By Ai Lyn

Question 1: Tell us your experience of suffering from depression.

I first had depression when I was 23. It was triggered by my very hectic sales job, from which I suffered a nervous breakdown.

Of course, that was only the trigger. Till today, I can only speculate that the reason I fell into depression was my sad childhood. I was bullied in kindergarten and primary school, and was verbally, emotionally and physically abused by one of my music teachers. I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was only 7, and although my dad remarried when I was 12, my stepmom passed away due to pregnancy complications when I was 16. When I was 21, my ex-boyfriend/best friend died of leukaemia, and when I was 22, I was betrayed horribly by two friends.

What did I experience during depression? 

Firstly, I suffered from low mood/motivation to do things. This could cause me to lie down in bed all day, doing nothing. I lost interest in all the things I used to enjoy, like playing the piano, singing, reading, drawing and playing computer games. 

I didn’t want to connect with people, and for a year, I didn’t use my handphone at all.

I dreaded simple things like bathing, brushing my teeth, and cutting my nails. Basically, I didn’t care about my looks any more and would not dress up for anything, even Chinese New Year. One nightmare for me was going to the hair salon, as I was worried that the people there might find out that I had depression. Why? Because I could look depressed. I looked sad, my head drooped and I slumped my shoulders. I walked a bit too slowly too.

In the beginning, it was very hard for me to get out of bed everyday. I would wake up at 2pm, only to crawl out of bed at 4pm and eat breakfast. Those were the days where I slept 14 hours a day.

Secondly, I suffered emotionally. I cried and screamed without reason. I felt fearful and was worried. And when the fear got really bad, I curled up into a ball and couldn’t do anything. I sometimes experience panic attacks, where I find it hard to breathe and swallow.

Thirdly, I used to experience agitations, where I had a lot of anger in me, making me violent. I would scream, throw things, kick doors, and tear newspapers in a fury. Thank God I don’t have agitations now, as I practise forgiving people that I’m angry at.

Question 2: How are you coping with depression?

The most basic thing I need is medication (for your information, no amount of counselling/reasoning can help a clinically depressed person if he/she is down). I see a psychiatrist and am taking 5 different medications now.

I tried some counselling, but it didn’t help a lot. The part that helped was that someone was willing to listen to my challenges. And art therapy was good for me. I could draw and release my feelings.

As I gradually improved, I began to read again. Several books have been very helpful in my depression journey. From these books, and from my experience, I’ve learned that:

  1. The mind is a battlefield. The devil injects negative thoughts into our minds and causes us to think that those thoughts fall into our minds on their own, making us feel guilty, fearful and helpless. In reality, we CAN choose what we want to think. We CAN choose positive thoughts. In my case, after medication stabilised me, I was able to choose to think positively, just like anyone else.
  2. Depression is a mental illness, not a weakness or flaw or sign that we don’t read the Bible or pray enough. Therefore, never look down on a person suffering depression. It is not by choice that we have depression.
  3. Group therapy can help some people with depression. In a group, they feel less lonely in their battle with depression as they know that others are going through it as well. They are held accountable by others in the group and this may help them strive to improve their condition.

Friends who are caring and understanding helped me to cope with depression. And writing about my depression journey on Facebook gives me a good emotional release.

Lastly, trusting my future into God’s hands gives me peace and hope.

Question 3: How would you like the people around you to care and support you?

I would like the people around me to be quick to listen, quick to give praise and encouragement, slow to judge and quick to give reassuring hugs/pats on the shoulders.

I would like people to listen attentively to my story, no matter how illogical or bizarre I sound. I would like them to ask questions like, “How are you feeling now?”, “How can I pray for you?”

Never say things like:

  1. Throw away your medicine (medicine is my lifeline!).
  2. Snap out of your depression (it can’t be done, period).
  3. Exercise until you get so tired, then you’ll forget about the depression (really?).
  4. Why aren’t you working? (I can’t work when I don’t have enough motivation and emotional stability.)

The best thing you can do for me is to come alongside me and still treat me as a friend. Say things like, “You’re getting better everyday!” “Wow, now you can drive again!” (I couldn’t drive for a number of years due to the depression.)

And since my primary love language is physical touch, I like it very much when I receive hugs and pats on the shoulders. It reassures me and calms me.

Get Involved

🙏 Pray for loving friends to come alongside fellow sufferers, individually or corporately at prayer meetings.

🤙 Be an answered prayer by calling/texting a family or friend whom you know is suffering from mental ill health and ask, “How can I pray for you?”