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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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 ❤