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May Ooi sheds light on depression by sharing her own battle

Depression is a major disorder that is sometimes easily dismissed by people who don’t understand it. However, it is a very real struggle for the people who have to endure it.

Former ONE Championship athlete “Mighty” May Ooi shared her experience in going through the darkest time in her life.

In late 2016, the Singapore sports icon lost her fiancé, martial artist Silvio Romero da Silva, to a motorcycle accident on Bali, where he ran a studio.

At the time, she was in Singapore, and received calls from people close to da Silva as soon as they learned of the news.

“In that moment, suddenly the world just went quiet,” she shared.

“It was just deafening silence. Of course, the emotions came, and I think I didn’t stop crying.”

Ooi flew out to Bali to take care of the funeral arrangements.

“When I came back to Singapore, that silence never went away,” she continued.

“What was scary was there were these voices that came to my head. They were not voices I recognized. They’re just voices talking to me, and they won’t shut up.

“The messaging that came through those voices were horrible. I wasn’t able to sleep in months. It was just really bad. I actually couldn’t see myself get past the end of the year 2017.”

Ooi persevered through her daily routines and showed no signs of weakness.

But as she reflects on her experience now, the Singaporean feels she was slowly slipping into darkness and chose to power through it alone.

“I didn’t seek professional help because I didn’t know that I was in a bad place. I didn’t know I needed help,” the 42-year-old explained.

“However, I think maybe because I’m a mentally strong person, I was able to curb it, sort of. But still, it was very bad because I couldn’t function much.”

She notes there could be no visible signs that a person is suffering through depression. 

By her own experience, the change in her was so gradual that even she barely noticed what was happening to her.

It was only later when people around Ooi would suggest for her to seek professional help that the Singaporean realized she needed to make a change.

“At one point, I started writing a journal. That made it a little better,” she confessed.

“Later, I was able to talk about it with friends and family, and the more that I got to talk about it, it became a little bit better.”

The process of overcoming her depression took a long time.

While Ooi, a medical doctor, understands it can be a wide spectrum to define, she suggests a couple of things people can try to help cope with their own battles.

“This is a little hack that I use — I like to think of something positive to replace the negative thoughts,” she explained.

“It could be anything playing with my dog, looking at what my capoeira kids do, or even looking at cute puppies on Instagram – just something that stops you from dwelling on the negative bit.

“If that doesn’t work, I go out and do something more challenging. Usually, it’s a physical activity, like going for a run, a swim, or for a long horse ride – anything physical just to get your mind off of it.”

Ooi hopes that by spreading more awareness, she will help others going through a similar ordeal.