The Phoenix

Life was just about following the rules. I was doing everything that society demanded and expected from me for the first 16 years of my life. Then, everything changed, and it set me on a path that can be metaphorically described as a process of demise and renewal, like that of the phoenix.

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Grappling with a stressful time in junior college

When I enrolled in Junior College (JC), suddenly, everything hit me like a ton of bricks, as I started to question everything. I started asking myself, “What was the point of studying?” and started to question the education system.


I felt that the education system deviated from its purpose of educating the students holistically, and these thoughts manifested in my actions and behaviour. I was perceived as arrogant and walking around as if I owned the world. That was due to my thoughts being manifested in my actions as I was questioning everything intensely and fighting battles. My classmates would make snide remarks behind my back along the lines of, “Why can’t he just shut up and study!”. The combination of being shamed, misunderstood, and not knowing how to use my energy positively proved destructive. I could only conform by studying for the A levels and yet, studying became worst period of my life.

peer support in mental health recovery reading

By the second year, I was being physically present in school, yet I checked out emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I felt it was no different from dying. Throughout the year, I had so much anger and bitterness, which resulted in me doing things out of anger, such as studying and working out. Using exercise to vent my frustration only proved useful in the short term. In the long term, it was detrimental to my mental health.


Time zoomed by and I finished A Levels in November 2019. Everybody around me were happy, but the only emotion I felt was raw and boiling anger. Again, this was due to me studying mindlessly for A Levels and disregarding my emotions about events that had occurred during JC. The anger was incessant, consuming me day in and day out. I didn’t exercise with much frequency ever since A Levels ended. This showed that I was exercising for the wrong reasons. I should be exercising to make myself physically and mentally better, and not to vent my frustrations. This was the point when I truly realised the trauma and damage during my time in JC had caused me.

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Understanding emotional intensity and mental health stigma

Later, I found this website Eggshell Therapy and it describes the notion of grappling with emotional intensity. It sounds unbelievable, but the information hit me hard. For the first time, the website could articulate my personality and how I possessed the capacity to experience life events deeply. That was the point I started to fight for my life, which kickstarted my rebirth.


Nevertheless, going through the process to find out more about my personality has been full of ups and downs, and having to break out of the cycle of bitterness. There were days when I thought I was over these negative thinking patterns, but during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period, it resulted in me ruminating about the trauma I experienced in JC, which was tough… very tough. After countless occasions of confiding to my close friends and trying to make sense of what happened to me, I was sick and tired of being stuck in this cycle of bitterness and made the resolve to break out of the cycle.

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I started to realise how mental health and wellbeing is extremely important. A person does not need to be diagnosed to go through mental health struggles. Having gone through that experience of trauma and having to break out from that cycle, I’m grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with Resilience Collective to meet more like-minded individuals who want to drive change in the way society approaches mental health.


The scars of those experiences still linger, and I’ll probably never forget those experiences. Through my struggles, this quote by Ralph Emerson is one that I use to encourage myself, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”


I’ll end off with a relatable quote I’ve seen at PhotoStory: From Darkness to Light, “I believe we have 2 birthdays – the day that we are born and the day that we start fighting for our lives.”


Authored by: Jovan


We thank our blog contributors and applaud their strength in finding the words to share their lived experience, not only as part of the personal recovery journey but to inspire and bring hope to others who might be facing mental health challenges.


Photo Credits: Pixabay &

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