Chasing Joy: Judith’s Story

Editor’s Note: We tend to underestimate the impact our external world has on our internal lives. This can be particularly difficult to negotiate when you’re living out your turbulent teenage years. It is important to understand that a safe and supportive environment is key to helping young teens flourish. With the right resources, resilience can be developed. Judith’s experiences with relationship-related stressors had nudged her towards a downward spiral. But thanks to family intervention and self-care, Judith’s life turned around for the better, and we are so glad for that. Keep up the good fight Judith!

It all started when I was 13 years old.

The taunts, unkind words, and mean laughter sought to strip me of the little joy that I was holding on to.

Every day, I had no one to spend my recess time with, which all started with a girl in my class rallying all her friends to not talk to me. I remember one instance when everyone had to find a partner for a project, I was left all alone. No one wanted to pair up with me.

My self-esteem hit rock bottom, and I could barely concentrate on my studies.

My first year as a teen was turbulent at best. I struggled with undiagnosed severe depression and anxiety. I felt all alone in the world and even contemplated ending my life to end all the misery.

Fortunately for myself, I managed to find wonderful friends in my school choir the following year and managed to recover well enough to function in school.

All was good until I turned 18.

While I was studying Mass Communication in a local polytechnic I had my first major relapse of social anxiety and major depressive disorder. The unkindness of the people around me did nothing but exacerbate my already worsening mental health.

It came to a point when I became suicidal. I wanted nothing to do with life any longer. At that point of time, death seemed like the best option.

My mum decided to ward me in a children’s psychiatric ward to recuperate. On hindsight, it was probably one of the best things she has ever done for me.

It took me many months and willpower before I could finally find the courage to want to live again.

Fast forward three years. I turned 21 and was just starting my university life.

Prolonged lack of sleep triggered my second major relapse, but this time it was a manic episode.

Sometimes, I could go for three days without sleeping and not feel tired at all. On some days, I would go online and max out my credit card limit on shopping sprees, purchasing items that I didn’t need at all.

It soon became very apparent to me that I was showing signs of bipolar disorder.

One night, a family member had a panic attack and it triggered me so badly that I decided to check myself into a ward.

I was first warded in the high dependency ward, where I was very well taken care of. I was then transferred to an amazing ward called EPIP – Early Psychosis Intervention Programme. It was a wonderful place with amazing peers and a team of staff who are dedicated to caring for the patients.

Indeed, I hope to share through my story that all obstacles that we face are nothing we can’t overcome.

With strength and tenacity, all problems can be conquered.


If you know anyone in distress or contemplating suicide, please call the SOS hotline at 1800 221 4444

In addition, you can seek help by calling the following hotlines:

Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800 283 7019

Institute of Mental Health’s Mobile Crisis Service: 6389 2222

There are more help resources available here.

Judith is a Sociology major and loves playing the piano and violin. She seeks to share her recovery story with everyone she meets so that one day, there will no longer be any stigma of mental disorders in society.

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