Friendships Always Matter

Friendships

Whether one is suffering from depression or not, friendships — true friendships —  always matter and are a source of support, whether they know about one’s mental illness or not.

I find myself actually “forgetting” or leaving behind my feelings of depression for a while  whenever I am able to “force” myself to get out of the house to accept some meal or get-together invitations. After such events, I find myself feeling somewhat elated and am thankful for being able to accomplish it — it does feel like an accomplishment — a small step forward.

My introversion does make me feel drained after being surrounded for hours by people other than my friends, but that’s par for the course.

It makes me smile reviewing all my photos on Facebook, and this particular photo, taken by my husband two Christmases ago made me want to blog about it. This was a “staged” photo, guided by our friend on the rightmost side, who was into advertising a few years ago. He asked us if we noticed how most print ads show people with “open-mouthed” smiles. We then realized it was true.

So while having that Christmas meal 2 years ago, we tried to make our own “print ad”. We tried so hard not to laugh while the camera was on a 10-second timer. Being a print ad model was harder than we thought!

The people in this photo (save for my husband and me) have been our friends for many years. They all always be friends we will treasure.

Hope you find yourselves with true friendships that will stand the tests of time, like we did.

 

 

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Cooking Tikoy for Chinese New Year

Tikoy

Now, this is a little “off-topic”, if I may say so, from my usual blog. When I get to blog about topics as seemingly “mundane” as this, it would mean, I guess, that depression has lifted somewhat, if temporarily. I am able to function quite well.

I felt a sense of accomplishment to finally cook “tikoy” (“ti” for “sweet” and “koy” for “cake”). It is made from glutinous rice and is a traditional gift during the Chinese New Year. This means it is also widely available in supermarkets so I do not have to make this from scratch.

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There is really nothing special about tikoy. How it is cooked is what makes it a special and tasty treat — even for breakfast (it goes very well with brewed coffee). It reminds me of the few times our mom (+) cooked this for us when my sister and I were in our tweens and teenage years Mom cooked it with egg. Though it was quite oily, I actually liked it.

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Anyway, nothing new or original here — I just decided to combine the different methods of preparing this snack, resourced from Google, of course.

It’s like preparing breaded fried chicken.

Cut tikoy into thin slices (about half an inch thick). Dredge thinly with flour, dip into beaten egg, then cover thinly with oatmeal. Place enough oil in a medium deep pan (not for deep-frying) and use medium heat. Any neutral-tasting oil is good.

When oil is hot (but not smoking – you can test this by tossing in a pinch of oatmeal; when it sizzles, then the oil is ready), fry the battered tikoy. Do not overcrowd the pan.

When tikoy turns a golden brown on both sides (you need to flip it), take it out of the pan and into a plate lined with paper towel.

Enjoy your tikoy, as we did, and Happy Chinese New Year!

 

Pummeled By Pain & Letting Go

Depression

It feels like that — like being pummeled with one upper cut after another. Body punches, severe blows, many below the belt, are leaving me with scars and bruises that will take a very long time to heal.

Depression feels like that to me lately, especially when the triggers keep coming – relentlessly.

External factors – toxic people, the stress and the negativity they cause every single day — eat away at the very fragile inner peace I have tried so hard to cultivate for many months – nay, for many years.

Gone – just like that. Even fear of change or the unknown has nothing on the effect of soured relationships and external negativity.

Just yesterday, while browsing through business and marketing books in a mall, I quietly recited a mantra – “I will NOT be beaten. I will NOT be beaten!” The joy of walking was cut short by a very brief e-mail. I had to survive those few minutes alone inside the bookstore.

I am down, so down – but not beaten. I REFUSE to be beaten. For someone suffering from depression and anxiety, it is quite a feat to even say this. I recite the mantra — then stressful news come again. It is an everyday cycle for so many months. It is a wonder I am still alive.

I am letting go – every minute, every hour, every day – of the effect of people on me; people who are not going to be in my life for long, who do not even think of me and who I don’t need to think of either.

I will cry. I have cried – no, I bawled my eyes out too many times to count. And I will cry some more. I need to.

I am discouraged and down on my knees with head bowed – but I do not pray. I can’t. It’s just too hard.

After taking a small step forward, bad news comes through text or e-mail that set me back five steps. I cry. I cry some more. I fall to my knees again because of the tremor that suddenly overcomes my body. I could not breathe.

It would seem that depression and anxiety will stay with me, despite years of medication and occasional therapy. There is no cure for it – I can only manage it under relatively stress-free conditions.

Let go – let go.

At The Edge Of The Precipice

They say that fear of the unknown is not reality — because the unknown hasn’t happened yet.

Woman standing on precipice edge at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, USA

Have you ever felt like you were standing on the edge of a very high cliff, with a leopard about to launch itself at you, while you decide if it is worth jumping to your “unknown” demise instead of being eaten alive — which you don’t even know yet, right?

The precipice, known also to me as my “critical juncture” in life, is where I find myself standing on the past year, and every decade. There is fear either way — fear of “staying” where I am, just on the edge,  afraid  that I will grow old not ever knowing what is on the other side.

And then there is intense fear of what lies beneath the precipice — will I fall too deep and too hard? Or is there a soft green meadow underneath the sea of dark menacing clouds? Or is there an actual safety net waiting for me? Or will it be just the same as it was before.

A pivotal scene in the movie Divergent was when the newly inducted Dauntless members  had to prove themselves worthy of belonging to such a “fearless” bunch, by leaping into a dark abyss as their first real test. No one wanted to go first. No one wanted to be the first to “die”. The deep, dark abyss represented death for them.

Beatrice Prior (the protagonist played by Shailene Woodley) was the only one with enough courage to literally dive into the unknown. She was afraid, but she also realized her fear was just that – fear. The fear of possibly dying has not happened, so dive she did.

Her triumphant smile upon landing on a huge safety net became the catalyst for change in her fellow Dauntless’ hearts. You know what happened next — everyone jumped — and survived!

I am afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet – a life change that could actually be healing for me and my family. Anxiety and depression make the thoughts and decisions even harder. Anxiety and depression keep my feet tightly glued to the edge, cause me to vacillate, think and re-think every decision and outcome, and stoke the embers of fear in my heart until they become a raging fire that consume me and whatever little courage I have tried to muster.

I am afraid to jump – yet I am more afraid to stay because then, I will never know what awaits me. There is so much fear at the edge of the precipice. I cannot stay there much longer.

Lord, give me the courage to jump, for when I do, I will land on the safest place — your loving hands.

 

Gotta Have My Coffee

Now THIS is what I call good Americano! My husband and I always need this quick fix before we go about our work. It’s not just the caffeine (I say to myself), it’s actually the pleasure of the taste and aroma, and sharing it leisurely with family or friends.

Below are photos I took of The French Baker inside SM Baguio. It is quickly becoming a favourite https://www.thefrenchbaker.com/breakfast place while waiting for the doors of the main mall to open.

We would like to have our own small artisanal coffee and cake place some day.

Meanwhile , let me just enjoy my coffee before it gets cold. This is Baguio, after all.