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self esteem - 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.

This is how toxic the human mind can be

My story is just like the rest. I wake up every morning dreading to go to school but school is compulsory so I go anyway. When I’m there I have great friends and wonderful teachers that care for me but I don’t think that way because I feel that I am not good enough for their care and support and for the help they provide. When my friends and I have a little argument I think that I deserve anything that they would say because I’m not good enough. I deserve to die and I deserve nothing at all. At home I have a loving family one that loves me a lot and even though we may not be so well off but we make do. Every time, when my parents or siblings scold me I will accept it but I would not cry. When I am alone the worst thoughts come to mind of how they’re better off with me dead. They do not need to spend money on me if I’m dead. I will cry secretly in the bathroom and in the shower, I will say the meanest things to myself and that is how I spent my life till now. I don’t know why or how I got myself into this mess but this is how toxic the human mind can be.

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.

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 learnt how to be vulnerable

In my secondary school days, I struggled with low self esteem. I would always beat myself up over my perceived failures; in hindsight, it was an impossible drive for perfection. Coupled with a tendency to internalise my feelings, I found myself turning to self harm to cope with my self-hatred. 

 

It started as a way to punish myself for my inadequacies and not doing things ‘right’. Soon, it became a habit. I self harmed more and more frequently, and the urges were strongest when I felt stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. 

 

Self harm was my coping mechanism; frankly, it brought me relief and was an outlet for all the feelings I keep inside of me. However, I always knew it was wrong and not socially accepted, but because of how useful it was in helping me cope (maladaptively) and its habitual nature, I could not and did not want to stop self harming. 

 

I told no one about this for 3 years and no one knew. On the surface, I was a good student who had my life together, but deep deep down I was craving to just talk to someone about everything that is going on. I could not go on like this. 

 

Eventually, I realised that the help I needed won’t always be as accessible and affordable as that in school. So I plucked up the courage to seek counselling. It was one of the hardest but best decisions I ever made. 

 

I learnt how to be vulnerable with others, how not to let my feelings destroy me and how important it is to talk and express my feelings. I also understood that people need people. 

 

Today, I still struggle with self harm urges every now and then, but I am in a much better place and I’m coping in healthier, more fulfilling ways. 

 

There truly is light at the end of the tunnel, don’t be afraid to seek the help you deserve.

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.

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.