Editor’s Note: Words wield the power to hurt, or to heal and bring hope. To Xicius, names are no different. In his story, he shares his experiences with early psychosis, counselling, and medication. His story also highlights that recovery isn’t just about positive thinking or leading an active lifestyle, but that it takes a combination of acceptance, faith, support, self-awareness, and self-actualization. We applaud his courage and tenacity in seeking help, and we are glad to be a platform for his newfound “voice”! Kudos to you Xicius, and thank you for sharing your journey with us.
From a young age, I had been taught to be obedient to my parents and superiors, and to fulfill their expectations. Therefore, I had never developed a voice for myself.
Despite being diligent, I suffered from bullying in school and was consequently paralyzed by fear in 2002. In 2003, I was angry with myself as my grades went down, and swore to Heaven as protest against “fate”.
My life was turned upside down and I searched desperately for life’s meaning.
Suicidal thoughts came and I knew I had to take action to help myself, despite fearing the consequences of my parents’ anger and shock.
I went out for some fresh air and I saw a rainbow, as if Heaven was endorsing my sudden decision to seek help. So I went to my polytechnic counselor and she brought me for a visit to IMH for the first time.
In April 2003, I was diagnosed with early psychosis. Needless to say, it came as a rude shock to my parents. Despite them taking me to the Chinese medium, I was terrified and almost hated my parents.
In May, I was allowed by them to attend counseling sessions, but I still ate the prescribed psychiatric medicine secretly.
Nevertheless, I completed the diploma course and graduated. By then my parents had relented and allowed me to take oral medication.
In the years ahead, many new events would occur: attending church, undertaking a new National Service vocation as a clerk, and making new friends.
However, due to my mental disorder, many misunderstandings occurred and I continually felt rejected.
In 2007, I went for ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) at a private psychiatric hospital. Despite seeing different psychiatrists and churches, I did not find the help I needed the most.
What I really needed was truth and compassion. In recent years, I have come to understand that even if people don’t have the necessary skills to deal with my symptoms, I can still feel the love and acceptance from them.
I also currently undergo counseling at NIE and see my psychiatrist at a restructured hospital every month. Besides, my interests in Chinese history and Chinese characters, my faith in God, and flexibility in thinking have saved my mind and soul from unnecessary frustration.
For example, I do not need to continually put my thoughts on surveillance. Instead, I filter the intruding thoughts and leave them aside. The disturbing thoughts simply disappeared. This solution has worked very well for me.
Today, I am taking a part-time course in Translation and Interpretation in English and Mandarin.
Though my learning is slow, I know the end result isn’t important; what is more important is the learning process as well as aiding my recovery from schizoaffective disorder.
Perhaps my mental disorder is a blessing in disguise. The process of overcoming it has slowed down my fast pace of life, turned my over-protective family into a better-supportive family, improved my personal life skills and most importantly, helped me see that there is more to life than just work and money.
The old mindset must go, the new mindset must come. It’s not just being positive and active; it is also about being truthful with self-control on my emotions. I cannot speak for others but I hope my story will spur you on.
Xicius is a 31-year-old recovering from schizoaffective disorder. He believes that what has saved him are his faith, and draws strength from his name which means “Child of Happiness” when expressed in Chinese characters.