self harm

Mental health should not be taken lightly

I was gossiped about. People hated me. Others threatened me on social media; my own friends started leaving me. That was the point where my life just dipped to its all-time low. All I thought was, “What did I ever do to deserve this ?”. I have felt suicidal and self-harmed long before all these things happened. It was a constant struggle to keep myself afloat, especially when things got really rough. Eventually, I found my way out of this through the true friends I have and through my religion. Mental health should not be taken lightly. It really is a matter of life and death.

I’m in one of my darkest moments

Mental health is something that on first thought people don’t think too much about. But mental wellness, that’s something that is relevant to everyone.

As for me, my mental health state and journey has always been one that fluctuates because of my identification as bisexual. Love-relationships are hard. Life just hasn’t been the easiest, there is a fear of being who I am, I’m unable to live a life that I want. Living in the shadows and under a mask is painful and not easy.

It is in our nature that we as humans tend not to desire to live when our mental health is not strong; we may falter. But it is not a sign of weakness, what makes us strong is how we deal with it, view it and fix it. HOPE – Hold On, Pain Ends.

You know that rock bottom feeling, that helpless feeling, that feeling when you’re on the brink of it and you know you can no longer do it? Everyone might not know what each of us are going through but everyone has their own struggles, things that weigh so heavily on our shoulders, on our minds and in our hearts.

We want to be happy, we want to be cared and loved, want to love and care, we want to be heard and hear, to be validated and validate, we want someone to step in to help us, we want to live but sometimes we just get too drained and tired of life, people don’t hear us or want us or are ready for us.

More importantly we are not really ready for ourselves and we can’t handle ourselves so we see no other options. In our darkest hours, we feel so alone, so afraid, drowning and our thoughts flood out and we spiral down down down.

But. The dawn will come again, new light will come at day break. Through our darkest hours even in day light, it takes courage to brave through life. So here’s to all of us struggling, we’re only human. So hold on, the pain will end. And in our darkest moments, let there be light within ourselves.

Maybe apart from reaching out to others, let’s reach within ourselves to find a light that we can count on, a light that we can control and the courage to brave our lives strongly and fiercely. To find the light to still live on and love on.

Timing has the funniest ways of reminding me. The thoughts of ending it all had only been at its highest intensity in the recent week and days and I was ready to end it all.

I’m currently in one of my darkest moments and lowest periods of life. I’m still struggling and I’m not okay but I’m looking for my light within me. To anyone out there struggling as well, let’s hold on. And if you can, reach out to another to help them find some light. Even in our darkest moments, we still have love to give. It really takes courage to die, but it also takes immense courage to live and love on.

For me, I can never fully say that my mental health state is good or good enough at this point.

I believe that at any turn of events, we might not be always okay, but it’s okay not to be okay. Everyone has their not-okay days. I cannot guarantee that you will feel better but what I know is, you are not the only one fighting.

We can stand by each other in our personal fights to keep going and even as our mental health is not at its optimum, we can still find the light by seeking help not just from around us but within us. We may only be human but we are human.

I’m still afraid to seek proper help

When I was really down at age 15, I didn’t know what to do and who to turn to. I soon resorted to self-harm. Others may see it as suicide attempt, but to me it’s a form of relief. There’s a calm that follows when I feel the pain of my skin opening under the blade as I cut myself. School teachers noticed the wounds and alerted the principals and I was referred to school counsellors. That was when I received help.

Due to the stigma of mental illness, I’ve never dared to seek proper support after I left my secondary school less than 2 years later. I’m forced to fight this lonely battle without support even from my own family as they simply label me as being a lunatic.

15 years down the road, the journey has not been easy. There are days wherein I feel wonderful – as if none of this has ever happened – and then there are days when I feel like I want to end it all.

I’m still afraid to seek proper help due to all the shaming that is still prevalent.

For those who are struggling: It may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.

For those around people who are struggling: STOP telling us to “just think positive” or “snap out of it”, because it just doesn’t work that way.

I hope that people will stop judging. Start listening and empathising.

My first encounter

My first encounter with self harm was in primary school. Since then, cutting had been the only way for me to deal with stress. I tried drinking and smoking, but nothing was equivalent to the release of stress through the pain and trickling blood from the cuts on my ankle.

I always knew somehow that this was not a healthy form of stress relief, but I hid it all along because I always thought it was shameful to show others that I was not ‘tough’ enough to handle the simplest challenges in life. I was also seen by my peers as that bright girl who always was down to earth and had things under control, so I didn’t want to contradict that impression. It was also how the society portrayed depression, as if it is a state of failure.

In my final year of university, I finally decided to consult a professional about my problem. It was nothing forced, but more of an acceptance that this is nothing to be ashamed of, and by that time I started to see the problem more clearly because I was craving for the cutting; I could not live without the pain.

I think what is important is to tell the people whom you care about that there is nothing embarrassing about showing your vulnerabilities. Obviously that is not an easy thing to do, considering how Asian culture works. But that thought – the idea that it is okay to feel weak, and that there are times where emotions can take a downturn – was what saved me.

Some may think that is common sense, but to people like myself, it is hard to accept when no other person assures you that. Also, a piece of advice is that the management/treatment of mental illness is never a “one size fits all”. There are counselors who may work for you, and those that don’t.

Having a mental illness doesn’t mean you are crazy. It is just about learning how to approach your mind and body.It’s been almost a year since I stopped cutting, but seeing my old scars reminds me that I will be alright.

Now I know that I do not need to be perfect, just to be who I truly am.

My wish for new mums

I was diagnosed late with postpartum anxiety and depression because no one knew how to help me.After the initial elation of an almost perfect delivery, everything went downhill. I couldn’t breastfeed my son, he couldn’t be discharged, he went home & got admitted to the hospital again twice. My whole body still hurt, I was exhausted from pumping breast milk every 3 hours & going to the hospital daily to try and breastfeed a screaming child. My efforts all seemed futile!

When he finally was able to go home, I was past my confinement period. My hubby went back to work and I was all alone with this tiny thing. He cried all the time. I barely had time to bathe or eat because I was either with my baby or trying to pump breast milk.

When I finally got back to work I felt almost liberated despite my fatigue.However, my colleagues expected me to be the ever resourceful, efficient me, when I was actually feeling completely lost. I felt so low.I did an online test that suggested that I may be having depression. I showed it to my husband, friends and GP but they just said I needed time.

I asked the paediatric nurse where I should go to get help for depression and she just asked me to call a patients’ hotline. I was too tired to make the call. It got so bad that I felt like stepping onto the train tracks or the busy road each time I was near one. I also felt like just letting go of the steering wheel each time I drove to and from work.I felt like I was not fit to be a wife, mother or worker. There was no longer a point in my existence.

After another few months of bumming around trying to see what I could do for help, I finally stumbled across the hospital’s depression email. It was so hard to find that I didn’t find it till my 3rd attempt at seeking help. It took another month before I had the ability to email them.

My first appointment to see a psychiatrist was 10 months after giving birth.I felt so angry and alone because I have family and friends who are doctors but no one spotted the signs. They just laughed me off as being paranoid. Even my husband said he was just waiting for me to decide what to do, when in fact I was in no state to help myself. I had to fight my way to save myself. I unfortunately didn’t follow through with those negative thoughts.

Despite all that, I am now on the mend. But each time I look back on the first year of my son’s life, I can never forget the loneliness and helplessness that I felt.

My wish for new mums is for them to never experience the struggles that I had to go through to get help.

Since the age of 11

Since the age of 11, I’ve attempted suicide countless times. What were the reasons? What caused me to be this way? I don’t know either. My family think I’m crazy; they think that I lack faith and don’t pray enough to the God we believe in.

Whenever I try my best to open up to the people I fully trust, they just think I’m feeling sad, having PMS symptoms, or having a rough day. They brush me off by telling me that I should stop acting this way.

Things aren’t easy for me. It would be a lie to say that I’m 100% recovered. There have been a few “clean” days from self harm – with the last attempt being a year ago. I choose to keep believing and to continue walking forward. There’s this small part of me that wants to save myself from this mess.

It’s hard, but there’s also that 1% of me that wants to prove all those people wrong; those people who think that I’m just being a “nuisance”.

I still have a small hope in myself. I deserve better.

We are human too

Ever since I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I feel that I have not been treated like a human being. I feel like an object that has been labelled; like a flower because of too many stigmas. I too, am human.

Why does having a mental illness diagnosis make me any lesser of being a human being? I plead with you all, please, stop stigmatising us We are human too. My journey with mental health has been full of ups and downs; many hospitalisations; many tears; many suicide attempts. But I am still alive.

I choose to have a voice and to be an advocate for mental health. You matter. You are worth it. You deserve to be alive. Please seek help if you or anyone whom you know may be suffering from a mental health concern. You are not alone in this fight.

I was crumbling and buckling

Earlier this year, I was hit hard with the realisation that I would have to do my O-levels this year. I had taken a break year last year due to anxiety and depression getting the better of me.I was riddled with self-doubt, hatred, frustration and a mess of other emotions.

On top of that, I had come out as nonbinary and knew that most of my family aside from my cousins and parents didn’t accept me as they are Muslim. They still don’t accept me till this day. I was crumbling and buckling under the sheer pressure of it all and I decided I had enough.

I took all the money from my little money box under my desk and used it to buy a shirt and get a haircut. I sat in my room, played my favourite song and took 10 Panadol extra pills, swallowing them down with milk, my favourite drink. The music drifted through my head – I had a song playing on a loop – and I could feel my head getting airy and light and my stomach grumbling in disagreement. The light seemed too bright and I could barely sit.

Later, I had dinner with my family and while eating I vomited everything out, including the pills. Even if I had fully consumed those pills, I wouldn’t have been able to kill myself, the dose was too little. I survived that night and got the worst stomach ache in the days afterwards.

I knew I was meant to make it through 2018 and that God, or somebody, gave a fuck about me. I knew that I mattered and that I wouldn’t go down that easily. I’m about 2 months clean of self-harm so there’s that to celebrate. 🙂 I used a box-cutter to scratch my left arm and my left heel. It hurt but at least I could see where it hurt – it was tangible pain.

I’m meant to walk on this earth and do great things – and you are too. We’re all placed on this earth for a reason, and dammit, we are gonna fulfil that purpose.

We can get through this together. I’m supporting whoever you are no matter what. I’m still in a depressive rut but I’m trying to dig myself out. I love myself and I can achieve my dreams. <3

Everything was in turmoil

Back in 2015, I was diagnosed with depression by a family doctor. Believe me, I was in disbelief.As mental health was shunned upon, I remained silent about it.I partially believed the diagnosis because everything that could go wrong in my life, did. Studies, family, friends, CCA, practically everything that took up most of my life.

Things continued to be the same, or as I left it. I didn’t have the motivation or will to change it, because I thought it wouldn’t change. Everything was in turmoil and I chose the easy way out.

I took a penknife, and headed to the toilet. There was blood, the scar was not that deep, but still prominent till date. I headed to bed after and had a dream/nightmare. I was sprawled on the toilet floor with blood gushing out from the wound that I created, my mum at my side with tears down her cheeks, my blood smeared on her from head to toe, as she frantically try to stop the blood from flowing, even when I was already dead. I couldn’t even say sorry to her. My heart still aches when I think about it.

The feeling of losing someone who matters to you, I don’t want her to feel that too. And yes, she has seen my scar, and asked me why I did it, and said not to do it again. I don’t know the amount of hurt I had inflicted on her who painstakingly brought me up for me to mutilate myself.

I became more aware of my actions and when sober, I thought about why I did certain irrational actions that was unnecessary or detrimental to myself, in which I instilled in myself to stop. That’s when I stopped cutting. You’re harming yourself, but what do you get from it? Temporary avoidance from reality in exchange of your pain when you can think of something to solve it in the long run. Or if you’re seeking temporary avoidance, watch dramas, look up on facts, do something you’ve always wanted to but have been putting off, or exercise which causes healthy, physical pain.

I forced myself to think, act, and eat healthily which helped me in my overall well-being. I wouldn’t say I take perfect care of myself, but I have been making an effort to, and have seen an improvement in my health, confidence, and outlook in life.

With mental health being discussed publicly today, my traditional family has been exposed to more information, and has become more accepting and understanding.

I hope you can give your family time, as much as you give yourself. It took me 4 years of stagnancy to realise to turn around. I can’t get back the wasted time, but I can make use of what’s left.

Strength to stand back up again

I was 15. My parents were scheduled to meet with my high school principal the next morning. They were going to receive the news that I’d be repeating another year at school. I remember that night very clearly, as I traced lines on my wrist with a penknife. I didn’t sleep a wink, and left farewell messages on my friends’ voicemail. I was ready to pull the plug and let the blood drip out of my body, but I feared the pain and the long process it’d take before I met death.

Hours passed while I went back and forth about taking my life. I feared the pain. Eventually, the time came to leave for school, and I had to leave that penknife on my desk and hope that the mental pain that I was about to endure wasn’t going to be worse than the physical pain that I was afraid of. The news was delivered, and everything that happened after was a blur. I don’t remember how or when my parents left the school compound, but I remember being pulled aside by one of my teachers. She was the only one who asked me how I was doing, and how could she support me.

At that age, and with my given school record, no adult or friend had ever asked me that question with so much patience, love, compassion and empathy. The flood gates opened and I confided in her that I had almost taken my life the night before. She held my hands and looked at me in the eye and said, “Promise me, that you will never do something like that ever again.” I looked at her and remember seeing so much hope and love, her kindness made me believe that I’ll somehow find the strength and courage to walk out of the darkness with grace. I gave her my word.

And because of that incident, I got through high school in one piece – though incidents later on in my life would take me in other directions down the deep end again, but that teacher saved my life. She was there to support me – a troubled 15 year old. She gave me the strength to stand back up again.