old, a year after witnessing my father have a heart attack. I didn’t even really pick up on my behaviors until a year later when I decided on a whim to tell my friend about the fact I was purging. I didn’t expect her to say anything, I even begged her not to but she did anyways. That’s the only reason I ended up getting help.

From then on a lot of people knew and they used that knowledge to support me and hold me accountable. If I didn’t have that amount of constant support, basically I wouldn’t be where I am now. I still struggle with eating but I am finally at a place where it doesn’t constantly consume the entirety of each day.

Community is important, think about the roles you play. They can really make a difference.

Nobody knows I am a shipwreck

When I was 17, I was raped and I never told a single soul about it. I thought by ignoring it, I would somehow move on and get over it. I am 25 and married now, yet I still feel so lost and ashamed of myself every single day. I now realize how damaging the encounter had been to my mental health and relationships.

Nobody knows I am a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea, yet bit by bit, I see pieces of my past keep emerging and floating up. I can’t stand myself. My cheerful self is gone. My sense of purpose and identity is gone and it scares me. I am currently trying to be brave and want to seek professional help. My husband has been my pillar of strength and I cannot continue hurting him.

It has been 8 painful years of silence, anxiety and depression. I hope my loved ones can forgive me for my constant absence from their lives. I hope I will live and break my silence one day to help those who have gone through what I went through.

Please I hope you make a prayer for my journey to recovery.