I’ve been actively pushing people away the past month and a half.
And I know people are getting increasingly exasperated. I’m sorry, but let me explain.
I used to be really open about things. To share with my friends exactly what is going on. I even detailed my health updates publicly in a blog as a form of release. My friends were my confidants, and I relied on them for emotional support.
Perhaps a little too much.
In 2010, I made a grave mistake. I had opened myself too much and trusted the wrong person. While this person was initially supportive, she soon lost her patience and subsequently made very harsh judgments. Judgments which rang into my ears until today.
I was really hurt. And since then, I stopped trusting.
I’ve stopped talking to anyone on this topic, and chose to rely on no one else but myself for emotional support. (Save for 1-2 close friends, and whining at my parents who I know for sure will not judge me no matter what.)
I’ve stopped letting people see me when when I’m down and under, and whenever I can, I put my strong face forward.
These days, when people broach the topic of my health, I change the subject entirely.
I also realized it’s better this way.
Emotionally, I’m better in touch with my feelings since and accepted the reality that certain conditions are going to be permanent and nothing is going to make it go away. I’m also used to coping on my own, after having done so for 3 and a half years.
Having to constantly account for my hospitalizations/illnesses to people is tiresome, and I’d really prefer not to go into it. I’m fine. I do not want anyone to pity me. And when people know too much, it inevitably opens a can of unsolicited medical advice (which I absolutely cannot stand).
And of course, I do not want my poor health to be top-of-mind recall when people see me. Let’s talk about happier things.
I’ve turned down several requests for hospital/home visitations. Because I know for sure we are going to (inevitably) talk about my health. I’m sorry, but I really don’t feel like talking about it. Plus, I am no longer comfortable with people seeing me when I’m weak. Let’s meet when I feel better. I’m no fun when I’m down.
I’ve ignored countless messages on Whatsapp. I’m sorry. I know you guys are worried, but I’d like you to know that I am handling things just fine and you don’t have to worry about me.
Please give me time. The crazy one will be back soon.
I think people should start loving themselves more.
With the rise of photo-editing apps that allow you to instantly “correct” your face into what is “desirable” – emphasized cheekbones, clear complexion, sharper chin, larger eyes and reduced eye bags with a tap of a button, it is now easier to achieve photos of you that look like an overly-retouched version of your actual self. (Hoo-ray? Not.)
In fact, I’ve noticed an increasing trend of people deeming it a must to edit their own faces before putting photos online. Some even insist their friends edit their faces before uploading any couple, pair or group photos.
Zit on your face? It could be your hormones. It means that your body is functioning properly. Everyone has hormones. Everyone has zits on their face at some point in their lives. Nobody cares if there’s a zit on your face in your profile photo or latest group photo except you.
Eye bags? You could have pulled an all-nighter. If it was a productive one, be proud of yourself. If it wasn’t, applaud yourself for trying (but get some sleep tonight). Late night movie? You’ve spent a night relaxing and enjoying yourself. Good for you. Insomnia? We have all had that moment where we could not get into slumberland no matter how hard we try. We feel you. Nobody’s judging.
Not happy with your eyes? Chin? Cheekbones? You are born that way. Someone out there probably wishes he/she had your features, while here you are wishing you have theirs. The grass is always greener on the other side. Every feature on your face or body makes up the beautifully unique person that you are. Embrace it.
Photo apps should totally ditch that “beauty” mode already. It is not helping anyone’s self-esteem and it’s only perpetuating the preconceived notion of the so-called “perfect face”. The perfect face for you is the one you already have.
Love yourself. Because you are amazing just the way you are.
There I was, lying in a hospital bed in the A&E department of Parkway East Hospital on May the 11th. Saline drip running into one hand, an oxygen clip on the other attached to a machine which hummed in tempo with my (racing) heart rate. I had no hands free to use my phone, so I had plenty of time to think.
About how I was discharged from the same hospital just two days ago after having been admitted for 2 nights.
About that high fever that has been going on for a ridiculously long time. (Two and a half weeks at that point in time, still ongoing today which makes it 4 weeks.)
About how I nearly passed out several times that day, which panicked me enough to sent me flying (okay, not quite) back to the A&E department the third time in a week.
Rewinding three weeks back, the holiday trip which seemingly sparked it all. A getaway which turned sour after I had about half of my cash stolen from my baggage (my first time ever having cash stolen abroad despite travelling frequently), which left me with no cash for the remaining 3 days there. And the high fever began as soon as I landed back in Singapore.
And how just 5 minutes ago, I was wailing my eyes out for almost an hour because the A&E nurse insisted on running the drip at the maximum rate. (I needed emergency rehydration, from the looks of it. And the tears weren’t helping.) After much whining and punching of the nurse call button, they finally acceded to running it at half the rate. The tears stopped, I got slightly more comfortable and started thinking.
Why am I so suay*?
(* – unlucky)
The thoughts continued further. I realized that hey, if my life was a movie, the happenings of the past three weeks would have made a pretty good drama serial. I began plotting in my head just for fun, a story about a female protagonist who seems to be hit by a string of bad luck one after another. (I can’t say much for the acting though.)
Another sudden realization. The previous three weeks is quite possibly one of the most happening periods in my life.
Stolen cash. High fever. Hospital Admission. Dehydration. Crying like a baby in the A&E.
Then for no particular reason at all, I started giggling. Not the high-pitched, loud girly giggling. (There was a younger girl resting in the bed next to me for intense abdominal pain and no way would I want her to think I was laughing at her.) But the silent kind of giggle.
Everything was an experience. Not a good one for sure, but an experience nonetheless. I now know what a holiday trip from hell feels like.
Suddenly, I just felt like taking a photo to remember that moment when I saw the brighter side. I attempted shifting the oxygen clip from my right hand to my drip hand … and promptly sent everything haywire. I couldn’t help but laugh a little again as I punched the nurse call button for the nth time that night. Oxygen clip replaced, I now had a free hand to take a selfie.
Believe it or not, this photo kept me going for the subsequent week and beyond when I was re-admitted into hospital for even more investigations and drips. I got depressed for a while when I could do barely anything without feeling like I was going to pass out, but bounced back quickly.
All I had to do was to glance at that photo.
See that goofy looking girl with the drip in her hand and her tongue sticking out at you? That was you just X days ago, I told myself. And if she can still be as goofy, so can you.