Mental Health

Struggling with my mental health through my O-Levels, I expected the worst

Joey Kwok // October 11, 2019, 1:11 pm

STRUGGLING WITH MY MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH MY O-LEVELS, I EXPECTED THE WORST

As I prepared for my O-Levels last year, I went through an extremely difficult time. There were many problems and misunderstandings that arose within my friendships due to the state of my mental health and my deep-seated insecurities.

Voicing my struggles about mental health was something quite unlike of me to do. Due to past experiences, I had been rather unwilling to expose my vulnerabilities in fear of being hurt again.

I felt surrounded but not supported by the people around me.

People had brushed me off and told me to stop using terms such as “anxiety” and “depression” loosely when I opened up to them. There were some who could not handle my constant state of perpetual sadness and gradually exited my life.

Thus, I made this hasty decision of distancing and cutting off many of my friendships because I didn’t want to be seen as a burden. This decision was also made as I felt surrounded but not supported by the people around me.

I feared that nobody really wanted to journey with me through my mental health struggles. I craved for love and affection from the people, yet it was always too draining for me to be part of a community.

https://thirst.sg/blog/i-checked-myself-into-imh/

My mental health condition only worsened as time passed. I skipped school so many times and ultimately was referred to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). I broke down almost every day and my results were not improving.

With each subject that I decided to forfeit to focus on improving my L1R5, the more I felt like a failure who couldn’t excel at my studies. My O-Level experience was a nightmare: Being sick throughout the whole O-Level period and even submitting a blank Literature paper due to an anxiety attack that occurred during the exam.

I graduated from secondary school feeling like a complete failure who had no friends and no L1R5.

As I started polytechnic this year, my anxiety actually caused an uproar in my digestive system. This led to me taking medical leave on the very first day of lessons as I had thrown up twice. Because my condition was previously undiagnosed in 2018, it had become aggravated, and I needed to be put on medication.

However, the medication also came with drastic side effects. In short, I had a very terrible two months trying to adjust to the new school environment and making new friends. I threw up almost daily, didn’t eat my meals as I did not have an appetite and would throw up almost anything I ate. I lost a whopping 6kg within two months.

Cutting food and my body, I felt like a walking zombie

In spite of everything, I believe that God was there through it all. He was there with me through each episode of anxiety and depression. And although I believed I had messed up my O-Levels and only had exactly five subjects to count on, I had grades that somehow allowed me to get into my desired polytechnic course. I still can’t comprehend that today.

Till today, God is constantly delivering me. In polytechnic, I have been surrounded by the sweetest classmates who are aware of my condition. Each time I’ve had an anxiety attack, my friends, who are Christians too, would immediately ask the rest of the class to give me space. Then they would start praying over me.

Each time I was afraid to take the train to school, my friend who lived nearby would meet me diligently every day to protect me from the crowds I feel so suffocated in. Because of them, my fears of not having people to journey with me through my mental health struggles are no longer there.

I am very thankful that God has placed me into an environment that promotes my healing. He has also blessed me with very good friends who constantly check on my mental well-being.

How can the Church journey alongside people struggling with mental illness?

I am not done with my battle yet. I am still struggling. There are times where I spiral into depressive episodes – where I would be lying in bed all day, not being able to cry at times and also crying at everything at other times.

I struggle with suicidal thoughts from time to time. In crowds, I can start hyperventilating and even in church, a place where I know I am safe, I can end up having the worst anxiety attacks and hiding in the toilet to catch my breath. 

There are days where I am really mad with God. I tell Him: “If You truly loved me, You wouldn’t put me through all of these.” However, as I struggle daily, I have come to terms that my struggles are nothing compared to Christ’s sufferings.

In the words of a wise man, I have to struggle daily so that I can live for eternity. Amidst my fears, I will put on a garment of praise for my spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3).

I choose to believe that God delivers.

THINK + TALK

  1. Are you struggling with something at the moment? What does the Word of God say?
  2. What are some ways to tell if someone is not doing well mentally?
  3. How can we walk alongside those who are struggling with mental health in our schools?