Introductions

Warmest Welcomes!

Hello! However you’ve stumbled upon my blog, I am so excited to have you as a guest!

I tend to start new blogs when fuelled by temporary motivation, but I’m hoping this one will be different. Actually, I know that it will be.

After a couple of psychiatric hospitalizations, countless medications, suicidal intent and an attempt, and a deeply rooted dissatisfaction with life, I decided to make a change. I’ve been in the progress of rebuilding my life since February 2017, and I have never felt more filled with light and love. Since I’ve made significant progress, I thought that I’d better start documenting it! To look back on in the future, and remind me of where I started.

Regardless of why you’re here, “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – Eric Roth.

 

personal

B12? Vit D3? Supplements in General?

After a trip to the doctor’s last week to check on my lab results, I found out I was deficient in basically everything! Surprise, surprise.

My low energy is 100% because of my very low iron and B12. I have a hunch that my extreme fatigue was less of an iron issue than I originally thought, and more-so because of my B12. When I went vegetarian for a year or so, last year, I didn’t supplement with B12 because I didn’t know that B12 is only readily available in meats! Currently, I’m still paying the consequences for my lack of knowledge last year. My iron is higher than it was last year – last year I was “deathly low” (quoting the hospital doctor), which is an improvement!

Currently, I’m supplementing with probiotics, omega 3s, b12, iron, and vitamin D3. 

Probiotics: I’m in the process of healing my gut with probiotics and different foods after doing extensive research on the damages my body endured when I took psychiatric medications daily for 4 years. Funny enough, gut health is actually directly linked to mood and overall wellbeing as well. Seems counterintuitive that my medications were damaging my gut, making my symptoms worse. But at the time, the pros of medication (staying alive) far outweighed the cons. The cons are time, energy, and money to heal my gut.

Omega 3s: Omega 3s are just for my overall body and brain functioning. I could go into all the benefits but I’m sure everyone knows of them.

B12: B12 is for my energy/red blood cell formation. There are more complicated benefits of B12 that I won’t go into, but the main symptom of B12 deficiency is fatigue. Fun fact: almost all energy drinks contain megadoses of B12.

Iron: Iron is for my energy as well. Iron is an important mineral crucial to proper red blood cell function – it helps RBC carry oxygen in the body. Common symptom of iron deficiency is fatigue as well. It’s difficult for women with menstrual cycles to have enough iron, and doctors recommend that most women supplement with iron!

Vitamin D3: There are many research studies that show a correlation between vitamin D3 deficiency and depression, but the direct link is not known yet. During the Vancouver fall/winters, it’s easy to be affected by the gloomy weather and lack of sunshine. (Turns out my super happy roommate who’s happy all year round supplements with vitamin D!)  I’ll be getting a blood test sometime in October to adjust the amount that I’m taking, but because I’ve been deficient for a very long time, my doctor says I don’t need to worry too much about the amount I’m taking now.

It sounds likes I’m taking a lot, but it really isn’t too bad when I take some in the morning, and others at night! Overall, I have felt a definite shift in my physical health, which has helped my mental health greatly. I have more energy to do the things I love, and spend time with the people I love. I wish my psychiatrist had me do a blood test for deficiencies before we started on medications. Oh well, at least I’ve learned now!

I encourage you all to be advocates of your own health and get a blood test! It’s easy for symptoms to be bushed off and/or diagnosed as a common issue. Best of luck.

Musings · My Growth

Why 30 is not the new 20.

(My friend, D, recommended this TedTalk!)

I watched it over breakfast this morning and really enjoyed it! As I approach my 20s (I’m turning 20 in October!), it’s easy to get sucked into the hive mind mentality of ‘putting things off until you’re 30’. It’s easy to disregard a whole decade of your life, thinking that you have time, when in-fact, you don’t! Regardless of where you are in life and how old you are, I think it’s important to always strive for growth. Of course, a downside that can also result is that you’ll end up never being satisfied. That can be deterred by reflecting upon your growth, documenting your gratitudes, and just being grateful in general!

Jay mentions 3 things that every 20something should hear.

  1. Gain identity capital – do something that adds value to who you are, and invest in who you might want to be. Mindless exploration that does not count is procrastination. Identify capital begets identity capital.
  2. The urban tribe is overrated – spending time with like-minded peers limits who you know, what you know, how you think, how you speak, and where you work. Maximize on weak ties – friends of friends of friends. New friends, bosses, relationships, often arise from weak ties.
  3. The time to start picking your family is now – be intentional with love. Consciously choose who you want, and what you want. Who you pick now, is who will be in your family later. Don’t settle down at 30 with whoever you’re currently living with or sleeping with.

Anyways, I just thought it was really nice to ponder on the things she said! Of course, because I’m 19, I took in all the advice she gave. For those that are 30 and over may have a different view! I’d love to know your thoughts. 🙂

 

 

Musings · personal

Gratitude.

This morning, I woke up with an immense feeling of gratitude and love – for today, for where I am in life, and for my loved ones. I am so darn lucky to wake up every morning to N’s sleepy smile and begin my days with him.

About a week and a half ago, N and I bought new Five-Minute Journals (with D’s employee discount!). Both N and I have used journaling as a way to explore thoughts and practice gratitude, as well as done versions of the 5 Min Journal in our own ways, but it’s the first time we’ve shared the commitment with someone else. The 5 Min Journal contains a template where every morning you write down 3 things you’re grateful for, 3 ways to make the day great, and a daily affirmation. In the evenings, you reflect upon the day with 3 amazing things that happened that day, and how you could have made the day better. It’s a grounding way to start the day and helps me to live with intention. My favourite part of this habit is that N and I share what we’ve written with each other. Often times I am a part of his gratitudes, or his 3 amazing things, and vice versa.

I’ve finished 2 weeks of my work training, and it’s been great! I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such kind, soft, understanding, and self-aware people every time I go in. We praise each other for discovering ourselves, learning, and being softer in the world. It’s probably the most supportive group I’ve ever been in. Going in, I was pretty nervous. I’m always afraid of ageism, and feeling inadequate because of my age. Fortunately, my peers are all wonderful and everyone gets room to speak, share, and grow during sessions. Yesterday, our training module focused on self-care, preventing burn-out, and setting boundaries. Research shows that those working in health care fields or similar, experience the highest rates of burnout. We went through the signs of burn-out, how to properly take care of ourselves, and setting boundaries with our future clients. I was most appreciative for E though. E is a case manager for the team who has previously worked as a peer support worker. She told us that open communication between SW and case managers is key and essential to the success of the team. She urged us all to be open about our needs, limitations, and boundaries regarding work and our future clients. At my current job, I’ve been VERY lucky to have someone who knows of my story, and schedules my hours accordingly. She has been very flexible and understanding, and without her, I 100% wouldn’t have been able to keep my job or work during school.

It’s settling and humbling to give thanks and gratitude to those who fill our days with joy and love, even if they don’t realize it. I encourage you all to reflect on those who make your days just a little more manageable and pleasant, even when things are difficult.

And of course, a quote.

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown

 

 

personal

Yay for Reddit! 

Woohoo, thanks to Kinost for linking my blog on r/UBC! (He was also my very first commenter on my first actual post, ‘Where it all began’.)

I’ve chosen to not link my blog to my Reddit username, but if any of you are from Reddit, hi hello! I’m one of you! 😀

Reddit has been a big part of my growth and personal life, and it’s so wonderful to know that my online community supports my blog!

Musings · My Growth · personal

Competing in Powerlifting?!

I’ve been exploring the 3 main lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press) of powerlifting for the past 5 months. It’s been a life-saving experience and now I’ve decided to become more serious about it!

There are a few barriers that I’ll need to overcome before competing:

  1. Training more consistently/stricter
  2. Incorporating accessory lifts/exercises
  3. Diet/nutrition
  4. Proper club
  5. Gear
  6. Coach?

Last week, I messaged a powerlifer I really respect. She gave me some pretty helpful tips that I’ll ponder on below!

Overcoming barriers:

  1. Currently, during a good week, I go to the gym 4 times a week. I’m definitely not giving my 100% every time though, nor am I going in with a solid idea of what I want to work on. I’ll need to either follow a specific strength-building program, or start experimenting and building my own around what works for me. I’ll also be switching gyms and training at one that is far less busy/has cooler equipment, but is also more expensive and farther away. After weighing the pros and cons, I realized that my success/progress matters more!
  2. For individuals who only train their 3 main lifts, they hover around (and plateau at) 300-350 wilks. I’ll be incorporating more front squats (and accessory compound movements in general), machines, free weights, and etc.
  3. So far, I’ve been eating whatever I want (within reason). I don’t follow a strict diet of any sort, except minimizing the amount of processed food I consume. I’ll likely need to start counting macros to make sure that I’m consuming enough fats/proteins/carbs. This’ll help with my energy, muscle growth and recovery! I think N will be able to help me out with this though!
  4. At UBC, there’s a proper powerlifting club. I’m not sure how it works, but I think they go to the Bird Coop a few times a week to train and work on technique. They also host a sponsored meet in January every year! I’ll be joining in September and hopefully meet some people who’ll take me under their wing/mentor me!
  5. I’ll hopefully receive some gear recommendations from the people I meet through the club. I’ll be needing some proper powerlifting shoes for squats (my ankle mobility isn’t 100%…), as well as a belt/knee wraps if I start going pretty heavy, which I hope to do!
  6. The woman I messaged for advice said that getting a coach was the #1 thing she’d recommend. Currently, I’m hoping to become more comfortable with all my lifts and have my numbers be at least in the 200s before I look for a coach. This’ll be an extra expense (and although it’ll be worth it), I’ll need to be smart about it!

Powerlifting is one of the most empowering things I’ve ever taken on in my life. The fact that it’s fun, healthy, and lets me meet new people are just wonderful bonuses.

Being able to compete in anything requires a lot of discipline, structure and hard-work. I’m hoping that as I work on the details to overcome the 6 barriers I’ve listed above, the rest of my life (work, school, relationships, etc.) will also benefit.

Anyways, just a brain dump of what I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks!

But of course, a quote!

“Powerlifters spend time looking in the mirror. Not in the sense that body-builders do, but more to observe the total structure. More to observe the tremendous power that resides within.” – Unknown.

P.S. If anyone has any helpful tips, I’d really love to know! And I’d really appreciate it! Currently going into everything blind and just following my passion.

My Growth · personal

Refocusing When Things Are Going Wrong.

Holy moly! It’s been awhile since I’ve struggled so horribly with my physical health. I’m 99% sure that my iron is incredibly low, which has been affecting my energy, focus and concentration greatly. I’ve had to reschedule meetings, miss classes and miss multiple gym sessions because of it, which makes me pretty unhappy. I’ve also been taking 3 hour naps every day and waking up exhausted.

For females, it’s difficult to have sufficient iron stores because of our menstrual cycles. Also, because I don’t eat red meat very often, it’s even harder. I’ll need to research into fruits and vegetables that are high in iron and go from there, as well as start taking my supplements again. (For vegetables, the body needs to be acidic enough to properly absorb the iron! Which takes a little while… sigh) I hope to get this fully under control before the school year starts in September.

I’ve decided to spend tonight on me, as N is at his parents’ place for today/tomorrow.

Things I’ll be doing:

  1. Making protein balls!
  2. Design a manageable morning/evening routine
  3. Some sort of dinner
  4. Shower
  5. Study a bit
  6. Read

Tomorrow morning:

  1. Blood test!!!!!
  2. Breakfast
  3. Work training

And of course, a quote.

“No one will improve his health significantly without accurately perceiving priorities, knowing clearly what is at stake if those are not attended to and what is to be gained if acted on correctly. That’s the basic homework before any change can come about. Then that knowledge has to be transformed into a sustainable motivation.”
― Darrell Calkins

Musings · My Growth · personal

Self-Limiting Beliefs.

I start training for my new job tomorrow and I spent part of my counselling session today exploring my self-limiting beliefs.

At times, I forget that I’m very young. Although I don’t live with my parents, nor do many things that “normal” 19 year olds do, I still feel very 19 at times. I have my insecurities, immature worries, as well as naive, bold dreams. At my new job, I’ll be working with a large age range, and the youngest of that range will be 30. Why would a 30 year old want to listen to me? Why would a 30 year old take lessons and want to be mentored by me?

This reminds me of when I first received my acceptance to UBC. Although I received a Major Entrance Scholarship, awarded to less than 1% of incoming freshman, I still didn’t feel ‘worthy’ of attending UBC. I still don’t feel worthy. The imposter-syndrome is very real.

My psychiatrist says that I’m a very internal person. Someone who owns situations, but also tends to put too much personal blame and responsibility on myself too. I say ‘should’ve’ a lot during our sessions. That I ‘should’ve’ done this, and ‘should’ve’ done that. When in reality, there’s no way I could have known that in the moment that was the proper thing to do. I’m not sure how I define my self-worth, but I do know that it’s based off of internal qualities, and that I’m working on building it.

I suppose my self-limiting beliefs do protect me at times. If I do poorly on an exam, I can believe that it was because of my lack of studying, rather than the fact that it may have been a hard exam. But most of the time, it’s a self-sabotaging belief. A belief that twists my thoughts and makes me feel like I am less worthy of opportunities and/or successes than others.

I hope that as I grow older and explore more things that have meaning to me (like my future career(s), relationship(s), etc.), I’ll also explore my dimensions of self-worth and learn to define it for myself.

And of course, a quote.

“Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is believing you’re worthy of the trip.” ― Glenn Beck, The Christmas Sweater

My Growth · personal

How I Manage My Anxiety.

Throughout my teenage years, I experienced random spurts of anxiety. They usually correlated with exam seasons, or due dates for assignments. During my first year of university, I developed severe anxiety. I would wake up every morning nauseous, nervous, and dreading school.

At university, I experienced what it meant to fail and it terrified me. I experienced what it meant to study, study and study, but still not do well. The thought of constantly being a failure and be unable to recover from it,  prompted my anxiety. Anxiety also lead to depressive thoughts, which lead to suicidal ideation, which lead to my hospitalizations.

During the second term of second year, I finally started putting into practice proper coping strategies. Rather than curling up into a ball on my bed full of desperation, I was actively battling my anxiety, and most of the time, learning to work with it! My anxiety usually correlates with stress, so my stress fighting tips are very similar to my anxiety fighting tips.

Here are my quick tips: 

  1. Exercise! – when I’m full of stress, pumping my body full of endorphins is the best way to manage it. I would recommend lifting weights rather than cardio because lifting weights has more long-term benefits than just cardio. But no matter what you do, just sweat and get your heart-rate up!
  2. Make to-do lists! – big tasks can seem so scary if you don’t have your action steps planned out. Even if you don’t execute your project/assignment/task based exactly on your planning, just knowing that you’ve planned, can make you feel calmer.
  3. Cold showers! – it’s difficult to think about anything when you’re being blasted by ice-cold water. You’ll get out of your shower feeling like a superhero, and ready to conquer your day!
  4. CBD! – CBD is a compound in cannabis that does not make you high. In fact, it counteracts THC (the compound that makes you high)! Although this isn’t for everyone, it’s proven to lower anxiety and control your body’s stress response. (There are many ways to go about CBD use – vapes, capsules, oils, edibles, etc.) Please be safe!
  5. Meditate! – focus on the present. Realize that you cannot control your past, nor your future. All you can do is do your best now, and guide your path.
  6. Breathe! – take deep breathes. Increasing the oxygen to your brain will make you feel calm and relaxed.
  7. Journal! – get your thoughts out. Why are you feeling this way? What would you tell a friend who is feeling this way? You are your own best friend!
  8. Talk to someone! – share. Don’t keep your thoughts, emotions, and feelings bottled up. Sometimes, sharing them is the best way to let them go.
  9. Relax! – allow yourself to take a time-out. Recharge, and face your challenges refreshed! Yoga, a hot bath, whatever you need!
  10. Frontload your pain – avoiding is the worst thing you can do. Oftentimes, avoiding your problems makes them grow even bigger. Tackle them while they’re smaller and more manageable!
  11. Get enough sleep! – self-explanatory.
  12. Eat good food! – foods can either help your anxiety, or make it so much worse! Being addicted to processed foods and sugar lowers your energy level, and makes cutting them out of your diet so much harder.
  13. Calming Affirmations! – repeat mantras in your mind to help realize that this moment of stress/anxiety will pass.
  14. Imagine a safe place! – visualize a safe place in your mind that you can go to recharge, if physically recharging is not possible at that exact moment.

These are just a few tips of things I do in my daily life. I really hope they were helpful!

A little while ago, I watched a TedTalk called “How to Make Stress Your Friend”. The number one thing I took from it is that our stress response is really just our body preparing ourselves for battle! When I thought about it that way, I became much more comfortable with the feeling.

 

And of course, a quote.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”  ― Corrie ten Boom

My Growth · personal

I Got a New Job!

Lil’ while no blog! Life’s been a little busy, but it’s been really nice and satisfying!

The biggest news is that I got a new job! I’m going to be a peer support worker though Vancouver Coastal Health. I’m ecstatic and honoured to have the opportunity to work on the front lines, one-on-one, with clients who struggle with their mental health and substance abuse.

I was sent the job posting from the current non-profit that I’m currently doing some research with. Connections are everything! Wow!

The older I become, the more and more sure I am that mental health work is something that I want to do for a very long time. As someone who has been touched so personally by struggles with mental health, but who is also healing and in recovery from my struggles, it’s a dream to be a part of that for someone else.

Training starts next week (for a month)! Then I start working right after. Also, the position is super flexible, which means that I’ll be able to juggle it with my other job, as well as full-time school come Fall!

This especially means a lot to me, because I’ve turned down 3 jobs in the past month or so, because I didn’t feel like they were a good fit. Plus, they were all minimum wage as well. Which this job isn’t! It’s comforting to know that missing out on a month’s pay was absolutely worth it, for a job that I’ll feel satisfied and proud of doing.

It was difficult being patient while receiving offers (and rejections!), but I’m happy that waited for a position that fit.

I’m so excited.

And of course, a quote.

“Patience Is Not the Ability to Wait:
Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Also, I have been playing Tokyo Myers on repeat! He’s an incredible pianist who combines modern/pop songs, with the classics, as well as incorporating beats. It’s amazing. I highly recommend checking him out!

Here’s his audition from Britain’s Got Talent, this year! His story is also very humbling.

Musings · personal

How One Person Can Make All the Difference.

I’m an introvert who recharges their battery alone and enjoys doing most things alone. But during my times of extreme struggle, being alone was the worst possible situation I could’ve put myself in. After being conditioned for so many years to depend on myself, asking for help was the hardest skill I had to develop.

Asking for help and advocating for myself is still a work-in-progress for me. Yesterday, with my psychiatrist, we discussed about this specific issue I struggle with. We came to the conclusion that the action of asking for help, for me, was so much greater than just the help I received. It was about building human connection, sharing insecurities and allowing myself to feel vulnerable in the presence of another. Whether it was with loved-ones or health-care professionals, it was the same.

When I left the hospital in December 2016, I made the difficult decision to move out. Was I financially ready? Kind of. Was I mature enough? Sure. Did I need to move out in order to be well? Definitely.

I ended up moving in with my boyfriend Downtown. My parents were initially skeptical. I had been dating my boyfriend for 2 months before I moved in. And it’s taboo in Asian communities for a 19-year-old to move in with their significant other. But after speaking to my boyfriend, and seeing the difference he made in my life, they agreed.

I owe the success of my healing and progress to my boyfriend. He taught me, from square one, how to take care of myself. From the basics like cooking and nutrition, to more difficult tasks like going to the gym and advocating for myself. Fortunately, I learned from watching him day-to-day, living his life of healthy habits, which meant that it wasn’t taxing nor a burden on him to teach me. During this process, we also developed our relationship, as well as communication skills. I learned to be mindful of my mood, symptoms, and needs, and he learned to be an active listener. Overall, it was the best possible way to grow, together.

Now, because of his help, I am a functional, happy adult who lives a life of meaning and love. I experience the simple joys of life daily, as well as keep myself open to new opportunities.

Sometimes, you just need that one person who makes all the difference. A person who makes the tough seem not so tough.

I hope you all have support systems in place in your lives! Whether you have extensive supports, or like me, a very small team, we all need an arm to lean on at times.

And of course, a quote to ponder on.

“Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.” – Tim Gunn