7.7

Is seven supposed to be a lucky number? I think in different cultures the magic number for luck differs. But I do recall ever coming across ‘lucky number 7’.

As usual, I am and have been in a funk. It somehow seems that I can never extricate myself from this pit that I have slipped into, even though I know that to people looking from the outside, there really probably isn’t anything wrong and that I just need to change my mindset or frame of thinking, and start being thankful for what I have in my life, or make the best of what I have.

I don’t know… if it’s something that I will ever be capable of.

There is just no longer any will or desire to try, yet day-to-day there is this constant battle being waged between the angel and devil, where on the one hand I let myself sink into the abyss and think all the negative and pessimistic thoughts with myself just short of taking any tangible action to end it, and on the other, I am admonishing myself for not practising positive self-talk and speaking what I want to see into reality. Does that actually work anyway?

I have been driven to my edge of my sanity by the unsavoury species of the homosapiens who happen to my neighbours, all 3 sets of them. I have tried to speak to them, even lodged complains to the town council where these were unhelpfully forwarded to the relevant government agency that nonchalantly told me that high-rise living brings with it neighbourly considerations (which they are obviously not giving a f*** about) and they cannot do much about it.

I resorted to even submitting a case to the CMC to request for mediation, as that is supposedly the first step I should take since I do not have a lot of evidence/materials to prove my case if I were to approach the CDRT. I read that police reports do nothing too because apparently that is beyond their jurisdiction, unless the neighbours are creating noise disturbances within certain hours.

The thing is, these noises, from slamming of doors repeatedly from 11pm to 12midnight, dragging of furniture across the floor, hyperactive kids jumping the whole damn time or basically someone seemingly slamming themselves or something against the wall/floor, they can occur anytime and throughout the day, yet these are difficult to capture with the amateurish quality of my phone’s recording functions. A lot of ambient noise is collected as a result, and these can hardly help to solidify my case.

I don’t know if my only option now is to just look for a new place to move to, and to check out all the neighbouring units of the new flat, hopefully to determine the quality of the neighbours. I hate my neighbours, for causing me my mental health, especially during this extended period of telecommuting. What was supposed to have helped me prolong my stint at my current role, because of the increased flexibility of my work hours, has morphed into a living hell for me when I have to put up with the noises all day long, and even when I go to sleep at night, I get jolted awake when the door slamming begins.

Working-from-home needs a lot of discipline for the person to draw boundaries and stick to them. Unfortunately, I have not done well in this aspect and have allowed myself to let the email-checking and work creep into the nights and weekends, as a way of compensating for the time when I may not be engaging in work when I should be. Although I do not mind it, I think it has affected the quality of my sleep, and sometimes contents of some emails have not sat so well with me; so it isn’t just doing work (that I absolutely can and will do) but rather doing work that probably should have belonged to someone else, which gets me into a tirade on my own.

There is so much uncertainty right now, in the environment in the society in my work and in my life. Uncertainty translates into a loss of control and I have also personally experienced that loss of control over many things. I no longer have the willpower to control what I eat, how often I eat and how much I eat that I frequently get myself into a state of deep guilt for overindulging and overeating, on all sorts of unhealthy junk food.

Where is all this leading? What can I ever hope to look forward to at all?

I abhor my job. Hate my life. Detest everything about myself.

sliding

I didn’t realise that it had been a fortnight since I last posted. I thought I would be writing more, either here or on a micro-blogging app I use on my phone. On both counts, I think I hadn’t. It’s definitely easier to post on the app because I can just do it on the go and upload photos directly from my phone, if I wanted to.

But the inertia that I feel sometimes just makes writing elude me. I feel like writing but everything that my fingers tap out is just pessimistic, angry or frustrated. I get so tired of being so angsty, ranty, whiny and sad.

It seems to feel like this is a so-called new normal that we have to adapt to, which is what I keep writing about and advocating or encouraging people to do, in some of the work that I do. Yet, I feel like such a fraud. I don’t embrace change like I should, I don’t embrace this ‘new normal’. If anything, I feel a sense of desolation and aimlessness. It is like there isn’t anything palpable to look forward to at all, anymore.

Some days I reminisce the trips that I made to Tokyo or Hong Kong. These seemed so long ago, yet it was about … 6 months since I visited Tokyo. I don’t know when I will ever get to go to Tokyo or Hong Kong again, even if borders are open would I feel comfortable stepping onto a plane? Would I be willing to pay the expectantly higher airfares and put up with the longer wait times and inconveniences of airport clearances? I don’t know.

And what else is there on the horizon? I struggle to cobbler together a new routine in my life now that I don’t get to attend yoga classes or spinning classes, which were a daily fixture of the recent past that also seemed like a lifetime ago. It has been about 2 months? Since I last had a spin class or a hot yoga class. I try to practice yoga, an hour daily, following teachers on IGTV or YouTube but the motivation is often lacking because I have little discipline in pushing myself when it is just me on the mat, and also because I have not found it in myself to join a Zoom yoga class with strangers ‘zooming’ in for the class. It is silly to sign up for a live Zoom class and disable the video because it is as good as practising yoga with a recorded video. Yet the vulnerability of having several pairs of eyes watching you and the possibility of the video being recorded… I have trust issues in that area.

Everyday as I go about the ‘new’ routine, it just feels like life is slowly chipping and seeping away. I don’t know why there is a constant pounding and stomping from people who live in the units above and beside me, and why the walls of HDB flats are so paper thin that I just cannot bear the continual lack of peace. Maybe only when I wake up at 4am in the morning is the time when there is this silence that feels so breakable and precious, the tranquility and stillness that do not carry any sounds of slamming doors and iron-cast gates, grating voices of neighbours of a certain nationality (it is ok if you think I am xenophobic, maybe I am but I just abhor the shrill sounds of their voices piercing my ear drums), screaming kids who are overly hyperactive and cannot stop jumping up and down.

My mind is a constant whirl of thoughts and yet there isn’t anything grounding or anchoring. Everything seems to be and have spun out of control and I can only derive comfort from the very thing that also bring a deluge of post-consumption guilt as I worry about the inability to control my weight.

My body is breaking from the broken sleep and disrupted sleep patterns. It is breaking from the sudden introduction of a new activity that it is not used to and built for. My mind is breaking from the avalanche of thoughts going in all directions that threaten to tear it apart. I cry. I implore God for help. Anyone. But am I the only one eventually who can help myself?

extended.

It was announced earlier in the week that the Prime Minister would address the nation. That instantly brought about an ominous feeling in the pits of my stomach because it does not usually herald anything good, not that I think badly of him but usually such addresses were made to announce some negative news, in light of the virus situation.

Indeed, it was announced that the circuit breaker, that initially had 2 more weeks to run, would be extended for a further 4 weeks until 1 June, effectively prolonging the misery that I am facing to a grand total of 6 more weeks. It really made me want to cry because I had been looking forward to a little more normalcy, hopefully having a little more freedom if fitness studios are allowed to operate again, and people are allowed to start social interaction once more.

It has been trying. It has been challenging, not just dealing with isolation, not just coping with noisy neighbours, not just struggling with sleep and the resultant brain fog during the work days that cause lethargy and an inability to focus on anything, but also a deepening anxiety and reversion to disordered thoughts that I hadn’t had time to climb out of ever since they began to fester in my mind from… 2014?

During those few years, my life underwent a series of major changes that I wasn’t able to cope with, and the loss of control led me to spiral into a mess. At some point, I thought that I could be making headway in recovering but the last two years, and then the last months particularly with the sudden changes revolving around Covid-19, has pushed me back into that abyss.

There are moments where the build-up of pressure from frustration and helplessness has made me breakdown into a sobbing mess, and there are nights I lay on my bed after being jolted awake by sounds created by the neighbours, tears streaming down my face. I cried out to God, wondering why He is putting me through this hell that I wished I could just put an end to by ending my life.

The abundance of time coupled with a general lethargy of not wanting to do anything productive like learning a new skill, reading a book, cleaning and decluttering the home, or even just calling up my folks, led to a deep sense of boredom that made me keep pacing back and forth the home and also foraging the fridge for food to keep me entertained. That created even more anxiety within that the overall lack of activity and increased consumption of unhealthy, processed food will cause a weight gain that I would not be able to shed thereafter.

I am not dealing with this well, I would admit. It isn’t as simple as whether one is able to ‘work-from-home’ or not. This isn’t ‘working-from-home’. This is almost like being put on a pseudo house arrest, with little activity happening outside in the community as malls are deserted, fitness facilities are shuttered and many so-called non-essential shops and businesses are being made to close, including businesses that cater towards comforting us in gastronomic ways. I have a sweet tooth, and was dismayed to learn that shops no longer can sell things like cakes and cookies because these are non-essential. True. But in such times, nobody really has the mood to ‘eat clean/healthy’. Everytime I am queuing to make payment at the supermarket, everyone has some kind of snack in their baskets/trolleys, whether chocolates, chips, ice cream or cookies. The tidbits shelves have gaping holes where popular brands are out of stock, and baking supplies like flour and yeast are also in short supply.

Furthermore, at a time when many countries in the region are starting to consider re-opening their countries and economies, suddenly we are seeing 3-digit and 4-digit daily increases in confirmed infections, it almost feels like we are the Spain/Italy of this region. Granted that we do not have that alarming rate of fatalities as them, it is just depressing when the regional countries are showing signs of the virus tapering off but we seem to be experiencing a huge wave of infections as the measures to restrict our movements to curb community spread becomes progressively stricter and make us sink deeper and deeper into depression.

And during this time, I still wonder why psychiatric/psychological consultations are not deemed as essential services.

Today marks Day 20. It is April 26. We have another 36 more days to go through. What will I become when 1 June comes? Will I still be around? Will I still be me?

Mental health in circuit breaker times

Ever since Covid-19 came into our lives and turned the world upside down, so many changes have happened so swiftly in ways that many of us never expect and are not prepared to handle.

At the beginning, Singapore was adopting a more laissez-faire approach where the authorities have tried to rely on the civic responsibility of its citizenry. That did not work with a populace that has grown accustomed to freedom and developed a strong sense of self and entitlement. Stricter measures were meted out and they got progressively tighter that started to make it really difficult to live a life like normal.

From the middle of February, I had been put on an arrangement to work-from-home. It worked fine for me for a while because suddenly I had flexibility over my working hours/time (although that was not how it was supposed to be but I think my employer trusted me to be responsible and I endeavoured to deliver over and above which somehow I think led to issues for me now).

I don’t think I spent 8 full hours or more working in a day, but the work I was asked to do, I did it quickly and spread it throughout the day during my waking hours, as I scheduled my other usual ‘outside-work’ activities within those hours. That arrangement benefited me for a while, because I hadn’t really enjoyed sitting in an office where I didn’t feel a sense of belonging with the colleagues, and where I spent countless moments trawling the web aimlessly.

Until it came to a stage where we were being told to stay at home, and eventually the circuit breaker was implemented where we weren’t supposed to head out with a few exceptions.

With a large part of the nation ‘working/study-from-home’, it meant that all the neighbours are at home, the whole day long. I have had issues with all the surrounding neighbouring units – next door, and the 2 units above me. I don’t know why sounds that they make, whether walking (I don’t really think they walk but rather they stomp), closing (slamming) doors/gates/toilet seat covers, talking… the list just goes on. It doesn’t help of course, that all of them have young kids and I don’t get why kids have voices louder than adults and seem to weigh like elephants because they have so much energy they spend the entire day jumping around. Each jump and thump reverberates and sound like an atomic bomb landing on my unit, that I wonder if by the end of this circuit breaker with us all being cooped at home for almost 24 hours a day, would I go crazy, or resort to suicide?

My body clock has been screwed up and for the last few days that make up about half of the circuit breaker period thus far, I have woken up at 3.30 am despite going to sleep at about 10-ish or 11 each night, waking up intermittently during the midst of that slumber. With that little sleep I get, and without any peace that I can get during my waking hours, especially when I have calls to take during the daylight hours, my sanity is wearing dangerously thin. I have been breaking down into tears each day because I feel so sorry for myself and I don’t know what to do. I have went upstairs to speak to both units once each, but the situation hasn’t changed. Months before, I had already written to the town council who had referred my email to HDB but they just weren’t very helpful. I went online to check and found that the police can’t intervene either.

Each day I pray to God that He will turn the situation around for me and make things better for me but with each day that things remain the same, I just get so hopeless and helpless the only thing I can do is to cry and scream at the air, not caring if anyone actually hears.

Right now I just wish that I could die.

No man is ever an island.

In the sense that we are community creatures and in this world today in which we are highly interconnected and especially in a city state like Singapore where we live densely and within close proximity with family and friends, we can’t really be hermits and not communicate with people on a regular basis.

This is particularly true for people who tend to be more verbose, like me. As much as I can and do spend a lot of time by myself, and need to in fact, I cannot thrive and survive when I go for long periods without social interaction that involve people beyond acquaintances. Sure, I can make small talk with random people such as food stall vendors or cafe service staff, but these are just not enough. Not for a protracted period of time anyway.

I always hold the belief that a person has a quota of words each day or week to use up in conversation that goes past the superficial “Hi”, “How are you?”, “The weather is crazy these days, isn’t it?” and the likes. I enjoy heartfelt, deep conversations with some friends that although can get quite uncomfortable and push all the wrong buttons in me, they provoke a certain level of further rumination on my part thereafter that sometimes can help me in my personal growth and development.

A friend of mine is progressing in her certification as a coach and I have always appreciated her perspectives that help me to get a more balanced view of areas that I may have been blinded to. Of course, some other friends have also offered up fresh insights for me to mull over, ALTHOUGH I must qualify that my initial reaction is always to turn up my defences and resist whatever new ideas they are throwing my way.

Sometimes, we just want the other party to commiserate and sooth our egos and emotions, but these pity parties aren’t helpful eventually even if there are times when they are sorely needed.

So… I do crave interaction with human beings who are my friends or family. Being unable to get sufficient amount of such interaction can get a little trying on my mental health, so I really need to think of how I can ‘schedule in’ such interactions on a regular-enough basis.

Also, even though I kept reminding myself I have also been ill-disciplined in staying on track in my original conclusion, preferring to give them the benefit of doubt. However, over the last few weeks, I have decided that my current colleagues are simply such – colleagues. I do not find any friend in any of them and do not think I ever will. Becoming friends with colleagues is not an impossibility. I have found close friends for certain seasons who were my colleagues, but in the office I work in now, I just feel that interaction is superficial at best and most people are either self-centred or selfish. I am also one of them, I figure.