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Little Things 249 : End of the Year 2021

Here's a 2021 compilation :


1. Summary on my mental + physical condition :

It took 6 weeks, 4 physiotherapy + 1 chirotherapy session, countless Brandt-Daroff exercises and Epley maneuvers for me to recover from the vertigo. Even now, I can't promise that I won't wake up one day with the world spinning in my eyes. 


I can already feel the pressure builds up along my neck and shoulder just days after I got back from 3 weeks stay at my mom's last weekend. I try to scrape it off every day but it is still there. My standing table just arrived yesterday and we took an hour to install it. My laptop is already as high as my eye level so I don't have to put pressure on my neck anymore. I got myself a totally new 24 inch monitor because it was still under warranty (bought a monitor early this year). It isn't white as I originally bought but it is 3 inches bigger. Here is my current standing desk setup :



I don't know what else can I do to avoid this repeating pain to come. We are still having our morning walks (which is my most favorite part of my day). We found so many new hidden paths for us in Putrajaya and it is the most rewarding thing in 2021 :



2021 is the year I found myself in a lot of mental and physical challenges. I was diagnosed with anxiety early this year and that took around 6 months of my life, and then I had chronic pain due to either my back, or my neck and shoulder, the migraine and yes, the latest one is vertigo. These are all connected, when I'm anxious, my muscle tense up and it leads to more injuries on my physical body. Surprisingly, even if I don't really feel anxious, I'm still prone to high-stress (not really sure why) and those stress also leads to more physical pain. This is a brutal cycle for me :F


I would really love to train for a long walk and yoga back again, and I hope 2022 is more welcoming. 


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2. On books :

Honestly I've been trying to spend more time finishing up books. I'm still a little bit obsessive about the amount of books that I consume every year, and this year I manage to finish around 55 books. 


  • Most memorable fiction is : People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
  • Most memorable non-fiction is : Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked (because it is relatable when I was dealing with anxiety)
  • Most memorable writer is Thich Nhat Hanh

I also bought a kindle so that I will have an access to any books that I want - I don't have to solely rely on preloved or borrowed books. I have a lot of books that I want to read but harder to get (because they are new or rare, and I don't want any physical books to keep anymore except for some that I still collect : Haruki Murakami or Carlos Ruiz Zafon's).




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3. On finance :

On lighter mode : I finished paying off my student loan :D
But at the same time I've been using up my epf saving twice during the pandemic because I've been sick a lot and it's harder to work when I'm sick. 


Everything is possible when you have the time and energy. I learned that rezeki comes in many ways; a good health, a strong body, an unrelentless mind, time, peace, not just money. I always thought that I can work as long as I want and money will come along eventually but then this year I was sick a lot. When I can't work, nothing seems possible. I've been creating this person that I am today surrounded with the possibilities to work in many ways, I was a workaholic for 10 years. Then 2021 happened.

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4. On career :

Still a full-time freelancer :D The fifth-year so far.
This year I worked with Mylaksa, IPC Shopping Center, and NOKO Malaysia. I also ended the contract with Samsung and refused to extend the new contract for 2021 because of an 'issue'. 

2021 social media collaboration : Sudio Sweden, Uniqlo Malaysia, Cadbury ZIP and Gaston Luga.





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5. On Sofi :

Sofi is currently 2 years and 5 months old and she is speech-delayed. She's healthy, she's very physical, smart and needy. She loves transportation, her current favorite is an excavator. She knows how to differentiate between her toy bus, train, taxi, police car, van and fire-truck (this was from our recent first visit to Family Mart with her, she refused to let go of the toy set and we had to buy it for her =.=). 

Her current favorite channel is Blippi (which I don't understand the hype at all, Blippy is so 'silly').

Words she can say (not including animal sounds): 
  • yaya : Ayah
  • dok : Dog
  • ka : Cat
  • kak (with a sign) : Buka
  • no : No
  • buh : Blue
  • bo : Ball
  • pak : Park
  • chuchu : Train
  • yeay : Yes
  • bok : Book

She wouldn't talk when prompted, she never really imitate as well, and she never called me "mommy" even once, yet. She's at the age that is supposed to be able to say around 50-100 words, we will send her to be checked next year. 

She's healthy and hardly ever get sick, so I'm really grateful for this. 


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I'll officially be reaching mid 30s next week. 

Still processing how 10 years passed in a blink of an eye :F I do feel like I aged a lot these past few years (maybe due to the pandemic and parenting). 


Hopeful New Year 2022 


Little Story 240 : Kindle 10th gen

I bought myself an early birthday present. I've been wanting an e-book reader for awhile, probably along the time when I stopped buying physical books. 

I loooove books and I read a lot. But buying physical books means I have more things in my home but I don't want to collect things. I am also a bit sad to see my unread books on shelves getting older. No one else in my family reads, so I don't really want to keep more books than I intended to. 

The saddest part of "not wanting to keep more physical books" is I can't buy books. I missed a lot of 'new releases' since then.

Here's my ereader :



If I don't buy books, how did I manage to still read ?

1) Since I decided to stop collecting books, I started subscribing to Scribd. For $8.99 per month, I have an unlimited access to their digital and audio books. That's when I started consuming so many books per year, because I can listen to it whenever I want. I consume more books by listening but less book by reading. I don't read on my iPad.

2) I buy preloved books. This is a challenge. I always use Carousell for this. It is very challenging to find books that "I want" during that time instead of books that people no longer want. There are also so many people that sell reprinted books or what I call "pirated books", and I don't support that. I rather buy old books than reprinted books because I don't really want to support the book-piracy industry.

3) I borrow from people. Unfortunately, I don't have that many friends who read (or worse, I don't really have that many friends). I always ask in my IG stories when I want to borrow certain books, but I hardly receive replies. 

4) I wish to find more local libraries (but probably after Covid)

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I finally decided to just buy the kindle when I was stuck at my mom's in Nilai last week (after I finished People in the Trees) and I had nothing new to read, so I decided to go to Aeon Nilai to check-out their 'Popular' bookstore and found only 1 row of English books and only 1 of it was fiction. Imagine that. I was disappointed. I was so happy for finishing a good fiction and I wanted the same energy to boost my next read but I found none. So I went back home, spent 2 days reasoning with myself, asked Af and Aja, then I finally ordered it from Kindle Malaysia and got it in less than 3 days. 

I've been admiring my small library for awhile. I can now travel with more books than 3. Yes, it doesn't feel as good as a physical book, it doesn't have a certain 'smell', it can't keep memories (you know, how we can create a visual memory of each book that we read - who bought it for you, what happened when you read it, where did it travel with you, etc. But it is good enough.
  • Small and light
  • Built-in dictionary
  • Use less battery
  • Built-in book store 
  • Bring a library anywhere
  • No glare
I haven't bought my first ebook yet. Still haven't decided on which ebook to mark my first starting on a journey :F

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So my birthday is coming very soon, I'm turning 35 !
Here's a link to Amazon eGift Card and here's my email : azreen0301@gmail.com :D This is your call to be a book elf this new year and sprinkle some book dust magic to me so that I can buy more books in 2022, yeay!

My sister was worried about the review of the egift card so I made my first trial purchase and it worked just fine. Bought the egift card, received an email, got a link, added it into my acc balance on Amazon :


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Note : Quite excited for this purchase, been having book-fasting purchase for years :F Now I can still read from my old-time favorite writers: Mitch Albom, Jodi Picoult, Elif Shafak, etc without having to keep the physical copies. I don't have to worry about who is going to manage my home library when I'm gone. 

Little Things 248 : Being Unwell

 

For my lower back, neck and shoulder problem (since Aug 2021):

  1. I had 5 sessions with a chiropractor, Dr Samson at Elite Spine - we did adjustments and acupressure. Mostly around 30 - 45 minutes per session. RM 130 per session.  
  2. I had 3 sessions with a physiotherapist, Maisarah at PhysioCare (and 2 more sessions scheduled after Dec) - we tried heat treatment, massage, scrapping, acupressure, acupuncture, dry cupping, and physiotherapy. 1 hour session per treatment. I paid for RM 525 for 5 sessions.




I spent a lot of money this year for my physical and mental health. I bought new mattress and pillow, new ergonomic work setup, massage and working out equipments, supplements for recovery and healthy food choice. It has been an eye-opening experience, being unwell. 


I stayed at my mom's a lot since the border restriction was lifted, so Ma can finally meet Sofi every waking hours. We also walked almost every day outdoor. I am a changed person, I became closer to my family, I learned to ask for help, to show vulnerability, I choose not to suffer alone. I let got of my work, I turn off Patreon's monthly rewards and stopped social media when I needed. I also read a lot, thrifted a lot, borrowed a lot (but reading has always been my ultimate activity, so no surprise there).


Being unwell is a humbling experience. I had walked through the 5 stages (of grief) : the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the depression and the acceptance. Sometimes I am at the first stage back, especially when it started to get really painful again. Sometimes I just go along with the situation, like when having a vertigo while walking outdoor and it felt like walking on clouds, having to play a game of balancing (in this situation, vertigo isn't painful just very inconvenient depending on how bad it is). 


At this point, we have accepted 'the situation' and adapting to it. So we are no longer searching for a full-time job (I've been a freelancer for the past 5 years so this isn't new to me), but Af isn't so he needs to find his work-rhythm because there are times when I am too unwell to do anything but sit/lie down. So we had to be prepared for it. 

Ah well, this is what it is. 


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Note : At times like this, I am so grateful for the work rezeki that I've been having, because I keep on getting 1 big project at a time, I only need to work at least a full week in every month and the payment would be enough for at least 1.5 months. It is a huge advantage for me because I am often too unwell to work even though I wanted to. Thank you Allah.  


2nd note : I've been reading Hanya Yanagihara's debut novel : People in the Trees and it is an engaging read :F I haven't read that much good fiction lately - and so finding this is a like picking up a full caramelized popcorn in the dark while watching movie (if you like caramelized popcorn). I'm happy I started reading her book to close up my 2021 reading challenge.


I hope you are well. 


- image : https://unsplash.com/@8moments

Little Story 239 : Why I Stopped Running


It's been 8 days since my vertigo started. I've been to 3 physiotherapy sessions in a week and I've healed from my neck and shoulder strain. But not the vertigo, not the spinning sensation, not the imbalance world within every move.


It is definitely frustrating, if it weren't for my experience throughout 2021, I would definitely whine and be more stressed out about this. I can't run, I can't even walk properly. I entered 10km virtual run (because I want all the merchandizes I designed) but I can't even run. I've already walked 6 km for the run all while I was having a light vertigo. Can you imagine that ? No, of course you can't.


I told my physiotherapist : "I use to ran a lot, I ran, I do yoga, I'm fairly an active person. Now I can't even walk properly". This year was supposed to be the year I started running for fun again, the year I take yoga license. But I couldn't do any of that. I've been sick on and off through out the year. 


One thing I have to learn to let go is the believe that I can do anything. Time is very limited, and sometimes our stories are written in a way that we don't really want to happen. I definitely NOT want to be sick and fragile, but I am, right now. I had to let go of certain things at this moment. I learn not to hold on too much on goals, but only focus on the stories and the lessons. 


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I stopped running in events because I feel like I've been trying to catch something in the finish line just to prove something to myself. I've come to a this realization when I was training for my half-marathon and I ran 10 km every day - but without the crowds, without the medals, without the cheers, and I felt fine. I thought "oh so this is what a 10 km run should really feel like, uneventful and plain". 


After my 2 half-marathons, I decided to stop running in events because I know. I know I can run, I can train for a marathon and spend my days doing the rigorous training, I know I can because I'm a very strong-willed and goal-oriented person. If I can learn to do 5km, and 10km, and 21km, I know what I needed to do for a marathon. That is not my purpose to start running (at least not in events). I loved running, but I didn't feel fulfilled after the goals was reached, I just pushed for more goals - and boy, I love goals (look at how much I read every year). 


And so I stopped running in events. 


But I still love moving, and I realized that I love walking and hiking more. I told Af that I really-really would want to walk. I want a long walk, a really really long walk. I don't want a marathon, I don't want another run with the crowds. I didn't need the numbers telling me what I can reach or not. But I still want to move. I want a long walk, from a city to another city, to the countryside and the forest, alongside the beach and the silence of the old villages. 


I don't really want to run anymore, but I want to have long walks. The ones that I spend the whole day just walking, the ones that make me wish for home, the ones that make my feet hurt, the ones that make me question my existence and the meaning of the world, I want to spend the nights scrapping off the muscle tensions for the next day, and I want to write. 


That's what I want, for now. 

For the past 4 years since I stopped running in events. 

I just want something uneventful, just a really long walk and to write. 


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Image : https://unsplash.com/@enioku

Little Story 238 : Connecting The Dots


Early this week I woke up with a vertigo. I've been feeling tense around my shoulder and neck for several days, but I didn't expect it to lead to another cervical vertigo (the last one I had was in August). I woke up early, couldn't shake the spinning off, walked miserably to my desk and Googled my chiropractic center's information online. Unfortunately it is closed every Monday. 


I was desperate, again. 


A vertigo made me unable to perform anything, because everything is a roller-coaster ride. I was spinning all the time. I Googled other possible centre and I found one physiotherapy centre that can also help with neck and shoulder problem to release the muscle stress. At 6 am, I texted the centre and booked for an appointment.


Let me tell you again, I am an anxious person especially since I become a mother. It is ridiculous how my mind can do this to my whole body. I realised that everything that happened to me internally, will always find a way to be shown on my physical body. I just can't seem to cover anything up, it's almost ridiculous. 


One incident, during the post-partum phase, I was so stressed out and was struggling to adapt. My body reacted badly and developed a really bad hives. My whole body was red, itchy and swollen all over. The doctor couldn't do anything, none of the allergic medication could help me, I just had to force my mind to calm down.


Every time I'm stressed out on something, I will have either back pain, shoulder and neck pain, migraine, vertigo, pimples, anxiety symptoms : bloatedness, nauseous, etc.


Can you imagine how much I suffered physically during this pandemic ?

I can't lie. My mind can't lie.


"Oh no, your body, is too tense. Not only your shoulder and neck, even to your whole back", the physiotherapist told me. 

"Do you have anxiety?".

"I can tell just by feeling your back muscle, it's too tense. Did something triggers your anxiety lately?".


And here I thought I've been managing my anxiety nicely these past few months because I don't have the anxiety symptoms. No more heart beat randomly fast, cold sweat, nervousness, bloatedness, nauseousness, shaking, etc.  

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During this physiotherapy treatment, I've had my body scrapped, massaged (+ acupressure), cupped (bekam) and we did the epley maneuver for the vertigo treatment. It was a hard work compared to my chiro session. I went back feeling sore for the first 3 days. It was painful, not the sharp pain like having a muscle strain but just a really strong soreness alongside my shoulder blade and behind my neck (where she mentioned there was so many muscle knots she tried to release).


On my 4th day, the vertigo and soreness slowly calmed down. 

But I have another follow-up session, which is today, the 4th day. 


Note : I feel like I've been managing my anxiety and stress well lately. Especially since we've been going out for a walk/run almost every morning since September (except on weekend). But maybe not 'that' well. Sometimes we can't really see what we are feeling inside especially when you try so hard to be ok, to not worry so much, to just calm our mind down and you feel ok, but our body doesn't lie. 


Oh well, this is my life at this moment in time. I'm too worried about the state of the world, it is taking a toll on my body. I wish I can learn to be peace with it, but I guess I'm having a hard time learning about that. But honestly compared to earlier this year when I first diagnosed with anxiety, that was a really tough time. 


This, is manageable. This, is a learning process. This is just a higher ladder a bit too tough to climb when my body is too sore from the pandemic. This is just a marathon when my body isn't well-trained. It is still manageable, but just a bit tough. 

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Books - It's end of 2021 and I read more than 50 books this year


Here is my 2021 book list on Goodreads. <


I read and listened to more than 50 books in 2021 but, I didn't find a lot of books among them that I would recommend to people. To be honest, half of my 2021 were spent on safe-non-triggering books because of my anxiety. My book journey started probably after August more than half a year spent on healing mentally.

  • I found Thich Nhat Hanh really soothing for my soul. His ideas on the world and his teachings are really helpful. I enjoyed his books very much. 
  • I also listened to 2 of Sally Rooney's books but I found it mediocre, so I didn't understand the hype (but then, I always watched much younger Booktuber's book reviews so that maybe that's why). 
  • By the end of 2021, my anxiety are manageable and no longer a day-to-day problem, so I decided to go on a much heavier topics so I started to read books on philosophical and classic literature. I just read The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima , The Dream of a Ridiculous Man by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Peace of Mind by Seneca. Currently I'm reading Dostoevsky's The Notes from Underground and rereading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I managed to buy a bunch of classic literature and philosophical literature from one of my IG follower that turned into a friend :D
  • I didnt read a lot of fiction this year, but Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and Rumaan Alam's Leave the World Behind make me stop and think for awhile. For me, it is not a mind-blowing great books of the year but books that still lingers in my mind even after awhile. 

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Books to read when I'm anxious : 

  • Any books by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Everything is Fucked by Mark Manson

Preparing for a rural life :

  • The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton 
  • Twelve by Twelve & New Slow City by William Powers
  • Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton
Parenting :
  • Bringing up bebe by Pamela Druckerman
  • Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske

Beautifully written : 

  • Stopped on the way Home by Meg Fee 
  • Klara & the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
Super boring read :
  • Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
  • The World According to Anna by Jostein Gaardner 
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Note : I first wrote this when I woke up from a 5-hours sleep at 3 am and I couldn't go back to sleep even after an hour of toss and turn. I made a hot milo and added soy protein to it because I was hungry and I didn't ate dinner the night before. I decided to write something on my blog but I only can write about books and writers. 

Little Story 237 : My First and Second Sessions with a Chiropractor

After the long physical pain, in desperation, I finally booked a session with a chiropractor. I didn't know what else should I do, the vertigo lasted for 4 days and I was worried that it will take longer than that if I didn't do anything about the neck and shoulder strain.


From the website, I chose a date and the time, with no specific doctor in mind (they have several). I didn't even do deep research about the center, just enough until I read several positive reviews (I was really desperate, mind you).


Photo by Meta Zahren on Unsplash


My first session lasted for about 50 minutes. It started with a consultation, I told the doctor about when and how it started, how much pain, what did I do afterwards, and the location of the problematic areas. Then the doctor explained to me about what he will do. What he did was locating my problematic areas, releasing (accupressure I think), and the adjustments (I had back and neck adjustments).


Right after the session : None of the processes were painful, the cracks sounded scary and loud though. He helped me to sit and I was still feeling the slight vertigo but much less than before the session. My neck and shoulder were finally released from the stiffness. I was a bit light-headed but I was glad for the upper body release - no more pain. I went home, and I was tired so I napped for an hour.


That night : The vertigo stopped, my body started to feel sore all over.


The next morning : I was excited to try out my body, we had an outing, I was famished. Fun morning without pain or migraine or vertigo after the long 2 weeks of agony. 


Around 24 hours after the session : I felt fatigue, like extremely tired. I can't do anything because I was too tired. My body was sore and I started to feel worried. I read online about what the first session of chiropractic would do to your body and fatigue is pretty common because my body was finally in an improved posture, after the adjustment it released a lot of trapped toxin in certain areas, my body was detoxing and adapting to the new posture (so it took a lot of energy). 


I also texted the doctor and he confirmed that it is normal to feel soreness and fatigue especially after the first session because my body was adapting and my back had a long history of being misaligned and was not treated for awhile. 


I rested again, it took about 4-5 days of soreness. The fatigue improved after 3 days.


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My second session (a week later), I told him about the improved condition and that I mostly don't feel any pain but only soreness. He did the acupressure thing (where he put pressure on certain areas to check whether I feel pain). None of pain from the upper body areas, only soreness. But he still did the crack thingy and it still make sounds but not as loud as before.


Next, he did back adjustment and also lower back adjustment. I had a problem with my lower back for years and the pain come and go every year. After the adjustment, I do feel the tiny "hello I'm still here" from my old pain which I'm a bit worried about. But maybe due to the adjustment, my body is adapting to the improved posture and the old pain is just there to say good bye.


The doctor asked me to do stretches every day, to move every 30 minutes and start light exercise to test it out for 2 weeks, and we will do a followup after that. 

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Cost :

  • First consultation : RM 100
  • Chiro session : RM 130 per session

I went to Elite Spine Chiropractic Center in Seri Kembangan.

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Honest opinion : I wish I went to a meet a chiropractor every time I had problems with my body in previous experiences instead of going to the normal clinic. The normal doctor never treats these properly, they will just give medication to soothe the pain and make the symptoms go away. While chiropractor make an adjustments to problematic areas (especially if it is misaligned for awhile). Treating the core problem instead of putting a bandage on untreated wound, you know.

As a designer/illustrator, I do have a bad posture and bad working habit, so I know these pain will always come and go when I ignore the proper body management (stretches, good posture, exercise, good working habit, etc). 

Since the session, I sit properly (or I try to), I finally invested in a proper ergonomical working space and also better pillow. I also stretches every day when I wake up and before I went to sleep. I started practicing yoga again. I also drink hot ginger tea every single morning to reduce inflammation. 

My conditions are improved - still sore a bit but no longer in pain. 

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My sessions :
1st session
2nd session - a week gap
3rd session - 2 weeks gap
4th session - a month gap

Little Story 236 : The Back Pain is here


Every time I fell sick I'll be reminded of how less time we have, how much I've ignored my good health, how much I've forgotten to stretch my body or walk every morning, how much I took things for granted. 



I will come back to this blog to refer to my previous conditions, how many days it will take for the pain to slowly goes away, how much pain tolerance did I have before giving in to the modern medication, how much cries, how much pain ? I will eventually forget, I always always do. 

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This time, I just 'simply' miscalculated my step while cleaning up Sofi's mattress, I stood up too fast, my lower back is now frozen, and it just that. The sharp pain is there now, every wrong movement, every change of position. I can't do anything yesterday, I just sat stiffly. We tried ice pack at night, it didn't worked. I cried when I have to stood up after I laid down, because it is just too painful. Aja stayed here since yesterday and she had to see me sobbed uncontrollably when I tried to stand up (she was the one helping me last night and Af helped me this morning). Both time I suddenly cried loudly - I don't usually cry, mind you, it is a rare event.  


I'm in agony, again. Like I always do, when my body isn't cooperating.


So we walked to the clinic, I needed the pain killer. I don't usually like modern medication, but this is just too much, so I had to give in. The doctor decided to give a painkiller jab because he saw the condition I was in and he gave more home-medication for anti-inflammatory, muscle pain, pain killer and analgesic patches. He said maybe it will last another 2-3 days, top. Give my body a rest, walk slowly to exercise if I can, stretch my body when I can. 


Maybe this is due to stress or anxiety or lack of movement, we've been indoor for far too long. I miss the nature so much.

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I need to update this post for my future reference (because this happens more than I thought it could - at least once a year either my neck or my lower back) :


Day 1 : It happened, I rested the whole day, sitting stiffly. We tried ice patch at night. I cried when I had to stood up after I laid down because it was so painful. I slept badly, I woke up every time I needed to change the position, slowly roll-in to find a 'comfortable' enough position to continue sleeping.

Day 2 : It is still as bad, I cried more than intended again, every time I need to stood up after I laid down. We decided to go to the clinic for pain killer (or anything to make this less painful while it is slowly healing - because I needed to move to heal, but movements are too painful). Got a jab, the pain killer lasted for 6 hours, in the mean time, the doctor asked me to eat the medication he gave (stated above) and use the patch he gave to reduce the inflammation. The patch is called Ketotop, the number #1 pain relief patch from Korea. 

Day 3 : Surprisingly,  it got much better (I think the medication worked). I can pull up my body slowly from laying down, and even laid down myself when needed. I tried to cook that evening, but it eventually got a bit painful after awhile so Af helped to finish it up. My whole body was sore from the stiffness that I've been controlling due to the fear of triggering the pain. But, yes, it got a lot better than the day before.

Day 4 : I tried the whole day without pain killer and just ate the anti-inflammatory and muscle pain medicine in the morning. It was no longer 'painful', I can move around - but still stiffly and very limited. My body was sore (neck, shoulder, back, and thigh) I think due to my bad posture caused by the limited position I was in.

Day 5 : I didn't eat any medicine, no longer in pain but my body was still sore, tho :F Neck, shoulder, spine, leg - not sure whether it is because of the cold weather this week or the injury itself. I slept in at 10 pm and woke up at 6.30 am, had a long night rest the whole week. 

Day 6 : Same as day 5, my body was still sore all over but no longer painful. I ordered epsom salt and ginger massage oil to help reduce the soreness and heat up my body internally because I've been cold and everything hurts :F 

Since day 4 - 13 : I've been having a neck & shoulder muscle tension, everything is stiff and I couldn't release it (it is not painful but it is very uncomfortable). I've been massaging it daily with ginger oil, do stretches and taking warm shower with herbal mix since the second week. 

Day 12 - 13 : I've been having migraine. The pulsating throb on my right head (behind the skull and ear). I think everything is connected since the back pain. 

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Note : 

  • Doctor said not to put any ice/hot patch because we don't know the exact injury (for fear of making it worse)
  • No massages, just light stretches when I can. Stretches and movements help with the healing. 
  • Time and rest will decide how long it will take to heal completely. Most of the time it will take around a week, more than a week, need to get a referral to go to the hospital. 
  • So, rest well and stretch. 

Super note for myself : Please do yoga stretches EVERY morning and walk daily from now on (if you can). 

Little Things 247 : I'm Tired of the Negativity

I got vaccinated last Friday.


I hope I have given my mind a tiny bit of hush. That this will slowly but gradually be better. That this rising Covid cases will soon decline. 


https://unsplash.com/@lmtrochezz


I do not have the habit of pointing fingers to the whole institute of our government to blame. 


I read that some people claim that the ones that do not think/feel about the government's incompetency are among the 'privilege'. Honestly, I've been surviving since the pandemic, I can't do classes, I can't do events, my sales at the physical stores are plummeting and I am jobless since January. I now have anxiety, due to the stress but I am managing it. But not once, did I blame the government or others for all of my misfortunes. 


I feel like this is just another repetition, not once did Malaysian feel proud about its prime minister and the government. Do you remember all our former prime ministers during our teenage-adult life and the drama behind them? We keep on pushing and pushing, we told ourselves that none of these people are competent enough, we mocked them, we punished them, we forced them to resign, and we didn't even respect them. We forgot that these are human that can't really run from imperfection. That these are human just like us.


We are in a crisis, the pandemic is something totally foreign to all of us, no one is winning. We are all scared, we are all surviving, and yes, dying as well. But have a little faith, instead of mocking, fighting, blaming others, pointing fingers, let's just help one another. One step at the time. 


We are in a dire need of love and understanding. Focus on helping each other, focus on compassion. Always focus on the positive energies.


"That is why, with compassion, understanding is possible. When you look at aggressive people, you see that they suffer. They have violence in them, they have anger in them. They don't have much joy and compassion; that is why they suffer." - Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Let's stretch a bit more, let's hope the vaccination program goes well and everyone is protected soon. Let's remember that this as a test for us, in reminding us about what's important in life. I wish people will notice that we can't fight hate with hate. What you project to people, is who you truly are inside, so remember every time you mock, disrespect, or hate people, all those come from you.


Note : Yesterday it marked the highest Covid19 cases yet (+11k) and at the same time, we reached the second highest daily vaccination rate in the world, over 300,000 jabs administered daily. If you noticed, no one is looking at the positive side, everyone is only focusing on the negative part of the story. 


I just wish people can see both sides, I wish people can see that the government is also trying so hard and I can feel the exasperation when everything trending is all about the negative story. I don't agree with everything that is happening right now, but I try not to focus on poisoning my mind with the negativity during time like this. 


Despite all this, I just wish people can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel.

I wish you well, take care. 

Books : About My Choice of Consumption and the Current Crisis


Before this, I love reading non-fiction books on heavy issues that talk about moral and ethics, sometimes books from thriller or even horror as well. Books that make us question our choice if we are in that situation, or books that make me jumpy or scared.


But lately, I can't even read the simple ones. I keep on reading positive-motivational light reading, and it is an interesting change. When I read or listen to certain triggering topics, my heart would feel heavier, I will feel a bit stressed out, jittery, and anxious. 


It is likely that this is due to the pandemic, the stress and anxiety that I've been accumulating since early 2020. We are in such a unique situation where we are living in a crisis for a healthy life, for a financial stability, for our own sanity, and those things make me so sensitive towards 'any' triggers. So even reading fiction can now trigger my thoughts. 


So I had to 'pick' my choice of books.


Before this, I was living in a bubble of comfort. I'm a very sensitive person and my safest way to live a different life is by reading books. I'm always interested to 'know' on the surface level, about how other people are living their hard lives. By far, I've been avoiding hard topics that can trigger my emotions  due to my incompetency to manage it. I'm always curious about how to manage these whirlpool of emotions without having it affect my life.  


How to learn about the genocide, the war, the children/women trafficking, the global-warming, the effect of our unhealthy consumption, the diseases, the cruelty, the unfairness, etc without having to be sucked in the black hole ?  Without having to fall into endless anxiety and depression ? How do we feel the empathy towards the world without spiralling ? 

I don't understand how people can do that.


For me, it's either 'you feel' or 'you close your eyes'. I don't have the solution to feel about a topic and not be wholly affected by it. I do feel too much at times and it gives be anxiety and because we are at this moment in a crisis, my mind wouldn't tolerate any triggers at all without crumbling to pieces. 


For the past year, I've been reading a lot of books on anxiety and coping with over-thinking. It all mentioned about being mindful, meditation, and deep breathing. Yes, all these are very helpful during hard times, but no one is telling me how to manage these emotions when I 'choose' to feel. Yes, I feel too much but I don't want to close my eyes to the world forever. 


I have this quotation in my journal, that reminds me :

146. How can there be laughter, how can there be pleasure, when the whole world is burning ? When you are in deep darkness, will you not ask for a lamp? - The Dhammapada

Since then, this has always been a reminder for me that the darkness is here in this world, but we can't give up on hope. I think it's okay to find solace in positive messages and reminders for now, at least until the pandemic ended and I can find calmness in my mind back again. 


Note : Today is the day I'm taking my first dose of vaccine and I've been having these thoughts at 5 am when I woke up, so I decided to type this down. I hope for the best, and please wish me well ♥ 

Books : About Books I Read in the First Half of 2021 & Existential Crisis

@elifrancis


Lately I've been reading a lot of books that is in the same group. In more than 25 books that I've read in the past 6 months, here are the collected books according to their category :


Soul searching / Journal / Self-reflection :

  • The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho - I still don't quite like his style of writing in this book. This book is supposedly a book about his pilgrimage, but I just feel like it is a bit staged. If it is a self-discovery journal, I think he is supposed to write like writing a journal, but when we wrote it like he was telling a story, it is just feel like it is a bit exaggerated and fake because normal life is not like this. He wrote it like how people want to read a good story and I just feel like he should have just write a "fiction based on his pilgrimage journey", instead of 'his recollection of his journey".
  • Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton - This is a solitude journal that I've enjoyed while I was cooking (I took several days to finish listening to the audio book). This is a good journal about self-discovery, the messiness of how our mind works, the life of an introvert. I can connect with her thoughts and writings, because I'm like her most of the time. 
  • Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh - It is simple book, a practice into mindfulness. I listen to him when I feel jittery. 
  • The Dhammapada - This is a collection of the saying of Buddha in short verse form. 
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran - I've read this 2-3 times, and still, I'm lost. Ha ha ha. 
  • You, A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis - It's a novel graphic based on Eleanor's biking journey. I've reread it several times, and I still enjoy reading her journey. She showed her vulnerability, it makes her journey more relatable. 
  • The Book of Manuals by Paulo Coelho - Another book that I've reread, but still can't quite like. I don't know, I just maybe don't like him as a person and I can't get over that judgement after reading his biography several years back. 
  • The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh - Same as his other book, I listen to him when I feel jittery. 
Self-help / Motivational / About Life / Parenting :

  • Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske
  • How to be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg
  • The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan
  • How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis
  • Everything is Fucked - A Book About Hope by Mark Mason
  • The Upside of Being Down by Jen Gotch
  • Hoe to Stay Sane by Phililla Perry
  • Ikigai by Marie Xue
  • Your Sacred Self by Wayne W Dyer
  • How to be The Parent You Always Wanted to Be by Adele Faber
  • Heart Talk by Cleo Wade
  • It's Okay to Laugh by McInerny Purmot

Fictional:

  • Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
  • Two Stories by Sally Rooney
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
I've always love to listen to self-help/motivational books. A lot of people feel like these books are a bit preachy. But for me, I've always needed the reminder especially since I've become more anxious about everything. Listening to their soothing reminders help me a lot on daily basis. You can try listening to Thich Nhat Hanh while you are jittery and you'll know what I mean. 

These books are more direct in telling us something, you don't really have to use your imagination. It's like being in a conversation with someone that cares or try to care. You can either listen and accept or just reject them, it is as simple as that. 

-

When I'm feeling okay, I prefer fictional stories with deeper messages about life in general. Finding books in this category is a bit hard. I haven't found good books in this category yet this year. Example of books :
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  • The Little Prince by Antoine Exupery
Honestly I think I'm having an existential crisis. I'm questioning everything in my life, the meaning of it all, whether all of these are just a futile effort for us to be the best version of ourselves, whether I'm having enough time, whether I'll be lost forever. That's why I started having anxiety. I know I've been 'searching' for almost all my adult life, but the difference between then and now is, I have such an abundance of time to focus on this crisis because now I'm not working and I'm only focusing on taking care of Sofi, so I don't really have other distraction. 

In managing my anxiety and the 'searching' process, these are the things that help me :
  • You can try to listen to Russell Brand's youtube channel to watch his interviews with great people that talk about this. Not all of his content is 'good' because he talks about so many issues, but you can choose to be open-minded and pick yourselves the topics that you are interested in just to hear other people's thought on it. 
  • I try to meditate at least 10 minutes after my prayer, deep breathing and calm my thoughts down.
  • I listen to soothing reminders for example from Thich Nhat Hanh (from Scribd) or Therapy in a Nutshell  (on Youtube)
  • I don't take caffeine anymore, limit my sugar intake and anything that will upset my stomach (like dairy foods because I'm lactose intolerance)
  • I try to walk at least 20 minutes per day / I do yoga stretches for 30 minutes / or HIIT training for 15 mins
  • I try to sleep in by 11 pm, I don't do all-nighter. My anxiety gets really bad if I sleep poorly.
  • I read before sleep and I put on my oil diffuser with chamomile and lavender, to wind down. I turn off my phone's wifi at night as well. 
  • I read a lot nowadays. 
Reading gives me a sense of purpose. I can't wait for libraries to open and I want to borrow a lot of classics because these books usually offers the best philosophical fictions, plus, I don't want to collect books anymore. Except for books that I'm going to reread. 


I hope you've been reading too. 

Review : TheBookDepository to Malaysia *Updated 2021*


Hey guys,
I think I need to update this post, it's been 8 years since I wrote this original post about The Book Depository review and people keep coming to this particular post when they are having problems with TBD or thinking about buying books there + worried about the shipping all the way to Malaysia. 
  • I first started to buy books from TBD in 2011
  • I ordered 28 books from them (16 orders)
  • In which, 1 parcel was missing and I got a full refund (in 2011)
  • Other books arrived safe and sound
  • I also ordered a book during Covid19 pandemic in Sept 2020 and got the book a month later in Oct 2020
  • I ordered again during the pandemic on the 23rd April 2021, I received the books on 25th May 2021. This time the postman left it right in front on my apartment door (anyone can actually take it - but thankfully another postman was sending other parcel and we noticed the parcel). I ordered 3 books by Beatrice Blue from the same publisher, they were bigger than A4 size but quite thin, so they were packed together in 1 parcel.
  • I ordered the last Carlos Ruiz Zafon's book on the 30th Jan 2022 and received my book on the 15th of Feb (around 2 weeks later)


These are some of the books that I bought from TBD from in 2 different orders :



So let me update this posts : 
  • Shipping : Yes, they are still sending books without any shipping fees. From what I can see, whenever I bought 3 books, 3 different individual parcels will arrive, they were never packed into one parcel. I think that's how they manage to send parcels for free (I'm assuming). So don't worry about the postman can't send your parcel safely when you are not at home. As long as you have a 'locked mailbox', those parcels will be safe. Pos Malaysia will deliver it to your home.
  • Is is safe to send it to your uni/office ? : Reminder, anyone can take your parcels. No one will have to sign anything, so if you trust your co-workers or peoples from your mailing centre, please do so. But you can't blame anyone when it goes missing. 
  • Book quality : They are all new books, I don't think they are selling second-hand books. 
  • Tax : No tax fees. You just have to pay for the book.
  • How long it will take? : I once received a book 2 weeks after I bought it, and I once received a book 2 months after I bought it. So it depends on the shipping situation I guess.  
  • How to pay for the books : Credit/debit card (default) + Paypal (You can change to Paypal payment after you set the currency setting to USD$ )
  • Lost/missing parcels : Please write to their support centre after 2 months of the order. I'm not sure how they deal with this problem nowadays. In the older day (several years ago), I once lost one order and I asked the support centre. They gave me a full refund. I did double checked my address and my mailbox was locked, so I genuinely didn't receive any parcels. No lost parcels afterwards.

For me, TBD is still the best place to buy books online.
They are way cheaper (with sales), and free shipping. Cheaper than books sold in book stores in Malaysia. Plus, you can find books that are not sold here / hard to find locally (especially the graphic novels and visual books). I don't mind waiting longer ❤

*

Old post written on the 23rd March 2012 :


Yeay! 2 weeks ago I ordered this book from depositorybooks and it arrived last weekend from the UK.

With :
1. Free shipping
2. Fast delivery
3. Discount

*

This is my second attempt with The Book Depository. I've been searching for online websites that sell books and offers free shipping, and this caught my eyes. Several months ago, I ordered 2 discounted graphic books from the web but it never arrived. After 2 months of waiting, I reported to them about my books and got full refund in a week. Pretty neat. No fuss.

Email I received :
Dear Azreen,
I am very sorry to hear that your order has not yet arrived; As this is clearly overdue we are happy to offer you a refund or a replacement whichever you prefer? 
Kind Regards,
Customer Advisor

*

2 weeks ago, I decided to try it again. I was not convinced that their management is bad, because I've read several good reviews about this website *and they offer free shipping! Who would refused to that? So I ordered again anyway.  I was willing to give a second chance to answer my curiosity! :E

Payment made via Paypal and credited to maybank2u, which was super easy. Postage fees = free. Ordered, confirmed and waited. It arrived home after 2 weeks. Satisfied :)

*

Anyhow, I did read some bad comments on depositorybooks. So, it depends on your luck! Just be patience, they offer full refund, you won't lose anything and you'll gain experience. Try to take from the good side of everything :)

Little Things 246 - One of the Chapter in my Life

@linalitvina

I know I hardly write anything since I had Sofi because I couldn't find the time or the silence to write. Writing is a privilege, to write something, I will need to listen to my thoughts, I will need a total silence, I will need an empty room. 

-


I am a sensitive person. I can feel other people's energy or aura or whatever you want to call it. It's not that I can 'listen' to other people's thoughts, it's usually just a bunch of noises like the static in the old tv after 12 am. Those noises make me hard to focus on the thought process before I write. I know it seems like a bunch of excuses to not write, but I just can't seem to find the time to focus anymore.


Having Sofi brought so much tumult and energy of a toddler in our lives. Her needs of attention, her burst of tantrums, her cheeky dances, her playtime, everything revolves around her. Having her grow up in a 1,200 sq ft apartment wall during a pandemic while we are both trying to make a living, is a very challenging quest. Not impossible, but just as challenging as running an ultra-marathon because we don't know when the pandemic will end, it might take longer than we expected and we are all burned out. We haven't been out much since I had Sofi, that means it's almost 2 years for now.

-


So writing has always been my way of processing my thoughts all throughout my life. It's my solace, it's my therapy. If there is one thing that I can leave in the internet void for eternity, it would probably be this blog. I left so much emotions here. 


If this is a chapter in a book, I would want to mention these things as a summary :

  • The pandemic has started around 15 months back in Malaysia. But we are just starting the vaccination process last month, Af has registered for Astra-zeneca slot next week and I will try to find a slot after his vaccination.
  • We are in the midst of protesting about the Palestinian occupation by the government in Israel. The people all around the world is educating themselves about the issue and we are trying to push for a change. It is not a new news, but for the first time we can see the whole world is pushing it together, and there might be hope. 
  • Sofi is turning 2 in 2 months. She still hasn't call me or Af yet, hardly any words to communicate with us. But I noticed that she has started to mimic animal noises (like "sss" for snake, and also animal sounds for elephant or horses) and whispered some words (like "kaa" for car, "baa" for sheep, "baa" for ball and bye, "buh" for blue). I try not to worry so much about this even though I am.
  • I haven't been working since March due to my second anxiety episode. Since then, I've been taking care of Sofi, been to therapy once, and currently working to process my thoughts in a healthier way. It's getting tough in May because the Covid cases are rising up to 6,500+ cases daily and in any day now the government should call out for full-PKP.
  • I've been slowly creating a capsule wardrobe but due to the pandemic, I still haven't been able to try it out in public yet. I'm in my mid-30s now, I think it is time to feel comfortable in my own skin.
  • I finally finished reading Killing Commendatore - it was a really slow read (just like IQ84, I took more than 6 months!) I've finished 14 books to count, and currently reading 3-4 books at the same time depending on my mood. 

 @thetonik_co

Stay safe, avoid passing negative energies to others,
read a lot and try to stay calm.

Little Story 235 : When You Think That You Were OK


Lately I've been feeling good, I haven't had any anxiety episodes for awhile. I think I managed to re-wire my brain to calm down.


I was constantly feeding myself with the Palestine-Israel war issue lately, I think I can 'manage' those overwhelming news. We also got covid-scare 3 days back when my sister accidentally been in a lift with a covid-positive person early this week (and she's been staying at my house), so we've been quarantining ourselves and hopefully that the 2 weeks will be over soon without anyone catching covid. I also manage to calm my brain about the possibility of the whole family catching covid. I don't even want to go 'there' again.

-


It was raining this morning. Cold calm morning.


I really wanted a cup of coffee, it has been awhile since I had coffee. 

It's the second day of Raya, and I told Af that I really wanted a coffee although it is highly unadvisable for anyone with anxiety to drink coffee. But I had been feeling 'fine' and I told him it would be like a 'test'.


Photo by Steve Harvey


And so I ordered one tall cup of mocha latte that costed me RM 25 because I had to change it to decaf to avoid caffeine and also change the milk to soy because I am also lactose intolerant. I enjoyed the tall cup of hot coffee. It was lovely.

-


In the afternoon, I started feeling jittery. 


I tried to calm myself down, but I failed. My body felt different, I was having a mild diarrhea, feeling nauseous and gassy. My body felt cold and uncomfortable. But there wasn't milk in my drink, remember? I changed it to soy, and this jittery can't be because of caffeine, because I changed it to decaf.


But I kept on having a hard time focusing, my breathing was disturbed, and my hands were shaky. I had to lie down, Af helped massage my feet with the anxiety relieve massage oil and I had a nap. When I woke up, I still felt uncomfortable. 


During the 'episodes', there are phases of worries. There is the mild ones like jittery and there is the scary ones like panic attacks. It comes like a wave and usually it won't be rationale, I won't be myself. I can't really control it and it would be really scary. I will just have to ride the wave until it is over, until my brain calms down. 

-


Whether it is because of the coffee, or the constant news feed about the world, right now I just need to have the coffee out of my system. So I'm drinking a lot of water to wash this out, I'm going to be away from the social media this whole week, and I am going to focus on re-wiring my brain. 


I don't think I'm healed, yet.

Work Related : The Collaboration with Sudio Sweden

 


I got this Sudio Nio wireless earphone last month and been using it to replace my Samsung Buds that I passed to my mom. Sudio Nio is a more affordable quality wireless earphone with battery that can last up to 20 hours (at least 3 long audio books). I rarely need to charge my earphone now. I'm not going back to normal earphone since I got Sofi and she can't see wires hanging from my ears :F

For this collaboration, I got a 15% promo code : AZR15 that you can use on their website.

Just add my promo code and 15% will be deducted, like this :

-

Quite easy to use, just turn on your bluetooth on your laptop or smart phone and connect to your Sudio. I bring it anywhere. My favorite place to use is in the kitchen, while cooking :D

I think I've listened to more than 50 audio books since I used wireless earphone. Of course I wanted an Apple Airpods but I need a more affordable option and I'm glad Sudio found me ❤ Now we are bestfriends. 




They are also offering free delivery worldwide and 3 years warranty when you purchase and register to their Sudio Sphere


Note : I'm not getting any commission when you use this promo code AZR15 , the promo code is just made for you to use okay :) 




Little Story 234 : My Friend, Anxiety

I found out the reason of my sickness in mid-Jan and early March. It was due to the physical symptoms of anxiety. Yes, my friend, those bad incidents were due to anxiety. 



So after my 2nd 'episode' in March, I did a full body checkup. I was fully convinced that something was wrong with my body. But apparently, nothing was wrong, the doctor said that my organs are functioning well, everything was fine except for a little spike in my cholesterol level (he suggested that we change our diet and lifestyle). I told the doctor about all my physical symptoms. But from the long health report, everything was fine. So next was my mental health. The doctor wrote a referral letter and suggested me to go to Psychiatrist Department in Serdang Hospital. 


I went to the Serdang Hospital the next day to get a date for my appointment but the man at the counter read my referral letter and suggested me to get a referral letter from KK instead. So I went to KK on the same morning, booked for an entrance for that afternoon, got in and I had to do an online DASS (Depression-Anxiety-Stress Scale) test and yes, my result was 'extreme anxiety' and 'medium stress' - no depression. The doctor wrote me another referral letter, I went to the Serdang Hospital again and got my appointment date in April (a month from that day). 


-

I did a lot of research after that. I educate myself about anxiety, the physical symptoms, the science behind it, what I should and should not do, how to manage the attacks, how to survive it, the moral support, etc. 


I might not be aware of how stressed I was for the whole year since covid, surviving financially, working while taking care of Sofi, trying to juggle everything, worried about the world, perhaps I didn't listened to my mind and keep on pushing myself. Maybe I've been struggling to keep up and the way that I manage my stress isn't that healthy. I'm not sure because I never noticed how stressed out or anxious I was all this time. 


Soon after my unofficial diagnose and my awareness of the anxiety, my physical symptoms slowly stopped and recovered. But I started becoming anxious and jittery, every day. There are good days and there are not so good day. I struggled every day. I can't seem to focus, I became restless. 


I am so insecure. This is not who I normally is, I think of myself as a strong-willed person, or so I thought. 

These are new feelings for me. 


-

Anyway, moving forward, a month passed. My appointment was on Monday this week. I waited 3 hours for my turn, I read many chapters of the book that I brought. Then I finally met the doctor, told my story and she suggested me to take a medication. But I asked for another option other than medication. 


She said another option is a counselling, how to cope with anxiety. She said I could try that for 2 months and see how it goes. She doesn't really say 'therapy', but she called it a counselling session. I am not sure what's the difference. So next week, I'll have my first counselling session in a different department.


-

I am now living with anxiety. 

I really hope I can recover fully. I love my clear mind, I think that was my strongest suit, but this anxiety has clouded all the things I love about thinking.