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True Survivor Stories Part 1

It takes strength to fight to survive
23 Jul 2019, 05:46 PM
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true survivor stories part 1

Main Image Via Rolling Stone

Dealing with suicidal thoughts isn't easy. RAAGA spoke to some survivors to better understand their journey. Here are their stories:

True Story 1:
I was married for 10 years to a man who abused and neglected me in every aspect possible. It was difficult for me to conceive, so I believed I deserved the abuse that he dished out to me. Divorce was out of the question as I come from a family that views divorce as a woman’s failure to keep her man happy. Many of my family members, mostly the women, told me to learn to adjust to my husband’s whims. Because, he is the man my father chose for me and as a woman it is my duty to keep trying harder. One of those women was my aunt.

She wasn’t ill intentioned in giving me that advice. If anything at all, she was speaking from a place of pain and resignation as she suffered the same fate as I. Most of our family gatherings were spent huddled in the kitchen with her and the other women, discussing our lives while preparing food for the family. The conversations often took on different undertones as some of the women bragged about the new things their husband bought them and never spoke about their personal journey with marriage. And then there were women like my aunt who was brave enough to speak the truth — although not very loudly — while finishing their sentences with resignation to their fate. Watching these women made me feel like I should accept this as my fate too.  

Finally 7 years into my marriage, I got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful boy. Throughout my pregnancy, my husband treated me like a goddess. But two weeks post delivery; he told me he couldn’t accept the changes my body had endured in bringing our child into the world. He told me he didn’t love me anymore and that he has found a younger, more beautiful woman. I was devastated. He would bring the other woman home often and they would taunt me by sharing a meal of the food I lovingly prepared for him. Every time she says something mean about me, he would laugh along. And then one day, I walked in on them on my marriage bed. I could only muster a muffled scream.

Despite trying hard to come to terms with the condition of my marriage, I felt suicidal everyday. I even resorted to self-harm to distract myself from the hurt I was holding inside. I convinced myself my self-harm scars don’t hurt as much as those my husband inflicted on me. If anything at all, it was respite from my emotional pain that I struggled to put into words.  One day, I decided I am going to poison myself and bring this journey to an end. I sat on my bed sobbing, ready to end my life. In that moment, what stopped me were the cries of my son from the living room. He was calling out “Amma!” and I couldn’t bring myself to leave my 3-year-old behind to fend for himself. So I threw the poison away and resolved to fight harder. Even so, the suicidal thoughts never left and I was losing myself. 

A couple of months later, I received news from one of my cousins that my dear aunt had died by suicide. Unable to take her husbands torture, my 50-year-old aunt hung herself. Despite being deeply grieved by her passing, something struck my heart that day. That I don’t want to end up like her after living my life in the shadow of my husband for years, only to choose a heart-breaking ending for myself. I took my child and left the next day. My family refused to welcome me as they considered me a destitute wife. However, thank God for amazing friends. I got in touch with a friend who is a lawyer in KL. She immediately sent her son to come pick me up from the bus stop I was stranded at with my little boy. He brought me back to KL and my friend gave me a place to stay and helped me look for a job. She also helped me file for a divorce and didn’t ask me for a single cent in return. All she asked was that I promise that I would never go back to my husband no matter what. It was an easy promise to make and keep as I felt I was given a second chance at life. I now run my own little flower shop in KL city and have turned my life around completely. My son is now in primary 5 and I will continue to fight for him in the moments I can no longer fight for myself.

- S, 47

True Story 2:
I attempted suicide at the age of 15 and then once again at the age of 21. I am 27 now. I was just a regular Joe born into a regular family. The idea of my family was the object of envy of many of my friends as my parents were what most people consider ‘cool’. 

We drank together at family gatherings ever since I can remember and my parents didn’t hold back on lurid jokes, especially around my friends. I was the second child of three to my parents and the only son of the family. The burden that I was raised with from my inception was heavy as there were a lot of expectations on me of making my family’s future. 

However, despite being cool and lax about many things, my parents often shamed me whenever I displayed emotions, even as a child. I’d get hit for crying or for expressing love towards my sisters as they considered it wrong.

Whenever I tried speaking to them about any of my issues that bothered me, they told me to man up or deal with it like a man. Boys don’t cry they said. When I attempted suicide at the age of 15 by trying to slash my wrists, my family members made fun of me and trivialized my pain. They said I was being dramatic and needed some hard knocks to teach me how to man up.

Living in my home was a struggle for me as my sisters adopted the same mentality as my parents and often made me feel like I was the black sheep of the family for exhibiting any sort of emotions. In time, I grew up to become a very angry person and often lashed out randomly. I couldn’t find the drive to live and often wanted to sleep my days away. Due to this, my family labeled me a worthless and lazy man, as I couldn’t hold down a job. My mom would even withhold meals from me and often told me she wouldn’t feed lazy dogs. 

The second time I attempted suicide, I wanted to jump off the Penang Bridge. Luckily for me, in that moment, a Chinese brother and a few of his friends stopped me. They rushed towards me and yanked me towards the safe side of the bridge. I was sobbing and there was mucus dripping down my chin. Yet they hugged me and asked me what was wrong and for the first time in my life I felt like my emotions were valid. They took me to the hospital and I was later referred to a psychiatrist that diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Living with depression isn’t easy. However, I have moved away from my family, as they are what triggered my depression. I love them dearly though. I now work at an Oil and Gas plant. I am mostly alone, but I don’t feel as lonely as I used to. The only thing that I would like to remind everyone is that the only constant in life is change. So always be ready to embrace it.

-M, 27.

RAAGA would like to thank these individuals for sharing their personal stories with us in the hope it might help another struggling person. Names have been altered to protect their identities. If you are dealing with suicidal thought yourself, please don't hesitate to reach out to the following organisations for help. You are a fighter, we believe in you!

Befrienders:

Call the hotline  603-79568145 or email sam@befrienders.org.my


Zero Depression:

FB: Zero Depression

IG: zero_depression


Malaysian Invisible Illness Association (MIIA):

FB: MIIA or email miia.org.my@gmail.com

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