- What made you become a nurse, which is predominantly a female profession?
It was my last choice because I wanted to go into psychology. Then I thought if I took up nursing, I could learn how to look after my parents as they got older. At the same time, my mum was suffering from schizophrenia and hallucinations and that’s when I took a leap of faith and got into this field to communicate better with her and learn more about her condition.
- How did it feel growing up with a mum with schizophrenia?
Well she left when I was seven and I didn’t really know about her condition. Before that she was
actually working. My dad & her worked shifts to take turns look after me. Hence my Dad wasn’t able to monitor her medication. At the same time her cousin tried to manipulate her into thinking my Dad had worked black magic on her. I noticed my mum would be on the phone every night with her. This scared her and eventually caused her to run away from home. It happened when we were waiting for her at home after coming back from buying dinner. We gave her call and she said she’d be back home shortly so we waited patiently. Past midnight we were told my mum was not contactable. I felt nauseated and started to cry. This led me to nursing.
- How did you finally end up with a diploma in Nursing?
Long story short, I went to Nanyang Polytechnic to enrol in Nursing as it was the option given to me on my result slip.
- Tell me about that day your mum left. Did she ever come back?
No she never came back. My Dad received a divorce letter from her about 1 month after.
- When did you get to see her again?
When my Dad eventually got custody and my mum was allowed to see me once a week which has been the case ever since.
- Is she on treatment?
Yes she gets a jab every month however she’s not compliant to oral meds due to her belief that she’s well and her fear of the medications having serious side effects on her.
- What’s her behavior like?
Well schizophrenics suffer from a symptom known as hoarding, which she does. She keeps unnecessary things she sees as treasures. Anything her mind tells her is worth holding on to. My mum keeps lots of newspapers and clothing. Even male underwear and teddy bears. I go to her house once in awhile and clear some of these things. When she her relapses, she starts to curse and swear at both my dad and I for the needs we do not meet. An example would be demanding money from us.
- Are you the only one helping her?
My dad has been helping her by giving her money and advising her. She also has her 3rd sister who’s very helpful. She visits my mother when she gets admitted to hospital and ‘lends’ her money to pay off her HDB bills.
- How has your mum’s condition affected your personal life?
I felt awkward when I was younger. Like when we went out she would talk to herself during her relapses. But once I put myself through nursing, I recognized these as symptoms and not to disrupt her. Before I was afraid to bring her out of Tampines and certain areas close to her or me but now that I’ve learned so much about her condition I just bring her anywhere.
- What other challenges in life has growing with this unique situation help you overcome?
I would say that during my primary school days, I was teased for being motherless and I was bullied. But I’ve learnt that I can’t depend on these external validations to give me confidence and a healthy self-esteem. I realized that some of these challenges are still present at my workplace or in my personal life but I just have to respect myself and keep moving forward. No giving up.
- When was the turning point?
The turning point was when I asked myself who would take care of my family if I gave up on life. That thought made me change. It took me awhile. Only when I was done with NS did I learn more about myself. I also had a friend who also introduced me to self-help books which I read and I applied accordingly.
- You started relatively young?
Yes I was lucky I started young because it’s easier to remember what you read and learn at a younger age. My daily routines started to change. I picked up a different way of life from motivational websites like Addicted2Success by Joel Brown as well as books from T. Harv Eker and Anthony Robbins. I push myself to the limit with the aim to be really successful in life to give back to society, my family and myself.
- Is nursing your dream job?
To be honest, I kinda like my job. The job scope is not too stressful and is interesting. However, the end goal is to become a motivational speaker and life coach like Anthony Robbins. I’m learning about public speaking. I would like to have my own seminar and workshops in years to come.
- Do you have a mantra you live by?
Yes. Aspire to inspire before I expire. Be more, do more, have more and give more. To create my own legacy before I die.