Health, School

Bullied in school, I struggled with ADHD and self-worth

By Terence Chia , 16 September 2021

Being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) wasn’t something I was proud of.

When others found out about it, they said things like “You’ll just be another guy who fails his O-Levels” and “You’re wasting your parents’ money by being in school”.

It made me lose all confidence in myself – all the way from Primary 3 until I was studying at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). 

While other students would dedicate a few hours to do their assignments and still have the time to hang out with their friends, this was not the case for me.

Classroom lessons tired me out, while tuition emotionally and mentally drained me after a long day at school. I would get half my homework done at most and would make excuses for not completing it.

As a hyperactive child and kinaesthetic learner, physical education and The Boys’ Brigade (my co-curricular activity) in secondary school were my main forms of energy release. 

My toughest season was during my O-Levels year when I would find myself in situations where I was bullied daily. Once, someone urinated into my bottle to make feel inferior. That worked. 

From that point on, I disliked school and my grades started to drop.

Terence has a soft spot for the vulnerable – and dogs.

Doubts entered my mind, and the thought of quitting school hit me often enough that my Discipline Mistress did one-on-one mentoring with me.

Despite her efforts, the bullying created such insecurity that I felt I was never going to be good enough for society. 

My parents brought me regularly to see the psychiatrist, but the medication often made me feel dazed and emotionless.

This dragged on until my ITE days.

During my second year of studies, I sustained an injury through judo.

During the course of my first ACL reconstruction recovery, I was motivated to understand more about rehabilitation methods and techniques.

I also started building my interest in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular injuries and disorders through reading research papers and observing how people walk and lift weights.

Despite being in the midst of my exam period, I had the strength to study with minimal pain or discomfort.

I also had supportive lecturers who set aside extra time for consultations and made special arrangements for me to be exempted from physical activity.

I saw all this as provision from God. 

Terence with Kitson, his NS buddy and bunkmate who stood by him when he was injured.

Along the way, I discovered that I have a soft spot for the elderly and the underprivileged too.

Many of them don’t get the adequate social, psychological and emotional support they need. This saddens me. They’re afraid of burdening their family members who have to pay for their therapy sessions.

As I aspired to use this passion to treat the vulnerable, I was led to pursue my Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science, and I’m currently doing a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports and Exercise Science at PSB Academy.

Terence with his schoolmates from PSB Academy.

The first year of my academic journey was a struggle. However, I surrendered my worries to God and told Him that I would do my best for Him.

I expected to be constantly stressed out, but He has blessed me with love and support from my family and church mentors.

I often questioned why I had to go through such a long route and unfair life, but I realised that it’s by God’s grace that I am where I am today.

Terence with his church friends, who are a great support.

I had always taken my faith lightly, despite being baptised as a baby. 

However, a year ago, I told God that I don’t want to live as a “half-past-six” Christian anymore. Instead, I want to know His will.

I trust that God will continue steering me towards where He wants me to be of use.

As a freelance trainer, I providing affordable treatment to people of all ages, including the elderly, children and pregnant women. Although I don’t earn much, I feel that God wants me to focus on the few clients who have been part of my journey.

God has kept me financially and spiritually filled.

After finishing my degree, I would like to be a rehabilitation and sports specialist to help others.

I still struggle a little with my self-confidence and self-image, but I’m always reminded that the Lord takes my brokenness and makes me whole. 

I will always be sustained by His abundant grace and provision.

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