It is 2am on a Wednesday night. I have to get up in 4 hours for work. For hours, I have tried several methods in vain to soothe myself to sleep – disconnecting from electronic devices, dimming the lights, breathing exercises and journalling to clear my mind.
My body is physically tired. I have after all, had a trying day at work. I feel sore from the neck down to my feet, and it feels like I have run for miles today. For many people, it shouldn’t take too long to fall asleep from the fatigue.
But there is one thing that isn’t stopping for a rest – my mind.
Dilemma and Social Stigma
Did my colleague take offence when I explained why his suggestion would not be feasible for the project? Was my boss frowning a sign that she didn’t like me? Should I have been more mindful of how I brought my point across to the client. Is it my fault that we couldn’t close the deal there and then? Will the team be better off without me?
During my commute home from work, I texted a friend to confide in, and was told that I was “thinking too much,” even though I was quite convinced that I messed up at work. Perhaps it was a bad idea to reach out and trouble her in the first place.
Its a struggle with myself on many nights – my Anxiety versus my desperate desire to calm down and be rational.
While the day is over and that I can no longer change what has happened, another part of me is tearing through the events of the day. I toss and turn in bed in frustration, worried that I will not be getting enough sleep to function the following day.
The tightening of my chest and throbbing headache is telling me to take my doctor’s prescribed Anxiety medication to help me relax and soothe myself to sleep.
I know shouldn’t rely too much on these medications, they become less effective over time. Once, a colleague saw me taking them, which I explained was for my Anxiety, and I felt like I was being judged. My way of coping with stress at work was met with a nonchalant comment, “what’s there to be stressed about? Relax lah!”
For the entire year, my family was clueless that I was seeking help for my Anxiety and depression – triggered by a combination of work, family, relationships, and amplified by my own imagination of worse-case scenarios which I fought to manage.
When I plucked up enough courage to let my loved ones know that I was seeking help, I was told to “snap out of it,” and that “too much medication is not good.”
I know that I am not the only one challenged by this dilemma and social stigma. Too many times, I have sat at the psychology clinic where many have turned up alone. I wonder if they too, have been led to feel ashamed of their Mental Health struggles, yet silently I applaud their courage to seek help.
It can be scary to reach out and ask for help – we may not know how people will see us once they know that we are challenged by a Mental Health condition(s). It was scary for me – because I was afraid that my loved ones would leave me thinking that I was “crazy.”
Do reach out – even if it means making up an anonymous call to any of the helplines in Singapore. Send a text to someone you trust. It can also mean walking into the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of any hospital and just saying “I am breaking down.”
It is scary, but it is a step worth taking. I never regretted stepping into the A&E of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) when i really needed help.
In my journey, I have also realized that loved ones want to help, but are often uncertain of how to, as they are afraid of making things worse.
Part of raising awareness about Mental Health in Singapore needs to also come from us who are diagnosed with a condition(s). Let your friends and family know what you are going through and tell them what you need – time alone, hugs, words of assurance, company to doctor appointments, or just being present.
I hope that one day, Singapore will not be on the map for one of the highest rates of depression in the region by population according to a 2015 WHO report. Rather, we shall be known as a country with one of the most supportive mental healthcare networks.
For tonight, I will cave in to my medication to survive another day at work, in hopes that one day, this will become a reality and that I will eventually be able to cope better with my Anxiety.
I am not crazy and I am not alone. Neither are you.
If you know of someone, or are in need of help yourself, do know that there are many opportunities for you to seek help. We have curated some resources where you can seek help and relevant self-care.
Mental Health Helpline Manned by trained counsellors from the Institute of Mental Health for those requiring advice on mental health issues.
At Jaga-Me we believe in making healthcare accessible and available to everyone. We provide personalised and curated care for your loved ones. If you need a trained nurse to do professional medical procedures or simply someone to accompany you. If you need a trained medical escort to accompany your loved ones for their medical appointments or a trained nurse to do nursing procedures, you can engage our care services.