The Danger Sense..

.. and the disadvantages of it.

I had school this weekend again, and I was forced to learn about myself… again.

You know how humans have developed to sense danger?  How things moving in our peripheral vision – when we don’t expect anything to be there – makes our heart race and our muscles prep to run?  That fight/flight/fright/freeze response which so many of us, in the modern world, in the absence of natural predators, manifest as one form or other of anxiety disorder?

I experienced the mirror of this today.  I am familiar with the anxiety – the physical sensations of a panic attack  – but today it was the Danger! Protect! Defend! response when there was not threat at all.  I was made aware today of an unconscious defence system I have of – when I perceive someone to be in any way, even slightly, even uncontextually, even appropriately, to be sex-negative – I shut my portcullis, man the towers, and light the fires for the fire-archers.

The ‘normal’ manifestation of my anxiety – panic attacks when I have to deal with builders or bad bosses etc… I’ve learnt to deal with and can handle.  I may have to move away from the situation for a bit to get the anxiety under control.. but I recognise and can deal with the anxiety.

Today though.. I was aware of fury, and walls blinking into existence.  I did not feel any panic of anxiety.  Just walls.  Many many many many walls.  Gates closed, defences up.

And why?  Because of perceived sex-negativity which wasn’t even there.

This appears to have evolved from years and years of being around people who are closed minded about sex.  I love sex.  I am bisexual and kinky.  I am poly.  I am a slut.  I own and love the label.  Being someone of this nature – the environment I grew up in throttled it for so long, that when I finally learnt what I was, learnt to love and to accept myself – I also developed, or shall I say overdeveloped, a very sensitive radar for any sex negativity.  And today (or rather one month ago….), for the first time, it triggered inappropriately.  It triggered amongst people who was safe to be around, people who aren’t sex negative.

*deep breath*

Unravelling that took all day.  Took a lot of tears and a lot of talk.  I knew my unconscious ‘worked’ whenever I met someone new.  One of my previous therapists went through that with me already.  I knew some of this measurements my unconscious did of new people was to do with how likely they are to accept my sexualities… but I was never this aware, and it’s taken some pretty bad misjudgements and misfirings for it to happen.

I’m kinda glad it did happen.  I like learning about myself.  But god is it overwhelming and exhausting when it does.

And I’ve just noticed a blown lightbulb… hah… good time to end the post eh?  How many therapists in training does it take to change a light bulb?  In this case… 1… because there isn’t anyone here to look after me so…. sigh…. loneliness eh?  That’s a topic for another day….



It isn’t my job to teach..

..except when it is explicitly my job.

I teach microscopy in my day job as a microscopy officer.  I teach when I walk into the charity I (used to) volunteer for on the days I’ve agreed to be a trainer.  Outside of these two times, where it is explicitly my job to teach – it isn’t my job to teach.

I realise I have a problem with inevitably teaching where it isn’t my job – when I start burning out from it.  What do I teach?  I teach diversity and inclusion.  I teach empathy and acceptance.  I teach people that the world isn’t as simple as they think it is, that life isn’t as straightforward as they wish it is.

The LGBT+ charity I volunteered for had a diversity problem.  Not enough visibility of the ‘B’s, not enough representation of the ‘T’s, and generally dismal performance when it came to recruiting minority ethnic people.  They even had dismal numbers of women, but that improved in the few years I was there.  So what do I find myself doing?  Teaching people about why recruitment of the underrepresented populations is such a problem – and that ends up being a long lesson on what the privilege ladder is, and why it affects recruitment for the charity.  Oh, and why it is important to collect information on why people leave.

I can’t help it, I am from a diverse, underrepresented population, and I try to be a well read, informed, educated intersectional feminist.  I don’t expect other people to be as informed, but at the same time, if they are willing to learn, I like to think I’m willing to teach.  Except… sometimes that burns me out.  When it happens again and again and again and again, it wears me out.. and in the end, I have to take a break.

I left that charity a month ago.  I burnt out.  I need to spend my time and my energies on getting my BA in Counselling… and yet… it is happening again.

My counselling course had a very cohesive group last year, and we learnt a lot together.  This year’s group is partly old, partly new, and we haven’t learn about each other yet.  Last weekend’s module was on ethics, which inevitably brings up sensitive topics such as sexual deviance and suicide – topics I feel strongly about.  Unfortunately… people without any background knowledge of me, who does not know why I have a in-depth knowledge of sexual health, sexual deviance, and the legal issues surrounding such – are prone to questioning WHY I have the knowledge.

The question makes me feel cornered.

Even though I don’t hide it.  I wear rainbows in my hair and blue-purple-pink badges on my bag.  I talk about bisexuality and polyamory as if it is everyday for me.  Well, it IS everyday for me.  My group last year heard me speak about the helpline I volunteered for, about how people, sometimes teenagers, who have no other safe source of sexual health information, phone the helpline, about how it makes me feel, about the good it does.  But not everyone from year 2 knows my background… and so they question.

I don’t hide it – but the question makes me feel cornered.  The way it was asked made me feel defensive, like it was something I was expected to be ashamed about – and I am not.  Maybe I do have issues around shame, and maybe this is all me.  But.. despite feeling these defensiveness, I still offer a friendly hand, I say – if you want to know anything else, ask me after class, I am happy to share.

Again I offered to teach.

What is sexual deviance?  What is sexual normalcy?  Shouldn’t we, as counsellors in training, be completely open about sex?  Shouldn’t we be prepared to deal with sexual shame in our clients?  Yet… if we ourselves are not ready to talk about sex frankly, how do we expect to be able to help clients with sexual shame or sexual repression?

I want to say all this to them, but again, this is teaching.  Instead I write in my learning journal that I should look at the good side of this.  If my fellow counsellors can’t deal with sexual repression… they can refer those clients to me.  More business for me right?

But no – I cannot feel good about this.  I cannot feel good knowing that even counsellors training in 2017 are not dealing with sexual shame & repression.  I have talked to far too many people for whom this is a problem, who might go for counselling, who might then be faced with a counsellor who isn’t equipped to deal with the problem, who might then never get the help they need.  I do not and cannot feel good about this.  But I can only say to myself – it isn’t my job to teach.  I am a student in the class, like everyone else, and it isn’t my job to teach.

The other ethical topic we talked about last week was suicide, when to report, when not to.  I had a very idealistic young coursemate whose view was very much along the lines of ‘99.999% of all suicides are circumstantial and can be stopped if the circumstances change’.  Erm.. my dear little friend – you may be right, but all you are is a therapist, not a magician.  If clients are in so much despair, whether from illness, poverty, addiction, or anything else which is circumstantial – there is NOTHING the therapist can do to change the circumstance… so saying that doesn’t really help.  This coursemate also said to me “give me one example where nothing can be done, there is always something which can be done”.  My heroine, my idol, my sibbling-in-another-life Leelah Alcorn, I thank you for being my example, and I am sorry I had to talk about you.

Why does this coursemate repeatedly corner me, why do they keep asking me questions?  It isn’t my job to teach.  I can’t help but teach, but it burns me out, it frustrates me.  I am there as a student, I am there to learn, I am there to improve on my skills as a counsellor, and to build my own self awareness.  I am not there to teach.  I blame them for being frustrating, but it is my problem too. If I don’t offer to teach, people will stop expecting me to. 

This post is about my self awareness.  It is me, repeating to myself, for the gazillionth time in two months….. it isn’t my job to teach.


Family huh?

That last poetry post….. I started of with an entirely different intention.  I had said to my dad this morning ‘All I want is to help people’.  Followed with ‘I cannot help my sister or my mother’.  And I intended the poem to be about that.. But my subconscious had other things in mind… and *shrugs* oh well.

No I cannot help family or friends the way a counsellor helps a client.  They are not my client!  They are family/friend!!  The relationship is formed a different way, and it simply isn’t possible.  The stranger element, the unknown entity which is the counsellor, the lack of any knowledge of any details of the counsellor, is part and parcel of how it all works.  The fact that a client goes to the counsellor seeking help to cope with their life.  THAT is a HUGE part of it.  Without it….. the desire for change, the desire for development…. and the desperation of seeking help from a professional, from a stranger, to dwelve into their deepest, most intimate problems and memories…. all of that is part of a counsellor-client relationship.

My mother and sister do not seek change within themselves.  What they want from me is for ME to change.  My sister wants me to stop being a tory-hating bleeding heart intersectional socialist-activist.  My mother wants me to stop being bisexual.  Neither of those are possible, neither of those will bring anyone happiness – no not even them.

I am me.  I am happy with me.  They are not happy with me being me.  There is nothing I can do about that.  I cannot change who I am.  I am me.  I am happy being me.


A Counsellor’s Lament

In the larger picture, the longsighted lens, the distant future
All I want is to help people
To give, to love, to encourage and reassure
All I want is to help people

In the you, is your self, your being, your life, your spirit
To you I am but a mirror
I reflect your love, your beauty, your worth and your music
On my glass plate painted with silver

But if you show hurt, anger, frustration and strive
With love I try to help you,
Your self worth, your confidence, your strength and your drive,
With empathy I will try to boost you.

In your worth, your esteem, your confidence, your breath
Is where lay your foundations to joy
They belong inside you, within you, deep in your depths
Not outside as another’s toy

In the larger picture, the longsighted lens, the distant future
All I want is to help people
To give, to love, to encourage and reassure
All I want is to help people


Why? #4 – August 2017

According to some people, family mainly – I am a very complicated person and it is very difficult to understand me.  So I keep trying to explain myself to them, but often that is very very difficult, especially when it isn’t ME they are asking me to explain, but a view I have of something else.  If it is of something else, often that something (or someone) else would be better at explaining it than I do.  I do put some effort into sharing what I read with them, often through facebook shares.  Unfortunately this gets lost in the scrolling labyrinthe which facebook is and they get information fatigue.  The problem of ‘please explain why you think X of Y’ still stands though, so here I will keep a curated list of things I read which I feel explains concepts of my world well.

I first named this “things worth reading”, but decided that implied I was assuming that anyone reading this would find the same things worth reading than I did.  So I played with a few more ideas and I came up with Why?  This can be short for several questions.  Among them are – Why I think the way I do.  Why I have the views I do, and ultimately why I said what I said about topic x, issue y or problem z.

Most women you know are angry – and that’s alright

Why you can’t teach a 6 year old to be grateful

.I didn’t realise I could be bisexual until I was 21Yep, this was me. I did not realise I was bisexual until I was 23. Until that time I exclusively tried to like guys, kissed guys, even dated guys… and it wasn’t until I was actually IN a long-term, stable, intimate relationship with a man that we had the conversation of ‘do you think you could like a guy… cause I think I can like a girl… and would be quite curious to try going out with a girl actually’ I had crushes on gals long before i had crushes on guys… but I never knew they were crushes…. that just wasn’t possible, wasn’t allowed, so it wasn’t even considered.

73 year old, doing sex work to pay for son’s kidney transplant – arrested & earnings confiscated.. Is this the world we want to live in?






“You have a dragon to kill”

“Oh you still have issues to sort through”

“You need more tools”

“You need to teach your brain to produce it without help”

“You need to rewire your brain”

So I’ve decided to go back on sertraline.  I realised by week 2 completely off (week 10 or 11 of tapering) that I was a wreck and I’m better off on, but I waited until I was 6 weeks completely off before saying ‘ok, the only person I’m fighting now is myself’ and making the decision.  So while I was making the decision, aside from my closest and dearest – no one was there for me or offering me help…. after I made the decision however.. the above is some of the ridiculous things which have been said to me.  Does a diabetic get told they need to rewire their pancreas, or that their pancreas needs to be told how to produce insulin?  Do people with cardiac arrhythymia get told they can live without their pacemaker if they learnt the right coping tools?

People think that clinical depression mean I am having trouble coping.  You know what I felt when I came off sertraline?


No, really… I felt nothing.

I stopped caring.  I stopped caring about my partners and tried to break up with them.  I stopped enjoying music and baking.  I stopped volunteering because I didn’t care.  I haven’t spoken to my father since before I started tapering.  I read immersive fantasy fiction because it was immersive.  I stopped reading my counselling books because I no longer cared for them.  Each week was maybe 1-2 days total of feeling low, but 5-6 days of total blank apathy. My memory was shot too, but I didn’t care about that.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter.  Is it far fetch to think that the areas of my brain which is most affected by shortage of this neurotransmitter is the link to my empathic response?  To love, to care, and to happiness?

The public response seem to be that there is something wrong with me if I’m taking an anti-depressant.  But I argue that there isn’t, and more neurotransmitters just make me more whole, more me.  It doesn’t change me, it just helps me to be more in touch with me, more in touch with the world.

I am one of the invisible ones, the ones no one hears about.  There are millions of people out there on anti depressants who hold full time jobs and live normal-to-the-outside lives.  I don’t spend days curled up crying.  Sometimes hours maybe…. but we manage to get out of bed and live.  Every day.  I don’t have much ‘trouble coping’.  I just have a chemical imbalance.  That my life is so much improved and so much more wholesome, fulfilling and filled with love is testament to how far biochemistry and neuroscience have come along.  Counselling helped too off course – if i didn’t believe in counselling I wouldn’t be training in the field… but counselling cannot correct chemical imbalances.  It is physical.  It is chemical. At the end of the day we are but a large back of mostly water, some protein, a few bones, and a million different chemical transmitters.

I don’t have a dragon to kill.  I don’t have trouble coping.  I don’t have trouble getting out of bed and going to work.  I do not need to rewire my brain or collect more tools.

I have a chemical imbalance which I correct with medication.

And that is okay.


My bane – Facebook

I am intermittently deactivating and reactivating my facebook account.  I have just completely weaned off the anti depressants I was on for PTSD, and while I am mostly doing okay, I am finding the interactions on facebook fraught with aggression, defensiveness and just plain unfriendliness.  All things which I don’t need while I settle into a new equilibrium of neurological biochemistry.

I do bring it on myself I suppose.  I will call people out for being misogynistic, queerphobic or sex-worker phobic.  That is, on some level ‘asking for’ the backlash I get for doing that.  That last statement was victim blaming.  Which is wrong on so many levels.  Hhhmm.. let me rephrase that.  NO, by calling out misogyny, queer phobia and sex-worker phobia, I am not asking for anything.  I am putting information out there.  I am merely saying that that person’s statement, or share, or whatever, is perceived by me to be misogynist / queer phobic / sex worker phobic.  That is it.  They can chose whether to react to it or not.  Some people do react by saying thank you… but most of the time.. what do I get?  A ‘oh why can’t you just take a joke’.  Or a ‘but this and this and this not this this this’.

These sorts of reactions then require extra spoons to deal with.  Spoons I am currently expending by just…. living.  Yes, living require spoons.  Anxiety and depression require spoons to deal with.  Even at the level they are currently – which is very very very low.  EVERY interaction with the world which requires a response interaction requires spoons.  Work requires spoons and is where most of it goes to.  School, thankfully on break (which is why I’m weaning off now and not in autumn), requires spoons.

Maybe I should put a disclaimer on every comment I live in public.. something along the lines of

[Disclaimer: By leaving this comment, I am merely providing information about what I think of your last statement, you DO NOT have to react or to reply to it, it is merely INFORMATION which you are entirely welcome to read and discard]

There… what do you think?

Why are people not more accepting?  Why is the respond “thank you for informing me my last statement was misogynist.  I will think about why you might think that and maybe rethink my position” so rare it might as well be extinct?

To use an common analogy : When you give someone a gift, is the response ‘thank you, that is very kind’.. or ‘what is this, why did you get me this, what is it made of, what is the carbon footprint of this, where did you get it from, how much did it cost, did you buy me this because you think i need it’

When I comment online, I comment to inform or educate.  Sometimes to share congratulations or commiserations.  I do not ever comment to intentionally attack.  That just isn’t me.  To be attacked in response is… disheartening…. but I can deal with it.  But to be attacked when my mental health is bad and I end up spending 2 days curled up in bed crying… I think that warrants a break from the medium which gives me that grieve.

So… instagram.. my balcony garden.. my blog, my cooking.  And twitter.  Twitter keeps me better informed about world news than facebook ever could – and from people whose opinions I actually care for.  And because I am not an active poster, twitter for me is passive reading… keeping up with the news.  I know how toxic it can be.. but because i don’t have an audience and I keep in the shadows… for now..

So long then… see you twitter….

Twitter : @incoherent_qing

Instagram : @kirhymeswithpie

Food blog :


Normalised Everyday Discrimination

I grew up in Malaysia, a land of amazing food and culture coupled with horrifying, institutionalised, politicised nationwide racism and homophobia.

Last week a particular news item took the country by storm.  An 18 year old boy in a boarding school had been hospitalised.  He had been bullied for being effeminate.  Raped with objects and burnt with cigarettes and clothing irons.  By the time the news became widespread, he was in hospital with so many pervasive physical injuries that some newspapers reported that he was brain dead.

A lot of people are very upset.  The lgbt group I help to moderate is in mourning.  They are also angry.  So angry that there has been calls for the bullies to be raped, castrated and executed themselves.  The grief is thick in the air and there has been many tears shed over Navheen’s death.  Some media articles have said that he wasn’t even gay, he was just a bit effeminate.  We the LGBT community don’t care.  He could have been gay, he could have been trans – I guess we would never really know now.  We count him as one of our own, his death the death of family, and we are angry, and sad.

We have all been there, being different in Malaysia is frowned upon, and however it is that you stand out – if your standing out isn’t in an acceptable way, you will be bullied.  I witnessed a cousin who was getting chubby being bullied by family during Chinese new year holidays.  I experienced bullying myself in school for being a girl liking Star Wars (apparently only boys are allowed Star Wars).  I’ve seen bullying at every level – and yes professionally as well as in education.  Racial politics is so pervasive in Malaysian culture, moral policing so rampant – Members of Parliament have been hounded out of their seats for having leaked photos of sleeping in the nude.  (Aside : What business is it of anyone whether someone sleeps in the nude or not?!?!  Malaysia is a hot country!! And the pictures were taken without permission and published without permission, she was violated, but she was the one who had to quit, and not the people who violated her privacy!! GRRRRR!!!)

There is a lot of talk about punishment, talk about the (bad) influence of lgbt-right-activists.  There has been fingers pointing at all directions, but here on my blog I want to point the finger on one thing which few are talking about.  Normalised Everyday Discrimination.

Borrowing from this post which was widely shared after the Orlanda shooting last year.

People of Malaysia: You weren’t the bullies, but you sneered at transwomen on the streets.  You weren’t the bullies but you think gay people are sinful and need saving.  You weren’t the bullies but you were upset at rainbow flags at political marches.  You weren’t the bullies, but you use slurs for queer people.  You weren’t the bullies, but you would vote against legal protections for queer people.  You weren’t the bullies, but you are the culture that built them.  You put the slurs in the bullies’ mouth.  You put the sticks and stones in bullies’ hands.

Normalised Everyday Discrimination.  What is everyday discrimination?  It is the posts I see every day of the queer malaysians group I help moderate.  Teenagers and/or young adults who get disowned and have to leave home because their parents have disowned them for being queer.  Adults with young children who turn their heads away and tell their children not to look when a same sex couple holds hands in front of them.  Purportedly queer-friendly adults, with gay friends, who do introduce same-sex couples to their children, but hide the fact that they are a couple, just ‘friends’.  People who say “I don’t mind that people are gay, but can you please not shove it in my face”.

To this people I say: Imagine coming home from a two week holiday with your husband/wife, going into the office and everyone asking you how your holiday went.  Try describing your fantastic and fun-filled holiday without gendering or naming our partner (which will also gender them).  Imagine spending 4 years in the same work place without ever once referring to your husband / wife by their name or gender.  Does it sound easy?

When we ask to be accepted, we are not asking to be allowed to have sex in front of you.  Merely that we can do things you take for granted.  If you can hold hands with your opposite-gender partner in public, we would like that too.  If you can kiss your opposite-gender partner in public, we would like that too.  If you introduce other friends to your kids as ‘uncle peter and auntie fiona’ and the unspoken implication and acceptance of them as a couple is shown and demonstrated to your kids, we would like that too.

In a country and culture where the politics is divisive and racial, I am aware that this is a big ask.  When children are still told at a young age that the “ah neh neh (racist term for indian) will come and take you away if you run around outside”, or that the Chinese are all greedy money-minded pigs, or that the Malays are all lazy and inefficient – when the culture of discrimination of all types is so pervasive and universal, it is easy for queerphobia to be slipped in there too.  It is easy to tell kids that all queer people have aids, or all queer people are paedophiles.

But I am asking.

For Navheen.

For me.

For my brethren in Malaysia.

Stop normalising everyday discrimination.