Monday, April 7

I AM A FAILURE...not!!!

It might be strange to those of you who are not affected by clinical depression to be encountered with thoughts of failure as much as I do. To be honest, almost every waking hour is a constant battle in questioning what I am doing with my life and whether I am living up to what I am supposed to be doing. (Which I must confess that I have no clear idea - for the life of me! what it is supposed to be...I hope to find out soon, thinking that perhaps if an answer dropped from the sky miraculously , that i might somehow regain a new found purpose and vitality in life.
try again

However, as recent introspection and discussions with SC and the privilege of good company has helped me come to a realization that perhaps, it is not so clear and simple as I imagine it to be. And that it is perfectly OKAY that it isn't as clear as I want it to be.

Well, perhaps in this aspect of life, I am a particularly slow learner. What seems obvious and readily accepted by the general population takes me ages to figure out and accept. One of the recurring and ever- burning statements in my head for a good many years has always been "I am a failure".

If you can even come close to having ever had this thought in your head for more than a day, you can understand a little how devastating it is to have it constantly on your mind every waking hour. This statement however, has become a norm to me. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever go away. Some days it shouts at me and paralyses me. Other days it creeps in gently enough to stay lingering as long as it wants to. I have come to accept it sometimes, as a regular gatecrasher, an unwanted visitor which I cannot decline as it comes and goes at its own whims and fancies. But I have also discovered that I while I may not be able to fully control how long the unwelcome visit may last, I have other very useful ways of control over how I treat this regular unwelcome visitor.

I begin to understand that I don't have to make it feel welcome. Or acknowledge it's presence. I can leave it alone. And I have the right to NOT offer it cookies and reinforce its stay and NOT entertain whatever it wants to say to me. And if I DON'T feed it, it gets weaker, and less obvious in my "home" which is my mind.

I had a recently prolonged visit from this "I-AM-A-FAILURE" the past week. Everything I saw around me, kept giving it more and more reason to repeat itself to me. Seeing friends pursue their post graduate education, seeing ex-colleagues continue doing the things I use to be a part of. It makes me feel so useless and such a failure!!! But at the same time, I happened to have a friend on Facebook who is very persistent on the subject of success. In a realistic way. (I will explain next time) And it made me think a lot, about what success is. It is something relative, and open ended, and I find myself looking at many people around me thinking that they are successful. But if it were me instead, I wouldn't necessarily think of it as success.

Which made me come to a conclusion that I cant quite yet put my finger on what success really is to me yet. So now that I know I can't put the definition of success in a box, I moved on to trying to define FAILURE. What is failure? I realized that somehow the definition of FAILURE seems more important to me than the definition of SUCCESS. Because everyday I struggle with being afraid to BE A FAILURE.

It is a very familiar and well visited subject. I can come up with a thesis of why I am a failure. But then I thought to myself. Lets say for a moment that I need to define what FAILURE is. It is really something that is subjective as well. But it suddenly dawned to me that it is easier to know when you are a failure. I realised that I can only be a FAILURE when I decide to just STOP TRYING. And  then I realised that I am NOT A FAILURE. Because no matter how hard it has gotten, I haven't completely stopped trying to be well. I think about giving up oh yes I do! But i HAVEN'T! Thre are days that I try so hard just to continue breathing for another day, days I struggle to do house chores, days that the simplest easiest tasks seem most impossible, days when I feel like I want to give up because everything is too complicated. But I am still here and I am still TRYING! And I haven't failed! How comforting to realize that that unwelcome visitor is a lie!

This is especially significant to me for another reason too. Now that I know that FAILURE (to me at least) means NOT TRYING, it can NEVER be permanent. IF for example I AM A FAILURE TODAY, I can stop being a failure tomorrow or even the next moment. I just need to start TRYING again. I know its not rocket science. Its probably nonsensical to most of you out there. But for those of you who are like me, YOU'LL never be a FAILURE! YOU may FAIL but BEING A FAILURE? Logically impossible!!! Just KEEP TRYING! ;-)

Tuesday, December 10

Chewing like a Cow

Recently, I was told by a doctor that I have a long history of excessive rumination. It was something very new to me. I didn't even know how to spell it. The doctor asked me to Google it, and this is one article that I found to be useful. I found it tremendously helpful and realized immediately how I am caught up in cycles of thinking about illogical things to no end,... which can't be switched "off".

And because I found it helpful, I thought that other people may want to know too. So "rumination is something that cows do. They chew their food over and over again and the process repeats itself since they have 4 stomachs. This is completely fine for a cow. But not for a human being when they are doing this with their thoughts.

Firstly, chewing on one's thoughts (in this case negative ones) will not give you nutrients. Secondly, humans only have one brain...although I can't quite draw the comparison between a brain and a stomach. Thirdly, Cows poop in the end of the process, but rumination in the human mind?...The closest comparison I can think of is constipation. And finally, it uses up energy which could have otherwise been used for better cognitive activities. The list can go on, on how bad ruminating is for humans, but since cows have 4 stomachs, I'll stop at 4 reasons.

On a personal note, my rumination began since childhood. And my current level of rumination goes back all the way to ruminating about things that happened decades ago. It is completely and highly exhausting. But I always thought that I was just analyzing things that happened. And maybe, just maybe if I analysed hard enough, I might find the answers to the many why's I have in the present.

Initially, I had a hard time trying to accept that what I have deemed as a fairly logical coping mechanism to me all these years turns out to be nothing close to logical and analytic. But soon, it made sense that it was holding me back from moving forward in so many ways. It was, as the doctor said, fueling my anxiety and depression. It was food for my insomnia, and definitely cause for my sleep reversals. And it was taking me to places (in my head) that I wanted to avoid in real life. In every way, it was very very illogical. And for the record, revisiting my past can't change what happened no matter how much I wanted it to.

So when I started to learn more about it, it gave me hope. There are ways to cope with rumination. And this article HERE gives some pointers. But I thought that I should share some things that I've been doing to keep me from even starting to ruminate. I am aware that it is going to be a long and challenging journey in order to be free from rumination. But I think I am quite pleased with my strategies for now.

So here's what I have in my ammunition:

FOR times when I am awake in the DAY and alone :

  • I am obsessed with words, so I got myself a thesaurus. It has been a long time past-time of mine when I was growing up. Reading the thesaurus and dictionaries. 
  • I got myself a Word Search Puzzle bumper issue
  • also, a Sudoku bumper pack. I am not very good with numbers particularly, but pattern recognition seems to be the key in Sudoku plus I don't have to count more than 10 or even make any numerical equations. It's definitely challenging enough for me to prevent me from thinking about anything else but the puzzle.
  • A circle of people whom I have identified as logical in nature, and honest even at the risk of offending me, who understand where I come from and will refute my illogical thoughts. I talk to them when I am alone. (I am the type that ruminates silently in my head, with no one to refute me, so talking to people with the above characteristics seems to help me so far. However, I am not sure if it will be worse if you are a verbal "ruminator")
  • Getting out of the house and doing something with friends or my husband!
   FOR times when I am awake in the NIGHT and alone :
  • Prior to my knowledge about ruminating, I had a dear friend and also an Aunt who would tell me to commit Scripture to memory and recite them whenever I had bouts of anxiety attacks. So I did exactly that. My friend specifically said PSALMS 23. And I everytime I find myself awake in the night, starting to think of some unpleasant things, I say it over and over in my head. I especially like verse 3 "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
  • Praying for others. (If I pray about my own worries when I am about to ruminate, ...I think you get the point)
I have so much more to say, about how life has been since my last blog post. But I shall leave you with this for the moment. I hope that what I have written here will help someone out there. 

Thursday, September 5

SO, Why Now?

In response to yesterday's post, some people have asked me why now? (YOU CAN READ IT HERE)
Why am I posting all these now when it has already happened at least 4 years ago.

Well, because sometimes I love something so much I can't bear to face my true feelings and it gets kept away deep down inside. What I did not realize was that the deeper I buried it, the more it hurt and the more it started to eat me up inside.

So why now? Because I finally have the courage to acknowledge that things were handled wrongly and that I feel angry and hurt that nothing was done. Because I want the world to know that it is important to do what you have to do no matter how unpleasant things might be. This is our part as human beings. If we can't make right the wrongs that we see and even so when we have the power to do so, we are as guilty as the oppressor.

Now back to me. As I mentioned, this open letter had a few purposes. To let my feelings out. To come to terms with them and to also let others know its not okay to do what they did...and to never do that sort of things. But most importantly it was really for me...for me to start healing, to make a stand for myself (which I always never did). The whole week of inconsolable crying really took all the hurt out of me.

So Again: Why, why now? Because sometimes, feelings that need to be forgotten need to be acknowledged. And now that I have, I feel that I am free, and I feel that a great tumor of pain has been removed from my soul.

Maybe you will hate me for my previous post, or condemn me. Or say that it wasn't so bad or tell me your excuses. It doesn't matter anymore. I have said what I had to say. The rest you will have to live with and be accountable for. 

Or say that maybe I should have made a bigger fuss of the bullying that was going on. Maybe I should have gone and made complaints and rock the boat. But at that time all that mattered to me was my service and my relationship with the children and parents. So maybe I am to blame for people's inaction (because I didn't make a big fuss about things not going the way they should). But it just isn't me...I don't do that kind of things. And I believe that is why we have elders in the church, too look out for their sheep, and to vindicate for those who are in need. 

Regardless, I am now feeling lighter.
Ready to move on. I feel disconnected from the people who did what they did.
I feel ready to move on. 

But I must also say that I acknowledge that a few people have tried to make a difference. And I thank you for that. You make me feel loved and cherished. Although you couldn't change the deep rooted 'tradition' of keeping things "hushed up". I know you tried and that you cared. I am forever grateful for you and you and you. You should also know who you are.

But my passion for the field remains. Not one single day passes without a thought or memory of the children or the fieldwork. Everything I see still connects me to what I love.  

Wednesday, September 4


An Open Letter to whoever you are, you should know who you are. And if you do not know me, but you are just a random passerby who happened to read this, let this be a cautionary tale for you to stand up for those in need.

NOTE: This is a letter directed not only to a single individual, but a GROUP of people. So when I write "you/your" I am referring to plurals.

SPICES in this letter is what it was more than 4 years ago. I do not mean to tarnish any reputation of SPICES. In fact it is the BEST place that I have ever been in terms of training and learning and I credit the very experienced and dedicated staff who worked along side me. If I had a child of my own who had similar problems, I would definitely want them to be part of SPICES. It is just that sometimes unfortunate things happen. During my time there, SPICES was under a church ministry. Now, it has recently become an NGO. They are doing a wonderful job, so please support them in any way you can.

Dear so and so,

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers that you said you were constantly giving...
I have been going through a rough phase and I think it is both good and bad.
Recently, I have been having flashbacks about what actually happened when I worked in SPICES.
I know that you will think that all these are already in the past and that I should not talk about it.

If you think so, and if you are not going to read this with an open mind to listen to what I am going to say next, you don't have to go on reading.

But I must warn you that if you choose to continue reading, you will read unpleasant things and it may hurt your feelings.

But it is something that I feel must be said, regardless of whether you will read or not.

Lets say that it is more for me than for you.

During my time in SPICES, I have been mistreated, bullied, and due to my inexperience and trusting nature I have been taken advantage of and I have no one to blame for all these but myself. Many hurtful words have been said to me, and I have patiently and quietly endure much psychological manipulation and unnecessary (now I realize) stress. But I brushed it all off because of my passion and love for the children. I do not like to call it work. Because it was never "work' to me in any true sense of it. It was my life.

I was always willing to forgive and learn to love, even the one who hurt me till the day that I had resigned and after my resignation, I can honestly now tell you that the bullying continued.

And this was happening with full knowledge of my psychological condition and my mental and emotional state, along with my susceptibility toward burn-out. And I know and am aware that it is not something that nobody knew about (towards the end of my service in SPICES) concerning the ugly and unpleasant things that I had endured during my time spent there, and even more so AFTER my resignation, I know full well that more of you and more of the people in authority had come to know what was actually going on to me in SPICES.

I now look back and feel that I brought everything upon myself. I know that I have always said that it is okay.

My case is not toward my suppressor, whom you know who I am referring to. But towards those who were in a position to act, who were aware of the wrong things that were going on.

These people saw and knew and heard, they knew my health issues, but chose to avoid confrontation and keep things "status-quo" in hopes that prayer will solve the 'problem'.

I am a strong believer of standing up for what I believe, especially advocating when I see things are not the way that they should be. I can be meek and gentle, but when it comes to matters of me being aware of people oppressing others, I speak boldly, without fear, and I have always paid the price of being isolated or losing friends because of this. But it has not changed anything about my convictions to do accordingly. I sometimes think that I feel so strongly about this because I know what it feels like to be oppressed and unable to speak for myself, hoping that someone will be brave enough to come and save me and vindicate on my behalf. But as the world is fallen as it is, people who protect are the ones who know what it feels like to be left for 'dead', to be kicked when they're already down, and to be left to fend for themselves. People who remember, are often people who are forgotten. And so on. But it is how the world is.

But I am sorry to have to ask ALL of you (who were in authority to do something)...
why didn't you do anything when you could?
Perhaps you over-estimated my capacity for enduring those things that happened.
Perhaps you forgot that I am still suffering from depression.
Perhaps you thought I was stronger than I was, which I am sorry to have mislead you.
Perhaps you could not accept that all these unpleasant things were happening under your nose and that you couldn't deal with the reality of all these things happening.
I do not know.

But you have to know that each person can only take so much of emotional strain and no matter how strong I tried, everything accumulated and because of my love for the service, I suppressed those feelings, thinking that they would go away.
But I was slowly fading away.

I told the team, shortly before my relapse, toward the last days in SPICES, that I have been feeling exhausted and that I think I might be heading for a breakdown (those where the exact words). But nobody seemed to hear me.

So now, after everything, all the trauma re-lived and the aftermath of everything, I am sorry to tell you that my emotional reserve has run dry. I wept for a month, I was inconsolable because I felt that I was worth so little and of lesser value that no one thought it was important or maybe worth the 'drama' to speak up for me. I felt so used and left for dead. I felt erased. The moment I resigned, ONE of you, of a HIGH Standing in the church, told me I couldn't resign, because "I wasn't in my right mind". And the next immediate week, my name was no longer in the bulletin. Did it not occur to anyone to at least pray for me? Instead nobody asked, and I supposed it was according to plan that I left quietly without anyone noticing so that the board did not have to explain anything.

I felt so sick at the thought that at the cost of avoiding confrontation or some 'disciplinary action', it was okay that I left quietly, while the 'cancer' was preserved to continue being a midst SPICES. I do not blame her. I know she has serious issues. But again, my case is not with her. But with all of you who could have vindicated, but did not.

I believe that prayer is everything. But sometimes, when you see a man with no shoes, and no clothes, without shelter and food, you don;t just go up to them and say I'll pray for you. I think during those times, you pick him up, give him shoes, clothes , feed him and help him find shelter. Nothing much to pray about or wait there. I know I am not as serious as the scenario I just stated. But do you know how damaging psychological and emotional hurt can be? I would rather endure physical pain, than to suffer each day with the traumas of the aftermath and live with the thought that things could have been different and that things could have been avoided.

The thing with mental illness and internal hurt is... you can't see it. There are no physical scars as prove of abuse or mistreatment. People see to believe, and when they see something physical, they remember and can sympathize. But not for us, our scars are in our souls, our hearts, our mind. You can't see them, and sometimes its hard for people to believe us and how we feel and what is true or real for us, because 'it's all in our heads'. And when people do that, they don't realize that we ourselves suffer too, sometimes wondering if they were real, or if things really happened the way they did. It is living hell. But I promise you that we are not all unaware of things that really happened.

And I know what happened to me.
It made me feel like a cheap commodity.
I was only remembered when I was of use, fit for service.
Once broken, considered erased.
I was cheap commodity because I was a fresh grad.
It never occurred to anyone that I had no previous life savings before I worked in SPICES.
I cannot have insurance because of my mental illness. (unlike my colleagues who had their housing and insurance taken care of, perhaps I was young and deemed too risky to invest in, which in hindsight, it was a fortunate decision (on your end) that nothing was given to me since I only contributed 3-4 years of my life to SPICES)

I am grateful for financial support for my medication expenses during my days in SPICES ( which I was told I was not entitled to until DN found out that I had monthly expenses to dish out)

But how did it not occur to people that my relapse would mean more medication?
And that the medications were sky high?
I had to down 12 pills a day, and it cost us RM 500 to 600 each month.
But I no longer had support since I was not of service.
Erased and forgotten.
I feel mad at myself because I don't even have savings for further studies.
Or even savings for in case anything happens to my parents.

I have nothing now.
I have no emotional stability,
I have lost my confidence that I can ever hold a secure job.
I have wholehearted given my prime years to SPICES (which I do not regret one bit)
I have lost a big chunk of my heart.
Sometimes I fear I might go insane.
And when I think of all this, the question that begs to be asked (more than answered)
WHY didn't anyone do anything?
Were they afraid?
Did they think it wasn't important?
Was I not important?

You say so much about being a community and caring for others.
But why didn't you do anything?
(I am not angry, just heartbroken)

I have nothing left to give...
I am empty...
I have stopped making things since January.
Everything I have been making looked ugly to me.

On a final note. I am both happy and sad that it took the price of me leaving SPICES for people to realize that some sort of bullying was going on. And that the new younger staff will not need to face unnecessary treatment like I had to.

Perhaps, the sacrifice of one person (which is me) and the pain that I have to live with is the meaning of all this. So that history will not repeat itself.

I am disappointed and deeply hurt by the church (the ones who knew and the ones of authority).
Shan Chung and I have been deeply hurt, and we are struggling to find a new beginning.
But we are leaving the church. Because of the 'inaction', injury has been inflicted not only to me, but to those who love me. To my husband who was very much affected and had to take on the much strenuous responsibility of dealing with my hurt as he tried to be as strong as he could for me (while deep inside he hurt as bad as I did or maybe even more). To my family, my mother and father who had to see their daughter cry and take another fall, not understanding the meaning of all that has happened.

Please never ever fail to act if you ever come across another opportunity to vindicate for someone. No matter how small the cause. By not taking action, lives are broken and only God knows if they will ever heal and NOTHING will ever be the same again. You may continue to live your life, a peaceful non-confrontational life, but know that what you are unaware of, the hurt and pain you have inflicted, they are real to those you have failed, and nothing can change that.

On a final note, I just want you to know that I still have passion in regards to the field. It has been a wonderful journey of loving the children and being loved by them in return. Being touched by them in their very own way. Nothing on earth will ever extinguish my love and passion for them. And for that I have you to thank.

From the bottom of my heart,

P/S. Some of you seem to have misunderstood that SC and I are abandoning our faith. We have not. We still look toward HIM as HIS grace and mercy continues to sustain us. We are in our hearts still very much longing to be close to our Father and awaiting HIS comfort daily.

Thursday, July 4

Adopt a pet!


It's really been awhile since I've written anything. But I have a very important thing to share about today. It is about Adopting Pets. Did you know that every-time someone adopts a pet they not only save a life but will gain a lifelong loyal companion too?

Pet Epicure is organizing a Pet adoption Drive, this Saturday at the Bee. They have at least 30 furry feline friends that are neutered, vaccinated and ready to be brought back to a loving home. Pet Epicure has been operating as a shelter for strays, nursing pets (rabbits, dogs, cats) to health, giving them basic vaccination. To prevent the rising number of strays, they also neuter all pets they put if for adoption. However, pet Epicure will be closing its doors soon, and Saturday will be the last chance for 30 lovely feline friends to find a home.

If you have ever considered owning a pet, NOW is the perfect time. Don't shop, Adopt! Why?
- you save a life
- contrary to popular belief, you get a healthy pet
(this is the case with Pet Epicure, as far as I'm concerned, since they have proven it by taking the extra step of vaccinating and neutering their pets, making sure they are in good health before putting each one of them up for adoption)
 - You won't be supporting puppy-mills, which is a really cruel thing. Read more about it HERE.

Benefits of owning a pet include:
-reducing anxiety
-providing unconditional companionship
-helping children learn responsibility and compassion
-spending time playing and caring for your pet can help produce calming and relaxing effects

More about Pet Epicure here.

Even if you are not sure about owning or adopting a pet, please do pay a visit to the Adoption Drive this Saturday and learn more about pets, strays, and how we can be responsible citizens as far as animal welfare is concerned.

Who knows, you might find an unexpected connection and a beginning to a new journey of companionship with an affectionate loving soul in a pet.

This is a picture of Cotton, our loyal, faithful affectionate mongrel whom we adopted from SPCA 7 years ago. She has been a good guardian and companion to us and my in-laws (she lives with them as there is a bigger compound for her to run around. =)

However, she still remains loyal to my husband, who is her main owner. She 'chose' him at the shelter. And she always knows when my husband is 5 minutes closer to reaching home!