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Living in the 21st century, I’m seemingly amazed that a majority of people across the world still hold false beliefs about depression and carry a lot of stigma attached to mental illness, which has resulted in an alarming rate amongst patients and suicide attempts.

In Cambodia, where I was originally born and raised, not many are educated about mental problems and their discernible impacts. Therefore, it’s difficult to unfold your situation when you’re depressed, because you fear rejection from other people when you open up about your own struggles. And, what’s the point of confrontation when your perception is sadly mistaken for laziness and sadness?

Speaking of sadness, it’s entirely different from depression. Sadness is a human emotion that occurs when you experience something unpleasant, for example, getting a divorce, losing your loved ones, or being broke; and it only lasts for a period of time. However, depression is different story. It’s a long-term illness that persists for months or even years—either you feel numb, or you hardly find pleasure in anything you used to enjoy, including your favorite activities or loved ones. What makes it worse, you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and racing thoughts that keep haunting you days and nights. If left untreated, a patient may become totally addicted to drug, alcohol, or sex , leading to suicide caused by guilt and shame.

I wasn’t aware of depression until it happened to me in the past few months. It was awful at the beginning, like I just woke up one day and felt overwhelmed with numbness. I couldn’t take pleasure in things I used to do, and the world suddenly went black all of a sudden. I tried to push people away and isolate myself, and gosh, I had no motivation to do anything besides sleeping and eating excessively. My colleagues told me I looked sick and upset. Instead of explaining that I was suffering from depression, I learned to fake a smile and say that nothing happened. I was so envious of happy and relaxed people, and I thought to myself that I would do anything to feel satisfied. I realized that things got worse when I got all the hype about pornography and sexual imaginations as a way to escape from my unbearable pain. As I was unable to cope with my indignity, I became fascinated with death and my own funeral to end this vicious cycle once and for all. A part of me was scared of dying, the other was excited. There’s no in between.

After seeing certified therapists, I am aware that I’ve been diagnosed with unipolar depression, a term for major depression, which is the most severe type of depression. By treating this mental illness, I’ve been taking antidepressants to calm my mood so that I can get on with my daily life and activities; and I’m grateful that they’re finally kicking in and working for me.

Although my journey to recovery has been a scary ride, I’m glad I had the guts to open up about my mental problems to different therapists while reaching out to open people and mental forums offline and online. If you have been depressed, or you know someone who’s going through a rough patch due to their own mental illness, just try to be there to comfort and support them, and don’t ever judge them (because they’ve been criticizing themselves non-stop already). Instead, gently say, “Dark days will be over. Though I can’t imagine what you’ve been going through, I believe that you’ll win this intense battle and you’re stronger and tougher than the monster that manifests lies inside your brain.”

More info: aflickerofhope.wordpress.com

aflickerofhope.wordpress.com

My Battle With Unipolar Depression

Living in the 21st century, I’m seemingly amazed that a majority of people across the world still hold false beliefs about depression and carry a lot of stigma attached to mental illness, which has resulted in an alarming rate amongst patients and suicide attempts.

In Cambodia, where I was originally born and raised, not many are educated about mental problems and their discernible impacts. Therefore, it’s difficult to unfold your situation when you’re depressed, because you fear rejection from other people when you open up about your own struggles. And, what’s the point of confrontation when your perception is sadly mistaken for laziness and sadness?

Speaking of sadness, it’s entirely different from depression. Sadness is a human emotion that occurs when you experience something unpleasant, for example, getting a divorce, losing your loved ones, or being broke; and it only lasts for a period of time. However, depression is different story. It’s a long-term illness that persists for months or even years—either you feel numb, or you hardly find pleasure in anything you used to enjoy, including your favorite activities or loved ones. What makes it worse, you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and racing thoughts that keep haunting you days and nights. If left untreated, a patient may become totally addicted to drug, alcohol, or sex , leading to suicide caused by guilt and shame.

I wasn’t aware of depression until it happened to me in the past few months. It was awful at the beginning, like I just woke up one day and felt overwhelmed with numbness. I couldn’t take pleasure in things I used to do, and the world suddenly went black all of a sudden. I tried to push people away and isolate myself, and gosh, I had no motivation to do anything besides sleeping and eating excessively. My colleagues told me I looked sick and upset. Instead of explaining that I was suffering from depression, I learned to fake a smile and say that nothing happened. I was so envious of happy and relaxed people, and I thought to myself that I would do anything to feel satisfied. I realized that things got worse when I got all the hype about pornography and sexual imaginations as a way to escape from my unbearable pain. As I was unable to cope with my indignity, I became fascinated with death and my own funeral to end this vicious cycle once and for all. A part of me was scared of dying, the other was excited. There’s no in between.

After seeing certified therapists, I am aware that I’ve been diagnosed with unipolar depression, a term for major depression, which is the most severe type of depression. By treating this mental illness, I’ve been taking antidepressants to calm my mood so that I can get on with my daily life and activities; and I’m grateful that they’re finally kicking in and working for me.

Although my journey to recovery has been a scary ride, I’m glad I had the guts to open up about my mental problems to different therapists while reaching out to open people and mental forums offline and online. If you have been depressed, or you know someone who’s going through a rough patch due to their own mental illness, just try to be there to comfort and support them, and don’t ever judge them (because they’ve been criticizing themselves non-stop already). Instead, gently say, “Dark days will be over. Though I can’t imagine what you’ve been going through, I believe that you’ll win this intense battle and you’re stronger and tougher than the monster that manifests lies inside your brain.”

More info: aflickerofhope.wordpress.com