Blog

Category
  • Breath After Bipolar: Life After Being Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder Type I


    Photo by Michelle Fleur

    "What's it like to live with Bipolar?" - someone asked.

    After being diagnosed with bipolar, I could tell you all the different sorts of emotions I faced during that short time after being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I when I was in the Mental Health ward. Self-pity had also overwhelmed me. I asked God, "Why me again?" and, "What have I done now, God?". But I continued to find and muster up all the strength to face every single day, no matter how hard it was, and I learnt there are three main things I learnt about having Bipolar:

    There is hope for the future

    Taking risks and opening myself up to new opportunities to rebuild my future is one of the biggest thing. I've been given the opportunity this year to talk at a Vietnamese event in front of a crowd of up to 100 people about my life with Bipolar. I mentioned having dropped out from University more than three times, and yet I still find the strength and go through the pain of re-applying and entering again to fight for my education. I never give up my future just because of a diagnosis.

    There is a chance of recovering

    I am no doctor or medical professional, but if I believe I will recover; I will recover. I believe God placed me on this Earth for a purpose. Not to take everything that gets given to me, but to give back as much as I can through my suffering. It is worth all the pain. It is for the sake of telling my story and help as many people I can through my work.

     There is no more self-compassion

    I wake up. I get dressed. I find jobs. I find courses to enrol in that suitable. No matter how hard it is. I don't always have my head in the clouds, and I am motivated by my suffering to even face it and do something about it everyday. I believe there are periods where people will be in the deepest, and darkest pits of Depression or so and I used to be one of them. I am tackling each of my life goals one at a time, I know I want to be successful. I no longer feel sorry for myself and not just sit there and do nothing about it. Life is what you make of it, even after a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Type I. So don't give up.

  • 5 Reasons To Look Up And Be Hopeful


    Photo by @alexatepaper

    1. Because you are loved, and cherished

    Know that no matter how much emotional and mental pain you are in, someone out there is thinking about you. They accept you for who you are, they don't care how you wore your makeup that day, what you thought you said that might have sounded 'stupid' or 'bad'. You are accepted for who you are as a beautiful, human being.

    2. Because things will get better

    Know that you have a bright future ahead of you, and every challenge and milestone; small or big, it will shape you for who you are. You may feel deflated, tired, anxious from all the noises of life, and it's dragging you down but know that when you are dragged down to the point you can't get up, you will learn to crawl, yell, or even scream through the pain and get right up where you need.

    I wouldn't be here if I didn't go through the trials and tests that life throws at me, even it means going to hospital and be admitted into the mental health ward. The mental health ward tested my willpower and I didn't go by a day thinking, "I want to give up already". So I screamed, cried and even yelled through it if I needed to, to get the help I wanted.

    3. Because every challenge will make you stronger

    They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You are to the point you are ready to give up, you want the exit emergency door, you want to scream out and yell to the world why life has been so unfair to you and you don't understand why. 

    But you know what?

    Your 1% battery (like an iphone) lasts in the last very minute of time, you use it to get the help you want. You learn to master an episode of Depression or Bipolar. You know when you start feeling depressed and down and you seek help straight away, whether that's medical or from a family/friend. Your 1% willpower wins all. And at the end of the day, you become stronger.

    4. Because you have a story to tell

    Everyone has a story to tell, and you will inspire and empower those around you who may have gone through the same thing as you. You understand their journey of being diagnosed with mental illnesses and you empathise them and help them cause you know what it's like to be in the deepest, and darkest pits of despair. You believe in the art of story-telling and helping others.

    5. Because we are all in this together

    Our lives are limited to less than 100 years. Only some of us have the fate and luck to live to that long, but know that while we are all still living and breathing, there will be people who will help you with what you need, your destiny will change as soon as you believe it will get better. You have the support you want and need.

    So just look up, and be hopeful.

  • How I Won A Friendship With Negative 200 Dollars


    I received a distressed phone call early in the morning. It was one of my friends, who had a bad incident and experience. I was about to head to bed, and be knocked out from my medications I take for my Bipolar Disorder. I listened out in the phone call and tried to think of how I could help. As soon as my friend said she wanted to go home, and she tried contacting her boyfriend and family, but no one could pick up, I knew it was up to me to do something. 

    I didn't hesitate for even a moment at the time to call Uber and fetch her where she was over an hour away or so. I had absolutely no money in my account, my account was already in the negative. I thought to myself, what if my friend was about to go in danger? What if something happened to her and I didn't act in time when I could have?

    I wanted to sacrifice my money, which I hold so dearly (even though I don't have much!) every day and help a friend in need. Helping a friend/saving a life is more important than money and material things in life. After all, we are all in this world of madness together. Let's help each other out, and not be selfish in our own ways. 

    Though I do think that a lot of people may think I am stupid for making this decision in my life, and my financial planning is not as planned out as everyone else's. But I have no regrets. I have won and influenced a friend in a good way, and I would give all the money in the world to help a friend in need. By the grace of God, I will be able to overcome this financial madness I put upon myself in due time too.

  • Infinity Fashion Runway

    The Infinity Fashion Runway happened on November 25 this year, and guests were welcomed in from 7pm. Dazzled with Infiniti's luxury cars and tables filled with scrumptious cakes and desserts, it was an event I could not miss. Guests were entertained with a fabulous fashion show with different designers, ranging different styles such as from bridal, avant garde, ready to wear and to menswear as well. As guests entered the venue at Infiiniti, many photographers (runway and media wall) were readily able to capture the guests in their glamorous outfits. It was an overall fantastic night for everyone, and even guests were getting up on the runway to have their 'moment'. While some guests were entertained with a pop-up bar and delicious canapes, a pop-up photobooth was available and also a photoshoot area with a shimmering backdrop where guests can take photos of themselves at a unique backdrop. Here are some photos from the wonderful night:


    Above: Guests finding their seats


    Above: The shimmering beautiful backdrop for guests to use as a photoshoot



    Above: Details of a beautiful bridal dress

    Photography by Suzanne Dang

  • My Weight Loss and Gain Journey

    Photos of myself beginning from 2007 to 2016.

    I remember in 2007, I was a very insecure girl, not confident and always had issues with my own body. I compared my own image to other girls. I believed and told myself I had the 'worst' body in high school, no matter how much I would eat, my body seemed to never gain weight.

    Fast forward a few years, I had my first episode of Depression, and started on antidepressants. My body's metabolism started to slow down, and I (joyfully) watched as my body weight increased. As I became more sedated, and the dose's treatment for my mental illness increased, my appetite increased.

    But deep down, I was hurting and angry, and asked God why did He put me in this position? I was angry at God, and so I left my church for a while. I found myself to be in more emotional turmoil, having watched myself be admitted and discharged from hospital several times already.

    As I gained more weight, I found I wanted to battle with the modelling industry I was then in and help reshape the appropriate body image of models in the industry. And try to be a role-model for younger girls and people who were interested in modelling. I helped be a role-model and hopefully inspired those who wanted to try modelling. As of this year, I found myself started to having medication withdrawals. Withdrawals so bad that I couldn't eat, see all my friends for two months and crying almost every night, and in turn, I lost 7 kgs 'naturally'. But I ended up in hospital for a month as of recent.

    I want to reach out to especially young people, whether you are on antidepressants/pharmaceutical drugs or not, there will always be a silver lining. Bodies will always change physically, it is just inevitable. My journey has been a rollercoaster of a ride for sure, and although my memory is somewhat fragmented I feel at times due to the side effects of meds, at least I still have a story to tell.

    I try to tell myself these days that there's no such definition as a 'perfect' body. I pray to God that I will always remember these words, and I ask God for his spiritual covering and protection as my body will grow or/and shrink later on and that I don't have to be on these medications for the rest of my life, so I can live a 'natural' life.


    My current self. Taken in November 2016.

  • Dear Little Suzanne, What I Should Have Told You When You Were Younger


    Photo of Little Suzanne by Unknown

    Been wanting to post this one for a long time now, but the title idea just been sitting in my notes app for ages. Although I'm feeling really vulnerable, weak in the mind, body and soul recently, I want to try and use my own energies to making thoughtful, and genuine mental health content from now on, even it means sometimes posting every few months. My blog will always still be here for you all to access, no matter how much I feel I am struggling financially to maintain it anymore. It's a service I want to donate my time and money to.

    Not Everyone Who Smiles At You Is Your Friend

    Maintaining valuable, thoughtful and genuine friendships is a lot of hard work, so you learnt. It's more than building a number of so-called friends on Facebook. It's more than attending birthdays and showering your friends with gifts. It's about being there for them when they're angry, upset, or even crying. Or even worse, in a mental health crisis. 

    Having met friends who have been sweet to you in different forms of communication in the early stages of the friendship than backstabbing you in ways that you let yourself get affected and hurt. Life is not for the weak. Anyone who is not given the right tools to make meaningful friendships and relationships in times of weakness, be it professional, business or personal, they will suffer because of it. Suffering is everywhere as we can see portrayed in the news and media. Though through weakness, finding strength can be easily found. 

    Life Is A Fight But You're A Fighter

    Having lived for twenty-five years with still a roof over your head, food in your belly, hands and feet you can use, what else and more do you need and want? You fight for your mental health every day, it's a constant battle no one wants to have. You want to build mental health awareness and you are doing it. You have made efforts to make your first mental health conference work. Finding this niche in blogging was hard, but it's working for you.

    You are open to new things in life and with careful consideration of course. Whether that's in making new friendships, or in romance. You don't always verbally say and respond everything to people say. The worse thing that can happen is regretting something you say.

    Know People Will Genuinely Care About You

    Even it means they are not physically there for you all the time. You have been crying almost every day to yourself, and for other people who you feel you have affected their lives in ways. Know that someone is always there to give a small thought about you, it doesn't have to be a gesture or anything really. You have seen people lash out at each other cause of over a small disagreement but you don't let that affect you. You don't want to be that person who lashes out at others.

    You don't have to agree with every little thing your favourite people in the world say, but it's good to trust your first instincts when someone doesn't genuinely care about you. People will change over time and be kind and be true to yourself is vital. There's a difference in taking advantage of a vulnerable one is one thing, and genuinely caring is another.

  • How I Was "Let Out" From Psychiatric Ward Without Taking Any Meds


    Photo: Tuan Thai Photography

    I was recently hospitalised down in the psychiatric ward. Again. This isn't a secret guide or anything like that if you're purely interested in how "getting out" of the Psychiatric Ward, it's just my experience and each case and person is different from each other. I just want to give a few points on how I made it out of the psychiatric ward without taking no medications at all. 

    I was suffering from short-term memory loss (I lost my wallet twice this year), hair loss, shakiness in hands, and daily constipation from the medications I was taking for the past 6 years or so. 

    If you're not aware, the psychiatric ward is a really different place. I have met some of the most fascinating people (patients-wise) yet "scary" as well. In my last admission, I was wrongly accused of stealing of another patients' pants/leggings and I was shocked to hear that same very day that my roommate was told by that patient who accused me to steal my pants at night time when I am sleeping. This shook and scared me, I thought the patient/s were playing psychological games with me. I did the right thing straight away and told the nurse and the nurse in charge about what had happened. I don't argue with patients, I am polite to them but distrust them in most ways I would like to add.

    Anyway I didn't take my/any prescribed medications when I was in the ward. I had the right to refuse as I was a voluntary patient mainly. I know the nurses loved and respected me as a patient, I would help the Bed Warden with some tasks such as making beds for new admissions for example. They know I was kind, respectful and wouldn't hurt anyone. But the doctors and nurses would still prescribe and administer me medications whenever I told them I was "anxious" and not "calm". 

    I remember in my first admission I would learn to say things the doctors and nurses wanted to hear, take the medications they prescribed no matter informed I thought I was in taking the medications I was prescribed. But this time, I wanted to do things differently and Suzanne's way...of what I think is best for my body, and of course being aware of what the doctors and nurses tell me about medications and taking care of myself at the back of my mind. I am a grown adult, I have a lot of support from family and friends and sometimes it feels I am treated like a child in there (especially in the first few admissions). 

    So I decided to stop my medications cold turkey and I was discharged earlier this week. I am able to sleep better, I don't feel sedated when I take the night medications as I also love to burn the midnight oil and work at night on things I'm passionate about in life. I study full-time, and work as well. I have been able to maintain employment longer than I used to. 

    Just saying people don't realise how highly functional I am as a "mentally ill" person. 

    This time during the admission, my room was the cleaniest (so I was told by the nurses) out of all the mental health patients in the ward, I dressed well enough that people told me I looked like a doctor or/and nurse. It was quite hilarious actually.

  • Confessions Of A University Disability Student



    I accepted the past and know that there was no turning back (I don't live by regrets) in telling the GP seven or eight years ago that I've been feeling "suicidal", have a loss of appetite and my sleeping pattern has been getting worse and worse. I simply diagnosed myself with "Depression" during that time when I was nineteen years old. I had been failing my University subjects for nursing, that the next year or so, I was finally excluded from the program and school. 

    A spiralling tunnel of darkness going down overwhelmed me.

    I had no hope in studying again for a few months, I did not know what to say to my grandparents who poured their hearts and soul in teaching me and supporting me the value of education. Sure, I still valued education, but I found it all too "difficult" to comprehend - the assignments and exams.

    But of course it's more than that. University life is more than...university. You need to find a way to maintain a balance of social life, family life, university life and most importantly, time for yourself to rejuvenate. Rejuvenation is the key to anything. As I am someone who wants to keep my loved ones happy, I do feel the pressure of putting on a mask sometimes and doing...things, to keep them happy. Back to being excluded from nursing, I had already failed the same nursing subject three times, and fast forward a few years; I attempted on taking Childcare then Photography then Fashion Design at TAFE Brisbane. 

    Failed all those courses too.

    It was an awful experience for me.

    My HECS debt was getting higher and higher.

    I would try and try again. But something was always wrong, and I would fail, academically.

    Until...

    ...until I found out about disability support at University/TAFE. Disability support was the most amazing discovery I have found up to date. With the disability support, you have to promise to yourself and be on the ball with things. I mean like, you have to book an appointment in early with a Disability Support Officer, include lots of medical documentations. I included my Clinical Neuropsychologist Report which cost me a fortune which I did when I was nineteen. The report and my current medications list, report from my therapist and psychiatrist helped me write a report how I am stable and managing my "illnesses" well. Also be on the ball with things in regards to updating your tutors and lecturers about how you're travelling. I did that this semester for my current University course (I am taking Korean and Sociology as majors) and I received tremendous help in regards to exam and assignmenta adjustments. Both universities I go to are very supportive. So make it clear with your tutors and lecturers about how you're going cause the only way to do well at University and graduate is to be active with your learning and know your strengths and weaknesses, which is what I did.

    Because of disability support, I have been receiving good grades too.

    Photography: Tuan Thai Photography

  • Why I'll Never Go To Sydney Fashion Week Again



    For someone who's been to too many fashion shows, I was still excited for my first fashion week in Sydney. Like, really excited that I won the supposingly VIP front row tickets given by the sponsors of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia - Quickstep and Sunglass Hut. I booked my flights down to Sydney even before the winner was announced for one of the sponsor's competition in hope that I would win, and I did, luckily. One was a photography (flatlay in particular) competition and the other one was "the most creative comment" competition.

    I won both competitions for two different runway shows. I was so happy. I would be astonished if I wasn't happy and surprised. 

    So this is only from my experience and I'm honestly reviewing the event from a one-day experience. I understand there will always be hiccups for the show and any trip you make in the world normally but honestly this was so un-called for and unfair I felt. I was fuming and furious (you could see it on my face at the time) that we were sat down not in front row even when the competition terms and conditions stated they were VIP Gold tickets. Apparently there was some "miscommunication in between IMG and the sponsors" and sponsors do not have front row seat tickets ever.

    Oh did I mention we weren't even given a proper seat, but a "standing" seat in the media riser which apparently "not many people would have the chance to see the show from this end". I thought it was a joke, in my honest opinion. 

    Anyway, with the VIP double passes, my friend and I ended up fighting and getting front row seats for one show. So that was OK, I guess. We couldn't be bothered fighting for the front row seats for the next show as apparently it was "sold out" amongst various other reasons too. I was tired, needed a soft drink, and just sick of arguing.

    The other rambling I want to say is, if you're reading this now to this part, do not go to next year's Blogger's High Tea...if there will be one. It was really unorganised, unprofessional and just wasn't good. I expected a much better event than what I experienced for a $125 ticket. The "top" guest blogger did not get a microphone and there were no speakers around and the blogger had to try (but failed) to speak on top of all the very loud surrounding noise in Carriageworks. I think they could have easily organised a small speaker and microphone or rather. So the "top" blogger had to talk to people in sections amongst the 25 people which wasted time and people had to go to runway shows soon. 

    As you can see, I wasn't happy with this year's fashion week. Maybe I'm judging it too hard as I only went one day. But oh well, my experience is experience I feel. I had high expectations, especially cause I flew down just for it and I am not particularly, I like to say, a financially well-off person. 

    I feel fashion week is, and will always be, very superficial and fake. Which of course I knew before I stepped into the fashion industry. And also with my outfit (I was going to wear something from my wardrobe and style it nicely together - I was quite content with that mind you) but I felt so pressured to go out and buy a new outfit from seeing the so many "stylish" people on Instagram photos during fashion week Sydney and it was all very intimidating.

    On the lighter note, I met many friendly people on the day I went for the fashion weekend. They were lovely and wanted to know what I do and stuff. Some were helpful, but some were not. Oh well. That is life for you. 


    Photos by: Ahmad Jamshidi Photography

  • Dating A Girl With A Mental Illness



    Make her feel beautiful every day you see her. Tell her that she's beautiful. Don't judge her for the cycles and seasons she goes through. Believe that part of her recovery is you being there with her through the storm. Understand and listen to her feelings and emotions. Don't be quick to judge her and tell her to snap out of it. Don't tell her to change her way of thinking. 

    She is a strong woman, for going through what she's experiencing.

    I speak from experience, and it's not an easy journey to date someone with mental health problems. Not saying you shouldn't date someone with mental health problems. A mental health problem is just like any other problem, like cancer and other physical problems. 

    My two year relationship was like an emotional rollercoaster for me, I was and still am a person who has low self-esteem. I act all confident on the outside but on the inside that is really the important part. I get jealous very easily. My partner at the time experienced many times where I approached him about him being unloyal to me. He's allowed to have female friends, as per normal. I felt I was the one to blame for being jealous. Jealousy is about you, I learnt. It's not about the other person and psychology studies shows that jealousy is exhibited from low self-esteem, and not trusting the person and among other things. 

    I would get jealous at the slightest things, my partner talking to his other female friends and when they're laughing together, I was perhaps, a bit delusional (I have been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder) and I would think they are purposely flirting with each other. It's like little things that makes me go mad.

    I don't know where I am going with this. It's just another blogpost with ramblings.

    Photography by Vee Photography