In case you needed reminding today…you are beautiful.
Sending you, wherever you are, whatever mood you’re in, lots of love…
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. I was thinking about what it might feel like to lose a loved one to suicide. I don’t have any personal experience with this, so it wouldn’t be right to say I understand, but my heart breaks for anyone who is in so much pain that they want to end their life, and for their loved ones who are left with a gaping void in their lives.
I wrote this poem not to spread despair, but awareness.
It’s a reminder to myself of sorts, to check in often with the people I care about, to be kind to strangers; to spread compassion instead of judgment. To keep wishing and working to make the world a more accepting and loving place.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, here are some people who can help:
- Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800 221 4444 (available 24 hours daily) https://www.sos.org.sg/
- Emergency Helpline (IMH): 6389 2222 (Available 24 hours daily) https://www.imh.com.sg/
- Other helplines: https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/support-groups-and-others/20/call-on-these-when-you-need-help
In these trying times, hold on to hope, please—the world needs you to.
I think many of us can relate to this journey of being rescued from the dark and finding our way home to the light, whether it be from grief, pain, abuse, mental illness, failure, loneliness or other darkness in our lives. Darkness is a part of the human condition, but so is hope and light and love. Thankful to all the people who help us find our way home ❤️
Over the last few years, I’ve gone into social hibernation. I’ve shied away from meeting new people, I’ve let relationships lapse. I felt hopelessly lost, and if you don’t know yourself, it’s hard to figure out how to relate to other people. I thought it’d be difficult for people to accept my ‘weirdness’, but it turns out that the one who couldn’t accept me was…myself. I felt constantly judged…because I was judging myself.
I felt like it would be too difficult to explain why I spent so long in the washroom (repeated handwashing), or why I was always late (repeated checking of windows, doors, locks and electric sockets before leaving the house + starting to get ready late because leaving the house felt like too big a task), or why I repeatedly checked the seat I’d just vacated for anything I might’ve left behind, or why I kept checking the zips on my bag, or that I didn’t like to walk close to bins. (But look, I just explained it in less than 100 words!)
I felt like I was an inconvenience and I couldn’t expect people to understand, because I myself didn’t understand. But I’ve come to realise that no matter what we are facing, social isolation makes it worse. People need people. I certainly do. Now that I’ve started to open up, people are being more supportive than I could have ever imagined. I find myself wondering why I thought I had to keep all my struggles a secret. Feeling alone only amplified my despair. Admitting my ‘weakness’ to my friends and family helped me see that it isn’t weakness at all, just the way I’ve been wonderfully made.
I wasn’t getting the help and support I needed, not because people didn’t want to give it, but because they didn’t know what I needed. Because I didn’t know. Once I became better at articulating what I needed, love was there to give it.
In order to feel accepted, I had to first accept myself. In order to feel loved, I had to first love myself. And now that I do, I’ve been reconnecting with old friends. It’s been joyful. And when I experience intense emotion, I write. This poem celebrates love rediscovered; love that was always there.
Being diagnosed, and coming to terms, with OCD has been a strange journey. In some ways, it’s been a relief. Looking back through all my experiences, it explained a lot. I wasn’t weird, I wasn’t weak — I had a condition, with a name, and a treatment, and a community. I wasn’t alone. This was liberating. I started to change the story I was telling myself about myself. I began to accept myself just as I am, and started trying to figure out what I need, instead of how I should change.
After I began knocking down the walls I had built, love flooded in. Then I realised that the love had been there all along, I just hadn’t believed myself worthy of it. I hadn’t understood how to connect to it, how to avail myself of it, but now I did. And I began to rely on it.
I wrote this poem a few months ago, during a very challenging time for me. I’ve hesitated to share it, because I’m not used to being open and vulnerable, and laying bare my insecurities for all the world to see.
But when I was struggling, it helped to read about other people’s similar struggles, in particular Matt Haig‘s “Reasons To Stay Alive” and “Notes On A Nervous Planet”. It helped to know that someone halfway across the world had experienced the intensity of despair and paralysis that I was feeling. It helped to know I wasn’t alone.
Knowing that other people found a way to live with mental health issues, and in fact to thrive, made me believe that the same was possible for me. So I decided to take a leap of faith and share this. I’m hoping it might help someone the way other people writing honestly about their struggles has helped me.
If you are struggling with your mental health, here are some resources that might help:
Sometimes we feel helpless when we see our loved ones feeling down. So we go into proactive mode – we try to cheer them up, suggest solutions to their problems, hurry them to feel happier, because we care and don’t like seeing them upset. Unfortunately this can have the opposite effect and make them feel worse, because it feels like you are glossing over their feelings, or implying that their feelings are not valid. If you are not sure what to say or do, maybe try asking “What can I do to help?”. The answer might be a simple “Just sit and listen”.
This poem is inspired by Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery by joining the pieces together with gold. Instead of trying to hide the cracks, Kintsugi highlights them, making the repaired piece more beautiful than the original.