On Childhood Trauma and depression.
I hope my sharing let's you know that you are not alone.
Trigger Warning: Depression; Anxiety; graphic details of Suicidal Ideation & Intent
I have always struggled with depression and anxiety.
Whether it was a byproduct of growing up never feeling safe in what was supposed to be my home, and unprotected by my parents, or something else.
My emotions were frequently invalidated with "stop crying" or other similarly dismissive words, or getting gaslighted and undermined by people who were supposed to protect me. Seeking comfort from my parents usually resulted in greater unhappiness and became an absolute last resort. Simple interactions could blow out of proportion leading to heated screaming matches, or me getting physically disciplined or thrown out of the house by either of my parents if not both of them.
I learnt to be emotionally self-reliant and to hide any vulnerability so that it couldn't be used against me. Be it putting whatever was bothering me in a "box" to deal with later. Or just shutting out my negative emotions. As long as it was something that I felt uncomfortable with. Regardless of how much I wanted to talk to someone about it, it was easier to keep things to myself so that someone couldn't make me feel worse or worsen my situation.
Depression and anxiety were not the only things I struggled with.
When I was in primary school, I started having suicidal ideation.
It started with random thoughts where when I was looking out of the window, I thought about jumping out of the window. Or when I was passing the fruit bowl with the knife to my father and wondered how would it feel to cut myself with it. Though I was still quite young, I felt disturbed at those thoughts but I never shared them with anyone until many years later.
Despite those thoughts receding after that period of time, I found them returning at times in my later years. There was once when I was going through a rough time in poly that they escalated to the point where I stopped caring whether I lived or died. I regularly had thoughts where I'd be doing something in my normal routine e.g. crossing the road, and I'd suddenly think "what if a car hits me now" and I couldn't find it in me to care.
I could not seek professional help sooner because aside from not having the finances to do so, I did not want to tell my parents, as they were financially supporting me. Rendering me trapped in an environment where I felt like I was constantly treading around a field of landmines, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was only years later when I had a job of my own that I was finally able to seek help
A couple years back, I had a severe depressive episode which brought back my suicidal ideation with a vengeance. I had constant invasive thoughts of all the ways I could kill myself, and I was in a lot of emotional anguish.
A lot was happening for me then. I was struggling at work with a toxic supervisor. My already strained relationship with my parents only deteriorated. As my home environment became worse as my parents did nothing about the domestic helper who was stealing my belongings and causing various forms of harm towards my pet and I. The feeling of being trapped worsened further as I had a mobility accident that kept me on bed rest, stuck with minimal opportunities to get away from my environment even if it was just for a short walk etc. Even what I deemed to be the most stable relationship with my partner of 7 years was going awry, because of my parents.
It felt like everything was going wrong and I was barely surviving and struggling to hold down the fort.
Though I tried multiple times to speak to my parents especially my mother who was now in the know of the mental health troubles I had. It fell on deaf ears. Her actions and words only dismissed what I felt and worsened the negative emotions and thoughts I had.
It felt like no one understood me and with everything going wrong, it felt as though the universe was out to get me. It didn't matter that I had people who loved me and whom I trusted or reasons to stay alive.
I couldn't enjoy the things I usually loved e.g. listening to music, reading etc without getting overstimulated by the content. Nor could I bring myself to hang out with my closest friends because my anxiety had worsened to the point where I just felt uncomfortable being outside around people or around crowds. Simply because I felt like I was constantly on the verge of breaking down and didn't want to break down into tears in a public place.
I was spiraling badly - crying regularly, having trouble sleeping, and not eating much. I didn't want to cry any more or feel anything. I didn't want to think about how I had gotten complacent with any happiness that I had even from my relationship or other aspects of my life which had been going well prior to this rough time I was experiencing. I hated the pain I was feeling and I couldn't see any end to it and I just wanted it to stop. When I was awake, I felt as though my body was filled with broken glass shards scraping against my innards.
I was scared that at some point my suicidal ideation would return, and return it did.
It escalated, from being what if thoughts or scenarios I would get randomly like me looking out of the window and thinking of jumping out of it. I started having several of those thoughts in a row, I just kept thinking about various specific means of committing suicide throughout the day at various times. Worst of all, I had the thought "I want to die" in my head several times.
As a person who has never self-harmed or attempted suicide in spite of the intensity of my suicidal ideation in the past. It scared the hell out of me that I had now reached the point where I couldn't even answer myself if I wanted to live any more.
Although I knew I needed to talk about it with someone or seek professional help, I didn't know how or where to begin.
Especially since I was unable to see the previous counsellor who helped me as things had reached a plateau of sorts and we were in mutual agreement that I needed to seek out another professional.
During that time, a couple of my best friends asked me to hang out one-on-one with them, I almost bailed on them. But, I forced myself to go, to maintain some semblance of a normal routine. Somehow I wound up telling them what was going on with me and having a proper heart-to-heart talk and I felt somewhat better.
Although I was still having some invasive thoughts and suicidal ideation after having talked it out with a couple of my best friends, by then I eventually found someone professionally who also helped me through it.
It took a while for me to wrap my head around this depressive and suicidal episode. Even now I am still processing and coming to terms with this particular experience. I don't know what would have happened if my best friends or that professional hadn't spoken to me in time.
They kept me centered enough that during a moment of self-reflection, I found a counter thought to my suicidal ideation. I realized I felt unnerved and disturbed by my suicidal thoughts because if I survived, I would make things more difficult for myself to continue living. If I was able to think of that, it meant that I wanted to live.
Even when my suicidal ideation stopped, I was scared of myself for having those thoughts.
I felt incredibly disturbed and unsafe. As I didn't know when I would next have these invasive thoughts pop up in my head again. I would find myself freaking out in little moments e.g. when I was chopping ingredients for dinner, because I was faced with something I could use to harm myself with. I also found myself at the point where I had lost motivation to really live and not just survive and was struggling to stand back up.
It was only later, when a loved one was struggling to stay around for me in their final moments despite them suffering for it, that I was able to promise them and myself that I would treasure my life and do my best to live well.
It’s been 2 years since then and although I still have days where I struggle with my depression, anxiety and wonder if my suicidal ideation will return.
Things have gotten better.
Life and circumstances may be harsh and though it might not seem like it, things can get better. If you are struggling with suicidal ideation, depression, or anxiety, be kind to yourself. Your feelings are valid and you are not alone.
There are people who love you and will worry about you.
If you or someone you know is at risk of immediate harm, call 24 hour emergency medical services at 995 or approach your nearest A&E.