Ok, I’m back!
I think it might be rude for me to just whiz in and resume blogging as if nothing ever happened. I know people are either concerned or curious as to why I suddenly felt the need to disappear.
It wasn’t anything major, but I guess I should talk about it. I think I’ve always been quite private here, mostly only sharing the happy stuff, the fun stuff, the outside stuff, because my blog is meant to entertain or inspire thought. I never meant for it to be a diary.
But, after so many years of blogging and interacting with readers, I feel a strong sense of connection. And I think maybe it’s okay to reveal more of my inner world because I feel that people care. And I don’t want to reciprocate this care with a dismissive “nah, I’m fine”.
So I’m going to talk about the four major causes of my depression. There are many more littler ones but I shan’t mention them because they’ll sound plain ridiculous to you without detailed explanations and background.
I want to be as brief as possible.
My Dhaka trip upset me quite a bit. Every day I was there, I felt useless and even guilty. I felt my role wasn’t all that crucial compared to all the other volunteers. Cos, like, they could have left me out and the mission could have gone on just the same. (Airfare, accommodation and some meals are funded by the mission budget, so they usually just take the minimum number of people required to fulfill objectives.) I just felt like I couldn’t do enough and the guilt and sense of unworthiness really messed me up.
I was having relationship problems. It had seemed for quite some time that it wasn’t going to work out because we could never agree on some very crucial things. We kept working on compromise and tolerance but arguments over the same issues still kept blowing up. And, yet, neither of us really wanted to give up on the relationship because we’re irresistibly drawn to each other. We feel like, in so many ways, we’re made for each other and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before. Yet, we just cannot seem to stop ticking each other off. Every time we have a major argument, I would start feeling hopeless because it’s so painful contemplating a life without him. And yet, I would hate his guts so much and wish he’d disappear forever. It’s all a lot of angst.
I started having really severe doubts about my career as a blogger. I mean, I know it’s gone well and all. But, really, I don’t know how long it can go on for. People are going to stop reading blogs one day, aren’t they? Advertisers will find other avenues for their needs, won’t they? It’s not even a proper job in the first place, is it? The most frightening thing is that, there is nothing much else that I can or want to do. I’ve been freelancing for eight years. It’ll be too uncomfortable going back to a day job and nothing else has really made me as happy as blogging. The thought of having to do something else scares me to death.
I have a condition called cervical spondylosis which is, simply, wear and tear of the cartilage at the neck. I was diagnosed with it, like, 10 years ago, and it gets worse every year. I guess it’s my fault for never going to physiotherapy but it’s costly and it just never seems crucial enough to justify throwing money away for it. Putting aside the frequent pain and discomfort it causes (I’ve gotten used to that over the years), I’m so afraid it will lead to some irreversible deformity eventually and I’ll look like a freak or have to wear a neck brace for life. And I think I’d rather die before that happens.
The thing about depression is that, once triggered, suddenly everything in your life seems to be wrong. Even the most trivial thing, like maybe the fact that you have split ends in your hair, becomes a major issue. You think it makes you look ugly. You don’t want to go to your stylist because you think he’s starting to suck. You’re scared to find a new stylist because you don’t know if he will suck as well. Multiply that by a hundred or so other trivials. It ends up being a whole load of fear and unhappiness and it’s literally crippling.
It’s like you’re rolling downhill and a huge boulder is rolling above you and there’s nothing you can do except let gravity take you, wait until you hit the bottom and let the boulder crush you.
After returning from Dhaka, I spent more than a week doing absolutely nothing except try to ignore the pain and fear that were stifling me. I did that by reading and playing iPad games. These activities are fast, efficient relief, but they only last as long as I am engaged in them. The moment my eyes get tired and I shift away to give them a break, the pain and fear come crashing back. So I keep going back to them. Or I sleep.
In times like these, you need a hand to forcibly pluck you away from the hill to stop you rolling.
This hand came eventually and it first came in the form of Piers, an English friend I got to know through my blog, who made me an outrageous offer.
He said, “Hey, I know you want to escape Singapore to avoid CNY so you wanna come to England because my parents need a house sitter for two weeks?”
It was a very attractive offer, although it came with fear of the unknown and worry about the cost to fly there. But I seriously considered it because I knew it might be the only way to save myself from a crushing death.
It took me almost a week to make the decision, during which time I allowed myself to get excited about the trip. I’ve wanted to visit England since I was a kid growing up on Enid Blyton books but never did because of the distance and cost.
I started spending less time in bed reading/playing iPad games and more time at my computer googling England and London attractions.
At about the same time, another hand came. This was Kay, the source of half my depression. Maybe more than half. We had ended things on a very unpleasant note several days prior but then he called and said we couldn’t give up just like that. We managed to have one online conversation then one actual meeting without fighting, a miracle.
So I’ve stopped rolling downhill for now. I still have unresolved issues in my life, but I am now on firm ground where I have a fighting chance of tackling them.
Kay and I are slowly picking up the pieces of our relationship and I have made the decision to take up Piers’ offer. I’m going alone. In fact, I’m flying out tonight (to escape CNY festivities, which I can’t quite handle this year).
It turned out in the end that his parents already got a house sitter and he didn’t know about it, so he offered me his apartment, instead, because he’s going away on a ski holiday for a week.
I’ll be in England for three weeks. I don’t want to spend $1,500 flying there and just stay a week, right. Piers said I can continue to have his apartment when he’s back. He’ll just go stay at his parents’ house together with the house sitter (his aunt). He won’t allow me to check into a hotel for the duration. So we agreed to fight that out when I’m there.
Anyway, he’s an awfully good friend, and I’m also happy that Kay is not making a huge fuss over me running off to England alone for so long.
So I’m okay for now and can resume normal activities until such a time as something throws me down another steep hill. I know it will happen again but I guess I also know that, always, a rescuing hand eventually appears.
I’m sorry for all the worry I’ve caused my family and the friends who have dropped me nice messages throughout and offered a listening ear.
I’ve never been one to willingly talk about my problems because it’s always just too complicated to explain properly but I’m thankful, nevertheless, for all the offers.
Anyway, I’m back in business. I suppose it’s entirely fitting that I should recover from the doldrums right on the eve of Chinese New Year. I still don’t feel ready to handle festivities, but I think I will start the new year on the right note.
Let the partying begin.