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My Resilience

My latest collaboration with HealthToday Malaysia 2024 Jan-Feb issue. Section – Family & Lifestyle



My academic journey started in year 2008. I was 40.

I initially signed up for a Diploma of Arts in Counselling Psychology. Once I obtained my diploma in 2010, it felt right to pursue a degree, Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Counselling). Subsequently, with that degree in hand, I enrolled into a master’s in counselling programme.

Throughout all these programmes, I still had to work full time.

Thus, my weekends were devoted to my diploma and undergraduate classes. For my postgraduate degree, I had to attend classes on weekdays, after working hours.

Indeed, looking back, it’s a marvel how I managed to embark on and complete a non-stop 6-year academic journey.



I was doing my postgraduate programme when Dad fell ill.

Oftentimes, I had to rush him to the emergency room, mostly in the wee hours of the night. I remember going back home as late as 2 am or 3 am.

I was physically and mentally weary. It was a most difficult period for me—I was going through my internship training at that time, and I had to skip many night classes due to dad’s hospitalisations.

My mind would drift away a thousand miles; I could not absorb anything in class. My mind was full to the brim—I couldn’t grasp anything the lecturer said. I was drained and exhausted.



My dad’s condition deteriorated. His hospitalisations only became more frequent as time went by.

I was run ragged, spread thin, and I felt like I was drowning.

I debated with a heavy heart whether I should postpone my thesis writing semester to a later date, perhaps May 2014.

I was torn at the thought of having to delay a semester, as this would only delay my graduation. I started at 40, and a big part of me didn’t want to delay or spend more money that I couldn’t afford. I also didn’t know whether I had the energy to make it to the finish line if I dragged my education out.



21 March 2014.

I still remember vividly that day. Dad was once again hospitalised, only this time, he was diagnosed with cancer.

He would never again come home—he would remain in the hospital until he drew his last breath.

Mom and I visited him every day. I packed dinner for us after work. We ate together at the hospital and stayed with Dad as long as we could—staggering home only late at night.

Yes, I could still go to work and do what was required of me. Yes, I did my household chores as usual and solved everything that came my way with logical and sound solutions.

Yes, I thought I had it all together. Until one afternoon.

I called up my friend to share about my situation. A sudden emotion washed over me, and like a crack forming in a dam, I opened myself to that feeling.

I had been holding everything in. I had not allowed myself to process my feelings. I thought I was being strong for my parents, but in truth, I was barely holding myself together.

Life passed by and I couldn’t even wave at it because I didn’t have the energy to care for myself. I was numb to all emotion, until that phone call. I broke down and sobbed.



Dad passed away on 27 April 2014.

I registered myself for the thesis writing semester, set to begin on May that year—just a few days later, before I could fully recover from the void in my heart that was left with his passing.

I did this because, I told myself, I had to go on. This would help me focus, and that focus could be the glue that would hold me together as one piece in the coming months.

And so, I did. I finished my thesis.

I scored a high distinction for thesis writing, the only subject in my master’s programme for which I scored a high distinction.

16 February 2015. I received an email with my convocation date. I was exhilarated to find out that I was 1 of the only 2 students graduating on time.

Only then, it really hit me: I did it!

I have walked the line, fought the good fight. I have finished the race, and I have kept my faith.

I could proudly present and display my postgraduate degree because I earned this medal with blood, sweat, and with great honour.

I completed far more clinical hours than required by the programme. I proudly wore my mortarboard on graduation day with pride and head held high.

“You have to face a giant to become one.”

―Johnnie Dent Jr.