I’m 38 years of age, as I write this. I don’t really know of much mental illness in my own family, but suicide was something I do remember from my youth. I don’t remember anyone actually committing suicide, but I do remember someone close to me threatening to kill themselves, taking a blade and bringing it into their room. That person locked the door, and when it was unlocked with the master key, the person screamed that he or she would take their own life if that was tried again.
My temper had been getting worse day by day, even in the workplace. My colleagues who’d been working with me for years also noted it, and quietly told me that my temper was a little out of control. The advice they all gave when I switched jobs, was to watch my temper.
The new job had literally fallen out of the sky. A HR recruiter had dug out my resume from an application I’d made a year ago to the organisation she was working for, and asked me if I was interested. I was, and the hiring manager wanted an interview, which I went for. Before long, background checks were done, and I was moving on to a more technical job, the type I’d been wanting for some time. I’d be dealing with new technologies, and in a large organisation that contributes directly to Singapore’s future.
The crash started at the end of a week where every night I had some form of social engagement. By Friday night, I was not able to speak after I reached home from the last engagement for the week. This happens to me now and then, and my wife and I attribute it to my introverted nature, and the low level of energy that comes from too much social activity.
Depression is a strange illness. It’s not serious in the sense that it’s not directly fatal, such as a collapsed lung, or a hole in the heart. It doesn’t have as severe external symptoms as other mental or physical ailments. Yet it is more common than we think, with an estimated 1 in 20 Singaporeans suffering from depression at any time, according to Health Promotion Board statistics.
Medical language aside, there is little that expresses how a depressive person actually feels, and how difficult it is to throw off depression. I have seen a video that shows depression to be a big, heavy dog that refuses to let go, and someone I know has likened it to a dark cloud that sometimes goes away, but usually hangs over everything.
Personally, I liken it to this:
The earlier chapter describes how I felt. Despite the medication, I was not doing well. I was on leave from work, thankfully, and I went through all that I needed in order to ensure that I didn’t fall into the rabbit hole.
But nothing seemed to work.
When I awoke on Thursday of my final week of crisis, I was in pain, and the veil was thicker than ever. I remember my wife speaking to me, but I don’t remember reacting much. I couldn’t. I couldn’t take in what she said, and I was speaking in monosyllables as far as possible. But my plan was ready to be put into action.
I sat outside the doctor’s office, waiting for the nurses to process my admission. My friends arrived at this time. I’d had no dinner, though I’d had a pack of crisps and a cup of warm malt chocolate (Milo) while waiting for the doctor. I couldn’t imagine eating anything else. One of my friends had providentially brought an extra chocolate. I smiled for the only time that night, through my tears.
I didn’t have any hope by this time. I think that given time, I would have realised that I was going to be better, but at that point, I was numb. I couldn’t think past the numbness and shock of what I was going through. I was still in pain, but I couldn’t feel anything other than resigned despair. I knew I had no hope left, even though that wasn’t true. The admitting doctor who had threatened to use the Mental Health Act against me did tell me that my fear and reaction could be due to my depression, but I was past caring at this point. I felt nothing, and I felt myself floating in some kind of disbelief. People drifted in and out around me, and I took my medication as I was told. Otherwise, I wanted to just sit in my bed and stare at the ceiling, and keep out of the way of the noisy people.