Sunday Essays: A letter to the depressed and suicidal

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

TO THE persons who mask their sorrows with smiles and to those who do not see the silver linings, you are not alone in your struggle. The pain you feel now will be your strength tomorrow.

I was once an innocent child who grew up way too fast. I had dreams and aspirations eager to fulfil.

I wanted to go through a smooth sailing course to success, but life does not work that way. There will always be anchors that will drag us down.

The challenges we face are meant to strengthen us, but we always stumble on the way. We slip gradually into the darkness. This gloom we hold onto cause us emptiness until it comes to the point where there is nothing left to cherish.

The darkness in us is born out of trauma. It could be because of an abusive father, of a violent alcoholic mother, of the death of a beloved, of school pressure, to name a few.

We may have different sources of trauma, but it boils down to the same thing, it becomes a triggering factor for depression and suicidal thoughts.

I had been depressed. I had been suicidal. Mine was self-inflicted, but I had blamed it on school pressure.

From preschool, my adviser had told me I was special. My teacher had always given me a star. I didn’t talk much but I was a loud student in terms of performance.

In my elementary years, I had received medals and ribbons every commencement exercise. I had started to collect the awards and kept it in a treasure box.

During high school, I had been a consistent honor student.

My fellow students look at me with awe because I always get a high mark in every subject. They think of me as a brilliant kid, but honestly I am just a boring student who loves to read and jot down notes.

If ever I got a low grade, my classmates and teachers would instantly ask what was wrong. I would just reply “I find the topic hard to understand.” They would just crease their foreheads in disbelief.

Thus the label is imprinted, an honor student should never fail.Ever since, I felt that I am tasked to maintain my status. I had to study and aim to be the best.

In the beginning of my tertiary education, I focused with one goal — get excellent marks. High grades mean a shining transcript. A shining transcript means greater chances in landing a good job.

But college is not a haven for an ambitious intellectual. You will get a 75, if you are lucky enough.

So I have worked day and night to comply with the requirements of every subject. I cut down my sleeping hours in order to study. I ate at fast food chains in order to save waiting time. In return, I had satisfactory grades.

I practiced this lifestyle for months until everything turned black. The next thing I knew, I was in a hospital bed restrained by breathing tubes and injected with parenteral drugs.

At that time, I wanted to stand up and get back to school but my body was too weak to move. Tears would just fall into my cheeks leaving me no choice but pray for a speedy recovery.

However, my prayers were not immediately answered. My body slowly deteriorated day after day. I thought I will be enclosed in a coffin sooner than I expected.

Because of the unfortunate event, I was forced to leave the place I love the most — my school.

I locked myself in the four corners of my room. I have formed a black and white world full of pain, anguish and self-hate. I felt I have been buried alive. I thought nothing seems to matter anymore.

I would shed tears every night, asking God why me.

When pain had become unbearable I would ask God to take me to heaven. I want the pain to go away. I want it to stop, once and for all.

I have imagined a million possible reasons for my death. I have also listed the things I wanted for my burial. I thought of death as a release from my miserable woes.

And so I started to belittle myself — incapable to accomplish a simple task. I had feared to do something new because I know I will end up failing.

Because of my inner struggles, I had become an introvert. I have not spoken a word to my family or friends regarding what I truly feel. When they ask, I would just smile and spit out the word “fine.”

After the wearying eight months, I have returned to my first love — education. I had realized that the grading system does not truly measure the learnings of a student. What matters most is the learning left after surviving the semester.

Moreover, I have thirst for knowledge but I have learned it is not enough. Now, I am also hungry for wisdom.

With the help of my classmates, friends and teachers, I am starting to move away from my shell. Their warm company and words of encouragement fuel my drive to feel better than yesterday.

You may think my problem is just a speck of dust compared to your galaxy of miseries. I completely understand. Each person has her own breaking points no matter how deep or how shallow they seem.

Whatever it is you are going through right now, remember, it is okay to feel the pain. You would not experience happiness until you know how it feels like to be trodden.

It is okay to wonder about death. It only means you are ready to embrace it when yourtime comes.

It is okay to dwell in the dark once in a while. Just make sure that you have the courage to leave the pit, stand up, move on and continue living.

Turn your abyss into your strength. Turn the wheel to optimism. Trust me, it is difficult but not impossible.

Most people recover from trauma naturally and I believe you are one of them.

Life is too beautiful for you to focus on the negativities. Let living be your passion. Live, live, and live.

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