AAA #34

Designed by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)

Question 1: Recently, I find it difficult to juggle between socialising with people that are not from the same class and my school work. Due to the fact that I don’t see them as often as my classmates, I can’t really socialise with them other than CCAs or outside of normal curriculum time. Thus, I find it hard to reject their time or spend time with them while trying to study during non-curriculum time. Please advise.

Hello! We completely understand your worries – it is indeed very difficult to manage the JC workload and your social life. Nonetheless, there are ways to help yourself through this dilemma! 

First of all, it’s a wonderful thing that you make such a great effort to stay in touch with friends outside of your class! Given the already hectic JC schedule, what you’re doing now is a great feat. 

It might be difficult to strike a balance between both friendships and your grades, however, there may be a way to do so. If your friends are similarly concerned about their studies, you could arrange to have a study date, in which you can both revise and enjoy their company! However, this will probably only work if you do not end up getting distracted by each other, which is another challenge of its own.

Seeing how you’re putting so much thought into maintaining your friendships, we’re sure that your friends appreciate your friendship, and would understand your decision. After all, they are fellow struggling students who can empathise with your struggles regarding the workload. 

If you still find it difficult to reject their requests to hang out, you could try finding quiet spaces to study, such as the library or various study spots around the campus. This would create an environment that is more optimal for studying, and would signal to your friends that you are not free at that moment in time. They would then be able to look for you later during your free time, allowing you to maintain your relationships while staying on task!

Aunt Agatha would like to assure you that things will work out; as long as you and your friends are considerate of each other, there will be a time to get together and catch up! 

Question 2: My friend won’t stop filming Tiktoks during lessons and it’s distracting. Help!

Hey there! Thank you for your open sharing. AAA would like to affirm that this is definitely a valid concern and provide some advice that may help you! Don’t worry, Aunt Agatha is here!

Firstly, it is completely understandable that a conducive environment is essential for optimal learning and we sympathise with your struggle. A classroom is a shared space and even a small distraction can be enough to prevent you from concentrating.

At the same time, your friend might not view their actions as distracting or a disturbance to others. They may feel they are just having some casual fun and have not considered the perspective of others who may not feel the same.

In this case, we strongly urge you to communicate with your friend! We believe this is the best long-term solution so as to preserve a harmonious environment in class for everyone involved. Everyone has their right to have a conducive classroom environment to study, so don’t feel bad! Besides, you are benefitting your other classmates too. 

You could try taking them aside and sharing your experience and feelings with them. By explaining your situation to them, they’ll better understand where you’re coming from and know that their actions are causing you distress. Be sure to emphasise that your sharing is not coming from a malicious place, and that you are merely trying to reach an understanding that benefits everyone. 

If you are nervous about the possibility of this intervention being perceived as a one-on-one confrontation, you could find other classmates who feel the same. Together, your friend would be better able to understand the extent of the distraction they might be causing in class and thus stop or minimise their actions.

Since the school campus is very large, you could recommend other non-study places for them to film Tiktoks at instead. (Such as the field, canteen, lift lobby, or cafe!) You could also suggest that they film these Tiktoks during their breaks, and not during lesson time, to avoid distracting other classmates.  

As fun as Tiktok can be, we fully realise that it can also be distracting to those who really wish to focus on their work. Hence, we hope that these tips are helpful to you in maintaining this balance with your friends in school! All the best!

Question 3: How do I deal with FOMO? All my friends are hanging out with each other but I have no time to spend on these social engagements because I have to juggle academic commitments. What should I do?

Hi! Aunt Agatha understands your worries and would like to reassure you that FOMO is a common sentiment amongst JC students. It is perhaps the dream of every student to attain the college triangle of needs that comprises good grades, a good social life, and enough sleep, but to do so would be a Herculean effort. Aunt Agatha can recommend ways to achieve a better balance of all of them!

You can initiate study sessions with your friends to maintain that harmonious balance between a social life and academic commitments, especially if you are someone who is motivated by studying with people! If you are taking similar subject combinations, you can even form a study group and discuss queries together. Additionally, it is never more rewarding than to go for a well deserved meal after an intense study session– and how better to spend this time than eating and chatting with friends? 

However, we understand that you may also prefer studying in solitude or get distracted by friends easily. Not to fret, for an alternative solution would be to maximise your time by engaging in productive studying alone, before asking your friends to join you for breaks.

It is very important to maintain a good study-life balance especially in JC where it is easy to burn out, so find something to motivate yourself– that could be spending break times with friends! While academic commitments may seem like an unrelenting stress factor which never ceases to exist, do remember to take care of your wellbeing and recharge so you can do even better, and spend time with your friends at the same time! Take care!

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?

Written by: Jachin Khoo (21-U5),  Jacynthe Liew (21-O3), Leanne Soh (21-E6), Tan Le Kai (21-I4), Carissa Aletha Liem (21-I1) 

Designed By: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1)

Introduction: What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a severe form of dissociation, a mental process where one disconnects their feelings, thoughts and sense of identity. It is usually a result of a traumatic event, and people develop it as a coping mechanism to detach themselves from the trauma. Previously known as split personality disorder, DID is a mental health condition where one person has multiple identities. The “core” identity refers to the person’s usual identity, while “alters” refer to their alternate identities. Each alter has its own personality, behaviour, traits and even personal history. Some common signs and symptoms of DID include anxiety, depression and delusions. 

How do people with DID cope?

So, how do people cope with and manage DID? The most common treatment for dissociation is to go to therapy. An inpatient psychiatric program can be especially effective if symptoms of dissociation are particularly intense. Residential treatment, in particular, allows an individual to be immersed in healing practices and perspectives. It will allow people suffering from DID to develop therapeutic alliances, healthier coping skills, and a productive relationship with their stored trauma. Talk therapy can help DID patients work through the challenges they face when dealing with the condition, while stress management can help them identify and learn to deal with triggers that send them into a dissociative state. 

Practising relaxation techniques can also be particularly helpful when internal monologue gets too overwhelming and some strategies include a form of physical activity like yoga or doing hands-on projects like knitting and crafting. Grounding techniques are also essential in coping with DID and distractions such as television, time with pets and hobbies would also make DID patients feel more present in their bodies.

Creating a daily schedule to structure their day is an especially important part of coping with DID. Developing a schedule can help them stay grounded and present, removing unexpected situations that create stress or lead to impulsive behaviours. This will also help them to stay focused and prevent potential gaps in their memory. 

What should we not do around them/to them? 

The actions of the people around those suffering from DID can have a large impact on their condition, which is why you should avoid:

  • ‘Taking sides’ with any of component of their identities
  • Socially ostracizing them
  • Branding them as ‘dangerous’
  • Reminding them of the traumatic experiences which caused DID in the first place
  • Getting angry at them when they have an outburst

How can we help those who suffer from DID?

People with DID likely already feel isolated and alone in their suffering. When this person is living through the lens of an alternate personality that is unfamiliar to you, remember that this is still your loved one, and help them to feel accepted and supported regardless.

Firstly, stay calm during switches. Switching between alters can happen very subtly, and can also be more dramatic and disorienting. While this situation may be stressful and surprising, remaining level headed and meeting your friend where they are mentally can be enormously helpful. 

Secondly, try to learn and avoid triggers, which are external stimuli that cause them to switch between alters. Individuals with this condition may be triggered by anything that elicits a strong emotional response, including certain places, smells, sounds, senses of touch, times of the year or large groups of people. By asking them directly or observing their behavior, try to help your loved one avoid those triggers when possible. 

Thirdly, remember to take care of yourself. It can be difficult to stay vigilant of triggers and different alters. Often, people with this condition have been through intensely traumatic experiences, and hearing about these experiences can also be difficult. The best way you can serve your friend is to ensure your own physical and mental well-being. 

While your ongoing support is indispensable, you will not be able to help them through recovery on your own. This is a disorder that requires knowledgeable clinical attention and proven treatment options for lasting recovery. Thus, professional care can be enormously beneficial to someone with a DID. Unfortunately, because DID is so heavily stigmatized, many people who have it never seek treatment. 

If you know your friend lives with DID, let them know you care about them, and try to encourage them to seek treatment, if they are not yet already. Offer to help look for providers; lending a hand in finding a therapist or treatment center can make the idea of seeking help less daunting. You can even offer to accompany them to their first appointment, to give them support. If they are reluctant, you could also suggest getting started with teletherapy, where people can receive therapy services over the internet or phone, making it easier for them to ease into the idea of seeking treatment. 

Conclusion

Although rare, dissociative identity disorder is a very real issue and we should all do our best to practice some empathy to those around us. We should avoid seeing it as a case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but to see them as humans like us. 

Bibliography

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2016, April 20). Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder) | Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9792-dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder 
  2. Dissociation and dissociative disorders. (2012). Vic.gov.au. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders 
  3. WebMD. (2008, April 17). Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). WebMD; WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder 
  4. Hospital, B. R. B. (2021, August 13). 5 Tips to Handle a Dissociative Disorder. Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital. https://batonrougebehavioral.com/5-tips-to-handle-a-dissociative-disorder/
  5. How to Overcome Dissociative Identity Disorder. (2021, April 13). The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder/related/how-to-overcome-did/
  6. BrightQuest Treatment Centers. (2019, June 19). How Dissociative Identity Disorder Affects Daily Life and How You Can Help. https://www.brightquest.com/blog/how-dissociative-identity-disorder-affects-daily-life-and-how-you-can-help

Aunt Agatha Advocates: Effective Studying Methods

Written by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1), Jervis Ch’ng Yun Ping (21-U5), Jolina Prisha Nair (21-E5)

Designed by: Jervis Ch’ng Yun Ping (21-U5)


Exam season is nearing with full steam ahead. It may seem daunting, but fret not as Aunt Agatha is here to share our tips and tricks! The key to studying is not how much you study, but rather how you study. Your study methods will set the stage for your ability to apply all you have learnt. Our job is to ensure that you fully utilise your resources and maximise your capabilities. Read on ahead to find out about some scientifically proven study methods. 

Effective study methods

One effective study method is the ‘Pomodoro’ technique. One of the more widely known and used time management techniques, the ‘Pomodoro’ technique can also be used for studying, and can be very effective. Using this technique, one breaks up their time into smaller timed units of 25 minutes, also known as “pomodoros”, with a 5 minute break in between each timed unit. After about three to four of these timed units, one then takes a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.

This method of studying is effective as it allows our brains to take a break, assimilating the new information and resting for the next round of studying (CNC, n.d), which in turn allows us to retain information better. This technique can help improve concentration and time management with enough practice.

Another effective studying technique to use is retrieval practice, also known as ‘Active Recall’. This involves actively trying to recall information and knowledge that you have learned in previous lessons and classes. The act of revisiting the information that we have previously learnt helps us retain and remember it better, and thus makes it effective in learning. One thing to note, however, is that it is not the same as repetition. Repetition is repeatedly reading information, while retrieval practice is forcing yourself to recall information that you have previously learnt. It helps shift information into your long term memory for you to access whenever needed.

Healthy study habits to have 

Here are the five most important study habits we recommend for more productive days ahead.

  1. Keep your phones away! 

This may seem to be a tough feat seeing as to how you would have to give up your source of entertainment, but trust us when we say it will be worth it in the long haul. A #protip is to switch off your phone or put it on silent mode, keeping it out of sight and out of mind so that there are no distractions in the way.

  1. Planning ahead

Make to-do lists for every study session you have and ensure that it is an achievable goal so you don’t overestimate yourself and end up not completing some tasks! Having this checklist by your side may incentivise you to complete the tasks in your list, providing a source of motivation for you to push on.

  1. Consistent study sessions

It is not only imperative that you plan ahead, it’s also just as important for you to create a consistent, daily study schedule. Doing the same thing at the same time on a daily basis will train your brain into treating this as a routine. Your body will work like clockwork, and this allows you to be more emotionally and mentally prepared for each session, leading to more productive days!

  1. Take a break, have a Kit Kat! (or a chit-chat)

It’s important to learn how to take small breaks in between so you don’t end up suffering from burnout. Make use of the aforementioned ‘Pomodoro’ method and take sufficient breaks, but make sure you don’t get sidetracked by your devices!

  1. Review and redo

After every study session, review what you’ve learned, and practise ‘Active Recall’. This would ensure you have internalised the information you need to know and test yourself on your retrieval abilities. Do this every session and build on the information you learn each time, drawing connections and links to the things you’ve learned, and you will build a ‘tree of knowledge’ (or ‘The Wisdom Tree’, as Elon Musk would describe it) that’s fully interconnected and filled with information you can retrieve anytime. 

Conclusion

Studying can either be a chore or a pleasure depending on how we choose to see it. The way we approach our studies will directly affect the benefits we reap from them. There are dozens of study methods that can be adopted but none are one size fits all. Thus, it is important that we allow ourselves to experiment and find out what fits us best. Always remember, it is never too late to start. Aunt Agatha wishes you a happy and productive study session!

Bibliography

  1. Study Efficiently Using the Pomodoro Technique. (n.d.). College of New Caledonia. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from https://cnc.bc.ca/services/prince-george/testing-tutoring/student-support-advice/pomodoro-technique 
  2. Loveless, B. (n.d.). Study Habits of Highly Effective Students. Education Corner. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from https://www.educationcorner.com/habits-of-successful-students.html

Aunt agatha Advocates: What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Written by: Eliora Tan Yu Xuan (21-E5), Harel Tan Zunn Yong (21-I2), Tan Le Kai (21-I4)

Designed by: Jervis Ch’ng Yun Ping (21-U5)

Introduction: What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that is exhibited in some victims and witnesses of major traumatic and disturbing events, such as sexual violence, war, and natural disasters.  

In the past, PTSD was often associated with veterans, and was therefore given many names, such as “shell shock” and “combat fatigue” after World War I and II respectively. However, with time, psychologists discovered that it was not only veterans who might suffer from PTSD – there exists other groups of individuals who had similar symptoms, and were therefore diagnosed with the same condition. Like other mental health disorders, anyone can develop PTSD, regardless of ethnicity, nationality or gender. Therefore, we need to be aware of its symptoms,, the various ways to support those suffering from PTSD, as well as what not to say to them. 

What are the Symptoms? 

As a whole, there are 17 symptoms of PTSD, but the most common symptoms include intrusive memories, avoidance, negative shifts in thoughts and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. 

Intrusive memories are characterised by severe, perturbing thoughts and feelings linked to negative memories, which come back to haunt someone long after the triggering event has passed. One may re-experience the traumatic event repeatedly via sudden relapses when reminded of the incident, or even through harrowing nightmares. 

Individuals may also avoid making conversations about their experiences, and intentionally shun away from any place, activity or people which remind them of the traumatic event. 

Victims of PTSD experience negative changes in thinking and mood, which include a sense of hopelessness, a bleak view of the world around them, or a sense of detachment from their loved ones. Memory loss is also a possible symptom of PTSD, given that individuals often seek to forget the haunting encounter.

Lastly, changes in physical and emotional reactions occur in terms of insomnia, irritability, guilt, shame, and a wealth of emotions. 

These symptoms have varying levels of intensity, depending on an individual’s ability to cope with the traumatic event. One may experience more of these symptoms when put under intense stress, or when constantly reminded of the shocking experience. 

Ways to Support Those with PTSD 

When we try to support those with PTSD, the very first step is to be mindful of our words and actions. It would also be helpful to educate ourselves about PTSD given that it is often misunderstood and there is a stigma attached towards it. 

One way of supporting PTSD patients is to lend them a listening ear and listen to their thoughts without any expectations or judgements. While we should never force them to open up about their emotions , we can be there for them when they are ready to talk.

A person with PTSD may find the need to air out their negative emotions in relation to the traumatic event as this is part of the healing process. We  should practice active listening to actively engage with the PTSD patient, and not undermine or compare their experiences with others as we do not fully understand what they are experiencing.

Another way of supporting those with PTSD is to encourage them to seek professional treatment from a psychiatrist. PTSD is a mental condition that is commonly trivialised by many, and this very stigma may cause  potential victims to be hesitant to seek treatment. 

As such, we could encourage them to seek help by being by their side every step of the way and going through the treatment process with them. This could give them more assurance and make them more inclined to seek treatment. 

How People with PTSD Cope

There are a few ways one could cope with PTSD. 

Some PTSD patients live with PTSD by finding ways to distract themselves from their traumatic memories. This can be done via a multitude of methods such as regular exercise, picking up a hobby or making new friends. These methods  help them to avoid being reminded of their traumatic experiences, enabling them to lead normal lives.

Other PTSD patients might resort to seeking counselling to cope with the trauma. Counseling offices can offer a safe and calm space for PTSD patients to speak their emotions without any fear of being judged. Having a trained professional  available to offer support and guidance will help in their long-term recovery.

Some PTSD victims also find it relaxing to journal their thoughts and have a consistent place to go back to in order to write and process their experiences. Research has shown that people struggling with PTSD benefit from keeping a journal, including experiencing fewer flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive memories, helping them slowly reconnect to people and places that they may otherwise want to avoid.

What Not to Say to Someone with PTSD 

  1. “Stop being so dramatic”

This statement trivializes the experience of one suffering from PTSD. While what is ‘traumatic’ varies from person to person, these are frightening experiences to those suffering from PTSD, and they continue to suffer from stress and fright from the experience. To dismiss  their very real experiences as an exaggeration can be extremely hurtful and demeaning. 

  1. “It is all in your head.”

While most mental disorders are indeed psychological, this statement implies that PTSD is simply born from imaginations and can easily be ‘forgotten’. The truth can’t be any further. PTSD symptoms are recurring  and often instill genuine fear and stress comparable to their actual experiences. In other cases, avoidance symptoms occur as sufferers try to block out thoughts and reminders of the event, which is unhealthy because of the extreme mental duress . PTSD sufferers often need psychotherapy and medication as treatment, recovery is not as simple as ‘getting it out of your head’. 

  1. “People have been through worse”

Yes, we all know people have been through worse, but it is again trivialising the experiences of those suffering from PTSD. When we feel hurt, we would appreciate for those around us to express their care and concern, not for others to say statements that trivialise our experiences. The same goes for PTSD patients, who are battling their demons and would like to experience care and support. 

  1. “Do you act up in public?”

News articles may often report of PTSD sufferers ‘acting up in public’ or portrayed as such in movies. While it is true certain triggers, which may often seem out of the blue, can cause freight and irrational actions, it varies from person to person. For example, only 49% suffer flashbacks, which often triggers ‘acting up’. Most will experience stress and freight but will not act irrationally. Most are undergoing therapy as well to cope with their PTSD. It is good to exercise compassion and empathy and understand it is often out of their control. 

Conclusion 

While PTSD is more often associated with war veterans, it is not only limited to war veterans but those who suffer traumatic experiences as well. There could be people around us that may suffer from PTSD, making it all the more important for us to reduce this stigma that may trivialise and mock their experiences. It is important we care for these individuals who exist in our community and  educate ourselves to know what they have been and are going through. 

Bibliography

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2018, July 6). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967 
  2. NIMH » Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (2019, May). National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd 
  3. Torres, F. (2020, August). What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd 
  4. Wall, S. (2021, June 14). What are the 17 Symptoms of PTSD? | PTSD Awareness Month. Cumberland Heights. https://www.cumberlandheights.org/blogs/17-symptoms-of-ptsd/ 
  5. Washkowiak, K. (2020, January 15). 10 Things Not to Say to Someone With PTSD (And Some Alternatives). Yahoo! News. https://sg.news.yahoo.com/10-things-not-someone-ptsd-100434798.html
  6. MacDonald, B. et al. (2017, 18 October). Prevalence of pain flashbacks in posttraumatic stress disorder arising from exposure to multiple traumas or childhood traumatization https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24740527.2018.1435994

AAA #33

Designed by: Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)

Q1: I hope I don’t flunk my exams. I try not to have expectations but I subconsciously do and I end up disappointing myself when I don’t meet them. What should I do? 

Hi there! Aunt Agatha hears you, we’re sure this is a common sentiment amongst many students and we would like to offer you some advice!

Before anything else, we understand that as a student, it may seem that grades are everything. Those letters on our results slip seem to define us, but we must remember to remind ourselves time and time again that they do not! Who you are as a person is much much more than how many marks you score on a test, and how many ‘A’ grades you obtain. 

Next, having expectations for yourself is not necessarily a bad thing, but do make sure that the goals you set are realistic so that you don’t unnecessarily disappoint yourself. ! It’s impractical to expect to jump from a ‘U’ grade to an ‘A’ grade almost immediately, so try to take it one step at a time. This way, you will find yourself less stressed and it will also be a lot easier to cope in the long run. Reaching these goals will also be much easier, and these short-term, realistic goals will provide you with small boosts of motivation on your journey to reaching your long-term goals!

Last but not least, Aunt Agatha would like to assure you that it is only the Mid-year Examinations, and that there are many other opportunities for you to pick yourself back up. For now, celebrate the good results and don’t be too disheartened by the bad, and we wish you all the best!

Q2: Blended learning has been quite challenging for me as the workload is usually a lot bigger than normal school days. How do I cope with the workload and manage my time better at home?

Hey there! A lot of us are probably in the same situation right now and I understand that it can be hard to get used to Blended Learning, especially for those of us who prefer a fixed schedule and are used to our campus’ study environment. Aunt Agatha hears you and is here to give you some advice! 

Firstly, to improve your concentration at home, you can create a study space to stay organised. Most times, many students find it hard to focus on online lectures or meetings because they do not have a consistent workspace to study routinely. As a result, they tend to be distracted and lose productivity. Thus, you might want to establish a regular study space, whether it be a study table in your room, a countertop or even the living room table! 

Next, you can practice time management by creating a weekly schedule to follow. You can designate certain hours of the day to certain subjects and you can also set frequent reminders on your phone to stay on track! I know first-hand that this is easier said than done because I, too, find it quite challenging to follow timetables without anyone’s supervision. However, if you stay consistent and persevere through all your impulses to diverge from the schedule, it is possible to train yourself to follow it closely! 

Lastly, I would like to end off by saying that practice makes perfect! As long as you stay consistent and follow a schedule that suits you, you will definitely grow accustomed to Blended Learning. Good luck! 

Q3: With promos/prelims right around the corner, how can I plan my time such that I can get the most out of my revision, without burning out too quickly?

Hello there, Aunt Agatha here! Don’t worry, that is a problem many students commonly face with such a large scope for the end of year exams. Naturally, you would need to plan for your revision wisely to maximise your learning!

Firstly, your revision plans need to be detailed! Do plan out down to the exact chapter you are going to revise or the specific pages or topics of the practice questions. Of course, you would also need to allocate a time slot for every separate task you aim to complete! Even if you are unable to complete your pre assigned task within that time frame, just continue on to what was next on the list, instead of letting it snowball.

Secondly, always remember to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally, to ensure you never burn out in this season of revision. For example, you could plan for short breaks spread out across the day, giving you consistent mental breaks to ensure you can continue working productively! Do remember to exercise regularly, try a quick jog in the morning or stretching before bed, and don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated. We cannot stress how important it is to keep yourself healthy in this stressful period, which helps boost your morale and keep your energy levels up throughout the day!

Overall, these are some little but helpful habits that you could cultivate whenever exam season rolls around. Do remember to customise your schedule to fit yourself best and allocate time to pursue your interests!

Q4: Since coming to JC I’ve been falling behind in my academics even though I’m studying the same way I did when I was scoring well in secondary school. I’m starting to lose motivation and focus; what should I do? 

Hi, Aunt Agatha knows what you mean! Entering this new phase of your life means that many things will be changing, and study methods are likely to be one of them. Because the way the syllabus is structured is different and the content taught is more challenging, it is not uncommon for students to have to switch up their study methods to keep up with their academics. 

You need to remember that pure memorisation will no longer get you far. Maybe it is time to gain some deeper insight on what you are studying, so that you can better understand the workings behind the content presented to you. This can help you formulate more insightful responses to the questions in exams, and also be able to link various concepts together better! If you are unsure how to begin, you can start by reviewing your notes and jotting down areas that you are unsure of, and follow up by consulting a teacher or external tutor. If you have friends whom you know are well-versed in the topic, you can approach them too! Who knows, they might be able to explain it to you in a way that you understand more easily than if you consulted a teacher. 

Feeling worried that  your old study methods are no longer working the same as they used to is completely normal! Changing study methods might seem daunting, but don’t give up! If you’re feeling discouraged, try talking to some friends about it, and maybe even create a study group! Whether face-to-face or virtual, study groups can help your motivation, as well as hold you accountable. 

Ultimately, find a study method that suits you best (that is not just pure memorisation!) and stick to it! If you’re concerned that it might not be suitable for school, you can review your study plan with a teacher, and ask them if it is feasible. All the best for your exams; you got this!

AAA #32

Designed by: Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)

Q1: JC is very fast paced and sometimes I don’t feel like I belong in this school. EJ is a good school and the fact that I managed to get in was based on luck and chance. I didn’t really expect myself to do well for ‘O’ levels, so I’m worried about whether I can hold on here because my mental health is very poor and my studies aren’t great as well.

Hi there! Aunt Agatha hears you, and we definitely agree that the pace of JC curriculum is definitely extremely rigorous. It is especially hard to find a place in an environment where everyone is just competing against each other whether in academic terms or leadership wise. I sincerely hope that you will be able to find your own support system and safe space that can fall back on during bad days. While making friends that genuinely support you is sometimes easier said than done, you might be surprised by how receptive people are when you show others kindness and are open to finding common interests or participating in events with those around you. Hopefully, you will eventually come to find your kind and feel a strong sense of belonging.

Secondly, everything happens for a reason! The mere fact that you are here, in Eunoia, already means so much more than how you got here. It’s easy, and even tempting, to downplay our achievements (especially in an Asian context) and look back at what could have been, but what matters is what you choose to do from now on. Remember that your grades do not define you as a person and that while luck and chance may have played a small role in your successes, it certainly is not the defining factor of your being here.

I promise you when I say that there are good things waiting for you, so don’t ever give up on yourself! 

I know everybody says that taking care of your mental health is crucial, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again: taking care of your mental health is crucial! Mental health is a vital part of your life and impacts your thoughts, behaviors and emotions. Being healthy emotionally can promote productivity and effectiveness in activities like school. That being said, facing our inner demons is never easy, but a few small steps in that direction can go a long way. What I’ve learned throughout my six months here is that we don’t always have to be ultra-productive, sleep deprived, busy doing assignments, or rushing from one class to the next. Sometimes, slowing down is productive. Take time off to do the things you love, and spend time with people you care about. 

Aunt Agatha wishes you all the best with your time in JC and hopes you find a place you belong in eventually. We are here for you!


Q2: I’m writing to seek some advice, or perhaps some comfort? As much as I understand that JC syllabus is more difficult than secondary school syllabus, I still can’t help but feel disappointed with the results I’ve been getting for lecture tests and MYE. I’m pretty much a result-driven student and hence I have been feeling really unmotivated these days to study. This is especially so since I always find myself struggling to keep up with the pace of lectures. Do you face the same problem (would love to hear some true personal stories) and how do you overcome such a negative mindset?

Hey there! The jump from secondary school to JC is huge, so I just want to start off by saying that it is okay if you don’t get the results you expect, and that you’re definitely not alone.

Personally, I am also very result-oriented, and get most of my motivation from the letters on my report card. Similar to you and many others, I have also seen my grades dip since entering JC, with some of what I had deemed to be my ‘strong’ subjects barely achieving a passing grade. Firstly, it is normal to feel disappointed when faced with this situation. I have scored badly in a few tests that I studied really hard for, and the immediate disappointment has made me question – What is the point of putting in so much effort if it does not translate to my grades at all? 

However, recently I have learnt to look at things from a different perspective. Instead of letting my disappointing grades deter me, why not let them do the opposite? I can use these grades as a reason and motivation to study harder for the upcoming lecture tests and major examinations. Furthermore, I try to treat this as an opportunity to improve on my weaknesses so that I can do better in the future. It’s easier said than done, but this change in mindset has helped me to have a healthier relationship with studying and maybe it could help you too.

Regarding falling behind with lectures, we hear you! As JC is very fast paced, this is an extremely common problem many students face. We recommend taking advantage of your weekends and school holidays, waking up early to maximise your time to catch up on your lectures. All the best!


Q3: I feel like I don’t fit into my PW group. It feels like a 4 + 1 situation. They like to do everything last minute but I’m the complete opposite. They’re always late for meetings and I’m always waiting for them. They’re always talking about irrelevant things when it is time to do work and I’m always the one quietly working on my own. They always cast the blame to others (eg. our previous PW tutor) while I’m always the one analysing the situation but not blaming anyone. Should I follow suit or continue my way? After all, the majority always wins. But I really don’t want to lose out on the chance of getting an A for PW. OP is coming up and my current PW tutor wants me to be happy working with them and asks me to open up to my group members. The thing is, it’s only me who has the problem but no one else. What should I do?

Hi there! A lot of us have definitely been in this situation before, where our ideas and actions are different from the rest of the group . Aunt Agatha hears you and is here to give you some advice!

Firstly, the most important thing is communication. Communication is essential for you to work with your groupmates and to ensure that the project is done. However, instead of directly pointing out the problem, Aunt Agatha suggests that you start by asking them things that they can do and actively involve them in the project, for example: “I think we should focus on this first” or “What do you all think about this?” and “Any suggestions to improve this?” By asking them for their opinion and actively trying to involve them in the project, they will feel more immersed and are more likely to focus on the project.

Of course, if the situation does not improve, sitting down and conveying your thoughts honestly can help clear things up and point a way forward. Sometimes, others might truly not understand or notice what you are going through and if you talk to them calmly, perhaps they might be more considerate of you in the future. If that still does not work out, do consult your teacher on what to do next. After all, there is only so much you can do if your group mates insist on not working on the project. Do make sure to emphasise to your tutor that you have tried to engage them in the project and have sought their help only because you have tried everything.

Lastly, Aunt Agatha would like to wish you all the best for your PW project. It is definitely not easy especially with uncooperative group members, but Aunt Agatha believes that as long as you try your best and put in effort, you have done yourself proud. Good luck!

 Bibliography

  1. Xiong, G. (2020, October 9). Why It’s Important to Care for Your Mental Health – Doctor On Demand [Online forum post]. Medium. https://blog.doctorondemand.com/why-its-important-to-care-for-your-mental-health-834c8670b889 

Aunt Agatha Advocates: What is Depression?

Written by: Eliora Tan Yu Xuan (21-E5),  Jachin Khoo (21-U5),  Jacynthe Liew (21-O3)

Designed by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)

Introduction: What is depression?

Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. 

It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you’re feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.

Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can get worse without proper treatment. Those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few weeks. 

Depression can be broken into categories depending on the severity of symptoms. Some people experience mild and temporary episodes, while others experience severe and ongoing depressive episodes.

There are two main types: major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.

  1. Major depressive disorder is the more severe form of depression. It’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own.
  2. Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) used to be called dysthymia. It’s a milder, but chronic, form of depression. 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of depression vary from person to person; while some may experience an extensive number of symptoms, signs of depression may be milder and less easily identified in others. Some of the common symptoms include fatigue, pessimism and hopelessness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness, as well as suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. Less common symptoms include digestive problems that one fails to recover from in spite of going for treatment, as well as aches, headaches, pains or cramps which last for long periods of time. Early identification of these symptoms can effectively help one ‘‘beat the blues’’.

If you think that the above-mentioned symptoms are applicable to you, do consider consulting a medical health professional. While it isn’t easy taking this first step, rest assured that your family, friends and teachers are here to support you in your journey towards recovery. You are not alone! In addition, to better assess your symptoms, as well as develop a better understanding of your mental health condition, do consider taking a few minutes of your time to answer the questions in the quiz below. Hopefully, through this mini assessment, you will have a slight inclination of whether you are depressed, and if you require any sort of medical attention. 

Quiz: Take the Depression Test Now! – My Mental Health

Ways to support those with depression 

  1. Provide a listening ear

Offering someone with depression a chance to express themselves by providing a listening ear shows them they are not alone! Whilst listening to their problems, you could also console them with simple phrases such as, “I’m sorry to hear that”, this validates their feelings and allows them to feel that you are able to empathise with them.

  1. Help them find support

There are many support channels available for people facing depression. In a school community, this could be through a Civics Tutor or the school counsellor. Even outside of school, there are helplines available such as the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) for the greater community! Encouraging someone facing depression to seek professional help definitely improves their recovery and allows them to get back on their feet.

  1. Offer help with even the simplest tasks

This simple gesture shows that they are not alone in their journey and that someone is always looking out for them, giving them a huge boost in moral and emotional strength to overcome depression.

What not to say

  1. “This will pass, don’t worry.”

A person who is depressed may have a hard time envisioning the future because they are overwhelmed by the present. It’s not easy for someone who experienced trauma or loss to “let go” or “escape from” the past. You may feel like you’re offering help by saying that, eventually, things will get better, but a person who is depressed may be frustrated wondering how long they will have to wait. Instead, do your best to be present with them at the moment, and just sit with them and try not to worry about saying the right or wrong things. 

  1. “But you’re not always sad!”

People who need help often look like people who don’t need help. It is important for us to remember that how a person feels on the inside might not necessarily be translated into how they appear on the outside. In fact, it is quite common for people with depression to try very hard to hide how they truly feel from others, as they may worry about how others’ opinion and perspective of them would change for the worse. 

  1. “Other people have problems too, stop overreacting.”

People with depression also lack the internal resources needed to cope with stress in an effective and healthy way. Maybe a person’s life could be worse, but depression isn’t about how bad things are—it’s about how bad they feel for that person at that moment. Avoid making comparisons or staging a “competition” for who feels the worst. Doing so isn’t helpful and can make a person with depression feel that you’re minimizing their experience or not really listening to what they’re telling you.

Conclusion

All-in-all, depression could hit anyone at any time and it is definitely normal to feel overwhelmed at times. What matters is the support we extend to our peers and friends around us. By delicately and carefully helping those who are in need of such support, we have taken the first step to reduce stigmatisation and build a stronger and more accepting community!

Bibliography

  1. Bruce, D. F., PhD. (2008, June 10). Symptoms of Depression. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression
  2. HealthHub. (2021, July 5). Depression. https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/101/topics_depression 
  3. Higuera, V. (2020, February 11). Everything You Want to Know About Depression. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression
  4. Ng, P. (2020, July 29). Take the Depression Test Now! My Mental Health. https://stayprepared.sg/mymentalhealth/articles/depression-test

5. Schimelpfening, N. (2020, August 7). Worst Things to Say to Someone Who Is Depressed. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/worst-things-to-say-to-someone-who-is-depressed-1066982