My Journey with Mental Health
Since October 10th is World Mental Health Day, I’ve decided to finally share my journey with my own mental health. Each time the date has approached, I’d consider deeply about sharing and then decide to do it the next year, but I think it’s finally time I did so. It certainly wasn’t easy to write this vulnerably, but I hope that it will do me good, as well as give someone out there the assurance that they’re not alone. I’m not expecting anything much, simply respect from you the reader, so I hope you can at least afford me that.
Anyway, here I go:
I still remember the day clearly. One evening in conversation with my mother, the words rolled out of my mouth “I’m just a waste of money. I’ve costed you so much, so why don’t we just cut our losses?” How did I get to such a low point emotionally, that suicide became a feasible option to end all this pain?
Some of you might have been shocked to read that. You might be thinking “That doesn’t sound like the Nick I know. After all, isn’t he that jolly bear that everyone enjoys being around?” The truth is, I have suffered from low self esteem for a long time.
In the beginning, extremely negative thoughts would pop up in my mind. Back then, it was easy to ignore and wait for them to slowly dissipate. I could recognise them as being false. These are how some of these thoughts sound like:
“What’s the point in writing all these songs? They suck, no one likes them. I’m irrelevant. This so-called talent is not a gift, it’s a curse.”
“I’m so ugly. How can anyone love me?”
”I’m going to hell anyway, so nothing matters.”
“I don’t deserve to feel sad, there are others in worse situations. I just need to work even harder, even it costs me everything. People like me don’t deserve a break.”
I never talked about these feelings with anyone. I would repress them and kept putting on a show for everyone, because I desperately needed that external approval in my life. It was so important to me that everyone liked me, since I couldn’t love myself. These thoughts became more frequent till eventually, they became the only perspective through which I saw everything.
Naturally it affected all aspects of my life, manifesting in self sabotage behaviour. I would make completely unsound decisions, fail in a glorious manner, complete the self fulfilling prophecies in my mind, beat myself over it and then, repeat the cycle once more. I simply couldn’t finish any songs for a long time. Connecting with my audience during performances became difficult. In matters of the heart, I’d hang on to toxic relationships, despite my affection being obviously unrequited, rather than understanding my self-worth and respectfully choosing to leave. I was jealous of others’ success and couldn’t bear to go out to events anymore because I felt like an utter failure. Eventually I isolated myself in a mire of resentment, unplaceable anger and social anxiety.
Even after I decided to seek counselling, I was so ashamed of myself. I could only bear to visit Juliana, who saw my family through the first years of my parents’ divorce, and trust her with my pain. I only told around 5 people, because I wasn’t sure that anyone would believe me.
In two years, Juliana gave me not only the processes to fight against that voice in my head, but also the courage to follow my dreams again. Sadly she retired and moved to Dubai but I am so grateful to her for all her help in that time. To be honest, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here today.
Through this experience, there is a renewed purpose to the music and life in general. I can’t get back all those lost years or undo the hurt I’ve caused, but I can try to love myself again, as well as my family and friends, each day to the fullest. Whatever I can rebuild, I would. Whatever is beyond my control, I can learn from my mistakes, forgive myself and move forward. At the very least, I know that I’ve come so far from that point and I can be proud of myself for that.
To you the reader, I just want you to know, that it’s perfectly okay to feel sad and all other “negative” feelings. Let them out, cry a little. On the other hand, you also deserve to be happy and there is no shame in seeking help if you need to. For that, I would highly recommend the lovely people at Counselling and Care Centre. One advantage is that they are backed by the Community Chest, which makes it affordable for anyone. Simply declare your monthly income and they will charge you a subsidised portion, and Community Chest will cover the remainder.
So hold on, because only then is there the chance that tomorrow could bring better times. I’m glad that I held on. I still am.
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