Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday January 28th 2019

Suicidal PMET struggling with unemployment and illness

Dear Gilbert,

I have flirted with suicide thoughts for the past 7 months because of job loss linked to a chronic medical condition.

It all started in Dec 2013, when I got slipped disc while working and living alone in rural China. I was actually doing well in my job. I was hospitalized in the local hospital for 1 week for an intravenous drip to reduce the inflammation of my slipped disc. Despite the physiotherapy sessions after my discharge, I would get sudden debilitating muscle spams which required me to lie down for 2 hours before becoming bearable.

By the end of Dec 2013, I decided to return to Singapore to consult a spine surgeon and in Jan 2014, I went for a key hole nucleoplasty surgery thinking it would be a quick fix to the problem. However, this was the not the case. After the surgery, I continued to have muscle spasms, and 7 weeks post-surgery, my pain came back. This was totally unexpected as the surgeon did not tell me of this pre-surgery. This was despite my daily stretching and going for physiotherapy post-surgery….

In mid-Mar 2014, I started Chinese massages, acupuncture and swimming to solve my slipped disc problem. I also consulted the pain management clinic and pain psychologist at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, hoping for some relieve. All this time, I was mentally stressed out by my boss in China, who kept asking when I could return to work in China. At the same time, I was worried if I would ever be able to work again, and if I am unable to, how would I support myself for the rest of my life? All these led to a bout of depression that saw my weight drop by 7kg in 3 months.

After repeated extensions to my medical leave and postponing my return to work in China, my condition eventually improved sufficiently for me to make a trip back to try working in China. Before returning to China, I contemplated suicide by throwing myself in front of a moving car because I was mentally tired from constantly trying to recover (meet my boss’ deadline/expiration of medical leave) and trying to force my damaged spine to get use to an office routine.

The only thing that held me back was the pain of being hit by a moving car. During this time, I would burst out in tears on occasions and try to seek solace by praying at church. There were many times when I would wake up with anxiety attacks in my room, guilty that I was taking afternoon naps instead of exercising to recover. I tried to get jobs in Singapore but was unsuccessful.

I returned to work in China at the beginning of May 2014 to work, but relocated back to Singapore after 12 days, as I was getting anxiety attacks in China despite my mother staying with me. The fear of staying alone in rural China, seeking medical treatment alone and dying alone there was just too much to bear. My stress was compounded by my mother, who did not understand my worries at all, being someone with a mentality set in the previous generation.

Upon my initial return, I was able to sleep and eat better despite an inflamed disc stemming from alternative acupuncture I tried in China. When I recovered more, I started looking for work again, and visiting a counsellor. However, I only got 1 job offer which required a lot of travelling to developing countries (3 weeks per month) and I had to turn it down as I was worried that my slipped disc would not be able to take all that tiring travelling.

All this time, I was frustrated as my peers who started with good jobs after graduating from university were already established in their jobs/careers and making big money and having kids, whereas I was forced to switch from job to job after being laid off several times and am still single/alone. I thought to myself: why has my work life been so difficult and now, I have this medical condition? I also feel depressed when I see on TV things such as travelling, and sports that I can never do again because of my slipped disc.

Just 2 days ago, I woke up and felt so frustrated that I thought suicide was my only way out. My slipped disc felt like it was getting worse, making it unbearable. I was frustrated at getting this disease at 39 and believed that death would cut short my suffering.

At the same time, the counsellor I had been seeing told me to stop seeing her until I was prepared to step out of my comfort zone to move on with my life. How can a counsellor dump/let go of me when I was not emotionally stable/out of the woods yet? It was impossible to let people who did not go through my ordeal understand my fears and what I was going through physically and mentally.

Also, I felt that God had forsaken me, especially since he gave me staunch Christian friend an incurable disease as well. I also did not know how to continue my relationship with my foreign girlfriend going forward with my medical condition and dwindling finances. I was worried of my savings running out and nobody to talk to about my condition and fears. Prior to this, I was taken for a ride by a head hunter whom I called to follow up on this job application which I submitted my resume for. She was just wasting my time when she asked me to go through my resume over the phone, when she could have just read it and asked questions…

Although I feel more at peace today, I am sure it would just be a matter of days before my suicidal thoughts return again because I don’t see another way out of my current bleak situation.

Please let me know how my death can be more acceptable for my mum.


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One Response to “Suicidal PMET struggling with unemployment and illness”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Pls do not give up. Even if you feel that everyone has forsaken you.

    Know that u are important to your family and loved ones.

    U may think dying is the solution but there is always hope at the end of the tunnel when u least expect it.

    Think of the happy times in your life. Think of the ppl who made sacrifices for you. Think of the future u want.

    I understand u find it difficult now. Especially with the pain. But i really encourage u to hang on…

    You are in a place you didn’t expect yourself to be. And it’s painful.

    Many of us go through life with expectations. But very often life challenges us to create something positive out of the lemons they throw at us.

    I encourage you to talk to the suicide hotline. Rmb that u are loved, a valued being. Rmb to love yourself . Dont give up on your life.

    God bless.

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