Kuala Lampur, Sept. 26 — Last week I had the privilege of speaking to AA who has struggled for many years with depression and suicidal thoughts.
In fact, on the night of September 17, he pinned a suicide note on Twitter (later deleted). I and many others tried to contact him, and about five to six people even went to his house in Cheras to help him; thank God he survived the night.
We both felt it would be good to share his story. I especially wanted to know what were the factors leading to his suicide ideation and even potential attempts.
For anyone going through a similar ordeal, both AA and I hope that the following conversation will help articulate their pain.
For family members and care-givers, we hope AA’s insights into his childhood may not only shed some light for the journey ahead but also serve as an urgent warning sign about what not to do.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, etc.
I was born in Kajang and am 27 years old. I have been a registered OKU in Malaysia since December 2021, diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) since July 2019 and am currently under regular psychiatric treatment. I am unemployed, although I’ve been actively seeking work since May.
2. When did you start having suicidal thoughts?
I started to have suicidal thoughts since a long time ago (at least three years). Things have escalated these past few months, due to my inability to live as a normal human being, not least my difficulties in finding proper employment.
3. What are the main factors surrounding your depression?
I understand this will sound harsh but I blame my family. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way.
My parents are devout religious believers who would have disowned me for my invisible disability and all that I’ve done to the family throughout the course of my life.
They live in a black-and-white reality they’ve constructed for themselves i.e. they partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love.
They don’t understand that good and decent people exist all around us. If you choose to follow a religion where non-believers who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but a religious figure who has molested a child will go to Heaven (as long as they were “saved” at some point), that’s your choice. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist.
Thus, I grew up in a household full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who are experts at appearing kind and warm when others are around. A house where they tell an eight-year-old that his paternal grandparents are going to Hell because both of them lived as non-believers.
After many years, I can’t help but have this hatred, pain and hurt festering inside me all of which unquestionably contributed to my wanting to end my life.
At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best.
The pain my untimely death will cause her is one of those things which help push back suicidal thoughts. She would have been sad since she found out I was not “saved”, since she believes a mental health survivor like me will go to Hell – which is not a sadness for which I am responsible – since she believes that committing suicide is the biggest sin in her faith.
Whatever the case, I know I find it hard to deal with all this pain.
4. How important are relationships (including marriage) in navigating depression and suicidal ideation?
I’ve seen most of my friends here are happy with their spouses, or at least, have a partner or significant other. I wish my life would be blessed with a partner but in reality, it’s not what I have experienced.
I have accepted the fact that I will never be committed in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their arms around me.
I will never know what uncontaminated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give.
I will never have children and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness, married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility.
I fear the pain and sorrow from my past will inevitably haunt my relationship with my spouse and kids. I’ve realised that I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.
5. Have you tried to talk to your psychiatrist about handling your ideation? Does it help?
I’ve seen a number of doctors who talk about other issues and I’m positive that another doctor would have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever.
More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor-patient confidentiality but growing up in a house where I’d hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations, makes me fear sharing about it to other people.
All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it’s her right or responsibility to contact the authorities.
All it takes is a single doctor who can violate and betray my trust. I realise this indicates that I have severe trust issues but then it’s based on a large number of my experiences with people who have shown a profound disrespect for the privacy of others.
Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do and maybe I have to accept the fact that I’m just not a strong person but I really did my best to deal with this.
I’ve tried to deal with this every day for the past few years and up until now, I still struggle with it. While I breathe, I hope.
6. What would be your advice to people struggling with suicidal thoughts?
In our life, we are going to lose friends, family and partners but it does not matter who walks out of your life. The thing is, never lose yourself.
The most important thing to learn how to do is to love yourself when you feel unloved by those around you and be there for yourself when you feel like you have no one.
You manifest your entire life. Control your thoughts, you have powers. Everybody is dealing with a lot of things. I can only pray that we can find the peace and conviction within to keep going. Your mental health is a priority, your happiness is an essential and your self-care is a necessity.
For anyone who is feeling like me right now. Hopeless, out of control, depressed, out of your own body, haunted, know that you are absolutely not alone.
There is a group of people who have felt this way and have come out the other end, myself included. Healing is possible, no matter how deep the cuts are. Ask for help, it will get better I promise. It will take time but it will get better.
Quoting Helen Keller: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Believe me, if you find that another door of happiness, you can free yourself from the shackles of sadness. When you would comfort an afflicted mind, pity, not love, should make you kind.
I would like to end our interview with a poem written by one of our child actresses, Puteri Balqis:
In my happiness and joy,
I learned not to promise anything from whom spoken in haste.
In my suffers and sorrows,
I learned silence from the talkative.
In my failures and stumbles,
I learned to be strong from the weak.
In seeing the world,
I learned about kindness from the heartless.
* If you are lonely, distressed, or having negative thoughts, Befrienders offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day. Contact Befrienders KL at 03-79568145 or 04-281 5161/1108 in Penang, or 05-5477933/7955 in Ipoh or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
** This is the personal opinion of the columnist.
For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at email@example.comCopyright 2017 Malay Mail Online
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