How is your Psychological Health?

The above are some statements measuring level of emotional distress. They can serve as a guideline that something might start to go wrong in life.

It is a difficult time for almost everyone, whether it is the economy globally, crime rates in the country, personal financial issues or major life events, or day to day stress from work, family, relationships etc. We might not be able to change all these challenging situations, but we are able to change our perceptions to them, and improve our coping abilities and psychological resilience.

I am a psychologist specialised in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I am also trained in Problem Solving Therapy and Hypnotherapy. I help people to pick up the role of therapist for their own problems.

Feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me via hello@huibee.com or 017-2757813.

Psychological problems or Social/familial/educational issues?

I’ve had quite some worried parents approaching me, telling me about the behaviour of their children – how these youngsters stay at home, not working/studying, not contributing to the family/society, simply playing games or spending all their time online browsing or social-media-ing.

I used to think this is some psychological problems that I can do something to help. But as I progressed and when I looked at those generations before us, I see that it’s becoming a “trend”, that arises due to the development of our society.

Such problems never occur in our grandparents and parents’ generations. Why?

If they didn’t work hard, they were likely to starve to death, they probably wouldn’t survive. The big environment and society are in such a position that “you have no choice, you work, or you die.” (slightly exaggerated – but if you really approach them and ask them, this was indeed how they felt). So many of them worked hard, come up with great ideas and achieved great things.

What about the children of those parents that approached me?

Their parents are generally well-to-do, white collars, giving the best to these kids, best education, best material life, best experience etc. The kids get what they want, without much effort or any hard work. Why would they want to work (hard)? Why would they not just enjoy life? Why wake up at 6am, stuck in the traffic, do things that he might not enjoy for 8 hours every day? – while he can sleep in all he wants, do what he wants, while still get everything he needs to survive and also everything he wants?

I know this saying is rather simplified. But really, if you think I’m pointing finger to their parents, no I’m not. It’s how the society has developed into, of course more importantly there are problems with our education, when children think all they need is doing well in exams and nothing else. This is worse in the Eastern, Asian, Chinese societies, because parents, as long as they are still alive and capable, look after and even pay for their children, including adult children.

What can we do about this? What can parents do about this? How can I help the children of these worried parents? Or instead how can I help these worried parents to simply stop worrying about their adult children? And perhaps then the problem is solved? Because sometimes we care too much that this love does more harm than good.

 

Disclaimer: I surely ain’t talking about every youngster out there are like that, there are many that work hard (or not) and have great achievements…

Euthanasia

This is the first time I came across this word. Euthanasia.

It’s also called “mercy killing”, or “painless death.” This is the definition from google “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.”

I searched about it after hearing a patient telling me about “legalised suicide” in some countries. She isn’t depressed, but she was for quite a period of time. When she was thinking about ending her life and making plans about it, she came across this idea – that it’s legal in some countries and even some with the assistance of a physician. (You may read more about it on google, especially the Belgium’s “Euthanasia Act”).

She asked me, “isn’t that nice? So it wouldn’t be so painful. And less trial and error. Maybe it’s just a pill and it’s done”

I’m aware of quite a number of patients of high risk suicidal, yet they are still around because they are scared to do it or scared of pain. I’m thanking god that they are scared of pain and hence they are still around, and hence I still get to help them.

I asked her, “Joey, do you still want to end your life now?”

“No, but back then yes. I didn’t do it because I was scared, but it would be good if it’s legal and I can die painlessly” (N.B. even if it’s legal it’s under certain kind-of-strict conditions, it’s definitely not that simple)

“So now you are ok to live on?” “Yes”

“That’s the thing.” I explained to her, “Joey back then wanted to die. That was Joey with depression wanted to commit suicide. But does Joey (without depression) want to die?”

“Ehmm I guess no” (She’s no longer depressed now)

Actually that’s all I want to say today. You feel like there’s no purpose to live on, you want to die, you might even feel like a burden to your family, or it’s such a suffer living… But it’s you with depression (or other mental/physical problems) who are thinking so. It’s not you. It’s like when you’re enraged (very, very angry) you shout that you want a break up or a divorce, but you don’t mean it at all. You regret it later on. So when your emotion is not like the usual you, you can’t make the decision to take away your own life, it’s not (the original) you, yes it might feel so real, but no, you don’t mean it. So don’t do this. Please seek help. It can be treated, and you can be like many of my patients, who are grateful that they didn’t/couldn’t make that move.

 

Please give yourself a second chance. Malaysia suicide hotlines:

The Befrienders
03-7956 8144/ 03-7956 8145
www.befrienders.org.my

Life Line Association Malaysia
03-4265 7995
http://lifeline.org.my/cn/

Agape Counselling Center Malaysia
03-7785 5955 / 03-7781 0800
http://www.agape.org.my

Related read (in Chinese): 识别自杀的预警信号

Watching the Mind-Train

Meditation Exercise: The Mind-Train

Following my favourite Leaves on the Stream (see here), I am introducing another mindfulness exercise. It is an eye-closed exercise (though possible to do it with eyes opened when you are familiar), so please read the instruction first.

Imagine you are standing at a railway bridge gazing down at three sets of train tracks. A slow mining train is on each set of tracks moving away from you. Each train is composed of a string of little coach/car. Seemingly endless, all three chug slowly along underneath the bridge.

Now, as you look down, imagine that the train to the left carries only ore composed of sensations, perceptions, and emotions (e.g. sounds you hear, hot sensation you feel, sweaty palms, sadness you notice, itchiness you feel etc). The middle train carries only your thoughts (your evaluations, predictions, and self-conceptualisation etc). The train on your right carries your urges to act (e.g. your pull to look away, your urge to scratch your face or stop the exercise, your efforts to change the subject). Looking down on these three tracks can be seen as a metaphor for looking at your mind.

Now, find a comfortable chair to sit in for a while in a spot where you won’t be disturbed and you can be quiet. Begin the exercise by thinking of something you’ve been struggling with lately, then close your eyes and picture the three tracks. Your job will be to stay on the bridge and gaze down at these three trains moving away from you. Take at least 3 minutes just to watch what comes up for you.

Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it's not as simple in my imagination!)

Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it’s not as simple in my imagination!)

Are you a jealous person?

Think that you are always jealous? Think that your partner is always overly jealous and controlling? Obsessively checking his/her facebook/instagram? Always fighting because of “unimportant” persons? Constantly wondering what s/he is doing when he doesn’t reply to your message?

Here is a quiz on jealousy, it is possible to do it “on behalf of” your partner when you suspect that your partner might not be “healthily jealous” in your romantic relationship (yes, some level of jealousy is good and healthy to your relationship, but not when it turns detrimental to your relationship).

I do want to apologise that the questionnaire has assumed that every person is in a heterosexual relationship.

 

N.B. Feel free to contact me regarding the results by leaving your email in the form or leaving a comment below. However, I would say that the result of the questionnaire is not the main thing, instead, look at those items and find out if your partner’s or your jealousy is detrimental to your relationship, and if the answer is yes, do get in touch to find out what can be done.

Statistics: Smoking Status Among Malaysian Adults

  • In 2015, about 22.8% of Malaysian adults (aged >15) were smokers. (That’s more than 1 in every 5 adults!)
  • In 2011, 23.1% of Malaysian adults smoked, so yes, it had reduced slightly.
  • 43% of men and 1.4% of women smoked.
  • The prevalence among female smokers has increased from 1.0% in 2011 to 1.4% in 2015.
  • Among the smokers, a third (34.9%) smoked 25 or more cigarettes, 24.2% smoked 14-24 cigarettes, 18.5% smoked 10-14 cigarettes, 16.4% smoked 5-9 cigarettes and 5.9 smoked less than 5 cigarettes a day.
  • Among the three main races, the Malays had the highest prevalence at 24.6%, followed by the Indians at 19.7% and the Chinese at 15.4%.
  • Overall, 37.1% of Malaysian adults were exposed to secondhand smoke at home (not including children yet!)
  • More than half (52.3%) of adult smokers had tried to quit smoking in the past 12 months.
  • Smokeless cigarettes used has increased from 0.7% in 2011 to 10.9% in 2015.
  • (Worldwide) Tobacco use, a major preventable cause of premature death and diseases, kills 6 million people worldwide annually, 10% of these deaths were among non-smokers who were exposed to the second-hand cigarette smoke.

Unless otherwise stated, all these data were reported in 2015, retrieved from National Health & Morbidity Survey 2015. 

寻求关注 & 社交网站

记得大学时,在读到关于厌食症的时候,列在课本中的其中一个厌食症的原因是“寻求关注” (attention seeking)。当时候的第一个反应是,谁那么可怜,把自己弄这那样,就为了要别人的注意,要父母的照顾,要家人的陪伴(就算只是带她去看看医生而已)。毕业后的几年职业生涯中,我发现自己开始发现、并理解缺乏关注,正是引致很多心理问题的根源之一。

他人的关注,是人类作为群体动物需要的。想象要是一个人完全不需要别人的关注,没有因为别人的关注而快乐或满足,也没有因为缺乏别人的关注而失落或难受,那这个人将消失,从进化论而言,他也会绝种。

而缺乏归属感(sense of belonging),缺乏存在感的人,需要特别寻求别人的关注,可惜的是,我们给予任何一个人的注意力,似乎是与生俱来的,就像你看见一间餐厅,里头空无一人,其隔壁是个座无虚席的餐厅,你本能地会愿意走进隔壁这间… 我们给予别人的注意力,很多时候也是这样的,令人喜欢的人,越是令人喜欢,缺乏朋友的人,越是交不上新朋友。

所谓归属感,就是重视的人给予的正面的关注。所以如果一个家让你感到孤独寂寞,没有归属感,那很可能这个家(过去)没有给你正面的、你所需要的关注。

本来事情已经可以相当复杂,从年纪很小就说谎、青少年时期的叛逆,到厌食症、自残、抑郁症等,“缺乏关注”或“缺乏归属感”都很可能是诱因之一,这二十几年科技的发达,近十年社交媒体的普遍,让事情更复杂,更、难、搞!

社交网站使一切变得“方便”(也变得非常不真实)。你可以从中获得许多关注,你也可以自由地、“偷偷地”去关注其他人。

但是,在许多比较极端的情况里,如果没办法使别人喜欢我,那我宁可被讨厌、被生气、被害怕,我也不愿意被忽略,我也不愿意没有人关注我(因为至少当这些人在讨厌、生气、害怕我的时候,他们是正在关注我的!)

所以这些寂寞、不快乐、缺乏归属感的人,可以是危险的,可能造成伤害或犯罪。当然这也包括美国的大规模射击(mass shooting)。网络的出现,让缺乏归属感的人可以轻易地、快速地获得成千上万、甚至全世界的关注。或许我们应该停止“奖励”这些犯罪行为,因为他们要的,正是大家的关注(行为强化理论来说,这就是奖励)。

那我们该怎么办呢?该怎么应付这些缺乏归属感、寻求关注的人们呢?

不是在事故发生后,才去关注他们,这往往只强化了他们的不正常行为。而是在平时,放下手机、截断网络,面对面坐下,坦诚地交谈、关心彼此。或许这个文明病的处方,就是每天一小时,和你重视的人,get offline(离线)一起相处!