Thursday, November 2, 2023

Re: My friends

I'd love to say "I have lost count on the amount of drafts I've written" because I totally can.

It's 2. 

It's been two times since I've attempted to write a full post since my last one in June. Not to much success. They only got up to a few lines. So something around here.


I've been off Instagram except for on my finsta. I think if you're friends with me or at least with my inner circle, you'd probably already know what I go by on my finsta account. I do go on my main account once in a while to post photos of big occasions - the last being Hanna's wedding. Before that it was Japan and Raya and Seoul. Like I've mentioned, Instagram in particular gives me just too much anxiety. My heart literally beats so fast when I'm on it because I just don't know who or what I'll see that'll cause some sort of trigger. And so to save me from such, I'm just cosied away in my small circle of friends on my private instagram. I don't even stalk celebrities there, I'm just only ever seeing updates of whoever I'm following (35 accounts so that includes some friends and their own finstas!)

Which would I guess lead me to my next point: friends.

Over the year and over everything that has happened, I've decided to take a very selfish decision to really prioritise myself. In my teens and twenties, I've always always always been a friend person. Friend A will come to me to ask about a certain group of friends. Friend B will ask me about Friend C. Friend C will ask me about what Friend's A up to these days and if she's still dating Friend B's ex boyfriend. Yknow? That sorta thing. It just became a natural thing that I had a lot of group of friends. Which was something I loved and truly appreciated being a part of. I would usually create most Whatsapp groups, I'd host big parties and smaller lunch dates and organised game nights. Weddings were a thrill - I'd float from one table to another, take photos with one group and the other and then go to our favourite mamak after that and be part of that obnoxious group of people that joined 6 tables to fit 20 people. Do I miss it? Always. 

My 'selfish decision' meant essentially to realign what I believe to be best for me. Be it friends, be it the things I do on a daily basis, be it the things I choose not to do anymore at all. It's not malicious. It was never malicious. I just felt at the time (I still do, to be fair) that it was pivotal in healing and being my old self again, to take care of me. I don't blame anyone for thinking bad of me though. I can see how it'd look like. To them it could be perceived like I don't want to be friends anymore. Like I don't want you in my life anymore, that I don't care for you anymore. That I'd rather be alone than be friends with you. That couldn't be further from the truth. I never not want to be friends anymore. I just wanted and most importantly, needed a break. If it meant from some friends, then so be it. Because it didn't seem right that I was agonising about how you might feel and completely forgetting about how it would make me feel. At the end of the day, I'm the one living out the anxiety and fear and nervousness and sadness. Not you.

This being said, I truly truly truly appreciate and love that most of my friends have totally respected this stance and have given me the space and time to be better. And for the occasional check in's and "hi!". I'm not scary so I won't be rude and shoo you off if you text or call me. I'm just doing a bit of time away from reaching out sangat dah because it's all I've been doing since I can ever remember. Stretching myself too thin by constantly doing this has not helped me in my healing and so once I realised that, I just decided to change lanes. Tu je. And if you've not heard from me in a while, it's most probably cause I haven't heard from you too. I still don't host big, big parties anymore but I do try to make the effort to go out for small dinners and lunches and as I've stepped into my 30s, it's just been super nice also to have more intimate outings with old and new friends. 

I don't expect this post to be read by anyone really because I've abandoned it for ages now but whoever it reaches, I hope it brings bit more insight to where I was. 

Still a lot of love for everyone!! Promise. 


Sunday, June 11, 2023

A day and a cry at a time

I was writing a draft for this post but that was so long ago that I've decided to just forget about it and start new here. It's a Sunday, June 11th, 4:44pm.

This post, I want to talk about mental health.

For context, we'll start with my upbringing. I grew up in a wonderful typical Asian/Malaysian household. Typical being we ate a lot of rice, we went to extra tuition classes, we had a big external family (lots of cousins and aunts and uncles), we were shy with our "I love you"'s and... we never spoke about mental health. Was it a lack of belief or was there just not much conversation about mental disorders in the community at the time? We were always questioning it like it was a choice, it'll sound something like "She's so rich, why is she depressed?". I don't know anyone in my family who went through a mental illness but it could be because no one identified nor acknowledged it at all. I grew up with that and so I, too, never got it. Never got what it means to have anxiety, depression or anything beyond that. It just felt to me like a state of mind that you could just "get over". 

That said, I never liked saying the word "depression" for fear it may seem I was belittling the actual illness. Sure, I never really understood it but I also didn't want to disrespect the term. It was the same with anxiety. I had a friend who went through intense anxiety when we were studying abroad. There were Facetime calls that started with crying and breathing difficulties and panting and all that. I sympathised genuinely but again, I just never really got it. I could not understand how something could set off something so much bigger within. I looked it up numerous times and after reading so much material on it, I got a better idea of what it means to be anxious and have panic attacks.

I'm having a bit of a hard time segueing into the part where I tell you that from being a mere audience to friends' experiences with depression and anxiety to then finding myself in my therapist's room as she nudges the tissue box to my direction as I stumble for words to tell her why I'm there. She diagnoses me and she talks to me calmly. The whole time I'm just dumbfounded that I'm even there, that I've allowed myself that mercy to seek help after weeks of complete gloom. The weeks following that appointment, I had a lot of trouble coming to terms of what I've been feeling. I hadn't shared it with a lot of people other than my 2 sisters who lived with me at the time. And even with them, it went unspoken and from knowing me their whole lives, nothing had to be said for them to know that I was not the same. 

If I could explain it simply, depression feels like a weight on your heart. Some days, I can feel it hover over me. I'd be walking around, driving, eating or doing a chore and I can feel my heart get heavy and soon before you know it, the feeling overwhelms your whole body and then it gets too much and the only outlet for this is to breakdown and cry. I'd always feel dazed and my only source of comfort was complete literal darkness. I'd pull my curtains together, got under the covers and faded in and out of sleep. I felt detached from work and had low energy levels for months on end. I stepped away from the social circles I was in and left social media because it was my biggest trigger. I stopped doing things I enjoyed and just wanted time to pass by. I appreciated truly all the friends that checked in on me but had no energy at all to get to them. For the first time in forever, I really didn't care about anything at all. I just wanted to be left alone. 

I wish I could snap out of it and just get back to the regular programming of my old self. It's tiring, man. Being sad in itself is tiring but no one tells you how draining it is to live in between those episodes, to constantly anticipate the next breakdown. You have the nice moments here and there, I've had some great moments with friends and family, I've traveled here and there alhamdulillah but for now, it still follows me everywhere I go and while i'm grateful for the sweet things in life and the hikmah that has come out of it, I still struggle on most days. 

No one wants to be sad all the time, no one wants to go through a hard time in their head, no one wants to be tired and no one wants it to obstruct their lives and the relationship they have with the people they love. It's so easy to say to someone to cut it out, take it easy and just be appreciative of what you already have than to be grieving over what you don't. Taking yourself out of that rut isn't easy and will never be easy. It's a huge climb to being well and the path there is never linear. I was doing ok for a couple of weeks and then I fell through. It felt devastating to see the progress and be confident with where I was going only to be proven wrong just from a single passing thought.

I have a completely different outlook on mental health issues now that I'm going through one myself. It's not by choice, it's something that just happens. My doctor told me that going through depression means the brain is going haywire. All the neurons and wires that were meant to connect normally are now all tangled and messy which would explain why you can't find happiness or enjoyment in the things you used to. I won't count myself as an expert but if you're going through something that feels out of your ordinary and if it feels like anything I've written here, I sincerely hope you take time out to find ways to be better. Don't dismiss it and expect it to go away. Acknowledge it and take care of yourself. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Just as you would find ways to fix a wound or a fracture, you gotta also do it for the mind and heart. I highly, highly recommend therapy and seeking professional help. I'm embarrassed to say I was a disbeliever of it but after going to one, it did a lot of good things for me at the end of the day. There are many qualified ones here in KL that you can easily Google through but I'd be happy to share with you my personal one if you'd like. 

I'm taking it a day and a cry at a time. The other day, a song I've avoided for so long came up on my Shuffle and instead of rushing to click Skip, I thought ok let's try. I let the song play out and as I hummed through the last note, I switched off my radio and sat in silence. In a lot of ways, getting through the song was my tiny and precious win. But I also knew it in myself that that was as far as I could go that day. Learning bits and pieces of how to live your life through depression and anxiety is something I never thought I'd do but making peace with it and moving ahead anyway is something I'm grateful for.

"Best we can do is to keep asking for help, and accepting it when you can and if you keep on doing that, you'll always be moving towards better" -Higgins, Ted Lasso.



This is just something additional that I sincerely hope won't isolate groups of people, but personally for me, prayer helped a lot. I've watched a lot of videos on Youtube about depression and faith and it has really, really helped me understand this a lot more. About grievances, about finding the light at the end, about being patient, about instances of reward for having trust and patience and ultimately for understanding that taking care of yourself is an act of ibadah also. So don't worry about the stigma and focus instead on being healthier. Some days might look bleak and like you have no hope, but God is always with the lost and the sad. Know that and continue to do what you can to be better. Minute by minute, day by day, week by week, month by month. You'll get there.

Monday, January 2, 2023

A New Year

 Happy New Year, friends! 

I wanted to write yesterday but felt out of spirits to do so so I thought I'd write today - 2 days into a brand new 2023.

I didn't celebrate the new year - I stayed home and got ready for bed. I managed to see some fireworks from the balcony of my apartment and that was it. Long gone are the days of going to Curve to celebrate (remember that place?). I remember my mum picking us up from a night's worth of celebrating and the traffic was so bad that she was in it for about 2 hours. Crazy.

Ok anyway, thought I'd share here on my resolutions and just overall thoughts on what I hope to accomplish this new year and my turning 30 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). 


+ I hope to find more meaningful work in my career. I do love my job and i've grown a lot from when I first started and have met so many influential people. Above all, I love my friends from work so much and when I wasn't in the head space to meet friends/family, I still had to go to work so them being there and covering for me and essentially taking care of me has been monumental in my healing. I love them so much and owe them a great deal in helping me everyday - in both my career growth and my mental health. But back to the point, I do hope to find myself a change in this and see what else and where else I can potentially be good in. 


+ I'm keeping my friend circle bit tight this year. For most of my social life (so that's from age 12 and above haha), I loved making friends and I loved being in every circle I possibly could. My friends used to joke about me being the social butterfly in the group and would ask me for updates about everyone else. Mun even once said, "Nadia, you're like Dora the Explorer, you say hi to everyone around you!" when we were walking together to class in college. I was painfully shy when I was younger so it almost feels like I was making up for the years I had no friends. But what I've also realised was that I was spreading myself too thin, perhaps being friends with the wrong people and/or pouring energy into friendships that weren't reciprocative. I guess I just realised that I couldn't and shouldn't always be the one to initiate and maintain friendships; that isn't a responsibility I'm going to take. Anymore, at least.


+ Spend less time on social media. After taking some time off my main Instagram account, it has been so much better for my mental health. Like I've mentioned in my previous post, being on Instagram has, for a long time now, affected my confidence and self-esteem. So it was just for the best that I took a break from it. Plus, it's quite nice to *not* know about someone all the time.


+ Save more money. I have to learn and be mindful of my spending habits and be sure to put savings as a priority. But also, equally, to not stress out too much about it or not let it stop me from buying/doing the things I genuinely love. InsyaAllah money will always be there for as long as I do good, honest work. Life experiences don't always come!


+ Take more travel initiatives. I managed to squeeze in a short trip to Jakarta in the past month and even though that was for just a weekend, it was still so great to be out of the country and experience a different culture altogether. It was a breather that was much needed. I really loved it and I look forward to more trips this year. Places I specifically want to go to (again): Seoul, London, Amsterdam, and South of France. 


+ Be more charitable. InsyaAllah out of all my goals above, this one I really, really, really want to fulfil. To just be more charitable as much as I can and to do good wherever whenever I can. I always believe that the more good you are to the world around you, insyaAllah the more good will come your way. I have a little thing I thought of this year and I hope I get to follow through the whole year and insyaAllah for as long as I can possibly do it for. 

+ Volunteer. I'd love to see what I can do in terms of volunteering. I have a special place in my heart for school kids so maybe around that region. If you know of any good start off points, let me know! 


But most and foremost, I just want to be happy. At the end of the day, everything above is to make and keep me happy. And whatever that will get me there, I will do it. If it means cutting some people loose, if it means saying fuck it i'll go for that expensive manicure, if it means crying sampai penat, if it means spending some alone time, if it means traveling far and wide, if it means staying home, if it means saying no to somethings and yes to a lot more, then I'll do my best to get there. We owe it to ourselves to live this life best we can. 

I hope you have a great, meaningful, exciting new year ahead of you. 

Thanks for sticking around, friends.