Karin's story - My support system

"I think sometimes it's nice to have your own ways to deal, instead of just having a support system."

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Aarushi: Hey, Karin. Thank you for joining this call. Let's start with your life before you were intentional about gratitude, what place were you in emotionally?

Karin: I think I was pretty lost. I wasn't really sure what I was really doing with my life. I felt like I was stuck in a place. I wasn't sure if I enjoyed my job and I was thinking about leaving.

I used to be someone who overthinks a lot of things. I think I was really bored one day. And then I just saw a recommended app, which was Gratitude then so I started using it more.

And then I realized that it did help me to change my perception and focus more on the positive and being in the moment, instead of always worrying about the past or the future.

Aarushi: And you said that you felt lost and used to overthink? Can you tell us about that phase a bit more?

Karin: I think it started for me in college. I think when I was in high school, I felt I was more outgoing and more extroverted.

And then in college, I was doing a Diploma in Media and Communications, and there were a lot of outgoing, extroverted people. So I felt like I became introverted after that.

I think when it initially started, I managed to actually gain more confidence, but it slowly dipped down after that. I got really stressed out about everything. And I think I developed some kind of anxiety there.

I started to overthink a lot of things also. And I had a crush on this guy and he was in my class. So then I got very stressed out every time when there were group presentations.

I just felt very anxious about a lot of things. Also my mom's traditional and old-fashioned. So the thing with relationships is that she didn't want me to start one.

So there's more of that thing that I have to consider when I'm still studying and then think of a relationship that has been added to it. I think since then I've been dealing with anxiety and depression. I mean, it's not officially diagnosed or anything.

After university, I started to seek help. So I started counseling for a few months. I was mainly just talking to my counselor about all these types of things. I think it got slightly better.

And then I kind of stopped when I started work, because I had less time, so I didn't have time to go for counseling. Without my counselor, I had to figure out other ways to do it alone. I think this gratitude thing really did help me to get myself back on track.

Aarushi: When you had time to seek counseling, how was that experience for you? How did that help you?

Karin: I think it was nice to finally have someone professional to talk to apart from talking to friends. Because you feel sometimes you're leaving them with all your troubles and everything, especially if they are not in a good place.

You feel bad about bringing your own things. And then if they are in a good place, you feel bad about bringing them down. Yeah, so I thought it was nice talking to someone else.

And then she can give you more professional advice in a way and identify some problems and other things. And then actually, I think it was the start of this year that I also tried on psychology. I went to a psychologist.

But I felt it wasn't that helpful for me personally, or maybe she wasn't the right one at that point. She was using different techniques than my counselor. She wanted to focus more on behaviors and attitudes.

So I think for me counseling and just talking to someone helped.

Aarushi: Yeah, you're right. Even when we seek therapy, it's essential to find someone who just works for us. Some people have bad experiences, and then they don't want to try again.

And back in university, you said that you weren't clinically diagnosed that you had anxiety and depression. But how did you how did they know that this? I mean, of course, you must have been going through a hard time. How did you think - "I know, I'm not diagnosed but I think this is what is happening to me."

Karin: I wasn't very sure how exactly it started. But I started to Google the symptoms. And thought, "Hey, that sounds a lot like me."

Aarushi: I relate to that. So, how did you come to this point of downloading the app? Did you read some articles, or some books?

Karin: I think for me, it was more of Instagram, because I followed some of those anxiety accounts, helping accounts, that sort of thing. They mention gratitude a bit also. So I don't know, it just somehow appeared on my recommended apps.

Aarushi: Instagram accounts are so great. I also follow quite a lot. There's Depression Project, there is Anxiety Positive, My Self-love Supply, they help a lot. Alright, so you download the app, how long has it been?

Karin: I think it's been a few months only actually. I started sometime this year.

Aarushi: You said that it helped you out. How did your thinking change, or what improvements you started noticing in yourself?

Karin: I think it really helps because even for my counseling, it will be once a month type of thing. So it's like, during the other 29, 30 days of the month, I can't really talk about it, so I think having this app helped me to focus my mind more on the positives.

And I think with your prompts it's more positive. So it helps me to kind of reflect on the good parts of the day, the good parts of my life, instead of focusing on the bad.

It also reminds me of what I have now, and how much I've changed and grown over the past few years and months. So I think it's been a huge help.

Aarushi: That's beautiful. I'm so glad the app is able to help you. And have you had any support systems in your friend circle or family who've inspired you to help yourself or have supported you?

Karin: I think it's mostly my friends, honestly. Initially, when I started counseling, I didn't tell my parents about it. Yeah, I think in Asian families as well, I think it's a bit hard to talk about mental health.

And I'm from Singapore. And here mental health is still a taboo topic. And it's still not very openly talked about. And I think there's a lot of people that don't wish to be open about it, because we are also afraid that if you officially seek help, then it will be in your records.

And then when you look for a job, it's going to be very troublesome after that. So that's why I didn't go to psychologists or psychiatrists at first. I started with counseling, it's kind of private.

It's a bit hard, but the thing is also that there are mental health problems within my family. I think my mom's sister actually does reflect depression that I've seen previously. So it confuses me that she's not very open bout it considering her sister has been through it.

And then my dad is more closed off about it also and doesn't see it as a real, serious issue that I'm dealing with. So it's my friends. They are more open about it. I think talking to them about it helps to know that there are other people who go through this.

And I think back then in college, you feel like you're the only person that's going through all this because you feel like everyone's super happy. And then especially on social media, everything's very positive and happy.

But when you actually get to talk to them, you realize that "Oh, okay, you're not the only one dealing with all this thing, everyone's just hiding it inside."

So I think is good that I do have good friends to talk to about all this stuff. But, you know, during those times, when you're really in a bad mood, you're stuck, you're more sensitive during those moments.

And, when you're confiding in your friends, sometimes you start to wonder whether you're being a bit too much for them also. Like, whether I'm stressing them out with my stress and being so negative.

So, yeah, I think sometimes it's nice to have your own ways to deal with it, instead of just having that support system. And if your support system falls apart, you're gonna fall apart even more.

Aarushi: So my last question would be, do you think it's important for everyone to feel gratitude intentionally? Like for families, for example, your family, your parents or aunt, do you they should also start practicing gratitude?

Karin: I think so. I feel like we as humans, in general, we're not grateful enough. Sometimes we just focus on the really bad parts, on what goes wrong, and then we don't realize what goes right.

I think even at work, sometimes I feel underappreciated. It's like all the things that you do, and then no one thanks you for it, but when it goes wrong, they come after you for it.

So when the positive happens, no one gives you anything about it. I feel that sometimes people are not grateful enough.

And it's kind of tiring to always focus on the bad also. For the person focusing on it, and for the other person dealing with it as well. So it would be great if we are more grateful in general.

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