Tag Archive | depression

opened heart



it dawned upon me that my memory has been deteriorating further, because my word-finding difficulty is now at its peak, and my memory recall is terrible despite having some time pass from my last currents. and then… i am reminded that everything that transpires in this long journey from nothingness to recovery has a lasting impact on this temporary body which i abuse pretty much. this was something that i might already have known, but was too defiant to recognise and acknowledge. and alas, this leaves me with some regret.


it’s been 7 years at the brink of hell, i’ve always said i’m on the threshold of giving up, and it never seems to be getting better. what gives? i don’t know. the people around me don’t know what to do. they either stay silent, or comment nonchalantly. why are you still like this?; it’s been so long!; you are like that because your faith is not strong enough (i lost a friend for that because it was totally inappropriate);  huh!!! you cut again ah!!!; what did you do this time??? (must i have done something to be not feeling well or admitted???); aiyah i think you really need a boyfriend (overwhelmingly popular comment); etc.

but at the sidelines have been my family and close friends (NO boyfriend), cheering me on in the ways they know. this however, was hard for me. most of those who loved me didn’t know how to support me, and all i could perceive was silence and isolation. the loneliness i felt all these years, imposed by myself and wrongfully felt was crushing. it took years of therapy and retrospection to realise that my family all had their different ways of expressing their love for me.

i isolated myself nevertheless, and took down the facade i worked hard to maintain once i’m alone. i could trust myself most times, but i can say right up till today, i cannot trust a single person. not even my parents. and it actually aches right in the heart to know that. it is hard to put it in words, but the psyche of a chronically depressed, a bulimic, and a chronically suicidal borderline who severely self-harms, is hard to understand (and that is already discounting the fact that i also cope with RA and fibro at the same time, complicating everything!). and even that is a terribly sore understatement. i spent the last few weeks in much agony (although i had all these 7 years to explore this) trying to accept that maybe, just maybe, i am just one who cannot be grasped with the mind and the heart. or maybe i could tell you everything, but would you be able to take it? *hmm* it was difficult to accept this as i repeatedly spoke to my psychotherapist about this. i’m a borderline. i am needy. i thrive on being understood (or seemingly being understood). even as we tried to rebuild relationships, my parents and i, as we continued family therapy, i had my separate life from them when i’m alone. i couldn’t find the courage to integrate the self which i’ve relied on for 7 years and carried the painful pasts, weaknesses and unforgivable failures, together with the fake and detestable self that is fronted by a facade which was built upon lies and lies and lies, but also successes that felt unmerited (and layers and layers of defense mechanisms). how could i ever tell you, or anyone for that matter, that when i’m with you i am not entirely genuine? how could i ever tell you that my lack of authenticity with you at times might be because say, you were talking and i was listening and nodding my head, but ‘because i felt so dysphoric all i was thinking of was cutting’.  (i’m a terrible person. i know that, and i believe that most times. and perhaps i really do deserve all of these.)

anyhow, at the end, i think the goal is that i’m alive. i don’t necessarily agree with it. but no one can say that i’m not trying. dysphoria, anxiety, triggers and chronic suicidality are a lot of factors to deal with when it come to the causes of my self-harm. and more so when my self-harm has escalated in the last 2-3 years. i’m not proud of it. no no no. but i’m here. i’m still here. although i’m merely existing, until i figure things out and recovery becomes a real possibility. i recognise that life still goes on, so in doing so i’ll make sure i’ll finish my honours degree by December. it is one of those times in these 7 years where i have to tell myself “Steph, you can’t afford to fall during this period. You just can’t.” and there were no buts. because i knew the consequences of falling during crucial periods. you fall, you end up in hospital much to the dismay of your teachers, you end up deferring your module/course/graduation (yes graduation, fuck it), you repeat the module with strangers while you see your friends on social media graduating or progressing on ie. you got left behind, and teachers all start asking what happened to you, or what happened to you, or heaven forbid, things like why are you so fat, why are you so weak etc. and the thing is, i already fell so many times during this school year, and only got out of the hospital a few weeks ago. many rules and sanctions have been placed on me to make sure i’m safe. everything was fixated on my crazies. but i think no one thought to make sure i was a tiny bit happier or pain-free?

i’ve tried. i really have. doctors in the e-rooms always ask me if i’ve gone off my meds, and i wish i have, but i have never gone off my psychiatric meds (so why the crises???). i’ve always found it an insurmountable task processing the sinking sadness of depression, BPD’s ricocheting, instability in affect and interpersonal relationships, neediness, self-mutilation and suicidality, emptiness that can never be filled, the deep ache that is so visceral, the rage, all of it even until today. yet somehow i’ve allowed some of it to take over. may there be a day, like the psychiatrists say, that my symptoms (or BPD) may be ameliorated. Dr G (not my psychotherapist) once told me that borderlines usually take 5-10 years with psychodynamic psychotherapy. i’ve hit 7. i guess 3 more years to truly see if things really get better? (then again, psychiatrists have told me i’m the worst case they’ve ever seen.)

at this point where i am ending this post, i am feeling quite sad and it feels quite visceral. but well, i’m just gonna try to smoke it off.

 

 

 

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this is the way, walk in it

in 72 hours, i presented myself twice (and no less) to the Emergency Department, afraid of bscklash, wallowing in shame and guilt. how did things become this way?

in June, and even now in July, i struggle. i can tell you that having faith itself and claiming to have head knowledge are a world of a difference. i know that in my utter brokenness, my faith is lacking. i don’t claim as much as i can, my identity as the beloved child and daughter of God. i always remember from retreats and from conversations with friends, about how Peter walked on water. i have to learn from him, in that he trained his eyes on Jesus- he had faith and he believed! because when his eyes wandered he sank!

i have to constantly keep my gaze on God, my saviour! i may not always know why i am triggered or upset, but i guess i just have to put my faith and trust in Him? and yes, i have to learn to open the door of my heart to Him!!!

“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.”

-Ephesians 1:5-8

p.s. Haemoglobin has dropped to 8.5g/dL, but they said it wasn’t low enough for a blood transfusion. Hand surgeons said Palmaris Longus and Flexor Carpi Radialis Sheath both sustained cuts (ie damage) but they weren’t gonna repair it. On a backslab now.

turning inward

you look outside of yourself, hoping that somewhere out there, someone can complete you or satisfy you. you look towards others for love, for acceptance, for understanding. and perhaps you did find someone, or some people, who do love you, accept you and understand you. and for awhile you feel like you’re home, glad that you can finally let your guard down. but time passes, and it hits you like a truck. there are conditions attached. haven’t you heard that there are always “buts”? you learn that there are things you do, things that are actually just parts of who you are, that make them love you less, accept you less, and misunderstand you. how do you make that right then, you ask yourself? how do you make them love you whole again? you will always have to be more. better and more. it will never suffice. and you will chase after that till the day you die, if love and acceptance and understanding is what you want to carry you through.

the human condition is terrible, truth be told. we are made like that. but it is also the human condition that makes us soft, and vulnerable. that gives us the capacity to love. give and take, no? expectations and its disappointments will kill you if you let it.

above all, trust in no one but in God alone.


the last 2 months have been spent in much anguish. i made a difficult decision of taking a step back from the desire of human connection. at that time it was very painful for me as i felt that many conversations i had were not genuine, whether it’s because i wasn’t intentional, or vice versa. for someone who thrives on human connection, i basically deprived myself of my social sustenance. the last 2 months (which also fell during the period of Lent) was also a period of spiritual desolation for me, and i really wondered why i was deliberately putting myself through so much pain.

changes in medication, lots of therapy, 30+ stitches, plenty of tears, and many prayers later, and on Good Shepherd Sunday, i know now.

turn not to people for your sustenance, but to God. He is unfailing!!! 🙂

“The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing i shall want.” 

Psalm 23:1

after the fall

so as i chased after darkness, i fell. serves me right. it was painful, not for the act itself, but the repercussions. when did it ever not hurt? questions rained down on me throughout the 5 days i was in the system. it sowed doubts in my heart and rendered me discombobulated. and it did not help that i could not find the light anymore. i walked out of there as soon as i could. i wanted to find the light, and i couldn’t find it while locked up in there. i know it is out there somewhere. but out in the splendid darkness, if light is not to be found, that is most dangerous for me.


i guess recovery constantly tests a person’s spirit. it’ll always ask “do you want this badly enough?”, as if to keep you on your toes. and if you let slip that you don’t, that’s when you crack and fall. and as long as you choose the light over darkness, recovery will demand that you damn well put in whatever effort it takes to get through each day. choose it, or lose it. mmm. that’s harsh.

 

 

when i can’t, You always can

i’ve been thinking a lot these days, all the while having thought-provoking conversations with people from my community.

it’s been 6 years since i fell into depression, and it’s also been 6 years since i hung up my pointe shoes for good. to say that the last 6 years was difficult, is a sore understatement. i’ve always found it hard to get back on my feet. each time i seem to be grasping recovery in my hands, i fall even harder. my doctors can only conclude that i am severe case who can’t seem to remit or get better.

loss. loss is something i experience a lot, and I have been unable to properly grief each time. i’m still hung up about each and every loss that i’ve experienced, that i almost seem to live in the past. the what ifs, the could’ve beens, the should’ve beens.

the loss of giving up ballet due to RA’s joint involvement, and the inability to even try to go back to class because of my deconditioning from prolonged hospitalisations and the breathlessness from long-drawn anemia… i never got over that. and now even though i could go back to class, the recent mysterious attack on my left leg has rendered my leg almost useless for ballet. it never really ends, does it? this was one of the two passions in my life, and giving it up hurt plenty.

the loss of my sanity in 2010, my fall from “grace”… i never got over all that i’ve lost from that fateful day when i finally called it quits and downed all those pills. i continued losing a lot more because i could never reconcile with myself the fact that i am imperfect, flawed and only human. i continued to battle with myself, against the words of others and the self-deprecating beliefs about myself. and right here right now, i’m still clawing my way up the deep dark hole that i fell in.

i lost my calling. the calling which I was so passionate about. even though i was the one who chose to give up nursing, it still aches so bad. but between getting hurt by the people around me as a nurse, and hurting because i left, it’s easier to choose the latter. nursing is unfortunately my only other passion that gave me some semblance of a meaning and purpose in my life. it’s been a year, and although i moved on to study psychology, i’d return to nursing in a heart beat once my doctor gives me full clearance.

i lost my freedom to be free and active. the fatigue from RA and fibromyalgia can be very debilitating, and it’s something very few people can understand. the fatigue, amotivation and insomnia from depression piled on top of it. and then i gave up trying. long days overwhelm and tire me. physical activities scare the shit out of me. crowds and excessive noise drive me crazy. the hot weather test me each time i step out of the house. if i could i’d curl up at home and watch the telly. and that’s what i’ve been doing. commitments are hard to maintain because i’m not the energetic bunny i used to be. i’m now the lethargic sloth who’s tired everyday and tries all ways and means to stay at home and not practice any self-care.

i lost my ability to be fearless. to be uninhibited. all the what ifs hold me back and hold me captive. tomorrows are never certain. i could be all fine and dandy today, tomorrow i could be a disaster. today i could be walking, tomorrow i could have one limp leg, or joints that are angry. everyday is a surprise. on one hand my life is a monotonous unending cycle. on the other hand it hits me like a hurricane each time i get up, or with each conversation i make. nothing is ever stable. nothing is static. i can’t be fearless. i live in fear, inhibited by the memories of past.

i essentially lost myself. i lost who i used to be in its entirety. how do i get over that? how do i tell myself “i’m sorry you had to lose so much, but look forward and not back. live. your future is in your hands.” it’s something i’d tell someone else, yet not to myself. reconciliation has never been more difficult and under-managed. the Steph that is now, is not the Steph who lived till 20. that Steph died. and me, this Steph that i am, has been damaged, and broken, shattered into smithereens, put together haphazardly with craft glue, scarred, and yet still on the verge of falling apart. so flawed. so imperfect. so damaged. so unloveable.

this is not a pity post. i put it here because i know i would forget this aspect of my insight into myself. i want to reclaim back my life. yet what tugs hard at me is the “NO”, because i’ll fall and get hurt again. how do i ride against the tide and the waves physically? my body feels extremely incapable of doing anything physical without having any adverse effects on my body. and how do i stop looking back, and look forward instead? how do i forgive myself for going savage against myself? how do i forgive the people who took it too far with words?

at the end of the day, no matter what, it is always God whom i should turn to.

“when i can’t, you always can.” -Kari Jobe

putting down my calling

a time for discernment.

(please note that as this post is published, no action as been taken yet. still discerning!)

it’s the time for me to finally say, that i am putting nursing down and aside.

it’s been 5 years since near graduation that my life changed, although i really thought my life had changed when i heard and heed God’s calling to be a nurse in 2008. it wasn’t too far apart- merely 2.5 years and it fell apart. each time i came out of the hospital as an inpatient i returned as a nursing student or a staff nurse, only to fall apart. my graduation got delayed. my growth as a staff nurse got delayed. these when everything pointed to my capabilities to being otherwise. i was always doing well, most times pushed to limits others weren’t even, although they were at the same pace at me. i see that at my saving grace, but i also see that as nothing. i couldn’t survive psychologically.

caring for my patients heal me, and it is probably my Bread. but working in an environment with that much tension, i admit, that all that healing runs into negativity. there are too many to ‘please’, too many people to listen to, not good enough for all of them. and i am but only me. i am rather odd when i am nursing my patients. i am stubborn, and very stubborn at that. it can be troubling to my colleagues when i’m new and i do and decide things alone. but i do so with my own knowledge. i trust what i’ve learnt and read extensively- textbooks, journals, peer-reviewed papers etc.  i trust what i’ve experienced and what i’ve learnt not to do when i was younger as a student. but people take offense, and so take offense at me. i can’t change and lower myself to please them in that way, because i don’t want to compromise patient’s care, although i can ask more and be receptive. but it’s been imprinted. done and dusted.

i keep believing that with my recent recovery efforts, it’s enough for my psychiatrist to lift off the major depressive disorder(MDD) diagnosis. but it never seems enough no matter how severe or how minor my symptoms are. i get upset sometimes this year when he says he can’t lift it and i have to make him go through the entire diagnostic criteria to convince me. after so much of medications, ECTs and therapy, i’m still in depression. it’s sad to say with my own insight that perhaps i really am not recovered enough to handle the toxic work environment of a hospital (although i choose to work in a hospital). i want to choose happiness, finally. because of 5 years even though nursing is my lifeline, it’s made me so so so sad. it made me cry so much, and it made me hurt myself (triggered by nursing school).

it really came to light when i’m only 1.5 months into my current job and i’ve already broken down in the ward in front of my Nurse Clinician. there are too much things i cannot reconcile in this workplace and it causes me great tension. and already there are colleagues who are hating on me because i’m not picking up their (bad) practices fast enough, or for whatever immature reason it is. i have enough on my plate (health issues). and i sense that the Ward Managers/Clinician are wanting to push me too, accelerating my progress a little fast. it’s like, i already hate my job, other than my patients who sustain me.

i keep talking with God, asking Him to grant me His grace of His wisdom of what His will is of me. i know He wants me to be a nurse. but things can change, and i want to choose to be happy. 2 years ago when i was spending 6 months in the hospital, my treatment team kept asking me to change careers. they almost begged me not to return to nursing anymore. but i told them with conviction that it is my calling and that i have to follow it. i was never a staunch Catholic, but i would never understand why i would heed God’s calling so faithfully. perhaps this is it. this is my time to switch.

i don’t know where i’ll go, but i know that God has carved a path for me. i will never stop caring, because as a patient, i can never ignore what patients feel. so now, i’m sitting on Counselling, and praying as much as i can, asking for as many friends to pray for and with me as i discern where i should go.

(a little over a year ago i wanted to do Social Work. this year, i suddenly switched my mind to Counselling and i see that firstly as a sign from God. as many of my friends, colleagues and family have told me, i love to talk and i am very eloquent. with the empathy i have built across the years, i am hoping Counselling will have a place for me, if God wills.)

loving and learning


aup10
photo credit: Lawrence Lim

as of now, i’ve only been SUP-ing for about 2 over months. and i’m glad to say that today, i was fortunate enough to take part in a SUP race! i joined the fun boards category, because my board of choice was only 10-feet, and also really because i didn’t think i can push myself further than 2km.

by God’s grace i was granted an off day today, so for that i am thankful.

out of the day came plenty of insights. i had my monsters, and i had my saving grace. i had terribly weak flesh, and i had some perseverance. but i think most of all, i tried to outdo myself today, which i did! and for that i feel utterly blessed.

i completed my 2km race with sluggish performance. i will not find excuses. i did not hydrate myself adequately, nor did i have a good breakfast. i did not want to compromise of all things, my heart, when i felt my chest heaving in a painful and odd way, and when i was dizzy. i basically did my 2nd km kneeling down although i had a freshly scrapped knee.

i was quite downtrodden when i carried my board off the water and onto land. 2nd last! oh my gosh! my monsters came out. i’m a competitive person by nature, and although i know sports will never be my thing, 2nd last wasn’t good enough for me. but though i had friends around me on the spot, they saw my FB post and the words “sluggish performance”, and J was very encouraging. it is true that all that really matters is that i completed it and i had fun!

later on, after the race was officially over, i told R i wanted to rent the board again for an hour just for a leisure paddle. i took my favourite board out, paddling leisurely with my water bottle and my handphone playing soundtracks, the hour passed quickly. in that hour i paddled about 2.8km, which is the furthest i’ve paddled (and recorded by GPS) at a go. i was surprised that i wasn’t tired. it is mind-blowing what a mindset can do. i said i was just gonna paddle to enjoy- i did, and i even surpassed myself.

so today i paddled 5km+ and walked 2km+ (to and from the beach), which is the most workout i’ve done in donkey years. (i’m not am ‘exercise’ person to begin with, and since i retired from ballet due to RA, then fell into depression, i have been severely deconditioned from hospital stays that stretched as long as 4-6 months.) i even managed to go get a prescription after that, go home, change and then go to church!

for 5 years i’ve been nagged at to pick up a sport or something i like. because of the severe depression i never got to do so. finally being able to pick up both a sport and something i like is God’s grace to me. when my treatment team told me that it would help with my mood i never believed them. that is, until i tried it. after today i learn even more about myself and how i have to find a balance between SUP-ing as something i love and as something competitive- something i was not able to do with ballet although i loved it so very much, because no matter how, then, there was an unhealthy element to it.

my SUP instructor and friend R, who also organised the race, left this comment on my FB after my photo post about the race, and i really liked it. it inspires me so much!:

Way to go, Stephanie. SUP is not only about racing, it’s about uniting souls from all corners of the world towards a common goal. It’s about pushing through your boundary, setting new ones or banish them all. The horizons are as far as you can see and paddle. Chase the rainbow at the end of it. YOUR own Rainbow! Enjoy walking on water, every single time. Jesus first walked on water, we just follow.

You did Awesome, finishing the race! Proud of you! Once stretched, you’re never the same Stephanie again.

i am just so happy right now, i can’t wait for my next off day to go for a class with R, or just go for a leisurely paddle.

i’m a little lazy to post photos here because they are all on FB. i have only a few taken myself, and the rest are by the photographers. i’ll find a way next time? this is my procrastinating again.