“What depression did to me…”
"I remember falling into depression after my first breakup. I was young and deeply in love, or so I thought. The breakup sent me into a deep downward spiral. The rejection played up a lot of my childhood demons of abandonment, abuse and distrust. There was a perpetual cloud hanging over my head and I felt a myriad of emotions all at once. What was constant was this immense sadness that I could not shake off. Every day I'd wake up with this lingering dread that took a whole of me. I had no purpose in life, even getting out of bed or eating felt like a chore.
"I seemed to have disappeared from the radar as I had completely withdrawn from what had mattered to me before, like hanging out with friends over the weekend, watching movies or just going for coffee. These things just didn't appeal to me anymore. I just wanted to be alone. My friends thought it was just a phase that I'd eventually get over. I was pretty much an introvert anyway, they didn't know what to do or say, so they stayed away. Who could blame them—I was tired of my own shadow too. My family didn't know what was going on as I was living on my own at that time. So whenever my mum called, I'd put on my joyful tone and pretended that everything was ok. Even in my miserable state, I still had the sense in me not to cause them worry.
"It was hard to explain what I was feeling to anyone. I had terrible mood swings, ranging from extremely sad to raging mad. The only relieve that I could get was pain—yes, the unadulterated feeling of pure pain from cutting myself. That was my first cry for help. But I masked it so well that no one questioned me. This went on for a while, all over my arms and thighs. When I just couldn't find the release or pull myself up from the depression anymore, I started contemplating suicide. Two years into my depression, I just wanted to end all the sadness, disappointments, pain and misery.
"I had hit rock bottom."
"I tried overdosing on all the medications that I could find but it turns out, you'll need a whole lot of it to work. I failed. All this did was to put me into a deep sleep that I was knocked out for hours. I woke up with a start on the bathroom floor. The first thing I did was to run a hot shower. I stood under the streaming water and cried my heart out. My soul was crushed more than ever but funnily, that was to be my one and only attempt at suicide. I don't know where I got my senses from but my exact thought was, "If you can't even kill yourself, you need to live even if it's through all the misery." Maybe I felt like I deserved it? I guess what they say is true—there's nowhere to go but up when you've hit the bottom of the barrel.
"I laid in bed that night and analyse all the events that led to this point in my life. While I didn't have the desire to kill myself anymore, I wasn't particularly into "living" either. I was tired of feeling down all the time, so I decided to just take one day at a time and simply exist. Yes, it is not the best advice but that was how I coped. I started to spend more time outside because I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts. I'd go to the bookstore and read or head to the park for a run. I'd tire myself enough that when I got home, all I wanted to do was sleep. I repeated this routine for nearly a year.
"The next thing I know, I wasn't feeling as bad as before. My feelings hurt less and less. I wanted to start afresh and be a new person, so I relocated to the city from the south. Looking back, it was the best decision I could have made for myself. I found new meaning in my work and met some of the best people that have become my best friends. For once I had something to keep me going and as cliché as it sound, I had a reason (or two) to live.
"Depression is not something that you can "cure"—it's a constant struggle to keep afloat and not drown. I was constantly berating myself when I was going through my dark moments. What is scary or amazing – depending on how you're looking at it – about the power of the mind is its ability to shape your thoughts. I truly believe now that what you think will manifest itself in your life. Like, what you think you attract.
"Honestly, it was not easy to pull myself out of depression but I've learned that the key is to just let the feelings come, acknowledge its presence and take it one day at a time. Find the meaning in life and surround yourself with a good support system. I still get the odd mood swing once in a while but I'm much stronger than I was before and I know that if I ever do go into depression again, I will be able to cope much better this time. I have experienced the worst part of my life and it has shaped me to be the level-headed, strong-willed person that I am today."
As told by Stacy Tan*, senior marketing manager.
We talk to a clinical psychologist on some of the myths about depression and the dos and don'ts when dealing with someone who is depressed. Find out more here.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee