(Psychologist, Heal Yourself is a series of reflections shared from my own lived experiences of trauma and happiness from the perspective of a #psychologist and human to help others come to terms with their own lived stories and cope better during these challenging times)
I read books, I went on walks, I talked to friends, I cried, I journaled, I went for therapy, I drank, I ate, I retail therapied, I asked a healer for help, I partied…. All to run away from the pain I had been having post the 17 deaths of friends and family during the pandemic, and the burnout from being bullied at work and also doing therapy and support for the spike in mental health cases and suicides in Singapore.
To say none of them worked would be too dismissive, to say that none of them made me feel whole again or emotionally as integrated as was before the tremendous loss and heavy work burden; more accurate.
I could never be whole again. I had lost too many pieces of myself — in those whose company I found love, meaning and inspiration. I was also never going to feel the same… I now had a fear of people dying and a fear of my own mortality that I never had in the past. The pandemic’s gift to me was not seize the day, carpe diem — it was the time is coming to say goodbye. The time is now. I inherited a low level anxiety I never had before. A shortness of a future I never saw before. A sense of hoplessness that was profound and honestly depressing.
It was in this state of emotion that I listened to more stories of sadness in the lives of my closer friends
My best French-LA friend had cancer
My best Swede-American friend had cancer
My most beloved religious mentor had cancer
My next door neighbour to my left had fallen down and the once energetic 94 year old now never walked past my door the way she used to
My next door neighbour to my right had fallen down and was admitted to the hospital and I did not know (so caught up I was with work) until my plants started to be diseased and died… then I was wondering … as yes she was the one who for over 15 years decided to water my plants for me seeing I was the workacholic and non green thumb I was. To her credit my catcus is very tall. The two other plants missing her attention simply faded away.
My best friends mother was happily dancing and fell. And in visiting her I found my former colleague and junior college teacher in the same hospital ward, she too fell. She is 82.
But one day — not so long ago I woke up and felt the cloud of sadness had lifted. (2 months ago)
I cannot tell you what it was that helped shifted me to feeling healthy and hopeful. I pray it was an accumulation of all my self-help, self- talk, self-care but I also know it was nature’s way. God’s way of making the almost unnoticeable miracle of healing me. It was time and like a scar that finally fades if your body is healthy and wanting to live and love; it fades and you are new again. Healed.
As the same time; my two good friends overseas in Sweden and USA — told me happily they were healed and healing. No news made me as happy as that. My prayers and my donations to assist were thanked but I knew I did little but be a support to their own natural wellbeing and healing.
I saw my right neighbour walked past with her walking aid and her son; I rushed to the gate of my apartment and gave her a standing ovation and cheers in Mandarin — Jia You! Jia You!
My heart leaped — the 90+ year old body housed a strong woman spirit — mother to 8 and raised them all alone for many years. Her spirit was beyond compare. I was in awe and uttered thanks.
The neighbour to the left came back wheeling in a wheel chair all smiles to see me on her way to day care therapy at our area. But she now lives with her daughter for a bit until she fully recovers.
My religious mentor is in chemotherapy — he is healing.
And my best friend’s mother is back home and my former colleague in a home for the elderly.
I HEALED… Healing …
Yes there are deaths, dying, pain and suffering
and there is the resurrection and recovery and renewal and meaning
I wanted to share this with you — as some have journeyed with me through my pain — and I thank you. I have journeyed with your pain as well. And I want all of us to remember too
WE CAN ALWAYS HEAL
(scar above in photograph… no longer exists)