13 September 2010

Special Feature Interview with Michelle Liew

I have the honour to interview Michelle Liew, a secondary school teacher in Singapore. She has been my long time good friend. I met her during my training as a teacher in National Institute of Education. The first impression that strikes me about her is her joyfulness, her incredible beautiful voice and talent in music. She has been a cancer survivor since the age of 10 and due to her tumour, her brain was affected and she is diagnosed to have ADHD as an adult. However, her determination, perserverance in life and her faith in God, she has walked through obstacles and hurdles, having to cope with the effect of cancer and operation. I greatly admire her spirit to fight despite the problems. She has attended my dance/movement (therapy) approaches workshops in Singapore this year, namely, ‘Embodied Self-Awareness Part 1 & 2’, ‘Authentic Movement’ and ‘Moving in Rhythm’. This exclusive interview will feature about her life and how she has benefited from the workshops. 

E (Elizabeth): How do you feel when you learnt that you have brain tumour when you were a little girl?

M (Michelle): Disturbed, of course, but I faced it bravely because I knew I could not do anything
else but that. So when anyone asks me how I could face an operation bravely, I would answer that I had no other choice. 

E: Has it been very difficult for you since then?

M: It has of course. It’s difficult for anyone to interact with someone with facial

paralysis, especially children, whom I face daily. Having been taught that hygiene is
important, they shirk whenever they see my nose run. I would get some awkward
comments, which I found really hard to live with at first. But I have developed coping
mechanisms like carrying my trusty tissue pack around. 

E: What kept you going during these years?

M: Pure determination and faith in God. My husband has been a constant source of

support both financially and emotionally. 

E: From your sharing, I know that you were diagnosed recently as ADHD adults. How did you feel when you are diagnosed as ADHD?

M: Unsurprised, really. I suspected as much because the sort of forgetfulness I experience

is uncommon. It is both constant and difficult to deal with because it happens too
frequently. Supplements have helped to lessen the fatigue that I feel. 

E: What is most difficult part of being an ADHD adult?

M: People not being understand why you make simple mistakes like noting

things wrongly or writing them on the wrong piece of paper.

E: How did you cope with it?

M: I have many different types of To Do Lists and my computer helps a lot. One also

has to make the effort to write things down and leave things in specific places so that
one can find them. 

E: Why do you want to attend the workshops?

M: I needed a form of relaxation and getting back to mental equilibrium. I need the

balance because I sometimes feel that I put in lots of effort into things that are either
unappreciated or sometimes do not bear fruit no matter how hard I try. Therapy is a
way of getting back to myself. 

E: How are your experiences in the workshops?

M: Comforting. I especially liked the 'Moving in Rhythm' session where I got to know more about personal rhythms
because I knew more about motivation and what my driving forces are. 

E: What struck you most during the workshops?

M: How we can synergize with people just by using their personal rhythms. If a snappish

sort of person has a biting rhythm, we counteract it with a gentler rhythm or avoid it
with another kind of rhythm. 

E: Having attended the workshops, do you find a change in you? If so, what have changed you?

M: I know about myself and like myself better. I also realize how we can look for areas

where we can synergise with others. 

E: Have the workshops helped you in your daily life now? If so, how have they helped you?

M: Awareness of my own personal rhythm helps me to be aware of how I can either

avoid using it on others or choose another sort of rhythm to counteract it.
Being aware of myself through movement also develops self esteem.

E: What would like your readers to take home with them today?

M: That where there’s a will, there is a way. As long as you believe in that, and of course,

in God himself. 

Thank you Michelle for your time and sharing about your life and experiences.
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