in blatant denial


Denial, as a defense mechanism, is extremely powerful. If we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist, then we don’t have to deal with it or the aftermath of it. So if I ignored the pain in my head, it will go away, and I don’t have to see all these different doctors.

By September we had more or less settled in our new apartment, got our furniture, carpets and a new group of friends. I was going to dance class (haha pole dancing if you can believe it!) and swimming regularly in the pool in our compound. Life was finally getting on track in a new city – if only those migraines would go away.

Got my multiple MRIs done, saw a few more doctors, got 5th and 6th opinions, no one knew what was going on. My GP said I really should see that brain specialist and also talk to a counselor. I said I have no time to see the brain doctor in HK yet but ok, I’ll see the psychologist.

So I met a psychologist and went to the first get-to-know-each-other chat. We talked about work, family, boyfriend, friends, and she gave me a survey to test whether I was depressed. The results said I was “mildly depressed” but then she explained it’s normal for people who are transitioning and relocating, and especially China is a different kind of country, and Beijing a different kind of city to get used to. It presents more challenges. But I seemed to be coping well and aware of the issues. It wasn’t the first time I was relocating so of course, I thought to myself, told you I could cope well. I wasn’t stressed, no, no, no, no, no. She said to go see her again in a week. I didn’t.

October, my parents came for National Day holiday, and we hung out. Skies were blue and sun shining. Life was beautiful. Oh I even stopped having a migraine that week. I had to be strong to take care of my parents and show them around, and see, willpower works! Unsurprisingly, right after they left, I got so ill with viral flu, food poisoning, stomach flu, migraines. It was all starting to pour out.

November, I went back to HK a few times for my friends’ weddings. Could only stay the weekend so still couldn’t see the brain doctor. My GP kept giving me painkillers to stop the pain. In my heart I knew painkillers are so bad for the body, and worse, each time I saw her, she had to prescribe stronger painkillers or doses than the last because my pain kept worsening. And already, I was struggling with the side effects of the painkillers, the drowsiness, nausea, fatigue, stomach aches.

All this, and I was still in denial I was sick. Didn’t the psychologist say it was a normal phase? The doctors didn’t find anything in the MRI so the brain doctor is really not necessary. Deny it, then the problem doesn’t exist. If the problem doesn’t exist, there is no need to deal with it.

2 Responses

  1. […] even though my head was exploding with pain, and I chose to ignore my body’s warning signals and denied I needed any […]

  2. […] I was not sick. I could cope with the stress. Migraines can’t hurt (actually migraines can trigger strokes and heart attacks, and I’m getting vertigo problems from it). I need to go back to the office, they can’t do without me – ha, I am funny sometimes. […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.