28. A percentage of wellness

10 Oct 2017

I went for my checkup yesterday. It’s kind of flustering when one of the first things the doctor said was that he’d caught up on my blog before calling me in. But it’s also a bit, uh, stressful, especially when I updated him on something and his response was “You didn’t put that on your blog?”

*Cough* Hi Dr Tay. I’ve started the new medication as instructed. *Cough*

I’ve had to change my medication, as I’m only 30% well, if 100% means functioning normally. Dr Tay felt that the new medication would be more effective, working on more things at the same time, than my current escitalopram. I’m switching to venlafaxine, which will increase my noradrenaline in the mornings as well.

The update that I didn’t put on the blog so far is… that I’m going to be unemployed at some point. My boss and director have been really really supportive, but as a new staff, there’s only so much they can support me with. It’s either I go back to work for probation within a short period of time, or I take time to recover. Considering the severity of my depression, we all think it’s better for me to just resign. It is a bit “sayang”, or a waste. I really feel that this job would have been one place where my work would align with my values – to contribute to a bigger picture, i.e. the technological landscape of Singapore. Unfortunately, if I leave this job, it means it will be difficult for me to re-enter this company. I am at peace with this outcome, though the implications are still sinking in.

I think I’m at peace because I know my priorities. The bigger picture is that I am no longer who I was, even if I am not going to be identified by my illness. I can’t hold on to what I shouldn’t, because there are many others who need me, and because I need to find a reason to push on and to live for myself as well.

Along that line, it’s a good time, as my case manager and my wife both put it, for me to start anew. I have been pondering where I should head next, as IT as an industry may no longer be for me. Information Technology is definitely on the up and up, but no matter what, it serves the business needs of the organisation, including political needs, if the business so desires. If the organisation management decides to change the direction of the organisation, then the business needs change, and I will have to again realign myself to that changing need, whether it is against my values or not. Technology is also very rapid, and the constant need and stress to acquire the latest technology knowledge can be a huge stress factor. With this in mind, I may step away from the IT field, though maybe not completely.

What really interests me is people, and mental health advocacy is a very important, yet understated role that still doesn’t really exist in Singapore. Of all my friends, I have not heard yet of anyone who’s had a mental health advocate visit their organisation to speak on mental health, and on depression in particular. IMH has some training but the next round will be in 2018, for Peer Support Specialists. Perhaps that would give me more time to recover better before I consider what next.

I also did pray about this, and one day at the arcade, with my boys, I prayed before approaching a claw machine with my boys. I’d been and I continue to ask God for guidance in this, and I prayed to Him, telling Him that I’m a weak and unfortunate vessel of His. I admitted my weakness, and asked for His mercy, to let me win at the claw machine if He wanted me to go into mental health advocacy, trusting in Him. I tried twice, and dropped the toy twice. We walked away, but I turned back at the exit of the arcade, and decided to try again, against the wishes of my kids. Two more tries, and the toy dropped into the chute, to our cheers. God had answered my prayer.

claw_toy

On hindsight, the fact that it was Eeyore just highlights the appropriateness of the situation. Eeyore is a depressed donkey after all.

So that’s the direction I should be taking. I have little idea how things will go, but I know it’ll be interesting. I don’t know if church will be the place to start, or whether this is something totally secular. Either way, I can only pray that God will use me as He sees fit, but with mercy and grace. My distrust of self and Him has led me into a hole that I’m struggling to climb out of. I pray the way ahead will be less painful, even if it’ll be hard work.

I start psychotherapy this Thursday, and I do seek prayer that it’ll go well. I’m nervous as I hear that it’ll be tough, especially the first few sessions, but I am optimistic that it will help me to stop hating myself so much, and to explore my unhelpful thought patterns. Otherwise, pet therapy continues to be good for me, and I will be exploring Chinese gardens on a regular basis, if I can.

I’m thankful.

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