I went swimming on the third day that I was off work due to my panic attack. It was just me and another man in the pool. I swam my regular breast stroke. As I stopped to take a breather after a few laps, the man in the pool initiated a conversation with me.

“You are very good with your breast stroke. Don’t you swim other styles? You should swim all the strokes if you can.”

“Freestyle is very tiring for me.”

“Go ahead. Swim. Try. Let me see.”

Being the obedient me, I swam.ย  ๐Ÿ˜†

He pointed out to me that my legs were sinking which was why it’s tiring for me as I needed more energy to wade through the waters. So I tried again, this time trying to get my feet as close to the water surface. And I felt the difference.

Then, he asked if I knew how to swim the backstroke.

“Yes I do but I always either knock my head or my hands when I reach the other end.”

“You have to estimate and count as you are approaching the end. Go, try and swim.”

The obedient me swam again.

“You shouldn’t close your mouth when you are doing the backstroke. You have to open your mouth. It’s ok if the water gets in.” He continued to show me how to let the water flow out when the water gets into the mouth.

But I don’t remember doing any of those when I learned how to do the backstroke many years ago.

Anyway, I will be practising my freestyle stroke when I go swimming the next time because I think I can burn more calories doing it and it’s not that tiring if I do it the right way.

Thank you, Uncle!

Anxious of Being Anxious

Third week into my new job and the panic attack came back to haunt me. I woke up trembling in the morning for 2 days and didn’t report to work. Took another day off to calm myself and went back to work the next day. What’s different this time around is that I’m aware of what’s happening and yet I can’t shake it off as how I would like to. It was a vicious cycle of me being anxious of the already anxious me.

I felt overwhelmed over the course of 2 weeks in the new job, with everything that I thought I had to learn at one go or as fast as I could so that I could get more done. Everything is new to me. I also felt that there is a skill gap as I see how talented and skilful my co-worker is at work compared to where I am. It’s either the new job is challenging or that it’s just me, being not good enough.

In my entire working life, I always had some control over my work. Yes, there were times I do not know how to do certain things but in the end I managed. I also had been at a level where I was very confident with what I was doing even though I had to work alone. People loved me. This time around, especially for the first 2 weeks, I don’t have any sense of control of what I’m doing because I’m just so confused and lost. I was afraid to ask for the second time when I didn’t get it the first time. And when I finally took the courage to ask for the second time but still don’t quite get it, I beat myself up…wondering why I just don’t get it.

My doctor reintroduced another medication for me to curb my panic attack and anxiety and I’m coping well so far. Work is still challenging and I still don’t get it the first time but I don’t beat myself up that much anymore. I accept the fact that I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT and I CAN LEARN HOW TO DO IT even if it means asking FOR THE THIRD OR FOURTH TIME. I’m very shy when it comes to asking for help because I don’t like to look stupid to others. BUT I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LOOK STUPID NOW. ๐Ÿ˜€

One way I do to help motivate myself and to rebuild the long lost confidence is to tell myself I’m learning something everyday even though I’m still not there yet. No matter how small it is, I’m learning. I’m not going to compare myself with the people that are way better than me but I’m going to compare myself today with myself yesterday…because that way I’m kinder to myself. And comparing with others isn’t going to help me anyway. I could only set them as my role model, my goal to reach where they are now by improving myself at where I am now.

Go Gracie, you can do it!

Hello 2014!

Happy New Year! ๐Ÿ™‚

I started the new year with a new job. It’s a change of lifestyle. I have to wake up early to get to work by 7am and I get to leave early too. The plus point to this is I get to avoid the traffic jam. I wasn’t used to waking up so early everyday because I have been a bum, getting to the old office as late as 9:30am sometimes. The first week was tough. I had to force my eyes open on few days just so I make sure I’m staring at the PC even though I’m just practically blank staring to keep myself awake. The night seem shorter too. I’m in bed by 9:30pm to read so that I sleep by 10, latest 10:30pm.

I’m in my second week of work and it is getting better. Not sleepy anymore at work but I’m still struggling with the wake up part. Oh yea, I love to snooze. I can snooze for an hour!

Considering that I had to work today when the rest of the world enjoys their public holiday is something I need to get used to. I’m following the public holidays of a different country, that’s why. And it’s a lot lesser.

Starting a new job brings a certain amount of stress. I’m hoping it’s healthy stress for me. I have days where it takes some self-talk and effort to just show up at work because I’m still scared. I have been given things I’ve never done before and everything seems so new. It may not seem like it’s very difficult to others maybe but it is to me, at least for now. I get a bit panicky when I get something I’ve not done before as my self-confidence level is still low but I’m pumping that up.

Just like today, I was thinking about how nice it is if I was unemployed, resting at home instead of looking at this task which I’ve been looking at for the past 2 days and still had no clue how to get it figured out. 5 minutes before I left work today, I kind of got the solution and then I’m back to my happy self again. I should be able to sleep tonight because I didn’t sleep well on some days last week because I was worried about work. This also means that I’m back to my old self. The worrier. I don’t know if it’s good or bad news.

Anyway, it is not that bad so far. People around me have been very kind and nice. I look forward to building good relationships with people at work. I’ve been pushing myself to talk more. Oh yes, this is an effort for me too. Each time I initiate a conversation or manage to hold a conversation, I give myself bunny points.

Starting this new job, being in a new environment, surrounded by new people, feeling worried and scared for the past week or so have made me realised that I only just want to be HAPPY. I used to mind very much of where I am on my career path, of the kind of work I’m doing, how much I get paid. But if that’s going to cause my unhappiness, I will let it go. This thought just came to me this morning at work and I had a short teary moment of this sudden realisation.

A Closure to 2013

2013 was a crappy year for me, at least for the first half. I continued with the recovery of my eye surgery and the recovery period was filled with lots of doubts and worries. All these uncertainties really took a toll on my happiness and mental health. I also had a wisdom tooth surgery which added to the worries I already have but I’m glad it turned out well.

I tried very hard to be happy but I just wasn’t happy.ย I figured something was wrong with me.

In June, I went to see a psychiatrist and the doctor diagnosed me with major depression. I was advised to start with medication but my family encouraged me to get out of it with my own willpower.

In July, no amount of willpower was helpful since I think I was already in a major one. A day after I turned 31, the bouts of panic attack that came to visit me for the past few days emerged even stronger. That was when I started my healing journey with anti-depressants. I have only read about people having it and never would I have thought that I’ll be a depression patient. Now I know what it feels like to be one.

It was definitely one of the darkest and bleakest moment of my life thus far. It is like hiding in the darkness until I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in October. That’s when I felt like I was back to my normal self again. Even though I felt like I’ve recovered, I had to continue medication for another 6 months to prevent a relapse. The only thing I didn’t like with the medication was how it made me gain weight. But then again, I’d rather be fat than depressed.

I also went to the optician to get my astigmatism glasses prescribed. It wasn’t so much of a dry eye problem that I initially thought I had. It was the astigmatism that would cause blurry vision when lighting is low. This pair of spectacles helped a lot in my recovery. For times where I used to look at something/someone far that’s blur, I would start to question myself if there’s something wrong with my eyes and then the worry loop starts playing. Once I started wearing this glasses, I had a clear vision and there was no need to figure if anything was wrong with my eyes. And I could figure out and see things clearly the first time. Just calculate how much unnecessary thoughts have been eliminated!

The perfectionist in me also accepted this imperfection fact. Even though the purpose of the eye surgery was to remove the need to wear contact lens and glasses, now I’m back to still wearing glasses only for astigmatism (no more short sightedness). I have come to terms with this.

Work wise wasn’t that rosy too. It was down to just me alone from the former 3 people team that I was in. I was not learning anything or anything new and most of the time, I wasn’t occupied at work which created more time for me to worry of all of the above. With the skill gap that I have, I wasn’t confident in being able to get a job I’d wish to have. Most of the time, my self-esteem was low and was so not confident. In September, I managed to find a job. I had the option to continue to rot in my comfort zone or try to conquer out of it. I resigned from a company that comes with lots of employee benefits to join a small company with not much benefits.

I had a very long notice period. 3 months. I had the option to join earlier but I was more concerned about my health than my job. I just started to recover from my depression and thought it would be wise to just hang around, go slow and recover even more.

I started going for tennis classes and am still going now.

The 3 month period was the laziest period. I’ve never been so lazy in my entire life. The doctor said I may just be learning to enjoy life more than I used to. I enjoyed sleeping a lot and I wasn’t the very active or planner me. I’ve always been the kind that would plan and list out things I would need to do for the hour, for the day, the next day, the week, in coming weeks and etc. I would plan ahead. I stopped doing all those. I just let life takes it flow and I went with the flow. But of course, it was too much of a drifting and I know I cannot flow too aimlessly. I used to care every about single damn thing. Now, I couldn’t care about a thing! That’s what my boyfriend noticed about me.

November came and my boyfriend proposed to me. It was unexpected and came a little too soon that I thought. I was surprised, scared at the beginning but it was not long after that that I let reality sink in and was overjoyed that I’m finally getting married. Grace getting married! ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve got things to do, things to plan. It gave me a goal to look forward to.

I finally left the company in December. Had a week break. Welcomed the new year in Singapore, started my new job on 6 Jan 2014 and it’s only today I finally had time to sit down and write. I just want to look back at 2013, know what I’ve gone through and move on with 2014.