Editor’s Note: Amidst the pain of loneliness and stigma that often accompanies mental illness, our reader Angela found comfort in her artwork.
A talented artist, Angela has graciously provided one of her pieces to accompany her story on surviving a difficult childhood and what it’s like living with depression today.
When I was five years old, I nearly drowned in a swimming pool. There were a lot of people around but nobody noticed me struggling in the water, nobody saw the child that needed help.
And that is pretty much how depression works – me struggling in that great sea of emotions while others notice not. That’s the thing with depression – it is often not easily understood by others.
In my years of fighting depression, I came to realize that people who do not know me, perceived me as negative and preferred to stay away from me.
But the more hurtful part is when friends think that I am wallowing in self-pity and need to snap out of it. They gave me all sorts of remedies or advice that were supposed to work like Disney’s magic and get frustrated when I am not “cured”.
They do not realise that people suffering from depression are often lonely and insecure individuals seeking to be accepted in the community. That it takes time to walk out of depression and that people who are suffering from depression cannot control how they feel.
I grew up in a family where most of my childhood memories revolve around being caned for every trivial mistake I made (e.g. spilling water on the floor). Love was distant notion, almost like a fairytale. I was in so much fear of my own mother’s wrath, I wet my bed at nights which lead to more caning.
The caning became a routine that my tears no longer flow and neither did my heart cry. I was just a hollow child. I remembered sitting at the corridor, staring into thin air and asking about the mere meaning of my own existence at the age of nine. I was only nine years old but I was already weary of living. I tried killing myself when I was fifteen years old by consuming a whole box of Panadol, but somehow, I survived.
Things did not become easier with the passing years. There was always one family debt or another to be paid and when my father’s health crumbled, I became the sole bread winner. My mother was a housewife and my brother was still in secondary school. I remembered crying hysterically that same night, fearful of the life ahead and wishing I could end it all.
Yet amidst all the mess in my life, it was God who held my sanity.
There are still days when I wake up and feel that familiar sense of sadness overwhelming me for no particular reason at times. And there are good days when I see a rainbow and think that life is beautiful.
The difference is that I am more aware of my feelings now and I learn not to give in to what I feel all the time.
Feelings, pretty much like a spoilt child, have to be handled with a firm hand (in this case, a firm head).
If there is any advice I would give for others who are fighting depression, it would be to learn to give thanks each day – for everything that we have; the air that we breathe, the fans we have to relieve us from the heat or even the bus fares we have that enabled us to travel.
For it is in thanksgiving that we realize we are truly blessed.
Angela is an office worker and a freelance artist. When she isn’t drawing or painting, she will be fussing over her dog or taking pictures of her pet, food and scenery. She also enjoys watching movies and is a fan of Tim Burton’s works.
Image Source: The featured image belongs to the original work of the Author. This image is protected under copyright and may not be duplicated or copied without written consent of the Author.