Guest post from Anthony Zhou
There is a lot of stigma around mental illness like depression, and the discussion of suicide is a social taboo. If you’re a male who suffers from a depression or anxiety it is considered a sign of weakness and therefore makes you less of a man because you can’t get your affairs in order.
So we suffer in silence with the shame and the guilt of having these feelings of helplessness, as we are too afraid to reach out for help due to our fear of being judged. We feel like no one can help us and no one will understand. Everyone seems to have their life in order – except us.
We feel isolated and alone.
So we come to the decision to take what is the most rational action in our minds to solve the problem – and that is to take our own lives to end the pain and the suffering. By doing so, we are no longer a burden on our friends, family, society, and the world.
But we are not a burden.
We are not alone…
Monday 12 October 2015 was my darkest day in my life. It was the day I attempted to take my own life.
The months leading up to this day were chaotic, my life was falling apart, and I was losing control and direction.
My application to join the Police was declined because of a technicality which I challenged, but was told the original decision to decline me still stands and I can never re-apply.
I was crushed.
My heart was set on joining the Police; everything I did in my life was to help me in this chosen career path. I was confident that I would get in, especially since I was in the Army and had overseas operational experience. My life was sorted career-wise.
But now I was lost.
I didn’t know what the hell I was to do with my life.
I had no purpose.
I also suffer from low self-esteem, which doesn’t help when it comes to dating. A lack of a love-life and feeling constantly rejected; I felt like I would never be loved or be in love.
I felt useless and unwanted by the world.
I didn’t reach out for help and I didn’t tell anyone that I was struggling. I didn’t want people to look down on me, judge me, and think I am weak.
I’m a man, I’m ex-Army, and I was in the Infantry. This was a problem I had to handle myself because no one could help me and I should be able to deal with my own shit.
So I made what I thought was the most rational and logical decision and solution to my problem – and that was to end my own life. I posted my farewell message to the world on Facebook.
Not long after that my phone was swamped with people trying to contact me via Facebook, text, and phone calls.
The Police eventually found me and drove me to the hospital where I spent two nights where my condition was monitored.
While in hospital I read through all the messages I received through Facebook, texts, and listened to all the voice messages on my phone. And I cried.
I was overwhelmed with a tidal wave of emotions. I felt shame, guilt, and embarrassment.
I was blown away by how many people who reached out to me and shared what I meant to them, what impact I had on their lives, and their experiences with depression.
After being discharged from hospital my journey to recovery began. I was put on anti-depressants. For the next three months I felt numb. I always wished I could feel nothing and my wish was granted.
I no longer felt the highs and lows of life. I was emotionally flat-lining.
Taking it one day at a time I started to slowly put my life back together.
In March I celebrated my 30th Birthday – a day I didn’t think I would ever live to. I can’t say that I am 100%, but I am better now. Life is a journey, and so is this recovery process.
There are good days and there are bad days.
But I feel like I am in control of my life.
The experience has put a lot of things into perspective and I have learned a few things about life and about myself as a person.
- I now focus on the things that I have control over and forget about things that I don’t. I try not to sweat the small stuff.
- No one is perfect – everyone is fucked up in their own way. Everyone goes through struggles in their lives.
- We are not alone.
- There is no shame in asking and admitting we need help, and it’s OK to not being/feeling OK.
We shouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help and to share our experiences, our stories, and our struggles with people.
If we can start being more open and honest with people and with ourselves then we can start to change the whole perception and stigma around depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Are you struggling with depression, anxiety, or feel like taking your own life? Before you do anything that can’t be taken back, call this number and speak to a non-judgmental professional for free (you have nothing to lose):
HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
Or visit www.depression.org.nz