Hang in there

Photo by Jeb Buchman on Unsplash

How I Got Sick

Logically, I knew I was sick, and I tried to find help. I went to a doctor and I told him that I was suicidal and needed help.

Believe it or not, this is how he responded.

He looked at me and said, “But you don’t look suicidal to me!

As I looked at him in disbelief, he continued saying “You should be grateful and think happy thoughts. Be positive! Don’t worry about it. It’s just all in your head.

Well.. he was right about one thing. It IS in my head. Depression is the sickness of the brain.

It was extremely hard to find support. Nobody understood what I was going through. My sickness got worse and during my darkest times, at the deepest of my depression period, I used to hear voices; … voices that told me that there was no hope, that I would never get better, voices that told me death is the only way out of the pain, voices that told me that my family would be better of without me. For months I suffered with mental anguish and a severe sense of isolation.

In August 2014, I read the news of Robin Williams’s death by suicide. What struck me was realizing that instead for feeling shock or disbelief, I felt that I understood (why he chose suicide). That was the moment I realized that something was really wrong with me. I needed help.

Pic credit: Eric Ward on Unsplash

NOTES:

What do we know about suicide — based on research — Dr. Marsha Linehan: https://youtu.be/5eQSrAMEkLY

Original Video: https://youtu.be/BN_2rP5ldoQ

Article: Understanding Suicide — Edwin S. Shneidman on Suicide: https://thebrokentogether.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/understanding-suicide/

The Battle

The Challenge

My family knew that I was sick, but they didn’t know how to support me.

At the time my job was teaching in a local university. I was still functioning, and, though incredibly hard, I was able to work. But other than that, I withdrew from the world.

Going into 2015, my battle with depression continued. Recovery felt impossible. At times I felt like I made one step forward just to make two steps back. My cognition and the executive functions of my brain were declining. My short term memory got severely affected.

Hitting Rock Bottom

I still remember that day; I stood in front of the class, was just going to start the lecture, when my brain went blank. I couldn’t remember anything about the lecture! Another lecturer had to take over my class.

I was crying on the way home. My brain was something I could always depend on. I was an honor student, the top graduate of my class, I won a full scholarship to a graduate program in Canada; and yet there I was, couldn’t even remember anything about the subject that I was going to teach to my class.

I felt so low; I just can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I started believing that my brain will never get better.

Getting Better

As my depression lessened and my brain health increased, my cognition and executive functions started to recover. It took a couple more years to regain my full brain functions.

I am now in recovery.

I finally decided to take sabbatical from my teaching work and became a mental health and recovery advocate.

My Facebook Page WorkWithTheBrainYouHave has over 58,000 followers from USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, NZ, Australia, South Africa, Europe and other countries.

My startup project “LetsConnect” combines technology and the knowledge I have on effective mental health support system.

NOTE: LetsConnect Project International is currently ON HOLD. We are focusing on building LetsConnect.id to serve people in Indonesia.

Our mission is to make mental health support available to anyone, anywhere, giving support even to those who are living in remote places.

I am really grateful to God, thankful to my doctor and deeply, utterly grateful to my peer supporters and my Counselor who supported me during my battle with depression.

I was able to go through even the worst moments because of them. Without their presence during those challenging, terrifying months, I don’t think I would make it out alive.

I still have my brain disorders: the Bipolar 2 and ADHD, and I will have them for the rest of my life. But that’s okay because I am now better at managing my conditions. Now, I ‘work with the brain I have

NOTE:

I finally decided to write this story and share it because I want to give hope to those who are now in the middle of the struggle. It’s not easy, but it does get better, and yes, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you for reading

— Sophie

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