My personal Mental Health Story

In this post, I am going to share a very personal journey, at least more than 30 years ago when I was a teenager.

Frankly and honestly, it was somewhat difficult and emotionally painful when I was age 14 to 17. And I have kept it mostly to myself and a few close friends. Here’s a short sharing of my story.

At the age 14, I realized that I became an overly introverted person. I was highly self-reflective. I felt overly self-conscious about my words and actions.  I felt excessively fearful of saying the wrong things or making a fool of myself!  There was extremely high level of anxiety when I was among people especially during social events or gatherings. Avoidance of social events was obvious.

Most of the time, I tried to avoid social situations because I found myself having extreme difficulty to mingle or socialize with people. Low self-esteem and low self-worth was prominent as a teen. I began writing and journaling my struggle in my personal diary.

I came from a family with traditional and old-fashion parenting style. My parents practiced strict  parenting style where appropriate praises and affirmations were few and far in between. As the saying goes, “ The eyes do not see what the mind does not know”. Therefore my parents were completely unaware and blinded of my excessive, tormenting anxiousness because I covered it up very well. I pretended that I was okay in school. I was a good actor for sure. Due to lack of public awareness and absence of internet, I did not realize that I was overly anxious socially and was mentally unwell . I simply assumed that I am not very smart and a pretty foolish guy in school. I envied my friends who could talk so well and cracked jokes so easily. They appeared so popular.

After my High School examination or SPM, which I obtained a good results and was awarded the prestigious ASEAN full scholarship to further  my study in Singapore.  Sadly, I lacked the self- confidence  and declined the offer and chose to study Form 6 instead in Malaysia. I was afraid that I would not be able to adapt to a new country or adjust to new friends.

I was not formerly diagnosed by any psychiatrist or any mental health professional. Nevertheless, looking back, as a psychiatrist myself, I am able to confidently self-diagnosed myself as suffering from Social Anxiety disorder with secondary Depression. I also believe that I am under the category of Highly Sensitive Person ( HSP).  Generally I am more introverted, private, reserved and sentimental type.

Looking back, I believed that the Creator has put me through much emotional pain during my teenage years for a greater purpose. Of course, I did not realize it at that time. I was feeling lonely and felt that “nobody really understands”.

My life took a major tuning point during my university days. I read many books to understand myself better and thanks to my university friends who walk alongside and we prayed together and for each other.  And  I gradually came out from my “cave” despite my fears.  I joined several university projects as organizing chairman and Vice President of a society. Several books have helped me a lot . This includes The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, Awakening the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins and Confident Conversation by Dr. Lillian Glass, and many more.

I am convinced that my personal mental health story has led me to become a psychiatrist so that I could serve those who struggle with emotional pain.

So that’s the short story of my childhood journey!


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