Mental Health – A Dark Period

silhouette-photo-of-man-leaning-on-heart-shaped-tree-744667On Saturday evening, I came home from work and found out on social media that an iconic British presenter had killed herself. Although I didn’t know her personally, I’ve been a huge fan of hers for almost a decade. Her funny, down-to-earth, humourous and beautiful personality made me feel like I already knew her the very first time I saw her on TV. Since then, I have watched and follow her programs. I’ve always wanted to meet her in real life and tell her what a uniquely humourous personality she had. Call me a dork, but when I was based in London Soho for work, I would always have a pen and paper in my handbag just in case I bumped into her and wanted her autograph (I am old-fashioned). She was definitely one of a kind. Then I found out about the tragic news. I had to blink my eyes hard several times as I stared at the headlines before understanding what it meant. She was gone. Apparently, she had taken her own life to escape all the causes to her mental health. Then it made me think about my own experience.

Almost a year ago, I had my own experience of a mental breakdown. I never thought it would happen to me. I would often read about others on social media, TV and magazines about their mental health, but never really understood what it was really like. To my understanding then, mental health was about feeling sad and crying. Little did I know what I was in for. It all began during one afternoon when I was taking a short nap. I don’t usually take naps as I constantly work around the clock. But on that particular day, work took its toll on me. I don’t even remember having a dream. When I woke up, I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something was telling me to look back on a project I had done a few years back. Feeling uneasy and confused, I turned on my computer and opened up the files to the project. It wasn’t long until I saw what could have been a huge problem that could have cost me my life. I began to panic. I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. For the next whole month, I wasn’t myself. I didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t eat or sleep properly. Thinking back, I don’t even know how I had managed to survive without food and water in my system. I felt no hunger or thirst. My mental breakdown had emotionally blocked it all away. My stomach wasn’t even making hunger noises. I spent most of my time crying on and off. If I wasn’t crying, I would just stare into space. The feeling inside me was unbearable. It felt uneasy and out of control. Everything around me felt emotionally dark, like I was in my own hell. I even thought about my parents and prayed for their presence. I needed them. I tried to be strong in the presence of my then eleven year old boy. But he too knew something was wrong. Death even came to mind. But it was the thought of leaving my family behind that stopped me, especially my boy. He is my muffin, my life. I was also afraid to see my doctor or talk to my friends. I was afraid to seek help.

It wasn’t until a ‘professional’ friend’ came to my aid. He had a look into my problem and finally convinced me that there wasn’t a problem. He then went on to tell me that sometimes when we think that there is a problem when there is not, our minds will begin to create one without us even knowing it. After our deep conversation, things slowly began going back to normal. I tried to focus more on my well being. I didn’t work for six months, which would explain my long absence from this blog. I did a lot of working out. I tried to live positively and not think about what happened. I would be lying if I didn’t say there were a few times when I thought about the problem. But I managed to force myself to shake those dangerously toxic thoughts away.

After six months, I feel like things were back to normal. And in order to test that theory, I faced what I thought was the problem during those past months. I looked back to the project…and felt nothing. There was no problem. There was none to begin with. I couldn’t believe how I thought there was one to begin with.

So you see, mental health can affect anyone at any time, sometimes without their knowledge. After my experience with mental health, I saw life a little differently. I no longer question anything in life, because you’ll never know what might happen. I never expected to go through a mental health scare. I am also careful with my thoughts. Deep down, I am afraid to experience what I’d experienced. Therefore, I try to have a clear, positive mind. I’ve even started to chat with two of my best friends, *Coco and *Winnie (who I have mentioned before in another post) more than usual. The three of us may be in different parts of the world, with Coco being in Malaysia, Winnie in Australia, and I myself in London-town, but our friendship have always remained intact.

I hadn’t planned on sharing my experience on mental health until only a few days ago after the death of my idol. Her death has really hit me to the core. By sharing my experience, I hope to let my follow bloggers and those reading my blog know that I am here if you ever need to reach out. We may not know each other in ‘real’ life, but I am here. I always love to hear from you guys. Don’t be shy, don’t be awkward and don’t be a stranger. Sometimes a simple one word ‘hello’ can make a huge difference. We are human beings at the end of the day, so let’s be kind to one another.

Much love and hugs always,

Puiyin W.L.

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Happy New Year – First post of 2013

Happy New Year everybody. During this time, many Chinese will celebrate the brand new year with Chinese rice balls. Click here for my previous post on Chinese rice balls.

(Photo credit: Irene Soo)rice ball 2013 2

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Rice ball caterpillar (Photo credit: Chunkha Phen)

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Chinese rice balls

I noticed that quite a number of people liked my ‘Mooncake’ post, so here is another one on Chinese rice balls.

(Photo by my friend, Irene Soo)

Chinese rice balls, also pronounced as ‘Tangyuen’ or ‘Tongyuen’, is a Chinese dessert that is usually eaten during Chinese New Year or around Christmas. However, many people would still have the dish during every other days. The rice balls are made from glutinous rice flour, and the food colourings are added onto it. But it’s optional. The rice balls can be made into any sizes, with or without any fillings. The common fillings include sesame, peanuts and sweet bean paste. The rice balls are then served in boiled, rock sugar water.

(Photo by my friend, Irene Soo)

I love rice balls, and I love mines without any fillings. When I used to make rice balls with my mother, she would always make sure that I make the shape of the balls as round as possible. If not, she would sigh loudly and in frustration as she picks up the ones that are not round and re-do them again. It didn’t matter if she had to re-do one hundred or a thousand rice balls. She always made sure that they all looked perfectly round. As for me, I didn’t have the kind of patience to make it perfectly round, because all I wanted to do was to eat them. My mother did not like colourful rice balls, therefore, our rice balls would be coloured pink and white, the ordinary colours. According to my mother, rice balls should be perfectly round, because it symbolizes ‘togetherness’ among family and friends coming together. There is also another saying that people should eat the number of rice balls according to their age. So for instance, if you are ten years old, you should eat ten rice balls.

The photo above with the smiley rice balls are made by my friend, Wewe. Her rice balls are served in chocolate syrup.

The photo above are my rice balls. I like to play and experiment with the colours.

Mooncake Festival

It is Mooncake festival month!!!!

Mooncake festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place in September where mooncakes are gifted among family and friends. The date varies depending on the Chinese calender. The mooncakes are sweet with a duck egg in the middle. Every mooncake has a duck egg to symbolize the moon. There are also many other types of fillings in the mooncakes such as lotus seed paste, sweet bean paste, jujube paste, sesame seeds and peanuts. As for me, I only like to eat the duck egg. When I was little, my parents’ friends would come over to our house with lots of mooncakes where we would eat it together. I remember digging, yes, proper messy digging, into my mooncake and taking out the duck egg. My mother would always glare at me and tell me off.
“Why do you always have to eat the mooncake like that. It’s not nice. You should eat it properly with grace.”

Happy Mooncake festival!!!!
Thank you to my dear friend, Wern, who took the pictures for me.

The Paralympics 2012

I find the Paralympics inspiring. I mainly watch the swimming events, only because I used to be a swimmer myself. By the way, I am also loving Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Simmonds of Great Britain. What a fantastic swimmer. It would be such an honour to swim with her. I even shed a few tears watching some of the medal ceremonies. So inspiring and touching. These super athletes are really something. They make me believe that anything in life is possible. Watching the Paralympics has given me an idea to come up with a book about it. However, I don’t want to say too much about the project for now. It is going to be a project I will take on in the near future, hopefully before the next Olympics/Paralympics in Rio 2016. I am actually planning on going to Rio 2016 myself. Go Team GB, Team Malaysia and Team Thailand.