I was always a bit of an outcast. All throughout school, I was bullied: for my diminutive stature, for wearing glasses, for being Asian, for skipping a grade, for playing the violin. People told me they didn’t want me around.
I’m used to letting the pain build up in a dark corner of my mind, and resolve to always do the best I can with what I’m good at, because it’s all I have. Unfortunately, often this only makes things worse. I get passed over for leadership opportunities and lose friends as quickly as I gain them – maybe because in my quest to prove my worth I come across as headstrong, or sometimes I open the door to that dark corner and let my fear and anger from the painful past experiences take over my words and actions.
The bullying and exclusion has repeated itself a few times in my life so far, and each time it happens I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. I get really low and shut myself away, ruminate over what people are saying and thinking, worry about everything, say things I don’t mean, and become someone no one wants to come near. It was only a few months ago that I came to terms with everything and went to get help. So here I am admitting it: I have depression and anxiety.
It’s not obvious even to many who have known me for a long time, and you might call it ‘high-functioning’ – I can often hide it pretty well, and after a good session with my psychologist or if I have a particularly nice day, it gets pushed aside. But sometimes, especially recently, I’ve felt so down that I wonder if life is worth living. I know it doesn’t seem rational, but honestly, when is mental illness ever rational?
Thankfully, I have a handful of incredible friends who are always there to listen and let me lean on them. Between them, my family, music, and some lovely patients and colleagues who have expressed their trust and confidence in me, I know that there are definitely some things worth living for.
To those who have family or friends with mental illnesses: I realise that to many of you, mental illness is ‘annoying’ to deal with in others. Please believe me when I tell you that it’s just as annoying for the mentally ill person to live with it, and many of us are already trying our hardest to overcome it. All we need is your understanding and the knowledge that you will be there for us when we really need it.
To everyone who is struggling with a mental illness: please, get help. Find a good GP and psychologist, and work with them towards your personal goals (which don’t have to be big!). When you’re feeling more up to it, try to find a niche, where you can do what you love and be yourself with people who support you through the laughter and the tears. I know we have so many fears and worries that stop us from doing lots of things, but I honestly believe happiness isn’t out of our reach. Even though it might not seem like it sometimes, I’d like to think that if you look hard enough for it, there will always be some good in this world.