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Ever since primary school I have had the thoughts of ending my life, because my parents fight every single day and I just felt like nobody was interested to listen to what I had to say. I cried everyday but got through it somehow. I eventually grew up thinking it was normal for a couple to quarrel daily until my ex became upset about his parents quarreling one day and then I realised it shouldn’t be that way. My parent’s relationship skewed my views on how relationships should be and up till now I haven’t been able to see it as a happy and blissful thing to be with someone. I ended up with very low self-esteem and other issues which weren’t diagnosed but I kept going anyway.

Everything went downhill when my family was going through financial difficulties. I had to juggle between school, work and giving tuition on top of issues at school with friends. It didn’t help when (through my ex’s encouragement and a school staff’s understanding) I mustered up the courage to see the school counsellor and she turned out to be super dismissive and made every problem I had seem unimportant. I eventually stopped seeing her because she made everything worse. I did not continue seeking help and just coped. Only my ex at that time knew about all the issues and even after we broke up I was able to talk to him about my anxiety and he helped me look for doctors to see in a public hospital. However I still didn’t have the courage to do so and just tried to cope in my own ways through unhealthy habits.. 15 to 20 years down the road, my anxiety hit me in a way I had not anticipated. It was like my body was physically telling me that this was it. It was done fighting and it just couldn’t be caught in the struggle anymore. The physical symptoms manifested 24/7, I lost sleep and fell even deeper into depression as I could not figure out what was wrong with my body and how I could recover.

I did not dare confront it as a psychological issue as I was dismissed by not 1, 2, not even 3 GPs who said “no lah we won’t anyhow call people crazy even when we don’t know the cause of their symptoms” when I finally muster the courage at the very end of each visit to question whether it could be due to anxiety. I was shocked and it scared me so much to see another doctor. I put it off until months and months later my physical therapist said that he tried everything he could and also when my orthopaedic specialist made me do a 2nd MRI within 4-5 months just to confirm that there was nothing wrong with my spine. Deep down inside I just knew this wasn’t a physical problem. It was illogical to me and so I finally sought help at a polyclinic and I straight up told the female doctor who was exceptionally understanding that I have been having these symptoms 24/7 and that I think I need a referral to a psychiatrist and that I have tried to see the possible physical specialists so she believed me and she finally referred me to someone. It was the best decision I have made so far. Though I am not living my best life yet. I know now how it can potentially turn out great.

Submitting this story for all those who are afraid to seek help and find it hard to take the first step. I know sometimes it takes a few doctor’s visits and having to face doubtful and dismissive doctors who just didn’t know better. But you know yourself best and trust your instincts. No, it’s not for attention and when you feel like you need help, it is okay to do so. And once you find the right doctor.. it will be so worth it. Keep carrying hope and having faith. For those who are worried, it is actually accessible and affordable and there is financial help if you need. Your parents or family do not have to know. I do hope that one day though, the stigma can be gone and I can open up about what I have been through to my family or be well enough to not have to visit my therapist whom I am very grateful for.

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