“I have been living with schizoaffective disorder for around eight years.
Before the diagnosis I was going through depression and a lot of heartbreaking moments. My friends avoided me and that came loneliness. I was attending a fashion design course and it was way too stressful. I got used to bearing everything on my own. Then everything went downhill.
I experienced voices in my head. Sometimes I feel there is someone behind a door and I will talk into the direction, but in fact, there isn’t anyone. I would use one or two hours just to shower.
My mother noticed the symptoms I was going through and decided to seek help for me. She lied to me that we were going to see an educational psychologist, instead, she made an appointment with a psychiatrist.
Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of bipolar and schizophrenia. The disorder comes with extreme high and low moods in addition to psychosis. I became very paranoid and easily scared. I fear to be abandoned and left behind. The worst situation I have gone through is being alone in KL for three weeks.
The voices in my head can be very loud sometimes. The main voice sounds like a guy and he always feeds me with negative thoughts. He once told me I was not supposed to be where I was because a tsunami would come the next day. He also told me I would get arrested for something I have not even done; someone is out to kill me. More absurd things like my brother have turned into a dog and my sister has committed suicide or die.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention. I have tried to strangle myself many years ago and I got admitted to the mental ward hospital. After that, the thought never came back to me.
My ordinary day will be waking up in the morning, showering, and attending my flower arrangement course. I used to see a psychologist but not anymore because the charge is too expensive for us. I am seeing psychiatrist every month at Klang General Hospital and the psychiatric treatment is free. I do meditations and follow a guru who teaches me life lessons. I am also into Mahikari, it is a Japanese religion where you radiate light from your hand as a method of spiritual purification.
What the public can do is to provide support. I think people are afraid to discuss about mental health because of existing stigmas around. People treat me normally and often without being aware of my mental illness. So whenever I did something wrong they would blame me on my laziness and stupidity. I think if people understand different conditions of mental illnesses better, it will be easier to create sympathy in society. A very obvious example is people often misjudge depression as sadness, but I think it is a lot more than that.
I try to participate very actively in my life. I did my first mental health talk with Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) in 2014. Later, I went to Kuantan to present a talk to Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA); I won third prize in essay-writing competition organized by MMHA in conjunction with World Mental Health Day 2015 and was featured in The Star newspaper; I participated in flower arrangement competition among people with disabilities; I wrote a book titled “In My Shoes” about biography of my life; I have also appeared in Astro’s Vinmeen’s VBuzz on television; I have also written a short story in one of MMHA published booklets.
I have a dream which is to have my own flower arrangement shop in the future.”
Photostory and edited by Maxy