58. Rolling Updates – In the Deep

20 Mar 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about my condition. I’ve been wondering how best to blog about it, and somehow time just slips away under my fingers. While I sometimes stare at the wall.

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. I had a major crisis happen, and I broke quite badly under it. I had a chance to give a little talk about my comics and how it’s helped my recovery to some patients, past and current, and on my way there, I cried on the bus for half an hour because the crisis started early in the morning. After the talk, while I was having dinner, I got another message that triggered something bad. I immediately stopped dinner and rushed home. I was clenching my fist hard on my bag, and the tension must have showed on my face, as a couple of little girls who boarded the bus and sat opposite me stared at me with concern.

Thank God that I managed to keep my wife and our best friend in the loop. Our best friend coaxed me to breathe and focus on my surroundings long enough to get home, and my wife had prepared the bedroom. I rushed in and just bawled my eyes out, for an hour flat. It hurt. It really hurt.

I’m not at liberty to discuss what happened, but for the next couple of days, I couldn’t leave the house. I went down to get my own dinner as I didn’t want to trouble my wife, and I was a distance away from the road. But I felt that I could walk to the road,  straight into oncoming traffic. If I really wanted to.

I rushed home after my dinner was ready.

I think what made me doubt my recovery the most was that the weekend before, I had actually shown marked improvement. I was a little more optimistic about myself as I tried to be more mindful of my emotions, as I tried to be more compassionate to myself. There was finally progress, and then this. It felt like I’d regressed so many steps, and I felt tired of trying. I felt like I couldn’t go on, at some point.

Which was exactly why I forced myself to stick to my routines. To continue on with what I’d planned. I fed the girls. I built my bricks. My inner critic was screaming at me, but I stuck to what I knew, and I tried not to think about the future. Slowly, I managed to break out of the spin downwards, and made it to therapy to talk things over with my therapist.

Through these few weeks, we’ve managed to establish that my inner critic is still really loud and overbearing. I’m struggling to be compassionate to myself, which is required for mindfulness. My therapist has me asking my inner critic what I’m really afraid of, when the critic tries to protect me by holding me to really high standards. I’m still working on that.

My inner critic often just shows me this view.

A pastor and a church elder visited us as well. It was really kind of them and I broke down again while we talked. This depression sucks.

On the mental health advocacy front, a documentary we were involved in filming in December last year has finally gone live. The series commissioned by Channel News Asia is pretty good – do watch through all four episodes if you have the time. I’ve managed to give one talk about Depressed Dave’s Comics at IMH, one talk to JuniorDev.sg and one talk to students from St. Gabriel’s Secondary as they made a field visit to IMH. The talk at JuniorDev.sg was recorded, and is available here. I’m really thankful that I was given the chance to speak to junior devs about mental health issues, and even more so that it’s been recorded and that I can link to it.

Ultimately, as I told the students today, it’s a struggle everyday. I struggle on for my wife, for our best friend, for my kids, for my family, for my churchmates who’ve shown us so much love, for my friends. I don’t know why else I would, but I do. I struggle because strength isn’t about not falling down, but instead, it’s about getting up again. And walking on, no matter how many wounds I bear. I can only do so with the help of God. I have only been kept safe by the grace of God. I can’t let Him down by not trying to fight on.

But in the same breath, I also told the students that they’re worthy of respect as people, as humans. And that they need to respect those around them for the same reason. Even if I’m the only one in the room who doesn’t believe what I say because every day I wake up, I wonder why I’m wasting the very air that I breathe by existing.

I still have work to do.

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