The pandemic has been an anxiety-inducing time, so you may have experienced more stress than usual. Many people have reported their highest levels of stress while facing fear, uncertainty, job insecurity, and grief. The prolonged stress has taken an unprecedented toll on our mental health, which can also affect our physical health.
When we are feeling stressed, our bodies produce stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that trigger our “fight or flight” response. This causes our heart rates and blood pressure to increase as our body prepares to protect us in an emergency. Long-term activation of the stress system overexposes us to stress hormones and disrupts our body’s processes.
The excessive hormones remain in our bloodstream for extended durations, even when we don’t require them anymore. You may have felt the effects of stress as a headache, heartburn, rapid breathing, pounding heart, and / or stomachache. These physical symptoms are our bodies response to the changes, which in turn, causes other internal changes and an imbalance in our hormones.
What is a hormonal imbalance?
A hormonal imbalance occurs when our bodies produce either too little or too much of a particular hormone. Hormone levels naturally fluctuate as we grow and pass different life stages; however, an imbalance in our hormones, especially for a prolonged time, can have negative effects on our overall health.
Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance include:
- Unexplained weight gain / weight loss
- Constant mood swings
- Skin problems (chronic acne / dry skin)
- Thinning hair / Widespread hair loss
- Irregular periods
- Decreased sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
Experiencing one or more of these symptoms can be an indication, but it does not guarantee that you have a hormonal imbalance. Please make an appointment with a doctor for a diagnostic test.
Other than stress and anxiety, there are numerous other causes of a hormonal imbalance, such as:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Medical treatments
- Excessive exercise
- Underlying health conditions (diabetes, thyroid problems, etc.)
To reduce stress and anxiety, try:
- Seeking professional help to manage stress and anxiety.
- Setting boundaries to achieve a better work-life balance.
- Improving your sleep hygiene and getting enough sleep.
- Maintaining a healthy balanced diet.
- Meditating and moving your body regularly to help with endocrine health.
There are two types of newly single people – those who are openly heartbroken and those who are openly trying to convince others (and themselves) that they’ve healed. Yes, healing looks different for everyone, but what’s the same for all of us is that healing isn’t linear.
Even after spending a weekend crying it out, you can’t expect to have removed the pain entirely – healing is an ongoing process of making it feel less intense and more manageable. One day you’ll embrace your newfound independence, the other you’ll experience fear and loneliness. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed!
Moving one step forward and three steps back still counts as progress. In an Instagram post by London-based integrative psychotherapist, Seerut K. Chawla MBACP, she compares healing to an old injury, which can sometimes still hurt after being significantly healed – that is the normal human experience after all.
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Here are 6 indicators of what healing really is:
You don’t avoid your feelings.
Healing and growth can only begin to take place when we finally address our feelings. It may seem easier to avoid our emotions, but then we’ll also have to deal with the difficult consequences of acting out. Healing takes away the power of pain, that makes avoidance seem necessary, and instead, allows you to sit with the discomfort.
You’re able to take accountability.
Taking accountability does not mean taking the blame, it means understanding the impact of your own actions on yourself and others. Reflect on your role in the relationship and choose healing over repeating past patterns unconsciously. We are not responsible for what others say or do, but we are fully responsible for ourselves and our actions.
You’re more patient with the process.
Like we mentioned above, healing isn’t linear. Once you accept it as an ever-changing process, you’ll be able to show yourself more compassion when times get rough. Remember that bad days are temporary and they still count as progress. Turn your feelings of powerlessness and helplessness into the realisation that moving forward is possible.
You blame yourself less.
Everything is not your fault. Know when to forgive yourself, especially if you’ve forgiven others, and break the habit of self-blame. Practice mindfulness to help you understand the situation better, and place the blame and responsibility where it actually belongs. If you still feel guilty, work on becoming more conscious of your patterns without judgement.
You understand your triggers.
Triggers are emotional reactions that show you where you need healing – avoiding them won’t help. Explore your emotional triggers in a safe space by revisiting the discomfort, and identifying what triggered you and how you responded. This will allow you to develop a healthier response and reduce the impact it has on you.
You’re able to set boundaries.
Begin prioritising self-care and self-compassion. When you start to heal, you’ll be able to clarify what is and isn’t your responsibility, set clearer boundaries and actually stick to them. Respected boundaries establish relationships that are emotionally healthy on all sides. Protect your emotional space with ease and kindness.
Finally! More people are becoming fully vaccinated, restrictions are starting to ease. But why do we feel more anxious than excited? This is what we’ve been waiting for. Are these butterflies in our stomach a combination of both?
First off, feeling nervous is totally normal. We’ve spent almost two years in lockdown, so our social skills haven’t been put to as much use. Even if you’re extroverted, it’s natural to feel uneasy about the idea of face-to-face interactions after being able to hide behind screens and appear in flattering lighting.
Secondly, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. Our economy and borders may have reopened, but daily COVID-19 cases have remained in the double digits. The fear continues with fully vaccinated people still being able to become infected and spread the virus to others (but it does reduce your risk of infection and the severity if you do get infected, so please get vaccinated!).
Over the lockdown period, these social worries and health concerns could have developed into social anxiety. Social anxiety is more than feeling nervous or uncomfortable, and may cause you to avoid all social contact. It can also lead to additional problems, such as substance abuse and depression.
What Is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder where an individual forms an overwhelming fear of social situations. This disorder is more than being shy or introverted. A lot of people struggle with social anxiety, making it hard for them to fit in at social gatherings, talk to new people, and participate in ongoing conversations. These persistent and intense social fears can cause increased feelings of unhappiness and loneliness.
What Are The Signs
Social anxiety can appear as emotional and physical responses, such as:
- Worrying about how people may perceive you in a social situation.
- The fear of being embarrassed.
- Feeling stressed over possibilities in upcoming events.
- Being scared of accidentally offending someone.
- Agreeing with everyone and suppressing personal opinions.
- Avoiding being the center of attention.
The physical symptoms to look out for are:
- Avoiding eye contact, social gatherings or interactions.
- Constantly cancelling plans.
- Shaky voice while communicating.
- Muscle tension and sweating in environments you’re unlikely to sweat.
- Sudden dizziness / lightheadedness, rapid heart rate or upset stomach in social situations.
How To Deal
Slowly ease yourself back into things.
- Even if your friends and family have been rushing to make plans, you can still take your time with filling up your social calendar. Don’t overwhelm yourself with back-to-back events, see how you feel after each gathering before planning the next one.
Plan ahead and prepare.
- Allow yourself to rest and take it easy before going out. If you’re afraid about not having anything to talk about, research a few topics beforehand and prepare yourself with easy conversation starters to avoid feeling awkward around others.
Learn relaxing breathing techniques.
- You can manage anxiety symptoms by learning how to control your breathing. Look for a relaxing technique that you’re comfortable with to help slow down your breathing. The basic technique is called 4-2-6 breathing: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and exhale for 6 seconds.
Follow the guidelines / standard operating procedures (SOP)
- Fully vaccinated people still need to be appropriately cautious and keep following the standard operating procedures, such as social distancing and wearing masks. Ease your fear and anxiety about COVID-19 by avoiding crowds and meeting up with your friends and family in well-ventilated places.
Set boundaries and share how you feel.
- Open up to your family and friends about how you’re feeling. Know your limits when it comes to socialising and share your boundaries with them. Make sure to maintain your boundaries and respect others’ boundaries too.
Seek professional help if needed.
- During this time, it is normal to experience anxiety to some extent. But, if your anxiety gets worse and starts to interfere with your day-to-day life, please seek professional help. Therapy and / or medication can help you cope.
The recent revelation made by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) on the cases of suicides recorded between January to May 2021, which amounted to 468, has turned the spotlight on the rising number of suicides amid the pandemic. In comparison to the annual total of 631 cases in 2020 and 609 cases in 2019, which averaged about two cases per day, this year, the average cases per day have almost doubled.
According to PDRM, the main reasons behind these incidents had been financial difficulties caused by debt, emotional pressure, and troubled family relationships.
The Ministry of Health meanwhile stated that in 2020, a total of 1,080 cases of persons who attempted suicide received treatment at government hospitals.
Director General of Health, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, issuing a statement noted that the pandemic has severely impacted the mental health of people. He had further noted that certain individuals are more susceptible to mental health problems when they are disconnected from their support networks, such as friends and family, due to the ongoing movement control orders, and would experience episodes of depression that could even lead to suicide.
Suicide Is Criminalised In Malaysia
Malaysia being a country with a Muslim majority considers it a sin to take any life including one’s own. Moreover, as an attempt to deter persons from taking their lives, the government has criminalised suicide under Section 309 of the Penal Code, where anyone who attempts to commit suicide and fails would be imprisoned for a term extending up to a year or imposed a fine or will be subjected to imprisonment and imposed a fine.
The law enacted in 1936 originated from the Indian Penal Code that was based on the British Common Law. While many other countries in the region that adopted the Colonial common law has by now repealed or has modified the section, we have yet to follow suite.
The country’s Psychiatric and Mental Health Services Operational Policy, while recognising suicide attempts as a mental health issue that needs treatment, indicates that when an individual who attempted suicide is referred for medical care, they should be placed under strict supervision until they are considered to be in a stable condition and would not harm themselves.
However, Section 309 does not indicate that the individual should be referred to medical or psychological care after or during sentencing. Which calls for its immediate repeal or appropriate modification by concerned citizens.
Since suicide is criminalised by law, it may also discourage individuals from reaching out to counselling services or suicide prevention helplines, fearing that their situation would be compromised and they would have to face legal action.
Decriminalising Suicide Is Suicide Prevention
For many years, the civil society, mental health specialists and various other non-governmental agencies have been pushing for the decriminalisation of suicide in Malaysia. Highlighting the importance of decriminalising suicide, and the progress that the authorities have made so far towards achieving it, Bar Council Law Reform & Special Areas Committee Co-Chairman and National Coalition of Mental Wellbeing member, Datuk Seri M. Ramachelvam, noted that; “The World Health Organisation has called upon the countries around the world to decriminalise suicide, therefore the moment is now, and we should not delay anymore”.
Adding that, in 2012 the government’s Law Reform Committee conducted a study on reviewing the penal code section 309, and in the same year the then Minister of Health had stated that suicide should be decriminalised.
Ramachelvam also stated that, in 2019, the Minister of Law had said that a bill would be presented in Parliament to repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code, which was supposed to have happened in 2020. While in 2020 the federal government had said that the Attorney General’s chamber was studying various jurisdictions on the issue of decriminalising suicide.
Ramachelvam further noted that; “People who are contemplating suicide or who have attempted suicide never gets reported to relevant mental health authorities through the doctors or family members. Because if the incident gets reported there will be a potential criminal charge over the person who attempted suicide and survived. The stigma caused by the criminalisation of the act itself can deter the individual from seeking and receiving mental health related care, counselling or rehabilitative care”.
According to Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Consultant Psychiatrist at the National University of Malaysia, Dr. Lai Fong Chan, criminalising suicide does not act as a deterrent to prevent somebody from attempting suicide, and can actually have a negative effect, as it marginalises people who are in distress, from accessing help from mental health services.
Adding that; “When someone is in acute suicidal crisis, somebody who is crying out for help in that distress, it’s unthinkable that you would dangle this punishment as a deterrent saying ‘you are going to prison’. Emotional distress is not best dealt with a prison sentence”.
Dr. Chan pointed out that there are already laws in place in the Mental Health Act that if someone is suspected to have mental health issues that puts the individual at risk of their own safety, PDRM and the registered social workers have the mandate to bring such persons to a mental health service provider or to a health service provider for assessment and care.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Befrienders at 03-76272929.
Sign and share this petition to decriminalise suicide in Malaysia.
Cheap, plentiful, bad for the environment – fast fashion is much like fast food. We crave the convenience that allows us to keep up with the latest trends in the age of social media. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a few fast fashion pieces, especially because there aren’t many affordable options available. The problem lies within throwaway culture.
Throwaway culture is the misuse of fast fashion. Only the wealthy used to have wear-it-once wardrobes, but now many are able to afford clothes as single-use purchases. The pressure to look good on social media has people viewing outfits as perishable and disposable. This has caused an estimated 85% of textiles to end up in landfills each year.
What Is Second Hand September
Oxfam, a global movement that’s working towards a world without poverty, sees second hand clothing as a way to protect the planet and help people beat poverty. Their 30-day campaign, Second Hand September, encourages consumers to form more sustainable shopping habits by only buying second hand clothing all month.
How To Get Involved
- Reduce your waste – Only buy what you’ll wear! Even if it’s second hand, ask yourself if you’ll wear it more than once. Be more intentional with your purchases and don’t be tempted by sales. Add it to your Wishlist first and see how you feel about it in a few days.
- Reuse pre-loved items – Shopping second hand is an affordable option that keeps clothes from ending up in landfills. If it’s a local business, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint and supporting small businesses, too!
- Recycle your unwanted clothes – Declutter your closet and divide your clothes into three categories: donate, sell, recycle. Don’t throw away items that are in poor condition, instead choose to recycle the fabrics.
Where To Buy & Sell
- Pre-loved clothing: Thryffy
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- Second hand books: Books N Bobs
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- Pre-owned electronics, fashion, home & living: Carousell
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- Malaysia’s largest online marketplace: Mudah
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Where To Donate
Nothing sparks creativity quite like boredom. When the Malaysian government announced the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020, it left many people in a state of lockdown limbo. However, some good that has come out of it is that instead of (or in addition to) falling into a consistent routine of Netflix and napping, people across the country started to take up new hobbies and generate another stream of income by turning them into a side business.
GlobalData saw a boom in the e-commerce market since the beginning of the pandemic. Just scroll through TikTok for 10 minutes and you will almost certainly come across a video promoting a small business with the hashtag #smallbusinesscheck. For some, these new businesses have kept them afloat during the pandemic, while for others, it has offered encouragement to start their own side businesses.
From crocheting and tufting, to handmade soaps and candles, you can build a complete home business using your creative skills. Here are 5 ideas to get you started:
Who doesn’t love handmade jewellery? It makes a great sentimental gift for your loved ones. Since it’s small and lightweight, it will be easy to pack and ship if you sell it online. The materials you can explore include polymer clay, gemstones, leather, beads and more.
@anaisbeachLet’s make clay together <3 follow my Instagram & depop @ cosmiccowboyy to see more #smallbusinesscheck #smallbuisnessuk #fyp #foryou #4u #clay #rings♬ hey lol – khaleel
With self-care rituals on the rise, soap and bath products have been trending, especially from brands that are vegan and cruelty-free. You can make a basic bar of soap, or buy moulds and dyes to create different shapes and colours. Not forgetting, you can experiment with scents as well.
@shopaswell🧼✨ #soapmaker #handmadesoap #businesstiktok #smallbusiness #blackowned #entrepreneur #fyp♬ original sound – eilagardis
Crochet / Tufting
If you enjoy crocheting and tufting, you can start selling your very own crochet bags, hats or even stylish coasters online. Tufting rugs has become a trend on TikTok, too – you can buy tufting guns and supplies from Tuftinasia and start creating your own personalised rugs.
@boredlaricrochet bag process🧚🏻 #crochet#bag#crocheting#fashion♬ straight people are not allowed to use this audio – evelyn
@tuftinasiaNot ready invest in a tufting fun? #tufttheworld #tuftgal #tuftinggun #punchneedle #punchneedlelove #rugmaking #rugtiktok♬ SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS – Oliver Heimach
Similar to soap, you can also make candles in a variety of shapes, colours and scents. To house your candle, create a polymer clay tray to match.
@wildgingermyWe made candle today! ##fyp ##fypmalaysia🇲🇾 ##candle ##candlemaking ##candlebusiness ##smallbusiness♬ original sound – maddie <3.
For this side hustle, you can either create content for individuals and businesses, or design and sell your own customised Instagram post templates on Canva.
@oliviakelliherAnother side hustle ANYONE can do #canva #redbubble #quityourjob #makemoneyonline #passiveincome♬ Falling – Trevor Daniel
Happy creating and experimenting!
When we think of racism, we think of the direct forms of racial discrimination – the intentionally harmful attitudes and actions that are done in public. But racism isn’t always explicit, in fact, covert racism, which is more subtle or even unintentional, is a much larger part of the problem. This requires us to address our own individual actions and internalized racism when working to dismantle systemic racism.
What Is Internalized Racism
Internalized racism is a form of subconscious, or conscious, negative feelings towards one’s own (oppressed) race / ethnicity. From colorism to sexism, these implicit biases are rooted in the negative societal beliefs that are taught to be accepted as a societal norm.
Examples Of Internalized Racism
The acceptance of a racial hierarchy can be seen in:
- Anglicizing your name.
- Deliberately trying to change your accent.
- Withdrawing from speaking your native language in public.
- Feeling ashamed of family members or friends who can’t speak English.
- Wanting Eurocentric features.
- Treating white and fairer people better than those with darker skin.
- Refusing to date or people within the same race.
- Avoiding cultural celebrations.
The Dangers Of Internalized Racism:
The internalized racism you hold within yourself may not be your fault (social structures, colonialism and the media have taught us to accept these ideologies), but it is your responsibility to unlearn them. It won’t be easy and will require humility, but ignoring these social constructs will only maintain racial supremacy – limiting growth and change for racial injustice and equality. These harmful behaviours and biases also support the division within races, as well as amongst other races, and prevents individuals and racial groups from authentically accepting and loving themselves and their culture.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- “Do I believe in the stereotypes about my own race and am trying to prove that I do not fall into the same group?”
- “Have I participated and contributed in racist conversations directed towards my own race?”
- “Do I only find people of other races beautiful / attractive?”
- “Have I tried to change the way I look or talk in order to fit in with another race?”
How To Combat Internalized Racism
The more we let our actions or words slide, the more we accept them. Instead:
- Educate yourself on your culture / ethnicity.
- Practice self-love towards the way you look and sound.
- Show more interest in your culture’s beliefs, practices, foods and celebrations.
- Speak up against racism towards your own race.
Kitakerja.my, a social initiative focusing on matching Malaysian jobseekers in the Bottom-40 (“B40”) income bracket to domestic employers, is calling for more Malaysians to join hands in building an ecosystem of jobseekers and employers while at the same time assisting in the economic recovery one job at a time.
Kitakerja.my is the brainchild of two young Malaysians pooling their resources together to help fellow Malaysians in the B40 bracket who lost their jobs.
Kitakerja.my co-founder Choong En Han said, “Over the past 18 months, our whole nation has been focused on two numbers, COVID-19 new cases and death rates, but there is another number that has slipped into our lives without many people realizing it, and that is the nation’s unemployment rate.”
There are more than 770,000 unemployed Malaysians now in the country according to the Department of Statistics June 2021 report. It was also reported that about 100,000 Malaysians lost their jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to former Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan in a report dated Dec. 9, 2020.
“We started kitakerja.my to give unemployed Malaysians primarily in the B40 income bracket a platform in which they can be matched to jobs offered by employers. Jobs have become scarcer given all the lockdowns we have endured since March 2020. Together with employers and jobseekers, we can assist each other while in our own way, help the economy to recover and progress, one job at a time,” Choong explained.
“We have seen firsthand how severely businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrenching employees is always the last resort for any business. We want to do our part in helping Malaysians affected by the pandemic to rebuild their lives, particularly those in the B40 group who are most vulnerable to financial shocks,” Choong added, “We need to act now and be a part of the solution and be the movement for a better Malaysia, otherwise, Malaysian household income levels will continue to deteriorate.”
Mohd Nizam Abdul Rahim, fellow co-founder who mooted the initiative with Choong, said, “Our resources are limited and we really need the help of fellow Malaysians who have the skills to help us build, promote and develop this initiative. Currently, kitakerja.my is matching jobseekers and employers manually but we are seeking solutions to automate the process.”
“We are inviting tech-based experts, trainers and Malaysians in general to become a part of this movement. If you have the skills and ideas to make kitakerja.my a better platform to help Malaysians in need, please talk to us. Your contribution can also be as simple as sharing our website kitakerja.my or message via WhatsApp to keep the conversation going.”
“Many are suffering silently, but it should not be this way. Malaysians should come together this time with the aim to rebuild the nation as we celebrate the country’s 64th National Day. Hopefully employers that are hiring could give our fellow Malaysians a chance in getting employed. With jobseekers being employed, the multiplier effect of increased private consumption would be kickstarted and ultimately everyone wins in the country,” Nizam said.
Besides matchings for B40 jobseekers, kitakerja.my also has plans to make them more employable through training and development programmes in which vocational skills will be emphasized.
Kitakerja.my is a nation-building and social initiative by Malaysians for Malaysians. Kitakerja.my will be a social enterprise once all the infrastructure is in place. Choong and Nizam are open to discussing possibilities that can help B40 jobseekers upskill or reskill. #jomkitakerjabersama
When I was in primary school, a classmate alerted me to the fact that there was something strange in my eyes. I mirrored his alarmed state and started freaking out, too, but quickly realised he was simply referring to the colour of my eyes. Due to my mixed heritage, I don’t look like a typical Malaysian and most definitely don’t look like a typical Malay.
Strange and unnecessary remarks about my appearance have followed me throughout my years in Malaysia. Almost like a dog following the scent of snacks hidden within the hands of its owner. Except that the racial comments I receive don’t ever feel like a treat – let alone a reward. As I attended a high school filled with (mainly) locals, I was actually repeatedly told that I’m ugly. With hindsight, I know that this remark probably stemmed from the fact that I did not look like my peers. As a teenager in the moment, though, my self-esteem was affected.
It seemed like I was never Malaysian enough despite the Malay (and Chinese) blood coursing through my veins. So, I assumed I would fit in easily in Germany but there, too, I was not German enough. This impacted my perception of self, specifically my self in relation to my cultural identity.
Exploring Malaysia & It’s Cultures
Initially, I rejected my culture because I was rejected by my local peers. Eventually, though, I realised how that only worsened the situation so I started embracing Malaysia and all its cultures – literally. From discovering Sarawakian history in Kuching to understanding Buddhist philosophy and researching almost every festivity, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of how diverse Malaysia truly is.
Yes, this diversity can create divides but it’s you who chooses how to address that divide. Will you choose to see others as ugly because they’re not like you? Or will you choose to find common ground – to understand how each of us claims Malaysia as home and how that bonds us?
Some Advice from Me to You
Biracial marriage is becoming more and more of a norm, resulting in more and more Malaysians growing up feeling alienated. To avoid feeling lonely within a crowd of people, I recommend:
- Learning about your culture but learning about the other cultures in Malaysia, too.
By doing this, you will be able to relate to almost everyone and can avoid feeling out of place.
- Find the similarities within each culture – for example, how every major religion within Malaysia preaches kindness.
If you are avoiding learning about your own culture or have preconceived notions about a specific culture in Malaysia, ask yourself why. You may be rejecting your culture the same way I was under the presumption that you will feel less attacked, or you may be acting the same way others have been acting towards you as a defence mechanism (believing a specific race or culture can only look/ act one way).
- Set boundaries – if someone is asking invasive questions or attacking your culture due to assuming you’re from another culture, then clearly express your discomfort.
I have personally experienced too many people asking me about my religious beliefs and if I practice this or that aspect of my culture. This has resulted in countless of moments of discomfort – why should I share a personal aspect of myself with a stranger who’s probably asking with the intention to judge? Remember, always express your discomfort in an understandable way (aka don’t be rude either) or change the topic if the person doesn’t get the hint.
- Seek mental health support if needed.
If you have suffered from a traumatic racial related incident then know that Wild Ginger has extensively shared information on easily accessible mental health support via the official Instagram! Alternatively, you can read this article which details normalising conversations about mental health or this article about how to tell your parents you want to go for therapy.
A birth of a child is often considered to be a blissful moment; yet, it can also trigger a sense of overwhelming emotions in new parents. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, what is commonly referred to as the ‘baby blues’ is normal and would pass within the first two weeks postpartum. However, this condition could progress into an episode of major depression known as postpartum depression (PPD), which can in return affect the mother’s ability to care for the newborn.
Although an estimated 1 in 7 women globally is said to experience PPD, a review revealed that the incidents of maternal PPD in Malaysia was at 6.8%-27.3%. Even with the recent increase in prevalence of PPD, the number of women seeking help in Malaysia for PPD is said to be far less.
The stigma of mental health issues is universal, but it is particularly prevalent in Asian countries. This causes PPD to be even more taboo and prevents women from seeking help for their struggles with depression. Mothers are pressured to be perfect, even new mothers, so the shame and embarrassment of admitting to what society sees as “weakness” forces them to suffer in silence. On top of that, mothers may feel guilty for experiencing negative feelings during what should be a joyous occasion, and downplay their own emotions.
What is Postpartum Depression?
PPD is a depressive illness that presents symptoms similar to depression in new mothers, including a low mood that lasts for more than two weeks. Based on the severity, the mother will struggle to look after herself and her baby. At times the person experiencing PPD will even find it difficult to manage simple tasks.
According to experts, symptoms of PPD generally develop after the first two weeks of childbirth and can last up to six months or even a year, while in some cases symptoms could also develop in the weeks prior to childbirth. PPD symptoms may differ from person to person, and the common symptoms can surface as a combination of emotions: anger and irritability, fatigue, excessive crying, finding it difficult to bond with the new-born, and being anxious.
While the heightened emotions of the mother can be attributed to the sudden shift in hormonal levels, experts also attribute that sleep deprivation plays a large role in causing PPD. As the mother adjusts with her new responsibilities to care for the baby, they tend to not get enough sleep, which impacts the way they function, how they feel and how mentally stable they could be.
Types of Postpartum Depression
Depending on the severity of symptoms, there are several types of PPD:
- Postpartum Blues: Affecting approximately 30%-80% of new mothers, this condition will only have a milder or short-term form of the disorder, where the symptoms displayed would range from sadness, crying, tiredness, insomnia and anxiety.
- Postpartum Anxiety: The mother would show symptoms of intense and chronic anxiety, where they would feel nervous and constantly worry that something bad would happen to the baby. These symptoms could last from weeks to months.
- Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Can occur during the prenatal period of the second trimester or one month after postpartum, where the mother would experience disturbing thoughts, imagine that the baby is in danger or would be extremely afraid to be left alone with the baby.
- Postpartum Panic Disorder: Postpartum anxiety that includes physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, tightening chest, hyperventilation, dizziness, weakness, and other extreme symptoms.
- Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This disorder can be triggered due to a traumatic incident the mother faced during childbirth or afterwards. The incident could range from emergency C-section, the baby being sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), complications experienced during childbirth or lack of support during delivery.
- Postpartum Psychosis: Although a rare and severe disorder, the symptoms of the person could drastically change from agitation to anxiety, which could lead to memory loss and confusion, causing hallucinations and the mother showing disinterest about the baby.
PPD left untreated could interfere with the mother and child bonding, and can also lead to family problems. It could also place a strain on the relationship with the baby and the partner. Moreover, PPD can also impact the development and behaviour of the child, which can have a long-term effect.
While any new mother could experience PPD, it is imperative to know who is more vulnerable to develop symptoms. It is advisable to seek assistance from a psychological counsellor if the mother has: a history of depression during or prior to pregnancy or is receiving treatment for depression; experienced PPD during a previous pregnancy; baby has health issues or other special needs; experienced strenuous events during the past year such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss; have family members who had depression or mental disorders; experiencing problems in their relationships with the spouse or partner; experiencing financial difficulties; or the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted.
The doctor could thereafter monitor the mother closely for signs and symptoms of depression and get the mother to respond to a depression-screening questionnaire during the pregnancy and after the delivery. The doctor might refer the parents to support groups, counselling sessions/ therapies, and if required, prescribe suitable antidepressants.
PPD is a serious mental health condition, but the lack of education, prevention and treatment has caused it be unrecognisable. According to a recent study, suicide is among the leading causes of deaths among new mothers, making it crucial for them to voice their concerns and seek help, as well as share their experiences and normalise the conversation. If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Befrienders at 03-76272929.
For most of us, social media is our main news source. Platforms have gone from photo-sharing to news-breaking, making news consumption more convenient and widespread. Current headlines and global issues are broken down into bite-sized content, which allows people to stay up-to-date, but they aren’t informative enough. To inform ourselves better, we must seek out quality sources of information that are varied and reliable. Podcasts and short videos are a great way to learn more about what’s happening in the world, but a more in-depth resource would be documentaries.
Documentaries make it easier for us to explore global issues. Through compelling real-life stories and expert insights, you’re able to develop a well-rounded base of knowledge and broaden your perspective. All you have to do is sit back and watch! But before you’re able to dive into a documentary, it can be difficult to navigate the sea of choices. There are so many topics to choose from and even more titles to browse through.
If you’ve read the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the United Nations called climate change a “code red for humanity”. This makes the issue of sustainability more pressing than ever as we prepare for the rapid and intensifying levels of warming in the coming decades. To help you learn more about sustainability and familiarize yourself with the current environmental concerns, we’ve compiled a list of five must-see documentaries on Netflix. These films tackle the world’s biggest environmental problems and provide potential solutions that you can implement.
Did you know that animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution? Cowspiracy exposes why the destructive industry remains unchallenged and highlights the devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.
A Plastic Ocean (2016)
A deep dive into plastic pollution, this adventure documentary investigates the worrying impact it has on the world’s oceans. A Plastic Ocean also offers solutions to our overdependence on plastic, which makes up 80% of ocean plastic and breaks down into harmful microplastics.
Brave Blue World (2020)
A more hopeful documentary, Brave Blue World shines an optimistic light on water scarcity by showcasing the new technologies and innovations that could solve the problem. From reuse to energy generation, it gives us an early look to a future for sustainable water.
Going beyond climate change, Breaking Boundaries covers a breadth of environmental issues that are causing the Earth’s biodiversity to collapse. Although it is a glaring reminder of our negative impact on the planet, it does share the steps we can take to help turn things around.
Kiss The Ground (2020)
Another hopeful documentary, Kiss The Ground shares the first viable solution to climate change: Regenerative Agriculture. This approach to farming looks at the potential soil has to preserve the planet, and viewers are provided with practical guidance to join in on the action.
Bonus Watch: Read our breakdown of Seaspiracy here!
When you think of your inner child, you may think of the part of yourself that still enjoys sugary cereals and cartoons on the weekends, but it also embodies other aspects of the child you once were. We all have unresolved emotional experiences that we carry into adulthood from feeling unloved or unsafe to not being able to express our authentic selves as a child. It manifests in our adult lives because most of us were not taught how to process these experiences.
As children, we learned how to behave in order to receive love and attention from our caregivers. They may not have separated our emotions from our behaviour, teaching us that unquestionable obedience was ‘good behavior’ and expressing our feelings was ‘bad’ behaviour. Instead of learning how to deal with negative emotions, we were taught to suppress them, as well as other parts of ourselves, to make our parents happy.
Wounded Inner Child
These unprocessed feelings grow into a wounded inner child that lives on in our unconscious. It can be seen in the way we carry ourselves and the relationships we have as adults. Here are some signs that your inner child needs healing:
- You find it hard to say “no” and set healthy boundaries.
- You seek external validation and lose yourself in an attempt to gain approval from others.
- You deny or dismiss your feelings and emotions.
- You are unable to control your feelings because your emotions overwhelm you.
- You look for partners who can ‘fix’ or ‘save’ you.
- You micromanage your partner.
A wounded inner child needs to be nurtured with healthy self-help techniques. By reparenting yourself, you’ll be able to provide yourself with the needs you required as a child. This could mean allowing yourself to show up as your true self, celebrating your accomplishments, or helping yourself feel safe. You can reparent yourself by:
- Acknowledging your pain.
- Practicing kind self-talk.
- Showing yourself compassion when you make a mistake.
- Repeating positive affirmations to yourself regularly.
- Allowing yourself time to play and rest.
- Keeping one small promise to yourself everyday.
- Speaking your truth.
If we don’t reparent ourselves, we may form unhealthy relationships and attachments in an attempt to meet these needs. This can cause more harm as our happiness and well-being becomes dependent on someone or something else. Only we can heal these wounds and satisfy our own needs. Try these self-care ideas from The Mind Faculty to get started on your reparenting journey:
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- Journal Prompts
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