What makes me strong?

My husband.
My parents.
My friends.
My colleagues.
My students.

I still remember when those mental illnesses hit me so hard, I was blank. Then, seeing Rania praying with her dad makes me ‘sober’. I stayed on the ground for a moment. Rania was praying while holding her teddy bear and she followed her dad to pray for me.

Those moments are scary. I lost control of myself for a few days. I was so scared. I can’t think clearly. I crashed. I sunk. Rania has never left me for a second, she was always beside me, cure me by telling me stories and singing.

“Ran, I am sorry…”
“What for mom?”
“I was angry with you when you broke my laptop when we were in Dublin”
“That’s okay mommy, that’s not your fault”

That piece of conversation melts me down at that time. It took 2 years for me to ask for apologies to her. And I did that when I was ‘high’.

Thanks Rania for accepting me as your mother. I wish that you can learn something from my posts here. I can’t leave you anything but these. I am building a good name for you, as a researcher, as a lecturer, and as an academician, but I am not sure that it will be a good enough for you to be proud of me, like I proud of you πŸ™‚

You are the reason – Calum Scott

Mental Health

Everyone has physical health and mental health. Almost everyone cares about their physical health but not their mental health. Sometimes, people do not realize that they have a mental problem until they talk to an expert (a psychiatrist). But, believe me, in a developing country like Indonesia, meeting a psychiatrist is an embarrassment. People will judge you that you are lunatic or crazy. People prefer to hide their problems even though sometimes they have a feeling that they are not (mentally) healthy. This stigma is still a huge problem in a country like Indonesia.

I am writing this, not because I am healthy. I have been diagnosed with two mental illnesses. My parents asked me to keep this private information only to me and my closest circle, but, I decided to write this in a blog post so people will aware of their mental health as good as their physical health. Well, I also encourage them who feel mentally unhealthy to look for help from a psychiatrist.

What if my students read this post? Will they lack trust in me and think that I am crazy and not capable to teach them? It is my risk.

What if my employer and my colleagues read this post? They already know, and I told my circle. Again, it is their choice to have me as their friend or not, after knowing this.

What if my family read this post? Well, some of them already know. One of two mental illnesses is inherited from my grandmother, so, it is in my gene.

When is the first time I realize that I am not okay? Since I was a kid, third-grade. But it is disappeared through time, my parents ignored it, and it came again last year.

What are my symptoms?
– I am overthinking
– I am too self-centered
– I am over-sensitive, my feeling is easily get hurt by a simple ambiguous sentence
– My sleeping pattern is changed, I constantly wake up in the middle of the night without any specific purpose
– I am restlessness
– I continuously hear people conversation even though I am totally alone
– I have uncontrolled imagination
– I stare to unseen objects
– I lack confidence
– I can’t cry or other emotional expressions (e.g. laugh)
– I am anxious

After consulting with two experts, they gave me pills. I consumed them for 3-4 months and get better. Now, I am so relaxed and enjoy my daily activities. I control my thinking and feeling. My confidence gets better and I find myself again. Those scary moments have passed and I am grateful that I am surrounded by supportive and positive-thinking people.

What are my triggers?
– Stress.
– Long-term sadness, I still remember how sad I was when I got separated from Rania. I can’t walk properly but I must write and finish my dissertation.
– I have no friends to talk to, but I glad that I found a musical instrument that helps me through my hardest days.

People only see me from my achievements, my posts, my articles but only a few who see me as a fragile person. I can maintain my life goals, my physical health, my finance, but not my mental health (at that time). I am so glad that my husband is very supportive and still trusts me as Rania’s mother. Educating and playing with Rania makes me feel that I am wanted and needed; I have to live and cure my mental problems.

If you have or feel that you are not mentally healthy, please visit an expert. Your life is precious and you are not alone.

If you know somebody has a mental problem, please be a supportive person. The least you can do is being a non-toxic and less-judging person. Everyone has their own problem, and your cynical comments won’t help any of those, only making it worse.

At the end of the day, problems passed and I got some learning. I should be more grateful for what God gave to me and to my family. Not all people have this kind of journey, sometimes people can’t appreciate what they have until they lost it. I have lost my mental health in a way that I can’t anticipate. I am so grateful that God gave it back to me. I am so grateful that no one in my circle left me on that day. They support me as a friend, as a family, as a colleague.

Thanks for being there for listening to me; you are like stars, not always seen but always there.


Exam invigilations always introduce something new to me, either getting know to new people, new students’ habit, or even new scary incidence. Just to remind myself, that I have spent a special time between my thesis writing to write this post, but I set time to publish this post in next year, 2019. I don’t really want that the unwanted reaction to this post affects my viva or my process to achieve my Ph.D. diploma. Well, there is a possibility that my external examiner was born in a place that will be explained in this post and take it personally. All I want is just to share what I have heard from my new acquaintance during my invigilation time, yesterday (13th of August 2018).

First of all, a crisis in the Palestine and Israel has nothing to do with my professional knowledge as an academician. So, I don’t have any tendency to discuss this thing further or relate this to a political view.
So, the story began when I met David. He is a chief invigilator and he told me that he spent his last summer holiday in Palestine. At first, I didn’t want to get attached to Palestine just because I am a muslim because since the beginning, to my understanding, the conflict was started not because of the religion, but a very old history.

So, on the way back from the invigilation venue to the exam office, I decided to fulfill my curiosity.

“David, I think Palestine is not a common holiday destination, what makes you decide to spend your summer there?”
“Ahemm…”, I think he needs a moment and select better words for not dragging me to a discussion about who attack Palestine, who is wrong, or something like that.
The story goes, he and the other 5 brave Irish men went there via Tel Aviv and spent several days in there only to experience the situation in the middle of a war and full of threats. They all stayed in a Palestine settlement and lived with families there, FYI, they have no Airbnb or a hostel.

He told me that it is a very lucky moment if an aid coming from UN or Indonesia was not shot or attacked. Clean water is very rare. They live with threats like every single day and night. Bombings happen almost like once every two nights. Every time Palestine people tried to build a new settlement, they will demolish in a second. It is like living in a hell. Palestine families where they stayed last summer were so kind sharing their (limited) food to us, so we can still alive and pass this story to others.

I have sooo many questions in my head.

“Then, why you decided to go there in the first place, David? were you expecting that situation before?”
“It is a difficult decision, I have two kids, a 6-year-old daughter, and an 8-year-old son, I might not come back to Ireland to see them again, but I need to find the truth. I do this for them.”

Well, to be honest, I would never have any courage to visit a crisis place like that. Even sometimes, I ignore what the truth is just to make myself safe. What a selfish thought that I have.

He continued his story, in Palestine, there is a granite wall like this (he pointed to an old building on our campus) but not too high so we can see the other side. Then I asked him what he saw on the other side of the war?
“A luxurious hotel, a pool, a jacuzzi, I am so ashamed that they who live in that hotel see these ‘killing’ acts like they view a scenery from their balcony. Even in this era, a holocaust is still happening in front of our eyes and we’re doing nothing.”
“is it at Gaza strip?”

My heart stops beating. It is us who remain silent, watching this news with an ignorance. We worried more about looking for the news source, scrutinize their backgrounds, investigate their motives for publishing that kind of news rather than doing something useful for them. Then, we debated with each other just to cover our eyes to see the truth. I know that this is only a one-sided story, only from one source. But there is a message that is being sent to me, and I cannot stay to keep it myself. Well, I still delay this publish time until I have my ‘comfort’ situation even though I know that David was not lying to me.

He found his ‘truth’, what about me?

What kind of truth that we have discovered so far?


“Where are you from, Retno?”
“Indonesia, have you ever heard about Indonesia before?”
“Me, a couple of times, a catastrophic country, and I saw your flags in a place where I took a holiday in last summer”
“Oh really? you’ve visited Bali last summer?”
“Nope, Palestine”


I hope I am still alive when this post is published on the 1st of April, 2019.


So, today I had a lovely lunch with my supervisor in a very pleasant Italian restaurant. While eating, we were talking about the concept of beauty person in different places. We only compared between Indonesian and European people.

I told her about what Galway tour guide said, around a year ago, about redhead women. I found that the people with red or ginger head are ultimately beautiful; I mean they reflect the natural beauty created by God. They even do not need to re-color their hair to be red or change their contact lens to get blue eyes (like Beth who has blue eyes in Tenerife Sea song) or have a plastic surgery to have a pointed nose. They are just beautiful as they are.

But then, my supervisor told me that ginger head got bullied in the UK. Then, I asked why? That is because they are different than the common people. I asked, what is the normal hair color in the UK? She answered, brown. Well, ginger is light brown anyway. Why they consider light brown and brown is two different things then?

However, I strongly believe that not all people in the UK agree to bully ginger head. But, I just really mad and sad. Why would anyone get bullied because they are created differently? And, they don’t ask God to be created as a different individual!

Well, even though they can recolor their hair, trained their accent to be like normal people speak, wear contact lenses to blend with normal people. But, I just cannot accept it. I will be very mad if Indonesian people bully an Irish person who is coming to Indonesia land just because they are different with normal appearance (i.e. black hair and brown-black eyes).

The most polite that we could do is just to staring and admiring their beauty from far. Yes, we do that a lot to ‘bule’ πŸ˜€
But, I guess staring and admiring from far is not considered as bullying, isn’t it? Well, sometimes, it causes some unpleasant feeling to the ‘bule’. I would like to say sorry to them if they feel like that 😦

P.S. This post has nothing to do with whether it happens between Irish vs. British, or ginger head vs. non-ginger head or red hair vs. non-red hair. This post is about the concept of normality vs. natural beauty given by God; don’t mess with the context.

Tenerife Sea

You look so wonderful in your dress
I love your hair like that
The way it falls on the side of your neck
Down your shoulders and back
We are surrounded by all of these lies
And people that talk too much
You got the kind of look in your eyes
As if no one knows anything but us

Should this be the last thing I see
I want you to know it’s enough for me
Cause all that you are is all that I’ll ever need

I’m so in love

You look so beautiful in this light
You silhouette over me
The way it brings out the blue in your eyes
Is the Tenerife sea
And all of the voices surrounding us here
They just fade out when you take a breath
Just say the word and I will disappear
Into the wilderness

Lumiere darling
Lumiere over me

You look so wonderful in your dress
I love your hair like that
And in a moment I knew you, Beth


Taylor Swift was interviewed and asked her opinion about this love song, and she said that the way Ed described the beauty of Beth (only Ed knows who Beth is) in this song is exceptionally deep.

The way it brings out the blue in your eyes is the Tenerife sea

Well, as long as I am Asian, I don’t have blue eyes (for sure!), but, I know the beauty of blue-eyed people from their heart. And, I have never visited the Tenerife Sea, Ramisa did, perhaps she really knows how beautiful the Tenerife Sea is. I think I should ask her πŸ˜‰

Love Someone

I have been asking many times to myself, why I miss my daughter so much. She is still alive, and she’s there living happily with her grandparents.

Why should I miss her so deeply then?
That’s because I put so much love for her, more than love for myself.

Next month, I will meet her, for sure πŸ™‚
I have to be happy and motivated enough to pass this last journey very well.

Have you ever feel so much sadness that even you can’t have a single tear coming out from your eyes which makes your throat in pain?
Until you feel that you are unsteady when you walk alone in the crowd. You can see things clearly, throw some arguments, jokes, but your mind is not there.

I never know that being a mother means that you have to endure this kind of pain when your kid is not around you. I never know that before.

Have you ever been in love before?
which makes you feel completely nothing without the person whom you’re in love with?
which makes you unable to take a breath when she/he is not around you?
which makes you sacrifice everything you have just to meet with her/him?
which makes you accept any kind of conditions, sick or healthy, or even you haven’t met her/him in person (because it is still a fetus in your womb)?

WhatsApp Image 2018-11-05 at 20.51.24

Then the question is changed to, are you going to let yourself fall in that kind of love after knowing the risk of missing or losing her/him from your sight?

I will always say YES.
This is the art of giving your heart to someone else besides yourself.

do all mothers feel the same way with me?

Lukas Graham – Love Someone



“Retno, you are so strong!”

That’s because you never know that almost every night I feel so weak and fragile with this broken heart. And, I wake up in the next morning, hoping that it is just a dream, but, it is not, this is the reality. And, I don’t have any other options other than being strong until the day I meet my daughter and my husband. That makes me look strong outside.