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suicidal - Singapore Mental Health Film Festival

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.

Every day is a new battle and victory

I cannot be too sure how it began but it feels like it has been a long time. It might have begun when I was 12 and felt the full impact of my parent’s ugly and painful divorce. Or 14 when I self-harmed for the first time because I didn’t know how to cope with parental conflict and anxiety. Or at 16, when I was sexually assaulted and did not dare to tell anyone. When depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts entered my life, I learnt how frightening, isolating, and hopeless life could feel.

Fast forward and I am 30 this year. Despite multiple hospitalisations, countless medication and psychotherapy, and several failed suicide attempts, I am still alive and that counts for something. I am capable of functioning and have had full-time jobs most of the time, which is fortunate. With the right attire and socially accepted behaviours, you cannot see the scars. Sometimes the depression gets worse, sometimes it lifts momentarily and I can go on dates, meet friends, function, plan for the future. Sometimes I lie in bed when the fog gets too heavy. Sometimes the fog is a weight I carry around and go about my daily routine.

Mental illness is not something that comes up in everyday conversations, but it should be. There were (and still are) countless days where I wished I could be honest about my experiences and not fear judgement or get passed over for an employment opportunity. Contrary to mainstream belief where only the “weak” are vulnerable, anyone can be afflicted with a mental health condition. And while resilience is often used to describe individuals who turn out well despite adversity, perhaps we can begin to see that it actually takes a lot of strength to fight another day, to survive, to just be.

I may live with depression for the rest of my life but I have been learning to cope better. Every day is a new battle and victory. I am just as human, longing for love, understanding and belonging. I am just another person on the street.

The loneliness is grappling

Girls are toxic, well some at least, I try to fit in but they just shut me out. They pretend that I am not there and I pretend that I do not care. But when I go home all I do is cry. Cry for the friends that I never had, cry for the memories I never shared. I cry I starve I cut I swear.

Death welcomes me with open arms, it says I will be there for you no matter what. I bury myself in books, believing that they can be my companion but soon I realise that there’s no cure. For the depression stems from neglect of human interaction.

The anxiety from trying to be perfect for everyone else and forgetting myself. I hurt people around me, without intent, for I have been hardwired to survive, not to find a companion. The loneliness is grappling especially during the holidays, where everyone has someone while I find myself here…

I will get better

It’s so unfair. I have always been a hardworking student who strives to do my best to receive recognition from my family. My friends were envious of me because my parents dote on me, I have good grades and I’m outgoing but, they don’t notice what I’m going through. 

JC life wasn’t smooth sailing. I push myself to the limit, I interact less and I kept everything to myself. At the start of the year, I became depressed and suicidal. I cried myself to sleep every night, thinking about how I should be selfish for once and put myself before others. I did not tell my friends about my condition until 5 months back, when it was too late for me to get back on track. 

My results dropped, my parents found out about my condition from the school counsellor and they felt like it was just an excuse for me to slack off. I fought with my friends when they found out I self harmed. However, all of it took a turn for the better after mid-years, I failed my mid-years with an all time low. I hated myself for allowing such a thing to happen. So I sought help from my closest friend, struggled through and saw improvement in my preliminary results. I told myself I would try my best for A-levels. As A-levels is ending and I know my results will be below expectations, I know that I can always try again next year. 

I might cry, I might feel hopeless and I might hate myself, but I know that as long as I don’t stop trying, I will get better. 

I’m a burden afterall, right?

I’ve always been pressured to get good grades. Multiple tuition teachers have hurled insults like “stupid” & “useless” at me countless of times, with a tuition teacher throwing a pile of newspapers to me because she was so frustrated I couldn’t get any questions right. This made me fearful and scared of everything, as I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me again.

From then on, there was this irrational fear of studies and getting bad grades. For every time I had a bad grade, I would continuously beat myself over it, and there was this point in life where I couldn’t get up and began feeling suicidal and getting suicidal thoughts.

Nowadays in Polytechnic, I still continuously feel sad everyday. I can go from happy to sad in a span of a few minutes and I blame myself for everything, like my emotions, of what I’ve been through. It’s like I’ve trapped myself in a dark hole and I always feel like killing myself.

There are times that I honestly really want to commit suicide but I always found a reason not to do so. Things have gotten bad recently, even though my friends urge me to see a counsellor, I’m not willing to do so because I’m a burden afterall, right?

I knew I needed help

It all began when puberty struck me and sensitivity crept into my life. In Primary school, my sensitivity got a hold of me and I started to break down almost everyday. The thought of self-harm came to mind because of how people made fun of me. There were times when I was completely normal, and times where I would become a maniac and start slashing my arm.

During Secondary school, one self-harm attempt led me to the Institute of Mental Health. It was really scary, but I knew I needed help.

I couldn’t possibly let my schoolmates see my “drama”, and my parents (my mum) be so worried about me. It also struck me how my relatives reacted to my self-harming. Especially my father who blamed me for choosing to let all this happen and also for believing in my religion.

I cannot possibly hide this matter any longer, so I’m thankful for my school counselors, teachers, church mates and my mum and relatives for truly understanding my situation; encouraging and guiding me along as I chose to seek professional help.  

So to my fellow students that are also struggling, please speak up for yourself and get professional help. It would really benefit you and help bring you back to who you truly are.

I was severely bullied

Since the age of 12, I have been experiencing suicidal thoughts and anxiety. I was severely bullied in Primary 6 but now I’m still recovering.

I feel like a jar, an empty jar. When everybody just takes everything inside away from you, and all you’re left with is nothing. Please stop putting labels on us, because sometimes all you’ve got to do is to understand how we feel. We are all humans.

My mental health journey hasn’t always been smooth. I’m currently in Secondary 3, so I’m seeing the school counselor. It has taken me courage to seek help and recover from it. I have cut myself many times, attempted suicide but now I’m still alive and breathing.

I choose to advocate for mental health because not many people understand how we actually feel. If you need to seek help, seek help. Don’t be ashamed of seeking help because it will be worth it in the end.

I feel like jumping down the school building

To my secondary counsellor who took my thoughts seriously. Thank you. Thank you for taking it seriously enough to call down professionals from the Institute of Mental Health to assess me. Severe depression was their diagnosis and they shared with me my options. But, how do I go for treatment with zero finances?  I wonder what would have happened to me if you had not given serious thought to what I told you. It was nearly the end of recess. “I feel like jumping down the school building” You looked at me shocked while I told you that grim sentence with a smiling face. It didn’t feel like much to me.

My whole life had been a series of half-hearted suicide attempts. Never really wanting to commit, but feeling like I had to because it was always going to be that way. All I have left of it are two arms filled with obvious self-harm scars and some scars here and there on my body. I never realised that talking about suicide was out of the norm. A taboo. It was the norm in my head. It has been a norm since I was in primary school.  My mum was toxic and poisonous at that time. Someone lost and reeling and simply trying to hold on without losing it herself. You told my mum about it and didn’t let me go till she came to pick me up. We went back home and she told me that I had humiliated her by sharing personal family matters with a stranger. In that moment, I hated talking to you. My mum constantly reminded me of how I shamed my family and I regretted sharing my thoughts with you.  Forward to a few months later, I felt better. I shut down and started being positive cause I thought things were getting better. If I shared my real thoughts, my mum will know of it and more shaming would occur. So I didn’t tell you of all the times I wanted to do it. I just said “okay”. “I’m good”. “I’ll be alright”. My favourite teacher told me that it was nothing. I just had to talk and it would get better. Maybe he was right, maybe not. I had no one to talk to who’d understand. So yeah, maybe it would have been better if I had spoken about my problems. But there was no one out there who could understand, who could help.  

Life has been a journey. I thank you my dear counsellor because you manage to instill the tiniest ray of hope into my mind which was enveloped in darkness. I go for therapy twice a month. My job brings hope to families. I have a diagnosis now. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) with bouts of depression, anxiety, and a whole lot of dissociation. I still wish I didn’t have it. I feel broken. But I’m okay with that. I’m used to it. I found that acceptance is the way forward from the reins of my past. It makes it a tad easier than denial.

Good things come to those who wait

I was 15 and suicidal. Depression had taken away my ability to communicate and anxiety had gotten the best of me.
I hadn’t been able to go to school for the past semester because I just couldn’t function. I’d received special permission to stay home and be homeschooled, but after a single day of attempting to follow a measly study schedule that I’d drawn up, I gave up and resigned myself to lying in bed and crying all day.

I felt so incredibly useless and pathetic. My girlfriend had broken up with me because I was “too troublesome to handle”.
My friends stayed away because I was too negative, and though I knew it was the better for both them and me, it hurt. It just hurt. I was all alone.

My parents called me a burden, telling me I had made life difficult for myself and had no one else to blame. I was the one who decided to be a lesbian, to be depressed, they said. I was the one who could just choose to stop at any time. And so I took their advice and decided to stop living. My very being was toxic. What was a little more poison inside my body?

But then I survived. I cried and cried, but to no avail.

I wanted kindness. My parents screamed at me, hit me and offered to drive me to a cliff if I wanted to die so badly. I wanted warmth. My helper sat by me and tried to pray the devil away from me. I wanted acceptance. My brother shrugged, saying, “well, you’re the one who brought this upon yourself.” It was the worst night of my life.

The fourth anniversary of that day passed recently. I’m still horribly anxious. I can’t do a lot of things myself and hate myself every day for it. I’m negative and slow and wish I could be someone else, anyone else. But I’m doing my best. I can go to school now, even if I have to take days off sometimes. It’s hard to bring myself to do things, but I can at least start every now and then.

My relationship with my family has improved, and they’ve learned to be more understanding and accepting with the help of my therapist. I have kind friends who are open and I am so, so grateful for them.

Some people see those with mental illness as ‘freaks’. But they’re not. Sometimes some people need a little more help than others, and sometimes they need a little more effort. Nobody chooses to have health issues and nobody asks to be born a certain way.

If you don’t understand, try and make the effort to learn. See things from different perspectives and help one another. And if you’re suffering from a mental illness, or are in a dark place right now…..know that you’re not alone. I believe in you! You can do it!
Improvement will always take time.

Good things come to those who wait, so hang in there, lovely reader, and do your best to wait a little more.

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.