The Dark Truth
Let me introduce myself, I’m Davo, 24 years old living in Sydney, Australia. You might think I’m a typical random guy who has a normal life, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. You see, most people see me as “Random Dave”, the one who does random things like hugging random people or trees (yes really) but what they don’t know and only some do, my life has been a dark one….a very dark one.
I was originally supposed to post this a year ago (22nd July 2013) but some things came up so I haven’t been able to post it until now. You’re probably wondering why that date. That date is significant to me because six years ago on that date (22nd July 2008), I tried to kill myself. Yes, that’s right…I tried to commit suicide and almost died. Also, eleven years ago exactly on that same day (22nd July 2003) I tried to kill myself for the first time. So why would a person want to try to end their life that badly especially on the same date? One of the reasons is I have a mental illness and the truth is, I have depression – most people don’t know much about it and few do…so guys, this is my story.
Where do I begin? Trying to find words to start is difficult as this is the first time speaking out to the universe. Well, not the first time as some people may remember back in 2003, I used to do some writings but for those who are asking, yes, I have a mental illness and I’m not ashamed to say it out loud. I know this will be a surprise and shock to most people as I wouldn’t be the type of person to have a mental illness because of me being “random” but we all have secrets and this is mine.
It’s been six long years since I last tried to kill myself and I’m not gonna lie, every year can be such a struggle especially this time of the year. I was first diagnosed with depression when I was thirteen but the beginning of my story started when I was born. You see, I was born with a congenital ptosis, a condition where one of my upper eyelids is lower than the other one (aka droopy eyelid). You can’t really notice it now as it has now been treated with the number of surgeries I had to go through with the first one being at 18 months old and getting exercise therapy from various eye specialists. The doctors said that if my condition wasn’t treated, my vision would’ve gone worse and would lead me to being blind. Hearing that news frightened me, I don’t know how I could survive if I lose my vision.
My childhood has never been easy. I’ve been told that I was a quiet kid mainly because I was shy. Apparently, it was very hard for me to interact with other people because I was so afraid of them. I was so afraid of them because I didn’t know what they would be like whether if they were a friendly person or not so friendly. Looking at other kids talking to each other and playing games together, and there’s me being all by myself, I knew I was different. I don’t know why but I just knew I was different. Yeah, there were some happy times in my childhood like celebrating my birthdays or going on holiday with family and friends but it wasn’t all that good.
When I was five, I started to see these black transparent figures that come out of nowhere and just appears in front of me. Trying to figure what it was or where they came from, they weren’t doing anything but just floating in the air. Not even speaking to me or making any noises but when I lay my eyes on one of them, that figure will move around until I stopped looking at it and goes away. I was actually scared (who wouldn’t be?) because I didn’t know what it was. I wanted to tell someone but being a young kid at that time, I don’t think anyone would believe me what I just saw because they’d think I was making up stories or telling lies. I never told anyone except until I was in Year 8 which I’ll explain later on.
When I first started school, I was put in a school that was for students with special needs or who has disabilities. Not really having a disability but it’s mainly me more having a slow learning difficulty and speech problem. During my stay, I had to get various support from teachers. I was actually enjoying life there but with the slow and steady improvement in my progress, I had to change to another school halfway through Year One. The professionals who were looking after me told my parents that they wanted me to have a normal school life because they didn’t want me to be protected all the time so it wouldn’t be that bad being in mainstream school, right? Wrong.
I started to get bullied by a group of students who were one year above me and another group in my grade because I was new to the school. During break time, they were making fun of my appearance just because I was wearing glasses and my lazy eyelid problem. Verbally abusing me by calling me names like “four eyes”, telling I was “weak”, “stupid” and “fat”, you know the usual names? What was even worse is that they were even being racist to me since I’m Chinese. Mocking me by pretending to be Asian by pulling their eyes and insulting me with made up Chinese words. I did tell a few people about the bullying but they didn’t really do much to help me. That went great, didn’t it?
I have to admit, I never liked primary school but that’s probably because my school life wasn’t that great. Not only I had to deal with the bullying but one of the challenges I had to face in school was the studying. There were times where I handed in my assignments late or not even hand it in at all. Even with the homework. Studying for exams was such a struggle for me, most of the time when I get my results back, it’s either a fail or just barely pass at all. Though, there were a few times where I got a high mark so I guess it wasn’t that bad but still, I hated school. Not getting along with some of the teachers and having lectured by them for not doing my homework didn’t help either. This was when my anxiety got really bad. I would get these bad stomach aches that had a sharp pain, I felt sick physically because I was feeling nausea. I would also get panic attacks and can’t help but shake uncontrollably. There were days where I pretended to be sick and wanted to go home because I didn’t want to be in school.
Home life was difficult as well. Pressure to do well at school and fighting with my family and friends constantly. People thought I was being moody or lazy or that I wasn’t trying hard enough. With everything going on at that time, I felt alone, depressed and all these strong emotions inside me. This is when my depression got worse and then came the suicidal thoughts. I remember one time where I drew myself of killing myself and everyone was happy that I died. I also even wrote a list why I should kill myself and surprisingly, I still have that list today.
There was actually a point where I almost attempt to kill myself and that day, I can still clearly remember what happened. I just wanted to escape from everything…the bullying, hallucinations, school life and there were moments where I felt like everyone hated me and life would be better off without me. I asked myself, what’s the point in living? Nothing will ever get better. The moment when I was about to attempt suicide, someone almost walked in on me and instantly, I stopped what I was doing. Thinking about that day, a seven-year-old kid about to end his life? I mean seven? Seven is just too young to die. Who knows what would have happened on that day?
Writing about this is making me all teary and I’m not ashamed to say that. Struggling to deal with life in my childhood, it was one of the hardest things I had to face. I remember literally crying myself to sleep every night and having these nightmares of me trying to kill myself and other disturbing dreams. I wasn’t able to talk to anyone as I felt like people would tell me to get over it or cheer up.
Okay so I’ve been doing a lot more thinking now and maybe my childhood wasn’t all that bad. Being in my favourite teachers’ classes and being a teacher’s pet was awesome. Also. hanging out with my first best mate probably made my childhood a lot easier. We pretty much did everything together and there were times we did get into trouble but we’re kids, right? We’ve been best mates since pre-school and he was the one who got me through primary school as well as other close friends and I’m still friends with them to this day. Although they didn’t know what was happening at that time, I now realised I wasn’t really alone and I’m actually thankful for them.
Getting back to the story. After getting through primary school, it was a different story for high school. You know how I was telling you guys about the two groups who bullied me in primary school? Well, I found out that they went to the same high school as me and since this was an all boys school, the bullying got much worse. I don’t really remember much of it unfortunately but I guess that’s kinda good in a way. Anyway, the bullies, they physically provoked me by ganging up on me and punching me and other times where they pushed me on the ground, threatening me and even stealing personal belongings from me. The other group of bullies, they used the same tactics on me like they did back in primary school and it didn’t get any better either as they caught the same bus as me in the afternoons. Being alone on the bus, they embarrassed me in front of the other students, mocking me and verbally abusing me.
This kept going throughout the year until one day, I finally told someone about what was going on and that was the Year 7 Dean. It was scary and I mean very scary because I didn’t know what was gonna happen to me and the bullies. After telling her about the bullying, she said that she would sort it out. What ended up happening with the bullies in my year, they got a warning and afternoon attention and one got suspended for punching me. The bullying did stop but I never told the dean about the other guys who were bullying me. I didn’t tell her because those guys were tougher and older than me but it wasn’t until the following year when my Year 8 maths teacher found out about it. One afternoon, he caught the same school bus as us and after witnessing what the bullies were doing to me, once we arrived at the station, he came up to me and told me what he saw. He said because this was serious he had to tell someone.
The next morning at school, I was called in to have an urgent meeting with my Year 8 Dean in his office. Wondering what it was all about, I went to the office and saw the bullies seating in front of the dean. The dean told me that my maths teacher had spoken to him about the bullying he saw on the bus. I was very anxious at this point because I didn’t know what was happening. He said that he had a meeting with the bullies and after a long talk with them, the bullies said they would stop harassing me and had to apologise to me. I was in shock and confused because that was the last thing I was expecting to hear from them after what they did to me. To summarise, they were all given detentions from what I remember vaguely as it’s been more than a decade.
After years of all the tormenting, the bullying finally came to an end and I felt a big sense of relief. I’m so grateful for my maths teacher because he saved my life and if he didn’t catch the bus that afternoon, I don’t what would have happened. How was I able to cope with all of this? I didn’t…I never did. I self-harmed by cutting myself every day. Though, I didn’t first start hurting myself since I started primary school. Cutting, burning, overdosing, stabbing and hitting myself. That’s how I was able to cope with what was going on and I have done it all my life.
After the bullying stopped, I thought things would get better but oh boy it didn’t. There was a rumour spreading around in my year about me being suicidal and that I tried to kill myself. Half of it was true and that was the being suicidal bit and to tell you the truth, I don’t even remember how it started. It might have started it because of a schoolmate I was talking to on MSN Messenger about what was going on, I’m not too sure and I don’t even care. I was also failing school and with all the pressure of doing well in my grades by my teachers and parents, it got to the point where I wasn’t coping at all. I had to tell someone about what really was going on.
So one morning, I told my homeroom teacher about what was going on and she was very concerned about me so she took me to the school counsellor’s office and that’s when I instantly broke down in tears. I told the school counsellor everything like my self-harm, the bullying and my suicidal thoughts. It was hard and embarrassing because this was the first time I have spoke about it. My parents had to be called in and told them what was really going on with me and had to take me to the mental health crisis team.
After telling the mental health team about everything that happened in my life, that’s when they found out I had depression but it wasn’t new to me because I already knew I had depression. They wanted me to do a series of tests with the blood test, ECG scan etc. to find a diagnosis. They also did another series of tests on me because I told them about my hallucinations and unfortunately, they couldn’t find anything and all the results came back normal. Even today, they still don’t know why I have these unusual hallucinations.
My first psychiatrist advised my parents to have me change to a different school after the bullying I went through. So we changed to another school and this school is actually related to the first primary school (the special needs) I went to except as this was the high school. Like the primary school, I was enjoying life here but it wasn’t before I started at this school.
On 22nd July 2003, I tried to kill myself for the first time. Long story short, I survived. An ambulance had to be called to my house since I overdosed and thankfully it wasn’t a serious one but it was scary. I had to be monitored in a children’s hospital for a couple of days and got discharged later on. I was supposed to start at the new school but that didn’t end up happening coz of my suicide attempt.
I’m not really sure why but I think the pressure of me starting a new school all over again just got to me and with all the past bullying, I felt like I had to escape from everything. I even tried to run away that day too. During my high school years, I kept having to change schools multiple times for various reasons but mainly because of my problems. It was hard because I had to leave my old school friends behind and having to start all over again but I have been able to meet some incredible people on the way.
The last few years of high school were more difficult than ever. Having to finish my study, it was tough. I wanted to drop out of school because I was really struggling with my depression again. There was one time when I was seeing a school counselor at one of the schools I was in and because I kept breaking down and being all teary, do you know what he said to me? I was weak and stupid for crying. That’s right, he said I was weak and stupid for crying. Isn’t his role was supposed to be supporting me? It didn’t look like he was but for some reason, I believed in him. Even now I still believe what he said that I’m weak and stupid for crying even tho people tells me I’m not. As strange as it sounds, I guess maybe it’s just me being cruel to myself because I don’t like myself. I don’t know why but I just don’t like myself. It’s hard to explain.
There were a few times where I did try to kill myself yet again. In Year 10, I was going through a break up with one of my serious ex-significant other after being in a long distance relationship for almost a year. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out between us because we weren’t talking and it sucks because she was my first true love and then during that time, my grandma was in hospital because she was really sick. I’m not gonna say what I did because it was actually pretty serious as I had to go back to the same children’s hospital again because my GP was concerned about my safety. So I stayed there for five days just for monitoring in an isolated room all by myself because the doctors were concerned that I was at risk of others. When I mean at risk of others I mean sharing with people about my problems so they didn’t want me to “influence” them. Things did get better that year as I managed to finish my school certificate in Year 10 which I was pretty happy about.
Another one of my suicide attempts was the following year. In Year 11, my beloved dog Sweety who I grew up with passed away from old age. It was heartbreaking because it was just a sudden thing and it was the last thing I expected. I remembered everything what happened on that day and my entire life changed on that day. Sweety was my first real loss, a loss to death that I never ever experienced before. As well, I was falling behind in my studies because I kept missing classes as I was still struggling with my depression. My hallucinations got worse because like I would see blood bleeding on the walls and these mutants coming out of nowhere. I could also hear people whispering my name when no one was there and even smell something really bad that no one else can smell. Even with feeling something crawling on me but it’s nothing there, I was pretty terrified. There were so many more hallucinations I had but I won’t name them all. So with the suicide attempt, I just got really sick as I overdosed and probably one of the worse things I had to go through. It took me a couple of days to recover from it and surprisingly, no one suspected anything.
Then came being in the last year of school. It was such a struggle for me because I was trying to complete Year 12 with all the exams and assessment tasks I had to do and at the same time, I was still dealing with Sweety’s death. I don’t know how I got through it. I guess I was still hurting myself but it got pretty serious because I was doing it every day. It was like an addiction kind of like a drug and I literally couldn’t feel any pain. There were periods where I managed to stop but then I had relapses. I was also on medications (anti-depressant, anti-psychotic etc.) that were still being adjusted and trying out various of it and it didn’t help me either because I was feeling the side effects from it. Mood swings, not eating or sleeping for days, getting panic attacks and feeling nausea etc….it was no fun at all. I felt like nothing was gonna get better. It was at this time, I planned my last suicide attempt in a year advance. No one knew what was I planning to do as I didn’t want anyone to ruin my plan.
Somehow, I was able to get through Year 12 at the end of the year and it was probably one of the best feelings ever but after I finished school, my grandma passed away nine days after my birthday. I was shattered. I wasn’t really expecting it and came as a shock to me. I was in denial because I didn’t want to believe that my grandma was gone. My grandma, even though she couldn’t speak English, she was one of the few people that made me cheer up and I wish I was able to spend more time with her. With losses, I don’t cope well at all especially losing people close to me which I have recently this last year and also my second dog Charlotte who passed away last year.
Fast forward to the next year, the year of my last suicide attempt. After graduating from school. I ended up studying a Web Design course at TAFE but I wasn’t able to handle doing full time. Like with school, the workload was too much for me and I was falling behind class again. Still adjusting life without my grandma and Sweety, it was difficult and it took me a while to get over it. I also started playing soccer (aka football) but it didn’t turn out well for me and had to stop for personal reasons. With the last few months building up to my suicide anniversary, I got more anxious and anxious and finally, when the day came, it was the big day.
22nd July 2008. The day I almost died. I don’t really remember what I did during the day but all I do remember what happened in the night. I remember going upstairs into my room getting my stash of medication that I have been collecting in the last year and taking them one by one. I’m not gonna say how much I took but it was a lot. After taking them, I was lying down in my bed thinking this was it, this was the end of it. Well, that’s what I thought and then after a little while, I blacked out. I woke up being in and out of consciousness because of the amount of medication I took. Two of my family members found me and thought I was sick with something because I was throwing up everywhere until they realised I took an overdose. They had to call for an ambulance which came to my house and once it arrived, I had to be carried to the ambulance or I was stretchered…I don’t remember but I blacked out again in the ambulance.
I woke up in hospital being all groggy and I had all these monitors and sticky pad attached to my body. I had an oxygen mask on which I took off and then this nurse came rushing to me telling me not to take it off and then I blacked out again. I don’t remember what happened after that but I woke up yet again being rolled into ICU and in the middle of me moving, I threw up again so the nurses had to clean me up. After I arrived in the ICU, there were so many staff members of the hospital looking after me. One of the doctors came to see me and told me that I was very lucky to be alive because I almost had permanent damage to my organs due to the lethal amount of the overdose and if I had not been found, I would have been dead.
As you can see, it wasn’t fun at all. I stayed in the ICU recovering and I had to have a nurse with me 24/7 just in case if I tried to do something to myself again. I spoke to one of the nurses about my suicide attempt and her words had an impacted on me which I won’t say on here but it made me realised that there is help out there. I was still pretty angry that I didn’t die but at the same time, I’m kinda glad that I survived so I have mixed feelings about it. My family came to visit me and it was tough and embarrassing because I knew that my suicide attempt had an impact on them but I was actually really happy to see them. They really have been so supportive of me even though they didn’t understand me completely and I realised I am so lucky to have them.
Anyway, since I was feeling better, the doctor transferred me to the psychiatric ward and this ward, let’s just say it wasn’t for me because I was with other patients who were more unfortunate than me. I didn’t eat or sleep during my stay there because I didn’t want to be in there. I didn’t even get out of my room or interact with other people, it was all too much for me. Thankfully, I didn’t need to stay there for that long because I got transferred to another psychiatric hospital which my psychiatrist works at. So much better treatment and was more suitable for me. After a month of staying at the psychiatric hospital, I finally was able to go home.
So why am I telling my story to you guys? Well, I want to reach out to people and share my experience because I know there are so many people who are probably in a similar situation to mine. Probably not exact but you know what I mean. I guess I’m just trying to tell people that there is help out that and that they are not alone. I’ve been there but not to their extreme. Suicide isn’t the answer because you only have one life, a life that you can never get back. Suicide can also have a deep impact on people and it will change their lives forever. Even though this may seem hard to believe, it will get better but it just takes time.
Self-harm, not a lot of people understands it and I don’t really blame them. It’s hard to see why people would want to hurt themselves, to inflict pain on themselves when they’re feeling depressed or have intense feelings inside them. People don’t do it for attention, rarely that is but for those who do, it could mean it’s a cry for help. Something must be going wrong in their life. I already mention It’s one of the coping mechanism I have always used as you have read in this article. People have different reasons why they self-harm and they do it in secret. For me, I need to feel physical pain because the pain inside me was too much to deal with. I’ve also used to punish myself. When I mean punish, I mean if I did a mistake or fail at something, I deserve to be punished.
As well, there are people who don’t really understand mental illness and I want to try to show them what’s it like living with one and how life can be such a struggle for some of us. Having a mental illness isn’t a weakness, it is a serious illness that can affect anyone. It’s like if you broke a bone or you get sick with the flu or something. People just can’t get over it overnight and it also doesn’t help when people say to cheer up because it doesn’t work that way. I know it can be so hard for people to understand mental illness because they haven’t experienced before and that’s perfectly okay because we’re all different.
Now these days, my life is so much better than where it was six years ago. I haven’t attempted suicide since the last one as I have been getting medical treatment from various professionals, group programs (dialectical behaviour therapy) and also being in hospital. I’m not gonna lie, l still struggle with life every day. I still get relapses like with the self-harm and still get those dark thoughts. I also still see those hallucinations since the age of five which they probably will never go away. I know my life can never be normal for me but with the support I have been getting from my support network, life has never been that easier. Especially with that life-changing jaw surgery. I know I always keep talking about it but it is a life-changing one.
Thank you so much guys for reading this. It took me about more than two years to work on this and like I said, this is very important to me. I haven’t told you guys exactly everything but that’s because it will be too long and unnecessary. Also, please share this with other people because I really think this could help them. I just really hope I was able to reach out to someone because I know life can be hard.
Please be random but also stay safe all!