Cambodia Stole a Piece of My Heart.

life

One of the things I wish I had done more of in the past 5 years, is travel. Though I know I’m still in what is considered my “early” twenties and that I have plenty of chances to travel in my lifetime, I wish I had taken advantage of the exchange programs at Uni. For the last 3 years I felt very much stuck and bored of my degree. Perhaps I should have left– not permanently, but maybe I should have taken a break from UBC, from Vancouver, from my then stressors and tried something new more often.

During my 5th and final year, I decided to cross something off my bucket list: to volunteer in a foreign country that needs it. I signed up for a two and a half week volunteer program in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was by far the most adventurous thing I did in my whole life.. and I am oh so glad that I decided to take the leap because it turned out to be more healing than I ever imagined it would be.

Cambodia stole a piece of my heart. It stole my heart, nourished it with all its vibrant life, its humble nooks, and constant laughter, and then gave it back to me…[to be continued..]

 

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I am BAE.

life

Living in the hustle bustle of a city is not easy. I think we sometimes forget to give ourselves a break and breathe. Personally, I keep myself busy with work, never really giving myself the breathing room for errors — which is not a smart thing to do, especially for someone with anxiety. In hindsight, that’s probably why everything went haywire the last couple of weeks. I wish I could say that I didn’t see it coming, that it was unexpected. But if I was honest with myself, I knew it. I knew after my second night of insomnia and ecstatic high, that at some point I would hit a low point. What I couldn’t predict was how hard it has been and how prolonged the process of picking myself back up would be.

I feel as though I’ve been trying too hard to have good days. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve also been very critical of my situation. This almost automatic, negative backtalk I give myself only feeds my anxiety. Instead of worrying about whether I am able to take my next exams and what the consequences will be if I don’t, I should be focusing on healing myself. I should be focusing on treating myself before anything else. I am BAE. And to all my little ponies, who are struggling with life right now, you are BAE. Even if it feels uncomfortable and like an inconvenience, put yourself and your well-being above everything else. You’ll thank yourself somewhere down the road, when you’re not run-down from the life’s wear and tears, popping medication to manage your weak cardiovascular condition, having a mid-life crisis, and wondering how you could have lived a better youth.

The time to start being kind to yourself is now. Give yourself a break, step back and recognize all the ways you have succeeded in the past years. Stop over-analyzing all the ways you could have done better. Reflection is healthy because it promotes growth, but living in the past will destroy your self-confidence. You are not that person anymore and you cannot change the past, so learn from your could haves/ should haves/ would haves, and move on. Become your loudest cheering squad, your best friend, your mom — push yourself with the kindest encouragement and check-in with your physical/emotional/mental state often. Access what your primary necessity is before moving on with your actual work. Eat well, sleep well, and take care of your body, because YOLO; You only get to live once, so live well– make this one life all you’ll really need.

When the Walls Come Down

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Communication is a tricky thing. It especially hurts when I disclose information to friends and they “give me space” so I can heal on my own or they give unsolicited advice— advice I already get from my parents who are way more concerned about my future than about my well-being.

I know you have good intentions, but when I share what I’m going through, please don’t tell me the problems you have with my decision. I can see your perspective, how it may seem from an outsider looking in. I must seem like a naïve, lost child who needs to be pushed into the reality of the world.

But that’s not why I chose to bare my latest, innermost torment to you. I chose to do so because I trust you. I trust that you care for me enough that you will support me. I don’t need a “yes-man”, nor do I need another parental-like lecture– I need a hug. I need some sympathy and compassion. I need to hear the words, “Whatever you have decided, I will love and support you to the end. I believe in you, and you will be alright once this phase passes because you are capable and you will always have people by your side.”

I do not need to re-live the consequences of my decision. It was a very painful one to make in the first place; for the first time in my life, I was finally putting my health before school, before my career, before my future. I do not need to be questioned after making such a difficult decision. I should not have to feel like I need to justify my actions.. above all — I should not have to justify why I chose my health over my uni graduation to my dear friends. Although I appreciate your concern and your honesty, I did not ask for your opinion.

I cannot plan ahead, not right now. I’m barely making it through the week without an anxiety attack. Being challenged about my life choices is a huge trigger for my anxiety attacks since I’ve had to do that my whole life to my family. I don’t want or need another person in my life that slams the way I live my life when I’ve already made my peace with the fact that I cannot go on living the way I was living. I cannot continue living under everyone else’s expectations for me. It was too much pressure (and it still is) that I keep relapsing into these depressed and anxious episodes. I want to stop feeling numbingly sad. But I can’t do that if I’m surrounded by people who cannot differ between the moments when I need a friend and times when I need a parent.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is:

“Please… for the sake of similarly vulnerable friends who disclose information to you about their mental health, do not belittle their feelings, thoughts, or choices. They are doing their best to cope. They are re-learning how to live life and they have enough on their plates — please do not force feed your opinions or (what you may think is helpful) advice down their throats. However, unless they ask for it, it’s not what they want to hear in that terribly, emotionally naked moment. You did not live through it, so you will never truly understand the state of exhaustion they are in. People like me, cannot simply “snap out of it” or “get better soon”. People like me undergoing a depressive episode, are fighting off their suicidal ideations. Ask questions if you’re curious about what they are going through and if they are already opening up to you about their invisible illnesses, it’s likely they will answer you because they — like all other human beings– just want to be understood.

It’s the daily hustle, and it would be nice to receive a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold when the walls come down, that’s all.

 

Stay Golden,

YoungHumble.

 

 

Silently Suffering

life

Hello blogosphere,

**mental health trigger warning**

Lately I’ve be going through some stuffs — major change of plans and for a while there, I was feeling like I had no control over what was going over my life and.. well, with my mental health, having no control, getting little sleep, and the stress of finals season => *cue the triggering of my latest mental health relapse*. I like to refer to these episodes as losing balance because in reality, that’s what they truly are.. I take on too much, I get too many feels, and *boom* I’m having a panic attack in a corner somewhere. And then I have multiple anxiety attacks, insomnia, and persistent nausea before I realize — right, this is not normal. I need help.

This may seem like a very backwards way of living, but it’s just how my brain works (for now), and I’m still learning how to recognize these patterns of behaviour before they get out hand. However, it’s easier said than done.

This time, I was so excited at the idea of graduating uni next month that drove me into a hyper-energized euphoric state. I was finally happy with the grades I was getting, I was excited to experience life without school, I was day-dreaming about my upcoming travel plans.. I suddenly had so much energy and ideas that I kept losing track of time and one night of 2 hours of sleep became 3 nights of barely sleeping at all, which lead into a week of insomnia. Just like how a computer left running for too long spontaneously shuts down, my body was exhausted and my systems started crashing. I was nauseous,  disoriented, light-headed, physically weak, my heart was beating way too fast, I had a hard time breathing, and I couldn’t regulate my body temperature properly.

Negative thoughts relating to my body image, my social reputation, substance abuse, and self-harm started creeping their way back into my head. The thoughts paired with the physiological symptoms that come with anxious and depressive episodes lead to me checking myself into the hospital on campus.

I have a bad habit of downplaying my conditions when communicating with others (including medical professionals). So it’s not surprising that they turned me away when I asked for a doctor’s note, because they believed that I sounded as though I was “stressed”, and not having a mental breakdown. They even made a point of correcting my language when I said the words, “mental illness” .. they said that my concern was about “mental health, not an illness”. This was both frustrating and infuriating because I have a mental illness. My GP unofficially officially diagnosed me with major manic depression (aka bipolar disorder) nearly 3 years ago. It seemed unfair of them to correct my language before asking me about my whole medical history..

And this was not the first time that I’ve felt belittled by health-care professionals. The last time was by a psychologist at the on-campus counselling offices. She had suggested that I could perhaps be “using my symptoms of my mental state to receive attention.” after our first follow-up appointment. A;lsfdjakl;fjdl;akfjl;askfj;aljf Sighhhhhhhhhhh, NO.

I’m sick, I came to you for help (which takes a lot of courage in the first place). Why are you not listening to me? Is it my fault? Or are you not asking the right questions? Maybe it’s a combination of both. I can’t say for sure. But if there’s one thing that I know: we have GOT to stop treating mental health like a fruit fly, swatting it away whenever it comes around. We need to share our struggles, our revelations, and our growth — we need to start conversations on how health specialists can better help folks who have this invisible illness. They are silently suffering and it’s not fair. If someone had gotten into a car accident, would you say it’s probably because “they were stressed”? Would you say that they got into the car crash because they were “craving attention”?… Whether vulnerable patients are showing physical symptoms or not, everyone deserves the right to be heard, to be validated, and most importantly, to be treated.

Mental health is not a fruit fly, it’s a killer wasp.

 

That’s all for now, my little Ponies. Stay Golden. ❤

 

YoungHumble, out.

My “Coming Out Story”- Pay It Forward.

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Dear friends,

I’ve made a habit of never sharing my personal life with people.. At least not via the cliché fb post, but I feel my story is worth sharing and I’m finally ready to share it, whatever may be the consequences. Please bear with me for the next few minutes, as your views of me will change a great deal.

————————————————-
In May 2014, I was medically diagnosed with chronic major manic depressive disorder (better known as bipolar depression). Most of the symptoms started when I was 18 turning 19. I was given a prescription and told to ‘find a higher power’.

[I didn’t, btw– take the meds or find a religion.] Now, this may come as a surprise to most ppl because I tend have an image of light-heartedness and satire, but that is not the entire version of who I am. I guess you could call it, Me Version 0.5…

After learning of my diagnosis, I did nothing about it. I lived in complete denial, silently suffering from episode to episode for about 9 months until late February 2015. My parents didn’t (and still don’t) understand why I couldn’t just “snap” out of it or “smile and cheer up”. I know it wasn’t their fault– they just are not educated on mental health.

As a distraction, I tried drowning myself in work, taking on more courses, more tasks, and more commitments than I knew I could handle, and eventually got really physically sick (think dry heaving and feeling clammy ALL THE TIME). It also didn’t help that I felt so (SO!) lonely because I didn’t want to burden my friends with the news ..although I did eventually confess to a couple confidantes. Panic attacks, anxiety spells, delirium, memory gaps, temper tantrums, weight gain, random outbursts of tears, restless nights ..I once went 72 hours straight without sleeping. It was just a terribly ugly mania/depressive episode, the worse one yet if I remember correctly. Those were just a few of the uncontrollable symptoms I was ignoring because I just refused to believe someone like me, a first generation Chinese-Canadian born and raised into a “healthy” and loving environment, could have a mental, neurobiological abnormality.

The truth is, anyone can be affected– even someone like me, who is about to enter her 4th year of studying sciences with a focus in Brain and Behaviour (sounds like I should be studying more eh?). Mental health issues are just as terrifying and common as physical ones. The only difference is that mental health is being carried with a social stigma and easily concealed thus, flies under the radar. Look around and tell me public accommodations for people living with physical disabilities. Now look around and tell me the public accommodations for people living with physical and mental disabilities. Last one, tell me where the accommodations are for the people living with “just mental health” issues. Do you get what I’m hinting at?

It wasn’t until I started having suicidal ideations that I hated and was terrified of the person I was becoming. I felt like my soul was slowly being tormented and consumed by my ‘depressive self’. It scared the jellybeans out of me when it hit me, and so I booked it to UBC counselling services.

——–

Fasting forward to the present, I can now happily announce that after nearly 5 months of hard-work reconditioning my mind and reconnecting with my spirituality, I finally feel like Anna Jin Version 2.0 (the version I was expecting to be after surviving freshman year). My prognosis has never looked better! I’m now dealing with depressive and anxious symptoms, but not the full-blown ordeal. In other words, my mental health still has some glitches and I still need to ‘debug’ quite a few things (Lol am I using this comp sci jargon right?), but I’m on my way to a happier and healthier me. ❤

I can never repay what they have done for me down at Brock Hall and what my best friends have done to support me through all of this… all I can do is pay it forward. So, here I am today, reaching out to you folks. If you suspect you or someone close to you, have/has a mental health issue….SHARE. To your mom, dad, sibling, half-siblings, step-parents, bf, gf, TA, bbf, bffl, bae, Sam Smith, me, or the many local crisis hotline — anyone, really! The lovely people down at UBC are professionally trained and specialize in counselling psychology (or another similar degree) so that they can guide you towards your dreams, passions, and true self, and away from the life-dimming effects of your mental condition.

Figure out if counselling might be helpful for you, because trust me when I say that those 9 months of denial was more mentally exhausting and excruciating than I could have ever imagined. They were some of the most painful times for someone who generally has a high pain tolerance (I love spicy foods). I would never wish that upon anyone, not even on the Devil, because let’s be real here, the emotional scars ain’t pretty and they can run very deep. :/

Thank you for taking the past few minutes to read my so-called, “coming out” story. Apologies if it bummed you out with all the seriousness, but I hope you’ll share this message with others as well. It’s time to talk, people. Don’t delay the HAPPY, chase it (seriously, what are you waiting for, hm? ;D ).

With Love; Yours Truly,

AJ.

As always– Stay Golden, my little ponies ❤

Be the Person You Need to Be.

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Hello blog-ees!

It’s been a while, eh? So much for weekly Thursday posts..but I can’t help it! Life (and by life, I really mean school) gets in the way and I struggle to write when I’m terribly sleep deprived and uninspired. Maybe a more realistic goal for me is to just write something, anything, on a weekly basis. Whether it be a couple sentences long or simply a minute thought, I’ll try to find myself some inspiration on Saturday mornings and do a quick writing blerb.

Anyway, instead of doing my 7 page paper that’s due tomorrow morning at 11am and studying for a 10am test, I’ve been cleaning/organizing my desktop and I stumble across a post I bookmarked ages ago. Here’s the complete link: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kovie-biakolo/2015/05/the-graduation-speech-every-college-grad-should-get/

I guess I was looking for some motivation to start doing work so I decided to give it read and here we are now, 3 hours later..What stood out to me the most was this following passage about finding your authentic self and what type of person we should all strive to be:

“Forgive your childhood, your teenage years, and your early adulthood, so they don’t get in the way of experiencing your life now. Confidence, true confidence, will come not from “faking it till you make it,” but from confronting your insecurities head-on; having lots of conversations with yourself about them.

Try to visit as many places and converse with as many people, as time and money will allow you. It will make you a more compassionate person, and it will make you realize both how big and how small the world is. But don’t be one of those people whose identity is wrapped up in being a “traveler.” Always be multidimensional. You are so much more than what you can afford to do.

Make people feel welcome; make them feel like they matter. The world can be a cruel place for a lot of people who suffer in silence as they pass you. A smile and a kind word can be all the goodness you need to put into the world on some days.

Remember that when it’s all said and done, no matter how materially successful you are or aren’t, that the “stuff” of life does not make up for who you are, and how you treat people. That ultimately, “how well you’re doing,” is not about titles or bank accounts or the image of your life you project to the world. It’s about what you’re giving to the world and to those around you. And indeed, strive to be a more of a giver than a taker.

[…] Time is one of the most valuable things. But it goes quickly. Don’t waste it. Don’t put things off till “you’re ready.” You’ll never be ready to try out a new career path or move to a new city or tell someone you love them. Tomorrow may be too late – and that will be one of the most cruel life lessons you can experience – being too late. So forget about being ready, and go after whatever it is, today.

[…] Whether it’s career or friendships or love: Don’t be attached to the outcome of things; don’t be attached to a particular outcome of things. The process, is where life really happens, I think. And sometimes the ending that you want when you go after whatever it is you want, is not the ending that you need.”

All of it. I think the writer of this post is brilliant and I agree with all of it. I know this is a bit of a cop-out to be re-blogging content that already been posted about, but I really couldn’t have said it better myself.

At the end of my life time, it won’t matter what grade I get on this paper I’m procrastinating to write, or what age we graduate college at. It won’t matter that I listened to Justin Bieber or that I browse Tinder from time to time. What will matter is whether or not I have lived truthfully and for myself. And this is something I’m personally struggling with (but more on that later), but have finally begun to accept the person that I am/am becoming.

No longer shall I deny compliments, no longer shall I dim the fiery light that I hold. From this day forward, I pledge to live unequivocally my true self –and right now, that’s a compassionate, dorky artist with a roaming, hippie soul and a sassy edge. Be multidimensional. Be the person you need to be.

Go forth and shine bright, my fellow Golden Ponies.

Write to Live (Part I)

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There’s no denying the fact that I write to live, and hopefully, live to write. For instance, I’m having a strong compulsion to write this at 4 am in the morning while still half asleep. Why, you may ask? Well, I was woken up by a violent crying fit and asked myself the  question, “When was the last time you wrote anything?”. And there it was, my short-term and probably long-term solution to my never-ending list of issues.

I always forget.

I know my blog exists, the reasons I’ve created it, and the goals I wish achieve from it, but I always forget to actually click the link, read what I have written, and write for therapy.

2016 had hit me like a truck. Actually, it felt like I was hit by multiple trucks: new job, new responsibilities, new living conditions, new diet, new classes, new relationships.. My life was undergoing a lot of reconstruction and the overloading change drove me off the edge yet again. By the end of the first week, I had about 20 hours of sleep in total and 2 panic attacks within 4 days. And although it was only a week, it felt like a month had passed. I needed help and I needed it fast. But during the second week in trying to recover, I felt like an octopus reaching out all its tentacles to grab hold of whatever resource I could find, but grasping nothing. Finally, I reached out to a special friend and she asked me, “When was the last time you wrote anything?”.

And there it was. When I first realized that I had forgotten again. Then it only took me about another month  to actually write something.

Do you love and take it easy once in while, my Little Ponies.

Stay Golden,

YoungHumble

From Student to Adult

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Lescluesbleus had a good run but I felt like a new name and look would help jump-start my writing rhythm as I transition from student to adult life. I’ll be re-posting oldies from the previous site for the next while as I prepare for my last finals as an undergrad. (Wish me luck!)

Thanks for following my old blog, I hope you enjoy this re-vamp. Like I said in my last blogpost, change can be good.