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I was like you many years ago when I was trying to survive through university.
I was bent on getting no less than first class honours, determined that it would be the only way I can get a better-paying job to get away from my family, to live independently from them. Instead I sunk into depression. To be more precise, I fell back into depression – deeper than before.

It was different this time round because I was more conscious of my mental state but I didn’t have the strength or will to fight it. I spent most of my university terms shuttling between my room and the library, completely isolated from society. I spent more hours of the night on the cold hard seats of the library than I did in bed.

It was not long before I started having insomnia. Too much time indoors and sunlight was scarce even if I did get outdoors. There is nothing worse than not being able to sleep. I contemplated suicide.

I was desperate for rest, for understanding, for hope, for it all to end.
But instead of mustering the courage to do it, I called the Samaritan hotline.

I sobbed and talked till I was calmer. I felt bad for the social worker because it was just a one way conversation from me, but hey – I was thankful to just have a person I can call to.

If you need a person to call, don’t hesitate, you don’t have to feel bad. That person wants, to be there for you. That person wants to hear you out, that person wants to know what you are feeling. The hotline is organized for you to call. You deserve the help, deserve the attention, deserve to have someone looking out for you.

I made the mistake of turning myself into a hermit, doing nothing else with my life other than securing a first class honours degree. But it is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to feel the pain, it is okay to feel hopeless, it is okay to feel numb, it is all part of what it means to be alive.

To me:
I am happy that you are still well and alive to be reading this.
I am happy that you mustered the courage and strength to try again for another day.
As long as you keep trying, you are making recovery. Recovery is not hard and fast, it is a process. Because to be stronger, you have to first be weak.
Pain is part of the healing process, just like how your blisters hurt before they get better.

I eventually went for professional counseling service that was provided at the university because the lack of sleep and depression was affecting my ability to write or speak coherently. I knew then that if I wanted to graduate with the first class honours I was striving so hard for, I needed to get better.

I went through what therapists call – cognitive therapy. Healing through speaking. Weekly sessions helped me understand my past, the source, to open the secret vaults of suppressed anger and sadness, to allow healing to begin. It was embarrassing at first for someone to know my inner demons, but I continued with the sessions because I felt the positive effects. My recovery was not overnight but I felt so much better; it helped me to clear my mind, to see things in a much greater perspective and it gave me the courage to face my pain. Facing your inner demons is the first step to taming them, instead of letting them to overwhelm you.

I know counseling in Singapore isn’t free but there are affordable services that you can find online.
You don’t have to be embarrassed about your pain, we all experience pain in one form of another, no matter how perfect our Instagram feed is.

Don’t mask that pain, because it is a part of you and one day it will be the reason that you are stronger.
Letting go is hard, you don’t have to do it on your own – you can reach out to get help.
Getting help is the first light. Keep going and soon all that darkness will be left behind, you will be able to see and enjoy that light again. Let go to let the light in. Help is near, light is here.

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