Thursday, 2 August 2012

Insight 11: Looking at the World Through Orange Sunglasses

I have a Hoya orange filter and I’ve always wanted to experiment shooting colour photos with it. Orange filters are used to either increase the contrast of black & white photos or to dramatise sunscapes.
I’ve tried using an orange filter and a circular polariser filter (CPL) on the same subject and the resulting black & white photo is very similar. A CPL is like a pair of dark sunglasses and it’s very useful for shooting shiny objects like a lake or glass buildings that are lit by a strong sunlight. It can also up bring up the contrast in your photos. In fact when I’m shooting on black & white film I’d prefer to use a CPL because the blacks and the whites are highlighted through my viewfinder.

The above is an example of a CPL in action.
Two weeks ago I took my camera out to see what colour photos will work with an orange filter.

I’ve noticed that the orange filter enhances the greens especially when it’s coming from a fluorescent light source eg. the top of the fridge. The result is a feeling of danger which you can apply to urban settings.

Besides the greens, the reds are also enhanced. If I didn’t use my orange filter the wooden beams will not be so striking.
Feel free to ask me any questions about photography. I’m not an expert but I’ll share with you what I know about photographing on film and on digital.
P.S. I also know a little bit about cinematography (oops, I’m showing off here!)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Insight 10: Fainting Spells Caused by Quetiapine

The worst side effect that I get from Quetiapine is fainting spells.
I was prescribed with 250mg of Quetiapine about one and a half years ago. It’s the strongest hypnotic drug that I’ve taken and that’s coming from someone who has used and abused a multitude of sleeping pills. I take it after dinner and within 45 minutes I will yawn continuously. After an hour I’ll be fast asleep and I can sleep up to 16 hours when I was on that dosage.
Once I was reading the newspapers on the floor and I stood up to switch on the fan. My vision turned to complete darkness and I felt like I was going to faint. Then my heart started pounding rapidly and I was really afraid because there was nobody at home. Fortunately I didn’t pass out but it was a frightful experience. The thing is that I’ve never fainted before and I don’t have a low blood pressure.
Then there was a time when I had a can of Coke during dinner. I took Quetiapine after that and I watched TV on my couch. When I stood up to go to bed I felt like fainting yet again.
My doctor has reduced the dosage to 125mg about three months ago because he felt that I was sleeping way too much. I started having bouts of insomnia where I would get up at 1 or 2 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep after that.
About 4 weeks ago I felt extremely tired, took my pills and watched TV. I felt hungry so I stood up and walked towards the fridge. All I could see was blackness and I really thought that was it - I’m going to faint. Luckily I didn’t so I ditched the idea of having a snack and went straight to bed.
I spoke to my doctor 2 days ago about this. He told me that one of the side effects of Quetiapine is that it could cause a person’s blood pressure to fall. Even a 125mg dosage could make a patient faint. His advice is to avoid sudden changes in body movement after taking Quetiapine.
In other words, try to get up slowly from the couch or the floor once you’ve taken Quetiapine.
Photo credit

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Insight 09: Lunatic for Hire

I’ve been looking for a job for 2 months now but to no avail. I’ve agreed with my doctor to look for a 9-5 job so that I can a regular schedule rather than the round-the-clock creative work that I’m used to. So I decided to apply for a temporary admin position through 6 recruitment agencies but I’ve not heard a word from them. They either think that I’m overqualified, don’t have the relevant admin experience or I’m crazy, which they’re right in all accounts.
I have more than a decade of experience in advertising. I worked in one of the largest multinational agencies and later moved on to startup my own video production house. It took me 3 years to build its credentials up to the point of having clients that kept me busy 24/7.
I had my share of mania and depression throughout that time. When I’m manic I’ll be screaming down the highway with my mobile phone in one hand whilst I’m negotiating budgets and schedules with a producer. On the flipside I was so depressed that I was frowning throughout a shoot that had very hot models in it. Chatting them up and trying to get them into bed was the furthest thing on my mind. I wanted to wrap it up soonest possible so that I could go home, get drunk and sleep.
After 3 years of ups and downs I was exhausted so I decided to close shop. I bummed around for a few months and then rejoined Big Agency. Mania was my constant companion and I became very brash up to the point of smoking weed at the office car park. A colleague could tell that I was stoned so he spoke to my boss about it. My boss asked me for a full medical checkup. I told him that it wasn’t necessary because I’ll ask my psychiatrist to write a letter to him. Bad mistake. After knowing that I had bipolar disorder my boss put me in cold storage. I left the agency without a word.
Then I became a part-time photographer, part-time triathlete and full-time bum for 2 and half years. That’s the issue that I’m facing now; how to explain that huge void in my CV. That problem has grown slightly bigger now that I’ve decided to apply for managerial and directorial positions. It’s not that I don’t have the relevant experience nor the qualifications. It’s about explaining how I’ve been on sabbatical for that long period of time. I’m torn in between telling the truth and fabricating it on paper. I’ll speak with my doctor about it tomorrow.
P.S. I’ll leave you with a photo to that I’ve shot to symbolise how I’ll feel when I get a job.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Where are you Lotte?

Whilst I was tweeting last night I chanced upon @nuttylotte. Her description reads “Bi Polar, Eating Disordered, Self Harmer who has a number of other Mental Health Issues.”
I watched her video blog on YouTube and I was touched by her bravery, honesty and sense of humour.

Her last tweet was on 27th October last year and it reads “Been sectioned, section 3, currently running away from ambulance crew n social worker. Fuck”
If I could pray for you I would but I’m agnostic so all I can do is to wish that you’re OK wherever you are Lotte.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Insight 08: How fast can a slow loris run?

The answer is not very fast, especially when he’s fat!
At the peak of my fitness I could run 32 kilometers without stopping. Unfortunately depression has made me gain 16kgs and robbed my enthusiasm for any form of exercise. When I tried to run again I could only manage 800 meters and I’d run of breath. I felt pathetic and I’d walk home disappointed.
My mood started to pick up lately and I went out for a walk in the park on a daily basis. I didn’t dare to run because I was afraid that I’d feel disappointed again. I’ve also been cutting down my intake of carbohydrates but after a month of this routine I’ve found that I didn’t even manage to lose 1kg.
So I thought what the heck and I’ve been running for the past 4 days. I told myself that I’ll take it easy and I’ll slow down to a walking pace whenever I felt tired. It didn’t matter how fast or how far I could run, as long as I could keep this up on a daily basis it’ll be an achievement.

When I was running this morning the only voices that I’ve heard are from the crickets. It was so serene. I saw a bunch of white flowers that have fallen from the rain last night. I picked one up and smelled it. That’s something that I’ve never done before.
I went home not as a slow loris, but as happy as a clam!
P.S. I’ll leave you with some photos of my favourite park which I’ve shot on black & white film a couple of years ago.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Insight 07: I’ll show you my scars so you won’t have to

I got these scars one and a half years ago. I was majorly depressed, so much so that I mixed a strip of sleeping pills with beer and cycled 40 kilometers. I crashed so many times that I couldn’t even remember where I crashed and which day it happened. I was addicted to the bastardly concoction and it made me so delusional that I got back on my bike day after day.
Before the depression, I was so manic that I thought I was bloody Lance Armstrong himself. I had his sunglasses, helmet, jersey and wristband. If I could’ve afford it, I’d buy the same bike that Lance used. $14,000 would have wiped out my savings so I bought a lower range Trek bike and tried spraying a yellow livery on it. My good friend was concerned and she told me “You’re not him you know…” I told her even if I trained a hundred years I could never be as fit as Lance. I was lying to myself – I wanted to be like him.
Every day I would get up at 4 a.m. and go to my favourite cycling route. As I’ve mentioned it’s 40 kilometers long and that includes a 10 kilometer hill climb. Lance Armstrong was a hill-climbing specialist so I desperately wanted to conquer the hill in the least amount of time possible. I set a target of 30 minutes to get to top and for weeks I couldn’t reach my goal. I’d go home feeling frustrated, have a nap and then go for a 10 kilometer run as I was also training for a full marathon.
All of a sudden I was struck by depression. It was as if someone just switched off the light bulb in my head. I couldn’t comprehend why I was depressed because I had the means to support my rolling-stone lifestyle and I felt closer to my friends than ever before. I thought maybe it’s because I couldn’t conquer that bloody hill so I tried every trick in the book but I still failed. I was exhausted and I started sleeping 8, 10, 12 hours a day.
In the end I slept 16 hours a day and became a recluse. I avoided my friends’ phone calls and I didn’t bother checking my Facebook. Even the thought of walking out of the house was too much for me. Then I started to drink and I hated myself for that because I was a teetotaler for 9 months prior. Beer didn’t pick up mood so I mixed it with sleeping pills and that’s the reason why I have these scars on my legs.
Right now I’m feeling fine and my thoughts are lucid. I’m able to look at the past and finally accept the fact that bipolar disorder is an illness that I can’t beat. I can only learn how to deal with it. Writing this blog has been helpful because I can look back at it and think “Hey, you’re not going to do that again are you?”
I hope you’ve found some insights in this post. Till next time, take care!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

What’s the green thingy I’m wearing?

It’s a ribbon that I’m wearing to show my support for Mental Health Awareness.
When I’m feeling depressed I’d call one my friends and ask him out for drinks. Slumped on the table I’d tell him that I feel really terrible. He’d ask me why. It’s not that I didn’t know why but I didn’t have the will to launch a grand lecture on how the chemical imbalance in my brain causes less serotonin cells to be released etc etc. So I’d just tell him that I’m depressed. He’d ask me why. I’d tell him I just am and I’d just continue to nurse my beer.
I can’t possibly blame my friend for not understanding. He probably thinks that depression is something that everyone goes through. If only he knows about clinical depression…
What about your employer? If you’d tell him that you have cancer he will probably say that he’s very sorry, you can take how many days off on paid leave and maybe the company can fork out some money for your medical expenses. But if you were to tell him that you’re feeling depressed and you can’t come into the office he’d probably say “Depressed my arse! If I don’t see your lazy behind in the office by 10 you’re fired!”
NGOs, policymakers, doctors, medical schools and the media have to work hand in hand to raise mental health awareness to the level where it ends the stigma of mental illnesses. It’s going to be a long and arduous task. But let us take the first step by wearing a green ribbon.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Fundamental 04: Laughter is the best supplementary medicine

It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed so hard.
Let me introduce you to Frank (aka. Diggy) @ADignorantium. Diggy is an American and a fervent player of #HashTagGames. My favourite Diggy anecdotes are:
“Mary Poppin' pills #PsychologyFilms”
“The Girl with the Dragon Palace Menu #LowBudgetSequels
“The Out-of-DownTowners #TouristTrapMovies ...starring Sandy-beach Dennis”
On the other side of the pond is Park Bench @dognabbit. His profile reads “Would-be comedian. Would-be engineer. Not to be confused with a Would-be Wood Bee.” Here are some of my favourite jokes from Park Bench:
“It's so disappointing when you scan your backside on the photocopier, as an office prank, and it automatically selects A3 paper.”
“Think I know why I'm so miserable. My girlfriend's full-cup bra is half empty.”
“Had an plan to sort out my finances this month, and not waste any money on recreational drugs, but it's all gone to pot.”
I’m sure laughter is what a good doctor would have ordered. But I have to warn you of the side-effects which include Twitter addiction and incontrollable hysterics!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Insight 06: I’m not alone!

It’s been exactly 20 days since I’ve started this blog and I’m happy to have found a few people that I can totally relate with.

I met Seaneen Molloy when I googled “bipolar blogs” and her site,, was listed in the top 10 by Psycentral. Seaneen is Northern Irish and a bipolar patient but what I like most about her is her dark humour. Recently she wrote about her father’s death and she designed a postcard which said “Happy Father’s Day! Sorry you’re dead.” I haven’t found another bipolar blogger that has a sense of humour quite like Seaneen’s.

Then I met Charlotte when I searched for “@bipolar” in Twitter. Charlotte is in her 30s and you guessed it, she’s diagnosed with bipolar too. In her blog,, she talks intimately about her life and her posts are well researched. We share a common issue – gaining weight while being prescribed with mood stabilisers which according her, made her lose motivation to exercise. I was once a fitness freak - I ran and cycled so much that I was as thin as a stick. Then I went through a long depression phase where even the thought of leaving my house was too much for me. So I’d put on 16kgs and now I have love handles that nobody loves. I’m glad to have found someone like Charlotte who’s going through the same motions as I am.

I also gained a follower called Pocket Riders via Twitter. Pocket Riders is a charity organisation that offers moral support to those who suffer from mental illness. One day I was feeling sick from loneliness so I thought of going to a tourist bar and talk to strangers. I tweeted Pocket Riders about it but being bipolar I was swinging back and forth on the idea. Finally I decided to go and it’s mainly because I told someone about it so I better come good on decision. When I was at the bar a Pocket Rider tweeted me and said that’s a great idea and asked me if I know where to find them when I need them next. I said “Yeah, right here in my pocket.” They replied “You could have had a dust out in here ;)” I laughed and went back a happy man.

Honestly I still feel miserable from time to time but at least now I’ve some people that I can relate with and also talk to. I’m definitely not alone!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Insight 05: Mania is my muse & my addiction

I had a good session with my doctor last Saturday. He’s happy with how my mood has picked up and how I’ve taken concrete steps to look for a job and to keep myself occupied. It has been a long journey as I was depressed for more than a year.
When I’m depressed I feel numb. When my sisters reach out to me I do not feel their love. When I eat I do not taste. When I speak I do not say anything. When I see a hot chick I do not feel horny. The only time I socialised was in my dreams.
There was one thing that I consistently felt - desperation. I was desperate to get back into a manic phase. Only then I’ll feel comfortable in my own skin because I’ll be productive, entertaining, adventurous – basically feeling on top of the world.
I was hoping that the anti-depressants will do the trick as my doctor has been upping the dosages and trying different brands. But they didn’t so I took matters into my own hands. I tried smoking weed again but it made me sadder and paranoid. I drank beer in the morning but all it gave me was a hangover. Then I went to a few clinics to score sleeping pills, mix them with beer but all it gave me were delusions.
There are some days I do feel a little more upbeat. But when I look into my wallet, there’s no money inside because I haven’t been working for a long time. I look at my car and it’s damaged in so many places. So I’d switch on the TV and lie on the couch. I surrendered to my predicament.
Now my thoughts are more lucid. I realised that even if my doctor was to give me 10 anti-depressants a day, my mood will not change if I don’t make attempts to change the reality. And I can’t get into the manic phase because when I was manic I had a career and the means to lead a rock & roll lifestyle.
So do I want to be manic again? The answer is a half-hearted yes. Because now I realised that mania is not just my muse, it’s also my bitch.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Insight 04: My mood swings don't make me a swinger

All bipolar sufferers go through mood swings which are extreme and irrational. Some of us experience these mood swings daily, weekly or monthly. My manic and depressive phases can last for years.
About two and half years ago, I started seeing another psychiatrist and I found that I could get along with him and I’ve been seeing him to this day. He prescribed me with lithium to contain my mood swings, Zoloft to pick up my mood as I was depressed when I first saw him, and Rivotril to help me sleep at night.  
Very soon after that my mood started to change but it’s mainly because I managed to sell off my condo for a nice profit. I was flushed with cash that I never had before. I was so happy that I spent a lot of it by buying photographic equipment that I didn’t need and it went as far as setting up a complete photography studio in my house.
I also got obsessed with running. I’ve always liked to run because when I’m running I don’t think about anything. So I got myself a brand new pair of Nike shoes. The shoes had this “Nike+” sign on it and I was curious to find out more. Turns out I could actually track the progress of my run by using the Nike+ app on my iPod. All I needed to do was to dial in my distance goal, say 8k and as I ran a voice would tell me “One kilometer completed.” At the push of a button it ‘d tell me “7 kilometers to go. Pace 6 mins/km. Calories 103.” But the best thing was that at the end of the run Lance Armstrong appeared on my headphones and said “Hi. This is Lance Armstrong. Congratulations, this is your longest workout yet.” How cool was that?
So every day I‘d get up early in the morning and I looked forward to running faster and longer so that I could hear Lance Armstrong congratulating me. One of my best friends was into running so she invited me to run with her friends who are veterans and have been running marathons for decades. For six days a week I‘d run in the morning with these people or I‘d run alone. Within six months I was as fit as a fiddle. I could run 10km in 50 minutes, I completed a half-marathon race in less than two hours and I could run up to three hours without stopping.
Things got even crazier when I picked up cycling. I was so obsessed with Lance Armstrong that I bought a Trek bike which is a brand endorsed by him. I also had his helmet, sunglasses, jersey and even his wristband. I‘d start cycling at 5 a.m. and my route was 40km long. That included a 10km hill climb and I‘d always challenge myself to complete the climb within 30 minutes. After weeks of trying I still couldn’t achieve the time goal and I‘d go home frustrated.
Here’s the insane fact – After running or cycling, I’d smoke a joint. Yes, it’s one of my demons that I’ve talked about in my post “Fear and Loathing”. Throughout the day I’d smoke 5 more joints. Most people feel relaxed when they smoke weed but I’ve the opposite reaction as it makes me hyperactive and it fuels my mania. I didn’t tell my psychiatrist that I’m always stoned when I see him and he had never took notice.
I was in this manic phase for nine months and all of a sudden I feel depressed. I couldn’t find any reason for feeling low as I still had enough money to sustain my lifestyle, I was physically fit and I was closer to my friends than ever before. It was as if I woke up one morning and the light bulb in my head just went off. I felt lethargic and I was upset because I’ve signed up to run a full marathon and I needed to train but I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I stayed home, slept most of the time and I ignored my friends’ phone calls and messages.
My mood was so foul that I sought comfort in alcohol. I hated myself for that because I didn’t drink a drop of anything alcoholic for the nine months prior. But I decided to drown in my sorrows and very soon I turned to the bastard son of my Lucifer – mixing a strong sleeping pill with beer. Whenever I had that concoction, I‘d completely lose my memory and my inhabitations. I‘d call my friends and talk absolute crap with them and when I wake up the next day I couldn’t remember what I did and where I was.
I missed a few appointments with my doctor and when he called me on the phone I was off my head and I was screaming at him. He told me that he was going for work-related trip but he wanted to see me immediately when he returns.
I did finally tell him everything when I saw him. He wasn’t completely surprised, in fact he was sympathetic. I asked him why did I fall into depression again and he told me that is the very nature of being bipolar and I could feel down without any rhyme or reason. He also told me that I will have this condition for life.
I was depressed for about a year and all I did was sleep, eat and watched TV. The thing is that I never had the habit of watching TV but during that period I watched everything from American Idol to American Choppers. I was so bored I even watched Dinner Party Wars.
My doctor was trying hard to turn my mood around so he stopped the lithium, put me on Pristiq and Lexapro (both anti-depressants) and Quetiapine to help me relax. I discovered that Quetiapine made me feel very drowsy and I could sleep for 12 to sometimes 16 hours a day. It also gave me a hangover effect when I get out of bed. Within this depressive phase I put on 16kgs. I’m no longer in any shape or form to run like before.
It was only three weeks ago that I started feeling some sense of positivity. That’s why I’m able to write this blog. I’ve also started looking for a 9-5 job mainly because I don’t want to be stuck at home feeling lonely and depressed.
My mood swings certainly don’t make me a swinger!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Insight 03: Relationships are not for me

Note: This post is sexually explicit. Those below the age of 18 please don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.
I fall in love for the wrong reason - great sex.
Take W for example. W was a stranger working in a strange land. She’s absolutely gorgeous , 5ft 9” and an amazing figure to boot. I wanted to sleep with her on our first date but she insisted that we should wait till our 3rd date. We went to a club on the 3rd date and we both had an Ecstasy pill. When we kissed it seemed that we were melting into each other.
So we went back to my place and we had sex from 4 till 7 in the morning. You see, the anti-depressant pills that I’ve been prescribed makes it very hard for me to cum. Besides, we shared the same ideals and the same sense of humour. We were a great couple.
The second time we had wild sex. We did it on the balcony of her apartment which had a view of the entire city. After that, we also did it on her boss’s table and a public toilet.
A couple of months later, W told me that her company wanted to post her to country that’s in a different continent altogether. Without hesitating I told her that I love her and I want her to stay. She told me that she felt the same way too.
So we rented an apartment and moved in together. She’s great at networking and soon she managed to get a job here as well. The problem was that I quickly got bored of seeing her day in and day out. Our sex life went from doing it daily, to 2-3 times a week, then to 3-4 times a month. After 3 years of cohabitation, we had sex probably once a month at best.
I was also very stressed out because my working hours were so long. I would get into the office at 9 a.m. and leave about 10 p.m. Most weeks I had to work on Saturday as well. I was exhausted and depressed for more than a year. W was an angel and she tried to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling low. She was with me through thick and thin.
But after 3 years of being together she knew that I’ve fallen out of love with her. She moved out of the apartment and I didn’t even make any attempts to stop her. Half a year later she moved back to her own country.
Then Y came along. I thought Y was cute so I asked her out. We went back to her place after our first date and had great sex. Y and I were intellectually compatible and we had the same kind of humour. She was staying alone in her apartment and after 3 months of seeing each other I asked her to move in with me since we were spending so much time together and we could split the rent. Sounded like a good idea to me.
I soon realised that Y is a selfish person. When we’re having sex, I’m the one who have to do most of the work. She likes to have multiple orgasms so she’ll ask me to keep banging her till she cums and cums again. My abdominal and leg muscles ache from trying to satisfy her.
But the worse thing was that she turned into an obsessive person. She was working at a sales job which gave her plenty of free time and nothing else to do but to disturb me. When I go out for drinks with my guy friends she would ask me why I don’t take her with me. Once she even threatened to kill herself because I rather have drinks with my friend then to be with her.
I was depressed because of her obsessive behaviour. We had numerous fights and finally I threw her out. The instant she was out of my life I felt that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I was so happy that I became productive at work and I had great nights out with my friends.
I’ve finally learned my lesson and from then onwards I’ve never had any more serious relationships. I went out with a few women purely for sex and when I grew tired of them I wouldn’t pick up their calls or sometimes I would even erase them from my facebook.
From time to time, I would also pay for sex. The best thing about it is that nobody gets hurt and I could have anything that I fancy – big tits, perky tits, come-fuck-me looks, girls with glasses, big ass, long legs, girls who licked my ass and let me cum in their mouth.
In the movie Days of Being Wild, a suave Andy Lau approached a beautiful but reserved-looking Maggie Cheung and asked her to stare at the clock on the wall for one minute. She was puzzled but did what she was told. After staring at the clock for a minute, Andy Lau told Maggie Cheung “From now onwards, we’re one minute friends.”
A few times the prostitute that I had sex with have asked me if I wanted her to be my girlfriend. I told her that she could be my girlfriend for 45 minutes.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Fundamental 03: I shall not relate with celebrities who have bipolar disorder

I get a sense of comfort knowing that there’re celebrities who have bipolar disorder. When I’m feeling low I’ll google them and tell myself “Look at all these people who’re rich and famous. They’re bipolar too. Maybe people with bipolar are destined to do great things in life.”
One of my favourite celebrities is George Michael. I’m not sure if he’s bipolar but I’ve watched his interview on Bio channel and he admitted that he was clinically depressed. I like George because he’s a darn good singer/songwriter, he’s the epitome of style, he’s very frank and he was smoking 8 joints a day (like I was).
Recently I’ve started looking for a job after living the life of a bum and a recluse for one and a half years. I was very confused. I’ve spent more than 12 years in the creative industry but my doctor has been persuading me to get a 9-5 job instead. Partially I did agree with him cause I do need aa semblance of a normal life but I didn’t know what else I’d be good at and I hated the fact that I had to rebuild my career from scratch.
I was asking myself what kind of career will be suitable for someone who’s bipolar? Then it struck me that I should stop thinking of people like Mel Gibson, Axl Rose, Stephen Fry, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Carrie Fisher etc. The fact is they can afford to be working for a couple of months and then take a few years off when they're feeling depressed. Celebrities make millions in a short span of time. I don’t.
That’s why I’ve sent my resume to a couple of headhunters telling them that I need a fresh start and I’m fine with a salary that’s lower then what I used to earn. It’s time to be realistic.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Fundamental 02: Perfection is a fallacy

At the very peak of my career, I was a film director at my very own production house. I bought a lovely a apartment, had a girlfriend and many friends that I could call upon. I also had 2 very significant clients.

One day while driving past the building where both of these clients were based, I messaged my friend and told her “Wow. I can’t believe I’ve got these 2 clients in the bag. Life cannot be more perfect!”

A month after that everything went downhill. I was about to shoot a video for one of the client. The cost to mobilise my crew and gear was huge, so I needed the client to pay an upfront fee, which is something that I’ve told them and reminded them for the umpteenth time. Everything was finalised at the pre-production meeting, except for the upfront fee. So I told them “I’m sorry but I’ve told you since day one that I can’t shoot without the money.”

Two days later I found out that the client has given my script, castings locations and stilomatic to another production house. Yup, they screwed me grandly, thinking they’re so huge a company that I wouldn’t dare to take legal action against them. They didn’t realise that I was trained to document everything in black and white. So I furiously stormed into their office with all the documents. They tried to sweet talk their way out by saying that they had no choice or their boss will fire them, they will credit me for writing the script and the rest of the bullshit. I told them I’m not buying any of it and just pay me for all of my intellectual property.

They did. But the whole saga made me a very angry man. I was drinking heavily in the evenings and soon I was drinking in the day time too. I had this sick gagging feeling when I get out of bed and I was trying to ignore this pain in my stomach. I looked terrible and I was sweating profusely during a meeting with a new client.

I was physically exhausted and I grew cynical of the business. I decided to stop working. And I didn’t work for a whole year. Finally I had to sell my condo so that I could afford to be a bum.

Perfect life my arse.

Let me give you another example. Photography is a passion of mine and I shot this model for my portfolio. I got the shots that I wanted and I thought that everything from the model to the makeup, wardrobe, styling and lighting was perfect. The thing is that nobody else has seen the shots until one fine day I decided to post it up on a photography forum.

I only had one person who commented on it and it was a bad one. Even photos of dogs had better comments than I did. What I thought was perfect was clearly not even close enough when judged by the standards of the majority.

Perfect my arse.

Perfection is merely an ideal, a mirage. Don’t waste your time chasing for it. As long as you’ve done your best that is good enough.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Insight 02: The Loneliness of A Long Distance Runner

One of my favourite movies of all time is Chungking Express (directed by Wong Kar-Wai). It starts off like this:

A guy is talking on a payphone.

Chi Moo: Mrs Chen? This is Chi Moo.

It's not May I'm looking for. It's you I'm calling.

I'm OK. Yes, I'll give her time to get over it. I'm sure she will call me when she's ready. Please don't tell her that I called.

You're going to watch a movie? I won't keep you.

Is Mr Chen there?

Mr Chen? This is Chi Moo.

No, don't get May!

How's your cough?

You need to go? I won't keep you then. Don't tell May I called!

Is her sister there?

No? Please pass on my regards.

Chi Moo's monologue: We all have our habits.

Mine is to wait here for May to get off work.

The boss here says May looks like a Japanese star. That's why she likes to come here.

I split up with her recently. She complained that I no longer look like myself.

Chi Moo is on the payphone again, but this time he's holding a pager in his hand: Any messages for me?

Password is "Undying Love"

Ming called? Or you mean May? Spell it.

M-I-N-G or M-A-Y?

You're sure you got it right? Yes? Don't you know English?

Chi Moo slams the phone down. He make another call: Ming? I guess May asked you to call.Tell her not to worry, I'm fine. I'm taking good care of myself.

She can call me anytime she wants. No need to trouble you.

She didn't?

So why are you paging me?


Are you heartbroken again?

No? Then why go jogging?

A race? You're crazy!

Jogging is private. You don't jog with an audience.

Forget it!

Chi Moo's monologue: We're all unlucky in love at times.

When I am, I go jogging.

The body losses water when you jog.

So you have none left for tears.

- Scene Ends -

I can totally relate to Chi Moo. I use to be a long distance runner.

And I'm lonely as well. I wish I can speak to May but I don't even know who she is.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Insight 01: Fear and Loathing

My drug abuse started off from the most innocent proposal. A friend called me up and asked me to go to his house to get stoned on weed and play video games on his PlayStation. I wasn’t too keen on weed cause when I first tried it in my university days I got paranoid and threw up. But the stuff that my friend has was different. It was much more fun.

We were so stoned that we actually shifted the couch closer to the TV cause we felt that we were actually in the video game. And food tasted so good. When we were having a herbal soup I told my friend “Man… how I wish I could swim in the soup and do laps in it… man…”

At that time I was working at a design agency and it was my first job in the creative industry. I got disillusioned from the very first day of working as a designer cause I was asked to produce a few visuals for a pitch and I didn’t meet the deadline. I went to a bar after work, nursed a beer and I was thinking what the hell did I get myself into? Am I really cut out to be a designer? What the hell am I going to do?

But things changed after the stoning session. Still feeling the effects, I went to work, booted up PhotoShop and within a few hours I had two visuals ready for presentation. I was stunned cause I was never that productive before. And the client chose my designs over my colleagues who were many years my senior. That’s when I started the habit of smoking weed and my most creative work was done under the influence.

I was a stoner for 10 years. Things started to get really out of hand when I was stoned every waking moment of my life. And I mean being stoned from the time when I get out of bed till when I get back into bed. The thing is that my clients, bosses, colleagues and even my psychiatrists didn’t realise that I’m stoned when I’m with them cause I can be quite articulate even when I’m stoned. When clients ask me why I always have red eyes and heavy eye bags I would cunningly say “Oh I’m been working so hard on your project.”

But I didn’t realise that weed perpetuated my manic phases. I could be the most obnoxious person that you could have ever met. I talk so loudly that when my clients are having a meeting in a room next to mine they could hear me shouting on my phone. I’ll be speeding down the highway at 120 km/h with one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand holding my phone whilst having a discussion with a producer negotiating deadlines and budgets. The worse thing is that I fell out with so many friends who were dear to me, including the friend that I first stated stoning with because I was just so arrogant.

I also went through a phase when I was addicted to Ecstasy. It started when I went to a club and a friend that I didn’t know so well asked me to try half a pill. Thirty minutes later I was dancing on the podium, having a whale of a time and high-fiving my friend. We danced will 5 in the morning and I went to his place to chill out. We started talking and we gelled so well that he became my best buddy. In fact I would call him bro.

We partied 3-4 times a week. Even on Mondays when the club is completely empty we would be dancing on the podium. There was a time when we bought a bunch of Ecstasy pills and holed up in his apartment for 2 weeks when we did nothing else but doing pills and talking crap. At the end of the session I had an emotional breakdown. I was crying and talking to myself.

But the saddest thing was that I fell out with this friend as well. A friend that was like a brother to me.

And then I got addicted to sleeping pills. I took them to put me to sleep after partying hard on Ecstasy. But even after my E phase I still relied on sleeping pills cause sometimes I had insomnia even after working for 48 hours non-stop.

One day I was drinking alone and I took a sleeping pill and washed it down with a bottle of beer cause I wanted to just go home and sleep. When I got up later I was stunned to find that parts of my car were dented badly. I couldn’t even remember driving home in first place.

Unfortunately I was crazy enough to actually like the effects of mixing beer with sleeping pills. I liked it cause it offered me respite from having racing thoughts in my mind. When I’m high I would call my friends and talk absolute nonsense with them. So much so that most of them don’t pick up my calls anymore.

So why did I abuse drugs? I’m not going to justify by saying that I was medicating myself and the rest of the bullshit. I did drugs because they made me feel good. Half the time. The other half of the time, it was bad. Really bad.

"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;"
- Alexander Pope

Monday, 18 June 2012

Fundamental 01: Don’t Think Too Much

I’ve had the habit of thinking since I was very young. I would be pacing around the house, daydreaming about the silliest things like how cool would it be to have a BMX. The daydreams were very real to me and I would be laughing and singing to myself.

In my professional life, I was always striving to obtain the “One Original Thought”. An idea that is so revolutionary that no one in this world could have thought of. For 12 years I would say that I only had one original thought. That worked out very well for me. But the other times, I’d be torturing myself to come up with original thoughts. I abused drugs, drank myself silly and didn’t sleep for days on end. It was an exhausting lifestyle to say the least.

One of my favourite books is Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is an autobiography of some sort by Robert M. Pirsig. In it, Pirsig used the analogy of motorcycle maintenance to explain his philosophical thoughts. When I was reading the earlier part of the book, I thought this is guy is brilliant; he was so technical and articulate with his philosophy. But then horror struck when he came upon a question that he struggled to answer. His thoughts kept going in circles and that was the only thing on his mind for years. He ended up in a mental asylum.

For the longest time mankind has always asked questions like “Where do we come from?”, “What’s our purpose in life”, “Is the thought of an apple as real as the apple itself?” etc.

So what if we could find the answer the perennial question of “Which one came first; the chicken or the egg?”. If someone has proved irrefutably that the chicken came first so what would happen? Is KFC going to serve the “Chicken Came First” meals?

What I’m trying to say is that the unanswerable questions in life are only for the academics. The quest to answer them will not make your life any better.

When you realise that you are over thinking, go and distract yourself by finding something physical to do like walking, watering the lawn, washing the dishes, seeing your friends etc. That will keep you from thinking in circles and being sad. Enjoy your life.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


and welcome.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 6 years ago. My life has been a journey full of ups and downs where at times I was living a successful life and other times I was living in total squalor.

Now I've decided to come to terms with this illness. Since I can't beat it, I will learn how to deal with it. Think about those who were born blind. They try to have a better life by learning how to read Braille or by using a walking stick. As for my case, what I need are insights and fundamentals to live by.

Insights are postings about my personal experiences and fundamentals are my solutions on how to deal with being bipolar.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you will find this blog helpful.