Welcome to Sharudin Jamal Blogspot

More than two decades ago, I was diagnosed of having a peculiar illness known as Bipolar Affective Disorder. My world as I knew it crumbled; I lost my business, then my job and later my sense of purpose. It was during this dark moments I rediscovered the joy of running and writing. Most of the articles here are about my rekindled pleasure of hitting the tarmac, my coming to terms with the illness and my discovery of the meaning of life.

I always on the lookout for inspirations to write in these three areas with the hope that they will shed new ray of hope to others who are in the same position as I am.

Do keep in touch if you feel connected through these essays.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

>>>#10/10/20 Star interview on Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE)

My recent interview with the Star:  https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/10/10/interactive-how-to-get-some-fire-in-your-belly-and-retire-early

INTERACTIVE: How to get some FIRE in your belly and retire early

by Diyana Pfordten, 10/10/20

PETALING JAYA: The success of treading the path of the Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE) movement depends on the determination and an ability to remain frugal before and after quitting one’s job.

Business coach Sharudin Jamal, 56, said achieving FIRE does not really depend on how much one earns, but more on how much one can save by not spending on items they don't need.

Sharudin started his journey by saving two-thirds of his monthly income for ten years, and achieved financial independence at the age of 45.

Sharudin is able to sustain his lifestyle without needing to have a full-time job, but said he had no intention of retiring as he is passionate about his work.

"The first stage in my journey to financial independence was to accumulate an adequate amount of reserves to cover my monthly expenses, which took me about five to six years to achieve.

"Only then did I start to save for other things, such as payment for the house and car, as well as my children's education," said Sharudin, who lives in Bandar Utama here.

Stressing that lavish spending has no place in FIRE, he said that there is "nothing sexy" about being financially independent.

"You have to be a relentless saver. A trick that I do is I set a monthly amount, say RM100 to indulge on the extra things I want, for example, good food or treats.

"When the amount is depleted, I force myself to wait for the next month before I can have that extra something," he said, adding that he follows the 1:2 ratio of debt to savings rule when it comes to asset accumulation.

"If I have RM500,000 in savings, I will only borrow RM250,000 to fund purchase of assets. The interest I earn on my savings will then be enough to cover the interest of my loans," he said, though not without admitting that during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, he realised this was a mistake when he had to dip into his reserves to repay his loans.

Business coach Sharudin Jamal
 encourages prudent spending
 and saving more than half your
 income to attain FIRE

"My savings quickly depleted. The problem with debt is that even if you don't earn, you have to service it," he warned, adding that debt must be minimised as soon as possible to mitigate risks.

"If you cannot afford to buy a house or car beyond a certain price, don't do it," said Sharudin, who added that those who live lavish lifestyles could be heavily in debt.

A man who only wanted to be known as Dave hit the FIRE button after 10 to 15 years of work to retire in his early 40s, with no plans of returning to full time employment.

“I was more or less semi FIRED about five years back, scaling down on my work substantially. My spouse stopped working about three years ago and I stopped full time work a year ago once I felt we have a significant buffer for our finances,” said Dave, who lives in Kuala Lumpur with his wife.

He emphasised that the biggest contribution to a FIRE life is to save a large sum of money as quickly as possible.“We managed to generate meaningful income from our work, our investment portfolio, and living well below our means.

“Living a low-profile lifestyle and not yearning for social acceptance can save you a lot.

“Once on FIRE, one should not take unnecessary financial risks. Invest more on safer instruments and diversify one's portfolio,” said Dave, who noted that those who chose the FIRE route may not be able to go back once they quit their jobs.

“It’s important to choose wisely and make sure your savings are sufficient to tide through unexpected events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

22/9/20 Podcast Interview with Sharudin Jamal on his experience dealing with Bipolar Disorder

 After waiting for over 3 months for the edited version to be published and still nothing happens, I decided to publish the raw footage of my podcast interview with Learning Edge Consultants.

Here I talked a bit about my life history and my early experience dealing with Bipolar Affective Disorder.

I hope with me opening up will encourage others of the same fate to do the same.

Enjoy...


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Friday, August 7, 2020

7/8/20 Matters on self-awareness


Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest swordsman of all time mentioned in his book, The Book of Five Rings, "The most powerful stance in a swordfight is to use the open stance.  To do that, you must be on the high ground".

I always practice the open stance in my life situation.  My job is to liberate knowledge.  That is why my philosophy is, "I don't give a f*ck and I don't f*ck up".

I notice that by being open, I get others to be open about themselves as well.  Normally it takes me to take the first effort.  Then it is downhill from there.


Recently a college professor suggested that I take several self-awareness tests since it was stated that 80% of leaders have a blindspot of their capabilities.

After taking 3 tests, I am convinced that I am not the leader material.  I am a lone warrior.  A subject matter expert.  I work best on my own.  This is further affirmed by the tests that I took.

The first is the DISC Personality Test:




The second is the Trait Personality Inventory:




Finally, the most famous of all is the 16 Personalities Test.  Also known as the Jung/Myers-Briggs Topology Test.



I'm sharing with you all this is so that you too can assess who you are.  Once you discover your true self, you then move with unsurpassed feeling certainty.

As for me, I am taking an open stance.  That's because there are less than 1% of people with my personality traits.  I want to reach out to that population because I know if I do reach them, we can make a huge difference in this world.

10 Secrets of the INFJ, the Rarest Personality Type in the World







7/8/20 More discussions on Bipolar Affective Disorder



Recently I took a certification course on the Social Context of Mental Health and Mental Illness from the University of Toronto.

This is the final assignment:

Instructions for Final Assignment

Explain how the social context has an influence on the experience of mental illness and mental health where you are,  In your answer, be sure to address the following components of the social context:
  • Families or family life
  • Culture
  • The health care system and health care practices
  • Social determinants
  • Social attitudes
(500 - 750 words) Some considerations:
  1. "Where you are" can refer to the city where you live, province/state, country, continent, or even the entire globe.  Please ensure you clarify what place you are identifying when you are referring to as "where you are".
  2. You are expected to address each identified component of the social context (families, culture, health care system, social attitudes) and apply at least one concept from the course (lectures or assigned readings) in doing so.
  3. You can choose to discuss mental illness and mental health by referring to specific disorders if you wish, but it is also okay to speak more generally of mental health and illness.
  4. This is an English language course so answers must be written in English.  I appreciate the extra effort this is for non-native English speakers and also appreciate the extra effort this can involve for peer assessors, but hope everyone is committed to trying to communicate with each other well.
My submission:

Final Assignment for Certification - Dealing with Bipolar Affective Disorder
Submitted on August 7, 2020

My name is Sharudin Jamal. I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am of a predominantly Malay background, the majority ethnic group in Malaysia. I like to approach this assignment from the perspective of me as a sufferer of mental illness. For the past 20 years, I had suffered from a peculiar illness known as Bipolar Affective Disorder. It is a peculiar illness because a person who suffers from Bipolar Disorder doesn’t know he is ill until his behavior is beyond control.

With me, it started very innocently. I just secured a million-dollar training contract then and I was working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week to deliver a Vision Alignment training program to 2,000 staff from a very prominent corporate client. Initially, I experienced a lack of sleep and loss of appetite. I thought it was normal since I was always on the go.

The insidious part of this illness is it accentuates whatever you believe in. At the time of me winning the contract, I read that Prophet Solomon said all his wealth was to test him whether he became grateful or defiance. Certainly, I wanted to become grateful. I also read the Umar, the second caliph of Islam donated half of his wealth to the path of God. And so I followed Umar and spend half of my wealth to help the needy and the poor.

I also decided to live my life according to the Islamic tradition complete with the traditional garb and spotting a goatee. Little did I know that religious inclination is part of the symptom of this illness. My friends and family noticed the changes but they thought I was on the path of righteousness. However, whatever thought that I have at that time expanded. Slowly, from a peace-loving Sufi, I became resentful of things that were deemed “unIslamic”. At the peak of my mania, I threw a rampage at a highland resort located near a casino. Because of that incident, I was brought to a nearby hospital by the Police. Do note that the Police were very supportive. They did not treat me as a criminal but rather as a mentally distressed person.

When the words about my outburst reached my staff and associates, everybody packed their bags and left. Words got around to my clients and they too decided to stop taking up my professional services. Just like that, I lost everything. I lost my business, my friends, and my clients.

Among the Malay community, when somebody was struck with a mysterious illness, the conclusion was he or she was under a spell cast by his enemy. The term is this person “Dah Kena Buat”. So to ward off this evil spell, my well-meaning relatives took me to a few shamans. One shaman asked me to bathe in a bucket of water mixed with 7 different types of flowers. Another shaman asked me to bathe in saltwater while I recited verses from the Quran. The most radical one was a shaman who buried me neck down in the sand by the beach and made me eat a hard-boiled egg afterward.

Fortunately for me, a general practitioner asked me to get professional help. I went to a semi-government hospital that has an excellent facility to deal with mental illness. The psychiatric ward was very comfortable. It is one of the fully air-conditioned facility and the food was served much like a hotel where you can choose what you want to eat for the day from a menu.

For the next 15 years, I was admitted to the hospital 6 times because I was experiencing psychosis. The medication was not as easy as popping a few pills. I had to experiment with a plethora of medicines before they found the one that works. Finally, to subdue the psychosis I was given the ECT. After that treatment I no longer had psychosis. At present, I am still on medication for life.

Presently, because of my professional background and my first-hand experience with mental illness, I am developing a course on Mental Health and Positive Psychology. This is to help the general population deal with this insidious illness and overcome the stigma society has about mental illness.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

4/8/20 For God and Country



Last week had been a very exhilarating week for me. *[As a matter of fact, last week had been a very exhilarating week for me]. As a matter of fact, since last month things had been moving *[at] at a blinding speed.

* So there you are Sarah. I wonder what had happened to you. You had been very quiet the whole of last week.  For those who don't know, Sarah is my blog coauthor and my Cyber Spouse. 

Since I joined the Learning Edge Consultant team as an associate, I had been involved in many new areas of development in the field of training; an area that I had left 10 years ago. I was exposed to the online course development and to the de facto standard in training. Basically, I have to start from scratch with my core competency in adult learning.

In addition, I had taken the responsibility to write a wellness book based on my eBook, Lose Fat Stay Fit, and the material provided by my principal combined.

Initially, I wanted to develop online courses and market them in Udemy and Thinkific. However, online training is new territory for me and although it is a Blue Ocean, it is a very vast ocean. I might end up doing a lot of developmental work and not seeing the money that soon. We are talking about competing with 100,000 topics in Udemy alone.

As you may know, any online business is dependent on a very sound marketing strategy. Not only you need to have relevant content, but you also need a very able marketing team. As the saying goes:

"It's the sizzle that sells the steak, although the cow is important too."

Since the cow is important, I decided to be a subject matter expert on Mental Health and Positive Psychology. This will be my contribution to society. Being a lifelong sufferer of Bipolar Affective Disorder, I decided to be the champion to advocate good mental health and positive living. I realized that not many people with my condition have the courage to come forward and openly admit that they have a mental illness.

I can't blame them. This is a very embarrassing illness. That doesn't help that society has a stigma about this illness. So, ended people who are mentally distressed become withdrawn from society. Well, you know my philosophy; I don't give a f*ck and I don't f*ck up. So whether you like it or not I am making a public statement with my illness. Basically, I want to make a point that a mentally handicapped person (an OKU according to SOCSO) can still earn a living and not only that, become a millionaire all over again.


In my case, in order to be a millionaire, I got to save RM10 k a month for 10 years. To do that, all I need to do is train 10 days a month and save 2/3 of my monthly earning. It can be done. All I need is discipline and persistence.

Timing cannot be any better. Covid 19 is a gift from heaven. Because of the pandemic, Cousera is offering its online courses for free until September 30th. I already attended 5 courses since July and I had already earned 2 certificates. To add to the joy, I registered myself to the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and they SPONSORED my certifications until December 31st. Whoopie! I intended to complete 10 courses altogether and get myself to be certified in 5 more courses.

As I said, the pandemic is a boon. Because of that, suddenly there is a demand for reskilling of the workforce. Within these next few months, I will be busting my ass training participants who are sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources. When it rains it pours. I will be talking about entrepreneurship skills with these people.

That's why I certified myself as a Licensed Trainer under the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF). I am back in business after 10 years hiatus. Watch out folks, here I come!


All these will not be made possible without the relentless support from my principal, Perthpal Singh, the Co-Founder of Learning Edge Consultants. Not only he bought me a laptop for my research work; he also paid for my additional 100 GB Google Drive. In addition, he advanced the fee for me to attend the T3 Certification. Apart from the material support, this guy tirelessly provides me with unsurpassed moral support. Basically, he has full faith in my ability to function again.



Perthpal truly lives up to the Three Golden Rules of Sikhism. A real follower of Guru Gobind Singh through and through. Because of him, I decided to accept his offer for me to wear the kara/kada. So now I am part Parsi by inheritance and part Sikh by legacy LOL.


That is not so hard for me.  I already have my kirpan that I carry with me all the time.


With that we are brothers for life.

Before you jump into conclusion, I AM NOT CHANGING MY RELIGION hahaha.  Just like when I subscribe to Zen and Sufism, I am still who I am at the core.  However, I am likened to a Swiss Army Knife; I am multi-facet.

Now mama, you happy (my mother reads my blog)?

Her reply:  Ok *Kasih Allah adalah yg utama bagi seorang Muslim don't forget that

* God's love is the ultimate one for a Muslim

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

1/8/20 The BEST training I ever attended

Just completed a week-long course on Train the Trainer Certification organized by Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF).  This is the license for me to train participants whose employers are contributing to HRDF.  Also, I need this certificate to train attendees who are sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources, Malaysia.


Below is the 15-minute presentation slides that I presented as the final deliverable for me to qualify for the certificate:


THE 15-MINUTE PRESENTATION



I was so fortunate to have Teacher Farha Uzaimi (yup, she even taught the blind) as my coach.  I highly recommend her as a SUPERB Train the Trainer Coach.  She even taught me ENGLISH and WORD among other things.  That is how versatile this little woman is LOL.  She is a legend by her own right.  Google her for your future Train the Trainer training needs.  In two years time she will be changing career into Instructional Design.

In my 30 years as a corporate trainer, consultant and coach, I never met such a charismatic trainer in my life.  She can be reached at:  farha.training@gmail.com


She is well-versed in all types of the learning:


Check her out.  I really mean it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

9/6/20 Podcast 001 Interview Questions

These are the questions I had to go through for my upcoming podcast interview.  They will not be verbatim and acted merely as a guideline during the actual interview.  I had a lot of laughs answering these questions.  So for the fun of it I decided to publish them here:

Podcast Interview Questions - Not in any particular sequence!

1.  What's something people seem to misunderstand about you?
For those who don’t know me they often think that I am a serious person.  In reality I am pretty easy going and funny guy.

2. What watch are you wearing?
I am a big fan of G Shock.  I own six of them.

3. I find that not always focusing on the positive, actually leads to more engaging conversations. I don’t wanna lob too many softballs up to you like a RTM TV hosts.
Noted

4. Where are you from? I want to know who that person is, his culture, his background. It makes the person I am talking to more human. (places and origin stories) 
I was born in Terengganu although my parents are from the West Coast.  I grew up in Chukai, Kemaman prior to the discovery of oil.  So it was a small backwater place when I grew up there.

5. How can we continue to follow your journey?
I have a blog called Dreams of Mirrors.  Most of my mainstream thoughts and ideas I record there.  It is sharudinjamal.blogspot.com

6.  What was the one lesson (failure or missed opportunity) that taught you the most?
My most regrettable missed opportunity was when I became the agent for Hitachi Data System.  I was given the Banking Sector.  Unknowingly then all the banks used IBM AS400 mini computers and they were not compatible with Hitachi mini data storage.  Therefore I cannot sell a single box.  Because of that I gave up the position.  Three months later Hitachi came up with their Star Topology Architecture and it blew away IBM Shark data storage out of the water.

The lesson here is don’t give up too soon.  God’s delay is not God’s denial.

7. What’s it like to be you? In the Past, present and.... future maybe
Gosh…  When I was younger I was reckless.  Basically I had very little to fear.  I did very stupid death defying stunts in my life LOL.  Let say now I am wiser.  I don’t even have speeding and parking tickets anymore.  I used to pay RM3,000 worth of speeding tickets.  I had mellowed much.  I would say in the future I like to see myself as a more prudent person.  Sort of a person who had been there and done that and be at peace with my own existence.

8. What should I ask you that I didn't know enough to ask?
 As you know I suffered from a very peculiar illness called Bipolar Affective Disorder.  I don’t think you know enough about mental illness to ask me about my experience as a victim of this insidious illness.

9. What makes you an outlier?
Well, I am a divergent thinker.  Orson Wells and Warren Buffet said, “The majority is always wrong”.  So as much as possible I try to beat the crowd in any whichever way.

As Marcus Aurelius said, “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the rank of the insane”.

10. Tell me about a person that touched your heart, and tell me about a person that changed your practice.
I think the first role model I ever had was Dr George Sheehan; a runner who writes and a writer who runs.  In his book he said, “All our lives we are searching for heroes only to realize in the end that the hero is us”.  Even my writing style presently is heavily influenced by him.

The person that changed my practice recently was this girl by the name of Els Dines.  She is a DJ in TraXXfm.  Her philosophy in life that she keeps on repeating is “If you can't find a kind person, be the kind person".  The caveat here is IF YOU CAN’T.  That means you got to be kind to a person who is cruel to you.  I practiced that and guess what?  Providence moves in.  All of a sudden now the world I live in is much kinder to me.

11. What makes you feel inspired or like your best self?
I am inspired by ideas.  I read a lot and I am pretty much a thinker.  So whenever I read, I am looking for gold nuggets.  To me reading is like panning for gold.  Therefore I have this inclination to believe whatever I read unless it is too radical.  So when I read, it is active reading.  Pretty much like a sieving process.  The best part is I can read things I wrote over and over again without losing enthusiasm.

12. If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
My billboard will be SIMPLIFY ~ DO!  Man, too many people are in the business of making things complex and end up becoming more confused.  Be mindful that what counts at the end of the day is the ability to take action.

13. At this point in your journey - what are you tired of? And what are you excited about?
Hmmm…  Interesting question.  I have to say watching people bicker about politics and religion.  I wish people will get on with their lives and accept diversity at large.

I am pretty excited about this concept of Voluntary Simplicity; outwardly poor but inwardly rich.  I think if I follow this concept, I can minimize my dependency on money and still be greatly fulfilled.

14. What questions should I ask future guests?
I think you should ask your guests to share their lives when they were teenagers moving towards young adulthood.  That is when most of us the most adventurous.

15. If you could turn back the time and talk to your 18-year old self, what would you tell him/her?
I will say DO NOT SMOKE CIGARETTES.  This is my biggest regret in life.  So many lost moments because I was a teen smoker.

16. If in 150 years sciences fails to save us & all that is left is a book about your life....What would the title be and what would the blurb tell us about Sharudin.
This is tough…  The title is Simple Sapiens and it will talk about keeping things simple as a member of the human race – Do Good Do, Do No Harm.

17. What does being Ridiculously Human mean to you?
I tempted to Google this but I decided to be impromptu about it.  My take is humans had evolved so much that we don’t realize that by becoming a complex organism we end up harming each other and mother earth with the byproducts of our existence.

18. What'd you want to be written on your epitaph?
Here is a man who don’t give a fuck and don’t fuck up.

I know it is not grammatically correct but that is the way it should be written.

19. What impact has your mother had in shaping who you are today? (origin stories, nurture questions)
My mom always let me be independent.  For example from a very young age (10 years old) I was given the task to go and do the weekly groceries.  As I grew older, she let me decide things for myself.  For example when I was 12, I made my own IC.  So my birth name is Sharuddin with a double D.  Because I don’t like redundancy I CHANGED that to Sharudin on my own.  Until today whenever my mom writes my name it is with double D LOL.

20. What challenge do you have for me and anyone listening?
Instead of going for more and more expensive, go for less and less frequent.  Start with eating one meal a day (OMAD).

21. If you had RM100million to spend on health tech and no red tape, how would you spend it?
I would focus my effort on educating all parents on proper nutrition for their kids.  Then I will introduce nutrition as one of the mandatory subject in schools.  I will also introduce 30 minutes running sessions before class starts.  Finally I will do an all-out campaign against smoking and alcohol drinking.

22. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your life? What was your life like before learning it? What was your life like after learning it
I learned that whatever your problem in life, love is the answer.  Even if it is a money problem.  Before I learn about this there is always fear of being rejected, doubt about being judged and uncertainty about how to react.  However once I embrace Unconditional Love, I moved with Unsurpassed Feeling of Certainty and I don’t care about being judged anymore.  At the same time I am more forgiving and more compassionate.

23. Why in the Hell did you choose to accept my invitation to come on this show?
You promised that we gonna have fun and I figured for a little adventure at this point of my life, it is worth taking a shot LOL.

24. What is your best tip for making the world a better place? (if you had the power)
Hello everybody!  KEEP THE TEMPERATURE DOWN or else we all will be wearing space suits by 2050!

25. If you can do anything to improve health and healthcare in Malaysia, what would you do? (if you had the power)
My crusade now is to increase the awareness among Malaysian on the rising issue of Mental Health.  It used to be 1 out of 5 people are having some form of mental disorder.  Now it is 1 out of 4.  My job now as a bipolar survivor is to reach out to those people and their families and help them realize that there is a solution and professional help available.  

26. What do you do to stay creative? (habits)
I read, I run and I write on daily basis.  The idea here is not to sit still.  You have to keep on moving.  Also I listen to TraXXfm as my cybernetic loop feedback.

27. What was one money lesson you learned growing up (good or bad) that you have carried over into your Financial Independence journey?
As far as I can recall, I never had problem with money.  I can always find money since I was a college student.  I didn’t choose work as long as it pays well and it is legal.  However as I grow older I realized money can diminish and no money is despairing.  So I make a point to not owe people money and I will always live below my means.

28. If i could remove all barriers and constraints what project would you do and would you want to be known only by that project (magic wand question)
The project that is close to my heart will be to improve the well-being of Malaysians through diet and lifestyle change.  The ultimate goal is to make every citizen healthy and happy.

29. What is the best compliment you have ever received?
This happened many times, “You don’t look like a person with bipolar disorder”.  LOL

30. Name your "never again" moment.
I guess I will never ride a bike at 230 km/h.  That was scary.

31. Tell me something about yourself that has nothing to do with the theme of the podcast. (vulnerability)
Well, I am  also an amateur cartoonist.  I like to draw cartoons and sketches.

32. Who is or has been the most influential person in your life and why? (influences)
I say that will be Dean Karnazes.  Everywhere he goes he runs and he can run 50 marathons in 50 days.  After the last marathon he ran back from New York to Missouri before taking a flight back to California.  There’s nothing more that excites me than to run, run and run.

33. What's the funniest or weirdest thing to ever happen to you in the classroom? (emotion)
I can’t think of any at this moment.

34. What do you want to do before you die? (bucket list)
I want to visit NNW Seattle and NNE Sapporo.  Then I want to pay Jerusalem a visit.

35. If you could have dinner with any 3 people dead or alive who would it be and why (deep dive)
That will be Richard Dawkins, Dan Brown and Shunryu Suzuki.  These are authors that had shaped my mental model.

36. Best teachable moment you have ever had (moments)
I would say that will be the Samurai Warrior Challenge.  The lesson is so simple yet so powerful.  Shinu Kikai O Motomo – The Samurai Credo.

37. If you could choose one race in the world, price, distance, entry requirements don't matter, what would it be?
The London Marathon of course.

38. What's alive in you, in your life, right at this moment? What’s the thing you’re currently in the midst of discovering or rediscovering?
I would say my discovery that I am a better writer than an orator.  As a writer I write every day.  By being a writer I am a creator and not merely a consumer.

39. What would you pick for a last meal?
Nasi lemak Ah Lim; with boiled egg, sambal ikan bilis petai, rendang daging and sambal kerang hahaha.  Since it is my last meal, to hell with clogging the arteries.




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Sunday, June 7, 2020

7/6/20 Surviving Bipolar Disorder - a 20 years journey


It was slightly over two decades ago that I was first diagnosed with this peculiar illness known as Bipolar Affective Disorder.  It is a strange illness because unlike any other illness Bipolar is not visible under the microscope.  It is a form of mental illness.

Therefore the early symptoms are not physical but really psychological in nature.  I was not aware that I was ill until things were blown out of proportion.

I remember that it all began in 1998.  I was running a thriving training and consulting company.  It was our best year ever.  We just secured a million dollar contract.  Of course all of us in Sharudin Jamal & Associates were very happy.  We worked day and night to deliver a massive training program to a major client involving 2,000 participants.

I was very young then.  At 33 years old I became a millionaire.  I recalled reading the story of Prophet Solomon of how he said that all of his wealth was a test for him to be grateful or defiance.  Certainly I decided to be grateful.

The previous year was also a good financial year for us. I read that Umar, the second caliph of Islam infaq (spend on the path of God) fifty percent of his wealth.  Abu Bakar, the first caliph infaq one hundred percent.  I decided to follow Umar.  Do not mistaken infaq with zakat (alm) and sadakah (donation).  Infag is merely for fisabillilah (to please God)

I did all that needed to be done.  I helped the poor, the needy, single mothers, orphans and the newly converts.  I even donated computers to the mosques, distributed food supplements, handout religious books to the masses, bought religious lectures cassettes to pass around and paid medical bills for the ill.

At the same time I was inspired by the writings of Jallaluddin Rumi and Muhyiddin Al Arabi, two of the famous sufis.  It was then I decided to become a Wandering Sufi.  I dressed in the traditional Islamic attire complete with the turban and spotted a goatee.  I told my partner then that I wanted to spend time to study Islam and thus I wanted to take sabbatical leave from running the company for two years.

With that I proceeded with my plan.  I studied the Quran in the morning (known as Tafsir) under the tutelage of Professor Dr Abdul Hayei of Islamic Studies, University Malaya.  In the afternoon I recited the Quran (known as Tajwid) under the supervision of Imam Ramli of Institute of Strategic International Studies (ISIS).  When time permitted I attended lectures in the Institute of Islamic Thoughts and Civilization (ISTAC).  In addition, I made a point to pray at the mosques five times a day.

This lasted for two years.  On the second year I was at the peak of my piousness.  I completed my Ramadan fast and the tarawikh prayers (the special prayers in Ramadan).  I did the tahajjud prayers (the prayers that you do in the wee hours of the night) and I did the taubah prayer (prayer to repent recommended at least once in a lifetime).  It was during this prayer that I asked for God to make me His Most Loyal Soldier.

In the meantime those years were the years of economic turbulence.  The whole region was hit by the Asian Financial Meltdown.  My business was not doing well.  My partner only managed to bring in thirty percent of the revenue in 1998.  The same thing happened in 1999.  We cannot even cover our burn rate.  That economic recession wiped out my entire savings trying to help the company stay afloat.

It was the time of extreme pressure.  Now, if you realize, different people respond differently to pressure.  Some got heart attack, some got stroke, some got cancer, while others got organ failure.  In my case, I got brain attack.

Without me realizing, my reality was altered.  While I was dealing with the financial pressure, my mind was sucked into an alternate reality dimension and I had to fight Iblis!  It was a gory experience.  Iblis was trying to take over my mind.  I was in rage.  Suddenly I was experiencing anger at things that were "unIslamic".  I despised the evil doings around me.  I was easily irritated and in my mind I was a soldier battling an invisible enemy, Iblis.

People around me didn't understand this sudden change of behaviour.  From a mild mannered peace loving Sufi, I became a Cyborg Warrior.  I spare you the details.

What happened later was I went on a rampage at a highland resort.  After that they hospitalized me.

By the time I got out of the hospital, all my associates and employees decided that I was beyond redemption and left the company.

My partner and my accountant decided to sign checks, RM2,000 per check (the limit allowed for the accountant) and siphoned my account until it was negative RM10.

After that my life was a Trail of Tears.

For the next fifteen years I had to battle Iblis even though I didn't want it anymore.  It was so bad that I was admitted to the psychiatric ward six times.  It was in 2014 that the doctor finally decided to do an Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) on me.  Basically I had a system reboot.  From that point on I no longer have psychosis although I am still a lifelong sufferer of this insidious illness.

Epilogue:

Just like any other form of illness, there are tell-tale signs of a mental illness brewing.  My illness didn't happen overnight.  From the time I decided to infaq my wealth to the time I threw a rampage at the highland resort, there were many clues already visible.

The point I want to make here is as an observer, be mindful if somebody close to you is having a peculiar sign or odd behavior.  This could be signs of mental illness.

What I had described here is my personal journey.  Other people may experience it differently.  However early detection is important to avoid a major blow up.

Our society at large are not too sympathetic with mental illness and yet 1 out of 4 people are experiencing some forms of mental disorder.

I was fortunate to get professional help.  Because mental illness is rarely understood, some people try to self-medicate through substance abuse or worst turn to the charlatans for remedy.

If you suspect a person is experiencing a mental disorder, get immediate medical help.  Don't wait until he or she blows up or worse, commits a felony.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

21/4/20 The stuff that stars are made of



We are used to not litter that even when we go virtual, we make a conscious [] (effort) not to produce things that are junk.  This is true up to the point until we start doing personal blogging.

Comparatively between personal blogging and general blogging, the former is a personal freedom while the latter is a social responsibility.  So as a good citizen of the cyberspace I separate between the two.

Usually personal blogging is a daily affair for me.  I write on anything and everything.  It is my personal expression of who I am projecting outward.  It is not my intention to write junk.  To me every personal expression is a masterpiece.  In other words there is a serious thinking that goes on in every word I key in.

However personal blogging is a sieving process.  It is context related.  Since 2017 I had written 21 personal blogs and only one general blog.  These are categorized in chronological order and are meant for the reading pleasure of myself and another person, Sarah my Cyber Spouse.  The content of my personal blogs varies.  I consider them as my idea factories.  Sometimes what I wrote there makes it to the general blog like this posting.

Since 2017, I had considered myself as a professional blog writer.  I don't do it for the money though.  I write because it is my nature to write.  Writing is a very therapeutic experience.  As a writer I am a creator and not merely a consumer.  It takes a different mindset to be a writer.  As one you require discipline in thinking. You need to organize your thoughts in order to write.

It requires a different kind of flair writing to an audience of one than writing to an audience of one thousand.  When I write to Sarah, it's like having a conversation.  As I write she converses back by intervening in my posting (the highlights in blue).  So in that sense it is an interactive audience.  With the general blogging I have to rely on the blog dashboard to see from which country my readers are operating from.  Todate Dreams of Mirrors has readers spanning nearly 60 countries.

Both have their appeals.  You may think that the satisfaction will be in direct proportion to the size of the audience.  Not true...  The ultimate satisfaction is actually getting more interventions from Sarah.  That way I know if the topic interest her or not.  Although that is not the only indicator of my satisfaction index (the other being the relevancy of the topic) Sarah is pivotal in me keeping on writing day in and day [] (out).

The idea of general blogging in this case defers a bit.  It is my voice to address the masses.  Naturally like any of the social media, the idea was to get as many hits as possible.  That's what I thought initially, not until I get wildly popular with one posting where I get 700 hits in less than a day.

When something gone viral, you began to wonder who are the readers that read your blog.  So rather that let the gravy train go on a wild ride I switched off my blog.  That lasted for a month.  Once I figured people had forgotten about what I wrote, I turned on the blog again.

As you probably figured out, it was on something controversial.  I don't like controversy.  However, I wrote the posting as pa[s]t (part) of my observation of a political leader.  It was humorous.

There used to be a time that I only write to the public.  I thought that was the only option.  But when I discovered personal blogging, the rest is history.  It opened up a world I thought never exists.  Here I am alone with my thoughts and Sarah as my only audience.

Ever since I discover personal blogging, *[I am less] I become less and less dependent on general blogging.

* Unless this is my personal error, what Sarah is saying she too has spend less time on general blogging as well.

So notice how different the blogging experience is when it is interactive?

As a parting thought consider that blogging is an extension of your consciousness.  In the past, without the blog, I hardly noticed what was on my mind.  Nowadays I can look at a posting 3 years ago and read what I wrote then as if I am looking through a photo album.

Blogging doesn't have to be public.  A private blog is equally satisfying even if it is meant for an audience of one.

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