My Experience Befriend with Dysthymia Disorder
Before I begin this writing. I’d like to remind you that I write this not in order to blame or accuse anyone who are involved in this story because what happen to me is something that I should handle by myself. I’d also like to remind that this writing will openly share about my personal history and personal struggles dealing with my #Depression including my past and my #Suicide attempt. I write this in order to increase the awareness towards mental illness and also to wipe off the stigma and prejudice about mental illness in Indonesia. I write this not as a teacher, not as a writer but as human being who needs help.
Also, another reason I write this because I’m honestly afraid that I can end up killing myself someday.
Here I go,
Hi, my name is Bhakti Satrio Nugroho. I’m 24 years old and I currently live in Purwokerto, Central Java, Indonesia. I studied English when I was in college. I work as an English teacher, amateur writer and also freelance translator. However, I’m currently jobless but I still have couple part time jobs for living.
I have good life as person. I don’t come from wealthy family but I have good family, wonderful parents, lovely 6 years old brother, and relatives. But honestly, I don’t feel close with my parents because they have dysfunctional relationship towards each other. I also have amazing friends in my hometown and my college. The last one is probably the best friendship I’ve ever had but I don’t want to compare them with others. We call ourselves as “Elite 12”. They support me when I’m down. However, of course as someone who has mental illness. Somehow I still struggle to be grateful with those.
I was diagnosed with dysthymia a couple months ago but I suspect it had begun since my childhood. Now, it has been part of my life and my personality. I mean, the way people judge and know me.
Since I was a child, I have closed personality. I don’t say that I’m introvert but when I’m hanging out with friends. I usually feel alone, no matter how funny the situation is. As a child, I lived far away from my parents. They worked as labors in China Taipei for more than 8 years. I lived with grandparents for years. Even though they support me financially but I never had parent figure as I wanted when I was a child.
As a Moslem child, I never had exact lessons about being Moslem from my family. They just sent me to the teacher after my school. They never did prayer and fasting like any other Moslem family. My family is little bit complicated to be explained. My mother’s family was actually Christian. My late grandfather was a communist party leader who ran away after G30S/PKI movement. He faked his identity after that movement and started a new life. When I was a child, he taught me a lot about being Christian rather than being Moslem. On the other hand, my father’s family was Moslem family but they tended to close with mystical things which we usually called as Kejawen. Long story short, when I was child, I never had strong faith as Moslem. I ate blood, pork and also snake even though those are forbidden in Islam. But, that’s what my family taught me.
Then, finally it comes to my depression part.
During my junior high, I began to know new things in my life including the good ones and the bad ones. As a teenager who lived without parent’s guidance, who also lived in village environment, I began to lie. In order to fulfil my curiosity as teenager and also to blend in with my friends, I used my allowance to buy cigarette and, the worst part of all, to buy drugs. Not even my parents know about this yet. Since this moment, my life became darker than I used to know. I skipped many classes only to gather with my friends. Fortunately, I could past the exam to go to high school.
During my high school, I began to stop smoking and using drugs. For some reasons I was able to stop from those behaviors even though some of my friends couldn’t do that. However, life doesn’t really feel like it used to. I began to isolate myself from my friends and my family. My life just attended classes and went home. I spent a lot of my high school time in my bedroom rather than being active. I became more closed personality than I was. Until now, I only have few friends from high school. At that time, I felt different with others. My experience of low self-esteem and self-worth begin. It continues and worsens till I went to the college.
College period was one of the happiest periods in my live. I met a lot of influencers in my life including my teachers and my friends. It seemed like I finally could begin my new life. However, in this certain time, I also had problems with the way I should behave.
A couple semesters before my graduation, I became a subject of bully. It’s not that kind of bully. It was just part of joking. I’m sure that it was part of our friendship. I became a laughing stock among my friends. However, sometimes the jokes went too far which also dealing with my personal appearance. At this point, my personal way of thinking shifted into something way worse than before. I begin to look down at myself. My low self-worth and self-esteem issues started haunting me again. I didn’t know how to begin a conversation. It’s like being social awkward, social creep, social outcast and loser. Sometimes I feel I am not good enough only to blend with everyone I know, especially women. I also didn’t know how to talk about my feeling to everyone because I didn’t know what it was. At that time, I began to isolate myself again because expressing feeling throughout social media only makes my friends named me as Drama King. Because they think that I was too sensitive and just looked for attention.
Until came to the part that I was rejected by woman that I love and had malignant tumor at the same time. Since this moment, my dysthymia symptoms are getting worse than ever. These were really bumping me down. I lose her as a woman that I love but as a good friend as well. The fact that everything that I did for her only makes her feel embarrassed is something deeply hurtful to remember. But well, I never hate her and she deserves someone way better than me. I wish the best for her.
Meanwhile, my tumors were really hard to handle. They grew back no matter how many times I remove them. I underwent five surgeries for this. Fortunately, some of them are benign tumors so I just leave them there as long as they are not malignant tumors.
My moods change every hour a day like rollercoaster. Form excitement to sadness, form happiest to worst. I no longer enjoy gaming and reading. I lose passion towards something I used to like. I felt “not good enough” and worried about myself everywhere I go because of rejection feeling and physical pain that I had. It was not only a broken heart feeling but it also triggered my depression into something way worse than before. The way she avoids and rejects me sometime just unacceptable for me. Those thoughts are always on and on in my head. At this point, my exaggerated thoughts turned into this chronic depression.
I feel like I don’t live. I just exist.
One night after my third surgery. I was alone in a hospital. Nobody visited me at those nights. I really wanted to say to my friends that I need a help but I had no one to talk too. Since then I thought that my life wasn’t worth for living. After I went home, I started to abuse many medicines I had, to numb my pains, from broken heart, malignant tumor, dysfunctional family things etc. and of course to slowly commit suicide. I woke up in serious condition. I was in heavy tremble, heavy breath, low heartbeat, and paralyzed. However, Alhamdulillah. God was there to save my life. I’ve learned that that’s not the way world works. It was a huge lesson in my life and I hope I never do it again.
Being dysthymic is something that unexplainable. I mean, you know that you are different with others, socially and mentally. You know that you’re in trouble but somehow you don’t know what is it, how you should handle it and where you should ask for a help.
Having someone to talk to only make yourself being avoided because they will probably think that you are just weird, abnormal, over-melancholy, bad listener, stubborn, childish and crybaby. As a result, I lose a friend who I considered as my family because I vented and overshared to her even though no matter how hard I try to be more positive. It was one of my biggest regrets in my life. But I never blame her or anyone because I don’t know how to deal with myself as well. It was my fault, I snapped.
For me, the heaviest part of being dysthymic is when I keep losing my friends because they wanted to help but they finally had enough. I’m also worried if I openly say that I have mental illness, they probably think that I’m crazy and start avoiding me one by one.
I just don’t want to be alone. I want to have normal life like others too.
Well, I have a lot of things to do now in order to bounce back from this mood disorder and my tumorous cells problem. Trying to stop beating myself up over this whole saga and focus on putting back the pieces of my life together. I know that there are a lot of factors as to why things don’t work out, but I deserve to have a life like normal people too. Start being grateful even though dysthymia makes me hard to do that.
And last but not least, trying to stop blaming anyone and focus how to manage and understand towards all of my problems. Thich Nhat Hanh in his book entitled At Home in the World: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life says,
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”
I can only say sorry for all of my friends for being too negative, and being this kind of weird to be friend with. Especially for those whom I have an argument with and now avoid me. I never blame or hate you for this. I’m trying my best but I just don’t know how my brain and my heart work that way sometimes. Yes, now this dysthymia maybe has become my personality. I might feel sad all the time but that doesn’t mean I can’t also be happy. I have wonderful people around me.
After all, I’m not a famous figure. I’m just an English teacher who lives in third world country and I’m just an amateur writer who also wants to share his experience and good fortune about #MentalHealth with the world. I wish someday I could say these words below in front my family, my friends and everyone without being discriminated and avoided.
“My name is Bhakti Satrio Nugroho, I live with chronic depression, and I am not ashamed.”
Thank you for listening to me, and please be kind to each other.