Welcome To My Life

Welcome to my life.

This blog will give you more insight of my world. And I hope that it will not only help me on the journey to recovery, but it also helps you to gain some strength in life. It will be an open diary where I talk about things that have happened to me and everyone around me. And don’t be shy to drop me an email to share about your thoughts after each post.

Till then, see you on Sunday (:

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Till Then…

I guess some of you have noticed that I am oddly quiet and lifeless lately. And most people who noticed it might have already asked me am I okay. You want to know what happened to me, aren’t you? Trust me. I have been asking myself this question for about a month already. I refuse to believe that that night activated my defence mechanism, but apparently, that is the truth. I have no idea how to shut it down, and now things are going downhill.

If you are expecting me to tell you what went wrong that night, you will not find an answer here. This is a personal issue, but if you really want to know, you can text me and I might consider telling you. But bear in mind that so far no one knows the truth, so do you really want to be the first?

I know that when I started this blog I was getting way better from that horrendous situation I was in. I started taking medication and going to counseling at the same time, and it was effective for my condition. I thought that I am recovering, and I will be me again. But things get stagnated afterward. There is still a gap to fully recover from this and I can’t seem to move forward anymore. So there is only one way out here, that is for me to go back to those dark days and try to move forward again. My mood swing is so severe that I can be joyful today, but tomorrow I just want to sit at the corner by myself. It affects my appetite and sleep too, just like those days. And in case you haven’t figured out what I was saying, I am relapsing, slowly but surely. I can feel it because I am already there.

Sadly, I am hereby announcing that I will stop updating my blog until I get any better. I am sorry for the disappointment. I am frustrated and angry at myself too. I was desperately trying out solutions to improve my mental state, but it backfired. For now, I am allowing myself for some time off and I hope that you will give me the same too. Thank you for all your support thus far and I hope I will be back soon. Till then, take care of yourself, everyone.

P/S: I am still able to function socially. So don’t worry about my study and work, I know my priorities.

The Happiness of Pursuit

Have you ever asked yourself this question, “what is happiness?” Or a simpler one, “what makes you happy?” These are seemingly easy to answer, but how many of us know what it takes to put a smile on our face.

Happiness is not a destination. It is not something that we get at the end of the road. It is not as concrete as success, and it is not as abstract as love. It is something that is defined by ourselves. A candy or a toy is all it takes to make a child happy. It is that simplicity of life that makes them care less about the world. But along the way of growing up, our happiness are brought about by the number of assets we own. It’s pathetic, isn’t it? Let’s put it this way, maybe a perfect grade, a luxurious car, or a high paying job can make you happy. But the real question is, what puts a smile on our face before we go to sleep? A happy marriage? Our job? Or a starry night in the middle of nowhere?

It is not the pursuit of happiness, but rather the happiness of pursuit.

Happiness is a lesson that we learned during the journey. It is a choice that is being offered to everyone. If you take it, there is no guarantee that happiness will come easily. But if you leave it, you risk yourself of falling into an emotionally numb state. Take the offer, I would say. Even though there will be times that you don’t remember the bright, shiny days, but you need to remember that dark times don’t last. They are here merely to challenge your level of determination and make you weak. No one says that this road is easy, but with the right people, you will make it until the end.

“What makes you happy?”

If you are yet to have an answer, you are not alone. Maybe one day, genuine happiness will strike your heart like a lightning. And hopefully, you will tell the others that happiness is more valuable than money, fame and success. Because you know that there is no path to happiness, and happiness is the path.

First Baby Step 

Most babies take around 9 to 12 months to make their very first step, and they excel it around 14 months old. Coincidently, it has been 9 months since my relapse, and now I’m ready to make the first baby step.

I’m ready to walk on my own, without the help from other people. I insist on doing it this way because I understand that people get tired along the way as they’re not the one going through the journey. And at times, I still feel that I am bringing the thunderous clouds to them. It’s not a win-win situation and there are too much emotions and burden involved. This is absolutely fine for me, and I’ve already stepped one foot forward.

“No man’s an island”, they say. I know. But the island has the company of the sky, the stars, the ocean and the animals. It is not alone; it is back to the arms of Mother Nature. I love the ocean. It takes away my depression and locks it deep in the treasure box under the sea. Whenever I am back to the ocean, I feel that this is who I used to be, but I am much stronger and determined now. That is when I know that I am ready to do this alone for it is my life, and I should have maximum control in it.

After going through almost 5 months of counseling, I made the decision to terminate it. This is mostly because I was feeling better, and it gave me a clearer view of my condition. Fret not, I am still continuing my medication to stabilize my mood and control my symptoms. It helps to a certain extent, but there are times that I felt even worse and all those nasty feelings were back.

If you are here to hear me announce a good news, I might disappoint you. It is not a bad news either, but it depends on your interpretation of this post. I was a wounded animal who has just escaped from the hunter. Yes, I survived the journey, but I was lost and I couldn’t figure out what’s next for me. I was blaming myself for my predicament as it could be “avoided”. But now, the wounds are healing, and I am able to stand up and limp back home. Please forgive me as I want to do this all by myself. Do let me fall and hurt myself because this is how I will learn to grow, as this is also how a baby learns to walk. It will take a while before I can start running again, but I hope that you will be at the finishing line cheering for me.

If you are still waiting for a good news, here’s one thing I know for sure. I have become friends with the darkness within me. We respect each other’s existence, and we agree that I will be in command for most of the times. To me, it is one of the things that I have been looking forward to even though it wasn’t the same from my expectations. He’s now a friend of mine, not a foe, and I am perfectly fine with that. We compromise with each other, and one of the deals we have is to let me break down at most once a week. We know that tears are words the heart can’t say, and not all the time I have the courage to make the call to tell the person on the other end about the problem. So this is by far the solution that works.

I might not be posting about my mental health condition as often anymore. But I will keep updating the blog on every Sunday on my summarized thoughts for the week. If you have questions about my mental health, do feel free to drop me an email, anonymously, if you wish.

 

 

The Girl Who Wanted To Be Normal (Part 3)

Believe it or not, everyone has their guardian angel. As for me, I am very lucky and blessed to have more than one guardian angel. And here it lies the fifth chapter of the book – Take Me Home.

What is “home”? A place where you live? A place where your loved ones are? Or maybe a place that you can be your true self? Honestly, I have no answer to that. I guess home is where you feel safe and comfortable. Home, is usually taken granted of. We thought it is something that we are born with, but this is not the case for all of us. Well, at least not for me.

When I relapsed this year, there are people and friends who helped and showered me with unconditional love. I did not feel it at first. My mental state of mind was the windshield that was protecting me at any cost for I was too vulnerable to stand up for myself. But they kept trying until I have the strength to fight for myself. I know that I have said this for many times, but I just want to say it again, thank you for your love. You know who you are, and most of you are reading this except for one person. She doesn’t take credit for the things that she has done, but if she is listening, I want you to know that you are my guardian angel that has always been here even when the others have left. You have been here with me since my very first relapse. Thank you for all the things that you have done, I couldn’t have made it this far without you.

The very last chapter of the book will be the most sentimental of them all; the title reads To Siew Siew. There will be letters dedicating to myself from when I was a kid until now. It will be an intimate chapter where I explore the things that I want to say to my past, present and future selves. In fact, I have been writing letters to myself over the last three years. If you have done the same thing before, you will know that it is actually very difficult to be honest with yourself. But hey, this is how I grow and learn, and I will keep doing it because I know what’s best for me.

[The End]

(P/S: Stay tuned for my next post for the announcement I mentioned in this first post of this series.)

The Girl Who Wanted To Be Normal (Part 2)

I seldom talk about this part to people. This is mostly because I don’t want them to judge me and I don’t want to know how do they think about me. People can be very judgemental at times, especially when it comes to negative life events. But you know what? This is my life, not yours, and you have no say in it.

If you have read my previous blog posts, you might have known what I have been going through, and in this chapter of the book entitled Dark Tunnel, it is where I will explicitly talk about the feelings, thoughts, experiences that I felt when I relapsed this year. It was the worst relapse so far, and I thought that I have no chance in getting better. The tunnel was pitch black, lonely, and full of demons. Some of them wanted me to stay there forever, some of them wanted me dead, some of them wanted to show me how worthless I am. It was petrifying and full of despair.

Sleep was my only escape from reality. I skipped classes to avoid letting my friends know that I was not okay. I kept quiet most of the time because I was afraid that I might burst into tears with no reason. I put on a mask when I went to work and cried all the way home for letting myself suffer in such a way. This went on for months and months. I was desperate to get better, but nothing works. Until one day, I was shown another path; one that is tough to walk, but possible for me to crawl through it.

Road To Recovery is a chapter that will be on how I gradually recover from depression and try to lock it away from me. This road is not an easy path. Even though I am recovering, I am still bleeding and hurting. They told me that it is normal to feel down when I am recovering. But little did they know all these are too overwhelming for me. It is as if time stops, and it wants me to feel this way until I pass out or my heart stops. I cried so hard that I couldn’t breathe. My body was shivering in fear and shame that I just want to curl up in my bed and pretend that someone is hugging me. I forced myself to catch those negative thoughts and justify why it is negative. And until today, this vicious cycle still repeats itself. All of these are part of the process of recovering. And no one else can help me if I don’t help myself.

After all that I have gone through so far, I am redefining the meaning of life and the purpose of it. I am doing my best to treat myself better even though it might offend people. I have a ranking board in my mind, and I myself am surely the last one in there. I still have so much more to learn in this world, and my story is yet to end this way.

[To Be Continued]

The Girl Who Wanted To Be Normal (Part 1)

On my final session with my counselor, he passed me some papers and the title reads “My Life Story-A Narrative Exercise”. Knowing that I write to relieve my symptoms, he was asking if I am willing to complete it. I agreed and I want to share what I have written in this blog.

This narrative exercise basically requires me to reflect on my life and put it into a book. It took me a few hours to properly have a title in my mind – The Girl Who Wanted To Be Normal is the one that suits my life journey.

I always wanted to have a normal life, an ordinary dream, and a peaceful life path. But I guess the more you want something, the more you wouldn’t get it. I do not want to stand out among my peers, that is why I dislike unnecessary attention. I do not want to be treated in a special way, that is why I try to blend in. And I do not want to cause trouble to other people, that is why I am a yes-man. After years of blaming them for not letting my life an easy one, I have finally come to term that this is my “normal life”. And it is one that will teach me lessons that I will remember, meet people who will leave footprints in my heart, and inspire people who resonate with me. This is my destiny, my fate. And I accept it with all my heart.

With this, the first chapter of the book reads The Beginning. This is the beginning of my seemingly happy and ordinary life. Everything was sailing smoothly for the first few years, and there were memories that are happy, and I was still living under a rainbow. This rainbow is perfectly curved, but I was too young to know what led to the formation of a rainbow.

Happy moments do not last, and here comes the crack. I call it The Storm Is Near; it is the second chapter of the book. In this chapter, it lines the development of my depression in details. It narrates the events that happened, it expresses the feelings that I felt, and it sees the construction of my inner walls. If I were to write this chapter in the time to come, it is as though I am reliving the moments again. Tears will stream down my face, my body will shiver in fear, and my emotions will be let loose. It is something I need to face again, just like how you need to pick up the broken glasses to fix your favourite flower vase even though it hurts. But I will be okay, I always do.

P/S: At the end of this thread of posts, I will announce a news. It is something that I have been waiting for.

[To Be Continued]

10 Common Myths About Depression

Depression can be hard to understand at times if you have never experienced it. It is difficult for someone to imagine what we are going through even though you might have read a book or two on this. Here are some common myths about depression that I have observed from the people around me.

1. It is all about sadness.

Ha. Ha. Ha. I really hope that it is just all about sadness as that would make things easier. It’s how funny that even psychology students think that people who have depression are sad and that’s it. Personally, sadness is an outcome of other feelings and thoughts. It does not lead to a relapse, but the combination of these elements are enough to bring me back there.

2. People with depression are easy to spot.

Trust me, I wish this is the case. These people are ‘experts’ in masking their feelings. Very often, they are one of the happiest and liveliest people you have ever met. I guess it is because we know people think that we are overreacting in our problems and they do not need these negative, pessimistic people in their life.

3. Medication/counselling is a waste of money.

As a psychology student, I find it sad and disappointed that some psychology students think that medication does not help, and we should only go for therapy session. I beg to differ in this point. Medication and counselling work best together; it can be the best way to help the patient. Medicine provides us with the stability of emotions that we need, and the therapy session guides us to see the brighter path.

4. Children do not experience depression.

I guess most people are not aware about this, but children can experience depression if they went through a traumatic experience or they have a mental disorder such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Depression in children can be hard to detect too because they could be labelled as shy and quiet.

5. Depression is a sign of personal weakness.

Please do not say this to someone who is suffering from depression. Even the toughest person can fall victim for this mental illness. But with the help from their family, friends and therapists, it is possible for them to be in full remission.

6. Depression do not interfere with your daily lives.

No. Depression can make a person stays in bed for the whole day without eating, being lifeless at a party and loses motivation for almost everything. But these have different intensity on every person, and some people might experience all of them.

7. Depression is the same for everyone.

Depression is never the same for two person. One of the reasons is because everyone has a different trigger, and even if you have the same trigger as the other person, you interpret the situation differently too. As psychology always says, it all comes down to the individual differences.

8. People can control their depression and “snap out of it” when they want to.

It is easier to be said than done. Whenever I hear someone says this, it is as if they are trying to say that you can control your flu and stop your running nose the next minute. We can control our thoughts, but not the mental illness itself.

9. People with depression are suicidal.

Not all, but some are suicidal. Suicidal ideation and/or suicidal attempt might occur when it reaches the point that they have given up and they want to end the pain. They often overlook other alternatives to get better, and this is when their friends and family have an important role in showing them a different perspective.

10. Talking about depression only makes it worse.

Here I am openly talking about my mental illness and it is helping to relieve my symptoms. I am not saying that you should tell everyone about your mental health condition, but at least let the people whom you trust to know about it. They will be here for you when you are vulnerable, and they will show you the light to cast the darkness. Trust me, I know.

The Book of Life

Everyone’s life is a book, and the author is no one but yourself.

“Which chapter are you writing now?”, asks him.

“These two chapters — Road to Recovery talks about the people who helped me through the journey; My Best Friend talks about depression that knows me better than anyone else.”

I guess now you know why this blog is called “Road to Recovery”. This is a never-ending road as there is no cure for depression. You will learn to live with it, and hopefully, you will learn to embrace it.

Depression, is like an open wound. It has a different level of cuts on everyone’s body, and everyone has a chance of getting hurt by it. It will take time for the wound to heal up. When you are finally in full remission, it will leave a scar in that spot to remind you of how you got hurt, and how did you recover from it. Hopefully, you will eventually learn to embrace the scar and live with it because it is part of you. And this, is somewhat equivalent to depression.

“I am sorry for your predicament. You surely do not look like a person with depression”, she says.

To be honest, I have never met a person who has this mental illness and actually looks like he/she is struggling with it. I hide my feelings well, and I bury them deep in my heart. I carry a handful of masks with me every day, so that I can put them on in different occasion. On top of these, I laugh along when my trigger is being talked about in public.

If you’re writing the book of your life, make it real, make it fun, and remember to put in the stormy days that make you who you are. Let the book make people remember you as who you used to be. And let your stories inspire those who can resonate with you. Don’t hold back on your stories, or else it will be just like any other bedtime story that has a fairy tale ending.

So, which chapter are you writing right now?

Stay strong, make them wonder how you’re still smiling.

13 Reasons Why

Here are the 13 reasons why I need to live:

  1. You
  2. My family
  3. The people who love and care about me
  4. My dreams
  5. My purpose of life
  6. I made promises that I am meant to keep
  7. You
  8. If I gave up, the effort that I have put in will be in vain
  9. The day that I am waiting for will be here one day
  10. I will leave scars in their heart
  11. The darkness will win
  12. I want to live to tell my story
  13. I love you

I watched ’13 Reasons Why’ weeks after it came out. To be frank, it is not my favourite show, and I am not looking forward to its second season. To me, the show puts too much emphasis on suicide and revenge. The details of how did Hannah Baker come to commit suicide and how much hate she had on her friends should be reduced to minimum. Having said that, I disagree that those 13 reasons are foolish. She was a teenager who wanted to be accepted by her friends, and it took her 13 hits before she made the decision.

Yes, I know that these elements are the ones that make the show entertaining. But these are also the factors that might trigger someone to remember the darkness they used to face. Also, I am utterly confused and angry when the scene of Hannah Baker committing suicide was shown on the show. The scene is completely unnecessary and it will only make people mimic the situation.

“This show is different because it is trying to create the awareness on suicide”, say the actors and actresses in the show.

How about her struggle with mental health?

“We are deeply saddened by the news that some young people committed suicide using the same way Hannah Baker did, i.e. using tapes”, say the producers.

Please don’t tell me you never thought about this problem when you portrayed such detailed process of how she did it. It is a joke if you have never thought about it.

On top of all these, I am disappointed that this show never did mention a single word on mental health issues; ironically, Selena Gomez, a celebrity who was dealing with depression, is one of the producers of the show.

I am aware that the show is a big hit and a lot of people whom I know love the show. I am not in any position to judge your preference on TV shows. I merely hope that while you are enjoying the show, you can learn something good out of it, and you should know that there are people out there who needed your help, just like Hannah Baker.

P/S: ’13 Reasons Why’ SHOULD NOT be renewed for season 2. This is how life is after you committed suicide, it is full of open questions. You will never get to know how other people are living their life because you are not here to see it. Accept it or not, it is just my honest opinion.

What If

What if I gave up, will I still be standing tall?
What if I succeeded, would you cry for me?
What if I rebelled, will I still be who I am today?
What if I were never born, would you still live the same life?

It is comforting to think of the “what if” questions. It gives us hope, it shows us light. It is as if one day, time will turn back, and we can correct our mistakes; it also gives us a sense of power, as if we could predict and control our future.

“What if I have never met them, will I be able to do it on my own?”

No, I say confidently. They gave me the push I needed. They pulled down the curtains and let the light in. And they warmed my heart and kept it beating. They often say that I am strong; yet they did not realise that with them, I am stronger.

“Thank you for pulling me back from the tunnel.”

This word is too small to fit my gratitude towards them. And I am sorry if I have hurt you. I wanted to protect you in the way I can. I thought that it is the best way, but I have certainly overlooked other alternatives.

Carpe diem. And you shall find the meaning of life. If you look closer, you might even find the purpose of life. We all have a purpose in this world, what’s yours?

“You are so brave and quiet. I forget that you are suffering.”
-Ernest Hemingway