Content warnings: Mentions of self-harm, mental health, and suicide 


I was self harming in primary school. I’ve been in and out of psychologists’ offices since I was in my third year of primary school. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was in my second year of high school, at thirteen years old. I’ve been on and off antidepressants since then. I had a mental health relapse when my cousin died by suicide during my second last year of high school, when I was seventeen. 


I say all these things not to brag about my trauma but to actually say I’m lucky (which is so cheesy, I know). At the time when these things were happening I couldn’t comprehend them. I wouldn’t have called them what they were. In primary school I was labelled a “sensitive child” by the adults around me, but “tantrums” were the precursors to panic attacks. Kids around me outgrow them: I sure didn’t. I genuinely thought it made me a spoiled kid who had to make up for the fact I was wasting everyone’s time with my emotions. I thought I burdened people (such an understandable thought).


I am lucky that my pain was visible. It made all the difference that I was distressed in public, instead of crying quietly at the back of the bus, choking myself in my room, or scratching my arms in the school bathrooms. No one would have even thought to ask me if it wasn’t so obvious to their eyes. I was embarrassed every step of the way: ticing at every pen click in class, leaving suddenly to have a panic attack in the hallway and asking for any help ever. But (and I hate to admit it) the fact that I clearly couldn’t cope was THE ONLY reason anyone even knew to help me. On paper, I was a straight A student raising my hand in every class, in the highest maths class, I played multiple instruments, I was in so many extra curriculars, I was confident with a bright future. All those things were true: a list of obvious strengths that made my weaknesses feel against the “brand” I had constructed. I couldn’t cry again, I couldn’t self harm again, I couldn’t get a D and I couldn’t stop. I rarely believed the compliments I got. I heard them, logged them away but never thought they were true in any meaningful way. 


I am lucky my parents were persistent, across years and thousands of dollars to get me professional health when they couldn’t admit it or talk about it themselves. I am lucky I broke the barrier of speaking about how I really felt. It was and still is the hardest part. I am lucky I got diagnosed. I am lucky I got medication. I am lucky I got medication that works for me. Some, in fact most people get stuck at any one of these steps. 


I will never be fully ‘okay’. I will always be susceptible to relapses into anxiety and depression, whenever life events happen (positive or negative). 


Despite all of that, I am lucky that I am here and that I even get the chance to have retrospect.

Chloe Wong

The author Chloe Wong

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