Why Are We Not Talking More (Openly) About Depression?

Hey guys!

Serious topic. 

My eldest aunt called my mom yesterday. She said my cousin had come down with dengue and was refusing to go to the doctor, while my uncle was in the hospital because of respiratory complications from smoking. The doc told him he had to quit smoking or die coz his lungs had hardened…but it seems like a habit he is unable to kick.

My aunt was diagnosed with clinical depression last year. She has been to the doctor and gotten meds for it ,but treatment for mental illness is expensive at private practices, and at government hospitals, the wait often takes months just to get an appointment. So she stopped going. This is on top of all the old-age health probs like diabetes, high blood, joint pains, etc.

She talked about killing herself and not having the will to live, which alarmed us. I felt sorry for her, because she lives in a toxic environment – the husband she is so worried about is an abusive womaniser who gambles and contributes nothing to the household, her two sons work abroad and only come back to drop the grandkids with her, so she basically has no one to talk to. In such a scenario, no matter what meds you take or how many docs you see, you’re not going to get any better.

We tried to offer her solutions – “why don’t you take a break and come stay with us for awhile?” “Ignore your useless husband, he’s not treating you well” ” Try to relax and let go of things”, “Go back and see the doctor” …but she’d always refute each one.

  • “I can’t, I don’t want to be a bother”
  • “I can’t ignore him, he’s my husband no matter how he treats me”
  • “I can’t stop worrying, I know I shouldn’t”
  • “The doctor is too expensive and the hospital is too far”.

I know from first hand experience how difficult it is to get a depressed person out of that loop of pity and self-loathing. Most of them are incapable of pulling themselves out of it, and their calls for help are often brushed away, simply because relatives/friends do not know what to do or how to deal with it. I understand, because my own mother has depression, and for the longest time I didn’t know what the fuck to do about it. So I drowned myself in work, went home late when everyone was asleep, and basically avoided interacting with the fam. It was an extremely difficult time. I knew it wasn’t her – it was her disease – that was causing all the confrontation, the hurt, the rage that she would direct at us for no reason. I became angry and resentful. I’ve always had anxiety, but it developed into full-blown depression because of the daily shouting matches at home. I’d scream internally “”Why can’t I have a normal family like everyone else?!” – then feel guilty that I felt that way. It got to a point that was so bad, I was ready to move out and cut ties with them. Maybe that’s why studies show that people with close relatives that have depression are more likely to have depression themselves. A combination of genes and environmental factors.

It wasn’t until my mother finally acknowledged that she had a problem and talked to us about it – that she needed our help – that things got better. We actually sat down and discussed it openly and talked about how we could mitigate episodes from happening in the future. She’s on antidepressants now, and of course there are days where she is not herself, but things have mostly improved.

This is why it is so important to have someone to talk to when you’re depressed – but in Asian communities, there is still a strong stigma against mental health issues. I don’t know if it’s the whole ‘face’ thing: ‘face value’ is imperative in Chinese culture, and to admit that someone, whether it’s yourself or a person close to you, is suffering from mental problems, is akin to ‘loss of face’, something embarrassing that needs to be hidden. Also, some people might feel the need to hide it from others because they don’t want to be a bother or a burden – that’s certainly how I felt before (and still do at times).

My mom called up my cousin and advised him to look out for his mom. He agreed begrudgingly over the phone, but I think it’s mostly because it’s an elder and you can’t very well slam the phone down on them lol. Not sure if it’s advice he’ll take to heart, but there is only so much we can do as relatives. I suggested to my mom that we should probably go visit my aunt in Ipoh and bring her to KL – remove her from the toxic environment  – we’re just worried that she might not be willing to come.

My neighbour’s dad committed suicide just a couple of months ago. He was 80 years old. So don’t think that this is something that only affects a certain demographic. It can happen to anyone.

People close to me know that I suffer from an anxiety disorder, something I have struggled with since my teens. Outwardly, I appear somewhat ‘normal’ – but I guess this is what they refer to as ‘high-functioning’ anxiety. There are bad days where I get panic attacks, especially in social situations. The sweating. The nervousness. The inability of the brain to process things or react accordingly. But there are also days where I don’t feel so bad, and I’d like to think that those days outweigh the rest… for now.

I know I said we should talk more openly about depression, but perhaps I can give you an insight as to why some people don’t, from a personal perspective. With my mom having depression herself (I don’t want to worry her more) and my very-Asian-dad having the emotional depth of a potato, there are not many people that I can talk to. My friends have their own problems. We are conditioned to believe that “hey, other people have worse problems than us”. If you know someone with depression, PLEASE DO NOT tell them that. They know there are people out there suffering from bigger problems. It does not make their own suffering insignificant, so please do not guilt trip them about it. IT DOES NOT HELP.  

I’m lucky, in a way. I’m not eloquent or articulate irl, but I’m blessed with the ability to speak my mind in a different way – through the written word. When things get overwhelming, I pen my thoughts down here. Not because I want attention, but because writing is often cathartic and allows me release.

Is there a point to this ramble? Perhaps I just hope people will be more open about talking about depression, rather than trying to sweep it under the carpet. And don’t judge. You never know – a kind word and a listening ear can help to save lives. Literally.

 

What’s On My Playlist? August 2018 Edition

Hey guys!

I’m not in the perkiest of moods lately. Let’s just say that when you do things right, people expect it of you, but you fuck up ONE time and they won’t get off your case for it and suddenly you’re seen as incompetent, careless, lazy, inefficient. ONE time. Well, I guess that’s how life works and I shouldn’t be a whiny bitch about it. Suck it up, foo.

Doesn’t help that my anxiety has returned in full force, I can’t seem to get my mind in the right frame to write (for work) properly, and I’m having trouble falling asleep because of paranoia and/or SOMETHING SEEMS TO BE DISTURBING ME IN MY ROOM GAHDDAMNIT. Call me crazy but I legit told it to fck off this morning. It might just be me talking to an empty room or it might be me addressing my inner demons but what the heck. This post turned dark real fast 

On the bright side, the weekend’s close, and I actually have plans wow. Whether or not I’m going through with the plans is another story.

Enough with the gloom and doom – time for another What’s On My Playlist! Been awhile since the last one; I believe it was in September last year. Hope you guys are having a great week so far. I shall soldier on.

I listen to this channel called Alona Chemerys a lot, and they feature plenty of interesting indie bands. While cycling through the autoplay, I stumbled across Mild Orange, a Kiwi band with seriously chill, dream-pop vibes. Aside from this track called Mysight, I also like their other single called ‘Some Feeling’, taken from their debut album Foreplay.

Every now and then I get an itch to listen to The Scorpions. They just have such a timeless, classic sound that has lasted through the ages (the band was formed in 1964 – and Klaus Meine is still singing at the age of 70!)

PS When we first met, I was astounded that the Boy had never heard of The Scorpions. Blasphemous. 

I first fell in love with James Morrison‘s voice when I was in my late teens. I don’t understand how he never became a superstar. He sings about love, loss and heartbreak a lot, but emo subject matter aside, there’s a depth to his voice that is both raw and powerful. Have a listen. This is the best medicine for broken hearts.

If you have not played or at least watched the playthrough for Detroit: Become Human – YOU HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. I vote this game of the year for its amazing storytelling, well fleshed out characters, unique gameplay and stunningly beautiful graphics. Drawing heavily from Philip K Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which later became the basis for Blade Runner), the plot is basically about Androids in the future, their awakening into sentient beings, their struggle to be freed from servitude to humans, and the efforts of the evil conglomerate to subdue them. You play as several characters, such as Connor, the conglomerate’s android tasked to hunt down ‘deviants’, as well as resistance leader Markus whose decisions (or YOUR decisions) affect how the game ends.

It also has an awesome soundtrack to boot, especially this one called Now, which involves a heart thumping chase scene worthy of any Hollywood action film.

Okay not a song per se but the song is in the trailer. I couldn’t find the (song) video anywhere although I know the artist is supposedly Vo Williams.

PS I really want to watch this film! I loved the Raiders series, and it has been 12 years since the last one.

 

There’s Always a Reason

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across a video  called ‘The Suicide Experiment’.

I cried after watching it, because it touched me on so many levels.

Suicide has always been a topic close to my heart. Since I was a teen, I’ve suffered from bouts of depression, struggled with low self esteem, anxiety and feelings of alienation.  I think that experiences in our early life shape us, and sometimes these memories never really die. You can try to put them away, but they’re always there under the surface.

There are days when I go back to being a 13-year-old being bullied by my schoolmates and a teacher for being ‘different’.

There are days when I’m 15 again, and had my heart completely broken by my first ‘love’ who was a cheater and a liar.

There are days when I’m 18, struggling to come to terms with growing up and to communicate with my loved ones, who were not offering me the support system I needed because they didn’t know how to talk to me. Not having many friends to begin with because of self-confidence issues, it broke me down further.

There are days when I’m 19. When a friend betrayed my trust.  I won’t talk about that here because I don’t want to open that can of worms. It’ll only cause grief and hurt beyond repair for certain parties.

But yeah. There are days when I go back to being that girl.

I wanted to be needed by somebody, anybody – so much so that I chose to throw myself at whoever wanted me. I have had many failed relationships because I’d always fall for the wrong ones, and when the good ones came I screwed them over because I felt that douche bags were all I deserved.

I contemplated suicide. I know, that sounds very ungrateful because I have so much more than a lot of other people. I live a relatively comfortable life; I’m not prostituting myself on the streets or begging for money and food. I should be grateful.

But deep down inside, I still felt empty and hollow. I thought about how meaningless life was when I have all these material comforts but I couldn’t be happy because I had no one to talk to, nobody to love me and to love.

Some days I buried myself under the blankets and cried. I cut myself with switchblades. I thought of suicide often. I was once showering in the bathroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and just started laughing hysterically for half an hour. Other days, I just felt.. nothing. I went through my motions, smiled at friends, did work, etc.

When it got too much, I tried talking to my family. But they didn’t understand. I didn’t expect them to. Because living with someone who is constantly in a negative state of anxiety and depression is so hard, some people find it easier to just think that the other person is being emo and has an attitude problem.

 

When you’re so broken, can you be whole again?

I had…. still have, so much rage and anger and disappointment in me.

But even on my worst days, when the hurt and pain was too much to bear and just ending it all seemed like a legit way out… I didn’t do it. Part of it is because I was scared of hurting the few people close to me, because no matter how misunderstood I was to them, they were still my family and they would blame themselves. The other part is that deep down inside, I still believe that tomorrow will be a better day.

I used to be a happy child before life fucked it all up. And I think that there’s always a part of me that keeps that happy child in my heart, even if the brooding teen and negative adult rear their ugly heads quite often.

At my lowest point, it was kind words and understanding which led me out from the darkness.

I’m still struggling with issues. New ones pop up all the time and I’ll get emo but I don’t think I’ll ever contemplate ending my life again. That is way past.

The point is, never underestimate what understanding and kind words/deeds can do for someone, even a stranger.

And to those thinking suicidal thoughts, believe me when I say I understand. I hope you get through it. And remember, there’s always a reason to live. You just need to stick around long enough to see it.

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Depression.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

I have no desire whatsoever to do anything.

People my age are supposed to be at their prime, going out, socialising, doing productive things. Excelling at their jobs. Doing good for mankind and society.

Well I’ve never been much of a social person, but lately it’s been getting worse. I get really tired talking to people. I just want to hole up somewhere, play my games, draw, read a book, be anywhere but around people.

People ask me if I’m sad about things. And they always want me to ‘talk about it’.

There’s nothing to be sad or to talk about. I have a well-paying job, a lovely boyfriend, a roof over my head, warm meals, warm bed. There is so much I have that other people don’t. I should be grateful.

I just feel this hollow, empty feeling inside me. Like a huge black hole of nothing. So how can you ‘feel better’ by talking about it when you don’t even feel sad in the first place?

So you see, I can’t really ‘cheer up’ when I wasn’t even sad in the first place.

I don’t know what I’m rambling about.

Oh well. Back to work tomorrow.