Singaporeans Try: Therapy (Mental Health Special)
Hi everyone, we are going to be interrupting our weekly fun and games with a very special episode of Singaporeans Try. Some of you may have noticed that today’s episode is especially long and that is because we are going to be tackling a topic that is really close to our hearts. And that is, mental health. I think it is really important for people in society to realize that it’s just as valid to take care of your mental health as it is of your physical health. So, why is it that we find it so easy to exercise, to sign ourselves up for marathons, F45 classes. But there is so much shame and difficulty in telling someone that you’re working through a rough patch and everyone has problems. This includes the bubbliest person in your office, this include the internet personalities that you’re so used to watching on our channel. And today, 3 of them are going to be standing forward and working through these things with the help of a professional therapist. (Sighs) Oh dear. Hello. Er… Wa, tough question. I never really put a number to it. Er, I would say, like, 8. Yeah. But it’s like a long long journey. Used to be like 2. There was like a year where 80% of the days I wanted to kill myself la. So, I’ll always remember 2009 as like the worst year ever. Because every single day, I was just thinking like “Ok, like, how am I going to end my life?” But now, I’m like, happy. I would say, a 5. Maybe because there are good days and bad days. And just so happens, these few weeks have been on the bad side. If I have to rate it, I would think, a 3? I think it’s because there are a lot of issues that I have within me that are unresolved. And I think partly it’s because there’s a lot of things happening every single day in my life. Which is why it’s very hard for me to really sit down and think about things. So, when I think about things, it becomes very… toxic. And I don’t want to feel that way. So, I try not to think about it and it kind of gets postponed like over a period of time. Honestly, for the past 23 years of my life, I’ve been trying to figure out what is my coping mechanism. And I would say, it’s not very healthy? So whenever I feel sad, my solution is to turn to unhealthy stuff like drinking, hanging out late, not resting enough. Number 1 is, I try to just sweep it under the mat. And I don’t think about it. I just think of it as “Oh, this is not important. I don’t think I need to think about this.” I just… avoid thinking about it. By distracting myself with other things like being extremely focused at work. Then I try to make myself… Do things after work. So that I don’t have time to even think. In a sense, where I tire myself out. And then, let’s say if that doesn’t work, then I do have prescriptions for antidepressants and sleeping pills. And that helps me a little bit here and there. Hi, please introduce yourself and what do you do as your career. So, I’m Belinda. I’m a counsellor and a psycho therapist. I’m also the founder of The Lighthouse Counselling. What made you want to be a therapist? This is always the question that I always get asked. Because I’m coming from a very different background. So, I was in banking and finance industry for quite some time. I’ve always really liked psychology. I always liked to read psychology, I always like to read people sometimes. And to be honest with you, it’s a little bit like a dream come true to me. Because I’ve always been wanting to become a therapist myself. Ok. Jes, now I do know a little bit of the background of what you were trying to tell me. – But would you like to share from the beginning?
– Yup. So, I think the main issue that I’ve been facing as of late was my break-up. – Yeah.
– Which happened late last year, December 2018. We’ve dated for around a year. – A year?
– Yup. So, we started in November 2017. All the way to December. So, describe the relationship to me. Was it very smooth all the way until the end? Or has it been very rocky? My partner, my ex-partner, as cliche as it may sound, but. Yeah? She’s… – She was the best?
– She was the love of my life la, I would say. Everything that I wish for in a partner. So, everything was great. The whole relationship was great. But then there was always this underlying issue that we tried to avoid. – Because we are in a same-sex relationship. So, it kind of made things very difficult.
– I can imagine. Friends wise, erm, everyone is very accepting. We are very lucky to have that then. But, family is very tough. I’m so willing to just come out to my family about her. Just tell them truthfully la, that I’m seeing this girl. That was what I told her. But on the other hand, it was very difficult for her to even have the thought to even come out to her family. I feel very bad for her because when we had an argument about this, deciding like where this whole relationship is heading to. I told her something very mean. Yeah, because I… I… I wasn’t thinking it through. What did you say? So, I told her that, you see, I’m willing to do so many things for you. I’m willing to give up all the things that are in front of me. In front of me. But I don’t know about you. Why is it that you can’t… come out to your parents? She was very upset la. She told me that, you know what, I don’t understand you anymore. Because I thought that you were the one who knows exactly what I’ve been going through. Because every time when I told you when I go home, I feel these things. You were the first one I would tell. But then, for me to say those… those words, I came to realize that I was a bit selfish. Yeah. Every single day, it’s just replaying in my head. And I… And you felt really guilty about this? And I blame myself. Maybe if I didn’t say, maybe it could buy me more time. What made you feel every time when you see her? A mix of emotions, I guess. Sometimes, anger. Bitter. Sad. Disappointed. – Yeah.
– That sounds like she gave you a really really big opportunity to learn so much about yourself. – Do you agree?
– Yeah. What have you learnt about yourself? Before I got together with her, my first relationship mold me… mold me into somebody I was not. And I hated that person. So, I brought that Jeslene to my second relationship. – Then after that, then I brought the newer version of Jes, to the relationship that I was in, the recent one.
– Yeah. I was… in a way a little bit toxic for her. Because I don’t value alone time. But her on the other hand, she values alone time a lot. And it’s something that I couldn’t understand because like I mentioned, the past, the previous relationships mold me into somebody to think that alone time is not important. Yeah, but given that 10 months for me to like sit down, be alone, and think. I value so much more about alone time. And it made me grow into a better person, I would say. And… As of now, I’ve straightened out my priorities. Relationship used to be one of my, one of the biggest things in my life. But as of now, priorities shifted. Career, family, still is one of the top priorities. Before that, family wasn’t. – Have you ever thought of coming out to your parents or maybe like talk a little bit, discuss a little bit about this with your parents, without being in a relationship?
– I have no plans for that. Like, I… I’m scared. Like, very scared. Because I think they, I kind of know that they know. I feel that they know about me being like that. And yes, it has always been like… – Like, if I don’t mention, they don’t talk about it.
– Ok. It just… it just floats away, this topic. This topic would just float away. That’s the thing. Like, me going home to a place where I know my parents wouldn’t accept me. It’s very hard. And, for the past 5 years, ever since I’ve came out to my friends. – Yeah.
– And I came out as bi(sexual). I see my home as, I would say, if you could imagine, a black hole, where there is no light. The moment I go home, I will just lock myself in the room. And I don’t talk to anyone. So, at that point of time, I had a lot of things going on in my life. I wanted to… Commit suicide. This year? Everything was… was… wasn’t going great and I just wanted to. End everything. Felt that it was easier. Let’s… Let’s… Let’s sink down our thoughts. I mean like, it’s a very heavy feeling. I really could imagine how difficult it is. Especially this year, for you. If you have to, start with 1 person. Who would you start to really open up, to talk to? My sis. My sister. – Yeah.
– If let’s say, if we were to go out, and my sis were to run into her friends on the streets and she would have to introduce me as her sister. Take your time. This is… It has been so difficult for you for so many years. Take your time. If you have to breathe and just not think for a while. Seeing her expression is my greatest fear. Whether to see that she’s afraid, she’s ashamed of introducing me as her sister, or… Yeah. I want us to start thinking about how to move a little bit forward, just inch by inch. Even if it has to be, like, baby steps. Before 10 months ago, you had that enormous courage to come out to your parents and I want you to remember that particular moment. To allow yourself to think that it was possible and it will be possible. I can’t express how proud I am that you are doing this. And always see when you think, when things get so rough, so rough. Try to think that I’m giving myself another day as a new start. How I’m going to restart this again. And we’ll walk through it next time, hopefully. – Thank you.
– Thank you too. Thank you, really. – Hello.
– Hey Zhin. Hi, I’m Zhin.
– Nice to meet you. Have you seen any counsellors before? Let’s put it this way. Yup, I have. So, I saw a psychiatrist, as well as, a psychologist. Basically, there was this like, super dark moment in my life. Right. Where I didn’t want to… I didn’t see the purpose in living. Like, in staying on, breathing. So, I wanted to end the pain. The process is always very familiar. It always starts by me feeling very heavy. And then, let’s say if I’m in my room, the thing is, I would imagine the most horrible things. And then, my eyes and my vision would just turn red. And I would get so angry with a lot of things that I don’t know how to deal with it. – Yeah.
– The only thing that happened to me recently was the fact that I kind of lost who I was. And it was mainly because of what was happening in my life, in terms of my job, social media, the way people view me. – Yeah.
– On screen and off screen. – Yeah.
– Erm… Yeah, I kind of just lost it, in that sense. I was afraid to be vulnerable. To show the world that, “Hey I’m also human.” So at one point, I told myself, “No, you’re not human, you’re a robot! What you’re supposed to do, is you’re supposed to go on camera, smile, take nice photos, post it up, and then you’re done. But, it’s not who we are. – Yeah.
– We can’t do this everyday. – Yeah.
– Do you have identifiable people around you, close ones, that you felt like you’ve always trusted? Yeah, I do. Erm, but that itself got affected because I kind of lost trust in a lot of people that were close to me and I just cut them off. Do you feel that there will be a middle step, like a possible way to make them feel less confused? Actually, to be honest, I don’t know. Because there was one time where I made like a few new friends. Just two. And then, they’re all kind of known in the industry. We’re just chilling out then somebody came up to me and went like, “Zhin, why are you trying so hard?” Why are you trying so hard to? Why are you trying so hard?Yeah, why are you trying so hard? And then, I got really pissed off. Because, I was like. And then, I’m just like, I’m not even trying dude. – I’m just…
– So, they were trying to make you feel, or they weren’t necessarily trying, but they made you feel that you got close to them because you wanted to get their fame. – Leverage their fame. And that was not how you intended.
– Yeah, I didn’t even mean any harm. – Yeah, of course.
– Right, and then, I didn’t want people to be close to me because of whatever. But suddenly, I get accused of being close to people for my own personal gains. – That’s unfair.
– And I, and I don’t understand that. I felt that very strongly because when I step myself in your shoes, I’ll be like, I don’t even get a chance to even properly let you understand me. Let you to get to know more about me. And that’s not fair. I don’t get a chance to even get past what my intention is, getting close to you. If I may challenge you a little bit, and put you outside of this box. Would you think that it would feel, it might possibly feel similar for your friends that got cut off? Can you already feel that there are some people in your mind that you want to reconnect with? Um. Sorry, um. Take your time, really. Actually, like, I honestly don’t regret cutting any ties away. – Mhmm.
– It’s more of like, because… Because I feel that as a person, I am living like a double life. Like, me on screen versus me off-screen and me at home. It’s 3 different people. I kind of cut them off because I didn’t want them to be confused. Like, I myself am confused and I don’t even know who I am as a person and what kind of friend am I, what kind of… Um… To some extent, you’re trying to protect them. To some extent, you’re trying to make it easier for everybody as well. And then, the thing is, I do have people telling me, like… Wah, I wish I can be in your shoes man. You have everything. You have this, this, this, this, this. And I’m just like, do you know me? – Exactly.
– It’s really sad because I do have really amazing friends. But the thing is like, I tend to second guess them. And wonder, like when you’re nice to me, is it because of my presence on social media? Or you’re nice to me because you’re my friend? And then, the thing is, I feel bad for second guessing them. I feel bad for even having that thought. And I was like, you know what? It’s better not to have any friends. I did try to post something that was really true to what I was feeling at one point. The next day, people were thinking that I was going to die or something. And then, there were all these really heartwarming messages. Of advice. Which I appreciated. But then nobody really asked me why I was feeling that way. Yup. And I just need somebody to just ask me, why. Of course, I would love all of us to start asking people that we really care. So recently, what I did for myself was, I took a break form social media which was great because I really let go of whatever that was happening. And I just carried on with my life as per normal, without Instagram, without looking at what other people were up to, without looking at what people were saying about my photos. Or comments and stuff like that. It was the fact that I was… Maybe it’s because people missed me. – I’m sure they did!
– I mean not a lot, but just a few. And then, I think one of the more refreshing things were the fact that there were still people who stayed on. And they welcomed me back with like just pure happiness and sincerity. Which to me, I thought was very strange. Because during the one month I did meet some people outside and it was very refreshing because when they met me, they were like… Hi, are you Zhin from TSL? And I’m like, yeah, I am! But they didn’t ask me for a photo. But they asked me, I hope you’re okay. Yeah. And it was then, I was like, wow, maybe whatever that I was thinking in my head is not true. Because not everyone is out there for their own self gain. There are true people out there and it’s just that I didn’t know where to look. What you need to do in the next chapter, is to accumulate these real people who care for you. And essentially, you’re going to build that solid base of followers. And that’s going to make you feel safe. Give second chances to yourself. Give second chances to people as well. For example, maybe there are people who really cared as well. But you didn’t have a chance, you didn’t give them a chance to explain themselves. You didn’t give a chance for your own self to understand what was really going on either. But how do I go about doing that? Well, second chance is to, is to take that risk and give a second chance to do, to be a different personality. And that personality, it’s really you, by the way. Not to act like a different personality because you’re done with the acting. You’re done with the acting. It was so tiring. You will collapse if you got to be that person for the rest of your life. And it’s not going to work. I think, what I worry about is that, will I regret giving these second chances to people? What might make you regret? Um, because like, I think when I was younger. I trusted a lot of people. And then I would give chances here and there. But it was the close people that made me want to die. So, there is a long-term goal for yourself. Which is gonna have to start thinking about how to break out, get out of your comfort zone. To think about that, and not to fear. There’s no need to fear because right now, you’re doing an amazing thing. Of making that one step. Amazing one step. And this is the beginning of it. Really. And I really, honestly, I really want to, I want to see it. I really, truly. Like this is personal comments here, I really want to see, I want to see it. And hopefully, you’ll really be telling me that, ok, there are still a lot of room to grow, but I’ve gone through that bottleneck already. – I passed through it already. It’s so relieving to be able to get out of it.
– Yup. Thank you. – Thank you.
– Thank you for sharing. – Yeah, thanks for listening.
– I really want to, I really want to see that day. Really. – Hello.
– Hi Renae. – Yes, hi. Nice to meet you.
– Hi, I’m Belinda. What kind of issues would you like to bring about today? I think as of the past year, ever since I started working full-time last September, I feel like… I am not that familiar with how to cope with work stress. Now that I’m actually in my dream job and everything that I do at work, I love and I’m very passionate about. I feel like it’s kind of like a curse. That a lot of people say that I’m very much a perfectionist to the point where I really really stress myself out and I take things very personally. And the worst thing is, it doesn’t just end when work ends. I’ll bring it home with me and just keep stressing about it. How long have you been doing this? – I recently passed my one year anniversary actually. So…
– Cool. – Yeah.
– Good job! I mean like, so how would you compare yourself right now? About your quality of your work, compared to let’s say a year ago? The first month that I started working, it was actually crazy. Because every single comment would make me feel like, oh okay, that’s it, I shouldn’t even be doing this job, I suck. Even though, it’s just like a tiny tiny error. It was serious enough to have like my supervisors and higher-ups speak to me about it. – Yeah.
– Because it reached the point where it was severely affecting my emotions at work. Other than that, did your supervisors actually mention anything else? Did your supervisors suggest you to do anything else? Yeah, okay, so basically when I had my one-year talk. – I feel like the bulk of the talk was my supervisor telling me how I should take things easy.
– Ok. And then he says like, there’s really no need for that. Whatever it is, just be a little bit more balanced. And it’s funny that he pointed it out because even before I started working, my dad said the exact same thing about me. What was the trigger? What was the reason? What was at the moment when you felt like oh wow, at this moment, I’m feeling that intense stress again? I think a big trigger for work stress for me, is not knowing what the feedback is about. One night, on a Sunday night, I was about to go to bed. And then I received a notification through my work e-mail. From… Regarding an assignment that I was doing. And in my mind, I was freaking out. I was like, oh my god, they’re going to tell me that they hated it. And that they want it to be completely redone and that I suck. And then I told myself I won’t read it until tomorrow. So, I went to lie down in bed and I was up thinking about it for like 2 hours. And then, in the end, I got so fed up with myself. I was like, you know what? What is the worst the person could say? So I opened it up. And then turns out, the email just said, it’s good to go, you can publish it. For the comments and all that, is there any possible way to actually switch them all off? Oh, I switched it off already because I was so like… – You’re so tired.
– It was so ridiculous how..
– I know! And also, I think the numbers scare me. – But what I learnt is that the numbers don’t correlate to the severity of my…
– Or probably not even relate to you.
– Yeah, mhmm. So like, the result was you traumatised yourself for 12 hours long. Let’s put it in another perspective. Let’s say, if you never prepared yourself. And then you wait until the last minute, and then, let’s say, it really came out badly. It really just came out negatively and then you really had a hard time accepting that I’ve not done well in the end. So, probably from there on, you would get 1 hour of bad feeling versus 12 hours of bad feeling. I don’t know why I’m like this but like, I can see the obvious differences. – Yeah.
– But I feel like I would still go back to like the 12 hour one. Because I’m so used to it. My whole life ever since I was a kid, I feel like I have to worry about things. So, you actually pointed out the very very right words to describe this. It’s you’re so used to it. The first thing, I think you did really well is the fact that you switched off all the e-mail notifications. – Mhmm.
– I think it’s great. How it works, is like, when it comes to a moment when you start thinking, today is going to suck because it happens every morning right. Almost like that. When you start thinking that oh, today it’s going to suck, raise self-awareness. What is raising self awareness? – It’s like be aware that you start telling yourself the same thing again.
– At that very moment, just stop. Just stop yourself. – I know it’s hard, I know it’s hard.
– Yeah. But because you’re so, you were so used to not doing that. And the other thing is, let’s say, put work aside, yeah? – In a magical way, I know we can’t really put work aside. But magically, let’s put work aside.
– Mhmm. What kind of things that you wish you could put more time at? I feel like, the reason why I place so much emphasis on work is because it was like the thing that saved me when I went through my break-up. – Ok.
– Because my first and only serious relationship ended shortly after I started work. And I kept telling myself, this is like the perfect timing because now I can throw myself completely into my work. I’ve moved on from him but I feel like, it’s still a little bit strange because when I was in a relationship, I sort of had more structure in my free time. – Whereby I feel like if I’m ever bored, there’s somebody I can find company with.
– Yeah. I actually like, would request for work shoots that take place over the weekends or on public holidays. Because especially when the break-up was fresh, I felt like it was very painful to know that weekends and public holidays are the times where couples are like, ok great, we get to spend time together. It’s gotten a lot more normal. Like okay, I can like spend time by myself and in fact, I quite enjoy it. What did you enjoy about like starting to enjoy like having me time? I think, like I let go of a lot of the way that I felt like I had to behave when I was still in a relationship. And even like, for work, I feel like, erm, there were a lot of opportunities I would have passed up if I were still with him. But, it’s like, on the grand scheme of things, I know that these opportunities are like, what’s best for me. So… – When I think about it, I feel like I would have turned down those opportunities if I were still with him.
– Mhmm. Just to like, make him happy and because we did love each other. And the reason why I place my career so highly is because, it’s not something that will turn on me one day. And be like, ok, I don’t love you anymore, I don’t want to be with you anymore. it’s like, everything is up to myself. I want to say, you’ve really earned it. These efforts that you paid for, erm, you’ve earned it. – It’s nice to identify what you like to do. And I, and I can’t stress enough the fact that work is not your whole life. It’s not my whole life either.
-Yeah. – It’s part of our very important life. But it’s not all we need to care about. Give yourself room.
– Mhmm. – Some room, some room for possibilities to happen. Same goes for all these minuscule daily tasks everyday.
– Yeah. Let that happen. It’s not going to affect your job. It really isn’t. Because it really hasn’t. And it’s nice to be able to actually resume back your social life. – Yeah.
And hopefully that you’ll be able to, to get back into maybe meeting people, getting back into relationships. I don’t know if you’re dating but putting a little bit more time into the other things. Because that makes a good structure. That makes a good balanced structure to your life. Try and see how it works. – Sounds good?
– Yeah. Ok, thank you so much Renae. I really appreciate this. Really. It met my expectations and more. Because I went into it thinking that I was going to talk about my feelings. And how my one year journey of being like fully employed was like. I feel like I went into details that I wouldn’t necessarily tell like a friend or a family member. Because it was very very deep to the point where if I talked to somebody about it, they would be like oh my god, chill. I felt that she really, like she heard what I was saying and she gave me a very tailored toolkit to sort of manage my own emotions. Without explicitly saying when this happens, then blah blah. I think it was very interesting. Mainly because this was somebody that I have not met before and it is very different from the people that I usually talk to. When it comes to my treatment. I think what she did was more so, allowed me to open up about the things that I was feeling on the inside. The way that she was listening to me, that was something that I really appreciated. And this is honestly one of my most memorable milestones working in TSL. The experience was a bit overwhelming, I would say. You don’t expect to go to a therapy with all the cameras looking at you. So that is a bit daunting for me. It’s… it’s quite scary because I’m telling thousands of viewers my story. But she makes it very comfortable. I don’t know why but I cried so much. I didn’t realize that I needed that much of a release until she came. We’re trying not to advocate that after going for 1 session right, it will make you a better person. We feel that there is some sort of effort that you have to put in. That is the reason why I realised that sure, there are good days and bad days but, on the bad days, I have to put in the effort to kick away the negative thoughts. And be positive. Yes, because like, I think the misconception is the reason why I waited so long to seek help when I was a teenager even though I badly needed it. There’s this, like, association that if you have mental health issues that means you’re like crazy. And even the phrase itself, like mental health. It just makes people go like, oh, ok, what’s wrong with you? And then, I feel like, in this day and age, it’s really impossible for somebody to navigate life without feeling anxious or depressed at least once in their life. So I feel like there’s no need to tiptoe around it and be like, oh ok, I’m super happy with everything in my life. I don’t allow myself to feel negative emotions. I think there is a misconception of people going for therapy. Because when people think of like, when I say to people, oh yeah, I’m going for therapy, it almost identifies as though there is something wrong with me. Or something wrong with a part of me that needs to be fixed. But I think that conception has to go away. Because when people actually want to go for therapy, it means that they want to make themselves better and it means that they want to talk to someone who is qualified to give them the tools that they need to actually improve themselves as a person. And get out of the state that they’re in. And it’s not supposed to be a bad thing at all. It is like going to a doctor when you have a flu. I think it’s very similar to how Pink Dot started like many years back. I think 10 years back? We started out with a very very small community. But then, after 10 years, you could see how accepting the whole community is. I think this misconception of going therapy is exactly the same. Someone has to start it and that’s why we’re doing it. And I foresee this, us breaking down boundaries and getting rid of this kind of… misconceptions. It’s gonna be a very long and tiring journey but it’s worth it la. Thank you for watching this episode of Singaporeans Try. If any of the conversations have resonated with you, I hope it’s managed to make you feel less alone. And if you have considered going for therapy, but you feel some sense of inertia because you feel a little bit shy, you don’t really want to open up to a stranger to start off with. So to find out more, you can just check out the description box down below.