I have always wanted to be a singer ever since I was just three years old. The feeling of being on stage and expressing myself through song has always sparked an inexplicable sense of joy in me, even to this day.
Through CHAT, a national youth mental health outreach and assessment service, I found my therapist, Mei Yi, a counselling psychologist at Clarity Singapore who became my first bridge into the mental health community.
Her reassuring and constant presence made me realise that there was a way out of my anxiety-filled world and a support system to guide me through it.
Through coping techniques such as breathing, visualisation and self-soothing, I was able to find ways to manage my feelings.
Eventually, I saw my anxiety as a protective friend of sorts that had always been trying to look out for me, instead of a terrifying and looming figure that paralysed me from doing anything meaningful.
With my therapist’s continued support, I was able to gradually find ways to let my “’friend” trust me enough to carve a better life for myself.
This included regaining the courage to continue pursuing singing.
Having a listening ear in Mei Yi made all the difference, because she helped me focus on improving and working on my dream, rather than be crippled by the thoughts of making mistakes.
And so, I started writing songs again and sharing my music with others.
I realised that making music made me happy because it was something I enjoyed, not because I was seeking the validation of others.
Having started a new positive chapter in my life thanks to therapy, I know that there are many out there who may also be struggling with their mental health too.
I wanted to give back and to let them know it’ll be okay.
So, in June this year, I joined TikTok’s Youth for Good programme, a specialised training programme that empowers youths to not only raise awareness of mental and cyber wellness, but to also become a beacon of light to encourage help-seeking behaviours among our peers.
Since graduating from the eight-week programme, I have continued to create videos on TikTok to raise awareness about mental health, sharing tips about how to cope with stress and anxiety to songs to make people feel less alone.
I also released my debut EP, “From Me to You”, which documents my journey with mental health from powering through anxiety attacks to finally realising that I am enough, just as I am.
The songs are about anxiety and self-worth, and I hope that they serve as a warm hug for anyone who might be on their own journey as well as a message of hope that there is help available for those on this road to recovery.
Even so, my first song “I Am Enough” from the album was met with some disdain, telling me I wasn’t good enough to sing.
This used to be such a huge struggle for me, I thought at the time.
But one thing that my therapist taught me is to let go of what cannot be controlled.
While I cannot control what others feel about my work, I can control how I choose to move forward and improve.
There are plenty of people who responded positively too. I was surprised when other TikTok users responded to my videos by opening up about their personal mental health stories.
In one of my posts about helping loved ones through depression, one of my followers on the platform voluntarily opened up about her struggles in supporting her partner through depression during their long-distance relationship, including his reluctance to seek professional help.
So, I lent her a listening ear and gave her space to share how she was feeling. We also discussed some of the potential ways she and her partner could create more conducive and comfortable spaces to share and listen.
I felt like I have come full circle, progressing from someone who suffered in silence to a pillar of support for another person in need of help.
I hope that my journey can inspire others to bring about a bigger wave of change to Singapore, by simply normalising conversations to check in with each other in our everyday lives, and not let those suffering from mental health struggles remain unheard.
Anyone can become an advocate for mental health.
We just need to take steps to support those struggling around us, to let them know that they are not alone and that there is indeed love and light at the end of the tunnel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Samantha Ng, 26, is a preschool teacher and a TikTok Youth for Good graduate.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg website (Mon to Fri, 10am to 12pm, 2pm to 5pm)Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) / 1-767 (24 hours)Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928 / 6509-0271 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (Mon to Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)Touchline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)