type A depression


Type A personalities have it rough with depression. A friend made an acute observation the other day. “Noch, you are recovering from depression by trying to take things easy and release all the accumulated stress from years before, so why are you stressing yourself out with blogging and writing?”

Err….. speechless.

I walk around like anyone else on the street but inside I am still emotional roller coaster, plunging from hyperactivity to utter irritation and lethargy, even within the space of a few hours. I am unable to control my temper, and cannot concentrate or focus for more than 20 minutes. Yet, I was trying to churn out blog posts, articles, build some sort of social media presence and name for myself.

Even in depression, I wanted to achieve something. Subconsciously, I wanted to be “the best depressed person” in the world, or something of that sort.

I had never been tested before, and who knows how representative is the theory of Type A and B personalities. But I’ve always been told I was a Type A alpha female.

According to Wikipedia and Psychology Today, this means I’m:





Highly competitive


Preoccupied with my status

Time conscious

Tightly wound



Hate ambivalence and delays

Outstanding leader



And highly likely to end up with coronary disease and other stress related illnesses

Is this me? Sounds about right. Hugely competitive, and extremely impatient. Bossy and control freak to say the least (ask my fiancé).

type A personality with depression, recover from depression, self-awareness,

Even lying in bed with an IV drip I thought about how to redesign my blog. Even with my head thumpingly painful I felt guilty I didn’t write 5000 words.

I even asked my shrink whether he was frustrated with my progress and if I should have done better, or whether he was bored with my lamentations week after week. I was trying to be his best patient.

And I ask myself, why did I burn out? (*with a shocking, sarcastic tone*)

I’m surprised I hadn’t had a heart attack or suffered more serious physical ailments earlier on.

Chill out. It’s not apocalypse. You can sit today and do nothing.

Computer off, going to sit now… (well, ok, I’m going to read my favourite vampire love story while sitting… *with a sheepish grin*)

I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.If you liked this blurb please share with your friends and help my blog grow. Thanks!



33 Responses

  1. The Vizier says:

    Hi Noch Noch,

    I can certainly relate to what you say about Type A people. Maybe I am like that as well. But since there seem to be only 3 types; A, B and C, there is not much room for individuality. I guess the takeaway point is not to be so concerned about how other people see you. At least until you are better able to master yourself. No pressure there either, it takes time.

    I think it all boils down to balance. We need a purpose and a reason to live. But we also need to realize this purpose is a journey and not a destination. It is good to reach the end point, but it should not be something we stress ourselves out over. Trying to attain this fine balance doesn’t come easy.

    I recall the times when I swing to one extreme and stress myself out. This requires me to swing to the other extreme to let go and relax. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Thankfully, I don’t swing to such extremes nowadays and it is slightly easier for me to find balance. I am by no means perfect in my self-mastery, but at least I am getting somewhere. Hopefully you too will master yourself in your own time.

    The good thing is that by starting now while you are young, you don’t have to deal with this when you are old and more set in your ways with much more to lose.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Irving

      I think the key is balance indeed. I’m learning to not swing between extremes, as you say. Sometimes I go to the other extreme of being overly lethargic and not doing anything. like the past week. i tried to write but couldn’t. i think i stressed myself out with the writing a few weeks back. and now i need to rejuvenate. but i need to learn to pace myself and find my own balance!

      Noch Noch

  2. You sound just like me 🙂 It took a long time to attain the self-awareness to understand that this is what I do. It’s taking even longer to find a way to stop it. If you discover it first, drop me a line…

    warmest wishes from Canada.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Aisha

      Thanks for dropping by. I’m going through this process of finding out how to stop my Type A personality from over exploding haha. I’m still searching for my ways, but yes will share what I know once I find myself more. Any insights you can share from your experience?

      Noch Noch

  3. Lara says:


    The same thing happened to me except it was more shocking because I’m only 23. I burnt myself out from studying and eventually had to deregister from university so that I could have surgery. Even though I had a very real, necessary reason to take a gap year, I felt like I had failed. I am one year behind my classmates now and I still feel like a failure even though I overcame severe health issues. When I was recovering from surgery I also needed to achieve something out of it and ended up baking everyday which then inspired me to complete a diploma in patisserie. I’m still struggling to be self aware of my A type personality and not let it stop me from living while I am still young. Thank you for your blog and the perspective you bring.


    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Lara

      Kudos to you for surviving and overcoming a challenge in health. I’m sure you have learnt more about yourself through that. What I find is that, I sometimes forget the lesson, and that’s why I have to remind myself here on the blog too. I sometimes also feel I’m a failure having taken off two years from work. MY peers are directors bby now… but I know that in the long run this experience is valuable for me. I just need to the learn the lessons it tells me. I hope you find your balance. And find something you love to do!

      Noch Noch

      • Lara says:

        I also am still trying to remind myself. My health problems were a direct result of stress and I was only 20 at the time. I am also a law student and I’m really struggling to not get sucked in to the achievement-driven side of the legal industry because I actually really enjoy it. Your biography of your university days is exactly what I am experiencing now: winning moot courts; being awarded bursaries; attending prestigious summer internship programmes and being defined by the marks I get. Everytime it seems I am rewarded for putting pressure on myself and I don’t know how to break the cycle. So although I got a very early wake up call which I am grateful for, I haven’t quite been able to impliment this thing called balance. If you have any advice please let me know.

        • nochnoch says:

          Hi Lara

          Yikes – you just reminded me of my university days! It was fun despite the stress. I can’t deny that. For the balance – I am making use of the Balance model I wrote about. Each time I want to “achieve” something now, like writing, I ask myself, have I spent enough time on other things
          But how much you want to spend on each quadrant is for you to determine. If your priority now is Achievement, then maybe need to be aware of it and do so, whilst not forgetting that you need to rest etc…
          I’m still learning to find that balance, and wish I had more tips to give you.
          I think there is a time for achievement focus, and a time for less achievement focus.
          The ultimate question is – are you happy doing what you are doing? If not, why are you still doing it?


  4. Annie Andre says:


    Noch Noch, you have literally solved a big piece of the puzzle for me. Although I don’t think i am depressed anymore, there was a period of about 5 years in my life where i was severely depressed and medicated. It turned out being married to an alcoholic who didn’t work and then raising my two kids alone for after my dviorce with no child support had a profound effect on my demeanor.

    if it weren’t for my TYPE A personality, my constant need to keep busy, do things better, climbing the corporate ladder i think my depression would have gotten the best of me and i might be some overweight woman eating bon bons waiting for my next wellfare check.
    So in some ways, i think type A personalities coupled with depressed inclinations might be the balance one needs. I’m only speculating and this is all conjecture but i like to believe it.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Annie

      That’s an interesting point but I see the merit in it – the depressive inclinations slows down a bit our Type A energy…. whilst the Type A energy finds a way to uplift us when we are depressed because we keep wanting to “do something” and solving the problem at hand… Maybe indeed, when I decided I wasn’t going to die since I tried a few times but couldn’t, i decided to use that energy to get better. The Type A energy that wants to fight, and fight for my own life 🙂


  5. […] von beiden zuerst da war. Besonders bewusst ist mir das vor kurzem wieder geworden, als ich einen Artikel einer Blogerin aus den USA gelesen […]

  6. Hanan says:

    Hi Noch,

    I often find that our problematic personal traits (like perfectionism, being a workaholic… etc) spring mainly from our early conditioning rather than from our true nature.

    I think a lot of how anyone’s personality is, has a lot to do with our conditioning as children and society’s expectations of us as young adults. When young, we are often compared by our own parents/ teachers (who are victims themselves) to a “smarter” sibling, cousin, neighbour or student. This often leaves us as young children, fearing the threat of the withdrawal of love and admiration from the people that we look up to the most during our early years. And then we grew up… only to face a densely populated and competitive world where you have to outshine another in order to be slightly noticed or considered for a well paying job… No wonder as adults now we feel that even when we’re sick, we still have to be productive and impressive or else we would risk the lose of our sense of worthiness and love. But you know all that already, right? 🙂

    Still, whenever any of us finds it difficult to be still, even when our bodies and souls are begging us to, one could try and drill down to the real reason behind that difficulty.

    Here comes your mini shrink: Me 😉
    A random statement or an automatic thought that might occur to any of us from time to time is:
    If I don’t continue to produce, people who know me would think less of me.
    Q: “why is that upsetting? what does it mean to you?”
    A: “It would mean that I could disappoint them.”
    Q: “If you were to in fact disappoint them, what would that mean to you?”
    A: “It would mean that I could become unlovable, unnoticed and I would always be rejected.”
    Q: “And if that were to happen, why would it upset you?”
    A: “Because it would mean that I would end up alone and miserable…. and that’s quite scary.”

    This leads us to an important question: “Am I really worthy by simply being alive?”
    I guess so. For all I know, I was born like the rest of us, into this strange world and somehow figured my way through it…took my own path… and found myself often having to make decisions from the choices available at any given time. And I continue to evolve… at my own pace. While doing so, I am playing my part in supporting the evolution of the whole, i.e. humanity as a whole.
    A side note here: Along the way, I came upon a crucial discovery: That the time I have to live and explore is eternity… therefore, what’s the rush?

    Here comes my signature… leaving you always with a quote 😉
    “From an evolutionary perspective, crisis is a sign that something has gone wrong: The patterns from the past are no longer working. Crisis give us the challenge, the challenge to adapt. They are the challenge to let go of the old way of thinking, and move on to a new way of seeing.”
    The Global Brain – Peter Russell

    Be still!


    Be still.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Hanan

      Our conditioning as children indeed has far reaching effects that we don’t notice. Only these two years do I understand how something someone said which seemed inconsequential 15 years ago, actually is buried in my heart and has become positive or negative motivation. It’s brought me to become more aware of when i have kids, what to do with them and what to say to them

      I suppose we should be worthy simply because we breathe. that’s hard to accept. but i’m trying hard. i exist and therefore i am 🙂

      and as always. i love your quotes. this one especially speaks to me, that crisis motivates change. and in my case, a change in me. that hte old way of life is not working for me anymore… and there is a brighter future to come 🙂


  7. Nigel Chua says:


    I wonder…what if Type A “relaxes” when they’re busiest? For they may their natural state in “busy-ness” and “achieving-mode”…and slowing down drives them nuts and angry and depressed?


    Just food for thoughts here. What do you think?

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Nigel

      You know what, slowing down DID drive me nuts and angry. I was angry at myself for slowing down (which in my case was forced by the depression), for not doing anything, and I was so angry that I didn’t have energy to do anything and beat myself up for being depressed and “relaxing”
      Seriously!!! what was I thinking!! Hahaha

      Noch Noch

  8. Nigel Chua says:

    Hahaha…that’s what I mean…i think Type A people can only relax by being themselves – which is pushing themselves to the max! =D

  9. Nigel Chua says:

    Yeah…it’s more of an oxymoron, but oh well! That’s how and who we are sometimes 🙂

  10. […] that have helped me rearrange my depressed thoughts, and in one way or another inspired me to get out of my rut […]

  11. Amy says:

    Omg, you and i are so alike! XD I’m the same! One minute totally hyper next depressed and unmotivated. This chemical imbalence thing is so confusing. When a friend comes to my house like 10 minutes late i feel really angry and when they don’t show i get soo worried and think they don’t like me anymore and i’m really bossy and everything is a big deal to me.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Amy

      Yes, I know what you mean. Learning to challeng my own thoughts had helped me realize a lot of my worries are unfounded. I always ask myself now, if there is a high probability of happening or I am just thinking too much 🙂

      • Amy says:

        Yeah that’s the thing, wehn you thinkt oo much the thoughts escalate into something not so good. I mean thinking is good, but too much and having time to think alot can lead to danger or just hurting yourself psychologically. I still feel that theres things about my illness that i need to understand.

        • nochnoch says:

          Hi Amy

          I completely understand and agree. I am also trying to find the balance between thinking less but not being a complete air head :p

          Noch Noch

  12. […] me, for it opened up yet another dimension of introspection. I had not thought about looking at my depression from a globalization perspective until she challenged […]

  13. […] for a while. Fate dictated that I picked up the book again in Beijing when I was on sick leave from depression. I re-read the book, and again I wondered: what would I do with myself from then […]

  14. […] started to see myself going down a similar path to depression that Noch Noch took, so I decided to make some changes on how I judged my performance and […]

  15. […] I needed was empathy, or at least sympathy – and reassurance that it was fine to feel the sadness and frustrations I […]

  16. […] Mid-January came; I was in my blues and moping around the apartment. I got Timmie to bring out the mattresses from the Bear Room and put it in the living room. I carried all my bears out. I camped there for two nights, reluctant to go anywhere but the bathroom. I felt I was sinking again into an avalanche of snowy darkness. […]

  17. […] 握著小隔間牆的欄杆,我到會議室邊。這是狹小空間,擁擠地擺放著四把椅子和一張桌子,後面豎著一塊白板,桌子的中間是一部蜘蛛手機。我顫抖著站在門口,腦海裡閃過客戶和辦公會議的畫面。幾年前,我若來到會議室,我就會確切地知道在什麽樣的會議,我要坐在什麽樣的座位上。今天,我迷失了,呆呆地站著,直至市場部經理邀請我坐下。 […]

  18. […] for a while. Fate dictated that I picked up the book again in Beijing when I was on sick leave from depression. I re-read the book, and again I wondered: what would I do with myself from then […]

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.