Adventures of a Wocket

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Anxiety, life and ramblings

I have been absent from here for far too long. Here is an adventure of the mental kind.

Living with anxiety probably conjures up a few images in your head right? Panic attacks, curled up on the floor, breathing into a paper bag hyperventilating, being unable to interact, shakes, sweats. Different responses for different people depending on the strength of their fight and flight reaction. Anxiety is, in a word, insidious. It creeps up on you when you don’t expect or frankly need it. It doesn’t care about social engagements, plans, deadlines, adult responsibilities. If I am talking about it as a sentient entity that’s because that is what it feels like.

For me, when I am in the throes of anxiety episode, I appear and seem like everything is normal, as though nothing is wrong. At least to the untrained observer or those who don’t know me well and there are a lot of those.

It comes without warning and can cripple you, make you feel like you’re losing your mind. That’s what these last couple of weeks have been for me.

Throughout my whole life I have dealt with shit. Domestic violent household, alcoholics, resentment and that’s all before I was 14. I was thrown out by my dad at 14 for reasons that were never explained to me, I am sure there were reasons, everyone has their own battles, my dad was no different, there’s no anger just memories now. I had a little break down at the time, I was a teenager but I got up and carried on. Four years later he died after a battle with liver cancer due to alcohol. I got up and I carried on. You know bad things happen, that’s life. Through my twenties I mostly drank as a crutch to cope. I got depressed quite a lot, went through a string of boyfriends, all of whose hearts I broke. My last one and the only one to dump me, told me at the height of my depression that I should not rely on other people to make me happy. So you know what? I didn’t. I stopped relying on anybody. Little did I know that was probably the first step to my lifelong dance with anxiety.

A year or two later I got diagnosed as potentially bi-polar I tried to get help through the NHS but I fell through the cracks. I sought private CBT therapy and it helped somewhat. Then I decided to move abroad.

Still, in the midst of the biggest upheaval of my life, there were only mild to normal levels of anxiety. About a year or two in Singapore I realised I was no longer depressed. It was like somebody had opened a curtain to let in the sun. I remember the moment quite distinctly. Since then through family fall outs and changing jobs three times and moving home 4 times in 4 years, I was okay. Until I started getting stomach issues. They got worse one Christmas about 3 years ago, when they basically caused a panic attack on the plane back to Singapore from the UK. I thought I was dying.

The Dr I saw when I landed also took it seriously. I had all the tests. Endoscopy, colonoscopy and two ultra sounds only to be told my stomach pain and subsequent issues are caused by slow digestion and slow emptying stomach. Not too bad right? Now a symptom of this is too much acid in the stomach which causes nausea. I basically don’t get hungry anymore, I get more nauseous. My stomach hurts if I have anything that is too spicy or sugary or just not plain old beige food. I could live with that. It was something I could control. My anxiety faded until changes started happening. People coming and going as is the nature of what I do for a living and where I live. I started studying my masters degree while working two jobs and my anxiety manifested mostly in social situations. Especially now that I can’t really drink alcohol. It was manageable though, amusing to some even. I would have bouts of cleaning when I needed to regain control. It didn’t go beyond that much.

Until one day, it did.

I got stomach flu two weeks ago. Working with kids will do that to you. It’s the second time in two months. It knocked me flat. I couldn’t study, I fell behind, only by a week but it was all my body needed with assignment deadlines looming. Now unfortunately when my anxiety manifests the physiological symptoms are so similar to stomach flu I spent a week feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I lost my appetite, I felt sick, I had to run to the toilet a lot and my stomach hurt seemingly constantly. Then the day after, the panic hit. This all consuming feeling of dread that made it hard to get out of bed, get dressed and leave my bedroom never mind my house. Bouts of uncontrollable crying, more stomach upset. The worst parts were the tightness in my chest, the lump in my throat and the tension headache that ran from my shoulder blades to my eyes for over a week.

It crippled me. I have never felt anything quite like it. It got to the point where thinking about going outside would make me feel sick and tense and cry. I was becoming borderline agoraphobic, all in the space of a week. For someone who has prided themselves on being independent and self sufficient, it was terrifying. One illness and I felt like I was losing control of my mind, that I was going insane and nothing would ever be simple or normal again. Functioning would become a thing of the past. I almost quit my job and gave up studying and went back to the UK forever.

I felt so isolated and a failure. I still do feel the latter.

The fear of not meeting deadlines broke my brain in two and took my body with it. I’m slowly coming out of it. My appetite isn’t really there, my stomach hurts intermittently and the tension headache creeps back some days but that feeling of absolute dread has eased somewhat. I’m not back to where I was but baby steps?

What I found the most surprising was the overwhelming comfort and understanding of others. I’ve always bottled up my feelings, I haven’t wanted to be a burden, it’s something I have felt I was to those I cared about all my life. Despite not wanting to be an annoyance or be that person everybody laments seeing or speaking to, I needed to talk, I needed people around me to understand I wasn’t faking that I wasn’t just being completely pathetic, I needed understanding, patience. That’s when I learnt I wasn’t alone. The offered hug from a housemate, the words of those friends who also fought their own battles with anxiety, the persuasion of my housemate to take time for me, to just stop and think of myself. Hand made stress balls from a close friend, understanding colleagues who didn’t make me feel like a burden, my friends across the world who checked in and asked if I was eating, how was I doing. Friends checking my assignments for me and just being there. Nobody told me to get over it, relax it’ll get better. I was listened to, I was comforted and they made me laugh.

I was fortunate.

If this had happened to me a year or two ago. I would have told nobody, I would have suffered in silence and probably lost the fight. Today I still feel guilty and a burden for talking about it, for reaching out. For the first time in my life, genuinely admitting I can’t do it all by myself and it’s okay to take my time with my life goals, is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Ironic that I am studying Psychology really. I guess this is why I am driven to want to help people like me and others.

For me, I think this battle is over, there’ll be another and I fear the day. I wake up and wait to see if this will be another day I will struggle. I’m taking steps, though, hoping they’ll be enough.

I still feel broken, I still feel like a burden. I see friends and family enjoying life on social media and I have cried at all that I perceive I do not have or cannot achieve. I know you should never compare but I wish sometimes that I had happier things to share, that’s normal right? You never know what someone is hiding behind a smile though and I have to keep reminding myself of that. As a result of this ‘break’ I’ve had to let go of long term plans and focus on the short term ones, I have had to let people I care about down. I have to learn to focus on enjoying the learning instead of getting above 60% for everything, while working. I thought I could do it but it was too much pressure. I failed myself. I cry out of frustration sometimes when my stomach plays up a lot and I long for a normal functioning. It’s horrible constantly feeling nauseous. Yet, if I was normal I would never have met all those people in my life who helped me through this prolonged anxiety attack and those always happy to see or speak to me, no matter what I am going through (or how difficult I know I can be).

Most of this is just rambling, it helps to get it out. I think. I’m taking steps to deal with the next potential attack. Going to see a psychiatrist see what he says, it’ll eat what little savings I have but hopefully it’ll help me cope better next time.

To those out there who might read this and who might be going through something similar. Be it depression or anxiety or anything at all that makes a normal day seem like an insurmountable mountain. You are not alone. I know the pain of trying to just get through the day one agonising minute at a time. Reach out. To anyone. To someone. To me. Even if I don’t know you.

You exist. You are unique. You are worth the fight.

Reach.

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On The Frightening Realities of Being a Woman in 2017

Hi guys!

So for anyone who has spoken to me since January 1st, I have been banging on about starting a blog. I wanted to talk about self care and mental health and make up and baking and life (I mean, I hadn’t quite established an aesthetic, and I use commas way too much, but I was well on my way). Anyway, at the end of January, all my plans for everything changed. And now I’m going to talk about that. Because I think it’s really fucking important that people speak about difficult, shitty times. Also, quite selfishly, I think this will be pretty cathartic. Haven’t started yet but this could potentially be a long read. Buckle up kids.

The Incident.

So I was leaving a well known Clapham Club *cough* Infernos *cough* when a man, a stranger, started making sexual comments at me. The sad thing is, I don’t…

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Syrian Refugee Crisis: A Couple Of Rumours Corrected

TheCritique Archives

by Martin Odoni

Discussion of the Syrian Refugee Crisis has caused a lot of increased emotion over the last few days, especially since pictures began circulating on social media of Aylan Kurdi, the boy who drowned off the Turkish coast. One of the upshots of the photos has been that many people who normally resent immigration, including a lot of the ever-fickle mainstream media, have suddenly become passionate humanitarians, although often only in narrowlymilitaristic terms.

The clamour has met stiffened resistance from other xenophobic elements however, who seem determined to view compassion as a weakness, and who regard the refugees with an stubborn suspicion. Hand-in-hand with this has, inevitably, been a campaign of misinformation about the crisis, misinformation clearly designed to cast refugees in a very ugly light.

I have decided to address a few of the rumours I have seen circulating.

1) “Islamic State (ISIL) are sending hundreds…

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History crash course: Charming animation shows 80 years of Singapore history in 16 minutes【Video】

Here’s a quick run down of Singapore’s history.

SoraNews24

5603764932182016Singapore is an island country so small you can barely see it on the world map. But despite its modest size, Singapore is among the most globalised countries you’ll ever visit, one of the world’s major commercial hubs, and sees over 15 million tourists each year. And no, in case you were wondering, Singapore is not a part of China.

Some of you may have visited the city-state on a vacation or business trip, but do you know Singapore beyond its modern, bustling cityscape? In celebration of the nation’s 50th National Day, animation director Ervin Han and team created a 16-minute animation that looks back at the 80 years of ups and downs Singapore went through to get to where it is today. Get your history crash course after the break!

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Majulah Singapura (Onward Singapore)

Majulah Singapura is Malay for Onward Singapore. It comes from the country’s national anthem of the same name. You can have a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdb_O91d92M

As you may or may not be aware, Singapore recently celebrated it’s 50th anniversary of independence. Now as a Brit and coming from a country that has never had a national day (I suppose St George’s day is considered as such but it is unfortunately not a national holiday) or an independence to celebrate, I find it fascinating. First let me delve into a little history for you. (I do so like my history).

Singapore fell to the Japanese during the second world war, on February 14th 1942 they had invaded most of the country and on the 15th the British surrendered and the country was renamed Syonan-to (Light of the South), this was officially when the Japanese occupation of Singapore began. This occupation (during which many terrible atrocities were committed against the Singaporean people) lasted until the Japanese surrender on the 14th of August 1945. It took a month before the British returned and begin a military administration of the Straits Settlement. Singapore became a separate crown colony when the Straits Settlement was dissolved on the 1st of April, 1946. Following on from this, Singapore entered into a chaotic state involving strikes, food shortages, riots, plus the creation of Singapore’s self government. This chaotic state lasts for almost 15 years. I am glossing over a great deal that happened. If you wish to know more you can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Singapore with the shortened timeline being here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Singaporean_history

In May 1959 Lee Kuan Yew became the first Prime Minister of Singapore when the People’s Action Party won the general election. On the 3rd of December that same year, the above national anthem was presented. From 1959 to 1965 Singapore went through a tumultuous time and things are set into motion that lead to the separation of Malaysia and Singapore. The agreement was signed on the 7th August 1965 and the Malaysian Parliament voted to expel Singapore from the Federation on the 9th of August, making Singapore an independent country. It was then admitted into the United Nations on the 21st of September as its 117th member and became the 22nd member of the Commonwealth.

That was 50 years ago. Since then they have built up their infrastructure, their economy, their education system, their public transport systems, their welfare and medical systems and have achieved more in fifty years than a large majority of other developed nations. Just have a gander at their global rankings over here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_rankings_of_Singapore

There is much to celebrate for Singaporeans and I am simply grateful that I got to be a witness to this 50th anniversary.

There were concerts at Botanic Gardens: 20150807_150146 20150807_151824 20150807_152346 20150807_154814

Unfortunately my friend and I didn’t get to see any concerts because of the torrential downpour that flooded the Palm Valley and soaked me to the bone. Here’s what it should have and did look like on better days between 7th – 9th of August: jubilee-botanic-gardens channelnewsasiacom (photo sourced from channelnewsasia.com).

There was another concert on the Saturday the 8th of August at Marina Bay Sands: 20150808_192011 20150808_202035 20150808_202421 20150808_202422(0) 20150808_203041 20150808_203239

We were behind a barrier right next to the stage so we didn’t have front viewing.

And fireworks, for all celebrations there must be fireworks: 20150808_204555 20150808_204557 20150808_204558 20150808_204559 20150808_204617

I didn’t personally get to see the parade fireworks for National Day but here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clmgdvuD-Wk trust me you want to see this, it is impressive! Watch it all! Even how they did it is interesting 🙂

I personally really liked this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuEhU3Kq9g4 this is a favourite song among locals too. Maybe even more so than the national anthem. I found this heart warming.

Many people have many differing opinions on Singapore and Singaporeans, some good, some not so good but they sure know how to throw a good party. It is sad that Lee Kuan Yew himself wasn’t around to witness how the majority of people came together to celebrate what they have built. A nation that has thrived over the last 50 years. I know that Singapore faces criticisms but honestly that isn’t what today’s post is about, I simply wanted to share in something that made me smile and kind of made me wish we in the UK had a national day and celebrated it as heartily as SG50 was celebrated. Though we did put on a fantastic show for the Queen’s Jubilee and had an amazing turnout 😉 (Good show, UK).

Happy 50th Anniversary Singapore. Celebrate this year and keep on celebrating. You have definitely earned it.

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Why Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason

john pavlovitz

SadGirlwindow

That phrase.

We’ve all received it personally gift-wrapped by well-meaning friends, caring loved ones, and kind strangers. It usually comes delivered with the most beautiful of intentions; a buffer of hope raised in the face of the unimaginably painful things we sometimes experience in this life.

It’s a close, desperate lifeline thrown out to us when all other words fail:

Everything happens for a reason.

I’ve never had a tremendous amount of peace with the sentiment. I think it gives the terrible stuff too much power, too much poetry; as if there must be nobility and purpose within the brutal devastation we may find ourselves sitting in. In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into.

It serves as an emotional distraction, one that cheats us out of the full measure of our real-time grief and outrage. We stutter and…

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The “After” Myth

Can Anybody Hear Me?

DURING

After.

It’s here.

In my first post, Before, 3 years ago, I said “I’m not to After yet, but I’m closer to After than to Before.”

I now weigh 117 – 120 pounds (depending on the day), and standing at 5-foot 6-inches, that measurement means that After is very, very here. But, before you congratulate me, dear readers…if I have any…and dear friends and family who I know follow this blog… I have to come clean with you: I don’t feel like I’m at After. I’m terrified of being at After. And, I don’t like that After is here.

After5 2

The tagline of my blog is “uncovering myself one pound at a time.” For most of this blog, I’ve spoken strongly about how my relationship with food and myself was what caused my weight struggles. I stand by that. The thing is, the symptoms have resolved faster than I’ve been able to…

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Bake for them two

Ten Thousand Places

gay weddingIn Jesus’ time, the nation of Israel was under Roman rule. The Israelites were allowed to live there and practice their faith for the most part, but they had to pay taxes to Caesar and obey the Roman laws.

To the Israelites, the Romans were evil and ungodly. They had no place ruling over God’s chosen people in God’s chosen nation. That land had been promised to Moses and his descendants when God brought them out of Egypt. Their very presence in the land was blasphemous.

One of the Roman laws stated that any man could be required to drop what he was doing and carry a Roman soldier’s equipment for him for up to a mile. In the sermon on the mount, with his followers gathered around him, Jesus referenced that law and told his followers what they should do in that case:

“If anyone forces you to go…

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An open letter to Katie Hopkins

J BARLOW

Dear Katie,

Earlier today it came to my attention that you had tweeted your opinions about depression – the biggest mental health issue that faces this country, bar your ignorance.

Many believe that the opinions you spout are nothing more than a cry for attention much like when a dog defecates for the attention of its owner, which ironically is a form of separation anxiety.

When I read your tweets I was not surprised that you had decided to shit on the floor in the hopes of a reaction – Something you have done many times and will probably continue to do until you fade away into obscurity.
Unfortunately this is not the Big Brother house so you cannot be voted out and we cannot turn you down as you did to Lord Alan Sugar – because, like a bad smell you return to fill the nose of society with…

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Health and Prosperity

The Chinese New Year is upon us once more! I have been in Singapore almost two full years and my has it been a rollercoaster.

I have had three jobs, lived in three very different areas and I’m planning to likely be here another few years. My reasons revolve mostly cost of living and how much I have to pay out in comparison to the UK. This is the first time since graduating from University, for example, that I have been able to afford to go back to studying. With an online Masters degree; I pay UK tuition fees but work around my full time job here. It just wouldn’t be feasible in the UK to do that sadly. I suppose being a smaller country, things like taxes and cost of living can be kept down. I am aware of the irony that Singapore is ranked 8th in the world for cost of living, two above the UK.

A lot of it is down to the salary I get paid. While not expat living standards, it is a much higher pay than most locals can expect to achieve. It equates to around a 30,000 pa a year job in the UK. Quite average. Here I’m probably somewhere in the middle. Taxes are also lower here, well they are for me. If you’re from America you unfortunately have to pay taxes both at home and in Singapore.

This however, is not the point of this Wocket’s entry today. The year of the goat/sheep, which means if 2013 and 2014 brought you luck then this year your luck will continue. They always make a big deal out of Chinese New Year here in Singapore. I honestly loved receiving red packets with money when I attended a friend’s family gathering last year. The decorations are wonderfully done as well. The only downside for non Chinese is that everything closes over Chinese New Year, so while we don’t work, we also can’t do much of anything else either.

This year however, I have planned a trip to Bali!! There shall be pictures and a blog upon my return.

If I’m honest, this post is a more reflective one. The start of my second year in the ‘red dot’ and while the novelty of Singapore wears off for some, I find myself strangely at home here. My first year was one of turmoil and change but this year, with my job and living in a quiet place that I can feel at home in; Singapore has wormed its way into my heart. It’s probably there to stay.

There are a great many things to dislike about Singapore. The lack of manners in general, the way nobody looks where they’re going, the undercurrent of prejudice that bubbles quietly beneath the surface, the taxi drivers that don’t stop for you when you have lots of luggage, even though you’d happily put it in the boot yourself. The groundhog day feel of every single day can also wear thin. I have said this before but I miss seasons. Not so much that it bothers me but enough that I relish thunderstorms and rain and breezes!

I have found a lot to be thankful and glad of in Singapore. I have a Dr here who actually listens to what I say and tries to help. Maybe I’m just lucky? I have suffered with IBS most of my adult life and for the past year after making some changes in my diet and having a Dr who gave good advice beyond, here’s some fibre drink, take this… o_o I rarely suffer bouts of crippling pain and discomfort. It is such a relief.

I have discovered the delights of Yong Tau Foo, a healthier hawker food, thanks to a friend talking me into trying it. As we all know, I am not the bravest when it comes to new foods.

I have more motivation to keep active and travel here, otherwise everyday would quite literally blend into the next in a blur of moments. It already affects my short term memory more than I care to admit. Hobbies such as learning the piano, visiting CSC on Sundays when I have a day off, learning to swim (it’s about bloody time), going to the gym, they all help break up the monotone. It’s also important to have these outside interests from work in order to make friends. That has been something I have struggled with in my time here. I have to say however, that even though my social circle is smaller here than in the UK, it is fulfilling and enough. In between all of the above and studying for my Masters, there’s not much time left.

Living in Singapore I have found, is about achieving that balance between work and personal life. Your personal life can never be what it was in the UK or the US or Europe or anywhere else that is more liberal and whose culture revolves a great deal around drinking alcohol. That is simply not the culture of the majority here. There are plenty of bars and clubs, sure, if you have money to burn. For most, life doesn’t centre around the Friday/Saturday night drink-fest though. It can be boring and seem isolating if you’re used to doing more and seeing more people. For me, I relished the time visiting the UK at Christmas. It meant more, I made the most of the time with my friends and I appreciated the culture a whole lot more than before I moved out this way. Perhaps it’s because I’m on the other side of 30 now that I am more content to just go to the cinema, go for coffee with a couple of close friends and only drink on special occasions? Maybe I just had to change how I was before I could fit into the culture of Singapore? For the record, I definitely had to change a lot! I’m sure if I left and returned to the UK, I would have the reverse problem. 🙂

Travel is also easier from a base like Singapore. I am determined these next few years to make the most of this location. February is Bali. I already visited Australia last June (that deserves a separate blog post). I am definitely going to the North west next time. I visited Phuket in Thailand last year too.  Below are some pictures!

Yes that is a basket of wooden penises. 😀 The guy kindly explained to us that in Thailand it is a symbol of Palad Khik. Which represents the Hindu God Shiva. The symbol was brought to Thailand by the Khmer from Cambodia and originally came from India and is also a symbol of fertility. The Thai people are quite superstitious and talismans such as these are considered important.

IMG-20141021-WA0011 IMG-20141021-WA0021 IMG-20141021-WA0022 IMG-20141021-WA0006

September is USA and then home again for Christmas. These trips would not have been possible living in the UK on the wage that I am still on. I am grateful for that. I am not a big traveller. I am admittedly quite lazy when it comes to travel and I like luxury and hotels and jacuzzis, which all usually exist outside of my price range ^_^ but living in Singapore is an opportunity I cannot squander. I plan to visit Japan, New Zealand and China and perhaps India in the years I am proposing to live here. Moving has opened many doors that I could not have afforded nor even considered and Singapore, for me, is a solid, stable base to which to travel from and return back home to.

This year is also Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence. There’ll be celebrations and events and hopefully I’ll be able to take more pictures to show that Singaporeans know how to have a good time. Even if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 😉

Also this happened last year 😀

20140905_210031

 

So for now, I wish you Health and Prosperity for the year to come. May the year of the goat be a good one for you ^_^

How do you write Happy Chinese New Year in Chinese?

Traditional Chinese: 恭禧發財; Simplified: 恭禧发财.

(Pinyin: Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)).

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