Writing-wise, if I seriously wanted to get back into my groove of updating on a semi-regular basis, it may do me good to go back to what I do best-known personal posts about my own observations and mental health, although I do think there has been an over-saturation of this topic on my blog lately. Statistically, they are what draw the bulk of my readers and by extension, the bulk of my new followers which I gained through the dark abyss of 2018. That was my silver lining I guess.
A metaphorical depiction of the documentation of my mental health journey in 2018.
While I floundered and sunk, the blogosphere had a window box seating as I recorded every theatricality of my journey through the Singaporean healthcare system and the victories and failing of mental health care. While I learnt more about myself as I sunk into the proverbial Marianas Trench of my life, a few commenters here and there bestowed upon me wishes of support and kindness on here as well as my Instagram, the kind of support which I so badly needed but could not attain IRL.
It is now 2019 and I have yet to fully recognise my new full self. I would say in some sense I have come out of the abyss that is dealing with mental health, have managed to cope with my triggers, regulate my own responses when it arises and achieve day to day functionality even in times of stress. Currently I’m at the point where I am willing to give back to the mental health community about what I know based on my own journey through my own issues and experiences with healthcare.
On a side note, since time is all I have as I am still sending out resumes and virtually ‘fishing’ for my first job, I have been experimenting with my own personal style of dress lately, something I never did in my teenage years because I was still at the point where I was afraid of the attention my body would draw. There happened to be a sale at Cotton On and I was egged on by my mom to get a set of discounted headbands, which I unexpectedly fit very well with the new vintage dresses I got over the past few weeks.
Although I do feel closed in by the near future of my medical subsidies running out and the real issue of societal ignorance around PTSD affecting my gainful employment, I still feel thankful that even now, this is considered the peak of my life in the last two years. In October last year, I managed to pull off my thesis in a tight deadline while dealing with the social and domestic fallout of my affliction (e.g the age-old lack of understanding). Interviewing and compiling my own research material for my thesis, writing the rest of the content and applying for jobs at the same time, and very recently finding out I had attained a Distinction for my efforts despite the personal struggles I had to go through with little social support. It is admittedly a period of time my brain has chosen to block out most of, good riddance. There is a good chance my prospective employers will look at this blog as I quote this blog in a version of my CV which I usually submit for mass communication job openings and immediately know I have PTSD due to the plethora of personal accounts of my journey of living and coping with PTSD which I have chosen to bare to the world with the intent of spreading awareness.
While soceity has been more accommodating of mental illnesses lately, with depression and anxiety topping the lists for people wanting to be more literate in, PTSD still lags behind, at least in my country Singapore. There is still work to be done when it comes to mental health literacy and education, especially for conditions which are not as common, so that those afflicted do have a voice and have revenues to seek the treatment and support which they need but often times have trouble accessing. This I found out through conversations online and off. Additionally in official surveys done by my local governmental organizations, results echoed what I personally discovered on my own research which I did for my thesis, which centered around film representation of mental health.
As one can see, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder comes in forth in the general quest for further understanding. Really, actually not that dismal at all, but not the best as well, as anyone can get PTSD as a result of various life experiences.
It is interesting to note that Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is exhibited by depressive symptoms during winter season in people of otherwise normal mental health; comes in last, in Singapore where it is practically summer all year round. It would hence be safe to deduce that results reflects the desire to gain more awareness of mental health conditions comes personal exposure through inter-personal interaction and conversations. In countries such as the States there exists hundreds of thousands of war veterans as well as victims of neighbourhood shoot-outs who have acquired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of warfare or crime. Hence there are a lot of Public Service Announcements regarding the condition. However in Singapore, the case is different. As we are generally a peaceful country with most of our soldiers not seeing a war in their lifetime, our military populace is spared the psychological trauma of war combat.. Guns are banned and not sold to the general civilian population so we don’t even have shoot-outs happening.. Still, that does not mean PTSD does not afflict Singaporeans as trauma is part of life, some more impactful than others. When it comes to employment, many organisations may be unsure of employing people with psychiatric conditions, according to this local news report. Leaders of organizations may not know what to do or think they would be doing charity if they were to, even though said people may have recovered or are managing their conditions well themselves with their medication and therapy.
While sending out my resumes, I’ve been reaching out to the online PTSD support groups on Whisper in order to receive support from others facing similar challenges, as there is no such group in my country which I know of. Lately, I’ve found that I’m less screwed up than I thought and the things which I experience and feel are very similar to the majority. What I used to think were dire circumstances turned out to be well… quite conventional and ordinary.
To say that was a revelation may be an understatement.
I am far from the only one who has decided to put her experiences of living and functioning with psychiatric conditions online for the world to see, to document and for everyone to read. Similarly I have found empowerment from my own mental health blogging cohorts who detail their first-hand experiences as well, although in the course of doing so we run the risk of social repercussions such as some employment opportunities or simply people who assume things about our state of mind without clarifying with us prior. I don’t regret doing this one bit though, seeing as there is progress to be made in my own country. There are cultural barriers to overcome and misunderstandings to dispel.
On another note, I stalked my own blog after an interview this Wednesday and I’ve got to say, I discovered I hate my own past content now. Something about the inward focus of it makes me feel off. An indicator that I should set about finding new ideas to push new content and to convey them in a more helpful manner as I intended them to be. If anyone has constructive criticism about any of my content, feel free to share your 2 cents in the comments below!