I earned a choice


The last few months have been hard for me. I had relapse episodes. Mood sunk. I kept up appearances for some time but eventually I dwindled. I lost energy. I stopped my exercise regime and could not move myself from the sofa. The random crying bouts and temper tantrums came back. The man came back. I was troubled by a sense of guilt – and regression.

I felt responsible for not being able to keep up the lifestyle we had enjoyed over the years. The need to cut back on spending because I am not working, starting to pay rent, bills, and financial expenses every normal person would have to make, made me feel like my life was going backwards. It was as if I was losing grip, losing things I had earned over the years.

In my negative mode, I branded that as regression.
Then my friend knocked some sense in me, something I knew at the back of my mind but would not accept.

Status, lifestyle, enjoyment… it was a matter of how I defined it. Moving to a smaller apartment, spending less on travel (or not travelling at all), cooking more at home instead of eating out etc, all looked like from the outside, a step back.

However, I had ignored my gains. My friend reminded me that I had earned a choice.

A choice to do what I want, a choice to focus on my health and recover, a choice in changing my lifestyle and not be addicted to the banker lifestyle, a choice to be who I am.

Sometimes I feel torn; I can’t let go of the indulgences. I enjoy my luxury hotels and spas, the ability to purchase without thinking, the freedom to fly around last minute. Yet part of me want to pursue a simpler lifestyle, and I am just scared of how people will think of me.

Still, after such a big life lesson, I am at times, more worried about how other would see me instead of what I want and need. I need to re-read my own blog at remind myself of my own observations.

Indeed, there is nothing wrong with the material goods per se, it is how much importance we place on them. My life is no less specialer just because I don’t own a business card, a house and diamond rings.

Priorities change, and life moves on.

Everyday is progress, for we learn something new. Regression is not possible.

I earned the choice and freedom to reorient my lifestyle.

What did you earn?

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18 Responses

  1. Jan says:

    One day at a time, Noch Noch. ONE day at a time…

    A friend gave me this advice. Not dwelling in the past, slowing down the thoughts of future. Focus on present, now, today. It is difficult, I know… so difficult. And I’m still learning it.

    • nochnoch says:

      Thanks Jan, yes I also have to remind myself one day at a time, and to focus on the present… but like you say, so difficult. Slowly slowly… Thanks for hte support
      Noch Noch

  2. jim says:

    Hi Noch Noch:
    As usual this was sublime. I too have been going through the same mental gyrations lately. Your writings never fail to resonate with me in some important manner, and today was the same.
    I too earned something, the right to give myself a break and remember to read your blog.
    Thanks from Houston
    PS- I visited Bejing briefly 2 years ago. It was a wonderful fascinating city.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Jim

      Hope all’s well in Houston. Happy to hear that my writing continues to inspire. In turn, all your comments encourage me to carry on writing. Yes, we have all gained something through depression, though it might not necessarily feel / seem like that immediately. There must be a reason and a lesson for us to learn and to improve as human beings. I see this pain now as part of personal growth.

      Take care – and let me know if you ever come to Beijing again
      Noch Noch

  3. Greg says:

    Hi Noch Noch,

    I have had my share of regressive moments along my journey. During those times I look around me and think about how far I have moved away from the darkness. At that point I realize that I must put the negative and sad thoughts to the side and focus on the positive things happening right now. It isn’t easy . . . but with small steps forward it is possible.

    I earned a fresh start and the chance to become my authentic self.


    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Greg

      Great to hear! And also good job on your blog. Incremental improvement might be slow but nevertheless improvement. Very happy to hear of your fresh start!!
      NOch Noch

  4. Victor says:

    Hi Noch Noch,

    The issues you mention are very familiar to me. I realized that I earned new friends by leaving many of the old friends behind.
    You say that you worry a lot about what other people might think about you because of “your step back” (in material things). I’m 90% sure, most of the people you worry about, are people that you met during your banking years.
    You met those people because you shared similar priorities. I had the same issue (and still have). At some point I realized that my priorities changed and I drastically decided to cut contact (online and offline) with people that have nothing in common with me anymore.

    I earned new friends. As soon as I started to surround myself with people sharing my new priorities, I realized that “I had nobody to keep up with”, and I’m worrying less about what others might think about me, specially because of status related stuff.
    Still there are people out there, that used to be closer friends, where I still worry about what they might think about me… but on the other hand, if they can not accept “the new me” they were not so much friends of mine, but friends of my status situation. Only 2 “old friends” accept 100% the “new me” (and somehow admire my changes). I removed all the other so called “friends” from my phone, contacts, facebook, linkedin, etc.
    Two years later I realized that I even forgot the names of most of them. I can not google them anymore, I can not see what they do. And I hope they forgot about me as well and are not sneaking around to see what I do and think bad things about me.

    Starting a new phase in life -I think- it’s not only about changing the priorities, but also many other things, as you said: smaller apartment, traveling habits and your lifestyle in general. That includes also friends to me.

    I’m still dealing with many aspects of this, let’s say, social aspect of the life changing process. It’s one of the most difficult issues. Specially feeling paralyzed when worrying about what other might think about me.
    I hope I’ll reach a point where I will 100% stop worrying about what others think about me. And I hope you reach that point too! I think that’s a very important part of “being you, and being natural”.
    Keep fighting! You’re not alone!

    Take care,

    • Tonya says:


      What a great post! Not just a lesson for Noch Noch but for all of us who are fighting the same problem every day.

      Thank you!

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Victor

      THANK YOU for the perspective, I had not thought about earning new friends, and yet it’s so true. My friends these days are so different from the banking days’ one, and you are right, I hardly speak to those friends anymore. Some of them have drifted off too because they did not know how to deal with me being honest about my stress and depression. And, I have earned a lot of online friends as yourself!

      and me too, I am still paralyzed about how others see me, and I think a lot of it is the lack of self-confidence for who I am. Again, it’s a process

      Appreciate the encouragement and support always
      Noch Noch

      • Victor says:

        Hi noch noch, I’m glad you can get something our of my thoughts. This is a difficult process and by now I think that depression is an illness to be fought with “thoughts” (or no more thoughts!). It’s a tricky illness. Our wrong assumptions and priorities, bring chaos in our life and our heads and afterwards it’s extremely complicated to decode where is the origin of the whole mess.
        I’ll keep reading your blog and the comments of your readers! Together we can decode depression!

  5. M says:

    I know it’s hard to let things go, but I’m glad you’re seeing life in a different way and learning new things.
    I found the phrase “Everyday is progress, for we learn something new. Regression is not possible.” really valuable and I’ll try to remember it when I’m feeling torn and worthless. Your writing is wonderful.

  6. chris says:

    i understand how depression, and it’s related illnesses are manifest everywhere beyond culture, rank, race and religion. however, it is sometimes funny to hear the variances between the groups in the ways it can affect an individual. have you ever heard of the “first world problems” memes?

    for example, you were worried about travel and spas, and i’m worried about if i should beg for 35-cents before i get in line for groceries, or after i get in line for groceries (because if there is a line behind me, somebody may give me the 35-cents just to get me out of the way…)

    i cannot afford a hair cut, so i wear a hat all the time now. in my city there is a commercial of a woman literally crying with tears about her hair, and i just think to my self : “wear a freakin’ hat if it is that upsetting to you!”

    i sometimes worry about if i’m caught peeing behind a dumpster. do you ever have that problem? when was the last time you had to pee behind a dumpster? did you have to look out for cops, or were you well hidden?

    speaking of dumpsters, have you ever given a fortune 100 company a lecture on online marketing SEO, SMO, Responsive Design, and Analytics Funnels to a board room with 50 people wearing expensive suits, and then 20 minutes later, have to dig through a bakery dumpster for a loaf of bread to have something for lunch? Yes, i had to tuck my tie inside my shirt so it would not dangle in the muck.

    I understand how depression affects everybody. But just review your blessings before you consider them to be curses. Indeed, I do that myself. At least I have a dumpster that i can pee behind, with a loaf of bread inside that i can take with me; somebody else may not even have a trash can to rummage through, and may even have a landmine to avoid if they look for bread or a place to pee.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Chris

      Indeed I have heard of “First World Problems” – but as the phrase rightly says, they are still “problems”. I completely agree with you that we have to review our blessings, yet I don’t think doing that should be at the expense of dealing with our problems. Whatever those problems may be, if we can’t cope, it’s a problem and needs to be addressed in the suitable way, whatever worlds we live in.

      Thank you for your addition to the discussion!
      Noch Noch

  7. Tonya says:

    Noch Noch,

    You are amazing! You are making such a difference in the lives of so many! If you cant muster the energy to be proud of yourself right now, then let your friends do it for you! You have helped me so much, please know that i am very proud of you, just as you are.

  8. Nikola says:


    I stopped by just to tell you I love the way you write 🙂

    you stay strong and good luck !

    • nochnoch says:

      Thanks Nikola – am practising my writing and hopefully each time I improve. Thank you for supporting my blog!
      Hope you are well!
      Noch Noch

  9. zhiv says:

    What did I earn? Patience and time. I realised I had to stop pushing myself and to take baby steps towards recovery. In the past when I recovered from an episode of depression I would throw myself back into activity. 6 months or a year later, I would be back where I started, depressed and thinking constantly of suicide. I have learned this time around that I need to be patient and do things in my own time. For me, I can only spend 2 days a week being active, 3 at a push; any more than that and things start to get very bad indeed. I also earned the patience to realise that I will more than likely need to be on medication for the rest of my life, and that that’s okay. I don’t need to wrestle against the self-imposed stigma of antidepressants. Like any illness, part of the recovery involves meds. That’s fine. Patience, also, in not coveting what everybody else has. This has given me the freedom to save money instead of spending it. I no longer feel desperately poor because I can’t afford an iPod or nice clothes. I’m poor, yes, but I choose not to be driven by want, envy or avarice. I save and wait patiently until I have enough to buy what I want. Such patience comes from having to wait decades to achieve the wellness that I want. Now I can’t ever say that I am glad I got depression, or that I wouldn’t get rid of it in a heartbeat if I could; after all, depression did destroy the life I should have had, the life I’d planned for. But I guess I can say that having depression has led me to some great people, experiences and things, that, had I enjoyed good mental health, I wouldn’t have experienced.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Zhiv

      Yes! That’s exactly what I did too, and I had to learn not to push myself too much and give myself the space and time. One quote I like and which helped me is “Sometimes it’s okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.”
      Thanks for sharing your experience, and also appreciate your thoughtful input in the discussion with other readers. It is great to read other people’s points of views and learn from you

      Noch Noch

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.