’’The world gave me many things, but the only thing I ever kept was absolute solitude.’’ Now, don’t get me wrong – there is a difference between isolation and loneliness. As the song goes, ‘’Sadness is beautiful, loneliness is tragical.’’ Loneliness as a condition, can be both a curse and a gift, a justification or maybe the doorway to God.
I have always been an introvert, preferring to escape through the world of books than to spend lots of time mindlessly talking to people. I am not aloof – just that I do not enjoy making small talk. As a student, there is nothing more welcoming than the sound of the last school bell, which indicated that school has ended. Being shy and reserved has its negative effects – somehow, I felt alienated from and ostracized by my classmates.
The turning point came when I was 19, when my father suddenly passed away from a long battle with cancer. Suddenly, I was forced to grow up quickly without a father-figure beside me. I feared getting involved in a boy-girl relationship (BGR), because I was apprehensive about matters of the heart and honestly, who would walk me down the aisle? I certainly did not want to get hurt. Like a caterpillar in a cocoon, I had deep anxieties and would suffer panic attacks in the night. As a teenager, even though I had argued with my parents and drove them to frustration like any angsty teenager, I still respected my father.
The first few months was hard, and I did what I would normally do. I was angry, and I also kept my feelings to myself. My so-called “friends” slowly left me one by one, as they could not understand me in this state of depression. While I was depressed, thankfully I have never contemplated suicide or self-harm as I was brought up in the Catholic faith, and it has been imbued in me that Life is a gift from God.
In today’s society, there are many social taboos – people generally do not talk about death, and there is a perceived stigma that people who are suffering from mental afflictions are weak and not capable of handling the challenges of life. While completing my studies and throughout my job applications, I hid the fact that I had depression, while preferring to keep to myself as I have always been quiet, stoic and uncomfortable in big groups.
Today, I am still seeing a psychologist to help me through this grey period in my life, and I would still take my medications on a regular basis. The good thing is that I believe in the humane side of psychiatry, and embracing God has helped me become a more cheerful person. I love going for long walks as it helps me get closer to nature. This close proximity with nature in turn cultivates a deep sense of awe for God’s creation, and also serves as a form of meditation for me and helps foster my creativity.
‘’Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know” as quoted by Ernest Hemingway, a famous playwright. We tend to over-analyze because we know what we want and never settle for less than that. Many people with high IQ suffer from psychological problems. Even if they are not suffering from mental health issues, they still have what I would call ‘’existential depression’’. I blame it on the fast-paced society we are living in now. There is often no time for important connection with people.
As a message of Hope, I would like to end this writing with the quote “Life is a tragedy, but not tragic”. As such, there is no right decision in life. If you decide on something and put your everything into it, it will turn out wonderfully.
Deborah, client with Clarity Singapore