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Depressed with Big Dreams

Depressed with Big Dreams

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“I locked myself in my bedroom with both kids and a knife in hand, ready to kill us all.”

I was only three when my mother wanted to kill my brother and me, and then herself last. Wearing the sweater I threw up in and an IV drip needle buried deep into my right arm, I listened as my mother recounted her suicide attempt to the psychiatrist on duty that night at the ER. The psychiatrist wanted to see whether there’s any history of depression in my family.

Almost nine years later, it was my turn. I was 6 days away from turning 18 when I decided to take my own life. My bedroom was pitch dark and I’ve just stopped crying. The curtains are usually clipped on the sides because I like to be woken up bythe blazing sun when the morning comes. That night, the drapes were shut close. I’ve listened to Fix You by Coldplay for at least 20 times, but I knew something in me had snapped and nothing, and no one, could fix it. I was at peace, no longer afraid to die.

The shock was unbearable to my parents. How did we not see it coming?,  they thought.

 Well, no one saw it coming.

Full of potential and academically sound, I topped the class in all of my exams. President of the English Club, editor of the school newspaper, team captain of the debate team, and well-liked by the teachers. But, no one saw the toilet breakdowns between classes and blades hiding in my phone case. No one saw the nights spent crying and browser history filled with step-by-step methods on committing suicide.

Strangely enough, despite it all, I liked school. My depression, although a demon bigger than me, could never really take away my thirst for knowledge and the sense of competitiveness indoctrinated from years of being compared to more successful and non-depressed cousins in the family. On good days, I was the dreaded know-it-all. On bad days, I would sleep in most classes; tired from crying and cutting the night before. My grades were always more than satisfactory, so my teachers didn’t feel the need to wake me up.

After my failed attempt, my teachers and school principal decided to grant me special permission to leave class anytime I felt too depressed to learn. I was eternally grateful for the arrangement as the breakdowns were frequent and the counsellor’s room was a better alternative than the washroom. But, my newly granted privilege came with a major downside – the bullying got worse.

My classmates were unhappy about the treatment I received. They then took the bullying online, using code words and nicknames to mask the fact that their tweets were about me. When the news of my life-taking attempt got out, the tweets and Facebook statuses got brutal. So much so that I couldn’t bring myself to attend school anymore.

‘You tried killing yourself once, why don’t you give it another shot’

‘Invite me to your funeral, because I would love to throw a party there.’

‘Cutting yourself is sin, YOU DEPRESSED BITCH.’

‘What a cry baby, such a drama queen.’

‘Go kill yourself.’

My parents threatened to file a police report when they saw me curled up in my room, sobbing for two days straight. The thought of death came to visit me once more. However, after a whole weekend of crying, I decided to face it and show up at school on Monday. I didn’t even make it to class before I threw up at the side of the road from stress and anxiety. I swallowed the remaining bile down my throat, turned around, and walked to the direction of the convenience store down the road and bought a pack of blades. When I finally made it to class, they were waiting for me.

They were talking as if I wasn’t there, but loud enough for me to hear. I dropped my bags, immediately went into the toilet and cut three fresh lines on my palms after stopping for two months after being discharged from the ward. I could feel myself regurgitating, so I sprinted to the counsellor’s office and sought refuge in her arms. I told her I couldn’t do it anymore and would like to quit school.

My teachers, the counsellor, and the school principal were unhappy with my declaration and persuaded me out of it by offering the counsellor’s room for me to carry out studying on my own. The proposal was ideal because I wanted to continue studying. For the next 2 months, I studied in solitude. There were times when I wasn’t brave enough to leave the room to go to the toilet as I was afraid of bumping into my classmates. The amount of anxiety eating me up on the inside was ridiculous.

However, because I mostly by myself in that room, it was difficult for me to reach out to my teachers. As a result, I was no longer in the top in class. I remembered precisely the anger bubbling up within when I saw my results. “Why am I cooped up in here with no guidance from my teachers, while the people who made my life hell are sitting comfortably in class, getting the education they take granted for everyday?” I thought to myself. It was that realisation that motivated my decision to go back to class the morning after the results.

I graduated the Sixth Form with flying colours, was given multiple academic awards, and gained acceptance into the best university in the country. My parents refused to let me leave Kuching for fear that I was going to kill myself again. I understood their fear, but relentlessly defended my decision to leave my hometown. I knew I needed a change of scenery – to breathe in a different kind of air, meet new people, and be away from the negativity at home.

My first year in university was extremely difficult. I was poor, sickeningly thin, and depressed; often going to bed hungry. The classes were extremely enjoyable, and I did exceedingly well. The English Department took notice of my grades after a few semesters and decided to list me as a candidate for the Tinggi Foundation Scholarship. That wasn’t enough to stop me from relapsing to cutting, especially for the first two years of uni.

Things changed for the better when I busied myself with debating and travelling, which played a big part in my journey of healing. Though I did not end up being the Asian Champion or made it to the Finals of World’s Championship, I had a great debating career and met friends who accepted me for who I am.

I was terrified that depression will ruin my life one day. But, I was given a second chance to live the life I want. I’ve learnt to accept that the tendency to spiral into depression is always lurking, but it has, over the years, become friendlier to me as I made friends with it. I now have more good days than bad days. And on those bad days, I have friends I could call and rely on. Sometimes I ask myself, if Depressed Me could handle a part-time job to pay for my education, maintain good grades, and be invited to travel for debate tournaments, what would Happy Me be able to achieve?

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