Wednesday, 30 May 2012

One Less Burden!!

From a starting point of close to RM14,000 at the start of January, I am proud to report that as of right now, my credit card debt officially stands at:

Minus RM62.20, baby!!!!!


Monday, 28 May 2012

Beloved One

In light of all that has unfolded over the past couple of days, I decided to look into my old stash of church songs that I'd written, and I came across one that my friend Kevin and I wrote back in 1998 when we were 18. It's not the strongest lyric or melody, but it resonated with me, and I hope it does with you, too. Check out the lyrics and recording below. Just a raw demo with me on the piano and singing.

(In case you wonder about the "heart of flesh" lyric, as I did just yesterday, it's from Ezekiel 36:26. I recall that Kevin and I would spend late nights with me on the keyboard and him with a Bible in his hand, searching for that divine inspiration. I miss those days.)

Music by Nick Choo
Lyrics by Kevin Ong & Nick Choo
© 1998

Beloved one, how far away you’ve wandered
From the time you sinned, you denied my love
How I’ve longed to reach for you, but you seem to have no time for me
Why my child do you turn away from the love I have for you?

Beloved one, I’ve always walked with you through life
I have felt your pain, struggles that you’ve faced
In those moments when you fell, how I longed to make things well again
That is why I have sent to you my Word, my Son

For out of love He died for you
Hung on a cross, gave all for you
Made the final sacrifice, gave His life to pay the price
So that you may be set free, and so that you may come to me
When you put your faith and love in my Son
For He’s my beloved one

Beloved one, created in my likeness
Let me mould your life, purify your soul
Come back to the path of life, and stand tall in my glory
Give your life as a sacrifice, let me clothe you in my love

I’ll place in you a heart of flesh,
I’ll fill you with my might and strength
Wash you in His precious blood
Through your prayer and with the Word
So that you may be set free, and so that you may come to me
When you put your faith and love in my Son
For He’s my beloved one

Made the final sacrifice, gave His life to pay the price
So that you may be set free, and so that you may come to me
When you put your faith and love in my Son
For He’s my beloved one

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The First Reaction Is Not Always The Best

Today, while I was posting on FB excerpts from the previous post, a friend of mine (who meant well) said that my posts have been "kinda whiny" and that part of the issue might be "an attitude problem". Now, I was mostly in an optimistic mood today, but once I read that, it kinda sent all the emotions down into a negative state. Gah.

So, in my state, I decided to write a long response. Initially it was rather scathing, but then I told myself to calm down, to keep to the doctor's advice of letting go, and to try to move past it. I'm not sure if I managed to pull it off, but I think the end result was a lot calmer than the original. Here's the entire response that I sent to this friend, whose name, of course, shalt not be revealed. It would probably be better if I could provide the original comment to give more context to my response, but alas, I deleted the whole thing, as you shall read in the opening paragraph. Here we go:

Your FB comment initially made me angry (and caused me to delete everything on impulse) and then almost made me cry. I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, I'd just like to try to explain that even though the doc didn't want to give me meds, I do have emotional responses that are very volatile and can swing from one extreme to another. Case in point: How easily my happy feelings quickly turned to anger and then to tears. Most well-adjusted, stable folks wouldn't react that way, I imagine. 

See, even as I felt anger at your comment, and then got upset, I could RATIONALISE: "Nick, you know xxxxx's coming from a good place. She does have a point. Calm down. Don't let this get your optimism down." But unfortunately my optimism DID go down,and then my emotions entered a negative state. All it took was two seconds.

This is difficult for me, believe me. And often times I use FB as a place to vent. I'm sorry you found it "kinda whiny", but the alternative is that I keep it all in, feeling awful, and it leads me to the brink of wanting to jump out a window. So at least with FB, I get some of these feelings out. 

You might wonder why I don't talk to someone? Because in that state, it's hard to bring yourself to be with other people. Simple as that. (Doesn't help that I really only have, like, two people in Singapore that I can securely open up to.) But I've taken a step in finding a therapist here, so hopefully she will help me to be able to manage, cope and shift my mental-emotional positions more effectively.

It might sound strange to you that I would choose to allow these feelings to affect my way of thinking -- that I really should try to think positive when these feelings come in. After all, if I THINK like a winner, I can FEEL like a winner, right?? Sadly, not true, and assuming that would be presumptuous on your part as YOU wouldn't be able to fully understand the intensity and effect of MY negative emotions. At the darkest point, they cloud my thinking entirely, and I can't even start to see any positivity because I'm just FEELING so damn bad. 

So I frankly find it frustrating when people say: "You've got to think positive! Think like a winner!" etc, when the emotional state completely drowns my ability to even START to consider that, as much as I WANT to think that and would LOVE nothing more than to consistently be able to see positivity in life. But I can't. The emotions won't let me. And when I try to think positive while feeling negative, it reinforces the notion that by not being able to THINK like a winner, I'm even MORE of a loser. And it spirals from there. In other words: trying to think positively DEEPENS the negativity of the emotions. I'm sure I don't need to explain how difficult that is to deal with.

I don't like the implication behind the phrase "attitude problem", but maybe it's because that phrase is always used in a bad way: "Jeez you've got such a bad attitude", "you've got SUCH an attitude problem" etc. So I know you don't mean it like that. But I think you might need to understand this is more than just a "shift of mindset" needed. 

Going back to your comment: it affected me emotionally. And then the emotions became negative, even though in my mind, I was telling myself: "No. Things were looking better today. Don't let it affect you." But despite being able to think about it logically, it nevertheless DID affect me EMOTIONALLY. And now I have to get things off my chest, to vent and to whine to you, because in doing that there will be an emotional shift -- NOT a mental shift, since my mental state is still ironically positive: "xxxxx means well. She's your friend." 

I don't know if that makes sense. The thoughts and the feelings don't always correspond. Most times, I think positive but feel negative. And then the negative drowns out the positive. That's the most exhausting, frustrating, maddening thing about this. Trust me, I wouldn't CHOOSE to remain in this state. But for the longest time, I didn't know to get out of it, when POSITIVE THINKING wasn't working for me. And now I've taken a first step by seeking therapy. What took me so long? Fear. Anxiety. Emotional responses, not logical. 

My second step was to find a GP to supervise a resumption of anti-depressants. Which led me to last night's crazy consultation.

The doctor didn't deny that I have depression. That there's a lot of feelings, of anger, hurt, fear, etc. The doctor -- this qualified, experienced, well-loved, not-a-quack GP -- said medication won't be the answer. Therapy will be helpful, but won't be the cure. The ONLY cure, he startlingly said, which I didn't post on my wall, is that "You need to turn back to God." 

(I don't know how he knew I once *had* a relationship with God. That's why that whole experience was so surreal.) 

"You need to let God's light back in. Because with his light, no darkness can remain." So maybe there's some degree of "atittude" there in the sense that I have to change my "heart", i.e. open it up to God's grace again. But my reluctance to turn back to God has always been fuelled by fear and anxiety: again, emotion-based, not thought-based. And only when God is in my heart can I heal fully and then share that light with others, to help others in similar situations, he said. 

I guess the point of this entire spiel (I'm feeling better already, and the emotions have lightened) is that maybe I can be as positive as much as I want in my mind, but perhaps only the power of GOD can wholly heal and guide my emotions. And that was the doctor's absolutely unexpected prescription: when he spoke about charcoal and diamonds, he was using light as a metaphor for God. Somehow he could tell that I'd turned my back on God, and didn't allow God to guide my heart and my feelings, and that was in turn a major contributor to the depression. "But once you allow God's light in, that's when you will be able to help others with it... to diffuse that light, like a diamond." That was the context of his coal-diamond analogy.

Is that a crazy story or what?? 

You and xxxxx know one of the biggest part of my struggle has been with regards to religion. I run away from God for several reasons: hurt, fear, frustration, disappointment, confusion (sexuality or otherwise),e tc. And now apparently come full-circle and am confronted with the idea that only by embracing God can these emotional negativities be removed. Oy vey.

I'm not saying the doc's "prescription" has changed my life. But it seems to be a signpost of some sort: "Healing lies this way." And i've got nothing to lose by trying to follow it.

Anyhoo. Thanks for letting me vent, and thanks for the comment. Now that I've typed all this, I might as well send it to you. No hard feelings (anymore... like I said, feeling better now. And maybe typing about God's grace is actually a way of accepting God's grace. It's removing the darkness. See?)  Love to you and xxxx. 

Byebye for now.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A Visit To The Doctor On An Otherwise Uneventful Friday Night...

So tonight, I met up with little Jo and we headed to her family doctor to see if I could get him to be my supervisor for a new round of anti-depressant consumption.

It turned out to be one of the most surreal moments of my life in recent days. And definitely the most surreal doctor's consultation ever.

To preface the story: Jo and her sis Ju had mentioned that this doctor could see auras, i.e. that energy field that surrounds people. I thought that if true, it was pretty cool, but bore it no further thought. Until:

Jo accompanied me into the consultation room, and I sat down with the doc, who's this jovial, bearded guy, very friendly. But his approachable demeanour quickly took on an ...interesting ...turn when I started explaining how stuff that had occurred last year kicked off a depression. I had barely begun when, instead of asking more questions about the Prozac (which he eventually did), he started talking about how I need to forgive, to adopt a heart and brain of love, and to let that love heal and help me move on.

He said, "You're Christian? Catholic?" even though I had not given any indication of religious background (though he could've assumed because Jo's family is, that I was, too), and when I said "sort of", he began telling me about how I need to find God, and let God's love heal me and bring me to a point of acceptance and progress in life.

I was like "Wat?" Jo looked flummoxed as well.

He then said that when he looked at me, he saw, and furthermore sensed, negativity – nay, much more: a Darkness, he said, that was stopping any Light from entering my life. "You've let so much darkness in, when there's so much light around you. And that darkness has made you cynical and hurt and angry. You need to let the light back in. When there's light, can there be darkness?"


Things at one point took on a slightly more tense turn when the doc said, "I'm not going to give you medication, nor am I going to recommend that you take any. Because really, the problem isn't something medication is going to solve. It's something that you have to." (Just to be clear: this is a general practitioner we're talking about; someone who has studied medicine and psychiatry. This ain't no quack, if the number of "normal" sick people in his waiting room are any indication). And then he seemed to sense my reticence, and he said, "I'm sorry to be so blunt, but this (i.e. his words of wisdom) is how I can help you. But you're clearly very closed off to what I'm saying, so there's really nothing else I can do."

Which was pretty true; I'd been growing increasingly frustrated and incredulous with the lecture, and my defences were up. So I forced myself to relax, and I apologised (to which he said something along the lines of figuring out I'm Malaysian because "you have the humility that's not of a Singaporean"; but I digress).

I hasten to add, at this point, that what he says is not in verbatim; I'm clearly relying on memory here, and might be getting it wrong; and I clearly can't remember everything he said, but this is pretty much the gist of it.

He said what I really need is to find myself again, to learn from the past, to live for the "now" (not even for the future because that, apparently, will all fall into place), to embrace what has happened, learn from it, and then use it to inspire others who might be going through similar difficulties.

But all that, he said, can't be achieved on my own: I need God in my life.

"I think you know this," the doc said, and he said something along the lines of how he felt "big things are about to happen" for me with regards to my life and understanding of it, something wholly significant and epiphanous; "I'm sure you can feel this too." But not without the light.

"To use an analogy," he said, "you can choose to be a lump of coal: when the sun (God) shines on it, it just absorbs the light and remains dark. But if you can be a diamond, you will then shine in the sun, and diffuse that light in many different directions."

Oy vey.

What else did he say? That he could tell that I was "on a precipice, and being neither here nor there, not knowing which way to jump; I'd rather see you jump into the light rather than the abyss". And oh, I need to forgive. Not just the person or persons who did me wrong, but forgive myself. And the only way to do it, he kept emphasising, was to allow God back into my life.


All in all, Jo and I were in there for, like, 45 minutes, so much so that Ju and little Kai, in the waiting room, observed the other patients getting antsy. And because I didn't receive any meds, the first inane thing that crossed my mind as we numbly and incredulously left the doctor's room was: "Do I still have to pay for that consultation?" (The answer? Yes. Twenty-five Singypoo bucks, which I'll be claiming back from work, mark my words!)

So what was the conclusion? That meds would be of little help and might even be counter-productive; that this would require more talking to people of the Light (because apparently I'm surrounded by people who are of the Light), and doing a lot of soul-searching, and accepting all that has happened, and, in case you missed it the first and second and umpteenth time around, to turn back to the Light: turn back to God.

I really don't know what to do with this information.

Nor do I know what to make of the fact that once again, "God" seems to be "speaking" to me, drawing me back, no matter how I turn Him away. I find it fascinating, to say the least, that the aura-seeing doctor immediately honed in on the God aspect of my life as a fundamental step towards healing, and on "letting go" as a significant step, which is something I'm still struggling with, a year after the depression really reared its ugly head.

And all in all, I don't know what to do with this suggestion that only when I let God in, and move forward, and heal, and learn to love with "God's love", will I be able to help others. Why does this bother me? Because it resonates with this idea of a "purpose-driven life". A life of living for God's purpose, to be used by him and to move and encourage others for His glory and not mine. Which is something I've struggled with, and questioned over, and over, and over, again, practically since the early days of writing For Me To Live Is Christ at the age of 14.

It brings me back again to the questions I had almost a year ago when I wrote these blog posts ... is God real? Does he have a plan for me or not? And if he does, is everything I've been through, and am going through, all part of the journey towards fulfilling his mission for me?

Is there a Godly plan for me? And if there is, then why all the shite, to put it bluntly?

Maybe it's because so much selfishness within me, a need for attention and fame and personal glorification... a natural human desire, but which God wants to purge me of so that I can truly, truly serve him through whatever means and talents I have... and all that purging can only come through a trial by "refiner's fire".

Is God really reaching out to me, calling me back? But if that's the case, why does he remain quiet when I do call out for him? Is there a lesson to be learnt from that, too?

Or is this all just a bunch of drivel, and Dr Aura-Seer was really a quack?

I don't know. I honestly don't know. All I can say is, tonight's experience was unexpected in many ways (the doc whipped out his smartphone at one point to email me "The Mantra of Forgiveness", something he suggested might be of greater help to me than Prozac could ever be; oh, and he invoked the Archangel Raphael in silent prayer because Raphael's the angel of healing), and enlightening, and mind-phucking, and definitely, infinitely surreal. Coupled with the idea that God has led me to where I need to be (Singypoo? Oy!), for his plan, for a purpose... it's something the confused, exhausted, baffled Nick keeps wanting to run away from. Ironically, I don't want to follow the light.

But Christ, He seems to keep chasing after me.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Therapy: Take Two ... And A Quotable Quote

Hey all. Just a quick update before I take a quick zzzz before heading off to work. Today marked the first day of my second attempt at therapy, which, believe you me, is much needed after my near-breakdown of the past weekend. (Oh, you know, same ol' same ol', waking up and crying for absolutely no reason wotsoever, tis perfectly normal, no?) ... I quite enjoyed talking to the therapist, Su, who was really insightful and constructive in her thoughts (though I questioned her on why she didn't take notes during the session as the stereotypical therapist would, pen and yellow legal pad in hand... it made me feel a touch insecure, but voicing that concern actually helped: it's just her style, she said, assuring me that the note-writing would come after the session, and that she appreciated my feedback. Yay.)

I came this close on giving up on the session because I couldn't find the goshdurned building. (Turns out it's one of the rare buildings in Singypoo that actually has two blocks in one building. In other words, the downstairs section was Block A, for instance, and the upstairs section was Block B. There I was, wandering from one building to another, trying to find that blasted Block B, when all along it was above my head. Groan.)

So that seemed positive enough, and I'll be going back next Thursday for session 2. In the meantime, Su was candid in saying that taking medication plus therapy would be a good option to go with, so tomorrow Little Jo and I will be heading to her family GP to get some advice on restarting the meds. We'll see how that goes. Oy.

Ah well, I'm gonna take my nana-nap now. But before I go, here's a quick quote that came to mind last night: a memory that had eluded me for some reason, but which still made me crack up when I thought about it. When Beattie, Judi and Bernie visited a couple o' weekends ago, we were all hanging out when Beattie asked Jo whether "Singapore has Athlete's Foot". Now, Beattie, having come from Aussieland, was referring to this particular sports-apparel outlet:

Jo's response? Something along the lines of: "Well, it depends on your hygiene."


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Mini Nick!

Courtesy of my cousin Andrew ... guess which one is Mini Nick! Circa 1983, I reckon.

PS: That's my mum in the background, sporting her late-70s, early-80s look. Arf arf!!!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Judi and Bernie's Whirlwind Singypoo Trip (with Beattie), Part 3: Video

Here are Judi, Bernie, Beatty, Little Jo and yours truly at the seafood restaurant on Friday night! Yay!

Dancers Ahoy!

So yesterday at work, we were all distracted by a bunch of ladies who started rehearsing what looked like a dance routine right outside our window. Here's the view from my desk. Oy, the joy of working in a multi-platform media company, heh.


So as of today, I've officially moved out of my room... again...


... And across the hall into the master bedroom!! ARF ARF ARF! YAY!!

Yeah, my former housemate moved out (thank heavens, he wasn't too pleasant a guy anyway), and the moment I heard about it, I was like "I WANT!" So I POUNCED and I took the room and today I spent a couple of hours moving all my gear over. Whoohooo!! Much better! Breathing space, and (gasp gasp gasp!!) SUNLIGHT!!!

This was my old room:

And now I'm in here (click on image for bigger view):

Much, much better, no?? YAYAYAYAYAY!!!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Judi and Bernie's Whirlwind Singypoo Trip (With Beattie), Part 2

Hey all, I'm back!! So where were we? Well, on Saturday I met up with the gang at Ion Orchard for lunch and coffees, after which, oy vey, I had to adjourn to the office for a pretty late night at work. (On the plus side, the boss gave me a two-page sports spread to work on, which was both frustrating/challenging and gratifying to tackle. Progress. Woot.)

On Sunday, I met up with Bernie and Judi at Bishan interchange and together we journeyed to the Botanic Gardens for a nice little trek, which was unfortunately less than satisfactory because of the rather haphazard layout of the gardens plus the number of people occupying it. And Bernie got muddied when we decided to make our way across a grassy area, which resulted in a Maundy Thursday-like scenario where Judi had to wash her feet, arf arf k'barf. So that was pretty funny.

The rest of the day was spent at VivoCity, where the gals and I had a bloatedly filling dinner at Marche!! Yay!! Followed by coffees at Coffee Bean, before we got kinda lost trying to locate where Little Jo was waiting for us parked at some obscure taxi stand, oy. Then we had a last round of drinks on the rooftop at Mustafa, before dropping the girls back at their hotel to stay our goodbyes till August, when I intend to head over to Perth for somebody's wedding, heehee!! Here are pics – don't forget you can click on 'em for bigger views:

Watchu dooin there, Joodi? 
All the pretty ladies! 
All the pretty ladies! (What an unflattering angle, Nick. Oy.)
At the Gardens.  
Find the Judi and Bernie. 
So pretty! And the girls are okay too, I guess. :P 
Coffee cheers! 
Final bye-bye-for-nows at the hotel entrance. 
Neek tries to do that thing where you hold the camera out in front of ya and try to do a self-group-shot. 4/10.
Judi's turn to do a self-group-shot. 9/10.
Little Jo's turn. 7/10.
Bernie's turn. 4/10. Heeeeee.
Weeeh, miss you, Berni, Beattie and Judi... see you reallll soooooon!!

Judi and Bernie's Whirlwind Singypoo Trip (With Beattie), Part 1

Wassup, peeps!! Whew, it's been a fun few days because Judi, Bernie and Beattie from Perth are/were in town! Whoo-hoo!! They flew in at 3am Friday morning (read: really, really late Thursday night), so after work I headed back to my place, did a little pottering around and freshening up before heading to the hotel where Judi and Bernie were staying! (Beattie wasn't with them as she was staying with a friend in another part of Singypoo.)

Lots of hugs and laughs were had, and then we hopped into a cab and headed to Orchard Road, where we had "breakfast" at TCC followed by more coffee and dessert at the Starbucks across the road, before finally deciding to adjourn to my place in Bishan for the gals and I to take a much-needed nap, heehee!! It certainly was fun, sneaking 'em into my room. I wonder what my housemates would've thought had they seen us. Judi and Bernie would be, like, "Oh, hello", coming out of my room, straightening their tousled hair. "We'll see you later, Nicky. Sure you don't want to join us for the rides?" Because they were headed to Universal Studios, you see. I didn't go. Too sleepy, arf arf.

Here are the pics of us that morning at the coffee joints!

Bernie with my alcoholic coffee at TCC. I didn't like it. The coffee, I mean.
But apparently Bernie loves hers!
With post-brekkie dessert at Starbucks!
Later that night, I caught up with them again at Ah Yat Seafood at Turf City, which Judi had been to before. It's a seafood place where you pick out your own live seafood before they turn it into scrumlicious dishes, as fresh as fresh fish can be! Little Jo and Beattie joined us this time, and went a little nutty that night as we decided to order a steamed garoupa, steamed prawns, medium-sized vegetable, three types of crab: chilli, black pepper and salted egg, clams and noodles.We ate it all, and then we decided: We could eat some more! So we ordered another steamed fish (a bigger-sized one!), a second helping of prawns, steamed with garlic this time, and another vegetable dish, oy vey!!

The wait staff must've thought we were slightly bonkers, especially when we also ordered multiple serves of man tou, those tiny steamed buns to dip into the crab sauce. At one point we ordered ten at one go, and were tickled a bloated pink when nine of 'em came on one plate and a sole man tou was eventually brought on another. Arf. Here are pics:

Just Judi! Just juice!
Coconutty Nick!
Cheers to the mini 10-year MUCC reunion!
The girls go a bit crab-crackers...
There's Beattie with Little Jo!
With the second order of prawns and vegetables!
Oy vey, there's so much food!
But never fear, Nick is here!
Check back in soon for more on Judi and Bernie's whirlwind Singypoo trip! (It wasn't so much a whirlwind for Beattie because she'd planned this in advance, arf arf.) In the meantime, in case you're wondering what's up with the new dark background of this blog (as of the time this post was published), here's the original photo I took at dinner at Marche in Vivocity tonight (but more on this later!):

I want to be hand-squeezed too...

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

More Mehness... But YAY!! on the horizon

Wassup peeps. Just idly checking in to update this blog on the nothing-muchness that has invaded my life. The more I think about it, the more I realise things need to change. Now if only I could muster up the determination and motivation to make things change. And by change, I mean, like, just... having a cheerier outlook, and actually doing things. These days my day consists of going to work, then returning to the room and locking myself up in there, sitting at the computer till 6am, then going to bed till it's time to get up again to go to work. Round and round it goes. Nothing else. No social life. No exercise. No inspiration. Nothing. (I mean, God knows whenever I try to exercise, I end up with backaches reminiscent of that old slipped disc injury, or a gout attack, or a freakin' blocked ear from swimming. Like, my body tells me, "Exercise? Screw you!") Have I mentioned that oftentimes sitting in front of the computer I'm stuffing my face with chips, chocolates, cookies and other C words? Oy. So I'm ballooning again, getting increasingly unhealthy: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I wonder if it's because I'm scared that whenever I start doing something, something else conspires to get in the way, and it gets me down again. Though at this rate, I don't know how much downer I can get. Don't think I want to find out the answer to that though.

Well, now that that's out of my system, some positivity: Judi, Beattie and Bernie from Perth are coming to town this weekend! YAY! So that should be a cheerer-upper! I can't wait! Shame I have to work on Saturday (I commence working on Saturdays from this week onwards for the foreseeable future)... but I could do with some good companionship and encouragement at this point, so I'm really looking forward to their visit! And heaven knows this blog could do with some uplifting too, heh... so check back in soon for updates and pictures and stuff, k??? Till next time!!