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,
As always– Stay Golden, my little ponies