My life lessons so far have ranged from amazingly wonderful to unforgivingly harsh, and learning to revel in life and experience the abundance of joy available, while managing the challenges, is an ongoing journey for me.
I’ve found myself in the ugly world of depression three times in my life (one period lasted six years), but I’ve never stopped looking for a way to resolve the despondency I have felt.
It took me many years to realise that my depression started with my first night at boarding school at Newington College. I was a spoilt, naïve 11-year-old from an upper middle class family in Kuala Lumpur, used to living with housekeepers. The sense of abandonment I felt after being left in a foreign country with a different culture, lifestyle and language was devastating to the point that I remember feeling as though a dark cloud was engulfing me and my spirit was sinking into an abyss. It took me over a year to come to terms with my new environment.
In adulthood, my depression has twice been triggered by severe business stress. Psychiatrists and psychologists weren’t able to help my situation and as for so-called happy pills, I threw them away after a week as I instinctively knew that anti-depressants were not the answer – they may mask and manage the symptoms, but they don’t fix the underlying issues trapped in the subconscious mind.
I was however fortunate enough to discover journey therapy, which lifted my depression, resolved my abandonment trauma after a single 3-hour session, and has prevented other stressful periods in my life from triggering further bouts of depression.
Over the years, I’ve referred many people to my journey therapist, Sharon Turton (0412 792 967). As I like to say to people with depression, try the therapy, after all, what do you have to lose except the depression!
In my fifties, I found myself attending more funerals than I would have liked and it occurred to me that while the eulogies given were beautiful tributes, the people who should have been hearing them were no longer in this world.
When I researched the meaning of eulogy, I discovered that it can also be for the living and so, I organised eulogies for my brother and sister, given by their immediate families, at their birthday dinners. In light of my brother’s massive stroke recently, I am incredibly grateful that our family was able to let him know how much we love and appreciate him.
We Chinese tend not to express our feelings, but fortunately, my upbringing has been unusual and I enjoy bucking the trend. So, even though my boys, Dennan and Dane, are now 35 and 27 years old, they still get hugs and kisses from me, regardless of where we are.
My brother’s stroke has also made me realise just how important it is to have a living will or advance care directive in place. This takes the responsibility away from your loved ones so that they are never left having to make impossible decisions like whether to intervene and save your life when you are likely to remain in a seriously disabled state (cruel for everyone involved), or to not intervene, in which case the (unbearable) result is death.
Something else that is a necessity, especially if you’re a parent, is a will. I was hesitant about signing my own – just like I hesitated before signing the “in case of death” waiver when I went skydiving – but doing so was a wise decision that has in no way affected my zest for life!