Secret Shame and Restoration: Ryan’s story

Editor’s Note: We are only as sick as our secrets. And those secrets can keep us imprisoned in an endless cycle of shame, guilt, and hopelessness. For Ryan, he reached breaking point when school became too hard to bear with the bullying and stress. Pornography became his form of escape as he wrestled with depression, suicidal thoughts, and a deep sense of rejection. However, things changed for Ryan when he experienced a breakthrough in his battles. This is his story. 

There is a saying, that the happiest people are usually the saddest people.

Be it that of leaders or that one friend who is always helping people–they give so much of themselves to others but they do not receive much in return.

I personally feel that depression is a constant battle within yourself. A natural reaction to this battle is building up walls around your emotions and holding up a strong front. In the midst of doing so, I almost threw my life away. I overcame depression with the help of God, my parents and close friends.

This is my story.

My first bout of depression started when I was 14, in Secondary Two. I got bullied a lot in school because I was overweight and some of my teachers also poked fun at me for it. Friendship issues also became more prominent with a lot of backstabbing. The constant bullying and the bad vibes in class affected me and my studies. I started to dabble with pornography and I got addicted. Watching pornography became my form of escapism from the feelings of unworthiness and sadness. All these affected the way I viewed myself, as someone unworthy of living.

Suicide was a common thought and there were days where I would stand at the window, look down and just think to myself “Have I had enough? How long more do I have to suffer?”

In school and church, people would always ask how I’ve been doing. I would always say “I’m fine”.

Relief came at the end of Sec 3 at a church camp and there was this sense of release from the sadness. I managed to pull myself back together just in time for ‘O’ levels. I was a happier person, bubblier than before and I felt driven with a purpose. I did better than what I expected and I decided to go into junior college. I really thought I had my life back together.

Entering junior college was and would always be a bane of my life because of my second bout of depression, or what they call “smiling depression”.

From the beginning, I struggled with studies. I would sit in class and go on ‘auto-pilot mode’–copying notes blindly; answering questions when I was called to. I failed most of my subjects and barely scraped through during promotional exams. These exams were crucial to being promoted to second year of junior college.

Things took a turn for the worst in the second year. I became heavily involved in the debate club and I had to burn many weekends for competitions, losing precious time for studies. On days when I did not feel like going to school, I would see a doctor and get a medical certificate. I fell back into the addiction of watching pornography. In church, I struggled with being a leader because I felt so unworthy to lead others because of my habits and feelings.

Suicide was a prevalent thought in my mind because I really felt that there was no future. Emotionally and mentally, I was a wreck, a time bomb waiting to explode. I did not tell anyone about what I was going through.

At that time, it was terrifying to tell someone due to fear of judgement.

I always held up a strong front because people in church depended on me, availing myself to anyone who needs help. I expected nothing in return because I felt that I had to fight this battle alone. I always made a point to keep a smile on my face.

I struggled all the way until one month before ‘A’ levels. I was ready to give up and let the pain end once and for all. I was in church and there was a call for students who are taking ‘O’ levels and ‘A’ levels to come forward for prayer. I just expected prayers of blessing and such for the exams but people just started praying for me about letting past hurts go and letting the walls around my heart down. At that moment, I broke down and everything inside me came crashing down.

There was a sense of restoration that filled the void inside me.

I realised that I did not have to face this battle alone and that there were people out there willing to help you. To anyone out there fighting your inner demons, know that you are not alone. Seeking help for depression or any mental health problems is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of vulnerability so that you can come out of it a stronger person. A successful recovery is not about coming out strong immediately, it is about whether you will have the grit and determination to fight the battles that have yet to come.

Ryan is a first year university student, a broken man redeemed by faith and unconditional love. He loves good food, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and pandas.

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