Thursday, June 14, 2018


I went to the Institute of Mental Health this morning, accompanied by Viv. I told the doctor, who was a Singaporean Chinese male (which may or may not have contributed to his diagnosis), everything I had been feeling, and he says from what I told him, he doesn't think I am depressed. I haven't been feeling tired enough to remove myself from work and not participate in life, I still eat, and most importantly, I have not harmed myself despite feeling a lack of enthusiasm for life and living, so I am not in need of immediate attention. When he asked whether I had ever gotten into trouble with the police, I said my mum disapproves of me and she is a police officer. He clearly hadn't expected it and he guffawed loudly, so then I wondered whether he thinks I am not depressed also because I was cracking jokes, although sometimes I think the funniest people are clearly the most depressed. That he doesn't think I have a mental illness was somewhat a relief, that he didn't even really make any appointment for me to see a therapist was not comforting. I will not assume to know better than a qualified mental health professional to say I am certifiably depressed, but I wonder if he thinks the default state in life is to be aimlessly wandering, that he doesn't even think it's a problem that I don't find life fulfilling. Also, like in most other social aspects, Singapore is most definitely lagging behind in mental health, so perhaps I should seek a second opinion. I told Viv and Ben my diagnosis, and they were both also surprised. I also told Ben the amount I paid for the session, I said it more to like be sarcastic about how useful it was (I paid XXX for him to tell me I'm not depressed), but Ben instantly sent the exact amount to me on PayPal. In USD! Which means I made a profit??? I told Viv this and we wondered if he really went to Harvard. Perhaps his certificate is forged, his Spanish module cert is definitely dubious.. I am kidding, of course, I suppose he really wanted a buffer just in case my finances are tight, but I am just always so pleasantly surprised that Ben is so kind and so reliable. In my previous experiences with men, they do not often measure up to your expectations, which are usually the bare minimum you'd expect of a decent human being. Three nights ago, my sisters did the sweetest, most wonderful thing. The youngest knocked on my door, then said the three of them had something to say to me in the living room. When I got there, they said they had decided to spend thirty minutes each day, to have sister time with me, to help me to feel less depressed so I wouldn't want to end my life. That was the most adorable thing so that's what we've been doing, we watched Aladdin and Mulan and Alex Strangelove on Netflix, on three consecutive nights. After my session today, Viv and I had breakfast then I went to her office and read while she worked, before my shift started.

I have been reading This Is What Inequality Looks Like, by a Chinese female sociologist and university professor at NUS, the top university in Singapore. It has been making waves on local social media and has been lauded by academics even in the US, for the parallels that you can find regarding inequalities in many nations. On the one hand, I am glad that all the privileged Chinese people on my island are finally paying attention. The Singapore government likes to pride itself on being clean and green and shiny, it refuses to acknowledge the deep cracks in the system, the fact that meritocracy is not meritocracy if the starting line is not the same. The professor who wrote the book sounds almost surprised, while doing her research, that there are many families who struggle in Singapore, who have to make do with letting all their kids sleep on a single mattress in a one-room flat, that some of them, some of us have bed bugs at home, that we have to boil water to have warm showers, et cetera et cetera. These families being discussed are unfortunately mostly of my race. Of course, recently I have subscribed to the notion that you shouldn't have kids unless you can afford to, but if rich people and poor people actually really subscribed to it, the rich would continue to perpetuate and the poor would die off through not much fault of their own, and that is a true injustice. Also, it is funny that this Chinese woman says it and suddenly it's like the gospel truth when it has been said by my people for decades, and only taken as whining and complaints. Look, if I had received the same education that she had, I would be just as eloquent, and I would have as much platform and agency. But no --- my people are not heard because they are not well-educated enough to air their grievances in a way that, somehow, I have been blessed that I am able to. For months and years, I have said that I want to improve myself, I want to study, or get a better job, or a better-paying job. People give me advice as if I haven't been trying, as if it doesn't depress me every time I am told I interviewed well and yet am still rejected. People, usually Chinese people with paper qualifications, tell me that firms are no longer looking at just certificates, but it's funny, because despite that being the only difference, I have still not managed to level up. Why, if companies really believe that degrees are not everything, have I not seen it in any action so far? I am a smart person and I am aware of this, so before you give me well-meaning advice to exploit this, that or the other, please give me enough credit by believing that I have tried, and failed, and tried and failed, again and again.

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