Editor’s Note: Our reader, Amanda, battles with schizophrenia, and shares her experiences and what treatment was like. She urges others like her to seek help early. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Amanda. We are rooting for your success.
I was deep in slumber as soon as I touched down. I was so exhausted and drained of energy I couldn’t wake up to anything. Until there was this menacing threatening noise that terrorized me from my deep slumber. The threatening noise was so deafening, I asked my Dad why they were doing this to me, threatening me. And he said if I dun put down the penknife he would fly back to Singapore and leave me there.
So he left while I was crying there.
The threatening voice said unless I die, they will not leave me alone. I was in tears and fearful, still holding that penknife. I was desperate but my Dad walked out. Then alone, in my attempt to stop the terrifying noise, I hurt myself, but the noise did not leave me! Then amidst the terror, a calm soothing voice urged, “Take the medicine that was given to you.”
Down to my last means, I resorted to the last attempt and I got through the next few months on my own, battling the noises and relying on the prescribed psychiatric medication my parents had given me when they visited, before I resumed university.
I was in a daze and on “auto-pilot” mostly. I can never imagine how I could have finished my course. But I had to forgo my Masters eventually because I was battling with my mental condition alone in a foreign place.
So I came home and continued treatment with my medication. But I was always battling the ups and downs. It was hard to stay focused on my paths in life.
And I was always afraid how people will judge me for having attempted suicide before. So I shied away from speaking about my experience.
Then I think it was around 2010, I had a major meltdown; a breakdown that opened my eyes while finding myself on a hospital bed.
When I first awoke, there was a man leaning against the bed beside me, facing me. I asked him “What happened?” And he told me I was suicidal. Then I think the drugs were so potent that I just slipped back into sleep.
I subsequently underwent several treatments of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). For the ECT, there first was an anesthesiologist who would inject a sedative into you to ease you into sleep. I have always been afraid of needles, and my threshold of pain has always been very low. The experience was scary. But after a few treatments, the fear lessened, although it was still very evident.
So earlier on in treatment, I would be in and out of hospital. And then my doctor and family took a firm stand and warded me at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), where I came into contact with people with differing challenges from a low to severe spectrum.
The stay was challenging and awakening. You realize that there were other people suffering from mental conditions that were more severe than yours.
And you understand that seeking help is essential and something that you must reconcile with.
You realise that there are others going through the same thing (or somewhat similar condition by “label”) as you.
Coming forward to admit and seek help mentally, emotionally, was something that I never had the courage to do… Until treatment was forced on to me because it’s the last resort.
Gradually, I found my liberation when I came to terms with my condition – walking with God with a purpose in my path. I’ve found my freedom in helping others in their struggles.
Having been through these challenges, I can now empower others to seek treatment, hopefully earlier than I did.
Amanda is now training as a therapist and is working towards the goal of empowering others in managing their symptoms of mental illness and in responding to treatment as early as possible.