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insecurity - Singapore Mental Health Film Festival

I want to live even if it’s so painful

Break ups can be painful, had been painful. Especially for a person like me who grew so attached to someone else that I wasn’t even yet married to and saw him literally as my world and only affirmer before. It was toxic I know, toxic love because I just didn’t know how to love myself enough to love another person without drowning in my own insecurities and doubts.

When we broke up, I was happy at first. For a month I felt I have released my own chains and his. But the nightmare came after – for a total of 3 plus years I endured constant flashbacks and rumination on ‘what ifs’ and anxiety heightening whenever he was nearby (even in the midst of a crowd).

The first 3 months was pleading and relentless chasing to get back the lost attachment figure whom I thought would never leave me. I was also in therapy at that time, and stressors prior to the breakup already included confronting childhood abuse, family violence, and possible addictive behaviours. Didn’t actually need one more event to push me over tipping point and consider all ways of suicide, so yeah… OD and starvation were my least painful choices that I also wanted to use in front of my ex-boyfriend with an elaborate plan – shan’t elaborate.

I then told my counsellor that I was too mad at God after I heard that He abhors suicide. I wanted to force my ex-boyfriend to care for me and take me back by silent lethal protests. My counsellor however, did not waiver and told me she will have to ward me at NUH if I can’t contract to keep safe. I thank her for her firmness to this day because if I attempted anything more deadly then, I will likely not be able to meet my present fiancé, a wonderful God-fearing man that aligned with my prayers.

Afterwards it was a tough journey to learn how to self-sooth and depend solely on God and my eventual promise to Him that I will continue living only because of Him and his love for me. The toughest part was not being able to really share with anyone my loss and loneliness – I wanted to protect my family from my meltdown, and I completely got off social media. I did call Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) once, and I remember it to this day – a concerned Indian lady listener – appreciate her listening ear.

God is sovereign and good and He never lets me or you down if we continue to have faith. And for that alone, I find myself having the courage again to keep on living. Because of that promise to live for someone other than myself, I was saved. I then came to know how to say ‘I want to live even if it’s so painful’.

If you are in doubt and thinking of suicide or harming yourself, allow this post to be your #hopethroughthenight. Believe in the ability of time and kind persons to come into your life and do not give up on the possibility of being able to heal, or if not, be capable of managing your own turmoils with renewed strength.

Allow this year’s #SuicidePreventionWeek be a powerful instrument to spread vivid memories and advice from those who care and want to share.

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!

I will never love myself

I was insecure about my appearance from a very young age. I started to dislike how I looked and wanted to lose weight since I was in primary school and now I’m 17, in poly, nothing has changed. I still hate my body, my face and even my personality. The hate just seems to grow stronger and it feels like I will never love myself. I realised this just recently that no matter how many genuine compliments I get, I will never see myself as a beautiful person. I told some of my friends that I disliked myself and one of them simply asked ‘Why?’ but I couldn’t give a simple answer.

Never give up

I have been suffering from Severe Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder and Trichotillomania since I was 11 years old. I envy my friends when they are able to tie their hair so nicely in different types of styles and also let it down without being self conscious like I do.

 

I have a lot of friends, I am very sociable but also extremely introverted. I have come to realise that I am that person that’s actually alone, surrounded with people that I am familiar with. Even at home. It’s not until I met a close friend that I’m comfortable with, only she knows the real me. 

 

She would try to stop me from plucking my hair when I am unconscious or doing it out of anxiety even though I would get angry at her after that. I guess, it’s true when they say that you’re not alone. You’re just not exploring the friend that will be more than willing to be your listening ear, a helping hand and shoulder to cry on.

 

Yes I admit I still do have my psychotic episodes but it is not as bad when you let it out to someone you trust and are comfortable with. It is NOT necessary to be alone all the time and keep it in you to the point where you would think “exploding” ー giving up on the efforts you have put in to be okay. It is okay to fall back down sometimes. But never give up.

 

Try it out, I gambled on trying to lift all the weight I have on my shoulders, it worked. Explore and have someone that would be in the same effort you put in to feel okay. 

I try to fight every single day

Since I was young I’ve had pains and aches, which turned into periods of crying and extreme worrying. At 21, I was admitted to A&E after several consecutive panic attacks, diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder, and later, Agoraphobia as well. It’s hard, having to relearn how to do basic things such as getting out of the house, and taking public transport – things we often take for granted. 

 

It’s hard battling suicidal thoughts and tendencies and self-harm that slowly grows into an addiction. Feelings of worthlessness and emptiness, of never being good enough. It’s hard when you don’t know who you can count on or turn to, being socially isolated in class and feeling as though you have to beg to find a group for group work. 

 

I’ve been advised to take a medical leave of absence, and am considering it, to take a break from school and focus on recovery. It’s amazing how just 4 months since my diagnosis can cause such a drastic change in my life, but through it I’ve found the rare few who stick by me without judgement. For them, I try to fight every single day.

I question my self worth

They say depression can be cured. But I doubt so. I grew up feeling suicidal all the time. Every small little thing that happened, be it to me or others, I question my self worth. I always thought of death but I never really felt the urge to kill myself but at the back of my head was a constant reminder to myself that ‘death is beautiful’. I can’t forget the day that I was scolded because of what they labelled me as ‘attitude problem’ but to me I was feeling so much pain. I was 11, standing next to a ledge, on the 3rd storey, tears rolling down my cheeks – the first time ever in elementary, I knew that the jumping over the ledge was the best escape. That’s when I knew how I could kill myself at Primary 5. Being labelled was the worst. Everyone expects something of you. I went through my teenage years with suicidal thoughts all year. My art was an expression of suicide but teachers did not flag them up because I do not look like one who needs help or is going through depression. Not until the day they saw cuts all over my arms. It was too late. I fell into a deep dark trap of self harming and that was the best relief I could get. Depression never heals. I just learn to cope and hide it better from everybody. But until today Death to me is still the most beautiful escape of living.

Stay, you are needed

I was recently diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and OCD. I am still learning to slowly accept my diagnosis because when the doctor said I have these illnesses, it was a confirmation of my deepest fears yet a sense of relief and consolation that what I’m feeling is real. 

 

I grew up in a messed up home where my parents were either not home at all or when they’re home, they would verbally and physically abuse me. They are really successful perfectionists so they expect perfection from me as well. If I don’t live up to their standards, I know I would be in deep trouble. 

 

I didn’t think much of all the abuse that was happening because I thought it was normal. I only came to a realization when I entered a local school where teachers questioned beating marks on my body. This happened throughout middle and high school. I hated myself and I wanted to die. 

 

In the 21 years of my life, I have attempted suicide 3 times, all unsuccessful. I felt worthless and a burden to everyone around me. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be at church because people at that particular church were judgmental and topics about mental illnesses and suicide were all avoided. I felt all alone in this world because I had no one to talk to about feeling down. I lost all my faith in God and I stopped going to church. 

 

Around 2 years ago, a friend of mine invited me to her church near my house. I am so glad I went and got to know the people there. They were so loving and friendly, and they were the family I never had. I found people that have helped me realize that it’s okay not to be okay and that it’s okay to feel my emotions, and not bury them. 

 

I am also very grateful and thankful for the guidance of my therapist and psychiatrist for helping through rough times when I felt like I couldn’t go on, and for bearing with me when I have outbursts in sessions. 

 

Today, I am still in the process of learning how to love and be kind to myself. Even though I am still going through a dark time, I am glad to have people that listen. Their very presence brings comfort to my hurting soul. To those who feel alone, please know that you’re not alone. I am here, please do not give up, I am living proof that you can survive this. Stay, you are needed. 

It isn’t my fault

The past two years of my life have been really hard for me. I’ve been struggling with social anxiety since I’ve entered secondary school. Things haven’t gotten easier because I didn’t seek help when I needed to and chose to bottle up my feelings instead. This would result in random outbursts at my peers or family and they never understood why I acted this way or another. I’ve had bad friendships and felt insecure about myself and felt unworthy because of the things people would say or do.

 

They call me stupid, ugly, bimbo, and criticise me because of my religion. As this carried on, I’ve started to feel just terrified of all the people in this world.

 

Around the end of the year, I attended a camp and experienced my first two panic attacks. It was then I realised I needed help. 

 

I decided to tell my mother and sister about my anxiety, and even though they didn’t really understand at first, I think they are beginning to understand me now and I am currently seeking help. 

 

It’s a hard thing to talk about but I’m glad I did. And even though I’m not okay yet, and I still am uneasy, I trust God that with time, I can learn to overcome this and be happy again. Because I deserve to be happy and it isn’t my fault that this happened.

 

I feel alone

I struggle with self esteem issues and irrational fear on a daily basis. It consumes my mind and stresses me out every time. No one knows how much it has affected me because whenever I try to talk about it, the people around me just brush it off like it’s nothing. I’ve always wanted to reach out and seek help but I could never bring myself to be so vulnerable in front of someone else. I feel alone. No one else can hear the things in my mind the same way as I do. I always have a small bit of hope that one day I’ll get help and be better, but it will take time. I just wish people were more open to listen to my problems and worries without judgement.

I’m going to seek help

I was so desperate. I thought I found a confidant. We once said we would tell each other if there was anything bothering us. I was going through parental, marriage and health issues. I thought I was going to leave my kids behind. I broke down in my doctor’s room. I thought my family was breaking. I couldn’t talk to my parents. I didn’t want to worry them. I felt my world was collapsing. I stood by my window looking down, thinking if I will ever do it. I broke down and I confided my deepest hurts and secrets to someone whom I thought I could trust. It takes so much guts to pour it all out to someone. What a terrible move it was. The responses I received – “I’m superb because I’ve a big heart!”, “You’re like that because you focused on your kids”, “Others have it worse than you”, “I’ll go a long way with people who believe in themselves”. Ouch! It hurts so bad to hear those words. Made me feel even lower, pathetic, worthless. What happened to the trust and respect? It was suddenly all gone. I avoided that person. How does one continue to stand next to someone who feels it’s alright to say those words? I couldn’t do it. So I treated her like a stranger. Those around us who don’t know exactly what happened probably assume she’s the victim. I get curt remarks from others too. I don’t go near those people anymore. I’ve no energy nor wish to defend myself in front of them. I’m on my own trying to heal. It’s a daily struggle but I will do it. I must. I want to watch my children grow up to be empathetic, respectful and trustworthy people. I will continue to be the Mum they love, the Mum I’ve always wanted to be. I get chest pains, nausea, insomnia whenever I hear those hurtful words in my head. It’s even harder to overcome those words from someone I trusted. At times, I still break down crying. I’m mentally so exhausted but I smile as much as I can. I’m going to take the next step to help myself. I’m going to seek help. “We’re not trained counsellors”. That’s what another person told me, defending the one with hurtful comments. My take – “If you can’t show empathy, don’t say a word. Your words can destroy a person.” For those who are caregivers to the elderly and the young, I hope you’re able to share your struggles with people who are empathetic. For what it’s worth, my heart is always with you.