I think I have never properly explained to anyone what my life has been like.
Well, I am still trying to figure it out.
I am here to tell a story and share some thoughts. I want to tell you about my depression, though I may not be able to tell the whole story.
Here I go…
Last winter, it was when I started treating my depression with professional help for the first time.
I could always taste it when I have this flavor in my life, but I only knew it by name. It was perhaps the first step for me to undetstand what I have.
Depression has been in the background of my life for about a decade. But it was the worst it’s ever been. My depression had finally taken over and affected my physical health.
I don’t think I will ever know exactly what caused it. Even in my head, I can’t always process what I am going through.
If I must, I’d say the core is loneliness. Many other things just added on to the weight. There was stress from money, academic success, expectation, and so on… like most people experience at one point or another. And there were many different anxieties such that sometimes, it can be quite a ride just to get groceries and come straight home.
In the middle of reading papers like most graduate students would, I suddenly couldn’t recognize the words I was reading. The congested words and graphs became paintings. I could still see all the words, but I couldn’t understand any of it. I was suddenly illiterate.
It was terrifying. The walls were closing in. I tried again and again because a deadline was approaching. Tears filled up my eyes. I didn’t know what I could do. The world was ending. It became harder and harder to breathe. I felt my chest tightening and my stomach twisting. I felt weak and fell down to the floor.
I curled up as if it could help me hold myself together. I cried and tried to breathe. When I finally could, I climbed to my bed, and I closed my tearing eyes and tried to sleep. “Maybe it will be over when I wake up,” I thought.
It was not. I could barely think. I still couldn’t read. I felt sick. I was still terrified. I stopped. I simply stopped. I spent the rest of the day trying to find a doctor that I could see the next day.
I’ve never liked to see doctors or therapists, especially for mental illness, for several reasons. First is the stigma of mental illness. Second is the simple money problem; I didn’t know if I could afford something that may take years to completely fix, if it can even be fixed. Third is the part where you need to describe the symptoms and potential causes so they can fix the problem; I’d have to share my world – my thoughts, my life, and my insecurities.
Despite my personal preferences, I had no choice, you see? I could no longer self-help or process anything.
Sparing you the details: Seeing a psychologist was helpful. For the following 10 months, I was on medication and seeing a therapist regularly. I did until I could not afford it anymore, or rather: until my mind was finally clear enough to manage my budget and realized that I couldn’t afford it. For the most part, I felt like a robot – simply moving with the most basic interaction.
By the time that I could have a realization, poor choices were made and the year was gone.
I want to be positive and say the year wasn’t completely wasted as I learned to cope with this condition better. But I was in graduate school. I couldn’t just take a leave without consequences. Nothing is without consequences in this society especially when money is involved.
It was waking up from a bad dream with the worst sleepwalk. I don’t know where I am, and apparently, my house is in ruins now.
Life goes on.
I am not well, but I am okay. I am better than I was, but I am still not well.
The truth is medication helped me solve the physical problems, such as concentration and the lack of energy. Therapy helped me understand my problems better and actually encouraged me to talk to my family, which I didn’t expect. But most of what I have are still there.
I am lonely.
It’s not just a desire for a relationship or a partner. I often feel like I don’t quite belong in this world. Probably due to a combination of my background and my personality, I don’t know where I can call home.
The first half of my life was set in Taiwan. I was born there. I was there until I around 13. Then I moved to Shanghai, China with the family. But the interesting thing is that starting then, I went to a private school and studied with the American education system. With that and both undergrad and grad school in the Northeast of United States, I think it’s fair to say that the second half of my life is American.
But where do I fit in? I was back in Taiwan to work for a few years. It was odd. I was different. I have an accent when I speak Mandarin Chinese and other dialects. Being gone for so long, I wasn’t really part of that culture anymore. What about the states? I had to find out the hard way that to many people, whom I value dearly, I am that friend from abroad. And legally, I can’t be here forever.
I am stuck between the two worlds I grew up in but I do not belong to either of them.
The desire to love and to be loved is also quite great.
I am the kind of person that is moderately curious and interested in just about anything. I can have fun and enjoy doing just about anything. But I don’t have a passion for myself. There’s not a thing that I can just throw myself into. Perhaps this is difficult for many to understand. In simpler words, I don’t know what I am living for. I am alive because at one of the lowest points of my life, I stood on the edge of a roof and realized that my life wasn’t mine. It still isn’t at the moment. So I wander on. I will until if one day it’s mine but I am still wandering.
I used to cut myself. It wasn’t terrible because I dislike the pain.
The first cut was a scream for attention.
The second cut was a call for help.
The third cut was a reminder. It was for me.
If there was a fourth, it would have been the last.
Sometimes, I think love is perhaps the only thing that I can throw myself into. Because it’s the only thing that has ever made me feel like it’s all I need and I could give up everything for. But it’s like finding a needle in the haystack.
Oh, how I have imagined that if I ever find that special someone, she’d be the center of my world. I think I would actually enjoy being a stay-at-home dad because then, my family would be the center of my life.
I have only been in one relationship. Everything I remembered about it was sweet. But I never fully understood why it ended. Perhaps I was too emotionally dependent on her. Perhaps I put too much pressure on her because I felt like she made life worth living. Perhaps I am just not right. Is there something wrong with me?
Yes, despite my logical mind and conscious thoughts, I am convinced there’s definitely something about me that make people feel reluctant to love me as a soulmate. And yes, I believe in “soulmate”.
I know how to break this, but I can’t. So it added on to the long list of insecurities that was built on top of a series of rejections in life – not just love, but life in general.
I feel reluctant to try now. I just try to make friends. I think I am.
“What do you have to lose? You should keep trying.” is something that I’ve heard quite a lot. Well, considering how seriously I take on every step of human interaction and treating the people I care about, and how much I may invest myself in a relationship, I am not confident that I can get back up if I fail again.
Every time I fall in love, I feel like I will love a little less in the future because I lose some when I give some.
But relationships aren’t the only part of life, isn’t it? Despite how it fills my heart, I think it’s the last thing I should think about at the moment.
I can bare loneliness.
Sometimes, I am sad for no reason; out of nowhere, I may lose the energy to continue the day. I have learned to cope with my depression.
My social anxiety is worse. Sometimes, I don’t know why but even just going outside can be a challenge. Sometimes, I lose my communication skills despite my mind full of thoughts. It is still being worked on.
Those are smaller things for now.
I am lost. I am still at school. But honestly, I am not so confident if I can achieve what I initially had in mind. After last year, I started having mental blocks when it comes to studying. It’s like I am subconsciously avoiding the potential panic attacks. My efficiency isn’t very high. I lost the fighting spirit that got me here. I am a bit stuck because so much has been invested – money, time, health. I am not young anymore, and this made me ashamed of myself.
I hate that my parents support me so much but I am nowhere near success. I hate that when my parents talk to their friends, I am not one they can be proud of. I hate that I am probably the person that my brother doesn’t want to talk about if his friends ask about his family. I hate that when I talk to my friends, I am the only one who doesn’t have my life together, and I am the only one who has nothing to show for; I don’t feel worthy of being their friends. I hate myself because of all of it. And I hate that I have become impossible to love because of all of it.
I don’t know where my life is going.
Life goes on.
I feel fortunate that my mind is somewhat split into two. On one side is all my emotions and on the other is a clear mind that runs on logic. I feel unfortunate that my emotional side is usually the stronger side. Most of the time, I know exactly what to do, but I watch me self-destruct.
This is not a rant. This is me gathering my thoughts and tracking the whereabouts of my mind.
I intend to get better. I don’t know how anything will turn out. I think everything will be just fine eventually, but I might lose things along the way depending on the journey.
To my beloved friends and family: I know what’s written here doesn’t explain much. I just want to be as open as I can because I care about what you think, and there are just so few of you. If you are reading this, thank you.
To strangers, thank you for taking your time to read. I write personal things to clear my mind. I put them online because I hope my stories may be of some use to someone out there. And forgive me but it does feel good to know if someone reads what I write.
Life goes on. I am not well, but I am okay. And I keep on trying.