SINGAPORE - Three years after seeking professional help for depression, Ms Nadera Abdul Aziz found herself sitting on the edge of her window ledge, ready to jump.
"The voices in my head just got louder in asking me to end it all, but luckily I backed out eventually," said the 23-year-old, who had "divine intervention" to thank for her change of heart.
She had been inconsistent in taking her anti-depressants at the time because it reminded her of her dependence.
Unlike some of her struggling peers who shy away from getting help, Ms Nadera took the initiative to make an appointment at the Institute of Mental Health when she was 19.
"I couldn't sleep for four consecutive days and was crying for no reason in my bed, so I decided it was time to do something beyond seeing a counsellor," she said.
Despite getting assessed and treated, her battle with the illness continued into her university days, when she would cut herself and had suicidal thoughts.
She suffered from low self-esteem and often beat herself up for not maintaining first-class honours for her degree.
But she persisted in going for check-ups and today the public servant no longer needs to take any medication.
Ms Nadera first became depressed after going through a strained friendship in her secondary school days.
Like her, 21-year-old "Natalie" sought formal help only years after the symptoms surfaced.
Natalie recalled growing up, from when she was as young as six, with overwhelming feelings of sadness that came out of the blue. Whenever her hands shook or she felt breathless, she would cope by isolating herself at home or wandering the streets at night.
These episodes became more frequent when she graduated from polytechnic last year. She wanted to be a freelance dancer but was worried that the unstable income would not be sufficient to support her ageing parents.
Late last year, her parents urged her to seek help after she confided in them when they caught her smoking.
"I tried to get through this myself because I knew it would be a huge financial burden on my parents, but now I know it is important to tell others about how you feel," she said.
Ms Nadera agreed. "Seek help early and persist in it because you may feel worse before you get better," she said. "If I had nipped the problem in the bud earlier, things may have worked out differently."
This article was first published on January 25, 2015.
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