I feel like a lot of the friends and family relatives I have don’t know much about me. Usually, I don’t discuss any of my personal matters due to the overwhelming discomfort I can feel while doing so. Maybe it’s because I’m worried once I reveal who I truly am, I’ll lose them forever, and I’ll never be able to interact with another human soul again. Believe it or not, it’s exhausting and extremely difficult for me to make friends. Over the years, I’ve discovered that if someone offers a safe environment for me to share my thoughts, chances are that I’ll be willing to give the friendship angle a try. Thankfully, these friends usually stick around and I have no idea why. So I thank them.
For the past few weeks, I’ve come to the realization that certain personal demons have come back. What I’m about to write next is extremely difficult for me to share, but I thought this may offer some insight to what I deal with or why I don’t go out much. Additionally, it may offer someone else ease in speaking about similar experiences. Some of you readers may understand, some of you may dismiss me, and some of you may be scared of me. Whatever the case is, I just wanted you all to know what I deal with on a daily basis. So here it goes.
I struggle with mental illness.
It’s hard to explain the feeling. I guess a decent way to describe it would be to imagine leaning on a chair, and you’re incredibly close to falling but you don’t. It’s that rush of sudden panic pounding in your chest that compels you to grab whatever you can to save you. It’s like that feeling. Only it didn’t last of a second. Or a minute. Or an hour.
It lasted for years.
The anxiety creeps and sucks any sort of possibly life force from my soul. It keeps growing bigger and stronger. It comes with a dominating voice that would whisper negative thoughts and laugh at me. “Why are you doing this? Why do you bother? You’re going to die anyway. It’s useless. You’re useless”. In the end, I would be left to fight against a ferocious and merciless beast alone. With nothing to use. With no help. I would be destroyed and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Initially, I felt this way prior to any upcoming high-school exams, presentations, meetings, etc. But I thought it was natural. The natural nervousness one might feel prior to a major event. It kept recurring, yet I still perceived it to be a common human feeling, and that it would go away quickly and possibly forever. I shrugged it off, and kept living my life.
I could still be happy, I wasn’t entirely sad, but living my life became excruciatingly painful. Everything was overwhelming. I was suffocating and being tortured but I was too embarrassed to mention it because I thought people would see me as weak. Like I couldn’t fight my own battles and be an independent human being. I just remember the small, everyday things I had to do were like climbing mountains with no energy left. Even thinking about them was exhausting. I would wake up, and wouldn’t want to leave my bed. Because that would mean that I’d have to walk to the bathroom, take a shower, dry myself, brush my teeth, spit it all out, exit the bathroom, walk to the closet, open the closet, pick my clothes/uniform, put them on, exit my room, walk ALL the way to the dining area, eat some breakfast, clean the plate, put on my shoes, and finally, exit my home to go wherever I was headed. It was too much.
And I knew the thoughts were ridiculous; everyone can do this with no problems, and I’m probably just lazy. But there was no “off” switch”; I could not stop obsessing, and the thoughts evolved. Nevertheless, I would wake up. I would push myself to do it. I wanted to show that I was strong. But inside, the parasites were slowly chewing out every part of my spirit and soul. My mind would be set on fire with obsessive thoughts, especially the ‘comforting’ notion that everything I going to be okay in the end. The worst part was that I couldn’t achieve any bliss. I would observe my friends and other families as they genuinely laughed and smiled throughout their days. I wished I had that. Genuine bliss. It was torture. I was my own worst enemy.
Eventually, I came to the realization that everything would be better if I were dead.
For me. For my parents, as they wouldn’t have to spend any more money and their life on their useless son. I didn’t think my friends would care if I died; I was just one out of their hundreds of friends that were more interesting to them. I fantasized about dying and being forgotten. The idea of achieving peace by inexistence seemed beautiful, compared to the hell that was the real world. It seemed logical. It seemed like the only course of action. But I couldn’t find the courage to do it. I was too weak. I would need to feel like I need to do it at that exact moment in time, and then I could muster whatever strength I had to do it.
It wasn’t until I got caught by my parents for underage drinking, losing my phone, and being at a place where I wasn’t supposed to be, that everything changed. They kept me in my room, like I was waiting for my court hearing. My room had an outdoor ledge, which you can access/climb onto. When I was the only one in the room, I opened my window, climbed onto the ledge, and sat on it. It was a sunny day, with the breeze that blew on the tree leaves in front of me. I looked at the ground, from four floors above. My mind let out a simple thought: “It’s Time”. I wanted to jump. I wanted to escape. Life was over for me. It was time to let go. Suddenly, my parents entered the room, saw me, and angrily shouted for me to come back to my room. For some reason, I did, and closed the window. My parents, overcome with fury exclaimed: “what are you doing?!” All of a sudden, I asked myself “why should they care?” That thought cycled over and over in my mind, and evolved into “do they care about me?”
“Am I sick?”
It was my first realization. Despite feeling crippled, despite being suicidal, and despite not desiring to take care of myself, I never thought I was sick. My eyes transformed into a waterfall, and I released a deep cry. I needed help.
So I went to see a Psychiatrist, and the slow process began. I would discuss my worries and obsessions for an hour, usually after school. He prescribed me Prozac (for the obsessiveness) and Xanax (for the anxiety). They helped. After I felt that I had a grasp of dealing with living, I began to decrease the dosage. I became drug-free right before I left Singapore to go to Canada. More importantly, I didn’t want to die anymore.
The process is still ongoing for me, and it may never end. At this point, I’m in the process of recovery. I’m currently on Zoloft and on nicotine patches (yep, I relapsed) to help me fight the demons inside. I’m also trying to control the amount of alcohol I drink. The great news about all this is now I know what to expect, even if I don’t notice it immediately. I know I am struggling and fighting, but my life is worth living.
Depression and anxiety are repulsive monsters. They shatter and destroy you. They evaporate what enjoy about doing things. It’s sort of like identity-theft, where they ‘replace’ you with something undesirable inside, but with the same outer core. I hate it when people think depressed people are weak, or that it shows weakness. You are broken but you have to keep going, no matter what, Even doing the little things like waking up and getting dressed are great achievements. And when you do it again the next day, that’s another big achievement. And so on. But the one thing I would want to convey to people struggling is this: you are never alone and there are people who will always support you.
I wanted to share this because I’ve been keeping this part of me hidden for years, and I felt it was time people knew. I am not perfect, but I don’t see it as a disadvantage. I am struggling, but I haven’t lost the battle. I may not speak much, but I have so much to talk about. I deal with this on a daily basis. It’s my life.
Anyways, I want to thank my friends for sticking around. I don’t know how and why you put up with me, but the fact that you do means the world to me. I treasure every single one of you, and even though we may not talk much, I deeply appreciate you all being there for me. Every second with you all brings a light to the darkness that I immensely cherish and never take for granted.
To my family, I know how difficult it must be for you to learn and deal with my conditions. I don’t mean to be a burden, and it does feel like everything is my fault. But you’ve given me opportunities to enjoy the little things, and see the positive aspects life has to offer. I don’t know what would happen if my parents came into my room at that moment. I’m glad they did. I see that I have a life worth fighting for, and now I live it to the fullest. For that, I love you and thank you. For everything.
See you all again soon!