For World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, one woman reflects on her battle with four diagnosed mental disorders, and what self-love looks like following a suicide attempt.

Trigger warning: Suicide attempt, self-harm

In 2017, Lynette D’Cruz found herself at the police station in Ang Mo Kio for attempted suicide.

The incident was a culmination of her bottled-up emotions of being bullied in secondary school, the passing of her father when she was 13, and losing her job in a wine company after it folded.

She had battled depression for years, and had been diagnosed with four mental disorders: bipolar, anxiety, clinical depression and bulimia.

After contemplated suicide for the second time that year, Lynette realised that she needed to pick herself up.

Describing herself as a “walking zombie” back then, the now 31-year-old recalls studying user experience at General Assembly (GA), which offers training in tech, data, design and business. She found it difficult to focus on lessons.

“I felt mostly sedated from the medication that I was taking at that time. I had to skip work and, subsequently, I lost my job and could barely concentrate in class,” she says.

Lynette was an adolescent “cutter” – when words weren’t enough to express her overwhelming emotions, and self-injury gave her a sense of release. The near-death episode in 2017 saw her being put on regular medical treatment, and scheduled visits with social workers and a psychotherapist at the Institute of Mental Health.

But a year later, she suffered a major blow.

She spiralled downhill when her two-year relationship ended abruptly, and the planned wedding was cancelled. She was then unemployed after graduating from GA.

Lynette, who now works as a UX designer, recalls: “Ten days after the relationship was over, I found out that my ex was in a relationship with another woman. My mind just exploded. I was alone and wondered if I should end my life.”

She woke up the next day and told herself, ‘Enough is enough’. “I was alive but dead inside,” she describes. “I felt like a ghost floating around, and I would pass out in bed half the time. I hated myself then because I didn’t know who I was anymore.”

Lynette weaned herself off medication last year and changed her lifestyle to a healthy and active one. She reconnected with friends and picked up pole dancing and rock climbing. Occasionally, she hikes at Bukit Timah Hill and Penang Hill.

Credit: Lynette D’Cruz

In the following year, she participated in the Shape Run and Great Eastern Women’s Run, as well as completing The Stadion, Sprint and Super Spartan obstacle course races. Lynette even got back to her favourite childhood hobby – skateboarding.

She was also a volunteer at the Singapore Mental Health Film Festival by local non-profit initiative, The Breathe Movement. The festival aims to break the stigma of mental illness through inspiring and thought-provoking films, panel discussions, and workshops.

“I tried new things that I had never done before,” she says.

“I even went hiking with a newly acquainted friend at Bukit Kutu in Kuala Lumpur – and we got lost. It was fun, though!”

She adds: “I’ll go out for a run when I feel myself getting upset. It always helps.”

Lynette, who is now in a better place, says being stronger physically and mentally has helped her battle negative thoughts, and changed her perspective in life. “Now, I know what self-love is,” she says. 

“People misinterpret self-love. It is more than just manicures and haircuts,” she says. “For me, it means putting focus to push my limits and break my body down into different parts. It shows that I’m capable of more than just lying at home and crying. When I achieve something, like completing a marathon, it’s indeed empowering.”

If you or someone you know is suicidal, here are some helplines you can call:

  • Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Touch Counselling & Social Support: 6709-8400
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-3535-800
  • Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222

Text: Dawn Wong/Her World