Things To Do When You’re Stuck At Home : An Introvert’s Guide

Hello good people!

I hope you’re all keeping safe in this difficult time. Currently working from home because the Malaysian government has initiated a restricted movement order due to the COVID-19 situation – which means businesses (other than essential services) are told to close.

While it has been difficult to get things done for work (interviews and events have been cancelled, so I’m scrambling for content), there are actually several upsides.

  • No more 3-hour commute to and from work.
  • I’m quite extreme on the introvert scale and can go days without speaking to people physically, so this is a great time to recharge.
  • Spending less money. Not being able to go out means no unnecessary shopping or eating out at restos.

Before the office closed, I talked to a colleague – an extrovert – and he was lamenting on how he’d survive being stuck in the house for two weeks. “I can’t even go to my hairdresser or the gym,” he said forlornly. I was actually a little amused because extroverts are always on our case about how introverts don’t like to go out and socialise – and now they know what it’s like to be stuck in a situation that makes them uncomfortable lol.

In any case, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are actually plenty of things that you can do at home. Some might even find it a good time to do stuff they’ve been putting off for a long time, like clean the house, or play Monopoly with the kids (in your down time, of course – I’m not saying forget about work and go loaf around, lmao).

“VISIT” A MUSEUM / ART GALLERY 

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This one’s for the history nerds (like me). Many museums in tourist hotspots are closed, including in Malaysia. The British Museum (one of my favourite places – I could live there) announced its indefinite closure yesterday, and in Italy, a hub for European culture and history, museums have been closed since March 8.  While you might not be able to go physically, there are many museums offering detailed virtual tours of their premises and catalogues of their collections. On my list rn are LA’s J.Paul Getty Museum, The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, The British Museum, and The Lourve. 

Google’s Arts and Culture platform is a veritable resource for virtual tours and extensive catalogues.

READ 

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I have a bad habit of buying way more books than I have time to read – so now is the perfect time to catch up on some reading. I just finished the audiobook for Sphere by Michael Crichton and started on Lotus by Lijia Zhang, which looks pretty promising.

SPRING CLEANING 

A lot of us tend to accumulate a tonne of garbage that we don’t need, so it’s time to Marie Kondo all your sht.

COOK 

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Getting healthy, well balanced meals to boost our immune system is even more important in this critical time. For the non-cooks, this might be a good time to try out some recipes and hone your cooking skills! (My mom has been baking sponge cakes and what not, so we’re never hungry).

EXERCISE 

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I’ve never liked going to the gym (or working out for that matter, lol), but I guess it’s a good time now to, again, help boost the immune system and better prepare against infection. And a healthy body is a healthy mind, right? As unbelievable as it sounds, I do get regular light exercise about three times a week (although experts say it should be moderate) for about 20 – 30 minutes each time. I enjoy walking, so that’s what I normally do – walk on the spot. Some resources: Leslie Sansone, Lucy Wyndham-Read and HASFit. 

BINGE WATCH STUFF ON THE INTERNET 

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Not necessarily a productive activity, but it passes the time and depending on the kind of content you’re watching, you might even learn something. I have a short attention span (thanks, gadgets) so I’ve never been able to sit down and go through a series on Netflix, but I do enjoy watching travel,  culture and history shows. Some cool channels to check out: Absolute History, VICE, Life Where I’m From, PBS Eons, VSauce.

GAME

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My laptop isn’t new so I haven’t been able to play newer games. I’ve been replaying some Nintendo DS RPGs on the emulator (Fire Emblem – Shadow Dragon), and am contemplating if I should finally buy Borderlands 3 (Borderlands 2 was one of my favourite shooter games of all time) – although I’m not sure if my laptop has the capacity to run it smoothly. Another new release that’s coming up this weekend is Doom Eternal, but I guess I’ll just watch the gameplay on gaming channels.

OTHER HOBBIES 

A good time to engage in any creative pursuit – drawing, digital art, making music, writing… for me, it’s good to dust off the writing cap.  I know I usually write about food and travel, but since that isn’t possible right now, I’ve been looking at other topics instead, like this post.

And there you have it! I hope you’ve gotten some good ideas to keep yourself entertained and busy in this challenging climate. Our mental health is just as important as the physical, so I hope everyone stays safe and healthy always.

 

Why Are We Not Talking More (Openly) About Depression?

Hey guys!

Serious topic. 

My eldest aunt called my mom yesterday. She said my cousin had come down with dengue and was refusing to go to the doctor, while my uncle was in the hospital because of respiratory complications from smoking. The doc told him he had to quit smoking or die coz his lungs had hardened…but it seems like a habit he is unable to kick.

My aunt was diagnosed with clinical depression last year. She has been to the doctor and gotten meds for it ,but treatment for mental illness is expensive at private practices, and at government hospitals, the wait often takes months just to get an appointment. So she stopped going. This is on top of all the old-age health probs like diabetes, high blood, joint pains, etc.

She talked about killing herself and not having the will to live, which alarmed us. I felt sorry for her, because she lives in a toxic environment – the husband she is so worried about is an abusive womaniser who gambles and contributes nothing to the household, her two sons work abroad and only come back to drop the grandkids with her, so she basically has no one to talk to. In such a scenario, no matter what meds you take or how many docs you see, you’re not going to get any better.

We tried to offer her solutions – “why don’t you take a break and come stay with us for awhile?” “Ignore your useless husband, he’s not treating you well” ” Try to relax and let go of things”, “Go back and see the doctor” …but she’d always refute each one.

  • “I can’t, I don’t want to be a bother”
  • “I can’t ignore him, he’s my husband no matter how he treats me”
  • “I can’t stop worrying, I know I shouldn’t”
  • “The doctor is too expensive and the hospital is too far”.

I know from first hand experience how difficult it is to get a depressed person out of that loop of pity and self-loathing. Most of them are incapable of pulling themselves out of it, and their calls for help are often brushed away, simply because relatives/friends do not know what to do or how to deal with it. I understand, because my own mother has depression, and for the longest time I didn’t know what the fuck to do about it. So I drowned myself in work, went home late when everyone was asleep, and basically avoided interacting with the fam. It was an extremely difficult time. I knew it wasn’t her – it was her disease – that was causing all the confrontation, the hurt, the rage that she would direct at us for no reason. I became angry and resentful. I’ve always had anxiety, but it developed into full-blown depression because of the daily shouting matches at home. I’d scream internally “”Why can’t I have a normal family like everyone else?!” – then feel guilty that I felt that way. It got to a point that was so bad, I was ready to move out and cut ties with them. Maybe that’s why studies show that people with close relatives that have depression are more likely to have depression themselves. A combination of genes and environmental factors.

It wasn’t until my mother finally acknowledged that she had a problem and talked to us about it – that she needed our help – that things got better. We actually sat down and discussed it openly and talked about how we could mitigate episodes from happening in the future. She’s on antidepressants now, and of course there are days where she is not herself, but things have mostly improved.

This is why it is so important to have someone to talk to when you’re depressed – but in Asian communities, there is still a strong stigma against mental health issues. I don’t know if it’s the whole ‘face’ thing: ‘face value’ is imperative in Chinese culture, and to admit that someone, whether it’s yourself or a person close to you, is suffering from mental problems, is akin to ‘loss of face’, something embarrassing that needs to be hidden. Also, some people might feel the need to hide it from others because they don’t want to be a bother or a burden – that’s certainly how I felt before (and still do at times).

My mom called up my cousin and advised him to look out for his mom. He agreed begrudgingly over the phone, but I think it’s mostly because it’s an elder and you can’t very well slam the phone down on them lol. Not sure if it’s advice he’ll take to heart, but there is only so much we can do as relatives. I suggested to my mom that we should probably go visit my aunt in Ipoh and bring her to KL – remove her from the toxic environment  – we’re just worried that she might not be willing to come.

My neighbour’s dad committed suicide just a couple of months ago. He was 80 years old. So don’t think that this is something that only affects a certain demographic. It can happen to anyone.

People close to me know that I suffer from an anxiety disorder, something I have struggled with since my teens. Outwardly, I appear somewhat ‘normal’ – but I guess this is what they refer to as ‘high-functioning’ anxiety. There are bad days where I get panic attacks, especially in social situations. The sweating. The nervousness. The inability of the brain to process things or react accordingly. But there are also days where I don’t feel so bad, and I’d like to think that those days outweigh the rest… for now.

I know I said we should talk more openly about depression, but perhaps I can give you an insight as to why some people don’t, from a personal perspective. With my mom having depression herself (I don’t want to worry her more) and my very-Asian-dad having the emotional depth of a potato, there are not many people that I can talk to. My friends have their own problems. We are conditioned to believe that “hey, other people have worse problems than us”. If you know someone with depression, PLEASE DO NOT tell them that. They know there are people out there suffering from bigger problems. It does not make their own suffering insignificant, so please do not guilt trip them about it. IT DOES NOT HELP.  

I’m lucky, in a way. I’m not eloquent or articulate irl, but I’m blessed with the ability to speak my mind in a different way – through the written word. When things get overwhelming, I pen my thoughts down here. Not because I want attention, but because writing is often cathartic and allows me release.

Is there a point to this ramble? Perhaps I just hope people will be more open about talking about depression, rather than trying to sweep it under the carpet. And don’t judge. You never know – a kind word and a listening ear can help to save lives. Literally.

 

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 1 : On Happiness

“Happiness is a state of mind.” 

I often hear this phrase being thrown around, alongside, “money can’t buy happiness” and “money isn’t everything.”

And perhaps it isn’t. After all, we often hear about the rich and famous getting depressed, taking drugs, spiraling out of control, taking their own lives. If they had it all, why, then, would they still be unhappy?

Then there are those who subscribe to another ideology: “It’s better to cry in a Lamborghini than on a bicycle.” “Money isn’t everything, but everything needs money.”

It might be true to some extent – comfort and pleasures can be bought with money, and for some, this is their measure of happiness.

My point is, happiness is a fluid concept, which can mean different things to different people.

For me, happiness is about loving yourself

I used to let my happiness be dictated by loved ones. As the consummate Asian child, I was brought up to believe that happiness was to be filial to my parents, and that meant living up to their dreams and expectations. From a young age, my path had been laid out before me – all I had to do was follow, and for the longest time, I believed that it would make me happy.

But I wasn’t. 

Deep down inside, a part of me knew that if I walked down this road, I would end up resenting myself and my loved ones. Myself, for not having the courage to speak out. Them, for not understanding, because they do not know any better and genuinely think they are protecting and guiding me to a better life.

What hurt me the most, perhaps, is the fact that my idea of happiness – being able to do what I want and love – was in conflict with what my loved ones wanted me to do and become. Because at the end of the day, I do want their blessing. I do want them to be proud of me.

For the longest time, I struggled with depression and anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and crippling self-doubt, to the point where there were days that I could not function like a normal human being.

I still have such days, and I don’t know if it will ever go away completely. The ever elusive feelings of ‘happiness’ come and go like a breeze. And that’s okay.

Why? Because I’ve learned to love myself a little bit better. I understand that no person can go through life happy all the time, so I’ll take whatever happy days life gives me. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things more.The smile of a loved one. An outing with a friend. The beauty of the sky and the clouds, the golden hue of the sunset as I drive home from work. Travelling. Filling my head with new knowledge. Not letting negative people affect me as much as it used to. Managing expectations. Being content with things.

Life is short and fragile, and it can be gone in the blink of an eye. I think its wise to have as many happy days as possible. 

 

 

What’s On My Playlist? August 2018 Edition

Hey guys!

I’m not in the perkiest of moods lately. Let’s just say that when you do things right, people expect it of you, but you fuck up ONE time and they won’t get off your case for it and suddenly you’re seen as incompetent, careless, lazy, inefficient. ONE time. Well, I guess that’s how life works and I shouldn’t be a whiny bitch about it. Suck it up, foo.

Doesn’t help that my anxiety has returned in full force, I can’t seem to get my mind in the right frame to write (for work) properly, and I’m having trouble falling asleep because of paranoia and/or SOMETHING SEEMS TO BE DISTURBING ME IN MY ROOM GAHDDAMNIT. Call me crazy but I legit told it to fck off this morning. It might just be me talking to an empty room or it might be me addressing my inner demons but what the heck. This post turned dark real fast 

On the bright side, the weekend’s close, and I actually have plans wow. Whether or not I’m going through with the plans is another story.

Enough with the gloom and doom – time for another What’s On My Playlist! Been awhile since the last one; I believe it was in September last year. Hope you guys are having a great week so far. I shall soldier on.

I listen to this channel called Alona Chemerys a lot, and they feature plenty of interesting indie bands. While cycling through the autoplay, I stumbled across Mild Orange, a Kiwi band with seriously chill, dream-pop vibes. Aside from this track called Mysight, I also like their other single called ‘Some Feeling’, taken from their debut album Foreplay.

Every now and then I get an itch to listen to The Scorpions. They just have such a timeless, classic sound that has lasted through the ages (the band was formed in 1964 – and Klaus Meine is still singing at the age of 70!)

PS When we first met, I was astounded that the Boy had never heard of The Scorpions. Blasphemous. 

I first fell in love with James Morrison‘s voice when I was in my late teens. I don’t understand how he never became a superstar. He sings about love, loss and heartbreak a lot, but emo subject matter aside, there’s a depth to his voice that is both raw and powerful. Have a listen. This is the best medicine for broken hearts.

If you have not played or at least watched the playthrough for Detroit: Become Human – YOU HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. I vote this game of the year for its amazing storytelling, well fleshed out characters, unique gameplay and stunningly beautiful graphics. Drawing heavily from Philip K Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which later became the basis for Blade Runner), the plot is basically about Androids in the future, their awakening into sentient beings, their struggle to be freed from servitude to humans, and the efforts of the evil conglomerate to subdue them. You play as several characters, such as Connor, the conglomerate’s android tasked to hunt down ‘deviants’, as well as resistance leader Markus whose decisions (or YOUR decisions) affect how the game ends.

It also has an awesome soundtrack to boot, especially this one called Now, which involves a heart thumping chase scene worthy of any Hollywood action film.

Okay not a song per se but the song is in the trailer. I couldn’t find the (song) video anywhere although I know the artist is supposedly Vo Williams.

PS I really want to watch this film! I loved the Raiders series, and it has been 12 years since the last one.

 

Hello, Old Friend.

That old ‘friend’ of mine is back again. Anxiety. She’s a bitch. She makes my heart palpitate, she keeps me awake at night, and at times she leaves me feeling nauseous. She impedes my interaction with people and hampers my day-to-day life.

I had an attack before I went for my Redang trip. I was trying to contact an interviewee via email, and she didn’t respond for well over three weeks while my deadline loomed closer and I had to gear up for my trip. I couldn’t even contact her because email was the only avenue I had. The result? I couldn’t enjoy my work-holiday coz I was constantly worrying about how to get what I needed for my story. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s not being able to complete a task properly.

I had to painstakingly screenshot pictures from her Instagram, hoping that they’d be high-resolution enough for print. When I finally had enough materials (no thanks to said interviewee), then and only then could I breathe easy. It was like a few weeks of being in hyper mode – never resting, pacing all the time, mind racing constantly.

Anyway. My editor threw me a task to do today, which involves me looking for photos of deceased Malaysian ‘heroes’. Problem is, it’s not as easy as just Googling, which I know a lot of lazy people do these days – I have to find pictures that are high resolution, and usable without any copyright issues. Since our national online archives are sht when it comes to digital collections, I have to physically go to the National Archives and see what I can find. Exacerbating my anxiety is the fact that my digital writer told me most of these pics are old, and are probably unavailable in digital format. The only way to get them is to scan them – which I’m worried won’t be usable for our publication.

Anddddd the effects are all coming again – the heart palpitation, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, unable to think properly without constantly worrying, affecting sleep.

I don’t really know what it stems from. Insecurity? The inability to complete tasks? Feelings of worthlessness and helplessness?

How can I function like a normal human being?

It really doesn’t help that people I’ve tried to reach out to don’t understand. They think I’m being weak and that it’s really something I should just suck up and get over with because ‘stress is part of life’. Same goes for when I want to share thoughts on my depression. Them shutting me down means I withdraw more and more into my own little shell, unable to trust that the next person I try to spill my heart out to won’t just turn around and say it’s ‘all in my head’.

Nobody wants to be in this state all the time. I have to learn to build a coping mechanism without seeing a quack. I’ve been to one, and it didn’t work lol.

 

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Depression.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

I have no desire whatsoever to do anything.

People my age are supposed to be at their prime, going out, socialising, doing productive things. Excelling at their jobs. Doing good for mankind and society.

Well I’ve never been much of a social person, but lately it’s been getting worse. I get really tired talking to people. I just want to hole up somewhere, play my games, draw, read a book, be anywhere but around people.

People ask me if I’m sad about things. And they always want me to ‘talk about it’.

There’s nothing to be sad or to talk about. I have a well-paying job, a lovely boyfriend, a roof over my head, warm meals, warm bed. There is so much I have that other people don’t. I should be grateful.

I just feel this hollow, empty feeling inside me. Like a huge black hole of nothing. So how can you ‘feel better’ by talking about it when you don’t even feel sad in the first place?

So you see, I can’t really ‘cheer up’ when I wasn’t even sad in the first place.

I don’t know what I’m rambling about.

Oh well. Back to work tomorrow.