By Emily //
I am Emily. “THAT Emily” as the haters would say. Even my closest friends and schoolmates whisper critically amongst themselves at the very sight of me.
They saw me as different and hated the fact that I was considered “special” and favoured by teachers and school seniors.
Being the only child of my family, I was doted on and had a fun childhood. From stuffed toys to Lego bricks, I lacked nothing in the toy department.
My parents ensured I was academically well prepared for the demands of primary school. I excelled and was the star pupil. I was given responsibility as a subject representative tasked with the duties of assisting my teachers.
The academic struggles truly began from Primary 3 onwards—the leap from Primary 3 to Primary 4 and then Primary 4 to Primary 5 was incrementally demanding. I was also in one of the top classes which made it more grueling.
Perhaps I have a sensitive personality. It was hard for me to take harsh criticism. This led to having emotional breakdowns (outbursts of crying and wailing). I was frequently depressed and anxious.
While dealing with school struggles, friendship problems and classmates hurling verbal abuse at me got on my already fragile mind.
I felt I could not take it anymore. I actually planned my suicide by wanting to jump down from the 2nd floor of my school. Thankfully, I was saved by my teacher.
I survived and eventually did well with As in all subjects and A* for Maths. I went to secondary school.
Secondary 1 was supposed to be a fresh start but more friendship issues ensued because of rumours about my attempted suicide.
This was the ultimate hell where my new classmates bullied me. One of them even threw the teacher’s chair at me. He also pushed the teacher’s table down. It crashed on student tables.
I was injured but mostly psychologically traumatised because it didn’t just hurt – it scared me. I didn’t do anything to provoke him. He was simply triggered by my presence.
No teachers were around as it was self-directed learning lesson. I froze for a few helpless seconds before running out of class in tears and missed the next class.
This accumulated to a panic attack during the ‘O’ level A-Maths exam. I pressured myself to do well so that I could go to Junior College and escape from my hostile classmates who intended to go to Polytechnic.
I still struggle with school stress. Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, self-harm – these still plague me. I had to repeat one year in Junior College but I’ve made it to Year 2 now.
I have been seeing psychiatrists and psychologists for the last 4 years and counting. I’m also on medication.
The struggles are relentless. But I now know that I need to mind my mind.
I am Emily. I am strong and will not yield to my mental disorders.
Emily is an 18-year-old who struggles with her mind everyday. She pens her pain and anxiety and lives by faith. She also enjoys tea and playing with hamsters.
Editor’s Note: The first instinct is to blame the victim in a bullying situation. But that never helps. What is helpful is if parents and teachers work together to create a safe learning environment. Academic stressors, friendship issues, physical and verbal threats, personality, existential needs–these all form the perfect storm for teen suicide and emotional breakdown. We hope Emily’s brave story reminds us that a young person has limited coping resources and there is much to be done to build resilient youths and adults-to-be. Here’s how parents, teachers and friends can help.