Worth More Than Gold

Anxiety, major depression, and mild psychosis. That’s where my story begins. Every tick of the clock would make the gears of my mind go into overdrive.

Tick.
“I need to do more.”

Tick.
“I didn’t do enough.”

Tick.
“What I did wasn’t enough.”

These were but a fraction of the uninvited thoughts that accompanied my anxiety, and my body would always respond to them – the palm of my hands would sweat profusely, and I would start fidgeting or tapping my foot. As if that weren’t enough, I would subconsciously start biting my fingernails.

Everything hurts.

Life was agonising, replete with headaches, persistent colds, and ulcers. I would often self-medicate, consuming paracetamol or ulcer medicines, to soothe these symptoms, which were usually brought on by lack of sleep, constant stress, and bad eating habits.

I felt weak, like a puppet without its strings, unable to move. Sometimes, my skin would feel like hardened wood – itchy, scratchy; even my joints seemed to squeak. I was compelled to scratch. I would use my hands, scratching slowly at first, and then harder. But it was never enough. I would take a pen and start writing on myself – “Death“, “Die, die, die“.

Eventually, the whole episode would end with me stabbing my left arm with a pen or sharp pencil, just to feel something and to reassure myself:

I am human.

Needless to say, staying awake became an ordeal and sleeping became something I craved, yet sometimes feared, because my dreams were better than real life. 

In the midst of this mental and physical chaos, it is unsurprising that I instinctively sought relief in something less invasive; I needed something – anything – to soothe my waking mind. This craving led me to a slew of indulgences, the most prominent one being something I used to love – gaming.

In pursuit of an escape

I recall closing my eyes and opening my games every time I was invaded by unwanted thoughts. Here, I could catch a glimpse of “me”, a hero, with lots of friends, in a heavenly abode, engaging in adventure and romance.

Playing games was a recreational activity  I used to enjoy, but anxiety and depression changed that. Gaming went from being a fun pursuit to a drug I needed to take. I started playing in an effort to escape my own mind, from the break of dawn to the point of exhaustion, hoping the activity would keep my thoughts at bay. 

It didn’t. 

It added yet another burden to the mix. A quick glance at myself showed me a man who was drowning in indulgences.

Wasteful” was the word that used to come to mind then, often followed by “worthless” and “better off dead”.

It was a time when I cried without reason, envious of others’ happiness, my self-hatred blooming like flowers during spring. I was desperate to find a place that was for “me”, a place where I would be rid of my burdens and suffering.

Then, one day, my brain came up with an answer – “Fantasy”.

Monster of a fantasy

“Fantasy”, to me, represented a land I could call my own, a land where I could be truly happy and free. No more burdens, no more suffering. I still remember what it looked like and how it felt when that world first unravelled itself before me. 

On the right, flowers blossomed in thin air while a friendly sapphire blue bird flew onto my fingertip. And then, there was hunger. As my fantasy bloomed, it also sprouted its prickly thorns. 

Hunger

I started imagining myself eating another human being, biting into their necks and indulging in their blood. I imagined pushing people down the stairs for the sake of my amusement. 

This was not what I wanted!
I was a monster. A peek at the mirror revealed a fleshy beast, helping itself to flesh and blood. At that point, I remember thinking that if I died, everyone would be safe and happy.

I started to wonder whether my purpose in life was akin to that of the heroes in the animes I watched – maybe, I just had to kill the beast, kill myself. 

Taking the exit — almost

These cacophony of thoughts kept swirling in my mind until, one day, I was forced to go to work at my dad’s company. My level of anxiety was through the roof and, after the working day came to a close, tears flooded my eyes. I messaged my counselor,

I am planning to commit suicide. There is a bridge nearby. Maybe... I'll find my freedom.

After that, I wobbled in the rain, seeking the bridge that might finally end my pain and set me free. But, as I neared it, I noticed a blockade. I was stumped and wobbled aimlessly.

Suddenly, I received a call from my cousin. She told me to snap out of it and wait for her. I did. She managed to find me and took me to her home.

Recovery and my treasure chest

The day after, I visited a psychiatrist, who prescribed medication for anxiety, depression, and hallucinations.

Today, I am better, sharing my story through the written word. What did I learn from my experience? 

I learnt that a moment’s rest, the realisation that I was human and others also saw me as such, and my ability to write, are worth more than any treasure in the world.

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Project Green Ribbon aims to share stories in a responsible, respectful and empowering way.

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