Tag

anxiety - Singapore Mental Health Film Festival

Your pain is valid and it is real

I was raped by my ex-boyfriend in Secondary 4 and had to proceed with a secret abortion at 3 months (with zero knowledge from parents) because I got pregnant soon after. I did badly for my national exams and subsequently had to battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and an eating disorder for the past 2 years. It was probably the hardest struggle I ever had to endure and I was confused. I was scared. I couldn’t accept what happened to me and why I kept breaking down almost every day, tired from pretending in front of my loved ones that I am okay. The nightmares kept me up at night, endless thoughts of self-doubt, self-blame and shame were wrapped around me tightly.

The suicidal urges were so bad, I had numerous attempts and unhealthy coping mechanisms (drinking, hooking up) were used to suppress the pain. I honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was probably the only one back then who must have been feeling like this, and I felt that I should be ashamed for feeling this way. Fast forward 2 years later, the pain is slowly becoming lesser. Therapy (and opening up 2 years later) is helping me learn how to cope with the pain and not to carry it around with you like a mountain on your back, but instead to slowly become like a small pebble that I carry around with me.

There are still days where you feel like the world is against you, where you feel like you lost it all, there’s no hope for anything anymore and everything feels extremely fucked up. But I urge you to stick around for the days that you see yourself trying to heal as best as you can, for the okay days, for the good days, for the days where you didn’t give up on yourself and are able to carry the pain more easily. We need you around in this world, to continue the good fight. I promise you, to anyone who has been a victim of rape, sexual assault, and/or who are currently struggling with your various mental health issues – you are never alone, and you ARE a survivor and a warrior. You are brave and you are strong for coming this far and for still sticking around. Your pain is valid and it is real and no one should ever tell you otherwise. Please don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to a trusted person for help. I hope that you are or will get the help that you truly deserve.

It’s not as easy as you think it is

I am currently 18 turning 19 and I’m going through Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) to treat my Major Depressive Disorder and Severe Anxiety Disorder. I’m really scared and if there’s anyone who’s going through the same thing as me, I hope you can reach out, to tell me it’s going to get better because I feel myself giving up, day by day. Every time I wake up after an ECT session I still cry because I can’t remember anything.
Mental illness is real and it’s like walking through tar in a marathon. It sucks, I just really hope society can step up and understand that it is an illness, we can’t control it. It’s not made up for attention.
I attempted suicide because my friends bullied me by telling me I was an attention seeker and my generalised anxiety disorder was a hoax. So please, if you’re telling your friend to man up or grow some balls while they’re having a mental illness, please think twice. It’s not as easy as you think it is.

I’ve chosen to acknowledge my anxiety, my fears, my anger.

I’ve always had a pessimistic outlook in life ever since I was a teen due to my family circumstances. My father was plagued by various addictions and depression followed him and my mum.

The negative thoughts and feelings I had became worse and was at the peak last year when I experienced anxiety attacks for a week and thereafter regular meltdowns that comprised of screaming, crying and punching my fists into the wall.

I was shaken but not surprised since mental illness is a part of my family history. My grandparents, my parents and my sibling have been sucked up in the cycle of depression, never able to escape it.

It seems inevitable that I myself will never be able to break the cycle of depression but there is something that has set me apart from my family. While they have been in constant denial of the mental issues they face and have refused to seek help, I’ve chosen to acknowledge my anxiety, my fears, my anger. I’ve taken the step to share it with my husband and my closest friends. And I promised them that I will seek help from a counsellor.

Asking for help is completely okay

I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for over 5 years now. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 13 because my parents didn’t believe in going to see someone for mental illnesses, they thought it was for crazy people.

At that time, I was going through a really, really dark period of my life. I seemed to be stuck in this black hole where I couldn’t get out and I was suffocating. I was dealing with panic attacks almost every day, some with reason but other times they just came out of the blue. No one knew what I was going through because I’ve never been one to express how I felt. So I just painfully went through the motions and attempted to get through school, dealing with family issues and my own mental health deteriorating. I was struggling to cope with everything and it all seemed too much for me. I didn’t want to be in this kind of pain every single day and I started to lose passion in the things I once loved.

Until one day one of my teachers noticed, she knew I wasn’t telling anyone about my issues so she insisted that we talk. She told me, ”you can tell me as much as you’re comfortable with and if you’re okay with talking to me the that’s great I’ll be here to help but if not then you need to find at least one person you can talk to because you can’t keep bottling this up.” It suddenly felt like I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. For once in my life I felt like I was being seen. As though someone was actually listening and cared. She helped me through my mental health struggles. She even went out of her way to research ways to help me. My teacher got me to finally muster up the courage to tell my parents and so I could get professional help.

It worked for a while until my teacher left and my parents stopped sending me to see a psychiatrist. I had learnt a few tools to cope and I used my passion – Drama – to help me get through the hard times. However, I started to lose my way again after a traumatic experience and even more family problems that involved the law.

All of this resulted in a lot more self harm than usual. I tried to give subtle hints to friends and teachers but it didn’t work and I knew that if I didn’t speak up to say anything, there’s nothing they can do. By then I had lost motivation to get better. I started to get flashbacks which would result in really bad panic attacks. I felt like I was back at square one. Somehow – with Drama – I was able to push through until I was 16. But there’s only so much you can do without a professional. I kept spiralling down and I didn’t know what to do anymore. It got to a point where even Drama couldn’t save me anymore and I tried to kill myself twice.

After those failed attempts I was admitted into a psychiatric ward where I finally was able to seek professional help. It is a little disheartening that I had to get to that extreme before any proper help was actually given. Especially since some people aren’t that lucky and may not survive a suicide attempt. All these taboos need to be destroyed because things like this happen when it could be prevented.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve fallen into a lot of relapses since then but I fight that much harder because I’ve overcome these challenges before. Plus I have the resources to help me. I still have a lot to learn and I know this is gonna be a long journey but I beginning to finally understand that asking for help is completely okay and it doesn’t make you weak in fact, it makes you stronger because it takes courage.

I desperately wanted to live

When I was 15 years old, I had my first panic attack in class. I was sent to see the school counsellor and had to meet her for counselling at least twice a week. The counsellor wanted me to go for a full assessment at the Institute of Mental Health, but my mum refused as she was worried how it would impact my future, and because she was embarrassed to do so. I started to talk less and avoided my peers. My ‘daily routine’ would be just going to school, sit at the back of the class and stare out the window or sleep, go for counselling, hide in the toilet during recess time and stare into blank space and then go home when it’s time. On days when I wanted to avoid the school crowd at the bus stop, I would walk by the reservoir nearby my school, and take the bus a few bus stops away. My relationship with some of my close friends worsened overtime as they were not able to understand what I was going through, and I didn’t know how exactly to explain it to them. How do I explain myself when I don’t even understand myself?


One and half years later, I took and thankfully, passed my ‘O’ Levels. As my results were not that good, I wasn’t able to get into any of my 12 choices and had to appeal. I felt like a complete failure.


I was thankfully accepted into a polytechnic after appealing but had to pursue a course that wasn’t of my interest. As part of the school curriculum, I was to be graded daily through class participation and presentations. This would mean that I had to step out of my safe zone; I had to talk to other people, I had to withstand 10 minutes of over 10 pairs of eyes staring at me as I speak every single day.
Eventually in my 3rd month in school, my mind and body gave in. I started to develop a bad case of insomnia. I would jerk awake every hour, or I wouldn’t sleep the entire night. I would skip school. I would be exhausted during class, but I would still try my best. A grade C was enough for me. One day, a lecturer pulled me aside after class and told me that she noticed I wasn’t as ‘active’ as the rest of the class and wasn’t doing well at all. She went on to say that I obviously hated school and I should “just suck it up and move on, because that’s what everyone does”. I felt myself completely shutting down from that day onwards. I didn’t feel the need to try anymore. I was fearful of my negative thoughts that were getting stronger by day. I became fearful of myself.


Upon noticing my worsening insomnia, my mum finally sent me to the polyclinic, where I was referred to a general hospital. After a few appointments, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and started treatment and medication. I could tell my family was embarrassed, but I was desperate for that help, I wanted to live, I wanted to get better.


The road to recovery was lonely and was full of ups and downs. I did not have the much-needed family support, and my illness only became my weakness in their eyes. They’d bring up my illness when we have arguments, they’d call me ‘not right in the head’, they’d use it to insult me. But I continued to fight, even though I was all by myself. I prayed to God to give me strength as I desperately wanted to live.
I diligently followed up with my doctors and researched on self-help materials. As years passed, I have found different ways to cope with my negative thoughts. I have started to listen to my body. I am able to identify some of my triggers and know my limits. I have also met many individuals who taught me how to be grateful and appreciate the littlest things around me. These same individuals are the ones who love me for who I am and have stayed by my side till now.


I am now a 23-year-old working adult, and I would say that although I have not fully recovered, I am still happy to have gotten this far. On good days, I can go out to have a simple dinner and chat with friends, but on bad days, I might cry for nights straight and won’t get out of bed. I still can’t look into the mirror without feeling an immense amount of hate towards myself, but I can now order food without breaking down.


To me, no achievement or a step forward is too small. And a step backwards does not mean that we have failed ourselves. It does not mean that we have to stop.
As long as I am breathing, I will keep on fighting and staying strong.
For those of you who are struggling, stay strong and please keep on fighting. I believe in you.

It’s been 2 years, and I’m still on the road to recovery

1 year passed and I still didn’t know what was wrong with me. I carried this burden on my shoulder, cried myself to sleep every night, thinking “why am I like this”. I thought that this was normal. Until my exam results dropped from As to Fs. Not 1, but all. No one noticed anything until this happened.

I was 13, turning 14 then. 2 days before my 14th birthday, I tried to kill myself. I was on the ledge, and for the first time I felt the coolness of the air, the wind, and how beautiful the night sky looked. I never felt so close to wanting to be in the air, flying like the birds, being free from everything. I got dragged into the Child Guidance Clinic and got diagnosed with major depressive disorder, generalised anxiety, social anxiety, and depersonalisation.

My parents didn’t want to believe what I was going through. They became mad. Everyday they vent their anger on me through verbal abuse, it was tiring and it didn’t make anything better. Every night was a torture, and every night was a chance for me to escape this. I never wanted this, did I?

I’m 16 now, the suicidal thoughts hasn’t stopped, but I’m sitting here, alive today, still fighting against everything I have. Still, my parents “hate” me. They say that I’ve wasted every single day thinking of negative thoughts and wanting to die.

But no. I haven’t wasted my time, if i have survived the day.
To everyone out there, to me, the road to recovery is to believe in yourself first. Even if the world doesn’t believe in you, you have to believe in yourself.

It’s been 2 years, and I’m still on the road to recovery.

A little kindness and understanding goes a long way

I have been having anxiety since I was a child but I only realised what it was when I was older. I always thought I was just a child that was afraid of everything. If my mom came back 5 minutes late from work, I’d assume the worst. Growing up I had to be pretty independent. After getting into my first relationship and experiencing how it feels to be loved, I became dependent. So when it ended, I spiralled. My anxiety got worse and depression joined the party too. It took me a year before I went to the Institute of Mental Health to get myself the help I needed. With therapy and medication I was able to experience life like my ‘normal’ peers. I stopped therapy and medication once I was confident that I could handle life on my own.

I recently met someone and got into a relationship. This individual knows of my past and how my anxiety is still in my life. As a partner, one would expect or appreciate support. That however isn’t the case. With emotional bullying, I am once again face to face with my demons.

I just hope that people who get into relationships with individuals who have mental health issues try and exercise some sympathy. You might not understand how a small action might cause the other party pain. A little kindness and understanding goes a long way.

My parents are against me seeking professional help

I was diagnosed with ADHD but not with severe depression and social anxiety because my parents did not allow for that diagnosis. They said it would affect my career in the future although my psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with ADHD, strongly suggested for me to be diagnosed with severe depression and social anxiety.

My parents are against me seeking professional help, so I took the initiative to seek help without them knowing.

The journey to healing is tough for me as I don’t have any medications or any medical help. At the same time, my parents aren’t very understanding. I don’t have any income and I’m under the age of 21, so I can’t seek medical help without my parents’ consent.

Thus, I believe I can recover with the help of my few close friends and school counsellor.

I’m so glad I didn’t go through with my attempts

I was 16, fresh out of secondary school, when I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and dysthymia. I was bullied by my seniors and people whom I used to call friends, simply because of my weight. Because I was also often on my own, I was an easy target. Throughout my life I was also subjected to my father’s snide insults in public and he was always unreasonably cold to me, and I knew he was embarrassed to call me his daughter.

I realised after getting help that a lot of my self-esteem issues stemmed from home. And I knew I brought that low self-esteem out into the world, making myself an even easier target for everyone to pick on. After my diagnosis and a chat with my psychotherapist, Dad still had trouble accepting that he had a part to play. You know how dads are. It has been 5 years now. In those 5 years, I tried to kill myself twice. But as I sit here typing this, I’m so glad I didn’t go through with my attempts.

I sat on a ledge at 16, and again at 18. Today I’m blessed to no end with an amazing support system. I found a wonderful group of friends who remind me every day that they wouldn’t be who they are without me, and my family is stronger than ever. My father still slips up every now and then but I’ve gained the courage to call him out whenever he does. For anyone diagnosed with GAD, I can promise you that it will get better. For depression, hell if I know.

I’ve only learned that grief comes in waves and it never fully goes away. Some days are harder than others, and those are the days you’ll need to put yourself first. Surround yourself with good people, and only good people. Have a good support system — ultimately you really fight alone, but with the right people cheering you on, it’s a little easier. Please reach out, tell the truth, and find a community that’s good for you. I’ve seen how ugly things can get and I’ve met some of the cruellest people. But no matter what, they aren’t worth your life. I promise you this — you will fall in love with life again.

The way I walk is different

When I was born, my leg got stuck in my head, it was some unnatural birth problem and they had to cut off a bit of the skin to detach it. My foot became curved over the years, but I’ve grown accustomed to it. When I was younger, I went through quite a lot of surgeries but they haven’t helped at all, it has only cost me pain and money. 

 

Because the surgery’s target is to make my foot curve but somehow after every operation, it will go back to its original form and it kind of hurts me knowing that there’s no cure! With surgeries comes scars and there’s a long scar at the back of my leg. Up till today, I’m still not fond of it and I often avoid short pants when going out because people will look at me differently. 

 

The way I walk is different too. I call my walking style ‘penguin’ because a lot of my close friends have said so too. Socialising with people is difficult because whenever I leave the house, I get anxiety due to the situation with my leg. I always wonder if I deserve to hang out with my friends because I’m different. This thought has been with me for the longest time. 

 

My family always tell me to wear short pants but I always refuse to. Sometimes I even get scolded and that is because they don’t know how I really feel! So for my whole life, I have been wearing long pants (ignoring the primary/sec school times where I must wear shorts, in fact, that was one of the worst times in my life…. Because my class is always standing at the very front, the whole school will see my leg…. And my anxiety was very severe back then but I’m lucky I gone through it). I only wear short pants around my neighbourhood, but when I’m in school or with classmates or friends, I’m really scared.

 

One of the biggest miracles in my whole life was back in 2013. My leg’s pain was so intense I had to drag myself to school. There were times when I cried too. I decided to tell my family that I had to have an operation again, no matter what happens. So we went to the hospital, the doctors explained that they were going to operate near my veins and the chances of hitting it was very high which could mean paralysis and being wheelchair bound for life. 

 

The doctor was not confident of the operation. But somehow, I was adamant about it even though I knew the risks. Many people asked me not to do it, including my close friends and teachers but I still went ahead. 

 

The operation day came and it was time for my fate to be decided. Throughout the whole thing, I smiled through and when I woke up, it was a success! I didn’t know they put 5 metal rods until a few months later and they had to pull it out while I was awake. It was horrible. So that really impacted my whole life!! Part of me still feels insecure.

 

I always thought I would be like that forever, not until I realised the true friends around me and most importantly God telling me to love myself and not care about the world! Through the years, instead of hating my leg, I begin to call it a blessing in disguise and love my leg even though I still fear it! I feel like my leg’s scars are a testimony that I’m a strong man that went through a lot of things. It’s a thing that allows me to be me! I’ve met friends who sincerely cared about me as well, they always take special attention towards me and are always motivating me. Teachers are also supportive of me which helped me a lot. I grew an interest in film and I thought I couldn’t make it because of my leg but here I am, studying film and even working in the film industry already!