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Devastation and Reform

In The Name Of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.

Recently, I've posted an excerpt of a story of  my junior; on how she was battling her mental health. She's now willing to share her full story and trying to reach out to others that couldn't or afraid to seek help.

This is written by Sofea herself.

Hi there, I'm Sofea. I'd like to share my story regarding my mental health and I hope you would do something more about it to create awareness on it. Thank you. An NGO (Relate Malaysia) has actually shared this and it has made a huge impact to a lot of people. 

I've been suffering from depression for quite sometime. I'm diagnosed with mixed anxiety-major depressive disorder. I attempted suicide countless times to the point that I was actually rushed to the ER. I overdosed three times on my antidepressants, drank chemical and I've been cutting myself. It's a long story as to why i got depressed. To make it short, I've had a bad childhood past until now. Parents got divorced when I was 10. I have 10 siblings and my mum single handedly took care of us. I used to be physically, mentally and sexually abused. But I choose not to point names. 

Despite the sufferings I've been through as a kid, I was actually a very good student. I excelled in both academic and curricular activities. I even held a lot of important posts. I was that active. People always call me as the girl who always smiles, who's never angry and mean to anyone. But little did they know that I've been masking my sadness all along. No one ever knew about it. 

After SPM, my father decided to take care of me and so I went to JB and studied there for my foundation. My father works in JB. When I was in JB that I started suffering from depression. I'd like to keep the details as to why I got depressed. At that time I also just got a boyfriend who is now my fiancé. He's the first boyfriend I've ever had and I hope he'd be the last as well haha. He was the one who noticed that I've gotten gloomier and always crying. We've always skyped. Since he lives in KL and I was in JB at that time. He tried to help me by talking to my parents about it. And guess what? He got lashed out by mother. My mum scolded me too and said that he's a just a stranger and nobody needs to know about our family problems. I felt even worse after something happened. Again I can't tell you what it was. But it scarred me so badly. My family didn't believe and neglected that I was depressed and condemned me. They said "tu lah tak ingat tuhan, sebabtu takda arah. Sofea belajar je. Takyah nak depress. You have to score. You have to be a doctor". I was broken by then. Again, I repeat. I was abused physically, mentally and sexually. 

So after my foundation, I came back to KL to live with my mum again. Things were already awkward and I was always given the 'mean' treatment. I started to work at Petrosains then. Because I truly am passionate in science and my ambition is to be a doctor. I kinda healed a bit when I was working there because I was surrounded by positive people and I enjoyed what I did. 

Later on I furthered my study in Russia, doing medicine. Things happened in Russia that broke me even more. My fiancé's father passed away, my friends became distant towards me, I fell sick with an erosion and bleeding stomach. Just imagine I was already depressed at that time. That's when I truly felt empty. At that point of time, all I think of was death. I just wanted to die. I told my fiancé that every single day. Every single day I got very bad panic attacks which no one knew about it. I was all alone and empty. 

Then it was our summer break, I was so happy that I got to be back in Malaysia with my fiancé. He brought me to see a psychiatrist and from there I got some medications. During the session with the psychiatrist, the psychiatrist said I wasn't stable and unfit to go back to Russia in the meantime m. The doctor was afraid that I'd be worse and might not even heal. So whether I liked it or not, my fiancé and I had to tell my parents about it. About differing my studies, about me seeing a psychiatrist. My dad was calm but he insisted that I still had to go to Russia. My mum on the other hand went berserk. 

On the day of my flight, my mum created a scene and called everyone and said that I mengada and tak bersyukur and that my fiancé was the one who's influencing me. She didn't even want to salam me when I wanted to say goodbye. My fiancé was the one who was supposed to bring me to the airport. I was so empty and broken. That's when I overdosed on my antidepressants. My fiancé rushed me to the ER in PPUM. And you know what hurt me even more? One of the doctors said "you're a medical student but you're a mess". Wow. How kind of her. I want everyone to know that I'm not giving up on my dreams. I just need to take a break and heal first. Tu je yang orang tak faham. 

After I was discharged, my dad decided to take care of me and bring me back to JB. I actually didn't want to because it'd remind me of the past that happened in JB. Then, I decided to attempt suicide by overdosing again. I was then rushed to the hospital in JB. In the ward I overdosed again because I was really agitated by the environment and I just felt empty. I suffered from bad side effects. My vision became blurry, I couldn't walk, I fell unconsciously in the toilet. After that I was sent to the psychiatric ward. 

Being in a psychiatric ward for almost a week makes me realise a lot of things. When I was first admitted here, I was so scared and alone. Other patients suffer from schizophrenia, BMD, A.C psychosis and etc. Some are aggressive, some are 'crazy', some talk to themselves. Some are over friendly to the point i felt uncomfortable,some pestered me for my phone,some cried to me that they wanna go home.I was afraid. I witnessed some patients kena ikat, menjerit meraung. Some even managed to get out and bled all over the bed coz she took out her needles. My days had been filled with screaming from some patients. I feel afraid and pity at the same time.At first I didn't open up to anyone of them. But since I'm the youngest here, they all treat me like I'm their younger sister.Despite their troubled issues, mental illness and childish attitude, kena ikat dengan police and all, they're actually very kind deep within. I realised that when I had my first panic attack here in the ward, some of the 'crazy' patients came to me and tried to calm me down. They held me and helped me to lie down on my bed. They tucked me into bed. Then they called the nurse that I'm hurt. I felt so touched. Ever since that, whenever i had panic attacks, they'd do the same exact thing to me. And I then told myself to not call them crazy. I opened up to them as they opened up to me. Kesian sangat dengar cerita dorg. Yes I've gone through shit. But they have no one. 
Eventhough I still do feel scared & get panic attacks whenever i hear a sudden scream and all the gaduh between the patients, police & doctors, I now feel very sympathetic towards them. They have been kind to me.They gave me sweets, snacks everytime I breakdown.They'd stroke my hair. Everyday I pray to God that He will ease things for them. They deserve to be happy too. Eventho they're 'crazy', they never once hurt me. As a matter of fact, I feel like I've grown to love them. And when I'm discharged, I'm truly gonna miss them. As a matter of fact, I feel like I've grown to love them. And when I'm discharged, I'm truly gonna miss them. 

When I was having my session with some psychiatrists, one of the doctors said he sees and believes that one day I'll be an amazing person, a good doctor based on the session we had. I was so happy and touched. The doctors told me that I'm not at fault and I'm not a burden. They understand the struggles that I've been through. I want to emphasise, never underestimate the power of kind words.Some patients pleaded to me with so much tears, you have no idea how it broke my heart.

From someone who is suffering and is actually diagnosed with mixed anxiety-major depressive disorder, here's an advice : Please be kind and considerate. Be gentle with your words. Never condemn. Listen and understand. Help. Be nice. Be loving. No, I'm not seeking for attention. I just need this issue regarding mental illness to not be taken lightly. It could cost someone's lives. Remember, healing is a PROCESS.
No one heals in a nick of time. Some people heal and THEN FALL DOWN, get back up and fall again. It might even be on repeat. But then finally they get back up, STRONGER as ever.
Being in this psychiatric ward makes me realise that i want to make a change. I want mental illness to stop being stigmatised. The experience that I'm currently going through now makes me feel more motivated to be a help to others eventhough I myself am suffering. It took me a lot of guts to share this. I feel so happy that a lot of people have come to me and share their stories. Some even are already trying to seek help after knowing my story. You have no idea how happy I feel to make an impact to others. 

After my story has been spread widely on Twitter (my account is @eilyasofea), I've been getting a lot of response from people. Some are even seeking for professional help now. I'm happy that I made an impact in people's lives. I was from Convent Bukit Nanas and I held a lot of important posts. One of them is i was the International Understanding (IU) Director in interact club. I hosted an IU Day about 'Change' and the event was a huge success. We've got a lot of sponsors (some of them were DBKL, NMIT, CIMB, Nestle, Vitagen etc) and the total profit that we got was more than RM30k. Truly. Then we distributed the money to 5 homes (oku, aids, orang tua etc) and the balance was given to the school to renovate etc. I was only 17 at that time and I've created a huge success. Though I'm struggling with MADD right now, I still aspire to inspire people. I want to be a mental health advocate/doctor one day. I hope you'd read this and give me a response. If there is any voluntary work that I can do, feel free to contact me. I'd love to receive all the positivity that I can get. Thank you so much.  

Best regards, Sofea. 


Heavy

In The Name Of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.

The song "hate to see your heart break" from Paramore was written out of empathy towards her best friend; when she saw him in the state of life hitting him hard on his face and was hopeless, she feels as if she was breaking too.

Empathy is something you can understand and share feelings of another person. It is said as an emotional intelligent thing. This is something you don't learn in school; well, not in the syllabus anyway. It's through relationship (be it family or friends) and experience you'd be able to develop empathy. Don't mistaken empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is as simple as feeling sorry for others when you might not actually understand what's going on. Empathy is a deeper feeling, as you can actually feel what they're feeling.

In a recent post, I was writing about empathy towards people having depression and suicidal episodes. I am actually intrigued with my junior because she is having a rough time herself and getting herself treatments but at the same time she's sharing her stories in order to educate others. In doing so, she is actually helping other helpless folks and like what I told her, it's a great thing to do. I bet it wasn't easy to be open and talk about the most private and vulnerable things in your life but she did it.

It made me realise one thing;
people who are trying (so hard, if I may add) to help others that are in need are usually the ones who actually been there. They are the ones who knew how heavy it was to be helpless and how heavy it was when no one was there to help them out. They didn't want someone else feel and go through whatever they went through because it was really bad. Unfortunately, sometimes these people are too busy helping others that they didn't have the chance to help themselves.

I saw someone wrote (I forgot who and where did I stumbled upon it though) about how certain artists address mental health issue and how to get things through in their songs or act because they knew how it felt like. She said that some of these artists are like holding the lights and reaching out others (in order to help them get through things) but at the same time it's draining them and they became darker. It was like how Robin Williams was, he made everyone happy while he himself isn't. That's the dangerous part of depression; these people hid it so well and you wouldn't even know that they're having a rough time. They will keep a good smile upon their face whenever they're out with others but once they're all by themselves (or with the people they really trust) the broke down. They will be most unexpected person to be depressed. Sometimes things got out of hand and it'll be too late when you know it.

I feel like it's so twisted;
sometimes the person you think don't need help / cheering are the ones that need them the most.

So, be nice to everyone. You never know what they're going / they've been through.





Conversations With Stranger

In The Name Of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.

This morning I got ready for class and headed to bus stop with Nini. It was around 8.15 when we reached the bus stop. 10 minutes passed and there was no bus at all. Nini said she wanted to take the bus at the other bus stop and but I told her I'd want to wait for 5 more minutes. So, I waited and waited. There was no bus. at. all. I didn't realise how long I've waited but it seemed that only 30 minutes till class starts.

I ordered a cab from the app and  5 minutes later the driver came. He was in his late 50s I supposed. I told him I waited the bus for like almost 20 minutes and there was none. He said the traffic was bad on some roads so the bus must have stuck some where. As usual, I was asked where I'm from. As I told Malaysia, he said he knew that. (Believe me quite a number do not know where Malaysia is)

"the young ones probably didn't where's malaysia, but I do," he said

I didn't remember exactly how he started to talk about ISIS and Syria. He said that Muslims will not do such terror, as they have the al-Quran and same as the Christians that has the bibles. If they do terror things, they are not truly Muslims. It's a tragedy that things been going on and a lot of lives have lost along the way. He also talked about North Korea, Trump and all sort of things. It was too overwhelming. I felt that it was too early to talk about these heavy issues in the morning. Unfortunately my vocabulary is limited regarding this topic so I had to converse in simpler words. Like a small kid's vocab, haha. It's nice to have this kind of things to talk about, I really like how he was so open about it - considering I am a stranger to him, a foreigner here and I am a Muslim.

He was also telling me that he learned few English when we was in Africa. "one, two, three, four, five." he recalled excitedly. Well, that was all he remembered, haha. He did study well in order for him to get scholarships. It wasn't fully paid, but at least he didn't have to pay so much for his education. He too told me to study well and be a good doctor.

"study, study, study," he said. He was quoting Lenin.
"study till you die," I responded
"yes! you should study well and be a good doctor."
"yeah but currently in my country there's a lot of graduates but few places to work. but we have a lot of patients"
"doctors are needed because patients will be in a large number. look at what we're eating now"
"yeah, true"
"we used to eat natural things. but now it's all chemical." he said
"you know there is a bread that can last up to 2 months," I was thinking of Harry's.
"Bread supposed to last about 3 days!"
"Yeah, it was all chemical in the bread."


When I was about to reach the hospital, I checked my bag only to realise that I didn't bring my purse. I only had coins for bus fares and that was it. OMG. Like what the heck is wrong with me! He noticed and asked what went wrong and I told him what happened. He just laughed. I was a little panic, I asked him if I could give him a call and pay him later. But, thanked God for technology, I can use the app to pay the cab fares with my bankcard. *phew* I thanked him and we bid our goodbye.

One More Light

In The Name Of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.

Couple of days ago I saw a junior from my university posted photos in her instagram stories. She's back in Malaysia and in a hospital attire. At first I thought she was undergoing some treatment - which she is but it was not for any physical illness.

She's in a psy ward. She has been battling depression for years and she was suicidal. She had multiple scars and there was even one that fully heals. She has been taking medication and now still seeking for help. Coming from a girl that I thought was living a happy, cheerful and active life, I was shocked. I didn't think she could be one of those that would have these problems. She is a bright brilliant girl and to know that she's going through such pain, it really breaks my heart. I truly feel empathy for her, even though we barely know each other. I wish her to get better and keep on being strong.

This depression and anxiety are real illness that most people tend to overlook. People easily dismiss them just because there is no proof of physical damage or can't be seen in x-rays or ultrasound and what-not.

I have to admit, I was one of those who had the stigma : when you have a religion, when you have faith, you shouldn't have depression. I bet there are a lot of you out there has been told similar things. Looking back, I was one of those jerk who dismissed these problems by shoving faith as the solution. You see, it is not the only solution, it is part of the solution. There's more things to be done besides emphasising on faith and we are not looking for the right direction.

Depression and anxiety have no favours. Just because you have a religion and have faith of God, that doesn't mean you can't get these illness. What? You think you're a muslim you can't get depressed and anxious? I knew someone who has been battling anxiety and depression for quite some time and no one would actually believe that she has it because, guess what? Because she's "religious". When she tried to get help, (probably didn't go to the right person) the person told her "what? don't you have Allah? why are you like this?" Can you imagine how she was feeling? I felt sorry for her but I also felt super useless because I couldn't help her - I don't know how to. It was heartbreaking to see her in that situation. She eventually found a way out and slowly got better. She's now doing much better and I wish her the best as well.

Come to think of it, when I had my dark depressive-like days, I'm pretty sure it wasn't as bad as what others went through. I mean, I didn't have to take any medication, I didn't injure myself and for that I am really really thankful. I must have probably feel only like 10% of the real depression - and that was already painful enough for me. I wasn't eating (it's super odd if you know me well) I didn't want to see anyone even my closest family and friends. I cancelled all my plans that I was so excited of initially but just couldn't pull myself together to get through. There was this emptiness in me, and it was scary because I kinda like how the emptiness hovers me at first. It went on for days and I felt like I can't get out of it. I didn't know who to talk to, and how to be free of this unwanted feelings. I want to make things better but I can't. I was stuck in a limbo. There are some episodes when it happened and I was asked "kau dah kenapa?" and I said I don't know; because I truly didn't know what was going on. I don't remember exactly how long and how I managed myself through but alhamdulillah I did it. I am not 100% over some issues, to be honest. I guess it kinda stay with you and it depends on yourself how you manage things and pull it through. This then actually gave me a view on depression and anxiety on a different perspective. I now feel more empathy for people battling with these things.

To whoever that's having a rough time, having all sorts of depression, anxiety and any mental illness;
It's okay. It's okay to have them. It's okay to admit that you're having them. It's important to realise what's going on in order to seek help. Also, be strong. I know it's hard to trust people since most of them dismiss you, but I bet there are some out there truly a gem and cares for you. They do. Just be sure to look out for them and get whatever necessary help. Different people handle things differently so I believe that different people will need different methods to manage things through. Most importantly, love yourself, take care of yourself.

To those who know someone that might be having a rough time, try to understand them and be supportive. Don't simply judge and most importantly don't tell them that "it's nothing. get over it." cos it's not easy to do so. Healing takes time. Sometimes all you need to do is just be with them, without saying a word. Just let them know they're not alone.


p/s :  This morning I was watching One More Light video that Hahn and Shinoda dedicated to Chester Bennington. You see, Chester was sexually abused when he was a kid and that probably just didn't go away at all. Not to say that was solely the cause of his suicide but these things add up. Some things you just can't forget and it will always be a part of you whether you like it or not. Yeah, that sucks.

Love

In The Name Of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.

The thing about love. They make you feel these feelings and you can't do anything to stop them. I still wonder whether if it's worth it; as I don't feel the equivalent depth of happiness in comparison to sadness. Maybe I just value love differently as others do and that alone easily hurt me. Love isn't all about how long you've known each other or have been together. It's about how you move yourself towards their groove and vice versa. It's definitely a two-ways communication thing. It takes two to tango kind of thing. Sorry if that's a weird way to put it but that's how I see it. I'm not sure if this is me trying to redefine love as it already is, but I sure do think there's more to love on what's it all about than you'd actually realise.

Hey, I'm not talking about love being typically stereotyped as boy-girl relationship or soulmates or whatever; but I'm talking about love as whole. Be it with your family, your friends and your anything. For me personally, I am actually careful on who I let into my inner circle because I learnt for a fact that sometimes you just can't force people into your lives. Some things just come naturally without needing so much effort. To keep them float, yes, your efforts are very much required.

I'm interested with what Anwar Hadi once said, when he was asked how did he know his wife was the one. He said something about you wanting to make things work with the other person. Like you wouldn't mind going through high and dry in order to make things work with them. That's true.

But what if you can't choose the person you love? Like in your family for example. You don't ask to be with them and when you can't even fit yourself with them - how's that going to be? Why bother to make things work if they're not gonna?

(I am so going to write this with tears, help me)

First of all, I am so so blessed to have the family I have, despite what I've written and the ups and downs I've had. If I were to compare to others that are much less fortunate than I am, I wouldn't be who I am today. Family isn't my strongest forte; and I was jealous with those who are. Maybe I was just wired a little bit different that I do not see what others would see. For some reason I've always felt left out in the family, despite having two loving parents and two elder siblings. No matter what I do, I don't feel like I've done anything good for them. Somehow my memories of them are always of how disappointed I was with my family, even when I know they did too many good to me. It was always the bad ones over-weigh the good memories. Being the last child of the family would make you think you'd have all the attention but in my reality it wasn't. I somehow feel distant with my family when in truth I was always at home. (my other siblings went for boarding school) During my teen years was when I started to trust my friends over my family.

It may got out of hand, when I decided to study the furthest I could - Russia. I wasn't into medicine that much but I figured it would be neat to have a MD and like, help people. One of the strong reason why I chose Russia, so I could be away as I could from home.

Fortunately, it was the very place I learn that, as for family, we are entitled to love them unconditionally because that's what God would want us to do. If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't be holding on for so long. There are too many heartaches and disappointment I've been through with my family. Not that we're in non-talking terms or what-not but I'm a person that loves to connect deeply rather than superficially, so that's a bit of a problem. When I was in Russia and I got into this deep deep mess, I called them, they were at home. I remember very well, it was during the new year. I wanted to tell them, but they were having fun at home, gathered around together so they were like heyyy what's upp, like they don't even care on what I was about to tell them. At the end, I couldn't utter the words. I put down the phone and just cried. Well that deep deep mess I was in, I had to pick myself up and took me like forever to do so. It even caused me to eventually repeated 3 semesters. I still have nightmares of that deep deep mess.


That's me subtly tells the world that I was in deepest ocean deep mess and thanked God I didn't go insane for real.


Putting aside my bitter writings, in conclusion, as for love for the family; you have to respect and love them because that's what God told us to. As a person who's in faith of God, that's the reason that keeps me sane when it comes to family. Learn to put your differences aside and focus on the common ground. Even if you don't have any, just find that one damn common thing and hold on to it. So at least I'd die trying to make things work. At least I've done my part.