The Weekend

I’ve not had a weekend like this for a long time. Went for a movie. Thor: Ragnarok was a lot of fun! Had ramen at Menya Musashi and it tasted so good, most probably because I’ve not had it for a long time too. Went for a quick coffee at Pattisez before our Thai massage session. The masseur was working on my legs while I worked on getting my Korea trip photos out in Instagram. Looking back at photos after a vacation brings so much joy. Posted a blog post which has been saved as draft since forever (Nov 2016). Went for zumba in the park on Sunday morning. Sarawak laksa and Teh C (milk tea) for breakfast. Laundry. Smoked salmon salad and wild mushroom soup for lunch. Inside Scoop for ice cream and waffle. 3 episodes of Korean drama – “Criminal Minds”.

Coming back from Seoul a few days ago has set me thinking differently a slight bit. My heart seems lighter too. I was all tensed up prior to the trip as I was busy planning the itinerary. It’s my 3rd trip to Seoul and I would have thought it would be easy to come out with the itinerary. It’s easy but I make things difficult for myself. This is my husband’s first trip to Seoul and I wanted it to be a good one for him, hence the pressure that I put on myself.

Was also rushing for work till the last hour before the trip. I’m always the busiest before I travel. It’s like the universe knows I’ll be away and work comes flowing in only when your travel date is near. Bleh.

During the trip in Seoul, I was a little tensed too and I worried a lot if the travel plan was coming along well and if my husband was enjoying the holiday. I enjoyed the trip but I just realised I didn’t let my hair down completely.

So this particular weekend, the first weekend after the trip, I wanted to just zero out. I’m listening to piano pieces by Yiruma as I’m writing this. I was happiest when I write. I don’t know why I just stopped writing. Time is one. Busyness is second. I don’t know when I’ll be writing my next post but I really want to continue to write regularly again.

Because it feels like home.

A Clean Slate

This was written in 2016 but only being published now in 2017. Wanted to perfect it further and made sure I didn’t leave out any important events. But oh well, I should push the publish button already.

Here we go…

I’ve been wanting to write this piece of writing at the end of 2015 to celebrate a year free of depression but couldn’t find the time to sit down and pen my thoughts. It has also been slightly over a year since I last post something to this blog so here we go…

2015 meant a lot to me. It was a year where I celebrated my first wedding anniversary, a year where I could stay in a job with a small company where I worked on so many things and learned so much than I ever did during my previous 2 years spent working in a bigger company.

It was also a year where I began to practice yoga seriously. A year where I began to carry myself lightly. A year where I’m surrounded by more younger people but finding them more complicated than my older self. I guess it was also a year my thinking became simpler. I used to worry and think too much.

2015 was a crucial year for me because I wanted to make it count. I’ve lost 2013 and 2014 due to major depression. It was tough because the first time I was diagnosed with depression was around my birthday in 2013. Imagine taking your birthday gifts with you and placing them next to your pillow and crying yourself to bed on your birthday night. I had trouble remembering things, my memory was failing me. Coming from a person with good memory, it was a very scary feeling what depression can do to instil in me all the fear I’ve never asked for. I wanted to remember my big day and was so afraid that I’ll forget the people who celebrated the birthday with me. I wanted to wake up the next day, thinking about the birthday celebration that my loved ones had prepared with so much thought in it just to make me happy, knowing well the condition I was in.

I had to quit my job and stopped working for about 8 months because I couldn’t work, let alone get out of bed or the house during some of the worst days.

My birthday on the next year in 2014 wasn’t a great one either. I was down with dengue fever and had a depression relapse just about the same period. It was harder this round because I had two important milestones I was looking forward to. My registration of marriage is to happen in August and few months down the road, I’ll need to walk down that aisle in November. I just cannot afford to have this depression happening at that juncture.

I eventually managed to recover in time to walk down that aisle with God’s grace. I’m now God’s Grace. Sometimes amazing. 🙂

I put in a lot of effort to be free of depression in 2015. I worked hard to resume my career. I wasn’t expecting a lot. I just took up a job that was being offered without thinking if it had the perks and benefits I used to have. I just wanted to get back up again and prayed that the environment and job would allow me to. I had to make sure I do not get too stressed up with work and to be able to withstand a good amount of stress when it happens at the workplace. 2015 was a year of being very conscious of my well-being, physically, and more importantly mentally and emotionally.

I knew what it’s like to be in the dark for a long time and once you’re there, you’ll never want to go back again. I was very sad about the relapse that happened in 2014 because I read somewhere that once you have a relapse, the tendency of another relapse is high. So my goal from then on is to make sure I don’t have anymore relapses.

I have a few poignant moments during my darkest period that I’ll never forget, in no particular order as below:-

1. I cried so much in the office toilet, feeling sad that I was feeling sad for no particular reason. My now husband, then boyfriend took me to the temple after work, I sat there, with a calming feeling sweeping over me with the chanting sound coming from the temple. I cried even more, this time with even bigger tears. I call it the biggest cry of my life up till now. I could literally feel that big drop of tears forming around my eyes, dropping down one by one with much weight.

2. I actually suggested to my boyfriend to bring me to see a psychiatrist. I was searching on the Internet of what could be wrong with me. I stumbled upon an article on depression and the symptoms I was experiencing matches the list. It took me some time to acknowledge that I may be suffering from depression. The first visit was tough because the doctor so easily proclaimed I was suffering from severe depression and it would be hard to recover on my own without the help of medication. But still, I told him I will try and he gave my boyfriend some medication in case I changed my mind. I didn’t touch any of it.

3. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going anywhere. I finally gave in when I was trying hard to not cry in the food court while eating with my colleagues. I excused myself immediately after lunch and walked superbly fast to get out of the building. I had another cry this time and I was shaking. I tearfully told my boyfriend who was trying to pull me together that I want to go see the doctor. I couldn’t do it on my own anymore.

4. I started going on medication. I slept so much in the first week like I’ve not slept for years. I began to have appetite which I’ve lost for I don’t know how long. I put on weight because the medication makes you crave for food, in my case, sweet stuff.

5. The first depression was long and it took quite awhile for me to recover. The relapse was shorter but more intense and scarier. I had thoughts of me committing suicide. It seemed real and feels like a bad nightmare at the same time. I’m definitely not the kind of person who would do such thing so when these thoughts started appearing, I was very very scared.

6. My family … What would I be without my family? My sister brought me to see a psychologist on top of the psychiatrist that I was already seeing. The psychologist made me sign a pledge that I will not take my own life. I was ashamed that I was actually signing that piece of paper because like I said, I’m not that sort of person to take my own life. However, it was real that I had such thoughts appearing in my mind and so it served as a reminder and also a promise to myself that I had to make sure I choose to LIVE. Another thing that I can relate a little and understand when I read on the news about people taking on their own lives, is that it may not be something they want to put themselves through. But when depression hits you like a truck, you suffer so much that you just want to end it. It is not about not having any willpower. You don’t have anything anymore inside and it takes someone who has experienced severe depression to understand what it is really like and how it makes you feel.

7. I’ve always thought that I’m a burden to my parents. When you are in depression, you would feel like a burden to everyone, particularly people closest to you, due to the fact that you loved them the most and similarly you don’t want them to see you suffer. My mum was with me, making sure I ate well and for the first time, I made her drive in KL because I had panic attacks that will happen unpredictably and I couldn’t drive. She had to drive me to the doctor with me navigating and directing her from the passenger seat.

8. My dad gave me lectures and reminded me how important I am and that I matter when I told him I felt useless. I must have broke his heart for saying that to him when he sees something entirely different in me than what I saw in myself.

9. My family went with me to China to see a doctor. They would move the highest mountains and cross the deepest ocean just to help me get up again. I live with that in mind each time darkness looms and I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel. At times, it felt like there was no end to this darkness.

10. I even told my to-be-husband at that time not to marry me as I didn’t feel like I was going to make him happy. Again, I told him I was a burden to him. He never gave up on me and so willingly and lovingly take me under his wings.

11. I still have no clue what is the main cause of this depression. It could be genetic, accumulated stress or both.I have been very well-protected by my parents and I would say my life has been quite smooth-sailing. I did well in school and I performed well in my job. I haven’t had any significant hardship (well, there’s one but I survived it and so I thought I wasn’t affected by it but who knows it could be post-traumatic stress too).

12. I do the things I want to do now without thinking too much. You only get to live once and for me, I felt like I’ve been revived from my dead soul. Depression was the worst experience I’ve ever gone through but it was also the best because it taught me a lot, made me understand myself better, showed me the unconditional love of my family and friends. I used to be very timid, shy and fearful growing up as a kid. Most of my life up till I had depression has always been filled with fear, anxiety and worries. But now, I can feel courage and I’m building to have more of it. I am not that fearful anymore because there is nothing scarier than the scariest that I’ve already been through.

13. I’m very busy with my life now and I religiously stick to my weekly yoga class. I’m going to practise yoga for life because yoga gave a me lift and boost my recovery. It makes me calm and it makes me love my body and mind.

What is coming is better than what is gone.

Back to Work

During Christmas last year, I wrote a note and inserted it into a Christmas stocking. I told Santa I wanted a rewarding career. I missed the feeling of job satisfaction and achievement. Something I’ve not been feeling for over 2 years. I had a 8-month career break since June last year. It was a big decision to make. I had all my worries and concern. I knew I needed to take time off to clear my mind, to reset my life, to completely recover from depression. I was worried about the salary that will not be credited into my account, I was worried if any employer would take me in after seeing a gap of unemployment in my resume, I was worried if my skills will be outdated. I was worried about so many things but I made the decision anyway to be out of employment.

As much as I enjoyed the time off, I had moments particularly after the wedding that I wanted to get back into the working world. I wanted to dress up, drive a car and go to work. I wanted to be with people. I wanted to have colleagues. I just want to start working again and to restore my lost confidence.

I had 3 interviews over the span of 2 weeks the moment I started actively looking for job in the beginning of the year. Two were referrals and one was a company contacting me through LinkedIn. I accepted the offer to work for the smallest company I’ve ever worked for. Just the 10 of us.

Of course, I was worried again if I made the right choice but I didn’t overthink this time. The last time I remember, I overthink into whether to accept a job offer that it aggravated my already stressed mind and since then I started spiralling down into the black hole. I didn’t want to apply for any further jobs since I got the job offer. I do not have big fat benefits a large MNC would offer. It’s not an international company. Everything is pretty basic but my heart just told me to just go for it.

I’m just thankful that I’ve got a job, to have the opportunity to start from ground zero again. There is no job description in black and white given to me so I went in with a blank canvas, taking on my first project with a lot to learn. I’m the only one in the team with the designated role and the only female in the team.

I’m grateful for the nice people at work. I’m grateful to have a MacBook Pro even though it comes with a really noisy fan. I’m grateful that I can commute later in the morning to work to escape the traffic jam. I get home later because of that but I’m fine. At times, I would need to hang around a little longer at work or the mall below it to wait out on traffic jam on rainy days. I drive 37km one way everyday. I’m grateful to be working in the same area (opposite blocks) with my sister. We can meet up for lunch. Something I cherish and appreciate very much now that we are not staying together since I got married.

I rejoice in the ability to be independent again. I rejoice in the ability to focus. I’m happy that I don’t beat myself up. I’m happy that I can utilise my brain again 🙂

I’m more at peace with myself. I’ve never regretted taking that career break. Even though I was poorer (bank account wise), productivity wise there wasn’t much, no big achievements but I spent time with myself. It taught me lessons…that it’s ok to take a break. Things will eventually work out. Worrying and overthinking is the worst thing you can do to your heart and brain. I know what is important to me and what matters. I am more “cincai”. I ignore little stuff that don’t really matter so that I spend energy and time on stuff that matters. I value my health and happiness more so I’m always on constant check on my stress level. I’m rounder and fatter because exercise time has been reduced since I started working…but I want to get back to my exercise routine again.

There are definitely more things that swim around in my mind now. During my break, I focused on myself. Now, I’m also thinking for my loved ones. I’m just glad that even though I’m a changed lady but I’m still very much me.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Getting into a Routine

December was a super lazy month for me. The wedding happened and I had a lot of free time on hand as I was free from all those wedding planning. Gained a kilogramme. Ate a lot. Ate things I like. Didn’t exercise as much as I did due to the holiday seasons. Slept a lot.

Came January and I started to go into a routine. The little one (niece-in-law) started going to a montessori and being the only one who’s still unemployed in the house, I’m driving her to and back from school, accompanied by her favourite Grandpa. I get up at 7 something to be ready by 8am. School starts at 8:30am.

The first week of montessori was an interesting scene. I sat on the little bench outside while Grandpa walked the little princess up to her class. Wailing boy at the gate, hoping to get a sight of his parents who just dropped him off. A crying boy in the arms of his mother, shouting “I want Mummy!” even though Mummy is already carrying him. Another little boy was sobbing silently. He was trying very hard to hold back the tears. He was sad that he’s left alone without his parents but he also knew he had to go to school. Amidst the tears, he took off his shoes, obediently put the shoes on the rack and then stepped into the montessori. It was funny and at the same time heartbreaking.

Then there was one little girl who walked into the gate of the school in a very cheerful demeanour. She was holding on to her little dog soft toy and walked joyfully. Seeing her makes you happy.

The little princess did well on her first day too. She didn’t cry. She loved school. She was down with fever the day before and insisted on going to school despite everyone telling her she can’t since she’s got a temperature. Such persistence! Me and her Grandpa surrendered to her request and brought her to school only to be told by her teacher after having her temperature taken to go home. She obediently obliged.

Apart from that, I also drive my mother-in-law to buy vegetables on some mornings. In between my free time, I’m starting to look out for jobs. Attended one just yesterday and there’s two more upcoming interviews. Let’s see where I’ll land.

2014 Flashback

January: Started a new job. No longer being in the same office of my then husband-to-be. Being comfortable and more open about the relationship. Removed a lot of stress.

February-March: Working very hard at the new workplace.

April: Took pre-wedding photos and booked the date for our ROM(Registration of Marriage)!

May-June: Took the plunge to take a career break because the work stress is making me go haywire. Travelled to Bandung with my sister as a pre-wedding gift for me.

July: Started going for yoga. Diagnosed with dengue fever and had a depression relapse not long after that. This is the worst birthday for me as it was the last year. Depression haunted my favourite month for 2 years.

August: Morning depression disappeared. Travelled to Shanghai and Chengdu. Signed the papers and became someone’s wife legally but still acting like I’m single. 😀

September: Trying my best to be in control of my well-being, physically, mentally and emotionally. Travelled back to Sandakan.

October: Religiously doing my exercises. Yoga, tennis.

November:  Got married!

December: Honeymoon in Bali.