Depression #15: My 31st Birthday

This birthday is one that I’ll remember because I was in major depression while I was celebrating it.

I dressed up for the day to work. Wanting to look good despite feeling down still. I managed to carry myself well for not crying at work. A girl who had suffered from and recovered from depression organised the birthday lunch for me. It was such a sweet thought coming from her. I was moved to tears. Anything that’s a bit touchy would make me tear during my depression period.

We had lunch at a newly-opened Japanese restaurant and when asked if there was a free cake for the birthday girl, they happily made one fresh from kitchen for me. Very nice indeed!

My boyfriend organised a karaoke session after work with some colleagues and it came with a surprise. He had invited one of my close friends to appeared halfway through the karaoke with a mini cake, accompanied by a candle. I was glad to see my friend there and still feeling a bit dazed. I was trying to process that this is a surprise and I’m supposed to feel HAPPY. But I wasn’t HAPPY. I was just GLAD.

Even my friend felt it. She didn’t feel how I would normally react. Jumpy and excited, when I’m feeling really happy.

When I sang during the karaoke, I just sang words but I didn’t feel any emotion in me. That troubled me a lot that I cried during my drive home. I was questioning again and again what was wrong with me. Why can’t I be HAPPY on my birthday? Why can’t I feel overjoyed? This is a wonderful birthday celebration after all.

I reached home, opened the door, to find my sister and parents singing “Happy Birthday” with a chocolate cake waiting for me and not forgetting 3 minions standing in front of the cake, which my sister got her boyfriend to get for me from McDonald’s.

I was a little happier now compared to the cry during my drive back home. I went to bed with the 3 minions, a gift my mum got for me, a gift set from my sister and the white seal soft toy from my dad. I went to bed with all my birthday presents because I want to remember what a great birthday I just had.

Depression #14: Astigmatism

My expectations towards my vision correction surgery was that I was able to see clearly again. My definition of clearly means perfect vision. Therefore, when my vision didn’t turn out to be perfect, it was hard for me to accept.

At first, I thought something was very wrong with my vision and I think of everything that’s negative about it. Am I getting cataracts? Why can’t I see well in certain low-light conditions? Am I suffering from serious dry eye?

After about 8 months of getting my vision correction surgery, I resorted to wearing spectacles for my astigmatism, when necessary. -1.5 on the left and -1.25 on the right. My astigmatism power has increased from the last time I was tested at 4 months after surgery.

My ophthalmologist couldn’t understand what I was going through (at least that’s what I felt) because I’ve been trying to tell him of why I wasn’t seeing as well as I think I should. He suggested dry eyes but dry eyes wasn’t what I think I was suffering from, at least right up till the point when I wore glasses for astigmatism. I’ve stopped using artificial tears and I now wear glasses in low-light conditions where I can’t see well. Outdoor or in bright-light condition, I’m able to see well without my glasses.

When my vision is blurry or hazy, it gives me a sense of insecurity and fear and lots of doubts. With the help of the glasses, I was able to rule out that astigmatism was the cause of the blurriness. And knowing that I don’t suffer from anything else but astigmatism, it gives me a sense of security, which helps in me overcoming depression.

I love my ophthalmologist but at the same time, I also hate him. He’s good with surgery but it’s just unfortunate that I was respondent to the steroid eye drops which was necessary to be used after surgery. You won’t know what you’re responsive and allergic to until you try something anyway. To me, it’s steroid. What I didn’t like was that at times, I didn’t feel he understood what I was trying to say and that he ruled out astigmatism to be the cause.

With all that I’ve been through, people would wonder if I ever regretted getting my vision corrected by surgery. My answer would be no because I had extremely high power of short-sightedness which was corrected by the surgery. I had complications of high eye pressure which may have caused my astigmatism to occur but then again, there is just so much convenience of going out without wearing thick glasses. With the imperfect vision of slight astigmatism and perfection mentality, I also learnt to embrace imperfection.

Depression #13: Instagram

Instagram helped me tremendously. I love this app so much…more than Facebook. ๐Ÿ™‚

I took a lot of pictures and I liked looking at them. Liked it more when people liked my photos or followed me.

It helps to boost the creative side of me and I think this helps in my recovery process. Looking at other instagrammer’s beautiful pictures helped to instill a sense of peace and beauty. It was also something I could focus on and improve on getting better.

Depression #12: Spotify

A friend introduced me to Spotify before I had my depression. It was during my depression period where I fully utilized this music streaming service. I can listen to music on my laptop as well as on my iPhone. I signed up for the premium version where I pay RM14.90 a month, which I think is cheap if you compared it with buying CDs. With this small amount, I exposed to a whole library of music, songs of different languages and genres, start a radio based on a certain song that I like, as well as discovering new songs and rediscovering old songs I used to listen.

I listened to instrumental and classical music a lot. I’ve come to know to names of classical pieces I used to play while I learned to play the piano when I was young. It’s been more than 15 years since I last touched a keyboard or a piano to really play a song. I miss those days.

Anyway, I listened to one particular track a lot. It’s Pachelbel’s Canon in D. There was just something with this piece of classical music that calms me. I also plugged in to Spotify while I read, which was also particularly helpful.

Spotify continues to be my companion while I work and while I’m having my me-time at home. That is how music has played a role in my depression recovery.

Depression #11: The General Practitioner

My mum wanted me to get a second opinion since I didn’t know whether I should really be on medication as what the psychiatrist has prescribed. I wasn’t sure if I needed a second opinion because whatever the next person tells me, I would believe it for awhile but the next minute, I would be doubting if it’s the right thing to do. Again, it boils down to the inability to make decisions.

But I went anyway. There is no harm. Just maybe I got more confused after that.

The first visit to the GP turned out to be a different doctor than the usual doctor I normally visit. He was on leave for a week so I was attended to by another lady doctor.

I told her straight that I was suffering from depression. It’s not easy to admit that you are in a depression and saying it out loud to someone. I said it anyway and she gave me some counselling which helped for like 24 hours. I still remember what she said to me and it’s one GP visit that I’ll never forget. And her words made me felt like she went through depression herself and she’s out of it now because I don’t think anyone can be so detailed into describing how it is like unless you’re in one before.

I was given MC to get days off work to rest my mind.

My second visit to the GP after a week or so was the doctor I usually see. He advised me to take one out of the two prescriptions that I was given and said I will be ok in a week or two. He told me there will be no side effects. (Maybe there is… I don’t know and he can’t be telling a depressed person how bad the side effects are if there really is one I thought).

In the end, I chose to listen to the psychiatrist advice and to this date, I have no regrets of taking medication because it really helped in stopping my panic attack and as of writing, I would like to say I have recovered even though I still have to continue my medication for another 6 months to prevent a relapse from happening.

Doctors are amazing, I’d say. I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed of seeing the psychiatrist even though there may be a stigma that may label someone with depression as being weak. For all I know a person who has gone through depression, will come out stronger. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I agree wholeheartedly.