It is only through the selfless and sacrificial love of a mother for her child.
Depression is a mental disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in life and may affect a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat and study. Just like any other medical conditions, there should not be any shame and stigma in having depression or any mental illness.
Growing up, I was very close to my little brother and remembered how I would read bible stories to him while he would write jokes and riddles to cheer me up whenever I feel down. I still remember his innocence and child-likeness vividly, a precious quality he possess even till now.
Then things started to change when my parents bought him his first computer when he was 9 years old. He stopped coming into my room to read and chat, he simply spent all his time in front of his computer playing games and we didn’t know better how to control him.
In 2006, when my brother was 14 years old and studying in Damai Secondary School, he suddenly refused to go to school every morning no matter how much we cajoled, begged and forced him to. He developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) when he needs to go to school but would get well when we allow him to rest at home. As much as we suspected something unpleasant must have happened in school, he refused to tell us anything.
The principal and form teacher promised to visit him at home but they never came. Thus, my brother became a school drop-out at age 14 and we were so worried for his future as without paper qualifications, how can anyone survive in this society and make a decent living for himself? His highest qualification was only a Primary School Leaving Examination.
This is the start of the darkest period of my brother’s life. From a bright and cheerful person, he became a recluse and did not step out of the house for the next 5 years. He became addicted to cyber gaming and spent at least 16 hours a day in front of his computer.
My brother plunged into depression, had suicidal thoughts and would not confide in us. Throughout this period, my mother showered love and took special care of him, helping to cut his hair and buy food for him everyday without fail despite her painful chemotherapy treatment. It was my mother’s love that prevented my brother from taking his own life.
It was only years later that we discover that my brother was constantly bullied by his classmates in school as his high-pitched voice would not break even at puberty. He was scorned and ridiculed at in school and no one, not even the teachers, came to his aid.
In 2011, I invited my brother to attend a church service and for the first time in his life, he felt the presence of God and the love and acceptance of the people around him who would accept him for who he is. 3 months later, my brother was baptised and became a born again Christian. He started to have hope in life and have renewed interest in studying. He enrolled in some O Levels preparatory courses and the learning curve was steep initially as he did not study for such a long time.
I encouraged him to signed up for a 10-month O Levels programme in City College and offered to pay for his studies. Even though the course fees were not cheap, it was worth it as the educators in City College were supportive and many students were also school drop-outs who truly deserved a second chance in life.
So through sheer hard work and perseverance, at age 22, my brother achieved 4 distinctions in his O levels as a private candidate and was second position in his class. With his results, he was accepted into Temasek Polytechnic studying Digital Forensics on a government scholarship. The scholarship will also cover him for another 3 years degree course after his diploma course. As my bother was the oldest in his polytechnic cohort, his maturity and life experiences had put him in a good stead as he was selected to be a student leader and was given the opportunity to go China to help the villagers and teach them English.
My brother had also picked up Aikido in polytechnic and learnt guitar skills on his own. In fact, he is so busy with his many activities that I could hardly see him at home. He is indeed catching up on lost time and living a purpose driven life now.
My brother’s story was featured in The New Paper on 18 January 2014 – Comeback Kids: Ex Gaming Addict Wants To fight Cyber Crime. (Click on the link below to see full story.)
My brother has made a video of his life testimony:
Our greatest regret was that our mother had succumbed to cancer and had passed away on 5 September 2011. I still remembered that fateful day when I was alone at home with her and she just collapsed in front of me. Even to this day, I still cry in my sleep sometimes and missed her terribly. I believed my mother is in heaven now and would be smiling to know my brother’s achievements in life. In June 2018, our dad also passed away from kidney cancer.
You only have one life to live. Live life to the fullest and make every day count! There is always hope and light at the end of the tunnel.
If you have a story to share, do email or drop me your comments below.
Thank you for reading my long post. 🙂