• My First 6 Months At A Mental Health Rehabilitation Place

    I have learnt to have a Safety Plan which includes to see what are my warning signs and symptoms when things 'get out of whack'. Also steps to take when I am feeling distressed. Living in a self-contained one bedroom unit has taught me a lot of things. Things like recognising when you're feeling your symptoms are getting too much of you and you need to contact the nursing staff for help. I go to the exercise programs here, and they really work you hard. I have learnt to enjoy it actually. So far I enjoy the 24/7 hour support and learning to be an independent person like how to do budgeting, learning about healthy food cycles and diet, cooking classes, every week. My favourite part (or one of them) is doing art at the rehab place. There are HEAPS of things to do in my mental health recovery, and this place has given me so many options to help with that. I am so so grateful to have this sort of support.

    What one special thing I enjoy the most out of this place is meeting others who have mental illness/s like me and learning about their story and getting to know them. Some have been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Depression, Anxiety, OCD etc. Every one is at a different stage of their recovery from me and there's no such thing of "Who's better?" and comparing their skillsets to mine. I respect everyone is at a different place in their recovery than mine. I have made some wonderful friends here, and some of them are the most beautiful people before I've ever met. And I don't mean 'beautiful' by exterior kind.

  • A Letter To My 19 Year Old Self

    Dear Suzanne,
    It wasn't your fault that you chose the wrong man to date. It wasn't your fault you got raped and abused. He was never good to you, but yet you wanted to forgive him but you couldn't. You wish you knew you were strong enough to withstand anything that would come your way. You knew it was not easy to have relapses, and you didn't want to believe something was wrong with you. But there was something wrong with you, and although you didn't see the beauty in your failure with school and university, you came through and now you are a beautiful, resilient woman. I wish you would know that every tear dropped because of a man or an event was worth it till this point - I want to let you know you wouldn't be strong like this without the help of traumatic events - no matter how painful they were. You have grown/and growing to be a resilient, empowered young woman. Every traumatic event happened was meant to be. 

    You believe in God, and that He is the answer to everything in life. You look for guidance and comfort in God, even though you don't do very well at attending church. You know there is more than just attending church on Sunday. You believe He will protect you and shows you guidance. You only wish to see Him as the answer in your life. 

    You have come so far with helping others, if only you knew at 19 years old that you would be advocating for mental health and doing speaking roles later which you would never have imagined when you were younger. People tell you all the time that you are an inspiration, strong-minded and caring. It was just you who didn't always believed it. You didn't believe it you when you were 19. At times you even thought you were a monster, for having some bad thoughts of yourself and other people. 

    I want to let you know that you a warrior, a very strong female warrior who will continue to inspire people. No matter how many bad relationships you've had, you still stand strong. You are empowered through your struggles, every time you fall down, you will get back up. 

    Please remember this.

    From, Suzanne

  • I'm A Fighter. I Won't Give Up To This Mental Illness.

    I ended being in the hospital for mental health issues up until a bit of New Years - and for treatment especially. My doctors have noticed how unwell I have been in the last few weeks, and was concerned about me. No matter how many times I have fallbacks, I tell myself to stay positive and treat myself as much as I need it or even more during these times of hardships. For example, like buying flowers for myself, and smelling and appreciating them every day. I believe to not give up during the hardest of times, and remember the good times I spent with family and friends. My loved ones are the ones that I continue living for. It is really easy to say, harder to do; but I believe I can do it if I put my heart and heart to it. If I believe, I believe it will all be okay. 

  • I Am Stronger Cause Of My Parents' Divorce

    My parents divorced when I was six. And I am stronger because of it. I have learnt to survive for myself, although I am a little rough around the edges, I am still able to live through the year, and will continue to do so. I have found my purpose in life, what I love, what I enjoy. Also, my coping strategies when I am having a rough day such as hearing voices. I still see my parents and I still love them. I don't blame them for what happened, it was meant to happen, and only God knows what should happen or not. 

    I believe some of the most resilient kids grow up with a tough childhood. I wasn't abused as a child, I was given all the love that my parents could give me. They did their best they could, even emotionally and mentally. Who am I to blame my parents, when they did their best? 

    If we talk about beautiful disasters, you could say my grandparents stepped in and took care of me when the divorce happened. They exhibited and showed true care of love and affection. Always believing, always supporting me, and always loving. My grandparents are the true pillars of my life, they taught me valuable lessons of hope, resilience and love. 

  • I Tell You, If I Could Walk Away From These Voices, I Would.

    Recently they have caused a lot of stress and distress in my life and been escalating, to the point I was admitted into emergency mental health for them. My sleeping pattern has been good, I eat a 3-meal balanced diet, I exercise, I take medications and the question is why do I still hear voices? Wish I would knew with a click of a finger, but in all honesty I don't. What I do know is that I had some traumatic events happened in my life. For one example, my younger sister recently was admitted to the mental health ward for the first time, and this put a spun on my mental health. I have hope that while I am still in rehab, I can support her as well. I am living proof that this complex mental health system can be used to our advantage. 

    Recently the voices gave me commands. They told me to "Look left." whilst walking down the street, and I looked left. Startled by the genderless voice, I was shocked I acted on their command. I did not know why I did that. I have been startled by them again later that day, and they told me to burn my hand on the stovetop. 

    I am glad I didn't hurt my hand though.

    Following that incident, my PRN medications were popped open and soon drowsiness overwhelmed from the medications. I believe there are effective ways of managing and understanding these voices. But normally I just shout back at them, and talk to them like a friend at times. The former works, most of the time. But when it doesn't, I am in for a rollercoaster of a ride. 

    Photo by Winston Boon Photography

  • Choosing Rehab Over Home

    I always wanted to be independent in every way since I was a teenager. I knew what I wanted to be in life, how much income I wanted, who I wanted to support and how much to give back. I fixed my eyes on the goal and never looked back. Until the time I had my first episode of Depression, life became to crumble before me. No more solid career paths, no more being able to support my grandparents when I was the one who needed the support. I could not understand the neverending struggle I was facing, falling into the deepest darkest pits of Depression when I was a teenager. But looking back, it was probably the most significant event in my teenager years, shaping and sharpening on who I was truly to become in my adulthood. 

    I chose rehabilitation over staying comfortable in my family home for several reasons. The comfort of home was getting to me, sometimes triggering me to the depths of despair. I grew too comfortable in this home, living in the same environment for 26 years. Yes, I did say that, 26 years! I believe everything happens for a reason, and I did not keep on fighting with the mental health hospital system for 7 years, being hospitalised more than I needed. I needed quits for being in the hospital. Needed something else. Something that helps me step down from the mental health hospital system. 

    Then I found rehab.

    Rehab is an amazing place, just amazing. Everything about it is amazing, but don't get me wrong. There are challenges as well, learning to maintain balance between cooking, cleaning, exercising, socialising, relaxing is not as easy as the click of a finger. I am taught to build more resilience during these times. And here I found my independence again, with the help of some support is just, so so wonderful.  

    Photo by Kiss Me Photography

  • "Can I Pray For You?" - I Asked The Suicidal Patient

    My recent check-in into the mental health ward challenged my religion and faith. For those who don't know, I am a Christian and I believe it's important to share the love of God wherever you go - practice it like a lifestyle. At times I think I am a 'bad Christian' and I don't pray for people even when I get that prompting from God. But during this admission to this ward, I have had the opportunity to pray for a few. I remember one patient who had deep wounds on her arms from self-harm - you could see she was hurting deeply. I have never self-harmed before - so I don't know what's it like to go through that - at least in that way anyway. I always asked God, "How can I help these people?" - they were so young, have so much potential, and are such beautiful human beings. I was in the all-female ward again and when I prayed for this one particular female patient who believed in God, apparently it was "powerful" and she felt a difference - in a good way. That brings me to the topic about whether I have healing powers through the power of God. I have only been through street evangelism a couple of times - I won't admit I am good at it at all - but I want to admit I am not accountable enough for these people I prayed for. I wish this Christian walk would be easier, I have been baptised by water and the Holy Spirit. But why do I feel so empty at times being a Christian and seeing these beautiful people in the ward who I still think about even after my discharge? But I hear God say to me, "Child, you can only help so much. As I have a plan for them."

  • 5 Ways To Improve Your Mental Health

    I have been unemployed for over a year, and been looking for a job. Since the last episode I have lost my confidence, my self-esteem is never the same again and I have a lot of time on my hands too. So I decided that for this month that a mental health month is ideal and crucial for my recovery. For those who are new to the concept of mental health month/s, it's a concept where you basically spend time to recover, revive, rejuvenate yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. You learn to touch on your creative side, your inner self, and learn to have self-compassion. It might be funny for some people to do something like this, especially when they have commitments like work, study, family etc. but everyone needs one of these one way or another I believe. Here are some of the things I did this month to help with my recovery:

    Photo by Hiroko

    1. Registering into an art workshop

    I registered into a hand lettering workshop and it was so much fun! I love getting creative. I love learning new things. 

    Photo by Yari

    2. Travelling up a mountain

    If you're lucky with me who lives near mountains, seeing the city from high up is relaxing. 

    Photo by Brandon

    3. Playing with children

    There is something special about children, and playing with them brings out my inner childishness. It's healing, and you get to have fun with them. 

    4. Praying

    Seek God. Ask from Him from what you want. Ask for wisdom, courage, and healing from Him.

    5. Painting

    I love painting as a creative outlet. I love getting more creative each day. 

    Photos taken by Suzanne Dang unless stated otherwise