In 2019, at the age of 33, I thought that I had it all figured out in life. I thought I had married the right guy, a job that I loved and a cute baby daughter. Little do I know that year, my life would crumble into many pieces and I would have to face my deepest fear of rejection. I questioned everything in my life-- my loved ones, my self identity, personality and capabilities.
That year, I took care of my daughter alone after she was born. My husband is particular about privacy at home and thought that since his mother was able to cope without a domestic helper and so I would too. We totally underestimated the impact of sleep deprivation and hormonal imbalance on my mental health. I didn’t get enough sleep as my baby daughter was crying a lot and her sleep cycles were short. To make matters worse, my husband was quite demanding with his expectations. Even though I didn’t have extra help at home, he expected me to keep the house spanky clean, in addition to taking care of my daughter. Before I knew it, due to all the stress I was facing, I was diagnosed with severe Post Partum Depression (PPD).
I was confused, helpless and resentful. First of all, I couldn’t accept the fact that I would contract PPD (then, I thought that any mental sickness is abnormal and kept asking “What is wrong with me?”). I was also resentful that my husband wasn’t more supportive, understanding and loving like before. Friends who interacted with me then felt I was like a changed person -- seeming pessimistic, negative and fearful, when I was usually cheerful, optimistic and energetic. For the first time in my life, I started seeing a psychiatrist and I was also led to believe by my husband that I inherited serious mental issues from my parents.
When my maternity period ended, I was desperately looking forward to going back to work, something that I thought I had ‘more control’ of the outcome. I had been worried during my maternity that I would lose my job as there was a business restructuring in my department. My then manager had previously assured me that there would be a new role for me when I returned. However, to my dismay, the new job didn’t materialize and for months, I was in limbo. Eventually, there was no suitable role for me and I had to leave. I had already experienced a huge loss in confidence with the PPD and this job loss just dealt a second blow to me.
Then, not only did I question my mental health, I also questioned my capabilities. My marriage also started to deteriorate -- our communications as a couple broke down and distrust built. There was a period when I felt I wasn’t capable of anything, whether as a mother, an employee or a wife. I felt my self esteem hit rock bottom.
Thankfully, I decided to heed my psychiatrist’s recommendation to watch the motivational videos by Dr Wayne Dyer, an well-known American spiritual author and a motivational speaker. His first book, Your Erroneous Zones, is one of the best-selling books of all time, with an estimated 100 million copies sold to date. One of the first videos I watched was “Be Yourself, Do Not Give Up”.
With the help of my psychiatrist, my friends and the videos, little by little, I started to pick up the pieces in my life. In April 2020, when the COVID pandemic took a turn for the worse, I asked myself what I would do now if I didn’t go through what I went through in 2019. Seeing the dismal news of the COVID-19 pandemic playing on the TV endlessly, I just thought that it would be meaningful to do something to alleviate the negative effects of the pandemic on businesses.
I knew that I won't be able to serve on the frontline at the hospitals since I had a one year old child and that I don't have a lot of wealth to donate. Finally, I decided to do what was most straightforward yet most impactful. I would just do what I have already been doing for years-- offering to introduce startup founders to people who may be able to assist them with their growth or to pivot and ride the storm and survive. Together with a group of friends, we created Mentor For Hope, a startup mentoring and charity fundraising campaign that raised over $43,000 for families adversely affected by COVID. This year, 2021, we organised another fundraising campaign and raised $120,000 for Fei Yue Community Services to support children with special needs and elderly from low income families.
Whenever I look back at the past two years, the pain of what I went through is still so raw. But I’m also thankful for the challenges because it resulted in my metamorphosis. I’m glad that I have not only found myself back, I have gained so much more-- more confidence, strengths that I uncovered, new amazing friends and my Christian faith.
We can’t control the cards that we are dealt with. The goliaths or giants in our life are opportunities to either break us or challenge us to pluck up the courage to look them in the face and overcome them. If we choose the latter, the experience will rebuild us and like a caterpillar, we will emerge out of the cocoon, a transformed and fuller version of ourselves.