Monday, March 31, 2008

it could have been this way or another

Life is a series of near misses. Events happen, or fail to happen, or are mitigated by other events, causing a chain reaction turning destiny around; like streams moving around more resistant rock, causing the entire river to live somewhere else completely.

A lot of these near misses are plans failed in order for something else to succeed. Cosmos-folded rock layers creating waterfalls; man-made dams stopping the life-flow of rivers but creating electricity; conversion of a sungei into an urban river, making it a touristy, yuppies' locale or a parallel main traffic artery.

Some near misses are engineered by kismet. Mutually exclusive events of which one must not happen for the other to come into being. Like seeing the ugly side in someone, so that you can appreciate the beauty in another. Deciding to go for a party even though you are tired, just so you can meet the cutest girl you have ever seen since you knew you were alive. Events like that.

Some near misses really are about letting a dream die completely, before it can be resurrected in a fuller glory. You thought you missed the moment to fulfill the dream, but really, it was not a miss, but a planned death, so that you could see it rise from the ashes and appreciate its life more and never, ever let go of it. Now you will always run with this vision. You may see it die, but though it does, it merely tarries in this momentary death, for it will surely come to pass.

Near misses can become regrets. But we should live life with no regrets. Every mistake we accumulate can cause us to fall forward, not back and never again. Regrets merely choke up your drainage system, turning people into moronic, bitter, phobic-obsessives. God forgives and gives us a tabula rasa every morning. Let go of the near misses in life and hang on to the river which you are chasing towards the shore, taking its lessons with you, letting go of the rivers that could have been but never came into being. Run with it, for the revelation will surely come to pass.

I will see you at the seashore.

hooray for citizen journalism

I guess 'citizen journalism' is a nice term for blogging, vlogging and podcasting nowadays.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

About Clinical Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder - 1

It all started for me when I was perhaps nineteen years old and I slipped past the television set in the living area of my parents’ house in Johor Baru, Malaysia. It was turned on to Channel NewsAsia, broadcasting a programme which was talking about some disease that was affecting more and more people statistically, worldwide, and in Asia. I read the symptoms of this disease, and my immediate thought was, “Hey, that sounds like me! That sounds like what I have!”

That sickness, which is an epidemic now, in Asia and the world, which kills about 15% of all who suffer from it, so it is possibly fatal: major depressive disorder, or clinical depression. And that was me. I realised those symptoms were me, all my life, as far as I can remember. So in other words, I have never been happy, until I started seeking medical help.
- Chiam Elaine, previously unpublished

For some reason, due to my level of empathy, or perhaps because I started to open up to people more, I started to uncover people around me who either wondered if they too were ill, or were sure they were definitely clinically depressed, either diagnosed or at the time untreated. It shocked me to realise there were so many people in my social sphere that were feeling at least a measure of the grief I had been feeling all my life.

So I decided to write this article about this grieving sickness which Winston Churchill called 'his black dog' of depression. Be it whether you are that person I uncovered recently, or the one who opened up to me, or a loved one of yours has suspected or diagnosed clinical depression - I hope this article helps in some way. I also hope that if you are clueless about the disease and you think it can be helped by 'positive thinking' and 'behaving yourself', then please read this, and follow the links I have placed within this article.

Clinical depression is not normal sadness. We all have times when we feel sad due to situations in our life. We feel sad if things may not go our way, but we usually get up and go eventually, after the problem is solved or after we have ranted about it with a friend. It may be harder, if someone in our life dies, but eventually, maybe years after, it gets easier. If we grew up abused, or witnessed too much of war and death, like troops returning from war often do, we might get depressed too. If you are a woman you probably have felt down before, maybe before your period (chocolate then suddenly seems to help), or after you have given birth. Or maybe you have a thyroid dysfunction. But all these illnesses are not the same as clinical depression.

There are other illnesses that exhibit similar traits to clinical depression. For example: eating disorders, alcoholism, drug abuse.

There are also other two other depressive disorders that are not exactly the same as major depressive disorder, such as, manic-depression (also known as bipolar disorder) and dysthymia.

I am being sweeping about these other illnesses because I want to focus on what I have, which is mainly moderate to severe major depressive disorder, coupled with generalised anxiety disorder.

If you suspect you might be depressed - maybe you really identify with what I write here, or you have been feeling sad or stressed for a long time now, or like I have just written, you feel your sadness is not normal sadness; or maybe you just want to make sure you have a clean bill of mental health. Please take this test now. (Remember this is not a medical diagnostic tool and you should still check with your medical professional if you would like a definitive assessment and treatment.)

In my next few posts, I will cover other aspects of my sickness, such as symptoms used by doctors to diagnose patients, or symptoms you may feel you are depressed like me. I will also write about medication.

I Measure Every Grief I meet by Emily Dickinson

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes--
I wonder if It weighs like Mine--
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long--
Or did it just begin--
I could not tell the Date of Mine--
It feels so old a pain--

I wonder if it hurts to live--
And if They have to try--
And whether--could They choose between--
It would not be--to die--

I note that Some--gone patient long--
At length, renew their smile--
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil--

I wonder if when Years have piled--
Some Thousands--on the Harm--
That hurt them early--such a lapse
Could give them any Balm--

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve--
Enlightened to a larger Pain--
In Contrast with the Love--

The Grieved--are many--I am told--
There is the various Cause--
Death--is but one--and comes but once--
And only nails the eyes--

There's Grief of Want--and grief of Cold--
A sort they call "Despair"--
There's Banishment from native Eyes--
In Sight of Native Air--

And though I may not guess the kind--
Correctly--yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary--

To note the fashions--of the Cross--
And how they're mostly worn--
Still fascinated to presume
That Some--are like My Own--

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

the world of the undead

As I open up my cocoon, and share my story with more and more people around me, it turns out that I know at least, by now, more than five people who are also likely suffering from emotional illnesses like mine.

It feels like I raised my hand in class to say, "It was me, I did it," and suddenly hands are raised all over the class, to join me in as if to say, "If she did it, I did it too," or "I was right there with her, we did it together," or "It wasn't just her idea."

Or that I rose from the dead in the cemetery, and suddenly I realise, I was not the only undead around - the cemetery was filled with the becoming of zombies.

More and more undead are being raised from the grave.

Maybe your life-force is hugely dependent on medical help, like I am.

Maybe you don't even know you have symptoms of clinical depression but you know you are just not happy.

Maybe your body is reacting crazily to the stresses around you that are beyond your control.

Maybe you just rather die, than live, no matter how people say that is the wimpish way out.

Let us die or let us live. Being in-between life and death, being undead, it really sucks I know.

Best thing is, I can now say, I have been there. Because I am on the mend. I am starting to feel happy. Almost everyday. Life sucks, but I am actually happy.

It can happen for you too.

uh oh poor doctor

So the reporters flooded Johor Specialist Hospital after I tomorrow-ed myself regarding G's mother's case. Apparently this story was featured today in one of the newspapers in Malaysia.

The hospital is now threatening to suspend the attending surgeon for G's mom. The doctor called G to apologise, and then called my Dad to apologise, and to ask him to tell me to take down my article from the internet.

If they do suspend that doctor, the management probably has to suspend themselves too. A problem like this should not have to be one doctor's fault, but really it is about the basic management infrastructure of the organisation, in this case, a hospital. The workflows and SOPs are seriously flawed for such mistakes to have happened.

By the way, G's mom's operation was a success, finally. At least she didn't die. We shouldn't have to wait for another wrongful death for JSH to wake up their idea.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Brain Rules

So according to this book's website, it seems I'm not all that strange and weak when I (1) cannot multi-task very well even though I am a girl and even though I used to be able to, (2) am highly visual-literal and hardly an audio-learner, (3) would rather not be on MSN at work unless I need it. An online excerpt:

Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things.

What we pay attention to is profoundly influenced by memory. Our previous experience predicts where we should pay attention. Culture matters too. Whether in school or in business, these differences can greatly effect how an audience perceives a given presentation.

We pay attention to things like emotions, threats and sex. Regardless of who you are, the brain pays a great deal of attention to these questions: Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? Will it mate with me? Have I seen it before?

The brain is not capable of multi-tasking. We can talk and breathe, but when it comes to higher level tasks, we just can’t do it.

Driving while talking on a cell phone is like driving drunk. The brain is a sequential processor and large fractions of a second are consumed every time the brain switches tasks. This is why cell-phone talkers are a half-second slower to hit the brakes and get in more wrecks.

Workplaces and schools actually encourage this type of multi-tasking. Walk into any office and you’ll see people sending e-mail, answering their phones, Instant Messaging, and on MySpace—all at the same time. Research shows your error rate goes up 50% and it takes you twice as long to do things.

When you’re always online you’re always distracted. So the always online organization is the always unproductive organization.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Even the shadow of you is driving me insane.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

these you are not

stopgap. super-glue
that holds cracked-bits
- together
void-filler, band-aid
emergency torchlight
commercial break
white noise, Muzak
penny entertainer
rations for war
- these things:
you are not.
You are so much,
so much more
(so much that I
want to tell
the whole world).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

finding the right spot on the continuum

A virtually impossible task - finding the balance between extremes. Reality hardly exists for me, because I create my illusion of it, or I break down and out from it.

Will I have enough resources to last till I find my place?

So I have to finish the race with a lit torch, I don't have to finish first. I just have to finish it with the torch in my hand, still alight.

I hope I make it.


One question my doctor asked me the first time I visited him, was this:

"Do you find that you empathise with people very easily, like you feel you can understand whatever they are going through?"

I said yes. Be it in the form of my Weltschmerz, or when friends confide in me, or when virtual strangers choose me to share their painful secrets with, I somehow manage to know how they feel.

Apparently, people who suffer from clinical depression are high on empathy, which technically means "identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives."

I guess when we want to love people, help others, make life better for those in ours, we need to score high on empathy. I think this will forever be a 'good' trait of mine. Empathy.

Maybe thats why Daffy calls me a 'natural Aunt Agony'. Maybe that's why I tend to build genuine relationships with my clients, colleagues or contemporaries. Maybe that is why my words can make people cry. Maybe that's why people fall in love with me.

If you are depressed too, I hope you may eventually realise too, that empathy is a good by-product of our sickness, a blessing in disguise.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I subscribe to 92 feeds on my RSS aggregator and I read them all, daily, hourly.

I read lengthy magazines like Vanity Fair and Glamour.

But I cannot seem to sustain reading the books which I chose at the bookstores, those I am intent on collecting in my trove.

I have, on hold, these few books am somewhat currently reading:
Why I Write, George Orwell
The Lizard Cage, Karen Connelly
The Night Watch, Sarah Waters
His Illegal Self, Peter Carey
Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig
A Fortune-Teller Told me, Tiziano Terzani

Suddenly my favourite hobby has become difficult.

Good Night, and Good Luck

Ed Murrow is one inspiring man.

I love films about politics, freedom, history, and journalism.

McCarthyism sounds strangely close and familiar to what we sometimes see today, doesn't it?

After watching this film, I feel ignited to do what is right, simply because it is the right thing to do.

Oh by the way, I love the soundtrack. I love jazz from that era.

LOL@ Johor Specialist Hospital

My parents brought me this story from across the causeway:

Their friend, whom we shall call G, had to admit his mother into Johor Specialist Hospital (JSH) for a major operation to her knees for acute arthritis. This involved putting her under anaesthesia, which meant fasting from food and drink before the operation. The operation was due to be held on the Monday just past, and costs an estimated RM$40,000 thereabout.

To facilitate the operation, G's mother, who is about 62 years of age, checked into JSH on Sunday night, so that her condition could be monitored while she fasted.

On Monday morning, the anaesthetist administered general anaesthesia and G's mother was wheeled into the operation theatre.

The operation was however, called off before she entered the OT.

"Sorry, the surgical knife has not yet arrived from Kuala Lumpur."

Yeah, that's a real deal-breaker ain't it. So the whole family took leave from work on Monday, was prepared to pay astronomical amounts for the surgery - forty grand IS a lot - and G's mother had to endure fasting and anaesthesia for the sake of... nothing.

The operation is due to be held tomorrow. Let's hope they don't run out of, say, oxygen, halfway through the surgery. Or the wrong knives were sent over from KL or similar.

This is not the first lol@JSH that has occurred. Three years back, my Dad's friend, who is younger than me, met with a motorcycle accident. He went into a coma, suffering a major blood clot in his brain at the back of his head.

He was admitted to JSH, warded in the ICU for three nights. Subsequently, he died.

They did nothing during this period of time, really. Just left the blood in the brain; no drilling was done to clear the clot, nothing.

So, he died. And the family was billed RM$16,000 for the three nights of ICU.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

me and my work habits:

I like to read a lot of business books magazines and online feeds, like really, a lot, just to improve my knowledge base.

And then I like to draw charts plans schedules tasks on paper. That is how I work, I write things down. I type stuff up.

I also like to work with Excel spreadsheets, creating costing workbooks, logs, performance management tables.

I organise my workstation and files extremely neatly, into work and project files, categories, archives and such (although I hardly organise my own blog posts, writings, and personal administration with such meticulous care).

When I am not unwell, I am a workaholic.

Work is very important to me, to the point that I hardly make personal calls, emails, or SMSes during my work day. I don't even like to have MSN while at work unless I actually need it for work. And if I have a major project to rush, I am sorry if it's your Second Uncle's wife's birthday dinner, work is work is work and I am working late means I am working late.

I try to do everything myself until I am about to K.O., or will not be available. I like to delegate because I feel it will benefit the person doing it, and every delegation I see as a favour done unto me, or for their own achievement and development. Even when I am boss. (This probably stems from my 'inability to make demands from people' attitude which is what I need to change). I believe in getting your own feet in the mud if you want your people to get theirs in.

I also keep the problems I am facing at work to myself until such appointed time, which usually is too late, I am already ill from stress, or extremely depressed.

But when I am boss, my weaknesses are that I am impatient, and since I already sound aggressive when I talk normally, I sound more fierce and pissed than I actually am. I also procrastinate on solving problems I cannot solve because I keep things to myself.

Hence I also believe in having someone to think aloud and bounce ideas off with.

I believe very strongly in dressing the part.

And in charming the room. I can talk to anyone and network with everyone. Firm handshakes, warm smiles, eye contact, conversations and namecard exchanging. I also seem to know people that other people know and so on and so forth. (Although when I go to a party I don't want to, I am not necessarily so charming).

I believe loving your work is important.

firsts, lasts, have you evers


thought when waking up today: 'the candle Mom lit in my room last night is still burning'

thing you ate today: coffee-flavoured bread

thing you did today: blow out the candle, turn on the computer, log in WoW

car accident you were involved in: a bus backed into our parked car when I was all alone in it as a kid. I didn't think of pressing the horn at the time...

guy/girl you had a crush on: Christopher/Phyllis

CD you bought: I can remember my first cassette tape, probably the soundtrack of the movie 'Pretty Woman' or a Roxette album

pet you had: Pomeranian doggie called Rocky

dream profession as a kid: lawyer

best friend: Sijian

award you received: Best in English - Primary 1 level, won a $100 book voucher from MPH

sport you played: badminton


person you talked to: Slinky

person you hugged: Slinky!

person you said i love you to: someone I love

thing you ate: cookies

thing you drank: red date tea

thing you said: 'Slinky you are sitting on my chair'

thing you did: read Cassandra's blog where I found this survey...

time you lied: can't remember

time you cried: last night

time you showered: this afternoon

time you got sick: now

time you broke a bone: never

time you got drunk: drunk or high? two different states of being altogether...

song you sang: 'For the cause of Christ, I will lay down my life'

song you listened to: Stellar Digital Music Podcast #23 by Yukun

thing you typed: this

have you ever...

seen a shooting star: yes; Serangoon Gardens 1991, Pulau Ubin 1996

met anyone famous (if so who): not that I bother

prank called someone: yes, as a kid I would dial random numbers from my nanny's house and talk to whoever picked up...

cried for attention: when I was eleven years old and I wanted attention from the cousins I was staying with

had alcohol poisoning: no

wrecked a car: no

threw a fit in public: quarrel, yes

wanted to kill someone: yes

been in the newspaper: yes, Today

cried over nothing: yes

had a crush on a teacher: not MY teachers, but people in the teaching profession...

wished death on someone: yes, TPS

been called a tease: yes

like more than one person at once: how is that possible...

imitated someone: yes, Prabakher from Shantaram

wrote a song for somebody: yes

been to a concert: yes, Air Supply, when I was a kid

snuck out of your house: yes, when I was living in Toa Payoh in the early 80s

cut class: yes

been scared so much you pissed your pants: no

loved someone so much it hurt: yes

faked being dead: yes, out of childhood boredom

failed a class: yes

spoken fluently in another language: what does fluently mean... confidently? or just very well?

gotten lost at the mall: yes

kissed someone of the same sex: what kind of kiss?

gotten a detention: no such thing in the schools I went to

missed the bus: yes

fallen down the stairs: yes, Midlink Plaza. My phone broke into pieces, I ricocheted down the steps, and the guys who saw me completely ignored me...

been in a sped class: like GEP? But I didn't even pass my first streaming exam in 1988...

had a bad hangover: the worst one was when I had red wine with my parents, three bottles between us...

gotten grounded: no

lied about your age: no

got hit by a car: no

not done your H.W. then copied it off someone right before class: yes

shopped online: yes

given money to a homeless person: how do you know they were homeless? I remember giving away a sandwich to two Cambodian border kids in Aranpathet, Thailand...

been on a sports team: only recreational - netball for Citi Olympics!

been so bored you did a survey like this one: yes...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

watch this.

Addicted in Afghanistan from Jawed Taiman on Vimeo.

Do something:
Don't take drugs anymore.
Say a prayer.
Find out more about drug rehabs in Singapore -
Donate to their cause.
Use your skills for worthy causes.
Seek to understand drug addiction.
Be contented.
Realise that the world does not revolve around you.
Go for a mission trip or a community service trip.
Spread the word.
Inspire someone - he or she might become the next world-changer.
Sponsor a child through World Vision.

one year from now

According to Dr. K's diagnosis of me I should be off medication in a year's time, even though I have been depressed for 'a long time' - his words.

In one year from now, I will be 30.

I would have sorted out my plans to go to an Indochinese country for a mid-term stay, three to six months long thereabout, not including reconnaissance trips there before that.

According to my doctor, for me to be 'rooted in reality' I have to prove, or disprove, the relevant core skills and strengths that I have. So that when people tell me, "You are so talented, E!" or "E is very good at (insert task/activity/ability)," I no longer feel traumatised by their perceived value of me. Yes, I hate it whenever anyone praises me for being good at something, for having a lot of potential, for being talented - because I truly, truly, feel I am not. The thing is, I am 'good' at almost everything I have done with everyone. I don't know why I am 'good' at that thing with you. I am not genius like Sylvia Plath or Jackson Pollock, I just have the same sickness as they did, without talent. But people keep telling me otherwise, which stresses and upsets me, because deep down inside I feel these things people say are grossly untrue.

So, I have identified three core things I should prove that I am good at, ever the cooperative client that I am. I already know I am good in managerial-related roles. And it is what I have a B.Sc (Hons.) in - Management, with a capital M. So for that, I will stop hating every comment that comes my way telling me I am good at my job. Doctor says managerial and administrative skills are lacking badly in most NGOs, missions agencies and other aid-related organisations. This might tie in my passion for missions, in some way, down the line.

The second skill I need to prove or disprove in me, is writing. D W says "only you and Emily Dickinson deserve to be published in print, not people like me." This statement muddled me and caused tears to flow, and it only means one thing: I have to prove that I can write. I am still not sure if I am a novel writer, a short story writer, or what else. I know I can write well on this blog, but that is useless. I know I make a good copywriter for marketing communications - business-y stuff. But I am not a published writer. I need to be published to prove or disprove that I am good at writing. This skill is the scariest one to prove.

The third core thing, is my usefulness in humanitarian-related work or missions work in Asian countries. Pastor Brian says I am a very good person to have around on a mission trip (I don't know why or how, to be honest). Some people tell me I inspire them towards missions. I don't believe any of these comments whole-heartedly. When I think of humanitarian work I think of how under-qualified I am. The disparity between wanting to be involved and not being able to, tears me apart and has broken me many, many times, since I left H to run the business alone, since I left the Y because I was not gaining anything and yet losing so much. I decided that, to prove my relevance in the humanitarian industry or in missions work, I need to be more present in the countries that need help, and not just do a short mission trip a year, which was all I was doing since 2001, except for last year, where I didn't even go for any.

Hence, the reason for my plan to work and serve in (most likely) Cambodia in a year's time. This was one of the main factors why I left C: it wasn't just his lack of empathy and his abandoning me alone that led me to leave him, it was also because I knew that if I had stayed with him, I would never make this step to live in a developing country like Cambodia for half a year. And my Mom even agreed that if I could find something for her to do, she would come with me.

One year from now, I will stop crying for no reason.

One year from now, I will love life.

One year from now, I will no longer be sad.

One year from now, I will know where my strength and beauty lies.

One year from now, I can truly say, I lived my twenties with no regrets.

I just need to survive the year. Two steps forward, the occasional step back, but forwards nonetheless. Technically I have a little more than a year, because my birthday is in November. But when I am finally thirty years old, I would have re-engineered Elaine, into someone even better than I am now.

Cry with me, celebrate with me. Stay alive with me. Exciting times are ahead.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

psychopharmacology etc.

I am now on:

2 Lexapro (total 20mg a day)
3 X*anax (total .75mg a day, sometimes I go up to 1.0mg a day)
2 Lorazepam (total 1mg a day, down from 2mg)
1 Seroquel (total 100mg a day, up from 50mg)

If you are like me and like to read online about medicine, and you will find out that Seroquel is more commonly used for schizophrenia or manic-depression or bipolar disorder, if I am not mistaken. But my doctor is using it as a sedative and to calm me, not because I have been diagnosed as a schizophrenic, meaning I don't do things that 'mad' people do like facial twitches, shouting at invisible people, or dribbling in catatonia. I also don't suffer from mania, that is, I don't have episodes of hysteria where I think I can jump off the roof and fly...

The fact that depressed people don't do these so-called 'crazy' things is probably the very reason why when people like us tell others that we have been diagnosed with clinical depression, it is almost hard to believe, because we often hide it. And it is actually concealable, because depressed people behave normally on the outside like regular folk do. In fact, we might be charismatic leaders in real life (like Winston Churchill), behave like natural comics (Charlie Chaplin), be cheery people (me, to some people). To the unsympathetic layman: the depressive needs to 'cheer up', the schizos act 'strangely'.

If you want to find out more about schizophrenia though, one of my favourite books "I Know This Much Is True" by Wally Lamb, talks about a pair of twins, of whom one is schizophrenic. We also of course know amazingly smart people who are mad, most famous of all John Nash immortalised by the movie A Beautiful Mind.

amaze me, inspire me

"You are an amazing person."

I use this phrase sparingly; when I do, I really mean it. Amazement stems from the well of a person's heart, in the form of a powerful destiny, a deep compassion, a supra normal capacity to love, a sincerity of being.

If I have told you before that you are amazing, you really are.

"You inspire me."

I haven't said that in a long time. I might have said that to H, long ago. I recently said it again. Very few people inspire me; I do not have any role models in life, except maybe, Mother Teresa, who is dead, Hillary Clinton, and maybe other famous women who made an impact on the world, like Anita Roddick, Jacqueline Novogratz, etc.

I am seldom inspired to write poetry, by a person. I am more inspired by emotions or by my infamous traffic-light moments. When a person, emotions, and traffic-lights come to a standstill in time, I end up writing one of the best poems I have ever written, (in mine eyes anyway). Paper-and-pen style, right there right then, creating editing and completing it, in the companionship of the person who inspires me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

1 step back
2 steps forward

I am not regressing
I'm recovering

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fuck you Charles Darwin

Screw all survival instincts, self-preservative awareness and the idea of natural selection.

Like what I told my Dad once when he cut me deep with his words: "Scan my brain and I will show you that what I have is a sickness, not a choice. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. Cut my head open and do a brain transplant with a normal person and I will give you a normal daughter! I am sorry I am sick!"

All I want to do is help change this world devoid of love, to save the starfishes beached and dry, is that so wrong... I cry with every child prostitute, murdered journalist, AIDS orphan, abused wife, unemployed slum dweller, drug addict despairing with life... I only wish I could bear their burdens and do something to help make their lives better.

I don't dig natural selection - I want to run to those that evolution will leave behind.

I only wish I had more talent, more skills, more qualifications, more strength, and health, to help me realise my deepest passion of all. So many people who were depressed changed the world. I only wish I could turn my sorrow into joy for those who need it most.

You try to help one person, just one person, that you know, in your local circle of influence - a friend, a child, a loved one. That task alone takes an almost lifetime of prayer and effort. Let alone the whole of povertised Asia - the need is that great.

Choose to be Darwinian about it, and live for yourself. Or choose to make a difference and run towards the regressed and left behind.

wreck without a caregiver

Without my mom in the house when she goes back to JB to stay a few nights with my dad, I seem to function less normally. Eating a proper meal is a chore alone, and getting out of the house pales to the idea of sleeping in all day. I live like a depressed person again: sleeping, listless, hardly eating or drinking, every supposed enjoyment a chore, every planned activity lying in the dust.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


undeciding. spacing out
imagining only today
being happy,

being happy.
taking your eyes in
giving in to the foreign -

unknown - all the better
to let go to take in now, only
playing laughing being transported

- to another era

tasting empathy



I just found out that Seroquel might make me fat!


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Supplements I take daily:

1000mg Omega-3
Apart from general well-being, Omega-3 is supposed to aid receptor and neuronal activity in the brain. If you know enough about clinical depression you will probably know that this is good stuff, because there are chemical imbalances and abnormal neurotransmitter activities that need to be treated in the brain of the patient.

1000mg Evening Primrose Oil
For selfish reasons, this one. This is mainly good for skin, which is why I take it if I get an eczema outbreak too. Plus it grows your boobs, useful for me since I did lose a lot of weight recently. But vanity aside, EPO, taken in the mornings, is useful for hormonal balances in women, so that the coming of your monthly period does not give you adverse mood swings. It is also good if you have cramps and such.

300mg Mega Acidophilus per meal
This aids digestive health, much like popping Yakult pills. Useful for indigestion and gastric problems, as well as for constipation. I am not sure on this, but apart from my measly appetite, necessary avoidance of citrus fruits for my asthma, the medications I am on might cause constipation as a side effect. For some reason my gastric health isn't that great lately - I get bloated if I eat too much, I get gastric pains now and then. So this bacterial-boost-in-a-pill helps.

1 cap multi-vit for women
The Gnc brand, if you are wondering which one this is. This is the one that C bought and made me eat religiously. Multivites usually make me fat because they improve appetite and metabolism, but this one doesn't. So I am sticking to it.

1 cap glucosamine if I am exercising that day
I am prone to joint - mainly knee - pains because of my banker days spent standing on heels at weekend roadshows. I usually pop one when I exercise, which is more frequent now.

All these supplements come in huge caplets. Thankfully I am now an expert pill-popper.

what motherhood means to me

By 2010 there will be 15.7 million children orphaned by HIV and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa.


I love you God

church service tires me
like you say in your word:
Try my mind and my heart.

I am tried and dried

You say, let go
of making decisions
give them to you

I love you so much

so why does being
in your house
cut me open

face me to face
my darkness and pain
because you say you see
my darkness and pain

doctor says:
live normally
people say:
don't think you're sick

You say:
I am not giving up on you

I put aside my wanting to die
You bring me face to face
and say
You are not giving up on me

with my wanting to die
as our under-torrential
understanding of who I am now

it is as if
you are saying

you are right
you have never been happy
all twenty-eight years
of your life
you really do feel
like ending it all
and leaving
you really are sick
with this horrible darkness

- but I am not giving up on you,
so don't give up on yourself.

the FACTS: Depression

"One should not quarrel with the depressed person or bring up questions of separation or divorce, as this exacerbates the depression and may contribute to suicidal thoughts."

Some people went wrong with me.

Reading this now scares me with its depth of truth and reality.

Friday, March 7, 2008

diagnosis and too much self-awareness

When I saw my GP recently for my asthmatic cough, I updated him about my psychiatrist's work with me, my suicide attempts and my hospitalisation, the drug allergy we discovered I had, and the medicine I was currently on, because I haven't seen my GP since the clinic issued me the referral letter to my psychiatrist at Mount E. He busily scribbled all the medicines I was on, taking inward gasps at the amounts of some.

Then he also asked me, "So what did Dr K diagnose you with?"

Actually my psychiatrist never did give me a proper medical diagnosis, but I knew it myself: "Major depressive disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder."

So when I went to see my psychiatrist yesterday, I asked him what really is his diagnosis of me. I told him what I told my GP. He said that I wasn't wrong. He also calls what I have "phobic depression".

I also asked him, "So, is there a range, like how depressed am I?"

He said, "Between moderate and severe."

"What is worse than severe?"

"Severe means hospitalisation."

Okay, so I guess I sought some specialist help in time to save myself from being warded in a psychiatric hospital.

Well, I knew what I was suffering from, just didn't know it was that bad. And my recovery is very gradual. My psychiatric doctor says about me, "Unfortunately, you are very aware of yourself and your own progress."

"Why did you preface that statement with 'unfortunately'?"

"Because when you are so aware of your own improvement you will come to realise your recovery is very gradual, and you might get discouraged by the rate at which you are getting better."

I guess I really have to take my time. I am still Calvinised to think that I need to keep trying harder and harder to get better and better and better for him for me for us, even though there is no more him and no more us, because while I was trying my best to get better while with him, he saw and claimed and commented and complained that my best was just not good enough, that I had to try harder, that I was not putting in any effort. So here I am, sub-consciously trying to please someone whom I have already removed from my life. I really have to un-Calvinise myself and just be Elaine, at Elaine's pace. Love should be unconditional, and I really should not have to recover to please anyone.

In any case, I really do think my phobias and anxiety is improving, only my depression is crawling at a snail's pace of a recovery rate. I look normal,

but really, I still have a long road to slowly take. There are many people out there who need help too. Depression is like a cancer with no visible tumour, yet it can kill, at a rate of 15% of all who suffer from it. I may look normal, and so may many people in your life, but if they have my sickness, please, get them to get help. Curing clinical depression is not about 'thinking positive', or pretending the pain isn't there. You cannot wish away a tumour, or pretend it doesn't exist. Depression hurts like fuck, it is a real, physical pain. Don't leave it alone.

KL Velvet pics

Me, Doji, Shuyi, Enid, Pixavonne

Eugene (Doji's friend who got us into Velvet for free), me and Shuyi

it is at moments after i have dreamed

by e. e. cummings

it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when (being fool to fancy) i have deemed

with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds

the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always)and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;

moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:

one pierced moment whiter than the rest

-turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.

I haven't read a poem that has made me cry this way, in years, years. It speaks my heart.


While I am functioning somewhat normally - eating square meals, sleeping regular hours, relating to people regularly - I still feel sad, sometimes.

So I asked my doctor today, "What do I do when I feel sad?"

His answer: "Do whatever makes you feel happy."

Such simple advice. Like my mother's, "As long as you are happy Elaine."

- I know what made me happy this week.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"As long as you are happy"

This is what my mom said to me. Which is why she allows me to go out. To do whatever I wish to, whatever my agenda, whoever the friends. After all, she has met almost all of them before, at least once, I guess.

"When I see you just sleeping in your room everyday in the afternoons, I feel very sad." My mom knows now that sleeping too much, like insomnia, is a symptom of depression. Those are the afternoons I feel tired from trying to recover. When I just want to be myself, by myself; to rest from recovery. Also, I caught a cold recently, and have been on antibiotics and cough medicine etc. Combined with my current cocktail of psych meds, of course I sleep all the time.

Like today. I really wanted to go out, and shop for some stuff I need for the house. But I was so tired, I woke at dinner time, and all I could do was go for a long walk. To Katong. I just needed to get out of the house.

I came home after that long walk to find my mom out. Apparently there was nothing she could find on TV to watch, so she went to the coffeeshop for wings and beer by herself. Finding this out, I felt selfish for planning my own agenda, leaving her alone in the flat while I went out and walked and met people and did my own stuff. I felt bad that I didn't suggest things we could do together. But she really didn't mind it at all; she really wants me to plan my own activities and such, and not to worry about her. I am not sure how much of it is just mother-talk. The thing is, I already do spend time with her, but in the flat, chit-chatting non-stop.

I think my mom and I both need to find some work to do in the near future. I am scared shitless of work; there are very few things I can handle now without triggering a panic attack. My mom still wants to be around to take care of me. This is the status quo, for now. (Even though we have dwindling finances).

(Okay, writing this post is making me stressed and sad. I shall stop here.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

regaining interest in life

Trying to act normal, to re-wire my brain to believe I am normal is a feat indeed. Everyday that I have the energy to, I try to fill my day with some sort of activity based on Elaine's interests, which I still feel rather lukewarm to in general - yes, all of them, even books, even men, even WoW.

I have been exercising. Like maybe for an hour a day, I reckon (not a clock-watcher, me). I tried running but like the last time I did that, I got an asthma attack. So I am sticking to yoga, stretches, and free-weights, crunches push-ups etc at home. Brisk-walking worked for me too, but I did that at night, and it can be rather lonely to do thirty minutes of brisk-walking around Ubi by myself.

I guess then, shopping counts as walking too! KL shopping was awesome, shopping and transport and F&B was sponsored by my Dad and my friends. I bought some youngish looking clothes to go to church in, since my new church is very youthful. Older people sit at the back rows. I sit at the last row. Thank God for streetwear.

My novel-writing, alas, has come to somewhat of a standstill. I feel like Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation, only calmer because I am medicated. I have so many false starts, so much to say, I am at a loss on how to stitch it together and how to blend my research into it. I guess all that is part of the fun.

Music - I have been playing the guitar and singing more often now. My mom suggests I do a recording of all my acoustic renditions for my Dad, as a surprise-love gift (something we learned in church recently). It will take a while. And it makes me contemplate about buying an acoustic guitar instead of doing acoustic on a classical. But I listen to music a lot more now. It helps distract me (Mona's advice, too, on dealing with anxiety). Still mostly electronica.

I think as for art, my next step will be to visit SAM which I have planned to with my ex-student Aly, sometime next week, amongst other things. I have barely any art materials in my house anymore anyway.

Reading is still a chore. I have turned from a voracious reader into a tedious one. I can hardly trawl through a book of chick-lit, let alone the kind of books I am used to reading. Even magazines are tedious. I speed-read the biz mags for the main points; I hardly feel excited about girlie mags. My interest in books is now shown mainly through lending them furiously to friends to read.

Some of you know I love Josh Hartnett - he is like my fave Hollywood man. He doesn't turn me on anymore, and I just finished watching Black Dahlia. He is handsome, but I am more fascinated by Scarlett Johansson's make up instead. I view men and women alike as art, not as objects of fancy or lust anymore. I find Bruce's Springsteen's Kitty's Back played by the E Street Band in 1975, as good as sex.

I eat for the sake of eating. No longer crazy over foods I was used to, perhaps only coffee, and chocolate. Coffee is an obsession for me when I go out, because I need to keep awake from my meds so that I will watch where I am going, and also so that I don't keep yawning.

Strangely, I no longer crave for alcohol that much now. Maybe because I drank some on Saturday over at Velvet, sans medication. (Sans medication! I actually felt happy and calm and not-stressed while on holiday, with my two bezzie mates, I didn't need to medicate.) Needless to say, I drank very little - half a beer, some whiskey green tea, a Johnny Walker OTR, and was hardly high for the piffling amount I limited myself to. Alcohol really does cancel out the effect of the anti-Ds I take, because by the time it was time to sleep at night, I felt like my serotonin effects were cancelled out. I took lesser sleepy meds than usual, and fell asleep more slowly than my high and happy girlfriends.

Does my cat count as an interest? We have converted her into a full-time house cat, which involves more pet ownership responsibilities such as cleaning her litter box and such. She hangs slink-slunk around me in my room most of the time.

All that, while I am on:
2 anti-Ds (total 20mg a day)
3 X*anaxes (total .75mg a day, sometimes I go up to 1g a day)
2 Lorazepams (total 1mg a day, down from 2mg)
1 Seroquel (total 100mg)

a day. These are what help me resemble normalcy on the outside. On the inside, I feel calm and un-sad.

(Oh by the way, the rubbish about anti-Ds only having a placebo effect - doesn't work on people with my depth of depression. It is referring to GPs doling out Pro*zac in small doses to random patients who seem stressed or mildly depressed. My dose isn't small. I am not mildly depressed.)

A lot of people tell me not to keep thinking I am sick. But if I thought otherwise, I would have nothing to 'get better' from. This is why I am trying hard to recover. I think accepting that I have major depression and coming to terms with the fact that I need help and I need to recover from my sickness, is an important step. Sorry, screw the 'think positives'. Living normally is one thing, denial is another plane altogether. I cannot wish this cancer away.

Enneagram Test

Not very sure what school of thought this personality test is based on, but hey, quizzes are fun!

Main Type
Overall Self
Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||| 34%
Type 4 Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 5 Detachment |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Type 6 Anxiety |||||||||||||| 58%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||||| 58%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||| 38%
Your main type is 8
Your variant is social
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

Monday, March 3, 2008

lost for words

So I use movies and songs to convey my thoughts instead. Borrowing the inspiration of others to tell the story of my heart.

I am not sure if I can finish my book in a year.

I start to use pictures, graphs and arrows to explain how I feel about things, to myself.

I get tired of talking sometimes. My mind wanders. Wander with me?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

four months, pre-breakup entry in my diary

This is an au naturel entry copied straight from my notebook to here. I wrote it then, and re-read it recently, and shocked myself for not seeing the signs earlier. It might be offensive to some readers, but bear with my honesty: it was originally not meant for public audience.

First October 2007


I think of C and I think again of how he cannot deal with my depression. About all times he has said self-preservative cocky words like how he cannot spend his life with a depressive because he doesn't want his children to be depressed, because he needs not to be with someone who is so negative "all the time". About how he fears he will lose his career trajectory if he has to stay home to take care of a clinically depressed wife. I think about his inherent negativity displayed through anger and resentment at the world. His plastic, fake family and their disgusting matriarchal rituals and parties and Cantonese small talk and forced hellos. I think about how C hates talking about anything serious - ideas, dreams, problems in our relationship (because it is not productive to). About how I can't be myself like I am with God, with him. And how he can't seem to want to love God and know his truth and not his warped falsities from his Catholic upbringing. I hate him but I know he loves me, which is hard to find. And I feel comfortable reading in bed next to him. And we make up after every fight well enough to smooth all his fur and ruffled feathers. If I leave him I will truly be alone in this flat till I die. He is supportive of me and I do love him most of the time, just not very lovingful right now because I am still hurt by his shouting at me yesterday. If I tell him this, he will shout more, and talk about leaving me.