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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A Day in the Life of Puiyin W.L. – An Ordinary Weekday

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I came to writing my previous post How I Write My First Draft Of A Novel In 3 Months after having been asked many times how long or how fast I could write a novel. So in this post, I will let you in on my writing life and show you what my typical day as a writer/author/publisher is like.

Depending on whether I am in the drafting or publishing phrase, every day can be different in terms of what time I wake up or how busy I get.

(*Names have been changed for privacy purpose)

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7am: Good morning. I wake up and first thing I do is go on my personal group chat where I keep in close touch with two of my childhood friends, *Coco in Malaysia and *Winnie in Australia. We have a tight-knit, unbreakable bond, and no distance can break that. Anyways, we chat every single day, and I wake up every morning to their messages. I would spend ten minutes replying to them.

7:10am: As much as I love my girls, I have to leave them and climb out of bed to get my son ready for school. He’s not hard to wake up. Sometimes he’s already up before me. I always have a quick shower in the morning for a fresh start. It wakes me up instantly. 

7:25am: My son and I are already in the kitchen. It doesn’t take me long to get ready if I don’t have someplace to be in the morning, such as my work taking me into central London. My son has a quick bowl of cereal. As for me, depending on how I am feeling, I would decide whether to have my Starbucks’ filtered coffee which I can prepare at home or grab the one at my son’s favourite bakery. 

7:35am: No matter what, my son and I are out the door at this time. We then head our way via walking to his favourite bakery. We live seconds away from the bustling streets of coffee shops and bakeries, but there’s one that we go to every school morning.

7:40am: We are at the bakery getting my son’s favourite chicken pasty, one for breakfast and one for school. After then, we hurry to my son’s school bus which is at a waiting spot only a few minutes away. The bus leaves at 8am sharp.

8am: I am home by this time. I prepare my morning weekdays favourite breakfast, hash brown and runny eggs alongside my second round of coffee. I then bring my breakfast up to my office room and eat it at my desk in front of the laptop. While I eat, I check on my many emails.

8:20am: I am a fast eater. Once breakfast is finished, I go straight to work. If I am working on drafts, I like to usually work in bed. I also don’t just work on one draft of a novel alone. I tend to work on two to three maximum. So I will split my time doing about an hour on three chapters each, depending on how much there is to write on one chapter alone. There are times when I have to proofread/edit my authors’ work. In that case, I put their work first before mine and work on them for as long as I need to. I don’t usually take more than two weeks.

11:45am: Lunch time for me. During the weekdays when I am working, I like to have healthy homemade egg noodles with chicken and salad for lunch. I prepare it the evening before as I like to have it at a chilled, overnight temperature. Every now and again, I would have some chocolates after my lunch to give me the bit of energy boost. I am not a fan of healthy snack bars or the energy ones. Besides, like the saying goes, life is too short not to have chocolates, right?

12:10pm: Once again, I am a fast eater. After lunch, I relax a bit and check my group messages from Coco and Winnie and reply to them.

12:15pm: I go back to work.

*There are days when I catch up with my fairy godmother aka editor on work and personal stuff over the phone. 

3:15pm: I stop working here and get ready to pick up my son at his bus stop. If he has swimming practice (go Team GB!) I would then have to pick him up at school. From now until 9pm is ‘mommy’s time’. I give my son all the attention and spend time with him, whether it’s watching him swim, going shopping, or having ice-cream. My mother-son bonding time is very important to me, and I would always put him first on top of everything else.

9pm: It is my son’s bedtime. Once he’s tucked in bed, I continue with some more work. This time, unless I am proofreading/editing, I will have Netflix on. As mentioned in my previous post How I Write My First Draft Of A Novel In 3 Months, I cannot work in a quiet environment when writing. I will only have the TV on while working at night, and during the day, I will have the music on. Also, I am very much a night owl. This is the time where my imagination becomes extremely active. And I tend to write more in the space of an hour than I usually would in an hour during the day.

11:40pm: My husband is home from work and we spend a few minutes catching up on our day.

12:10am – 1am: I go for a run or fast walk on my treadmill (sometimes up to an hour). I find it hard to workout during the day. I just can’t set my mind on it. I would workout five days a week.

1:15am: After a nice shower or bath (I would take about twenty minutes in the bath) I go back to work. Yes, my mind is still active at this hour.

2:30am: Here is where I stop working and watch Netflix or read a book in bed. Occasionally, I will message Coco and Winnie. 

3am/4am: The lights go out. Goodnight and see you at 7am. 

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It does seem like I’m working in the comfort of my own home, which is good. However, every work that I do have deadlines. And I’m used to the little sleep I get. It’s waking up and doing what I love and being who/what I am that gives me the boost and motivation to keep on going. 

So there you have it, an example of my ordinary weekday.