And for those who would care to read, this is my story. It’s long but rather entertaining, if I may say so myself.
I was born in China in 1993. In order to support me, my parents left for another city to work shortly after my birth. I was placed in the care of my grandparents. I was a happy kid, and never felt the absence of my parents until I got teased by the kids in kindergarten. My grandfather would always tell me that I did have parents, and that they left because I was not a good child…if I behaved well enough, they would return.
When I was 5, my mother suddenly arrived to take me to Singapore. To me, it was as if I had followed a complete stranger to a foreign land. I couldn’t speak a word of English, and the kids at kindergarten made fun of my very different mannerisms and accented Chinese. My parents worked late and took several jobs each to make ends meet, and were constantly stressed and foul-tempered then. Our family stayed in a small room that we rented and I was constantly alone in a strange new place. I had no friends, was terribly afraid of my unfamiliar parents, and I often cried by myself, wishing that I could return to China. My teachers found me tiresome because I couldn’t understand their English and was always so timid and silent.
Things got better as I grew up, but suddenly plunged when I turned 9. My little sister was born, and for a while I was ecstatic, because I thought I wouldn’t be lonely anymore. For that period of time, I was almost completely ignored. They often gave her affectionate hugs and kisses, read stories to her, bought her anything she wanted, never yelled at her or beat her…all of which I never had. To a child, seemed that my parents treated me differenty from my sister because I was not raised by them.
And it was during that time(possibly because of the pent up stress of my childhood), I began to feel nauseous everyday in school. It was rather severe, and I had to be sent to the school nurse everyday, sometimes a few times a day. It got so bad that I could barely function normally with this constant nausea plaguing me. My parents began to worry that I had a severe health problem, and my very few friends thought that I was weird and left me. It only got worse, and it was not long before I began to feel constantly dizzy, extremely nervous and always had difficulty breathing. I began to hear voices in my head, and would randomly run out of my classes to hide somewhere in the school compound because I was so afraid. I was teased and avoided in school like I had a disease, which made things many times worse. I couldn’t go to school for a while, and my parents took leave from work almost everyday to bring me to different doctors. One of them eventually discovered that it was a severe case of anxiety disorder, and I was sent for so many therapies (by negligent doctors, may I add) and given so much medication that my condition steadily got worse. My school grades slipped drastically and my family could hardly sleep at night. When I felt sick, I cried to myself and wished I had never been born. Still a little kid then, I blamed every higher power out there for the way things were. I wondered why my family and I had to suffer so much, and I desperately wished I friends to confide in.
When I was 11, my father took a step which changed my life. Frustrated at the way no medication or treatment was working, he told my doctors to cut them off completely. He has always been very wise, and knew that this was not a problem which medical science could resolve - I had to overcome my demons myself. We began to seek psychological help, and I came to know God through a few very kind teachers (whom I would never forget, to this day). Little by little, my family helped me get well again, and my relationship with them improved a lot when we forgave each other for past grievances. When I turned 13 and went to secondary school, I was almost perfectly happy again and began to learn for the first time in my life how to make friends. I met great people whom I owe the world to, and I joined the netball team, something I would never have dreamed of doing as a child (considering how sickly and weak I was).
I thought that the worst was completely over, but I suffered a relapse when I was 15. Like how relapses work, my condition was worse than it was before, partly because I was so shocked and disappointed in life. I was depressed and quit my sports team, and became very much like who I was as a child. Fortunately, by then I had met friends who wouldn’t leave me even if the world ended, and they guided me through those dark times. Unlike my childhood days, I had people to comfort me, yell at me when I felt like giving up, and cry with me when I was sad. Of course there were idiots at school who still made fun of this, but incredibly, my friends stuck with me throughout. They must have gotten a shitload of bullying as well, but they never stopped defending me. I got better faster, and realized that I had never accomplished anything in my life because I was always held back by this problem of mine. I took a look at my failing grades and to be honest, I was doing so badly that I was about to be retained for a year. While still struggling with my anxiety issue, I made a resolution and worked harder than I had ever done in my life.
Of course it was extremely difficult at first, but slowly, I caught up. By a pure miracle, by the time I took my O levels (a Singapore National Exam), I not only topped my school, but came in 2nd nationwide. I went on to one of the best junior colleges in my country and got rid of my problem (finally). With my newfound confidence, I became more extroverted and made so many friends that I can barely believe it, even now. I am surrounded by people who love me and whom I love, and I really don’t know how to put my gratitude into words.
Phew, that was really long. Thanks for sticking with me throughout this story! Of course I can’t go back to tell my younger self to be braver, however much I wish to. I just wished I had known what was to come, so that I could have smiled more and worried less. But I can tell those who are currently struggling with your own demons - it won’t be like this forever! A door will always open for the door which is closed - don’t be too blinded by your misery to see it When you look back at your difficult times, you’ll be able to laugh at it and thank God for your many blessings. After all, if you had not been through dark times, how would you know what happiness feels like?