Depression crept up inside Kenneth and spiralled him down. Once he was diagnosed, he received the medication he needed. He is now a person-in-recovery.
On 27 Feb 2018, I attempted suicide.
Back in Aug 2017, I joined a new company after spending four wonderful years at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). In the nation’s flagship hospital, I was given numerous opportunities to work with some of the brightest healthcare professionals, administrators and IT engineers in the industry. I have debated with a system specialist on the best way to improve our electronic incident reporting system, supported a committee of super senior doctors, and also sat beside an ICU pharmacist to review a medical error.
As a junior administrator, I learned a lot from the ways they systematically approach problems in operating a large and complex healthcare organisation. My director and manager gave me the autonomy to make the decisions I could at my level. In my fourth year, I got the chance to oversee the work of a junior executive and associate. I was fairly confident that I would be promoted if I stayed on for just a few more months. Despite these opportunities, I tendered my resignation.
As part of my handover , I also developed a syllabus for newbies as I gradually began to see the “big picture” and intentions behind my work. I told HR during the exit interview that I didn’t have anything against my bosses and colleagues. I simply wanted to advance my career in healthcare analytics, an area I was keen on.
Fast forward to October 2017, the new portfolio was nowhere near the way I envisioned it to be. I was having difficulty adjusting to the new work environment and culture. It was micro-management at its best. For example, a simple spreadsheet report that normally took around ten minutes now took ten days due to multiple levels of clearance and still got stuck in my inbox because the manager didn’t have the confidence to make minor decisions. I also had a senior who taught me on how to send supposedly proper emails. That I should add “Regards,” on top of my signature footer, and respond with “Noted with thanks” whenever I received things from people in order to “sound more polite”. Once, he showed me examples of “Noted with thanks” from colleagues in the same department, and asked me how many I had sent so far.
SERIOUSLY, WHO CARES???
Face-to-face conversations with them failed to address the problems. I felt so suffocated that I resigned after three months without securing another job even though it was only a year to my wedding and BTO (build-to-order flat) key collection.
Then came the downward spiral.
I knew something was not right.
On 8 January 2018, I managed to get another position in the same industry, thinking that getting a job should help “cure” all these issues. However, the condition was full blown. I was absent more than 50% of the time. On the days when I managed to drag myself to work, I had difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and accomplishing the simplest of tasks. I noticed that my colleagues were completing their work much faster than I could. Mental fog made it very difficult for me to function.
On that fateful day, I texted my colleagues and loved ones that “I was feeling terrible” and to just “let me go”. I left my phone in my bedroom before wandering out of my home. Eventually, I climbed to the top of a multi-storey car park. I didn’t make the jump because I thought about all things which were waiting for me in the future: My wedding, the BTO and marriage. All coming in the later part of the year.
Back home, the police arrived. After taking my statement, the officer made the decision to call me an ambulance, and take me to the A&E department of IMH. I was diagnosed with depression. Fortunately, I didn’t have to be admitted. I resigned a few weeks later to focus on recovery.
One month after starting on Fluvoxamine, my sleep and energy improved significantly.
As I type this, I really hope to get back to the workforce with a strong sense of identity and confidence.
Kenneth does quality and risk management in the healthcare industry. He is passionate about the topics of patient safety, quality improvement and healthcare analytics. In his free time, he likes long distance running, giving tuition, and spending time with his loved ones.
This first-person story was originally published in August 2018 in The Tapestry Project SG, an independent, not-for-profit online publication that champions mental health recovery through the power of first-person stories. This voluntary ground-up initiative is run by persons-in-recovery who share a passion for mental health awareness, education and empowerment. Their stories are written by, and for persons who are touched by the realities of mental health challenges.
Our Better World is grateful to The Tapestry Project SG for the permission to re-publish this story as part of our series on Mental Health, Silent No More: Giving Voice to Mental Illness.