I started experiencing depressive moods in October of 2018. It has been non-stop ever since. Some people think depression is a feeling of constant sadness, but for me it has been both pain and emptiness. I realised that I was not like most people, as I seemed high-functioning and did not outwardly display sadness. My parents thus struggled to understand it, as to them, I was a happy teenager. In 2019, I was diagnosed with Atypical Depression. Getting a diagnosis was actually relieving for me, as I now knew that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. 2 weeks ago, I attempted suicide, and was put on a 2 week MC. I am on the MC as I am typing this, trying to get better in order to go back to school. Depression confuses people, and honestly, it confuses me too. How could I feel so empty yet so much pain? I am still finding my way through this illness, and I now understand the stigma to a much larger extent. I realised that I would lie about the reason for my MC to avoid questions, and would play off my self-harm scars as scratches from eczema. The stigma that surrounds mental health needs to be broken, so that those who suffer from the illness can seek the support they need.
“One more day, just one more day!” – is what I tell myself when I’m ready to give up and want to take my life. ”Lord, please STOP the pain”, was my daily plea. The intense emotional pain, anguish was brought about from PTSD, which caused clinical depression for the next 3.5-4 years. This was a result of various factors, but chiefly triggered from caregiver burnout and guilt whilst tending to my mom’s sudden sickness till she passed on within a span of 6 months on a Good Friday! Relationships with family, friends, church ministry, work suddenly were all breaking down. The societal stigma towards mental health did not help. I was so severely depressed, I gave up hope, and became suicidal. But somewhere, during the sickness, I felt God ‘tell me’ that I am to use this experience to help others with similar conditions.
By God’s grace, I was completely off all the anti-psychotic and anti-depressants in April of 2018. I still have intermittent mini-flashbacks but it’s manageable now.
Here are but some key tips for recovery:
- Be kind to yourself.
- Do something you have always wanted to do but have not tried. A new sport, a new hobby?
- Get some sun.
- Join a support group – you are not alone.
- Identity – know your values, interests, temperament & life goal/mission. Re-discover your purpose!
I would like to help break this stigma, to tell anyone out there, that there is hope, recovery is possible. And that caregivers are just as important as those who are suffering.
For the longest time, I’ve had a feeling of being empty. My mum told me that I once told her that I didn’t know how to be happy, that I was incapable of being happy. This was back when I was in primary school. Honestly, I didn’t think anything was out of the norm. I even thought suicidal thoughts and making plans to kill myself was normal. Back then, many people always asked me why I smiled so much, and why I was always so happy. I sincerely believed then that if I could smile, it meant that I was happy.
I didn’t realise that my thoughts were abnormal until one day when I was replying a seeker in Audible Hearts (a now defunct platform that used to be a listening ear for youths), I wrote that having suicidal thoughts was a phase, and that it would pass. I honestly thought that was true, as my mother, who I confided everything in, told me so. The site moderator told me that was not so, and that was when I first realised that something may be wrong.
After my first suicide attempt, my father called me crazy. My mother cried very badly at my bedside. I remember her asking the doctor how long would I need to take medication for before I got better, and if I could still sit for A-level exams. She told me to never tell people that I have depression, and I must never write it on any form. Once, I had to declare that I was on anti-depressants to my school, and she was vehemently opposed to me doing so as she didn’t want it on my school record. Now, my mother reads books on depression, and books on how to support people with depression. She’s my biggest and most dependable supporter.
I am now a survivor of 2 suicide attempts and seeking help still. Even now, many people still ask how and why I smile so often and so easily. To me, it is my one constant, and most days, I am glad I am able to.
I find it difficult to confide about my feelings and illness to people. Initially, they tend to empathize and will keep checking in on me, but when I feel suicidal and seek their help, I tend to lose friends. I feel extremely alone more often than not. I fall behind in my schoolwork for weeks at a time. I spend days skipping class and spending the time in my bed, watching YouTube or reading. Usually, it’s difficult to find the energy to do anything.
I’ve been on scholarships since primary school. I volunteer, participate in projects, organise events, hold EXCO roles, and am in several committees. Even so, I still feel empty. I hope one day I won’t.
In the past I’ve had to wear a mask when I talk to people. Meaning I’ve had to say the opposite of what I’ve felt instead of how I really feel about the situation. For example, when I worked in my previous media job, my colleagues require me to say I am coping well, when in actual fact, I don’t like the job and am suffering in it.
It was after 4 months when I told my SPD social worker I wanted to leave with immediate effect, so they arranged for me to leave work. But the stress there has taken a toll on me and I haven’t been able to be real in front of my family members as well.
I went to seek treatment at the hospital. Now after medication, the doctor has helped me by teaching me how to be myself. My family members have also encouraged me to take off my mask and say what I really feel or think about the problems that I have.
My relatives and friends also encourage me to do the things that make me happy, and they also remind me that I do not owe anyone a living.
With the support of people who care for me, I am now better able to be myself and I do not have to wear a mask in front of people anymore.
My life was literally an act – pretending every single day that all was well and good. In the past, I decided that only me, myself and I would know about my mental illness. I felt ashamed to tell anyone about it.
No one knew that I struggled with even the simplest of tasks. I couldn’t get out of bed and couldn’t get ready for school. Even showering and doing the laundry seemed impossible. Learning again how to be independent and ‘normal’ was painstaking. I nearly lost hope. Behind closed doors, I cried every day and night. Pulled my hair and blamed myself for being so weak. I got overly anxious and panic attacks kicked in.
Since then, the attacks become more intense and frequent each day, it’s no longer a secret by now. My mental illness is now more visible than it ever was, hiding it is no longer possible. I always receive insensitive remarks and questions I don’t have answers to. After some time, I’ve decided that the only option left is to be open and truthful about my mental illness, and educate others about it.
Opening up is undeniably scary. We never know what others would say and how they would react. However, by opening up and sharing our story, we prove to ourselves and others that we are actually warriors full of courage and bravery.
While the road to recovery is still long, I choose to focus on those who care and understand. To all who struggle with mental illnesses – please know that you’re not alone. You can and you will overcome and conquer what comes in your way. I understand you, I’m so proud of you and I believe in you.
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.
To all those who are struggling with any form of mental illness, you are not alone. There is someone out there that cares for you. As someone who has depression, 2018 wasn’t a great year for me. Friends burning bridges and having a dysfunctional family didn’t help with the situation. Trying to make ends meet financially and juggling between education and work. In the pool of despair, sometimes you may feel like you should stop struggling and let it consume you.
There were days where getting out of bed takes everything out of me. Nights where suicide is all I ever think about. Times where the only form of relieve was with a Swiss army knife and cutting myself to let the physical pain numb the mental agony that I am going through.
Life is too short to stop trying. It is not wrong to seek for professional help. Don’t feel ashamed. I am thankful that my counselor and therapist for not giving up on me. I am thankful that right now I have friends who can provide me with mental support. Even though I am still struggling, at least now I know there is still hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ll be honest, it’s been a long struggle with persistent depressive disorder (PDD). I was diagnosed with PDD 2+ years ago and I thought seeking help would mean immediately getting better. But the truth is, it was really only the beginning of learning how to take my mental health in my own hands and with responsibility.
With the help of my psychiatrist, I started taking medication and finally settled on a particular drug called venlafaxine. The truth about antidepressants is that it’s a double-edged sword, you can’t be sure whether it is worth it and sometimes it leaves you more broken than before.
I’m surprised to have found that antidepressant withdrawals are a thing and something not to be taken likely. How I wish I had more guidance before I was given these antidepressants because they can cause more mental health issues in the aftermath coupled with physical problems. To anyone going through it, you aren’t alone. Don’t let anyone look down on you for what you’re going through.
As I lay here with nausea and headaches from withdrawals, I want to share something my friend shared with me a few hours ago on the phone while listening to me cry – “You’ve gotta take it minute by minute. Your situation sucks, that’s for sure, but you can’t give up now.” The truth is, I have so many minutes more to spare with people who aren’t gonna’ give up on me.
To anyone reading, it’s true, your depression and anxiety may not leave anytime soon, but there’s hope in knowing that there’s still life worth living despite it. So go on, find a reason and hold onto it. There will come a time that you and I both will be able to switch from survival to truly living, minute by minute.
For the past three years, I’ve been suffering from depression and anxiety. What started out as simply academic stress became countless nervous breakdowns and panic attacks. It feels like a never-ending ride. I no longer recall what it feels like to be “normal”. I’ve shunned many people away from me and lost many opportunities. Why can’t I control my emotions? I wonder.
“The greatest battles we fight, are the ones with ourselves.” It truly is isn’t it? I am fighting against the depression, against the anxiety within me, and although I haven’t won yet, I know I will someday.
I was molested by my younger brother in my sleep when I was in secondary school. I can’t be sure how many times it happened. Whenever it happened, all I could think of was how to move so that he couldn’t touch me from that angle. Recently I found out that other than fight and flight, there is also a “freeze” response which greatly validated my response at that time.
After telling my parents, they scolded him badly but the stance was always that he was probably curious since he was still young. I agreed to some extent, but at the same time there were feelings in me which to this day I still don’t really understand. Maybe I felt violated and alone. Thereafter I continued with life pretty well albeit with some PTSD symptoms here and there. But when University came it finally reared its ugly head and I ultimately was brought to see a professional.
The 3 years of recovery was a step by step climb out of harmful coping mechanisms and relearning how to love myself. But it is 100% worth it. I am proud to say I graduated and am holding a full time job and giving back to my family. I have completely put the trauma behind me. Everyone is on good terms and I have forgiven my brother, even though I’m not sure if he remembers what he did.
To everyone out here who struggles, I just want to say it is really possible to recover, but it takes hard work. Things happen to us, it’s not our fault. I learned that it is our responsibility to try because it’s our life. If we are strong enough to have made it through the trauma we are strong enough to recover. I wish you the loveliest of days ahead.