“I was a topper in school when I fell in love. I’d liked her for a while and finally decided to confess. She rejected me. I didn’t give up and asked her out again a year later. But she said no again. This time, she started dating another boy. I was heartbroken. She eventually got into relationships with some of my closest friends. I felt terrible and started drinking alcohol and doing drugs. I moved away to a boarding high school. I thought it’d be easier to not be around her but it was harder to not see her. It was also my first time at a boarding school. All this took a big toll on me. I felt increasingly sad every day and kept abusing substances to feel better. The school expelled me with ‘unsatisfactory’ ratings all over my transfer certificate. People started to talk about me. My parents were devastated. My life was falling apart, and I felt helpless. I needed to do something.

I contacted one of my teachers for help and luckily got admission to a school in Nanglam. I was grateful for the opportunity. Unfortunately, the girl was there too. Something about this made a pit in my stomach. I had wanted to change my ways and become better but seeing her everyday didn’t help. I couldn’t keep away from the drugs and alcohol. I did terrible things like vandalising cars under the influence of my friends. Then, I fell ill one summer. At the Thimphu hospital, the doctor asked if I came from a broken family or was very poor. I said no. He then asked me if I had relationship problems. He could see that my mental state was weak. He suggested that I go for counseling. It was only then that I realised how much I’d lost myself. I fought for my life. Recovery was not easy. I relapsed a few times. But I always tried again. It has gotten better since, and now I am working at a hospital. My family worries that I may relapse but I am stronger now. 3 of my friends overdosed and died. It pains me to think that we could have helped each other out, but we didn’t try. It took so little to lose myself, but a long time to find my way back. I’ve learned now how important it is to remember to put ourselves first.”

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