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Jaz's story

Warning: This article contains discussions on suicide and substance abuse.

I had experienced depression for five years. It started back in 2015 after I left school, and I felt this sense of hollowness. Life had left me lost. I didn’t mind college, but around 17 was when my first panic attack occurred. I freaked out, thinking: “what was going on!?”. I never had this feeling before consistently; it was like someone just ripped my heart out. At this point, I still did not effectively seek help, but I did decide to start boxing (note to self: exercise helps).

The inequality I felt I experienced was that men could not speak openly about the difficulties they were experiencing. Therefore this causes problems in regulating emotions. Around 18, I decided to go to university, my depression and anxiety got better, but I did receive anti-depressants but did not take them. I had this inclination to heal myself using a more holistic approach. I hated university because I picked a degree just because the degree provided great money opportunities (Note to self: money is not everything).

At university, I was so angry and depressed. I was not the typical fresher, e.g. going out, making friends. I was so depressed I didn’t even learn to drive. I questioned myself here, wondering what my purpose was. I was very impulsive at this time, so anything seemed plausible for a career. A big struggle for me during this time was accepting this typical lifestyle one from the South Asian Community must accept, e.g. get a good job, get married, buy a house, have kids and not be able to venture out. It’s great to have a family, but when an individual hasn’t a healthy mindset, providing for a family would be very strenuous.

Depression doesn’t mean you’re weak. It’s an indication that something isn’t working in your life or there is trauma!

At 19, I applied to study Psychology to help others, but I had to help myself first. I enjoyed my Psychology studies; I did find myself there in terms of personal development. The low moods still kicked in, though. I also lost my self-identity. I felt like an outcast because I did not consume alcohol. There was a lot of pressure to drink in university, especially coming from a South Asian background.

At 20, I felt low and hollow. I was chasing extrinsic happiness rather than intrinsic. I also had a form of destination addiction; I thought getting to a particular day or event would stop me from being depressed, but chasing those days did not do much for me. Being a male and being in the Indian community, I hid what I felt. Depression doesn’t mean you’re weak. It’s an indication that something isn’t working in your life or there is trauma! Note to self: Listen to your body.

I was in a car crash in 2018. Due to that, in 2019, I started abusing painkillers. I was mixing them, taking them pretty much daily and taking painkillers that were not even prescribed to me (3rd tip, substance abuse and depression don’t go well together). The painkillers did relieve that hollowness I was experiencing, but I already fell into the trap of substance abuse.

I felt I wouldn’t make it to my 21 st birthday. I just felt like I disappointed everyone, had no purpose, and the painkillers took over me. I overdosed on the 9th March 2020, trying to end my life. I am now 19 months clean and changing my life! I got rid of negative people, started hobbies, and kept talking to people! I also enjoy the simpler aspects of life. My advice is to not worry about having a million pounds or thinking you must get married soon. Focus on yourself, do the things you like and then life will slowly fall into place!

To finish off this on a positive note, it’s finally great to see more from the South Asian Community speaking up. However, perhaps the term BAME isn’t what we should use. I am Indian, not BAME. You can live the life you desire!

Jaz Singh

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