Reflections for 2016

If I could have one word that summed up the entire year, it would be “self-care”.

I haven’t been writing much on this site mainly because of some life adjustments (more on that later on). But here I am, giving it one last go for the year, at 3.57am, with just the glow of my phone accompanying my thoughts. (Thanks to a massive, much needed nap before this!)

I don’t have any profound thoughts except that the initial part of 2016 was a rough one; disrupted by frequent panic attacks that were beyond my control. I passed up many opportunities. There’s a pang of sadness and disappointment that still haunts me.

But that’s okay — I’ve learnt. Nothing, no experience nor encounter (no matter how bad or rockbottom), is ever wasted as long as you learn from it.

So in 2016, I learnt the importance of knowing our limits and that self-care is vital. In other words, I ain’t no superwoman lah!

Perhaps some people can have it all, but it’s not for me. And that’s okay 🙂

Self care is about learning to say no to things, and accepting that it’s ok to do that.

My therapist once told me (she even drew it out to emphasise her point) that I have a full plate — work, family caregiving commitments, coping with my mental illness, adjusting to medication, Tapestry Project related meetings and follow-up, new writing workshops, talks, lay counselling etc. It would be unrealistic to pack on more.

Irrationally, I thought somehow I could expand and stretch my plate!  (Try doing that in real life.)

What’s worst is that I’d beat myself up for not being able to do so and end up in a depressive/anxious spiral. On hindsight, it’s one of those punishing beliefs I need to learn to let go of. Even machines need a break right?

The later half of this year was better. Gave a talk at Sengkang Hospital, participated in IMH’s Stamp Out Stigma walkathon, learnt how to bake and sell cookies with social enterprise, Bakery Wellness, and did an emotional feature with Channel News Asia’s “On The Red Dot” on suicide.

On the personal front, I’ve recently returned to the corporate world. It’s a significant recovery milestone for me. Employment is area that I’ve always wanted to reclaim.

I’m extremely grateful for these second chances and new opportunities that came my way. The capacity and ability to take them on was possible only because I learnt to take better care of myself.

Recovering persons need opportunity; the chance to try. And try again.

So, I’m thankful for the life changing lessons learnt in 2016; for the good, the bad, the ugly. For the exhilarating times and the mundane moments.

Moving Forward in 2017 

For those like me, we understand that depression has a weird way of sapping all motivation and energy. And while you’re down, it smothers you with a thick blanket called mind fog. Then the anxiety jumps on you like a sudden cramp, and you end up paralysed, overthinking; trapped in your own brain.

In my case, it sparks the impulse of running away and never wanting to write again for fear of public judgement and of disappointing people. It’s one of those things I’d like work through in 2017.

So here’s my vision for the coming year:

  • To stop the self-censoring and hypercriticality of what I put out there.
  • To bridge that divide between the mainstream population and the mental health community.
  • To empower more to write their own recovery narratives.

Recovery is like learning how to surf — you just need to learn the pattern of the waves and just ride it out. Having the right tools and coaching helps. Once you have those in place, enjoy it 🙂

So, let me end off this rambling, off the cuff story with this:

May your new year be that of deep peace, and self-love. May you always have hope and light for your darkest moments. And may it be a year of breakthough, one that is filled with endless opportunity.

Here’s to turning the page to a brand new chapter in our recovery journey. Thank you for being part of mine. Have a great 2017, folks!

5 thoughts on “Reflections for 2016

  • December 31, 2016 at 11:45 PM

    I remember, sort of – cos the earlier part of 2016 was when we were liaising my story .. & you mentioned this a bit in case it took long.

    I’m happy for you! 🙂 <3 But at the same time, feeling rather Grinch-y to & for myself abt this New Year thing, .. and I was already Grinch-y over Christmas. Because .. for people whose lives are in transition (job & therapy, for me) .. god. This whole new fresh start thing feels like obligatory optimism, that I’m not ready to handle. I’m all for being happy for others especially cos employment feels like a fragile thing for people with MH struggles but .. handling this Optimistic Brand New Start thing is too hard on a personal level for now. Boo.

  • January 1, 2017 at 1:49 AM

    I’d have to say that for many years, New Year’s was tough. Because it felt like everyone had something to look forward to, while I felt stuck and couldn’t move on with the shackles of depression and anxiety weighing me down. I couldn’t relate to the optimism and exuberance other people were experiencing.

    The only reason why I share the ‘good’ in my life is to demonstrate that recovery is a reality. I don’t have it all together though haha.. just a work in progress! 🙂

  • January 1, 2017 at 10:19 AM

    Haha okkk this made me tear a bit – to clarify, I really am excited for you on regaining employment (rly rly rly, & its exactly because I wish I had a bit more certainty over my own lol), & it’s precisely that .. after x years of rubbish New Years’, I wish I had more certainty over Life, particularly job/therapy situations right now.

    To be clear, these have both partly resulted from decisions made a few months ago that were deliberated over & the right, necessary choice at the time. Maybe a month later on 1 Feb, I’ll be out of this mess(!) But it’s just that things now are compounded by New Year Sentiments and .. CNY at the end of Jan(!!!) doesn’t make things better. Oops lol. <3 x

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