Bringing Cheer to All He Meets

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Having joined Mamre Oaks in June 2017, Jacky*, 38 years old, has been with us for three years now. Seeing his bubbly side and cheeky ways, it is certainly hard to believe how he was when he first joined us. He would prefer being on his own and would lock himself in the toilet for a long duration of time. At that time, we hoped that he would slowly get comfortable with being around his friends and the team at Mamre Oaks.  

But what a change we’ve seen! Since last year, we have noticed some considerable improvements in Jacky’s behaviour and interaction with his friends, volunteers and staff. He goes about his routine duties willingly without much prompting from the staff or volunteers. In the mornings, he is usually one of the first to arrive at the Centre, and is always ready to help his friends, whether it be wiping the tables and chairs, sweeping or mopping the floor before they arrive. It makes us incredibly happy to see him enjoy doing the tasks which have been given to him!  

Jacky communicates mainly through gestures, but he is now learning how to identify the names of his friends and he usually helps to take the class morning attendance. He used to visit his friends in the other classroom but due to the COVID-19 measures, he now greets them through the glass door.  With more interaction between him and his peers, it’s wonderful to see how his communication skills have improved and how he loves the company of his friends! 

He brings cheer to everyone he meets and loves to express creativity through dancing!  

At Mamre Oaks, we aim to empower our members through providing opportunities to express their strengths and talents, and celebrate every milestone, big or small.  

We will continue to journey with Jacky in other areas, like speaking words and sentences in English and we are confident that he will be able to meet this challenge! 

*Not his real name 

Sharing by Mamre Oaks  

About Mamre Oaks 
Mamre Oaks’ vision and mission is to empower persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (namely the Special Persons or SPs) to lead lives of meaning, dignity and fulfilment through engaging activities at its day activity centre. Mamre Oaks is a member of the Caritas Singapore family. 

Caritas Singapore assesses the needs of our charity member organisations to fund programmes that serve our brothers and sisters in need.

The Amazing Souls among Us

As we continue to work through the Circuit Breaker trying to journey with the community, we have seen people who are touched by our outreach to them. And in return, we are humbled by their remarkable words!

Photo by Yu Hosoi on Unsplash

With the Circuit Breaker extension, case workers from ACMI made many calls to check on our clients to ensure that they were given the necessary physical, emotional, and mental support during these uncertain times.

These case workers had spent the last week calling families to arrange for a second round of care packs, which ACMI had planned to distribute to vulnerable transnational families and migrant individuals.

With many distress appeals coming in and ACMI’s continuous efforts to reach families, one of their case workers, Christopher Yu, was deeply touched by the generosity and altruism of one migrant family.

He shared that the single mother of two had said: “Please give my care pack to someone else who needs it more than me.

“I still have my job. Even though my salary is not much, I am able to provide for my two kids and take care of them. I’m sure there are others out there who need it more than me.”

Surprising and, yet, such humbling words.

Christopher said, “It was really heartening to hear such generosity from our beneficiary, especially after a full day of attending to distress calls and cases.”

Indeed, it is inspiring to hear that those who have received support and care from others, would want to care and give back to others.

It takes an amazing soul to be able to see the needs of others.

A Blessing in Disguise

Five years ago, the term ‘mental health’ was absent from my vocabulary. ‘Health’ as I knew, was purely physical. Pushing myself to meet the unrelenting high standards I set for myself was okay, as long as I did not fall ‘ill’.

Photo by John T on Unsplash

Unknowingly, pressure from all areas: academic, athletic and social, was slowly making me ‘ill’. Mentally ill.

In late 2017, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I remember looking up my psychology textbook for the diagnostic criteria: Low moods, check. Loss of interest and motivation, check. Insomnia, check. Thoughts of wanting to sleep and not wake up, check…

Am I depressed? Do I really have a mental illness? No, it can’t be. “I don’t have a mental illness.” That was the lie I kept telling myself.

Until one day, I broke.

Looking back, it is clear to me now – a life full of vigour, optimism and enthusiasm had slowly turned a gloomy shade of grey. Life became meaningless and in the wake of a failed relationship, I lost hope. Thankfully, my school counsellor brought me to the A&E on the morning that I decided that I could not go on with life anymore.

The following months were not easy. I struggled with daily routine. But thanks to medication, therapy, and support from my family, mentors, friends and fellow peers, thoughts of wanting to end my life eventually went away, and I saw light again.

Today, I can say with absolute certainty that I am not only living, but thriving in recovery. Depression was my blessing in disguise. By emerging from it, I have found my purpose in life – to share my recovery story and help others to overcome similar struggles.

To those out there who are struggling, please know that it is not the end of the road; help is out there. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness, but an act of bravery and strength. Life can be better than you imagine if you learn to accept your condition and accept help. Trust me – for I am, among many others, a living testament of these words.

Sharing by Amos, a client of Clarity Singapore

My Journey through Depression

’’The world gave me many things, but the only thing I ever kept was absolute solitude.’’ Now, don’t get me wrong – there is a difference between isolation and loneliness. As the song goes, ‘’Sadness is beautiful, loneliness is tragical.’’ Loneliness as a condition, can be both a curse and a gift, a justification or maybe the doorway to God.

Photo by Eepeng Cheong on Unsplash.jpg

I have always been an introvert, preferring to escape through the world of books than to spend lots of time mindlessly talking to people. I am not aloof – just that I do not enjoy making small talk. As a student, there is nothing more welcoming than the sound of the last school bell, which indicated that school has ended. Being shy and reserved has its negative effects – somehow, I felt alienated from and ostracized by my classmates.

The turning point came when I was 19, when my father suddenly passed away from a long battle with cancer. Suddenly, I was forced to grow up quickly without a father-figure beside me. I feared getting involved in a boy-girl relationship (BGR), because I was apprehensive about matters of the heart and honestly, who would walk me down the aisle? I certainly did not want to get hurt. Like a caterpillar in a cocoon, I had deep anxieties and would suffer panic attacks in the night. As a teenager, even though I had argued with my parents and drove them to frustration like any angsty teenager, I still respected my father.

The first few months was hard, and I did what I would normally do. I was angry, and I also kept my feelings to myself. My so-called “friends” slowly left me one by one, as they could not understand me in this state of depression. While I was depressed, thankfully I have never contemplated suicide or self-harm as I was brought up in the Catholic faith, and it has been imbued in me that Life is a gift from God.

In today’s society, there are many social taboos – people generally do not talk about death, and there is a perceived stigma that people who are suffering from mental afflictions are weak and not capable of handling the challenges of life. While completing my studies and throughout my job applications, I hid the fact that I had depression, while preferring to keep to myself as I have always been quiet, stoic and uncomfortable in big groups.

Today, I am still seeing a psychologist to help me through this grey period in my life, and I would still take my medications on a regular basis. The good thing is that I believe in the humane side of psychiatry, and embracing God has helped me become a more cheerful person. I love going for long walks as it helps me get closer to nature. This close proximity with nature in turn cultivates a deep sense of awe for God’s creation, and also serves as a form of meditation for me and helps foster my creativity.

‘’Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know” as quoted by Ernest Hemingway, a famous playwright. We tend to over-analyze because we know what we want and never settle for less than that. Many people with high IQ suffer from psychological problems. Even if they are not suffering from mental health issues, they still have what I would call ‘’existential depression’’. I blame it on the fast-paced society we are living in now. There is often no time for important connection with people.

As a message of Hope, I would like to end this writing with the quote “Life is a tragedy, but not tragic”. As such, there is no right decision in life. If you decide on something and put your everything into it, it will turn out wonderfully.

Deborah, client with Clarity Singapore