A music maestro, Maxy Chan was on her way to building her musical dreams of being an artist in the performing arts industry. Unfortunately, by the age of 21, she was was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Here, she tells her story.

Can you tell us a little bit about your struggle with depression and anxiety?

It was March 2016 when I felt a sudden sharp pain in my chest, and breathing became pretty difficult. At the beginning, I thought it was because I was dehydrated (my parents would say that I’m ‘heaty’), but I also realised that I was beginning to cry a lot… at least 3 times a day when at university. I knew in my head that I should probably consult a counsellor or a Psychotherapist, however, my parents being slightly conservative, refused to bring me to the hospital, in fear that it would affect my future career.

Not long after, when we at the airport sending my brother off to Canada for work, I felt a sudden pain in my chest. I needed to scream aggressively and cry to release the heavy pressure I was feeling. My parents were shocked and they decided to bring me to the temple. However, my condition did not get any better. About a month later, my condition escalated and that was when my parents agreed to letting me make an appointment with Mr. Ko, a Hypnotherapist at Pantai Therapy Centre.

How did you first know you were suffering from depression? And what made you decide to seek help?

Growing up, I was very used to suppressing my feelings. I’m not one to express my emotions, not even to my family. I reckon it was a build up of issues and emotions swept under the carpet since I graduated from primary school – a snowball effect.

I wasn’t sure that I had depression, but I have always been a curious person – always needing to find out why, what and how. So, I decided to seek help to find out what was wrong with me and I am so thankful I did. Unfortunately, many people going through the same struggles as me don’t realise they need help.

What were the symptoms and what did you do about it?

When I started experiencing pain in my chest and started crying constantly, I questioned myself for many months, “what is triggering this?”. That was when I started reading a book of a girl who suffered from depression, and her situation was much more serious.

I would also manifest aggressively, having to scream, shout and jump around in my house. My mom allowed me to express my feelings, but she also made sure to keep all dangerous objects away from my reach.

Factors that trigger mental health disorders are complex. If it were simple, then fixing the problem would be pretty easy, but that isn’t the case. Personally, it was my (lack of) emotional-management habits that triggered my condition. It affected me psychologically, biologically and socially.

How did it affect your daily life?

I would constantly feel very exhausted – almost zombie-like. Nothing could stimulate my emotions, and all I wanted to do is lie in bed. I also couldn’t stop my thoughts from running. It just kept going and going and going.

Upon getting diagnosed in April, I differed two semesters in university, from May up until December because I could not go on with my normal life.

What are some of the dark thoughts you’d get throughout the day?

Every 5 seconds to a minute, I would feel the need to kill or hurt myself. These negative thoughts would not go away.

How long did it take until you felt better?

When I started getting help from a Hypnotherapist, Psychiatrist as well as a Psychotherapist once a week, respectively.

Growing up, I was a go-getter. I dedicated a lot of my time to music and academics, and I neglected the emotional aspect of my life. Through getting treatment from these specialists, I learned to be honest with myself about my emotions. Each time I felt angry or sad, I needed to learn to feel or express.

After about 2 to 3 months of receiving counselling, my Psychotherapist requested for me to see her once every 2 weeks.

So you got help from a Psychotherapist, Psychiatrist and a Hypnotherapist. In your opinion, did all of them help you in your journey towards getting better?

Yes, all three of them helped me in different ways.

Initially, counselling helped me a lot because I was given the opportunity to share a lot of the emotions, struggles and secrets I never revealed before. We went through family therapy, and through that, I learned to share my emotions with my parents. As of now, I am able to do so without having a Psychologist around, so we’ve come a long way!

As for Hypnotherapy, I consulted Mr. Ko who’s based in Pantai and I discovered how my body senses work. My struggle with Insomnia was improved because he taught me to do exercises such as body scan meditation, learning to breathe before sleeping.

Also, a few months after being diagnosed with depression, I started developing OCD symptoms – constantly washing my hands and repeating words. He gave me exercises to work on that too.

Consulting a Psychiatrist was a result of advice from Mr.Ko, because he felt that I needed medication to help control my extreme fluctuating of emotions. For example, I would feel nothing but in a few moments, I become extremely aggressive and out of control. The medications helped balance the chemical imbalance in my brains.

Are you better now?

I am still on medication. I wouldn’t say I am fully recovered but I’ve definitely gotten a lot better. I am now able to resume school, as I started a new semester in January!

On top of that, I’m also very inspired by the book I’ve been reading titled “Chin Ai De Wo” (Dear Me) by Chai Jia Jia. It is about a Taiwanese girl who embraces and accepts her mental health struggles towards the road of recovery.

In your opinion, does a person struggling with depression ever get better?

It is possible, but I’m not sure if a full recovery is possible. An individual can definitely get better, but it would require a combination of contributing factors, such as support from family and friends, receiving therapy and most importantly, altering how you view yourself, and persevering to get better.

What is your advice to someone who’s facing the same problem?

To be honest, when I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety, many elderly relatives who have experienced it before started advising me on how to overcome the disorder. But I’ve come to realise that each individual’s journey with mental health struggles varies. Different people have different problems and situations, therefore, my equation to solving my struggle may not necessarily be effective on someone else.

But the one advice I can give is to be patient with yourself, give yourself space and time during the journey to recovery. Sometimes, it can get very frustrating because it’s natural for us to want instantaneous recovery. However, it isn’t the case with mental health disorders. The key takeaway from my journey would be – space, time and patience.

Do you think you need help?

If you feel like you’re going through a similar struggle as Maxy and you’re not sure what to do – you can try talking to someone that can help you.

Mr. Ko Teik Yen is a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist specialising in trauma healing & PTSD, chronic/persistent pain & somatic complaints, phobia, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, burnout, stress and other anxiety related disorders. Based at Pantai Therapy Centre, he has helped many individuals struggling with depression, and he can do the same for you too.

Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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