I had unfulfilled dreams to pursue

I attempted suicide due to the stress that I experienced when I was in junior college. That was my breaking point from bottling up my emotional struggle that I’ve had from bullying in secondary school, due to my sexual orientation. What stopped me from suicide was when I realised that I had unfulfilled dreams that I wanted to pursue. That made me realise that I could do whatever I want because I had nothing else to lose.

This illness has affected my whole life

I was recently diagnosed with a mental illness called Cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is a rare mental illness which affects only 1% of the population. It is when one experiences a period of hypomania and dysthymia (emotional highs and lows) and it may come in waves.

Growing up, I was always called as an ’emo’ kid by my sisters and they could not understand my moods. There was a period where I was highly optimistic, creating goals and plans to achieve great things, but there was also a period where I would cry in bed without any reason, or totally become numb from overwhelming emotions, or even fantasize about suicide and how it would be easy if I could just end my train of thoughts. Because of this, I often felt that I was alone with my own thoughts and I could not confide in anyone without being judged.

For many years, I felt lost and confused with how my moods and feelings were and I was worried about how it was affecting me. Many people could not understand when I shared my experiences with them, as they deemed me as ‘normal’ – I was able to get good grades and able to perform well in work as well. But, that’s the thing about Cyclothymia. Sometimes, it makes you believe that you’re okay (most of the time during the period of hypomania) but once the depression crashes in, you’re back to square one.

In 2018 this year, I was faced with one of the worst depressive moods where suicidal thoughts would keep coming into my mind. I was afraid for my life, that I would no longer be able to have the mental capacity to fight those dark thoughts and succumb to taking my own life. After 6 years, I mustered the courage and went to see the doctor regarding my illness. I was skeptical about taking medication for my illness, I often would skip it, believing that I do not need to rely on pharmaceutical drugs to improve my mental state. After various meetings with a psychiatrist and psychologist, i decided that I should give therapy and medication a chance.

Being in therapy and having a medical record has given me more anxiety as I am afraid that people would find out about my mental condition. I am afraid of judgements and how I won’t be able to get a job if i were to declare my mental illness. I believe I am capable of holding down a job, but the lack of awareness people have regarding Cyclothymia saddens and worries me.

It has not been an easy journey, and up till now, I am still trying to cope. I fall countless of times, into the dark abyss of depression, and into the illusion of how I’m all better and how I do not need any medication or help to be okay. The feeling of instability frustrates me. This illness has affected my whole life, my self-esteem and my relationships. But it does not mean I should stop trying to be better and climb back up. I still hope for the day where I can achieve stability in life and where I can climb out of this cycle.

I fell back into depression

I was like you many years ago when I was trying to survive through university.
I was bent on getting no less than first class honours, determined that it would be the only way I can get a better-paying job to get away from my family, to live independently from them. Instead I sunk into depression. To be more precise, I fell back into depression – deeper than before.

It was different this time round because I was more conscious of my mental state but I didn’t have the strength or will to fight it. I spent most of my university terms shuttling between my room and the library, completely isolated from society. I spent more hours of the night on the cold hard seats of the library than I did in bed.

It was not long before I started having insomnia. Too much time indoors and sunlight was scarce even if I did get outdoors. There is nothing worse than not being able to sleep. I contemplated suicide.

I was desperate for rest, for understanding, for hope, for it all to end.
But instead of mustering the courage to do it, I called the Samaritan hotline.

I sobbed and talked till I was calmer. I felt bad for the social worker because it was just a one way conversation from me, but hey – I was thankful to just have a person I can call to.

If you need a person to call, don’t hesitate, you don’t have to feel bad. That person wants, to be there for you. That person wants to hear you out, that person wants to know what you are feeling. The hotline is organized for you to call. You deserve the help, deserve the attention, deserve to have someone looking out for you.

I made the mistake of turning myself into a hermit, doing nothing else with my life other than securing a first class honours degree. But it is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to feel the pain, it is okay to feel hopeless, it is okay to feel numb, it is all part of what it means to be alive.

To me:
I am happy that you are still well and alive to be reading this.
I am happy that you mustered the courage and strength to try again for another day.
As long as you keep trying, you are making recovery. Recovery is not hard and fast, it is a process. Because to be stronger, you have to first be weak.
Pain is part of the healing process, just like how your blisters hurt before they get better.

I eventually went for professional counseling service that was provided at the university because the lack of sleep and depression was affecting my ability to write or speak coherently. I knew then that if I wanted to graduate with the first class honours I was striving so hard for, I needed to get better.

I went through what therapists call – cognitive therapy. Healing through speaking. Weekly sessions helped me understand my past, the source, to open the secret vaults of suppressed anger and sadness, to allow healing to begin. It was embarrassing at first for someone to know my inner demons, but I continued with the sessions because I felt the positive effects. My recovery was not overnight but I felt so much better; it helped me to clear my mind, to see things in a much greater perspective and it gave me the courage to face my pain. Facing your inner demons is the first step to taming them, instead of letting them to overwhelm you.

I know counseling in Singapore isn’t free but there are affordable services that you can find online.
You don’t have to be embarrassed about your pain, we all experience pain in one form of another, no matter how perfect our Instagram feed is.

Don’t mask that pain, because it is a part of you and one day it will be the reason that you are stronger.
Letting go is hard, you don’t have to do it on your own – you can reach out to get help.
Getting help is the first light. Keep going and soon all that darkness will be left behind, you will be able to see and enjoy that light again. Let go to let the light in. Help is near, light is here.

I lost sight

In the dark abyss, I kept falling. There was no life line. I was drowning.

I always thought suicidal thoughts were normal; they would drown me day and night. Tears would stream down my cheeks through the cold nights, my chest would tighten and my heart would leap.

I thought that this was something that everyone goes through. But it’s not.

After some time, I did what most people are afraid to do – I sought help. I was diagnosed with Depression and General Anxiety Disorder. I hated every bit of myself for having this “illness”; I kept telling myself that I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. My “friends” told me that I was an attention seeker and that my illness wasn’t real. They distanced themselves and stopped talking me – I felt like I had the plague.

I cried and broke down. I lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. I attempted suicide.

On my road to recovery, I realised that people will never fully understand what you’re going through. But the tiniest acts of support and words of encouragement can go a long way – showing their belief in me in moments when I can’t.

Also, just because “people out there have it worse”, it doesn’t belittle the pain you’re going through. It matters. You matter.

I don’t allow my “illness” to define me. I know that I’m stronger than that. Life has its ups and downs, and I’m not giving up, because I matter. My illness will not be the weight that holds me down. I want to make a difference.

To everyone out there: Don’t be afraid, seek help. You’re NOT alone.

Now in my abyss, I see a glimmer of light that lures me forward – showing me the beauty of all that lies within; the lessons learnt, the stories that will unfold, and most importantly, the people who really care and provide support for me.

Mental illness is not the plague. We don’t need to be afraid, we can make a difference.

My beautiful Mum ended her life

Words are hard to write, and hard to say. They’re hard because 14 years ago (that’s half of my life) my best friend, my beautiful Mum, ended her life. I among many others am one of those who are left behind trying to navigate the devastating grief that comes with being bereaved in this way.

I believe my Mum could have lived. With the right support and care perhaps she would still be here. The smile from ear to ear still glistening strong and joyful face lighting up the room.

Being suicidal doesn’t conveniently give those around it a heads up. There are often signs to look out for but sometimes there aren’t and this can be exceptionally hard for those left behind without answers.

I believe my mum could still have been here. Her life could have been saved. We, her family, miss her so much. I’m not alone. There are many families left with this pain and grief that is so complex and difficult to try to process, seemingly impossible to understand. The endless questions, the ‘what if’s’ the ‘but why’s’.

This may just be one time out of a year where we raise awareness of suicide, but it’s every day that those left behind are missing a part of their hearts and wishing that their loved one could still be with them. Special occasions can be particularly hard.

Going through day by day without my Mum by my side has been heartbreaking. It was also heartbreaking to plan her funeral but I know she was there with us in spirit, through her favourite flower decorations and special mentions in every eulogy.

My Mum lives on through me and I will never stop campaigning for suicide awareness, prevention and bereavement support in her legacy.

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