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I don’t have any mental health problems but the lowest I have felt was when a loved one passed away and I was grieving for a few years. This was when I had to take my O’level examinations. Even then, sadly, I’ve realised that most of my friends did not want anything to do with me or my emotional baggage. I could not study, I could not finish my work which I would then be scolded for. I was lost and I was grieving. Time healed but it took a very long time.

Fast forward to college when my really good friend was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. I saw my friend struggle and was always in so much pain. Although I could never fathom what she/he was going through, I still felt really sad just looking at her/him,

What frustrates me the most about mental health is that I could not understand why someone I cared for had to go through this. Why does someone who is as kind and considerate as my friend have to suffer from this thing called “depression and bipolar disorder”?

These things hindered my friend so much, my friend was so different when she/he went through her/his episodes and that upset me because people who suffer from mental health problems are people just like us, only they have to go through things we would never want to go through.

One thing my friend said that struck me was, “This is part of me.” Over time, some friends and classmates started to avoid this friend of mine. Initially, I held strong resentment towards those who had ignored me in secondary school and I had the belief that “no one wanted to help those with problems”. However, in college, hearing from other friends, I realized that perhaps nobody was at fault.

I understand that everyone has their own priorities and they should focus on their priorities. However, I still feel that we should not ignore or avoid those with mental health problems just because we can not handle their problems. We can still direct them to those who can help them.

I know everything is not black and white and I wish that in our society, more people will be aware of mental health issues and how it affects the person suffering from it and perhaps we can be a little more sensitive and empathetic towards those who suffer. I also wish I was taught how to help those whom I care about.

I really want professionals to teach us ordinary people how we can help those who need our support. We may not be able to treat or cure them and even though my friend believes that this was something she/he had to overcome with her own strength, I still believe, however, that our words and actions have the power to help ease their pain.

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