Editor’s Note: We often associate depression with quiet, reclusive personalities. But sociable, competitive individuals can experience depression too. Ray’s story is a reminder that depression, panic attacks, anxiety can happen to anyone especially under stress. For a fighter like Ray, she truly is young, bold and beautiful.
Even though I was young, naïve and so clueless about everything, at the tender age of 7 I was already a pretty competitive kid. I would always set high goals for myself and then when I fail to get my desired goal, I would cry buckets. I would cry to my mother every time I’m faced with such “failures”.
In secondary school, it was the beginning of a brutal war. I remembered crying to sleep so much at times when I was stressed, or sometimes for no reason at all. The moment I open my eyes to a brand new day, I would feel groggy and unmotivated. Although I was able to be open about these feelings to my friends, I would still feel the emotional pain creeping up on me.
For a long time, I did not know how to properly deal with this. Eventually, I began self-harming. The silver lining was that self-harming was not my ‘drug’, so I managed to stop and even promised myself that I would never do such harm to my body anymore.
My ritual of crying myself to sleep continued, gradually losing interest in everything. Even at home, I would sob and sniffle while studying. This was when I realised I was actually ‘not normal’. I thought to myself, ‘Who in the world would even cry and cry for hours for no reason at all?’ Besides that, I would cry whenever I heard the slightest remark about me.
At 14, I had low tolerance for criticism and was such a sensitive person. I got so frustrated that I couldn’t control my thoughts nor my tears; I felt like the whole world was against me.
I quit my CCA, using a made-up excuses that the teacher was being unreasonable; to be frank, it was just me. I was the unreasonable one after all. The guilt of even putting the blame on my teacher and knowing that I was the only one with no CCA made me feel like an outcast, making me feel even more trapped in my own cage of misery. I just felt embarrassed, angry, sad, frustrated all at once at myself.
Things hit an all time low later on. I encountered backstabbers, negative remarks, anonymous haters while juggling a heavy school workload. Those that hurt me, knocked me down and made me feel so small really killed my ability to hide behind my happy mask.
At that point of time, I was lethargic. I started to cry often in school, where all eyes were on me. It came to a point where I was too tired to even feel anything except the piercing numbness in my chest.
I remembered punching the walls, crying and shouting into my pillow and even had the strong urge to really end my life once and for all. Once, in the middle of the night, I took out a knife and placed it on a stool. I sat in front of the stool, with hot tears just rolling down my cheeks and staring hard at this life-threatening item. I remembered how my thoughts were all over the place and being in a state of pure confusion.
I felt like I did not deserve to be breathing; but then, I also felt like I have still a long way to go. My ‘remedy’ then was just to cry and cry, my way to really let go of the excruciating pain in my chest. I did not dare to hurt myself, but crying was even more painful than I thought. It may seem like a way to ‘let it all out’, as what people would say but it was definitely not for me.
Although I was able to open up, I still feel l useless about myself, like I was becoming weaker day by day. It was like bottling up everything until it was too much and I would then explode.
These unnecessary thoughts led to me becoming more and more suicidal and really destroyed me as a person. I lost a few chances here and there to shine in school and most importantly, I lost touch of myself. There was no one else to blame but myself. I was in a dark state of gloom for the longest period of time and my wet pillow accompanied me every sleepless night. I remembered being called someone incapable of dealing with pressure too.
Despite my frequent panic attacks I started experiencing this year due to the ‘O’ levels, I am still trying to balance out my mood with the help of anti-depressant pills from my psychiatrist. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist this year and been seeing counsellors for almost the whole of my four years in secondary school. However, these pills did not do much help as I attempted to hurt myself again by overdosing on them. Eventually, I ended up being in a clinic instead of a hospital. Since then, I feared the pills so I tried to avoid taking them and not depend too much on them. I also wanted to save my parents’ money so I tried to save them for times when I urgently needed them most.
Then again, I was still at war internally. as I started to get more attacks when exam stress engulfed me and these attacks made me feel too exhausted to even do anything even though I had so much to do. My appetite was non-existent, leading to becoming underweight. People assumed I was anorexic. I lost so much weight that year. As for my panic attacks, well I couldn’t run away from them, could I?
Presently, I guess I’m doing well. Now that my studies are out of my way, I finally muster the courage to share my story to everyone. It’s not easy to share my story because I always feel insecure and afraid it may come off as ‘attention-seeking.’
I just want people out there to see past my mental health struggles and really see what I am instead of what I have.
I hope they see others like me the same way too. Also, this story is meant to honour my parents, especially my mother for sacrificing painstakingly and constantly showering me with love and care despite all this.
I am still fighting my own war too every day, but a war has to end eventually. Not now, but someday. Someday, I will have my own voice and speak up for those in need and prove to people that I’m not weak. Someday, I will stand proud and strong as a victor.
Ray is bubbly 16-year-old and an extrovert at heart and loves the company of people. She enjoys reading and can be quite loud in person. She shares her story not only to educate people, but also to show everyone what truly happens behind closed doors; she isn’t always the cheerful girl they see.