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Posted by Dr Ashley Wong Hoy on September 29, 2013 at 6:20 PM Comments comments ()




I spoke with a young boy last week and he indicated to me that he was never lonely as he always had something to do or say. It occurred to me that he kept busy thinking, talking or fidgeting with something and never really listened to anyone nor did he attempt to focus his attention. I sensed that he had an issue with his own feelings regarding his abject separateness, and that he feared being alone…I learned that he had no family at all and had been in foster care for many years. He was completely and utterly detached and spoke of having “no one to belong to” or having anyone “belong to him”……

To be lonely is to feel isolated. People try all sorts of things to get escape the pain of solitude. Most of these ways involve being part of something, like belonging to community interest groups. These are excellent avenues to further develop one’s potential, provide community service and cultural development, develop regional pride and community connectedness, and also to help individual people cope with loneliness and boredom. Belonging to groups helps us feel connected and less isolated though the most effective way to deal with loneliness is to develop healthy self-esteem and then gradually learn self-acceptance. This involves having a good idea of both personal strengths and weaknesses, but nevertheless, accepting oneself “warts and all” as a “project under construction”. If you ask others who are not lonely, yet live by themselves, they tell you that they have a few friends, keep busy, time manage, and importantly they express their creativity in a variety of ways. This may be by gardening, photographing, painting, writing, making something, building or restoring something, playing music, writing music or poetry, fashioning something – as long as it is creative and an expression of one’s unique self. These people are attempting to get in touch with their “true self” and to appreciate their “true self”… they are attempting to love and accept themselves. When we accept ourselves, and no longer present a façade to the world, we become calm with who we are, even though we may have things to change about ourselves. We no longer feel isolated or alienated, for we know someone – ourselves. Those people who are lonely, do not accept themselves, and have no one with whom to talk or to listen to, receive only one perception, their own. They become imprisoned within the walls of their own silence. There can be few things more tortuous than being kept in a vacuum with your own thoughts and bottled-up feelings. Sometimes, a moment with your own thoughts might be calming especially when life gets chaotic! Yet solitary confinement, whether it is a physical, social, emotional, mental or spiritual solitude, provides only one perception of reality, through one dialogue, one heart, and one set of eyes and ears. It presents a distorted and incomplete profile of this world, and limits our understanding and experience. Even though there may be risk of Acceptance, Conflict or Rejection if we were to attempt to make new friends and share perspectives, we gain insight into ourselves and into others. We learn that we are not alone, for we relate to anothers’ personal triumph or pain, or to someone’s anxiety or success. But most of all, we may discover that we really do have a few things in common, and that we do “belong to others” and they to us.


Posted by Dr Ashley Wong Hoy on September 29, 2013 at 6:15 PM Comments comments ()



"Hope is that which makes me get out of bed..." Ashley Wong Hoy

Some time back I met Rachel *. Rachel is a young thirty year old woman - much like any other young woman one could meet. She has a mum, she has a dad. She has a job. But she is different from many others because she has lost something. She lost something more important than her parents or her worldly possessions. For it was many years ago when she began to think that she was horrible, that she was ugly, that she was overweight, that she was stupid - it was when she was a little girl that she was abused and lost this thing called Hope.

Indeed she is not horrible, ugly, overweight or stupid - but it was a long way back when she first felt the shame.

These days she crawls out of bed and goes to her workplace and works in a team of six highly paid advertising professionals. None of them know that Rachel thinks about suicide every day. How could they? Someone as creative as she could never be thinking of anything but “the corporate project” and the accolades that will come in. But no, she thinks about all the ways she can escape the living hell that is her life - without causing too much pain to her family, yet doing the “job” right, and making sure she kills herself properly.

Hope is a vital thing. It is a dream that gives us a purpose to live, and a chance to overcome mistakes. Even mistakes that aren’t our own, just like Rachel.

Hope is a necessary thing. It introduces itself to our needs, our need to be accepted, to be valued and to belong. It enables us to meet our needs and to see what vistas may lie around the corner of our life.

Just like yesterday, when I saw a man who was resting after suffering a massive stroke. His family was there, caring for him, loving him, being themselves. The doctors say there is nothing they can do anymore and he will soon die. Yet in the midst of that sadness, I saw Hope. As that man passes on, his family shows him that he is valued as father, husband, and memory - accepted as man and friend, and that he belongs with the rest of us. His family will warm to his jokes and fun even in memory, they will all bond closer to the common love that they share, and they will reflect upon the affection that they received from him when in his company.

For Hope is a lovely thing.

For the Hope is not in his recovery but in ours. We have Hope when we bring ourselves to love those that please or annoy, or to love those that we understand or those whom we do not. If we do, we achieve a Hope to the future as a caring and principled mass of people with both interests and purpose and able to help ourselves and others - others who have lost Hope and become mere single fragments- alienated and frightened, like Rachel. To love unconditionally, amid another’s trouble, anguish and pain, or to accept them despite their shortcomings and poor behaviour is a mighty thing for the human spirit to express. Yet one day as you and I express love without condition, and give love to those among us who many years ago received not, I know that Rachel will smile and Hope shall find its way into her heart again.

* name changed for privacy

Mental Health

Posted by Dr Ashley Wong Hoy on September 29, 2013 at 4:20 AM Comments comments ()


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