The Last Day Of 2020

So I thought about writing my annual year in review post. But I’m struggling to do so. Can Anyone really write a good summary post about 2020? Probably not. Mostly because it seems like the perils of 2020 are not yet over.

I usually say there’s always something to be grateful for every year. I guess that’s true. I mean, this year I thought was going to be awful for a bunch of other reasons. But as it turned out, that stuff was less awful and kind of turned out okay as collateral damage to the whole covid business.

Some things were broken beyond repair this year. But other things were built. Nobody has ever had an experience quite like this around the world. It was unique. It brought people together in a way while also ripping them apart. Lockdown was hard. Working through it in hospital for me was hard. But I imagine it would have been way harder for people at home.

For me personally, stuff happened this year that kind of broke who I thought I was. And the relationships I have with others. But there were also times that solidified who I am and certain relationships.

But I hadn’t achieved any personal goals this year. I had a few of them. I had visions to improve certain aspects of my life. But all is not lost. As always, when things don’t turn out the way you want them to, they inevitably turn out the way they’re meant to. And at the end of the day, that will be what was best for you and everyone. Even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time.

I believe that.

So. Going forward, I can’t really picture 2021 being loads better. Because as we all know, this covid thing hasn’t yet gone away. Of course there is the vaccine which gives lots of people hope. Myself included. But in the time that it takes for most of the world’s population to be vaccinated or immune, things will be rather different. Travel will take a long time to go back to how it was.

But we can surely hope it will be better in that everyone is prepared for these changes. And everyone, will go with the flow. As will I.

So on the last day of 2020, I decided to do my favourite thing – watch the sunset. May the setting sun on the last day of 2020 bode well for the sunrise of 2021

Abdo Pain ?Cause ?Abdominal Migraine

Following on my theme of having a hard time and reflecting on it, I did a thing.

A few weeks ago I got myself admitted to hospital. The hospital I work at. During work hours.

I was just sitting in Medical ED. Just admitting a patient. It was nearly lunchtime.

I had a sudden onset pain in my tummy. It was kinda painful. Kinda gnawing. I figured I was hungry. As all good doctors do, I ignored in and carried on working.

A few minutes passed and the pain got worse. It made me stop what I was doing and move to the tea room to get a glass of water. I felt nauseated. Again, probably just hungry. I’ll just get a glass of water and go get something to eat.

I felt hot. The pain in my tummy worsening. The cafe was a few hundred metres away. I abruptly sat on the couch in the tea room.

A nurse saw me. And as all good nurses do, he began fussing. He said I looked unwell and I should go lie down in the clinic room.

Pain still bad and now finding it difficult to walk, I obliged. Went to the clinic room. Sat down, lay down, pain worsening. Felt restless. The phrase “writhing in pain” came to mind.

But I’m a girl of action. I called my RMO unit and said I can’t complete the rest of my shift because I’m unwell. They wished me all the best. I told myself I would go home.

Big whoops. Couldn’t walk. Pain very bad now. More nurses fussing. Friend who heard my distress on the phone came to see me and began fussing. To my horror they called in MY consultant to assess me. At this point I began vomiting.

He watched me writhe in pain. Suggested I go to ED.

ED saw me and pumped me with 12mg of IV morphine, the approximate recommended dose to flatten an elephant.

I was floating in and out of consciousness. Answered questions. Every time I woke, I was in pain. Pumped with morphine and knocked out. Tests done in my half conscious state.

About 4h later, I was completely pain-free. Asked for some food. I was discharged happily.

My discharge summary arrived in the mail today. Diagnosis: abdo pain ?cause ?abdominal Migraine

Loosely translated that means the pain in my tummy was in my head.

I told one of my friends this story some days after it all happened. He said “that sounds like some good old fashioned stress”

I laughed. Yeah some real “stress” that was.

Until I replayed everything that happened before that day.

I was stressed as heck. I walked into work that morning feeling the worst I ever had. The weekend that had just gone by was traumatic for me. I saw and experienced things that were so confronting to my image of myself that I didn’t know how to deal with it.

A friend and I were waiting for some important, life altering news that day this all happened. I was anxious and scared and sad and I didn’t want to be at work except I had to be at work.

We got good news. The pain had just come on when my friend said he received the good news. But that didn’t make the pain go away.

Maybe it was too late and all that pent up tension was already being released. I’m not sure.

But as quickly as the pain came on, 4h later and a bunch of plum normal investigations, it was gone. And I was left feeling embarrassed for causing all that fuss.

But it was all in my head. I don’t not appreciate the physical manifestations of psychological distress, and I’ve been nauseated and sick before because of depression. But I’ve never experienced anything quite like this.

I realised I have a lot of pent up emotion that’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Things are the most wrong they’ve ever been in my life. But they’re also the most not wrong they’ve ever been. And I don’t know what to do.

Focus on the good things? Yeah. Hope for a change? I guess so.

But ultimately I don’t know. And I don’t know how much more my mind and body can really take.

But I guess I’m in the business of finding out.

But this is a public service announcement. Abdominal migraines are a real thing. Even if it is all in your head.

Treacherous Heart

How dare you.

You’re a real snake, you know that?

Why is it that you bleed and hurt for so long but then flutter as soon as you hear from him?

He’s not the one looking after you. Keeping you safe, trying to make you happy.

Can you for once just have some pride and ego? Can you stop hurting me and heal for a second?

Can you not be so fickle? Can you just be brave enough to face it and see it through?

Stop threatening to break every single time but then miraculously recover when you get the slightest bit of hope even when you know it’ll be short-lived and it won’t last.

Just stop. I can’t keep up.

Everything else is screaming No but you whisper Yes. Sure and true until I comply. And I always comply.

I want to stop.

Right Brain Deviation

How much do you know about your right cerebral hemisphere?

You’ve probably heard it’s the artistic side of your brain.

That’s true. The right hemisphere is responsible for abstract thought, music, artistic skill and several other things that we don’t know about.

The truth is, we know very little about how the right hemisphere works. It has its own rules about function and control. The left brain has set rules.

Regions for speech, movement, hearing, eyesight, etc.

But the right brain is more complex than that.

A good example of this difference is in stroke patients. If you have an injury to the part of your left brain that controls speech, you won’t be able to speak, but you can sing.

How interesting is that?

Your right brain is also where your “subconscious” mind is thought to reside. And the emotions that go with it too.

Essentially, the right brain is a mystery.

Michelangelo thought so too.

Creation of Adam

Recognise this painting? It’s called Creation of Adam. Painted by artist and sculptor Michelangelo.

If you look closely, God is depicted as arising from a shape that looks like the right hemisphere of the human brain.

The right cerebral hemisphere is where God lives!

Okay that’s a stretch, but essentially Michelangelo realised that there was some innate power in the right half of the brain that we don’t understand. Something that was God-like. Intangible and unable to be explored definitively.

And to a certain extent, that’s true. Even doctors and researchers today don’t fully understand the functionality of the right brain.

You can see it in emotions too. A pokerface is generated by your left brain. You can probably control that. You can master it with practice. But the small flicker of surprise in someone’s eyes that people catch, is your right brain displaying your true emotions.

It’s just really fascinating.

For me especially.

I’ve always wondered about my right brain. I feel like my subconscious mind controls a lot of emotion in my otherwise completely non-emotional personality.

I’ve mentioned this before. I don’t cry easily. I used to think this was a strength. My thoughts were always very analytical about any situation. I would think really hard about an issue then consciously come up with a conclusion and think to myself, Oh hey, I guess I’m fine! I’m not too bothered! I must be quite resilient!

Let’s all laugh together.

My left brain is very put together apparently. But whenever there are big issues like this, my right brain starts processing the emotional stuff attached to those issues.

A few years back I had a big emotional situation with my family. I was however, the most seemingly put together person. I was comforting all my family members and I was chuffed about being so stable.

But then in the weeks, months that followed, I realised that I was crying more often about tiny things like getting a low score on a high school physics test, or burning my toast on a day when I was late to get somewhere, etc.

My right brain controls that I think. While my left brain says I don’t give no damns, my right brain opens the floodgates when I least expect it.

Happened recently too. A few days of discussions with someone, and I was analysing the situation and realising what was wrong with it. But every time I thought about the issue itself, I wasn’t too bothered.

However, I ended up locking myself in a bathroom and crying for 20 minutes for something very small, the next day.

I realised that the small thing wasn’t what I was upset about. Somewhere in my brain, the bigger issues were stockpiling emotions and letting them out when obviously small things came up.

Does that kind of sound like my brain is messed up? Hmm. A little. I think my right brain is just really powerful. More than I know how to control. I would like to learn how though.

I’m fine by the way… Until my right brain decides to release, that is.

I just think it’s really interesting.

The Feeling Of I Am Enough

So this post will be a recount of some of the things I have experienced over the last couple of years.

I don’t know how to explain it and it’s taken me a while to write this post. But basically I want to talk about something I think is quite important. 
Now I understand that this may not apply to everyone and I don’t want this to be a preachy, over-emotional post. Because I’ve complained several times about posts like that and I wouldn’t want to do that to you guys. But this is more for me. It’s so I can have a reminder of the things I learnt from some experiences I’ve had so that next time I face something similar, I’ll be able to follow my train of thought on here and hopefully cope with it. And in that way, I hope it benefits a few people out there.

I want to talk about a few themes. But they’re connected in a way. So I apologise if I’m jumping topics here and there.

Basically, I want to talk about people, and vulnerability. 

I’ve had a completely horrific last couple of years. And I think I’ve alluded to some of these things in previous posts. Basically, I’ve had some hard things happen to me emotionally. And this was because of events and people that are significant to me. But it’s not even about that. It’s about what happened afterwards.

See, when I was going through this, I found it hard to cope with multiple things happening at once. And one thing I kept hearing over and over from all sources was this: talk to someone about it. Or, seek help. 

This wasn’t from people I had approached. Basically, my closest friends and family can pick up on when I’m upset, etc. So when they try to strike up a conversation about it, I’d say I’m just having a hard time, and this would always be followed by that golden party line. 

As time went on though, these became more than suggestions. I was being pressured into talking to someone. Talk to friends, talk to family, talk to a counsellor. Just do it! You need help!! 

This was anything but helpful to be honest. For me personally, I have wonderful people around me. But I always feel like I can’t explain things to them in a way that makes them understand exactly what I’m feeling. To put it bluntly, I don’t believe anyone really understands me. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I’ve never lost sleep over it. It’s something I’m aware of and accept. Surely you can’t expect people to understand you completely. So you can imagine why I was having trouble with this talking thing. It was more than that though, I felt that I had the strength and insight to deal with my own problems.

But of course, things were getting worse for me. So over time I started to believe what everyone else was saying. That I needed help. I got to this place where I felt I wasn’t strong enough to deal with these issues and other people knew something that I didn’t. So I was talked into talking to others.

It was hard. It was really difficult. Went to counsellors, who to me, were saying pretty standard things about how I shouldn’t worry about what others think and I should let go and focus on good things, etc. Stuff I already know. Which made me more frustrated.

Then I was talked into talking to friends- people I didn’t really trust, actually. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with them, it was more that I wasn’t comfortable talking to them about certain issues. But I forced myself to, anyway. Because I believed I needed help. And it really did Not help.

The thing is, people can have the best intentions. But often when you show people you are vulnerable, they want to fix you. This somehow makes them feel they have the authority to make decisions for you. And they interfere. Which is the last thing you need, sometimes. And it’s what happened to me. Things got much worse. Only now, I was reduced to feeling like others don’t understand, but also, that I was wasting their time with problems that they could care less about.

Awful feeling, that. The need to want someone else to listen, for them to understand, comfort you, but also put up with feeling like you’re taking up their life with your petty issues. 

They’re probably not petty, but you’ll definitely feel like they are, sometimes. 

At one point though, something had to give. I was talking to one of my friends when he straight up said something to the effect of “I can’t help you. You’re not accepting of any thing right now and I have some other serious problems to deal with”. 

It was a huge shift for me. Someone had just confirmed that they couldn’t help and that they had more important things to do in their life. It wasn’t a half-assed attempt to make me feel better but not really understanding anything. It was the truth. 

That gave me resolve. I completely rejected the hypothesis that you need to talk to others to feel better or work through your problems. Because everyone is a separate person with their own battles. To expect someone to understand, let alone fix your problems is a bit unfair in my opinion. 

It’s also unfair to you. I feel like I underestimated myself quite a bit. 

I am enough.

The leading evidence-based treatment for depression is actually “self-help”. As in, you are enough to sort your own issues out. You have all the things you need. 

No you don’t need a counsellor. No you don’t need pills and therapy. What you need is to trust yourself. I know that sounds so fluffy and cliche. But hear me out.

I made a resolve. Never to talk about my problems to my friends again. I still talked to all of them everyday. But I made it a point to only talk about positive things. I projected myself as a happy, content person. And this made me deliberately look for positive things in my life. I spent a lot of time on my own. Not ruminating, but going to new places and doing different things until I absolutely enjoyed my own company. I focused on helping other people with their issues (Not by interfering, but by being there). I went out of my way to help others. I guess I felt better by putting myself in a position where I am able to assist someone else.  It was like a defense mechanism. It helped me focus less on my issues and allowed me to put more energy into others. It really helped.

I also continued blogging. I can’t explain the positive effect blogging has had on my life. But even on here, I try to keep my posts about the positive, interesting things that happen and the most I can learn from them and the people I interact with.

If it’s one thing that I want to conclude from my experiences and this post, it’s that whatever ridiculous things happen to you, you have all the strength and tools you need to deal with them on your own.

Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t seek help or talk to people or become a loner. Because if you have people that do understand you and help you feel Better, then for God’s sake talk to them. Because that’s rare. And it can make all the difference. Even counsellors are helpful. Maybe not in my case, but they do help lots of people out there. 

But if you’re like me, and  you don’t want to talk about your problems, don’t feel like an oddball. You’re capable of dealing with it on your own. Believe that.

But most importantly, don’t make any bad decisions. I had made several that I regret. And I’m not one of those people who thank their horrible experiences for the person they are today. I’d rather acknowledge that they were bad experiences and I had made bad decisions, but the person that got past all those things has always been inside me. It just took a while to be released. 

I know this is a rather bleak topic and may be irrelevant to many people out there. But if this applies to even a single person out there, I’m grateful. 

I learnt a lot about myself.  That was important over the last two years. And I hope that should I face similar things again, I will apply the same principles you get through them.