A Singaporean boy shares his courageous story on being set free from depression.
Editor's Note: Names have been changed for anonymity.
When I was 13, I did badly for PSLE.
I was very discouraged and constantly blamed myself for it. I thought I was useless, stupid, and just not good enough. These thoughts kept coming at me and never stopped. It reinforced what my friend said about me being dumb because of my academic results.
I struggled with my emotions and experienced depression when I entered Secondary 1. But I kept it a secret as I was too ashamed. I was fearful of what others would think of me.
I thought as a guy, it was not okay for me to have these emotions.
Things got worse in Secondary 2. I often had suicidal thoughts and started to self-harm.
Cutting myself was a form of escape. When I felt physical pain, the depressive thoughts would temporarily disappear. But afterwards, I would feel even worse and I would often cry myself to sleep.
I couldn’t even pay attention in class because I was distracted by thoughts like “No one will ever love you”, “You're so pathetic” and “Just go and die”. There were some days where I would break down and cry in school.
The school counsellor arranged for a psychiatrist to speak to me and I was diagnosed with Depression that year.
I tried many different solutions, such as positive self-talk, constantly telling myself that everything is okay, and trying to make friends to fit in with the crowd. I even tried to just tire myself by playing sports but the thoughts kept coming back.
I was frustrated, defeated, and ready to give up. I attempted to commit suicide in 2017, when I was in secondary 2.
It was a horrible day because I had a misunderstanding with a close friend. I remember going home, clouded with so many thoughts of just wanting to kill myself. I felt as if I wasn’t in control of my mind anymore. I went on Instagram Live and told whoever that was listening that I was too tired to carry on with life. I told them that in tears. After I said my last words, I was ready to die.
I was at the window ready to jump, when the word ‘God’ suddenly appeared in my mind.
It was weird but I asked God, “What is my purpose in life?” and there was no answer. So I thought that was it. Just as I was about to jump, the voice said, “You’re not done yet”. I was so scared. But I asked Him, “What makes you think that I'm not done yet?” and a few seconds later the voice replied, “I love you, James”.
At that moment, I moved away from the window and started crying uncontrollably. Then and there, the suicidal thought just left me.
I didn’t know it then, but it was God meeting me where I most needed Him, alone in the kitchen.
After that encounter, I went on with life, thinking that I could finally have a fresh start.
But the whole cycle of depressive thoughts and self-harm returned in 2018. That year, my co-form teacher, who is now the Worship Pastor from Impact Life Church, noticed that I was quiet and withdrawn during her class and approached me.
I told her that I was worthless and that even God hated me. But she told me, “No that’s a lie, God loves you very much.” I didn't believe her then, but I accepted her invitation to go to her church.
During my first Worship Experience at Impact Life Church, I asked God, “Why would you love this broken boy?” I felt so overwhelmed that I broke down and cried, not really knowing what was happening.
After that service, fear got the better of me. I didn’t want to tell the people in church what I was going through, so I stopped going. I only came back two months later. This time, I told myself not to cry, but I remember that I started crying very badly when I experienced God’s love and acceptance for me. I never even thought I could be loved and accepted. So that day, I accepted Jesus into my life.
My struggles didn’t disappear after becoming a Christian - I simply put on a mask in church and school.
I refused to talk to others about battling depressive and suicidal thoughts. It was only until Pastor Lavanya Dua was scheduled to preach on depression in 2018, I remember not wanting to attend church that day and hiding my struggles from my lifegroup. In the end, I went for service anyway.
Ps Lavanya said that God can help me get out of depression and He wants me to be set free.
It was as if God was speaking directly to me! I was at a place where I had lost hope of ever recovering completely from Depression, and what she said spoke hope into my heart.
For the first time in a long time, I thought, “Maybe God can really heal me!” As I responded to the altar call, I felt God’s love pour out over me. I fell on my knees and cried out to God. I surrendered every feeling, thought, and every part of me to Him. I felt so safe in His presence.
When I walked out of church that day, the cloud of depression that used to be hanging over me was gone!
I was finally set free! After struggling for so long, I had come to believe that there was no cure for my Depression. But there is a cure!
The cure for depression is to experience God’s love.
His love is demonstrated clearly by Jesus dying for us on the cross! God’s love for us is so real and powerful.
Recovery from depression was not an instant thing. God brought me through a process of healing and learning. I first started by spending time with God through reading the Bible and praying everyday. I also started journaling my honest thoughts to God. Slowly, I learnt to replace the lies in my head with God’s truth. When I did that, I realized that I was no longer trapped by feelings of worthlessness. I started to regain control of my thought life. I realized that it is so important to take every thought captive and align it to God’s word.
As I started to open up to people about my struggles, I realised that I had nothing to fear. My lifegroup didn’t reject me. Instead, they spoke life, encouraged me, and walked with me. We also prayed together as I forgave people that had hurt me, and that included myself. Through being honest and confessing my sins to the people in my lifegroup, I experienced healing from many of the hurts and shame that I carried.
Now, I live in freedom!
God is not done with me yet, and there are many things that still need repairing in my heart. But I don’t have to hurt myself to escape from pain anymore. I experience so much peace and joy from God. He has given me purpose and hope in life.
You know I once told everyone on Insta Live that I wanted to kill myself, but now I’m telling everyone on Impact Life that I’m dead to sin and alive in Christ! God has been so merciful to me, and I know He will always be faithful towards me as long as I live.
To end off, I want to encourage anyone who is struggling with depression: It is okay to seek help! Do not believe in the lie that nothing will ever change. God wants to help you and set you free. You are not alone in this journey.