Embracing the past, appreciating the present, looking forward to the future!

“Ups and downs”

I know that is normal in life but for me, they are often magnified and blown out of proportions in my head.

I don’t think I am ill anymore, but it is just something that I will need to continuously work on in order to improve the way I handle situations in life.

It is in me to feel like I’m responsible for everything, it is in me to feel that everything is urgent, it is who I am to cry over things that I feel attached to, it is also sometimes in me to feel like disappearing will make all the problems go away.

I know “…but that’s who I am!” is not an excuse because we grow as a person after every single experience. However, I also know that evolving something fundamental takes time.

I’ve been told that I am too harsh on myself, and after quite some battle, I think I finally agree.

It doesn’t matter what title I give myself, a daughter, a girlfriend, a friend or a chef, I am still human, and it is normal to be able to feel emotions and be affected by them.

So I guess at times where I feel overwhelmed by something, I should:

  1. step back, look up and appreciate the fact that I am still breathing;
  2. calm down, think logically and see the big picture; and
  3. know that it is okay, because I can only get better from here.

🙂

An Organised chaos. 

“Oh that is pretty common.”

The above quote is almost what people say when they hear that I have a condition called bipolar disorder (depression & mania). It is true that the mental disorder is quite common, but that doesn’t make it easier. 

Can you just picture this: 

You’re inside your body. Your mind is racing. You can hear everything that everyone is saying around you. You can see everything that is happening. You just can’t seem to do anything “right”. You’re stuck inside your own body. 

And then when you get around to explaining things, the mechanics of your mouth can only convey so much that everything comes out like a blabber. It is so unclear but yet everything makes sense to you. 

In your head, you KNOW you’re meant to relax, you KNOW you’re meant to take deep breaths, you KNOW all these common sense and yet you cannot control your mind. 

This is how I feel whenever I’m manic. 

I’ve gotten a lot better now and each time I have one of these episodes, I am in control of my mind more. 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned thus far is: stay true to yourself, you’re the only person who know yourself the best. 

Let’s take a look at this yoga analogy: imagine yourself in a group class, surrounded by people of all levels and also full length mirrors. This is a great environment for comparing yourself with others YET it is an activity which requires full focus and mindfulness. 

The positions you have to hold are adjustable based on your own level. All you need to do is know yourself, do the best you can and not compare yourself with others. 

Imagine balancing on one leg and your arms stretched. This pose requires focus. Once your mind wander off to compare yourself to those who are “worse” or “better” than yourself, your attention is divided and you will start to lose balance. 

This is exactly what we need to remember in our daily lives. Everyone has their own progress and there really isn’t a benchmark to measure life. Don’t compare. You will need to first fix your thinking before you can work on other parts of your life- be it work, school or other skills. 

As for those of us with mental disorders – just rememeber that YOU are still in there. You just need help and more time to realise that, in all the chaos, there is an organised mess that is life. 

Just keep going, don’t doubt yourself, and focus. 

Life 101: “Anything can happen, at any time!” 

  
“Anything can happen, at any time… What do I do now? Should I be doing this to avoid that?” 

The quote in the title may seem blatantly obvious to you about how life works, but at a point in 2014, this was my mindset and it really affected me negatively. I felt so uneasy and paranoid that I just couldn’t live properly. In one of my sessions with my psychiatrist back then, I shared it with her and she said to me, “yes, May Ling, that is true”, but there are different ways to look at that phrase. 

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Life 101: What Helped Me at My Lowest Point

You may or may not know this, but from personal experience, I know that there are better days even when you’re depressed. When I was sick, there were a few troughs during that period. I wasn’t down for the entire year but there were periods of time where it was worse than the others. During those periods, it was extremely difficult for me to do anything or maintain a positive outlook on life. It wasn’t until I was constantly pushed (in a good way) by my boyfriend and family to be positive that I started to get better.

In my case, my depression was mostly caused by the stress built up throughout my entire life leading up to the breaking point. It was due to a combination of pressure placed on myself by myself and others. In the end, I completely lost confidence in everything I did, even in things that I was good at – for example, studying.

Looking back, I feel that what helped me a lot was this piece of paper.

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This isn’t any ordinary piece of paper, it was something that I found difficult to even write down at the time. My dad found an article in a Malaysian Chinese newspaper back around April/May 2014 on this matter, and the content of this piece of paper pretty much sums up the main points of the article. (At the time of writing, I could no longer find the article where these statements were from – I apologise for not being able to link you to it).

With the help of my family and boyfriend, finally I came to realise the importance of these 3 statements.

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Life 101: How I Dealt With Bipolar Disorder

I was diagnosed with severe depression in June/July 2013, and bipolar disorder in September 2014. Both diagnoses were similar in the sense that there is a depressed element; but with bipolar disorder, there is also a manic stage, which is the polar opposite of depression.

My behaviour and reaction in both stages were extremely different, as suggested by the term “bipolar”. It was difficult for myself and others to accept and deal with during both times.

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Personal: Living with Bipolar

It came as a shock to me, that I have bipolar disorder. At the time where my doctor pinpointed my manic stage, was exactly when I felt like I was getting better because I could then do things without worrying too much, and I was more confident than ever about my abilities. 

Maybe that’s when it’s the most worrying for everyone involved, because I felt invincible. I felt like I was doing things that I wanted to do most, saying things I meant 100% and just confident in everything I did.

But then there were signs. I was constantly working, and never stopped. I never felt tired and didn’t sleep very much. I was doing things that I wouldn’t have otherwise done have I not been in the manic stage, e.g. talking to strangers, saying a bit too much. I had unlimited energy. I used a lot of energy during the day but I couldn’t sleep properly. I woke up early and everyday it seemed that I was just getting better, from depression.

It is true, I was getting better from depression, because the opposite of depression, was mania. But perhaps I was becoming too well that it started to concern those around me. 

It took a toll on my body. I was physically shaking. Then came the crash or the downside of this, depression. It is as if I’m two different persons. I didn’t want to leave the house or see anyone or do anything. Polar opposite of what I was like before. Luckily for me, mine was controlled and that I am feeling a lot better now. Hopefully normal life resumes soon.