An Interview with
Peter & Nimm
We interviewed Peter who battled with depression and how he overcome it with the help from his wife (Nimm), his faith in God, and seeking early treatment.
Hi I am Peter. I work as a Sales Director in an American company. I am married with no children.
How did you discover that you have depression? When was that?
In August 2015, I lost my job due to some bad decisions. I was married earlier that year and my wife, Nimm, is a foreigner. I needed to be gainfully employed to be able to sponsor her stay in Singapore.
I was living alone back then and I was very stressed about my unemployment situation. I started to lose sleep and interests in things I used to enjoy doing. I became suicidal. Nimm persuaded me many times to go to Bangkok to seek treatment as I didn’t want to see a doctor in Singapore. Eventually I agreed and I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
What are your personal struggles with depression and how do you overcome them? Are there any coping methods you can share with our readers?
MY PERSONAL STRUGGLES
Managing my emotions
I found it extremely difficult to overcome my sadness and sometimes I didn’t even understand why I was so sad. It is like you lost control of your ability to manage your emotions. I wanted to be happy and normal again but I just couldn’t do it. Managing emotions was something easy before having depression.
A very common symptom is insomnia. The lack of sleep leads to other problems – tiredness, low energy, lack of interests in things I normally would like to do.
Suicide seems an easy way out. With hopelessness and sadness filling me everyday, I wondered if I would ever get out of the situation. Every day I started and ended the day feeling sad. I didn’t look forward to another day. Ending everything seem like a “good” option.
HOW I COPE
Reach out for help
Depression is just another illness. It can be cured and overcome. Reach out to your loved ones and/or counsellors for help and support. Talk to people you trust.
Seek medical treatment. Depression is a medical condition. Medication can help in recovery.
While it may seem difficult, it is important to discipline yourself to start the path to recovery. It will take more effort than normal to do things you used to enjoy doing but take steps and celebrate every little improvement. Don’t stay in bed longer than necessary, exercise, start a routine and eat normally.
Write down your moods and any positive outcomes for the day. Journal allows us to look back and see improvement. It encourages us and remind us we are recovering. It is also good information to share with the doctor during your follow-up sessions.
Religious faith can strengthen our recovery process. It can create peace and calmness during turmoil. It creates hope that the illness is just temporary.
In your personal opinions, what is the most common misperception you used to face as someone with depression? How do you hope to address this misperception?
Before I have depression, I have misperception of depression. I think people with depression are weak. They are emotionally unstable and even mentally ill.
It doesn’t help that people don’t talk about the illness. If we have a fever or flu, we have no issue to inform our friends or colleagues. But if we suffer from depression, we probably will be very silent about it.
In most job application forms, there will usually be a specific question to ask the applicant if they have ever suffered from depression. It gives the impression that it is a bad thing to have depression and people will not want others to know about it.
While seeking treatment, I realised many people suffered from depression in different forms. My doctor told me he has seen patients from all walks of lives - from a regular office worker to CEO to top civil servant.
We cannot tell from the appearance if someone has depression.
In actual fact, it is quite a common illness and many patients recover from it and live a normal life. I have asthma. I need to know what will trigger my asthma attacks and I need to know to avoid the triggers. Should I have an attack, I need to know how to manage and recover from it. Depression is the same. I need to know what will trigger it and how to avoid it. If I have depression, then I need to know how to manage and recover from it.
When I don’t have my asthma or depression, I live a very normal life. I work normally like most people and have a healthy social life. I am married and have a good relationship with my wife. I exercise regularly and take part in marathons.
In short, people who have suffered from depression can live a life as normal as anyone else.
There is still a negative stigma attached to depression and other mental health issues. How will you encourage others who are going through depression to seek help and be open about it?
It is very important to seek help and be open about it. This is the first and important step to recovery. Ideally, seek support and help from those whom you can trust. There are counsellors and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) which provide free counselling. There are hotlines provided by NGO if face to face counselling is not possible.
Depression is just like flu. When we have flu, we inform our loved ones and see a doctor. It is the same with depression. Just like flu, we will recover and be healthy again. It will take time but we will recover. The earlier we seek treatment, the faster we will recover.
Hi my name is Nimm. I’m working as a Credit Control Officer.
How did you prepare yourself mentally and physically to be Peter’s caregiver after knowing that he had depression?
Initially, I suspected that Peter might be suffering from depression because he was exhibiting some symptoms during that time. I was working in the healthcare industry then and had contact with psychiatrists, thus I had some ideas of the symptoms of depression.
I needed to let him know he could rely on me and I had to be a good listener to show empathy and understand his feelings, worries and concerns. Our faith in God has prevented him from carrying out his suicidal thoughts.
We were living apart then. I was in Thailand. I had to be on standby to talk to him whenever he needed someone to talk to.
What are the challenges you encounter as a caregiver and how do you overcome them?
I need to be very sensitive and know what I should do and what I shouldn’t do. I have to be aware how I should respond and what I said might have an effect on his mood.
I keep myself mentally healthy so that I won’t get emotional and affect him in return. There were times when I felt tired and sad but I knew I had to be strong as Peter needed me.One of the biggest challenges was that I was not living with him back then and I couldn’t be physically with him. I reached out to his close friends and his elder brother to check on Peter regularly.
In your personal opinions, what is the most common misperception you used to face as a caregiver to a family member with depression? How do you hope to address this misperception?
Everyone needs to understand that the depression is but one of the many illness. It can be treated just like most illness. The patients need encouragement to bring them up from their low mood which they will have very often. If you suspect that someone around you have this illness, do encourage him/her to see a doctor. They are the experts who know how to treat the illness. With early treatment, the chances of recovery will be high.
Any advices/encouragement to other caregivers who are facing similar situation as you previously?
Be strong, pray together and let the patients know how much they are loved and how worthy they are. They need the physical love as well. Give them hugs and hold their hands, remind them of the love from the people around them and love from God as well.