Editor’s Note: Our reader, Natalie, shares her struggle with depression and self-harm. Her story reveals that external circumstances at home or at work can potentially become triggers for depressive episodes. It is, therefore, important to equip oneself with effective coping strategies, such as self-encouragement, awareness, and reframing of negative thoughts. We’re proud of you Natalie, and we wish you all the best in achieving success in your dream job!
Depression hangs around like a vulture, waiting to devour its dying prey. For every mistake that you make, depression’s looking for a chance to zoom in on that and tell you how really awful you are, and what a failure you are.
I grew up in a divorced family. At 9, my mom moved out of the house. And she told me, since I was the eldest, I’d have to take care of my siblings.
I don’t remember exactly when the depression sank in. First I was crying, and then I gradually lost interest to eat, or go home.
Home was just this place where it’s like there was something in the air that suffocates me. I had to take up the role of being a mother to my younger siblings since my father worked long hours, and was barely home to look after us.
As I grew up, at 13, I started rebelling. I would play truant, shop lift, smoke, hurl vulgarities, etc. Basically, I guess I only didn’t do drugs because I was afraid of being addicted to it. But none of these helped me cope with the pain in my heart.
I couldn’t express the hurt I was feeling, or the stress that was looming. So, I started cutting myself.
It used to be really light cuts, just enough to look like an accident. I felt like a part of my frustrations was escaping from my body, along with the pent-up pain. And so, my cuts got deeper and deeper.
Most people say that when one has depression, they’d only cut areas where people can’t see so as not to draw attention to themselves. But in all honesty, each time that I cut, I’d wish that one cut was too deep, and I’d just die. But I’m just too chicken to make sure the cut was deep enough to kill me.
It didn’t help that my dad couldn’t understand why I did that. In fact, he actually volunteered to cut more cuts for me. I know he didn’t mean it that way, but still, it hurts when all he said was, “So you enjoy cutting?! Come! I’d help you cut!” My mom just shook her head when she found out, and told me not to do it again.
They just didn’t realize all this was the beginning. Since then, whenever I hit a situation that I can’t turn around from, or can’t escape from, I’ll cut myself to rid the pain in me.
Today, at 22, I still fight the urge to cut myself. There are days when I feel overwhelmed by my feelings.
Like if I were to commit mistakes at work, and I could sense or hear my colleagues talking about the mistakes I made, I would feel this suffocating feeling that I am not good, that I am a terrible and awful person for being unable to get the job done.
But I will try to pick myself up, by telling myself humans err, or I would talk to someone about my day and tell them how bad it has been.
But most importantly, I learnt to cry. I never could let myself cry when I was younger, because it was a sign of weakness to my parents. But today, I would just cry. Because, isn’t the same effect of letting the pain roll out?
I don’t know if I would ever escape depression or how it eats into me each time I make a mistake, but I know, I want to conquer depression. I want to show everyone out there who says I’m a loser because I cannot cope with my feelings and have to end up cutting. I am stronger than they think I am.
Natalie, 22, is currently pursuing her dream of being cabin crew. She finds that being able to travel the world has shown her so much more reason to be happy and count her blessings.
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