Rumination 01: Mental Illness and Suicide
I've been seeing Dr Lauw for almost a year now as part of psychotherapy, and I think in spite of the fact that I've only seen her for about a total of twelve hours across our various monthly sessions, it has been one of the most enriching and fulfilling relationships that I've had with anyone across the entirety of my life. Of course though, as an individual that minored in Psychology, I'll tell you that's precisely what a damn good psychologist should feel like, and I know she's great at what she does.
I claim it's been an enriching process because, thanks to her, I've learned a great deal, not just about myself, but about handling life in general; granted, what it means to 'handle life' is certainly subjective in nature because it varies according to whom is asked. And, for myself, it has largely revolved around issues of (I think), control, the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, and self-esteem (which for myself, is largely related to control as well).
Initially, I saw her because I had a great deal of difficulty dealing with National Service, and strong mood swings that brought about extreme emotions beyond what it seemed to be within my control. What I mean by that, is to imagine a constant flux of anxiety, sadness, emptiness and pain following one another into a vicious cycle, and for it to be overwhelming - your heart freezes up, you feel like turning heel and running the hell away, and despite you knowing better, that these are but emotions, your mind betrays you in a constant loop of what you fear. It becomes all too clear that you are not in control.
And perhaps, because I am simply cognizant of all of this, I can still make claims to sanity. But this was what it was like for almost an entire year, and premorbidly, suicidal ideation and emptiness was a very present thought even in days when I thought I was doing 'well' while I was pursuing my diploma.
Ultimately, at the heart of it all, I was exhausted from the internal strife; trying to make sense out of madness. I once even likened it to drowning, desperately, you gasp for air and you flail about trying to grab onto anything to save yourself; most days it feels like an effort in futility, and when it happens that most days are coincidentally consecutive, self-autonomy is doubtful and endless sleep becomes a comforting thought.
I remain uncertain as to whether I've truly weathered this ordeal or if it's in some form of remission, but I do know that I am doing better these days; mood fluctuations, emptiness and physiological discomfort remain present but are certainly a lot more manageable in intensity and frequency, with the general state of my thoughts becoming more at ease with the state of my being.
That said, I do believe that the experience has become quite core to my being, and if anything at all, I've learnt that the human spirit, or the will to live (Eros) is one of our greatest strengths and in a way, I believe it moderates our psychological adaptability to the hardships in life. For it to fail, I imagine would require psychological damage that is not necessarily horrifying, or traumatic, but one that scars the soul so deeply that it finds itself forsaken and so truly alone in spite of all the life and hope that we are surrounded by.
I think what is most worrying is that such emotional injuries are becoming increasingly common, and perhaps we have framed the problem wrongly in believing that it is an issue of revolving around a lack of emotional resilience, when instead, it is one about a lack of compassion, support and connection within society.