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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Message from our co-founder Elaine

To all our cat lovers, adopters, donors and supporters -

You may or may not have heard recently that I attempted suicide. If you haven't, now you know. We promised all of you an official press release on this matter that indicates Love Kuching's stand on the matter; but because I would be the one writing the press release (I handle all the media aspects of our little organisation) I decided a heartfelt message, an informal 'press release' on what transpired and how it affects Love Kuching, would be far better.

I suffer from moderate to severe clinical depression, severe meaning hospitalisation, which I have been before. Technically I have suffered from depression since childhood, but I only started seeing a psychiatrist for treatment in my late twenties (I am now 32). Since I have been on medication I got gradually better, though as in all depression patients, 'getting better' sometimes has a lot of 'getting worse' in between.

Before Love Kuching started, I had already been into doing volunteer work, going overseas to teach English in Indonesia. Being in the charity industry is my passion and dream. Then in 2009, we started the then called Ubi Kuching Project. It was small at first, but gradually we got to doing more, and by the time we rebranded as Love Kuching I was technically managing our entire group. We have grown a lot since then, if you have followed us from the start.

So, technically, I am capable of managing Love Kuching. Not because I have management experience, experience working in an NGO, studied management for my degree. These things don't matter if I am not undergoing treatment for my depression. But I am, so here I have been for the past 2 years, doing what is necessary for cat welfare as a rescue group.

In that case, why did I deteriorate so badly in my condition that I turned suicidal? It isn't because of 'compassion fatigue' that many animal rescue workers suffer from. It had nothing to do with my work in Love Kuching. As I mentioned above, many times depression gets worse and then gets better (and the cycle repeats). I simply had gotten worse. I had been feeling suicidal for the past few months, which I controlled with medication. That Tuesday I went to take my life, I had run out of medication, I had no money to buy new ones, I didn't want to go get warded because it was Spay Day week and I didn't want the agony of seeing my volunteers do the work without me, while I was lying in hospital, being weak.

In the end, I did end up in hospital because my suicide attempt was thwarted. The hospital doctors didn't want to discharge me early because they said I was classified as at 'severe suicide risk' for my attempt was very serious. But I did not want to stay in hospital and I got discharged against physicians' advice and went to see my psychiatrist at Paragon the next day. I went for Spay Day trapping (news on that in the next post!) and I slowly resumed my duties at Love Kuching. I was put on a higher dose of some of my medication and it has helped. Although, you must know this - it takes a lot more effort for a depressive to do a task than normal people. Regardless, I am still carrying on.

If I had died, what would have happened to Love Kuching? I covered the instructions on what to do to shut down Love Kuching in my suicide note, about one page of bullet points. For this fact, I am sorry. I am sorry that I wanted to shut down the work that Love Kuching does because I wanted to die to kill my own pain. But I didn't die, and so here we are, continuing, and for that matter, we will only get better and better in our work. This is my word to you.

Yes, I will continue to work for Love Kuching despite my illness, which I have been doing from the start. Depressives can work, just less than normal people (if your condition is as serious as mine) and it takes more effort, plus we fall sick from psychosomatic illnesses more often. But cognitively we are sound, and depression is not schizophrenia - we can differentiate reality from illusions. When we work, we are just tired and sad sometimes. If we love our work - like how I love working for Love Kuching - work becomes like therapy. In fact, if I were to list my hobbies, working for Love Kuching is one of them. And it forces me to get better. It is like 'occupational therapy'.

And there is more than just me in Love Kuching. We have our other co-founder Andy, who is also committed to and working for this cause (even when I was hospitalised). We now have a volunteer pool, who are superb people that inspire me.

So, will you continue to support us, a cat rescue group managed by a person suffering from a mental illness? I have hid this fact for very long, because I felt it was unprofessional to reveal personal traits, beliefs and suchlike in a corporate setting. But now that many of you know be it through the media or through this letter of mine - you will see us in a new light. I sincerely hope it is a better light because we still need you, for without you, there would be no Love Kuching either. I need you to love the cats in our lives and neighbourhoods together with us - for the long haul.


Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7  
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme  
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

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