Monday, December 12, 2016

Dealing with depression in Malaysia

I have been contemplating talking about this for quite some time now. I actually planned to do a video discussing the topic but I just couldn't. I am more comfortable typing. But I still want this to reach out to as many people as I want to. I actually feel it is a bit selfish on my part if I did not talk about this because I know that there are a lot of people who are going through what I went through. I feel that staying silent on depression and mental health issues just contributes to the stigma that is already strong in our society. I do not want to get too personal on how my journey went, I only want people to know that there is help available but I feel like it is easier for me to tell bits of how my journey went. And I know most people do not know when or how or where to seek for help so I really hope this post helps.

If you already think you are depressed, please go and seek help. Call a friend, call family, meet a shrink. If you are still thinking "Am I depressed? Or am I just sad?" and need more justification or want to know more about it, just hold on. And yes, there is a difference between being depressed and being sad. 

Symptoms of depression:

  1. Feeling little to no motivation.
    • You feel worthless. You feel like there is no use to get through the day. You don't feel like getting out of bed or simple daily tasks like taking a shower or eating a meal seems like a huge burden for you to do.
  2.  Having difficulty concentrating or focusing
    • You can't watch a movie without zoning out. You can't read an article without feeling jumbled. You can't study without breaking down. 
  3. Feeling fatigue or no energy
    • A simple distance you're used to walking somehow becomes like a hike to you. Catching your breath when you're not even doing a workout. Having your body ache for no reason at all. 
  4. Not finding pleasure in things you used to do enjoy doing
    • Your hobby no longer makes you happy. Your passion for something dries out. Something that you were very happy to do gives you nothing now.
  5. Change in appetite 
    • Either you binge eat in bed or you don't eat at all.
  6. Having suicidal thoughts
    • This one is the most serious. If you feel like the world will be a better place without you, it won't. It doesn't matter if you have a plan on how or when you want to do it or just having the idea of not being in this world, people care about you. You may not seem to see it, but they do. Even if you don't know where to go, there is always help. Call a family, a friend, or if you don't think they'll understand your situation, there is help where you can be anonymous like BeFrienders ( 03-79568144 or 03-79568145 //  )  

If you have gone through any of the above for more than 2 weeks, you might want to consider seeking medical help. Since depression and mental health issues are rarely talked about, it makes it hard for people to know where help is available. A lot of people think that help for mental illnesses are going to be expensive and only available in private hospitals but honestly, it is no different from seeking medical help for physical illnesses, you always have three options to go to; government, semi-private or private medical centres. But you need to note that most of the insurance policies in Malaysia only cover physical illnesses so if you choose to go to semi-private or private for treatment, you will need to use your own money.

I started to get treatment in a government hospital and it is really cheap as the government has subsidized medical help. I only had to pay RM5 (if I am not mistaken) for each appointment and that includes my session with my psychiatrist and my medication. And now I am seeking treatment at a semi-private clinic and the price is still pretty reasonable. Consultation costs around RM15 and one of my medication is subsidized so its only RM10 but my other medication is not subsidized and I have to purchase it at a private pharmacy and that's a bit steep priced. 

So to anybody thinking depression is a "rich people's disease", it's not. There is always help. Also, your life doesn't need to be crap to have depression. Sometimes, your life can be really good but you still feel depressed. And I know it sucks to feel that way, you know you should be happy with how your life is but you just don't know why that you feel empty. Clinical depression is generally when your hormones are imbalanced, your serotonin levels are low, so it doesn't matter what situation you're in. If you think you need help, go see a doctor and tell them about how you're feeling. 

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